Adams Papers

1760. Aug. 9th.
[from the Diary of John Adams]

1760. Aug. 9th.

Drank Tea at Coll. Quincys, with Coll. Gooch and Dr. Gardiner. I see Gooch’s fiery Spirit, his unguarded Temper. He Swears freely, boldly. He is a Widower, and delights to dwell, in his Conversation, upon Courtship and Marriage. Has a violent aversion to long Courtship. He’s a fool, that spends more than a Week, &c. A malignant Witt. A fiery, fierce outragious Enemy. He quarrells with all Men. He quarrelled with Coll. Quincy, and intrigued to dispossess him of his Regiment, by means of Dr. Miller and Mr. Apthorp.1 He now quarrells with Coll. Miller and Dr. Miller and Eb. Thayer. He curses all Governors. Pownal was a servant, Doorkeeper, Pimp to Ld. Hallifax, and he contracted with Ld. Hallifax to give him 15s. out of every Pound of his salary. So that Pownal had 25 pr. Cent Commissions, for his Agency, under Ld. Hallifax.

Thersites in Homer, was,

Aw’d by no shame, by no respect controuled

In scandal busy, in Reproaches bold:

With witty Malice studious to defame

Scorn all his Joy and Laughter all his Aim.

But chief he gloried with licentious style

To lash the Great and Monarchs to revile.

Thus we see that Gooches lived, as long ago as the siege of Troy.

Spleen to Mankind his envyous Heart possesst

And much he hated all, but most the best.

Long had he liv’d the scorn of every Greek

Vext when he spoke, yet still they heard him speak.

His daughters have the same fiery Temper; the same witty malice. They have all, to speak decently, very smart Tempers, quick, sharp, and keen.

An Insinuation, of Mr. Pownals giving 3/4 of his salary for his Commission.—This is with licentious style Governors to revile.—Coll. Miller can serve the Devil with as much Cunning, as any Man I know of, but for no other Purpose is he fit.—This is in scandal busy, in Reproaches bold.

Gardiner has a thin Grashopper Voice, and an affected Squeak; a meager Visage, and an awkward, unnatural Complaisance: He is fribble.2

Q[uery]. Is this a generous Practice to perpetuate the Shruggs of Witt and the Grimaces of Affectation?

1Long afterward JA wrote a detailed account of the method by which Joseph Gooch displaced John Quincy of Mount Wollaston as colonel of the Suffolk militia in 1742; see JA to Jonathan Mason, 3 Oct. 1820, which gives a considerable account of Gooch (Adams Papers; extracts quoted in JA, Works description begins The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States: with a Life of the Author, ed. Charles Francis Adams, Boston, 1850–1856; 10 vols. description ends , 2:93, note). Since the Quincy and Adams families were united by JA’s marriage (his wife being a granddaughter of Col. John Quincy and their eldest son being named for him), any retrospective account by an Adams is likely to be prejudiced. But the reference in JA’s Diary, it should be noted, antedates the union of the families.

According to JA, Gooch, who was well-to-do, made a bargain with leading Anglicans, including Rev. Ebenezer Miller, minister of Christ Church in Braintree, offering to build a steeple for Christ Church if his influential friends could persuade Governor Shirley to obtain the colonelcy for Gooch. Shirley did so, but the new colonel proved highly unpopular in Braintree and before long moved to Milton without carrying out his part of the bargain. Deacon John Adams had had a part in this affair, as his son recalled: the elder Adams had been a lieutenant in the militia, but upon being offered a captaincy under Gooch he declined to serve under any other officer than Quincy.

2Trifling, frivolous (OED description begins The Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford, 1933; 12 vols. and supplement. description ends ). This comment on Dr. Gardiner appears to be JA’s own, though by arbitrarily enclosing this paragraph in quotation marks in his text of the Diary CFA attributes it to Gooch and thus makes him the subject of JA’s rebuke in the next paragraph; see JA, Works description begins The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States: with a Life of the Author, ed. Charles Francis Adams, Boston, 1850–1856; 10 vols. description ends , 2:95. It is more likely that JA is rebuking himself.

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