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Browsing: Early Diary of John Adams, Volume 1


Docno: ADMS-02-01-02-0010-0003-0001

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Crawford, William
Date: 1758-10

[A Letter to William Crawford Telling “How I Live,” October 1758.]1

To [William] Crawford2
How it is with you I know not, but if I am rightly informed, I am yet alive and not dead. And to prove it to you, I will tell you how I live. I sleep, 12 or 13 Hours, Smoke 10 or 12 Pipes, read 5 or 6 Pages, think of 19 or 20 Ideas, and eat 3 or 4 Meals, every 24 Hours. I have either mounted above or sunk below, I have not Penetration enough to say which, all Thoughts of Fame, Fortune, or even Matrimony. You must not conclude from all this, that I am in the Vapours. Far otherwise. I never was in much better Health, or higher Spirits in my Life. Both my mind and Body are in a very easy situation, tortu[red] with no Pain, disturbed by no Anxiety, and transported with no Pleasure. The strongest Desire I have left, is that of seeing my frie[nds] at Worcester, <But when or how that desire will be gratified, I know not.> and the only Passion I have left, is Envy of the Pleasure You enjoy in living so near B.G.3—Remind the Dr. and his Lady4 of my sincere friendship, Mr. Putnam and his Lady,5[Col. Gardiner] and his Lady6 of the same and Betsy Green, of the sighs, Wishes, Hart Ach, Hopes, Fears, that in spig[ht] of the vain Boast of stoical Tranqui[li]ty, above expressed, continually attend the Remembrance of her.
[Pr]ay let me know <e’er long> with[in] this 12 months, whether you live, as I am at this present Writing, and whether you remember me, or not. Oh Lethe, either Spare my friends, or drown me and my friends together, for I will not bear to entertain a fruitless Remembrance of them, after they have quite forgotten me.—Adieu, write to me, as soon as you [can?].
[signed] J.A.
Contemptu Famae, contemni Virtutem.7 A Contempt of Fame generally begets or accompanies a Contempt of Virtue.—Iago makes the Reflection, that Fame is but breath, but vibrated Air, an empty sound. And I believe Persons of his Character, are most inclined to feel and express such an Indifference about fame.
Crooked Richard says all men alike to some loved Vice incline, Great men choose greater sins—Ambitions mine!8 Some such Reflections and Excuses, I suppose, the worst men always make to justify, or palliate to them selves and others, their own worst Actions. Making such a Reflection is throwing Conscience a bone to pick.
Iago. Reputation is an idle and false Imposition, of[t] got without Merit and lost without deserving.
{ 92 }
1. No clue as to the date of this letter is furnished by its position among the entries relating to the case of Field v. Lambert, because the order in which those entries were written is very uncertain. However, the general tone of the letter, with its many references to Worcester friends, suggests that it was written reasonably soon after JA had moved from Worcester to Braintree early in Oct. 1758 and before the second letter to Crawford, p. 99, below.
2. William Crawford (1730–1776), College of New Jersey 1755, A.M. Harvard 1761, preached in Worcester and vicinity in the summer of 1756, kept school there in 1758 (see note 4, below), and served as chaplain and surgeon in Wolfe’s campaign against Quebec in the following year. Thereafter he practiced medicine in Worcester but finally settled at Fort Pownall on the Penobscot in Maine as chaplain, surgeon, and schoolmaster. (JA, Diary and Autobiography, 1:10, 33, 37, 43–44; Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 13:561–563.)
3. These initials are helpfully filled out by JA below. “Betsy” was probably Elizabeth (b. 1736), daughter of Col. Thomas and Elizabeth (Church) Greene, of Bristol, R.I., whose family JA had visited in 1757 when he carried dispatches during the siege of Fort William Henry. This Betsy Greene was a sister of Hannah (Greene) Chandler (1734–1765), wife of Col. Gardiner Chandler of Worcester, mentioned immediately below. See JA, Diary and Autobiography, 3:268, and references in note 6, below.
4. Presumably Dr. Nahum Willard (1722–1792) and his wife, the former Elizabeth Townsend, of Bolton. JA boarded with the Willards at the cost of the town when he first kept the school in Worcester (JA, Diary and Autobiography, 1:9; 3:263–264). In 1758, probably at the time this letter was written, Crawford “taught the village school, and boarded at Dr. Willard’s, 47½ weeks at 6 shillings a week’” (D. Hamilton Hurd, History of Worcester County, Massachusetts, Phila., 1889, 2:1554–1555).
5. James Putnam (1726–1789), Harvard 1746, married Elizabeth Chandler, of Worcester, in 1754. Putnam had settled in Worcester in 1749 and “for twenty years ... had no trained competitor in the practice of law.” It was under Putnam’s tutelage that JA read law from 1756 to 1758. Even though he was later called “the best lawyer of North America” by Joseph Willard, JA had reservations about Putnam’s abilities. See Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 12:57–64; JA, Diary and Autobiography,1:5 and passim; 3:264–272; William Lincoln, History of Worcester, Massachusetts, Worcester, 1837, p. 227–228.
6. MS apparently reads: “C Gadr. and his Lady.” Without much question JA is referring to Col. Gardiner Chandler (1723–1782) and his wife, the former Hannah Greene. Chandler was selectman and treasurer of Worcester and JA’s closest friend among the numerous and influential Chandler clan in that town. A sister of the Colonel’s wife was Betsy Greene, mentioned above and identified in note 3. See JA, Diary and Autobiography,1:2 and passim; George Chandler, The Chandler Family ..., Boston, 1872, p. 140, 259–263; George S. Greene and Louise B. Clarke, The Greenes of Rhode Island ..., New York, 1903, p. 144–145, 241.
7. Source not identified.
8. The source of this couplet has not been found. It is not in any of Shakespeare’s historical plays nor in Colley Cibber’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s Richard III (1700), although JA’s Literary Commonplace Book (M/JA/8, Adams Papers) contains a passage from the Cibber version.

