Adams Papers



Mrs. Cranch, Miss Betsey, and her brother, came from Braintree this morning, dined at Mr. Gannett’s and returned after dinner. Bridge, and I were quite alone at tea this evening: the Ladies were at Mrs. Forbes’s, and the professor was gone to Judge Dana’s. The Ladies returned however immediately after tea, and Miss Ellery came, and pass’d the evening there:

In fairest forms can evil passions dwell?

The virgin breast, can envy’s venom swell?

Can malice dart her rage from beauty’s eye?

And give the snow white cheek, a crimson dye?

Where then are all the tender virtues flown?

And why was strength dispensed to man alone?

The lamb, to vye with Lions neer pretends,

The timid dove, with eagles ne’er contends,

Attempt not then, ye fair, to rule by fear,

The surest female weapon is a tear.1

1These verses were later included in JQA’s “A Vision,” lines 163–172, a poem generally thought to have been written at Newburyport while he was a law student. These verses, however, clearly show that its origins were somewhat earlier. Compare JQA’s “An Epistle to Delia,” lines 41–52, a poem dated 12 Dec. 1785, with “A Vision,” lines 91–102 (both in M/JQA/28). To the verses in this entry JQA later added six additional lines at the beginning (157–162): “Almira next in dubious form is seen,/Her face is female, masculine her mien,/With equal skill no mortal can pretend,/The varied faults of either sex to blend./To woman’s weakness add the pride of man,/And wield alike the dagger and the fan” (same).

“A Vision,” a satirical sketch about several girls JQA knew in Newburyport, was patterned after, though more sophisticated in style than, the ’’Receipt for a Wife,” which JQA had read and portions of which he had copied while staying in New York in the summer of 1785 (entry for 3 Aug. 1785, above; JQA to AA2, 1–8 Aug. 1785, Adams Papers). Later evidence confirms that Almira is Catherine Jones, whom he first met at Dr. Wigglesworth’s house in Cambridge, and whom he later saw occasionally in Newburyport, though, like the Delia piece mentioned above, the sketch here may have been written about one subject and applied to another when the poem was completed later. For a discussion of the subsequent development of “A Vision,” see note for entry of 28 March 1788 (below).

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