Diary of John Adams, volume 3

London July 1. 1786.

London July 8. Saturday.

July [6] Thursday. JA


July [6] Thursday. Adams, John
July 6 Thursday.

Dined at Clapham, at Mr. Smiths. Dr. Kippis, Dr. Reese, Dr. Harris, Mr. Pais, Mr. Towgood and his two Sons, Mr. Channing were the Company.1

Mr. Pais told a Story, admirably well of a Philosopher, and a Scotsman. The Wit attempted to divert himself, by asking the Scot if he knew the immense Distance to Heaven? It was so many Millions of Diameters of the Solar System, and a Cannon Ball would be so many Thousand Years in running there. I dont know the Distance nor the Time says the Scot, but I know it will not take you a Millionth part of the Time to go to Hell.—The Scottish Dialect, and Accent was admirably imitated. The Conversation was uniformly agreable. Nothing to interrupt it.


The host was William Smith (1756–1835), M.P. for Sudbury, Suffolk, and a noted advocate of parliamentary reform, the repeal of religious tests, the abolition of the slave trade, and other liberal causes. The guests were mainly if not entirely dissenting clergymen and laymen. For Rev. Andrew Kippis and the encyclopedist Abraham Rees see DNB . Joseph Paice, who told the story that follows, was a patron and trustee of dissenting academies (Thomas Belsham, Memoirs of the Late Reverend Theophilus Lindsey, London, 1812, p. 291 and note).