Docno: ADMS-02-01-02-0010-0004-0001

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1758-12
{Folio: 24, upside down}

[The Case of Field v. Lambert, Continued, December 1758.]1

2 Horses—10th. of Octr. 1758. One Pound L.M.
To answer J[oseph] F[ield] &c. in a Plea of Trespass, for that the said Luke [Lambert], at Braintree aforesaid, on the 10th of last Octr. with Force and Arms entered the said Joseph’s Close there, and there and then with force and Arms drove away and rescued from the said Joseph Two Horses which the said Joseph had taken up in his Close aforesaid, Damage Feasant, and was about to drive to the public Pound in said Braintree, which Rescous is against the Law of the Province, made in the Tenth Year of the Reign of William the 3rd, intituled an Act for Providing of Pounds and to prevent Rescous and Pound Breach, whereby amongst other Things it is enacted, That if any Person shall rescue any Horses, taken up damage-feasant, out of [the] Hands of a Person being about to drive them to the Pound; whereby the Party injured may be liable to lose his Damages and the Law be eluded; the Party so offending shall for such Rescous forfeit and [pay] the sum of 40s. to the Use of the Poor of the Town or Precinct where the offence is committed; besides all just Damages unto the Party injured;2 and an Action hath arisen to the said Joseph to recover the said 40s. aforesaid forfeiture to the Poor, and the Damages which he the said Joseph hath sustained by the said Rescous which he says is equal to Twenty shillings more of the said Luke, which sums so forfeited and due, the said <George> Luke, tho often requested, hath not paid nor either of them, but unjustly refuses to do it, to the Damage of the said Joseph as he saith Three Pounds.
1. This entry is a partial draft of the declaration in the case of Field v. Lambert; see the Editorial Note on this case, p. 82–89, and references there.
In the MS, page {24} was at one time folded over or placed on the outside of the Diary Fragment when the document was folded laterally and stored. Two results were serious fading of the text at the creases and tears along the edges. The lateral folding exposed a small interval of blank space below the draft of the declaration and its revision (second entry below), and it is in this space that the two notes about the authorship were written in the 19th century, the first attributing the Diary Fragment to Royall Tyler, and the second disclaiming his authorship. These docketing notes are quoted in the Introduction, p. 7.
2. Act of 10 June 1698, c. 6, §4, 1 Mass., Province Laws 323: “[I]f any person or persons shall rescue any swine, neat cattle, horses or sheep taken up as aforesaid [i.e. “found damagefeasant in any corn-field or other inclosure” (same, §2)], out of the hands of the haward or other person being about to drive them to the pound, whereby the party injured may be liable to loose his damages, and the law be eluded, the party so offending shall for such rescous forfeit and pay the sum of forty shillings to the use of the poor of the town or precinct where the offense is { 94 } committed, besides all just damages unto the party injured; to be recovered by action, bill, plaint or information in any of his majesty’s courts of record.”

