Early Diary of John Adams, volume 1

[A Letter to William Crawford, Describing a Visit to Boston, October–November 1758.] <a xmlns="http://www.tei-c.org/ns/1.0" href="#EJA01d055n1" class="note" id="EJA01d055n1a">1</a> JA [A Letter to William Crawford, Describing a Visit to Boston, October–November 1758.] Adams, John
A Letter to William Crawford, Describing a Visit to Boston, October–November 1758. 1
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.


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-100bany 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.


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).


This word is almost entirely worn away in the margin of the MS. The editors’ insertion is the merest guess.