Diary of John Quincy Adams, volume 2

1 15th. JQA


15th. Adams, John Quincy

Between 9 and 10 in the morning, I went to the President's, and was there admitted examined, before, the President, the four Tutors three Professors, and Librarian. The first book was Horace, where Mr. James 1 the Latin Tutor told me to turn to the Carmen saeculare where I construed 3 stanza's, and parsed the word sylvarum, but called potens a substantive. Mr. Jennison,2 the greek Tutor then put me to the beginning of the fourth Book of Homer; I construed Lines, but parsed wrong αλληλομς . I had then παραβληδην given me. I was then asked a few questions in Watts's Logic by Mr. Hale,3 and a considerable number in Locke, on the Understanding, very few of which I was able to answer. The next thing was Geography, where Mr. Read4 ask'd me what was the figure of the Earth, and several other questions, some of which I answered; and others not. Mr. Williams asked me if I had studied Euclid, and Arithmetic, after which the President conducted me to another Room, and gave me the following piece of English to turn into Latin, from the World.5 There cannot certainly be an higher ridicule, than to give an air of Importance, to Amusements, if they are in themselves contemptible and void of taste, but if they are the object and care of the judicious and polite and really deserve that distinction, the conduct of them is certainly of Consequence. I made it thus. Nihil profecto risu dignior, potest esse, quam magni aestimare delectamenta, si per se despicienda sunt, atque sine sapore. At si res oblatae atque cura sunt sagacibus et artibus excultis, et revera hanc distinctionem merent, administratio eorum haud dubie utilitatis est. (I take it from memory only, as no scholar is suffered to take a Copy of the Latin he made at his examination.) The President then took it, was gone about ¼ of an hour, return'd, and said “you are admitted, Adams,” and gave me a paper to carry to the Steward. I had the form of a bond, which is 2to be signed by two persons, in the presence of two witnesses: this is what every student is obliged to do; and the bondsmen forfeit 200 ounces of silver, if the bills are not paid once a Quarter. Mr. Shaw went to Boston before dinner: I sent by him the form of the bond to Doctor Tufts to fill it. I went with my brother to Mr. Dana's, where we dined, in Company with Harris, of the Senior Class, who boards there. It is against the Laws of the College to call any under-graduate, by any but his Sir-name, and I am told, the President, who is remarkably strict in all those matters, reproved a gentleman at his table, for calling a student Mr., while he was present.

Spent the afternoon, and evening in College. The Sophimore Class had what is called in College, an high-go. They assembled all together in the Chamber, of one of the Class; where some of them got drunk, then sallied out and broke a number of windows for three of the Tutors, and after this sublime manoeuvre stagger'd to their chambers. Such are the great achievements of many of the sons of Harvard, such the delights of many of the students here.

Returned to Mr. Dana's, and lodged there.


Eleazar James, tutor 1781–1789, was later a lawyer in Barre, Mass. (MH-Ar: Quinquennial File).


Timothy Lindall Jennison, tutor 1785–1788, became a Cambridge physician ( Harvard Quinquennial Cat. ; John A. Vinton, “Memoir of the Lindall Family,” NEHGR, 7:22 [Jan. 1853]).


John Hale, tutor 1781–1786, became a lawyer in Portsmouth, N.H. (Bell, Bench and Bar of New Hampshire, p. 413–414).


Nathan Read, tutor 1783–1787, was later an inventor and served Salem in the congress, 1800–1803 (Essex Inst., Hist. Colls., 24:259–262 [Oct.–Dec. 1887]).


The World, No. 171, 8 April 1756.

16th. JQA


16th. Adams, John Quincy

Rain'd, a great part of the day. Walker went to Boston and brought back my bond properly filled. Dined with Mr. Dana. Returned to the College in the afternoon, and lodged with my brother. The Government have been endeavouring to discover the principal actors in the last Night's riot. The Sophimores are very much afraid, that some of them will suffer some public punishment, for it.

17th. JQA


17th. Adams, John Quincy

This morning I finished the business of my admission. I carried the bond to Mr. Gannett the Steward. He then certified that 3I had complied with the Law. This certificate I went with to the President's, who thereupon signed an Admittatur,1 which I had to carry again to the Steward, to be filed with the College Papers. The Steward told me then I was to all intents and Purposes, generally, and in all particulars a Member of the University.

I then went to Boston with my Cousin, and Abbot, of the Juniors. I paid a number of Visits, and dined at my Uncle Smith's. Walk'd about the Town, with Charles Storer; spent the Evening, and supped, at Deacon Storer's, lodged at my Uncle Smiths.


JQA's certificate of admission (Adams Papers) is described and illustrated in this volume; see the Descriptive List of Illustrations, No. 1.