Docno: ADMS-02-01-02-0010-0005-0001

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1758-12

[On Indigence at Home, December 1758.]

haud facile emergunt quorum Virtutibus obstat

res angusta domi.

They will hardly emerge from Obscurity, whose Virtues are obstruct[ed] by Indigence at home. To whose Virtues, a narrow Thing at home opposes.1
1. This brief entry is written in a very fine hand just above the middle of {24} and is largely obscured by the two more or less continuous parts of JA’s draft declaration, which so crowd it from above and below as nearly to efface it. Placed as it is at the center of his struggle over his very first case as a professional lawyer, this tag from Juvenal (Satire III, lines 164–165) had an obvious appeal for JA and may be considered a cry from the heart.

Docno: ADMS-02-01-02-0010-0006-0001

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1758-12

[The Case of Field v. Lambert, Continued, December 1758.]1

For that the said Luke, on the 10th of Octr. last, <at> with force and Arms <and against> entered the said Josephs Close <there> in Braintree aforesaid, and then and there with force and Arms drove away, and rescued from the said Joseph tho the said Joseph then and there [ . . . ]2 Two Horses which the said Joseph had taken up in his Close aforesaid Damage Feasant, and was about to drive to the public Pound in said Braintree, which Rescous [is] against our Peace and the Law of this Province, made in the Tenth Year of [the Reign of] William the 3d.
[Am?] I sensible of the Importance of the Hazard, I run? I risque my Chara[cter] and of Consequence my Business, on the fate of this Writt. [I am?] in doubt about the sufficiency of it. I am in doubt whether Tresp[ass will] lie upon that Act. Whether the Damages done by the Horses to Fields fences and Grass should not have been more Specially sett forth? Whether it is right to declare, for the forfeiture to the Poor ad damnum of Field. It was desi[rable?] that somebody should sue for that forfeiture, and who so proper as the Party injured. How could Debt have been laid for his Damages, when it is disputable how much they amounted to? The Act says just Damages, but the Act has not [asserted?] how much is just Damage in this Case. But may not Debt lie, [where trespass lies?] Can Damages be given and [assessed?] by a Jury in Debt.
{ 95 }
If one declares in an Action of Trespass for the taking away of his Cattle, or one particular Thing, he ought to say, that he took away his Cattle or other Thing Praetii so much. [I] have not declared for taking away the Horses pretii so much, but I have declared that Field sustained so much damage by the Rescous and by the Trespass of the Horses. But if he declares for taking away Things without Life, he ought to say ad Valentiam so much.
Damages are frequently given to the Party and a fine to the King in Trespass. W[hy] then may not damages be recovered to Field and the forfeiture to the Poor in Trespass? In all Trespass there must be a voluntary Act and also a Damage, otherwise Trespass [will?] not lie. Lamberts Entry and driving his Horses were voluntary Acts, and the Damage to Field was the Breach of his fence and destroy[ing] his Grass and [ . . . ] his [ . . . ].
{Folio: 24, right side up}[I declared?] ad Dampnum of Field. How could I have expressed ad dampnum of him and the Poor too.
{Folio: 25} Q[uery]. Whether Debt is not a more proper Action than Trespass?
Should not the Damages the Horses did to the Fences, Grass &c. have been Specially shewn, als.3 how can Defendant make his Defence.
Does not this Declaration shift from Trespass into Debt?
Can Defendant know without a Special Shewing of the Damage done by the Horses to the Fences, Grass &c., how to combat the Plaintiff, what Evidence to produce.
That heterogeneous Mixture of Debt and Trespass, still perplexes me.
Trespass, Entry, Rescous, <forfeiture.> Can a Forfeiture be demanded by Plaintiff in Right of another, in an Action for Trespass.
Trespass for Damages, and Debt for forfeiture to the Poor.
Upon the Commission of that Offence, the forfeiture becomes compleatly due to the Poor.—Should not something have been said of his suing in Behalf of the Poor, for the forfeiture.
What have I been doing. Only drawing a Writt.
When a particular Act of the Province is declared on should that Passage of it which is particularly to the Purpose be shewn in haec Verba.
{ 96 }
1. The first paragraph of this entry is evidently a redraft of a part of the declaration begun in the entry next but one above. See Editorial Note on Field v. Lambert, p. 82–89, above. Being on the crease of the MS, the text is badly worn.
2. Seven or eight words illegible.
3. Alias, i.e. otherwise.

