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Browsing: Diary of John Quincy Adams, Volume 2


Docno: ADMS-03-02-02-0002-0001-0028

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1787-01-28

28th.

Mr. Fiske1 supplied Mr. Hilliard this day: and gave satisfaction in general. His sentiments are very liberal, more than those of any preacher I have heard of late. It is perhaps to be feared lest some of our future divines may go too far in that respect, and assert that Christianity consists in morality alone. If this were the case, in what point would its excellence be shown, above the Systems of many heathen philosophers? For even the sublime maxim, “do good to those that hate you” was inculcated and even practised by some of them. The harsh, discouraging doctrines { 153 } held up, by many of our old preachers, are absurd, and impious; but the other extreme may be more dangerous to Christianity; and our young divines would do well, to remember

Dum vitant stulti vitia, in contraria currunt.2

Dined at Mr. Dana's, with Mr. Winthrop. He had a letter from his brother, but not of a very late date. There have been no accounts from Genl. Lincoln this day.
1. Thaddeus Fiske, of the Second Church of Cambridge at Menotomy (now Arlington), 1788–1828 (Paige, Hist. of Cambridge, Mass., p. 546).
2. “In avoiding a vice, fools run into its opposite,” Horace, Satires, Bk. I, Satire 2, line 24 (Horace, Satires, Epistles and ArsPoetica, transl. Fairclough, p. 20–21).

Docno: ADMS-03-02-02-0002-0001-0029

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1787-01-29

29th.

Bridge went to Salem, upon some business this day, and returned.
Miss Ellery and Miss Williams, her brother, Mr. Andrews and Freeman, drank tea at the professor's; I was sociable with Miss Jane, for the first Time. She is not destitute of personal charms, and has I believe a very good disposition. Mr. Andrews was quite elated with the news from Springfield, which arrived this evening. A party of 700 insurgents commanded by Luke Day,1 were put to flight, without a gun fired, and about 30 of them taken. Genl. Shepherd, had however been obliged to fire at a party headed by Shays. 3 men were killed, and 3 mortally wounded. Upon the whole, affairs in that quarter appear to take quite a favourable turn.
1. Day, of West Springfield, had his orders intercepted, and failed to lend support to Shays at the battle of the Springfield arsenal. After Lincoln's arrival in Springfield, both he and Shepard scattered Day's men in West Springfield; then Lincoln pursued Shays. Unable to secure a general pardon, Shays withdrew to Petersham, where, after a forced march in a snowstorm, Lincoln surprised and routed the insurgents. Most surrendered, although Shays and a few others escaped into New Hampshire. Within a month most insurgent opposition had ended (Ellery B. Crane, “Shays' Rebellion,” Worcester Society of Antiquity, Procs. ... For the Year 1881, p. 92–99; Robert J. Taylor, Western Massachusetts in the Revolution, Providence, 1954, p. 160–163).

Docno: ADMS-03-02-02-0002-0001-0030

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1787-01-30

30th.

Mrs. Cranch, Miss Betsey, and her brother, came from Braintree this morning, dined at Mr. Gannett's and returned after dinner. Bridge, and I were quite alone at tea this evening: the { 154 } Ladies were at Mrs. Forbes's, and the professor was gone to Judge Dana's. The Ladies returned however immediately after tea, and Miss Ellery came, and pass'd the evening there:

In fairest forms can evil passions dwell?

The virgin breast, can envy's venom swell?

Can malice dart her rage from beauty's eye?

And give the snow white cheek, a crimson dye?

Where then are all the tender virtues flown?

And why was strength dispensed to man alone?

The lamb, to vye with Lions neer pretends,

The timid dove, with eagles ne'er contends,

Attempt not then, ye fair, to rule by fear,

The surest female weapon is a tear.1

1. These verses were later included in JQA's “A Vision,” lines 163–172, a poem generally thought to have been written at Newburyport while he was a law student. These verses, however, clearly show that its origins were somewhat earlier. Compare JQA's “An Epistle to Delia,” lines 41–52, a poem dated 12 Dec. 1785, with “A Vision,” lines 91–102 (both in M/JQA/28). To the verses in this entry JQA later added six additional lines at the beginning (157–162): “Almira next in dubious form is seen,/Her face is female, masculine her mien,/With equal skill no mortal can pretend,/The varied faults of either sex to blend./To woman's weakness add the pride of man,/And wield alike the dagger and the fan” (same).
“A Vision,” a satirical sketch about several girls JQA knew in Newburyport, was patterned after, though more sophisticated in style than, the ''Receipt for a Wife,” which JQA had read and portions of which he had copied while staying in New York in the summer of 1785 (entry for 3 Aug. 1785, above; JQA to AA2, 1–8 Aug. 1785, Adams Papers). Later evidence confirms that Almira is Catherine Jones, whom he first met at Dr. Wigglesworth's house in Cambridge, and whom he later saw occasionally in Newburyport, though, like the Delia piece mentioned above, the sketch here may have been written about one subject and applied to another when the poem was completed later. For a discussion of the subsequent development of “A Vision,” see note for entry of 28 March 1788 (below).
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, 2017.
http://www.masshist.org/apde2/