Diary of John Adams, volume 2

1772. Decr. 23. Wednesday. JA


1772. Decr. 23. Wednesday. Adams, John
1772. Decr. 23. Wednesday.

Major Martin at the Office. He is very gracious with the first Man in the Province. The Governor spoke very handsomely, of all my Council.—“He did you Justice,” &c. &c. The Major is to dine with me tomorrow. He wishes for Warr, wants to be a Colonell—to get 1000 st. a Year for 8 or 10 Years that he may leave Something to his Children, &c. &c.—“An Ensign in the Army is Company for any Nobleman in England. A Colonel in the Army with 1000 a Year will spend an Evening with an Ensign, who can but just live upon his Pay and 72make him pay his Clubb. The Company that the Officers are obliged to keep, makes them poor, as bare as a scraped Carrot”—&c. &c.1

The Manners of these Gentlemen are very engaging and agreable.

Took a Walk this Morning to the South End, and had some Conversation with my old Friends Crafts and Trot. I find they are both cooled—both flattened away. They complain especially Crafts that they are called Tories—&c. &c. Crafts has got Swifts Contests and Dissentions of the Nobles and Commons of Athens and Rome, and is making Extracts from it—about Clodius and Curio, popular Leaders &c. &c.

My Wife says her Father never inculcated any Maxim of Behaviour upon his Children, so often as this—never to speak ill of any Body. To say all the handsome Things she could of Persons but no Evil—and to make Things rather than Persons the Subjects of Conversation.— These Rules, he always impressed upon Us, whenever We were going abroad, if it was but to spend an Afternoon.—He was always remarkable for observing these Rules in his own Conversation.—Her Grandfather Quincy was remarkable for never praising any Body, He did not often speak evil, but he seldom spoke well.


Initial quotation marks have been supplied twice in this paragraph.

1772. Decr. 24. Thurdsday. JA


1772. Decr. 24. Thurdsday. Adams, John
1772. Decr. 24. Thurdsday.

Major Martin, Mr. Blowers and Mr. Williams dined with me—all agreable.

This Day I heard that Mr. Hancock had purchased 20 Writs of Mr. Goldthwait, for this Court, of Mr. S. Quincy.—Oh the Mutability of the legal, commercial, social, political, as well as material World! For about 3 or 4 Years I have done all Mr. Hancocks Business, and have waded through wearisome, anxious Days and Nights, in his Defence.— But Farewell!—

1772 Decr. 29 [i.e. 28?]. JA


1772 Decr. 29 [i.e. 28?]. Adams, John
1772 Decr. 29 i.e. 28.

Spent the last Sunday Evening with Dr. Cooper at his House with Justice Quincy and Mr. Wm. Cooper. We were very social and we chatted at large upon Caesar, Cromwell &c.

Yesterday Parson Howard and his Lady, lately Mrs. Mayhew, drank Tea with Mrs. Adams.

Heard many Anecdotes from a young Gentleman in my Office of Admirall Montagu's Manners. A Coachman, a Jack Tar before the Mast, would be ashamed—nay a Porter, a Shew Black or Chimney Sweeper would be ashamed of the coarse, low, vulgar, Dialect of this 73Sea Officer, tho a rear Admiral of the Blue, and tho a Second Son of a genteel if not a noble Family in England. An American Freeholder, living in a log House 20 feet Square, without a Chimney in it, is a well bred Man, a polite accomplished Person, a fine Gentleman, in Comparison of this Beast of Prey.

This is not the Language of Prejudice, for I have none against him, but of Truth. His brutal, hoggish Manners are a Disgrace to the Royal Navy, and to the Kings Service.

His Lady is very much disliked they say in general. She is very full of her Remarks at the Assembly and Concert. Can this Lady afford the Jewells and Dress she wears?—Oh that ever my son should come to dance with a Mantua Maker.1

As to the Admiral his continual Language is cursing and damning and God damning, “my wifes d——d A—se is so broad that she and I cant sit in a Chariot together”—this is the Nature of the Beast and the common Language of the Man. Admiral Montagu's Conversation by all I can learn of it, is exactly like Otis's when he is both mad and drunk.

The high Commission Court, the Star Chamber Court, the Court of Inquisition, for the Tryal of the Burners of the Gaspee, at Rhode Island, are the present Topick of Conversation. The Governor of that Colony, has communicated to the assembly a Letter from the Earl of Dartmouth. The Colony are in great Distress, and have applied to their Neighbours for Advice, how to evade or to sustain the Shock.2


The last two sentences are apparently examples of Mrs. Montagu's social chat. CFA supplied quotation marks around them.


The Gaspee, a British revenue schooner, was burned by citizens of Providence when she went aground in Narragansett Bay while pursuing a suspected smuggler, 9 June 1772. A naval officer was wounded in the fracas, and a special royal commission was appointed to investigate, with authority to transport any suspect to England for trial. This measure aroused deep indignation throughout the colonies. For the documents see Records of the Colony of Rhode Island, ed. John R. Bartlett, 7 (Providence, 1862):55–192; also Eugene Wulsin, “The Political Consequences of the Burning of the Gaspee,” Rhode Island History , 3:1–11, 55–64 (Jan., April 1944).