Docno: ADMS-02-01-02-0010-0007-0001

Author: Adams, John
DateRange: 1758-10 - 1758-12
{Folio: 26, upside down}

[A List of Pleadings, October–December 1758.]1

Bond to give Deed.
† Trespass on the Case vs. Sherriff for the Default of his Deputy.
† Case by Baron and feme vs. Executor, on a Promise made to the feme while [sole?][ . . . ][later?].
† Ind[ebitatus] Ass[umpsit] for service done at a customary Price.
Plea, in abatement, that the service was insufficient.
Ind. Ass. for keeping a Horse to Hay. 3.
Sci[re] fa[cias] vs. Bail. 4.
If it was a [ . . . ] Writ, I’d lay a Quant[um] Mer[uit] as much as he deserved. Can Book be sworn to on Q.M.
Ind. Ass. on a Note of Hand.
†Debt to the Clerk of the Company. On Province Law.
<Trespass on the Case, by an Infant>
Quantum Valebant for Cyder sold by Infant, suing by his father, his guardian [or] next friend.
Trespass for breaking a C[ows leg?]. 6.
†Trespass upon the Case for refusing Marriage after Promise. 7.
[Trespass upon the Case] on a protested Order vs. Drawer.
[Trespass upon the Case] for not Building a good Barn according to Order.
Covenant broken, for not warranting Land, according to Cov.
Trespass. Quare Clausum fregit. 9.
Trover and Conversion of a Kettle belonging to Executor.
Partition. 10.
Trespass Q.C.F. & D.f.2 10.
[Wr]it, for declaring at a Bargain unruly Oxen to be orderly. 10.
[Qua]nt. Mer. and Ind. Ass. 2 Counts, for Work and service. 11.
Debt [ . . . ] by Farmer of Excise qui tam for selling Rum without Licence.
Trespass on the Case by 2d. Indorser vs. 1st Indorser for the original Drawer his [ . . . ] Absence from the Province and 2d. Indorser unable to pay the Debt. 13.
Trespass on the Case for Breach of Promise of Marriage. 14.
Ejectment vs. Disseisor.
Joindre of Ind. Ass. and Insimul Comp[utassent].
{ 97 }
Case by Guardian to non Compos for Labour done by non Compos.
<Money lent sued for by Administrator.> 16.
Case for Money received to Plaintiff by a [demand?] for Money lent. 16.
Case on a Note for 24 Gallons of Rum. 16.
Ejectment of a Mortgagor by Mortgagee.
Account by Administrator de bonis non vs. Administrator of the Administrator of him to whom the 1st Administration was committed.
Case on an Order accepted and payed by Plaintiff at Defendants Request 18.
[Case] on a Bill protested or refused to be accepted. 18.
Case vs. a Carrier for suffering Goods to be spoiled. 18.
Warrantia Chartae vs. Heir at law. 19.
Debt vs. Executor for not exhibiting a ful Inventory. 19.
Town Treasurer vs. a Person for entertaining a Tenant without giving Notice to select men, whereby Charge arose to the Town. 20.
<Town Treasurer vs.>
Case <vs. Town Treasurer> by Town Treasurer vs. Constable 20.
Case for Bail vs. Principal for Security. 21.
[Case] on an order accepted by Defendant.
Debt for Rent. 21.
{Folio: 25, upside down}[Trespa]ss on the Case, for not rendring an Account of Oxen received to kill and [sell?].
Warrant to Constable to convey a Pauper to next Town.
[Presen]tment <vs. . . . Officer?> 22.
[Pres]entment for a Riot. 23.
Presentment, for Administering an Oath without Authority.
Complaint, by Farmer of Excise, vs. one for not giving an Account of distilled Liquors and Lemons taken in and sold.
Case, for Mony had and received to Plaintiffs Use. 24
Case by surviving Creditor. 24.
Debt on a Judgment of Court. 25.
Presentment for selling fat, instead of Butter. 25.
Debt, by Town Treasurer vs. a Person for receiving and entertaining a Pauper. 26.
Complaint to a Justice, vs. one for writing scandalous Words, and Warrant thereon 27.
Action for scandalous Words. 28.
Case vs. Defendant for taking away his Son from Plaintiff with whom he lived to learn his Trade, before the Time agreed on was out. 28.
{ 98 }
Trover of a Pice of Timber.
[Equity?] of Redemption in a Mortgage Deed. 29.
Debt vs. one for not maintaining his half of a Partition fence, between him and Plaintiff, on 10th of Wm. 3. Chapt. 18.
Case, for not maintaining &c. on the same Law. 29.
<Ejectment>
Trespass and Ejectment, by Plaintiff [Heir?] to Devisor after Estate T[ail?] ended. 29.
Ejectment. 30.
Trespass on the Case for drowning Plaintiffs Meadow by a Mill dam. 30.
Ejectment. Declaration on Plaintiffs own seizin &c. 30.
Complaint to Justice, vs. Dear Killer. 31.
[ . . . ], Caption of a Petition to Gen. Court. 31.
Imparlance, Prayer for one. 32. in Ejectment.
Warrant of Town Treasurer vs. Collector. 32.
1. This entry, begun on {26} upside down and continued on {25} upside down, apparently comprises a list of pleadings which JA may have copied from another lawyer’s pleadings book or book of forms, such as JA himself later compiled, with his law clerks participating. See JA, Legal Papers, 1:26–86. The daggers prefixed to certain items may possibly indicate pleadings that JA copied or intended to copy in full.
There is nothing to indicate when the list was compiled. This and the following entry, on Probate Law, are the only ones in the Diary Fragment for which an argument might be made that they belong to JA’s period of law study in Worcester, Aug. 1756–Sept. 1758. On the other hand, nothing else in the entire MS suggests that he even had it in his possession in Worcester, and the manner in which these two entries are fitted in among the materials known to date from late 1758 is against their having been written at any other time.
2. That is, “Quare Clausum Fregit et Damnum fecit” (or “and Damage feasant”?).

