Papers of John Adams, volume 1

Literary Commonplace Book

To Charles Cushing

11 To the Reverend Jacob Bailey, January 1756 JA Bailey, Rev. Jacob


To the Reverend Jacob Bailey, January 1756 Adams, John Bailey, Rev. Jacob
To the Reverend Jacob Bailey
Dr. Sr.1 Worcester Janry. I know not What Day 1756

I receiv'd your favour of Decr. 29.2 about 3 or 4 Days after it was wrote. The bearer left it at the Tavern and proceeded on his journey, so that I despair'd of ever getting an opportunity of answering it, till this moment. I heartily sympathize with you in your affliction, which I am the better qualified to do as I am confined myself to a like place of Torment. When I compare The gay, the delightsome scenes of Harvard with the harsh, and barbarous nature of sounds that now constantly grate my Ears I can hardly imagine myself the same being, that once listen'd to Our Mayhews Instructions,3 and revell'd in all the other pleasures of an accademical Life. Total and Compleat misery has succeeded so suddenly to total and compleat Happiness, that all the Phylosophy I can muster can scarce support me under the amazing shock. However one source of pleasure is left me still and that is the Letters of my Friends, and the more streams flow from this source the greater is my Pleasure. I should be extremely glad therefore of a Correspondence with you, and I promise you I will improve every opportunity of writing to you. If you see any of my old Friends, tell them I am well and should take a line from them very kindly.—But I can add no more now, than that I am

Your Friend & sert., J. Adams

Pardon all our epistolary sins.

MS not found. Printed from a facsimile of RC in (William S. Bartlet, The Frontier Missionary: A Memoir of the Life of the Rev. Jacob Bailey, A.M. . . . ), Boston, 1853, following p. 34. According to a note at the foot of p. 34, the “letter is thus superscribed: 'To Mr. Jacob Bailey, Schoolmaster, at Kingston, N. Hampshire These.' ”


Jacob Bailey (1731–1808), a college classmate of JA, Harvard 1755, led a life marked by many wanderings and vicissitudes, largely because he was converted to the Church of England in 1759 and clung uncompromisingly to his tory principles in spite of years of privation and abuse. At this time he was keeping a school in Kingston, N.H., relished his work at least as little as JA did his at Worcester, but found relief in his lifelong penchant for writing verse, which ranged from the sentimental to the Hudibrastic. At just about this time Bailey was composing poems that contrasted the rustic manners of a New Hampshire village with the charms of college life in Cambridge: “Alas! for I languish, I moan and complain/ For the absence of Harvard and all her bright train;/ Forever my thoughts that kind mother pursue,/ And all her past fondness present to my view.”

Following his ordination in London in 1760, Bailey was assigned an “enormous frontier parish”—the whole Kenne-12beck region in Maine—and braved poverty, Maine winters, the menaces of his neighbors, and the threats of civil authorities until 1779, when he sailed for Nova Scotia and, after some years, became rector of Annapolis. See Bartlet's Memoir, cited in the descriptive note above, and Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates , 13:522–545. For his (largely unpublished) verse, with extracts and commentary, see Ray Palmer Baker, “The Poetry of Jacob Bailey, Loyalist,” NEQ , 2:58–92 (Jan. 1929).


Not found.


Joseph Mayhew, Harvard 1730, was the tutor officially assigned to the Class of 1755 when it entered college (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates , 13:512). For a sketch of him, see same, 8:730–734.