851. James Bridge to John Quincy Adams
Pownalborough, 4 May 17881

My dear friend,

Despairing of a direct conveyance to Newbury-Port, I write this to send off viâ Boston, in hopes it will get into Brother Cranch’s care, who I know will forward it speedily;—I have no other way to rid myself of a troublesome impatience.—The last favour I have from you was dated Nov. 17. 1787 but not received 'till Feby. 21. 1788—That part of it, which treats of my introduction into the office with you, concerns me too nearly not to demand my first attention.—I did not need your panegyric upon Mr Parsons to encrease my desire to be with you; no, that was stretched almost to breaking before: notwithstanding, till I received your letter I was inclined to seek admission into Mr Bradbury’s office rather than Mr Parsons’s—I reason’d with myself thus.—The part Mr Parsons has taken in politics will engross a great part of his time & attention, while Mr Bradbury has nothing to mind but his profession.—In Parsons’ Office there will be three clerks before me; (I thought Putnam had been admitted) in Bradbury’s none: In the former I may croud & be crouded, in the latter I shall have nothing to fear on that score—Mr Bradbury always attends the supreme courts in this county, which may be serviceable to me after I leave his office—. But previous to any reflections of this nature, I was morally certain of enjoying many of the advantages of Mr. Parsons’ Office tho’ studying under the other gentleman. I clearly saw a medium that would infallibly convey to me the precepts of the former, tho I were in the office of the latter; & perhaps with improvement.—My mistake about Putnam alters this statement very materially. It is like transferring a weight from one scale to the other which were before balanced. Besides I do not think my first argument will operate as I then thought it would—I find I shall never want the inclination to be employed in political affairs myself; and therefore must seek Mr Parsons not less for his knowlege of Political, than of civil Law—The Events of the last winter have reduced this matter to demonstration—most of the variety that has taken place in the movements of my heart since I left Cambridge has been occasioned by the federal constitution—While our convention were in session the reports which circulated in this quarter successively fill’d me with terror, anxiety, fear, hope, satisfaction & joy—When the account of ratification arrived, tears of transport could but poorly express the emotions of my soul—However dull my feelings may be in every other respect I do not lack sensibility when the liberties of my fellow-creatures are in question.—Will you laugh, if I tell you I rode 60 miles (the bad roads made it a hundred) to influence our late Elections in favour of federalists in this county?—will you laugh if I tell you I made my father qualify me to vote for Gov. Lt. Gov. & Senator, that I attended our town meeting in Pownalborough, that I voted myself & sollicited the votes of others, that I publicly harangued the audience &c—This was not the half of my zeal—I wanted, I can’t express how much I wanted you to confer with on these occasions.

I have lately procured, & read you will suppose with no small degree of admiration, the debates of our convention—Many of the speeches I am sure would do no discredit to the ablest speakers in A British house of commons. The fire of Judge Dana’s language & conduct, in particular charmed me—leaving me, at some moments, in a disposition “to sling my Knapsack, travel westward and cut off G——s head” to use the words of that Royal fellow, Capt Snow.—For simplicity, the genuine spirit of yeomanry, & strong sense commend me to Honest Colo. Smith But of all the speeches, if I were to choose one to be reputed its author, it should be that pronounced by Mr Parsons, immediately after Gov Bowdoins lengthy one upon the checks provided by the constitution—“But not to digress” as the parsons say after they have dwelt an hour on something foreign to their discourse—I was saying as how the case was altered, & I have now only to add that I shall not wait a moment after I hear I may come—My father saw Mr Parsons a moment in Boston this winter, and convers’d with him about my admission into his office: Mr Parsons told him he would receive me after commencement: which was all that past between them—I don’t Know how to reconcile this with what you wrote of Amory & Townsend’s leaving the office in March.—However if I can be sure of the opening even after commencement, I shall not count myself unfortunate—In the mean time I trust in you to keep of all intruders, & if necessary, to remind Mr Parsons, that I wait only for the vacancy to take place, or rather to be notified, in any manner, of permission to occupy the vacancy—The Books you say Mr Parsons advises his students to read before Blackstone, I have read all excepting Vattel, which I cannot obtain here—I was flattered to find, by Mr Parsons’ advice and your example, the making of extracts enforced so strongly as I had wore up many a pen in that employment—

In a letter I received from Brother Cranch a few days since it is written that your Hon. Father is expected home very shortly. Persuaded, omnibus consideratis, that his return will not create another vacancy in Mr Parsons Office, after a little consternation, I am prepared to share with you the Joys, the rapturous embraces of your family-meeting.—I have it in contemplation to be in Boston the 20th of June next, & wish your convenience may bring you there at the same time. If not May I expect a line from you waiting for me with Cranch? I will.—Should there be any thing necessary or convenient for me to procure before I come to Newbury, peculiar to the town or office I must trouble you to mention it—And now ’tis time to write those two words which I hope will allways convey to you the ideas of sincerity, & the purest friendship viz James Bridge—

NB You might have heard of my fathers being through Newbury-Port in March, & wondered so good an opportunity of writing should have been unimproved—My absence from home a few days upon the only frolic I’ve had thro’ the Winter was the unfortunate cause—My father taking a sudden start in that time to visit Boston.—

1. RC, Adams Family Papers, MHi.