Docno: ADMS-02-01-02-0010-0007-0002

Author: Adams, John
DateRange: 1758-10 - 1758-12

[Notes on Probate Law, October–December 1758.]1

Tis absurd, <to> for a Testator to say, after he has devised his Lands to one in fee, that they shall go over to another.
There is no [Remainder?] to an Estate in fee. A fee simple, upon fee [ . . . ] but a Testator may very legally and sensibly devise Lands to one in fee, and then say, in Case Death or any other Accident should happen to incapacitate the Devisee to take, then the Lands shall go to another.
If a Testator should devise £20 to one, and all the Rest of his personal Estate to another, and it should happen that this particular Legacy could not pass to that Legatee, the Residuary Legatee shall have that £20, before the Executor.
{ 99 }
1. These notes, perhaps drawn from a treatise, appear on {25} of the MS upside down (i.e. running the same way with the preceding entry) and crowded into a blank space to the right of the later items in the preceding entry. They were thus written later than the list of pleadings that comprise that entry; see note 1 there.

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).

Docno: ADMS-02-01-02-0010-0007-0005

Author: Adams, John
DateRange: 1758-10 - 1758-12
{Folio: 28}

[Shakespeare’s Characters and Figurative Language, October–December 1758.]1

Shakespeare, in the Character of Lady Mackbeth, and of Gertrude, the Wife of old Hamlet, and afterwards of King Claudius, and in the Character of Lady Anne in King Richard, has shewn a sense of the Weakness of Woman’s Reason, and strength of their Passions.
The Horror of both divine and Human Vengeance, that attends guilty minds is strongly represented in the Characters of Mackbeth and his Lady. He grows daily more and more timorous of the Nobility, { 102 } and of every man of [Respect?] in their Realm. At last, they are afraid that the stones and trees, and Birds will reveal their Murder and demand Revenge. Blo[o]d for Blood.
Shakespears vicious Characters are aggravated beyond Life. He draws Ingratitude, Treason, Hypocrisy, Murder, in the strongest Colours of Horror.—In Thinking of any Thing, every Image that can resemble it, rises at once in strong Colours in Shakespears mind. When the News of his Ladies death is brought to Mackbeth, he turns his Thoughts upon Life.

