A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.

Browsing: Early Diary of John Adams, Volume 1

Docno: ADMS-02-01-02-0010-0007-0003

Author: Adams, John
DateRange: 1758-10 - 1758-11
{Folio: 27, upside down}

[A Letter to William Crawford, Describing a Visit to Boston, October–November 1758.]1

[salute] Mr. Crawford.

Am returned from Boston, and according to my Promise <sett down> begining to write you a Discription or a History of what I saw, and heard, &c.
I distrust my Capacity, without an Invocation, but am afraid to make one, for I know the Muses are not fond of such Work. Take it then in the plain Language of common sense.
My Eyes were entertained with Objects, in every figure and Colour of Deformity, from the Blacksmith in his darksome Shop to the Chimney Sweeper rambling in the Streets. My Ears were ravished with every actual or imaginable sound, except harmonious sounds, from the Hurley burley upon Change, to the Rattling and Grumbling of Coaches and Carts &c. The fragrance of the Streets, were a continual feast to my Nostrils.—Thus Pleasure entered all my senses, and roused in my Imagination, scenes of still greater tumult, Discord, Deformity, and filth.2
As for Reason, what Entertainment could that find, among these Crouds? None.
Thus you see the whole Man, the Senses, Imagination and Reason were all, equally, pleased. Was I not happy?
But all this is the dark side.—In reward of this Pain, I had the Pleasure to sit and hear the greatest Lawyers, orators, in short the greatest men, in America, harranging at the Bar, and on the Bench. I had the Pleasure of Spending my Evenings with my friends in the <silent> Joys of serene sedate Conversation, and perhaps it is worth my while to add, I had the Pleasure of seeing a great many, and of feeling some very [pretty?]3 Girls.
1. The date of this draft letter to Crawford has been discussed in the Introduction, p. 14, above, where the conjecture is made that it was written soon after JA’s visit to Boston of 24–26 Oct. 1758, when he interviewed leaders of the bar to arrange for his admission, sat in court as an observer, and attended an assembly in “the most Spacious and elegant Room” where were present “the gayest Company of Gentlemen and the finest Row of Ladies, that ever I saw” (Diary and Autobiography, 1:54). There were some public festivities in Boston on 24 Oct. to mark “the Return of His Excellency Major-General AMHERST from Al• { 100 } bany to this Town” (Boston Weekly Advertiser, 30 Oct. 1758, p. 2, col. 1), but the newspapers give few details, having lavished them on the anniversary of the coronation of George II, celebrated on the preceding day.
2. Compare the passage in the published Diary, 18 [i.e. 19] March 1759, on “the Rattle Gabble” of the Boston streets, with echoes of Pope’s Imitations of Horace (Diary and Autobiography,1:80–81).
3. This word is almost entirely worn away in the margin of the MS. The editors’ insertion is the merest guess.

Docno: ADMS-02-01-02-0010-0007-0004

Author: Adams, John
DateRange: 1758-12 - 1759-01
{Folio: 27, right side up}

[Further Notes on Civil Law, December 1758–January 1759.]1

Judicial [stipulations] are those which proceed from the mere Office of a Judge, as Surety vs. fraud [ . . . ] pursuing a servant, who is in flight. Surety concerning fraud is required, when the Danger is, lest an Adversary commit a fraud [upon things of?] ours. Surety concerning pursuing a servant, is that [when?] an Heir promises the Legatary, that he will pursue at his own Expense a servant [which?] is [given?] as a Legacy, who is running away, and restore either servant or his Value. Praetorial Cautions are those which proceed from the mere Office of the Praetor, as a surety of Damage, that is [ . . . ] and of Legacies. Damage is all Diminution of our [Pa]trimony. A Damage not done, is that which is not yet done but which we fear will be done. [A] surety of a Damage, not done, is that by which, the owner of decayed Buildings engages to his Neighbor [that] he will repay thereafter what ever Loss or Damage shall [happen?] by the fault of his buildings. [A] surety of Legacies is that by which the Heir, having given Bondsmen, engages to a Legatary to whom a Legacy [is] bequeathed on Condition, or at a certain day, that he on the fulfilment of the Condition, or [ . . . ] of the day, will pay the Legacy [ . . . ].2 But if the owner will not give the said sureties to the Neighbor, nor the Heir to the Legatary, the Neighbour is put into possession of the decayed House by the Praetor and the Legatary into [possession?] of the hereditary Things. It is peculiar to the Pretors Cau[tions] to [need Bondsmen?]. Convent[ion]al Cautions are those which are conceived by the Agreement [of] either Party. There are as many Kinds of these as there are of things to be contracted. Common are those which proceed as well, from the Office of Praetor, as of that [of] Judge, as that the Estate of a Pupill shall be safe, which is given by Tutors; and a Surety, by which, he who manages the Business of another when he doubts of a Command, he engageing that the Master shall have [ . . . ]3 due. Of useless Stipulations. An useless stipulation is one that has no Effect in Law. Stipulations are useless, either by Reason of the Thing, or of { 101 } the fact included in the Stipulation, or by Reason of the Contractor, or by Reason of the form or manner of the Contract. A stipulation is useless by Reason of the Thing, if any one stipulate a Thing, which neither is, nor can be, in the nature of Things; allso a Thing which is not in Commerce, as a Thing sacred, holy, religious, public, a free man, or at least beyond the Commerce of the stipulator. Also if any one stipulate a property purely, or [even?] the Thing plainly incertain. If any one shall promise the <fact> Act of another, without any Penalty annexed, also [anything that?] is impossible, either in nature or Morals. By Reason of the Contract, if they are unqualified, as dumb, deaf, mad, infant; also, as made between a father and a son or servant and Master; also if any one shall stipulate to Another than himself unless it shall [be] to him to whom it is [ . . . ], or a Penalty [is annexed?].
Let me get a clear Knowledge of the Proceedings in the Courts of Probate.4 Ex[ecuto]r, who accepts the Trust is accountable to the Judge of Probate. [A Jud]ge of Probate, by Warrant under his Hand and seal, directed to sherriff &c. to cause such suspected Person to be apprehended, and brought before such Judge to be [examined?] and proceeded with. A Person suspected of convaying or imbezzling Part any Part of the Estate of any Person deceased, shall have been cited, pursuant to Law [sentence unfinished]
1. This entry is a continuation, without break, of JA’s notes on Van Muyden’s Tractatio on Justinian’s Institutes, entered physically at a much earlier point in the Diary Fragment; see p. 55–59, above, and editorial notes there. The present jottings are based on Van Muyden, p. 121–124, continuing the Institutes, bk. 3, title 19, and covering part of title 20.
2. Three or four words illegible.
3. Three words illegible.
4. Although there is no indication of a break in the MS, JA has here obviously dropped Van Muyden. The following three sentences are partly quoted and partly paraphrased from An Act for Further Regulating the Proceedings of the Courts of Probate within this Province, passed by the General Court on 5 Jan. 1753 (Mass., Province Laws, 3:639–640).
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.