Diary of John Quincy Adams, volume 1



27th. JQA 27th. Adams, John Quincy

Mr. Tyler came from Boston last evening; was pretty busy in the forenoon; I went and paid a visit to Mr. Apthorp, next door neighbour to my uncle: he came from Boston this morning and is going back this afternoon: he is a man of Sense, and much reading, but he has a certain wildness in his eyes, which indicates something extraordinary, in his character, which I am told is really the case. He has an extravagant fondness for England, and for everything that is English: he talks sensibly upon diverse subjects, but as I had heard his Character before I saw him, I purposely spoke in the highest terms, of the french Nation and their Country: he never said he was of a different opinion, but he observed that though the beauties of England were not of the same kind, they were very great, and like a true Englishman contrasted, french politeness and outward accomplishments, to English dignity and Sincerity. I did not think it was necessary to contest any point, and therefore humoured him in his Admiration for Britain; in which, however I am very far from joining with him. After dinner I went down with Mr. Tyler, and drank 332tea with my uncle Quincy,1 and from his house saw the tender, which came lately from Hallifax, to carry back Mr. Nash, and his new bride.

I intended to go as far as Milton this evening, but it was so late when we return'd from my uncle's, that I could not. As we were walking home, I had with Mr. Tyler some very curious conversation, on a subject as curious. We smoked a sociable pipe in the Evening at his office: and there continued it. He was somewhat in a prophetic mood, but I imagine, he will never have occasion to say

Cet oracle, est plus sûr que celui de Chalcas Calchas.2


Norton Quincy (1716–1801), JQA's great-uncle. He was formerly a Boston merchant, but after the death of his wife soon after marriage, he retired to Braintree, where he lived a reclusive life in the Quincy estate. His refusal to seek company and to accept other than minor town offices bothered the Adamses, who, though they were very fond of him, felt that his name and position should have led him to accept greater responsibilities (L. H. Butterfield, A Pride of Quincys, MHS Picturebook, Boston, 1969, [p. 7–8]).


That is, JQA believed that Tyler would never have absolute conviction that a certain event, presumably marriage to AA2, would take place. The quotation is from Racine's tragedy Iphigénie (1674), Act III, scene vii, last line.