Out out brief Candle!

Lifes but a walking Shadow, a Poor Player

That struts and frets his Hour upon the Stage

And then is heard no more! It is a Tale

Told by an Ideot, full of Sound and Fury

Signifying Nothing.2

Here he compares Life, 1st to a Candle, then to a Shadow, an Image taken from scripture, then to a Player on the stage of Life. Now to a Tale told by an Ideot, another scripture similitude.—Persons in Mackbeths situation are very apt to make these Reflections and Comparisons. After having committed every Vice and folly, in order to attain the Goods of this Life, they find that these Goods are all Trifles, light vain, idle Toys, and then they compair Life to such Things with great Wisdom. Oh the Horror and despair, the Distress and Anguish of a guilty mind.
Richard, Claudius, Mackbeth and his Wife and Iago are Characters of Fiends, not of men. The times have been, that when the Brains were out, the man would die, and there an End, but now they rise again with 20 mortal murders on their Crowns, and push us from our stools. Malcolm and Donalbain when they find their father murthered and a bloody Dagger laid near their Bed, and their own Hands stained with Blood, concluded that the Design was to charge the Murder on them, and to avoid the consequences they fled to England, and a faulcon towering in her Pride of Place, was by a mousing Owl haukt at and killed. The faulcon is Duncan, the mousing Owl is Mackbeth. The old man observed the Omen. Rosse takes Notice of another Omen that preceded Duncans Death. Duncans Horses, beauteous and swift, the Minions of their Race, turned wild in Nature, broke their stalls, flung out, contending gainst Obedience, as they would make War with man. Thriftless Ambition that will raven up thy own lifes means.
Mackbeth kills the others that lay in the K[ing]’s Chamber out of { 103 } pretended Rage at their [Murder] of the King and tells the Lords and Attendants, their faces and Hands were besmeared in blood and that [an] unwiped Dagger laid by the Bed side. Not only Omens preceded, but sympathy in Nature attended Duncans Death. Chimneys were blown down.

Lamentings heard i’the air, strange screams of Death.

Of dire Combustion and confusd Events

New hatchd to the woeful time.

The obscure bird clamourd the livelong night

Some say the Earth was feverous and did shake.3

Mackbeths Imagination was [struck?] and afraid, was as lively and teemed with Notions, a Thousand thoughts came into his Head when he was [remainder missing]
His imagination created 100 things, a Voice crying, Sleep no more, Mackbeth doth Murder Sleep; the innocent Sleep. Sleep is the Idea now. What Thoughts does this call up. Sleep that knits up the ravelled sleeve of Care, the Death of each days Life. As Death is to a mans whole Life, so is <Sleep to a day> each nights Sleep to us, sore Labours Bath, Bath of Labour, Balm of Hurt minds, great natures second Course, chief Nourisher in Lifes feast. The Eye of [remainder missing]
1. There is nothing to indicate the date of these comments on Shakespeare, although it may be noted that on 5? Dec. 1758JA entered in his Diary as published in 1961 an injunction to himself beginning: “Let me search for the Clue, which Led great Shakespeare into the Labyrinth of mental Nature!” (Diary and Autobiography, 1:61). As usual, JA’s quotations are approximate.
2. Act V, scene v, lines 23–28.
3. Act II, scene iii, lines 61, 63–66.

Docno: ADMS-02-01-02-0010-0007-0006

Author: Adams, John
DateRange: 1758-12 - 1759-01
{Folio: 28, upside down}

[On a Petition from Braintree Troops Enlisted for the Expedition against Canada, December 1758–January 1759.]1

