A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.

Browsing: Diary of John Quincy Adams, Volume 2

Docno: ADMS-03-02-02-0003-0002-0014

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1788-02-14


I attended at the office only in the forenoon; the after part of the day being employ'd in rigging for the ball.1 I had sent a billet to Miss H. Greenleaf requesting the honor of waiting upon her. She was not engaged, and I was taken at my word; which will teach me to be sincere. It was late before I could get a carriage, and when I went for my Lady, I found, all the rest of the family were gone: which was against me again.
The ball rooms were too small. Not one quarter of the Ladies could dance at a Time. I danced enough myself, and made out to affront three or four Ladies, which is much in my favour. Townsend took cold in making the preparations for this ball, and was so unwell, that at about 11 o'clock, he went home and consigned his Lady, Miss L. Knight, to me. She being very agreeable, was upon the whole I believe, more the object of my attentions than another Lady: this cannot now be helped and whatever is, is right.2
Between 3 and 4 in the morning, the remainder of the com• { 362 } pany retired; Putnam lodged with me. The party was perfectly agreeable.
1. The Federal Ball (D/JQA/13, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 16).
2. “And, spite of Pride, in erring Reason's spite,/One truth is clear, Whatever is, is right” (“An Essay on Man,” Epistle 1, lines 293–294).

Docno: ADMS-03-02-02-0003-0002-0015

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1788-02-15


We indulged ourselves this morning till almost twelve o'clock before we rose.
I called at the office; and pass'd about half an hour there. I felt rather dissipated, and somewhat indisposed for study. In the afternoon when I called at the office, I found Mr. Wendell there. A singular eccentric character with whom I was acquainted, while I was in College, and whom I have probably mentioned before now. He still persists in his singularities, and in walking from Boston the day before yesterday froze, one of his feet.
Townsend is quite unwell; has an uncomfortable cough, and sore throat, but he went with me to visit several of the Ladies, who were of the company last evening. We first called at Captain Coombs's, where we found only Miss Nancy Jenkins. She holds her head too stiff for elegance, and has read too many novels; which render her manners rather fantastical and affected. We stopped a few moments to see Miss Coats; who was well, and we then went to Judge Greenleaf's, where we drank tea. Here were young Ladies, I had almost said innumerable: a choice, of every complextion, and probably of every disposition, among them all Miss Derby has the most promising appearance, but she, in company is reserved. The Judge talk'd about religion and politics, and Mrs. Greenleaf pass'd encomiums upon the british Constitution; but the young Ladies were all silent. We took our departure quite early, and I pass'd the remainder of the evening at Mrs. Hooper's, where I found Miss Knight and Mr. Cutler.
Learnt to play quadrille.

Docno: ADMS-03-02-02-0003-0002-0016

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1788-02-16


The most violent snow storm, that has appeared in the course of the winter, it began in the night, and continued, all this day. In the evening it cleared up.
Townsend was not out. Amory and I dined with Mr. Parsons. Captain Hodge likewise was of the company.
{ 363 }
I wrote a Letter in the afternoon; or rather part of a Letter to W. Cranch.1 From the office, we went, and pass'd an hour with Mrs. Jackson; where we found Mr. Wendell, feasting upon his apples and nuts. He slept last night in Mr. J. Tracey's green house; which is entirely unprotected from the inclemency of the Season; and the better to enjoy the benefits of the open air, he stripp'd himself entirely naked. He converses in the same style, that he did a year ago; and appears to me, too consistent for a distracted person, as many suppose him to be.
We spent the remainder of the evening at Dr. Smiths. I made an apology to Miss Smith, for a blunder, which took place at the ball: she appeared plainly to be offended, but was satisfied after I had made my explanation: I know not whether to like or to dislike this girl: but perhaps Time will supply me with the means of information.
At supper Amory was excessively diverted with the appearance of a Bologna Sausage, which the Doctor introduced, and which Mr. Cutler observed would be ripe in June. After Supper I got seated next to Miss Putnam, and entered into Conversation with her. I found her inclined to flattery, a defect, not uncommon, among our young Ladies; and I answered her in her own way, as I always do. When a Lady pays me a compliment, I always consider myself indebted to her untill I return one, at least of equal value; and I am generally so good a creditor, that I pay with large interest. I have even once or twice in my life so far surpassed a Lady in that way, as to silence her, and make her ashamed of attacking me with those weapons: but I never flatter a Lady that I esteem.
1. Dated 16 Feb. (owned by Dr. Eugene F. DuBois of New York in 1957).
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.