Adams Papers

Braintree Feby. 1st. 1763. Tuesday.
[from the Diary of John Adams]

Braintree Feby. 1st. 1763. Tuesday.1

Last Thurdsday afternoon, rode to Germantown, and there stayed at my friend Cs. till the last Night. Four Nights, and four days. Those 2 families well deserve the Character they hold of friendly, sensible, and Social.2 The Men, Women and Children, are all sensible and obliging.

Mem. The notable Anecdote of Coll. Josa. Quincy. The Hydrostatical Experiment. And the other of Mrs. Lincoln, equally curious and instructive. The Pinching, and the Sprinkling, &c.

Mem. The other Anecdote of Mr. Erving. He has prophesyed so long, and with so much Confidence that Canada would be restored to the French that, because he begins to see his Predictions will not be fullfilled, he is now straining his Invention for Reasons, why we ought not to hold it. He says, the Restoration of that Province can alone prevent our becoming luxurious, effeminate, inattentive to any Danger and so an easy Prey to an Invader. He was so soundly bantered, the other day in the Council Chamber, that he snatched his Hat and Cloak and went off, in a Passion.

Mem. The other of a Piece sent to Fleet to be printed, upon the Unfitness of Mr. Mauduit to represent this Province, at the british Court, both in Point of Age and Knowledge. He is as that Writer says 70 Years old, an honest Man but avaricious, a Woolen Draper, a mere Cit, so ignorant of Court and public Business, that he knew not where the public offices were, and that he told Mr. Bollan, that he was Agent for New England. He says that all the other Agents laugh at this Province, for employing him. And that all Persons on that Side of the Water are surprized at us. That the Considerations on the present German War, were written by a Person unknown, who hired or persuaded Mr. Mauduitt to father it.3

Ob[servation]. The Character of Aunt Nell,4 exemplified. Mrs. Eunice5 told us the Catastrophe of two of her Teeth, she broke them out at Table in Company, and to avoid exposing her self, swallowed them.

I spent an Evening at Mrs. Palmers. Mrs. E[uni]c[e] was very sociable, she had the lead all the Evening. Gave us History’s of her Journeys with her Brother, to Connecticutt, to Barnstable, Plymouth, Middleborough, Norton, &c. Descriptions of Seats and Roads, and Thicketts, Characters of Persons, of both sexes, and the hospitable offices of strangers, &c., and above all the Tittle, Tattle of the Town of Taunton, what Families Visit, and what not. The little female Miffs, and Bickerings. Dr. Mclnsters [McKinstrys], McWaters’s, Fales, &c. &c.

The Temper and Habits of stale Virginity, are growing upon her. She is talkative. Q[uery], whether envious, sullen and passionate? She is no slanderer. She is tender of Characters and gives Merit its due Praise. The History of her Loves is curious, but not uncommon.

[. . .] or Di. was a constant feast.6 Tender feeling, sensible, friendly. A friend. Not an imprudent, not an indelicate, not a disagreeable Word or Action. Prudent, modest, delicate, soft, sensible, obliging, active.

Where all was full, possessing and possest

no craving Void left Aching in the Breast.

Books, we read 5 Sermons in Dr. Shirlock [Sherlock], and several Chapters in the Inquiry into the origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and the beautiful.7 The Chapter upon Sympathy, they all disapprove. The Author says we have a real Pleasure, in the Distresses and Misfortunes of others. Mem. To write a Letter to Sewal or Quincy, or Lowell8 on the subject of that Chapter.

I employed however, too little of my Time in Reading and in Thinking. I might have spent much more. The Idea of M. de Vattell indeed, scowling and frowning, haunted me.

Q. Do we take Pleasure in the real Distresses of others? What is my Sensation, when I see Captn. Cunningham, laid up, with the Gout, and hear his plaintive Groans? What are the feelings of the Women, at Groanings? What is my feeling when I hear of an honest Mans loosing a ship at Sea? What when I hear [sentence unfinished]

1First entry in “Paper book No. 9” (our D/JA/9), a stitched gathering of leaves containing a few entries in Feb. 1763, a draft of a newspaper article that could not have been written before late June 1763, and some undated entries. The entries are not in chronological order in the MS.

This booklet contains the only Diary entries surviving for the year 1763. Fragmentary lists of JA’s legal cases show that his practice was rapidly expanding, at least in the lower courts, and this year too he began to write with some frequency for the Boston newspapers. His surviving correspondence for 1763 is virtually all with Miss Abigail Smith of Weymouth.

2The Cranches and Palmers. Mrs. Palmer was a sister of Richard Cranch.

3In April 1762 the House voted to remove William Bollan, who had been Provincial agent in London since 1746 but was disliked by the Otises and others as a Churchman and a son-in-law of former Governor Shirley. He was replaced by Jasper Mauduit, a London woolen merchant and dissenter. Mauduit was dependent on his brother Israel, author of the tract mentioned in the text, for assistance, but their friends in Massachusetts failed to obtain a stipend for Israel as associate agent. The correspondence in Jasper Mauduit... 1762–1765 (MHS, Colls. description begins Massachusetts Historical Society, Collections and Proceedings. description ends , 74 [1918]) makes clear the sentiments and maneuvers of all parties in this petty but complex affair. See also 15 Aug. 1765, below.


5Mistress (Miss) Eunice Paine.

6One would like to believe that this refers to Abigail Smith, sister of the recently married Mary (Smith) Cranch. In the letters they exchanged at this time both Abigail and JA used the fanciful name Diana for her. But the preceding initial, which may be “H,” cannot be explained.

7A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, by Edmund Burke, was published anonymously in London, 1757.

8John Lowell, Harvard 1760, of Newburyport, trained or still training in the office of Oxenbridge Thacher for the bar; later a member of the Continental Congress and a federal judge.

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