The general Court agreed to raise 7000 men, to cooperate with his Majesties Forces, for the Reduction of Canada. Agreed, consented by a Vote an Order not by a Law an Act.2 They make Acts to raise money and clothe the soldiers when raised. But the K[ing], in the british Constitution, and of Consequence the Governor in ours, has the sole Direction of Peace and War. Inlisting men, sending them out, proclaiming War, negociating Peace, concluding Peace, are all with the sovereign’s Power. But the Parliament must raise supplies.
The Court direct and impower the Treasurer to borrow £28,000, and they enact that the said £28,000 when[soever] borrowed, shall be { 104 } issued by the Governor, with Advice of Council, for the levying and cloathing the said 7000 men, pursuant to the Order of this Court, and for no other use.—By Order of Court, and with Advice of Councill.3
Cur [i.e. Court?] will grant these Petitions, that People may be encouraged to list next Spring, even after the time limited for Inlistments, when the officers are impowered to impress, and not to be so obstinate as some were last Spring. Some refused to the last to inlist, and were dragged into the Service at last. If Money was issued by the Governor to the Officers of this Company or Regiment, to be given as a Bounty to these men, who inlisted after the 2d of May as well as to those before, and the Officers have [defrauded?] them of it, should not this Petition [represent?] the fraud and pray an Order on the officers to make Satisfaction?4—Is the Governor, or Coll. Lincoln or Coll. Quincy or Captain Bracket5 to blame in this Affair. If there was an Order of the Generall Court that such as should inlist after the 2d of May should have the Bounty, as well as those who inlisted before, and the Governor [paid?] Money accordingly, one of them is to blame.
1. From evidence set forth in note 4, below, the latest possible date that this, physically the last entry in the Diary Fragment, could have been written was the first week or so in Jan. 1759. It was probably written in Dec. 1758, when, as we must suppose, JA was called on to help draft the petition from Joseph Nightingale and others of Braintree that is the subject of these notes.
2. The General Court on 11 March 1758 “Voted, That Seven Thousand Men, inclusive of Officers be raised on the part of this Government, by inlistment for the Intended Expedition against Canada, to be formed into Regiments, and Officer’d by such of the Inhabitants of this Province as His Excellency the Capt. General shall be pleased to appoint: The said Men to be continued in the service for a time not exceeding the first Day of November next, and to be dismissed as much sooner as his Majesty’s Service will admit” (Mass., Province Laws, 16:153).
This force was recruited to join the army under Gen. James Abercromby at Albany which in the summer of 1758 undertook an amphibious assault on the French stronghold of Fort Carillon (later Fort Ticonderoga) in order to clear the way to Canada. Abercromby’s army of 15,000 suffered a disastrous defeat at the hands of Montcalm with a much smaller force. The remains of some of the “inland fleet” in which the British and colonial troops had ascended Lake George were being recovered for reconstruction and preservation in the summer of 1965. See Edward P. Hamilton, The French and Indian Wars, N.Y., 1962; New York Times, 27 June 1965, p. 1, 55.
3. JA is here abstracting an Act of 25 March 1758 (Mass., Province Laws, 4:76).
4. On 17 March 1758 the General Court had voted “That each able bodied effective Man who shall voluntarily inlist himself into the intended Expedition against Canada before the fifteenth day of April next shall be intitled to Thirty shillings and upon his passing Muster shall receive a good Blanket and Fifty shillings more for furnishing himself with Cloaths” (same, 16:160). On 21 April—eloquent testimony on how recruiting was progressing—the time for enlistment “upon the same Bounty” was extended until 2 May (same, p. 176).
Among those who failed to meet the later date but enlisted soon afterward in order to avoid being “dragged into the Service at last” by officers with power to impress, was a neighbor of JA’s named Joseph Nightingale; see JA, Diary and { 105 } Autobiography, 1:303. On 10 Jan. 1759 the House of Representatives received and considered the following petition, which JA is discussing here and had presumably helped Nightingale draft:
“A Petition of Joseph Nightingale, and others, of Braintree, . . . praying, that they may be allowed the Bounty voted for those that should inlist into the Service the last Year, for the Expedition against Canada before the 2d Day of May last, they having inlisted into said Service within a very few Days after the Time assigned, and marched to Fort-Edward by Direction of their proper Officers, and served faithfully during the whole Campaign.
“Read and Ordered, That this Petition be dismiss’d.”
(Mass., House Jour., 35:158.)
The original of the Braintree petition has not been found in M-Ar.
5. Col. Benjamin Lincoln (Sr.), of Hingham (the father of Dr. Bela Lincoln, mentioned frequently above), and Col. Josiah Quincy and Capt. Richard Brackett of Braintree, the principal local militia officers.
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, 2014.
http://www.masshist.org/apde2/