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Browsing: Diary of John Quincy Adams, Volume 2

Docno: ADMS-03-02-02-0002-0013-0031

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1787-12-31


In the Evening I went with Townsend, to see Miss Cazneau, and to fulfill a promise, of playing on the flute for her; which I made some weeks ago; and renew'd last Thursday. The character of Miss C. I propose to delineate at a future period; if I should continue to draw any.
At eight I left her and pass'd the remainder of the evening at Mrs. Hooper's.
The night, which puts a period to the revolving year, always presents to my mind a crowd of the most serious reflections. But none are more important than those upon the shortness of human life. A twentieth part of the days of man has nearly elapsed since, I began this journal; yet, how uninteresting the events! how much of that period lost! how much mis-spent! But { 337 } revert the question: how much employed to make me wiser, better and more useful? Ah! how shall I answer?

Docno: ADMS-03-02-02-0003-0001-0001

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1788-01-01

Tuesday January 1st. 1788.

Pass'd the day and evening at the office. Read at my own lodgings till one o'clock in the morning.
I feel every day a greater disposition to drop this nonsense. It takes up a great deal of my time, and as it is incessantly calling upon me, I can never have any respite: in the extreme cold of winter I have no convenience, for writing, and was it not for the pleasure of complaining to myself, I believe I should have done long ago. I often get in arrears and then I have as much time to recollect, the circumstances of one day, as at other times I have to write for four. These inconveniences however are most prevalent in the severity of the winter Season. As I have got so far through this, and more particularly as I have now begun the year, I will make an effort to carry it on for one more revolution of the Sun, and if I then feel as averse to writing as at present, I will e'en stop, at least while the events in which I am concern'd are as trivial, as they are at present. One consideration upon this subject, at least affords me some satisfaction: it is that when I look back in these volumes, and peruse, the temporary productions of my pen; I am at least able to say, at the close of the day; that day I did something.

Docno: ADMS-03-02-02-0003-0001-0002

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1788-01-02


In the beginning of the evening, Putnam called at our office, and invited me to go with him and pass a couple of hours at Mr. Frazier's;1 after debating with myself some time upon the subject, I determined finally to go. We found there a number of young gentlemen and Ladies. After we had sat a little while the infallible request to sing made its appearance. One could not sing, and another could not sing, and a total incapacity to sing, was declared all round the room. If, upon such occasions every one would adhere, to his first assertion, it would be very agreeable; at least to me: for in these mixt companies when the musical powers are finally exerted, the only recompence, for the intolerable tediousness of urging, generally is a few very insipid songs, sung in a very insipid manner. But the misfortune is, that some one always relents, and by singing furnishes the only ma• { 338 } terials for a conversation, which consists in intreaties for further gratifications of the same kind.
When we had gone through this ceremony, and had grown weary of it; another equally stupid succeeded; it was playing pawns: a number of pledges were given all round, and kissing was the only condition upon which they were redeem'd. Ah! what kissing! ‘Tis a profanation, of one of the most endearing demonstrations of Love. A kiss unless warm'd by sentiment, and enlivened by affection, may just as well be given to the air, as to the most beautiful, or the most accomplished object in the Universe.
After going through this likewise, as if the Pope had done us any injury, nothing would do but we must break his neck.2 It is the fate of the poor representative of St. Peter, to be abused at this day. But we were peculiarly cruel, for we persecuted him without any kind of advantage to ourselves. Thus we pass'd the heavy hours till about 10 o'clock, when we all retired.
I did intend to mention the young ladies that were present, and give my sentiments upon their persons and manners; but this day has already usurp'd more than its proportion of the volume, and I will take some other opportunity for delineating: for the present I will quit the pen.
1. Moses Frazier, Newburyport shipowner and town officeholder (Currier, Newburyport, 1:678, 679, 687; Essex Inst., Hist. Colls., 70:200 [April 1934]; 71:360 [Oct. 1935]).
2. “Break the Pope's neck” was a game. In Virginia, players formed a semicircle and from their number one was chosen Pope and the others were friars. As the game proceeded, the players found “great Diversion in the respective Judgments upon offenders” who were finally “dismissed” (Philip Vickers Fithian, Journals and Letters, 1767–1776, ed. John Rogers Williams and others, 2 vols., Princeton, 1900–1934, 1:65).
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2018.