John Adams Letters document,


Philadelphia, 9 October, 1774.


I AM wearied to death with the life I lead. The business of the Congress is tedious beyond expression. This assembly is like no other that ever existed. Every man in it is a great roan, an orator, a critic, a statesman ; and therefore, every man upon every question, must show his oratory, his criticism, and his political abilities. The consequence of this is, that business is drawn and spun out to an immeasurable length. I believe, if it was moved and seconded, that we should come to a resolution that three and two make five, we should be entertained with logic, and rhetoric, law, history, politics and mathematics, and then we should pass the resolution, unanimously, in the affirmative. The perpetual round of feasting too, which we are obliged to submit to, makes the pilgrimage more tedious to me.

This day, I went to Dr. Allison's meeting in the forenoon, and heard the Dr. ; a good discourse upon the Lord's supper. This is a Presbyterian meet ing. I confess f am not fond of the Presbyterian meetings in this town. I had rather go to church. We have better sermons, better prayers, better speakers, softer, sweeter music, and genteeler company. And I must confess, that the Episcopal church is quite as agreeable to my taste as the Presbyterian. They are both slaves to the domination of the priesthood. I like the Congregational way best ; next to that, the Independent.

This afternoon, led by a curiosity and good company, I strolled away to mother church, or rather, grandmother church. I mean the Romish Chapel. I heard a good, short, moral essay upon the duty of parents to their children founded in justice and charity, to take care of their interests, temporal and spiritual. This afternoon's entertainment was to me most awful and affecting. The poor wretches fingering their beads, chanting Latin, not a word of which they understood ; their pater-nosters and ave Marias ; their holy water ; their crossing themselves perpetually ; their bowing to the name of Jesus, wherever they hear it ; their bowings, and kneelings, and genuflections before the altar. The dress of the priest was rich with lace. His pulpit was velvet and gold. The altar-piece was very rich ; little images and crucifixes about ; wax candles lighted up. But how shall I describe the picture of our Saviour, in a frame of marble over the altar, at full length, upon the cross in the agonies, and the blood dropping and streaming from his wounds ! The mu sic, consisting of an organ and a choir of singers, went all the afternoon, except sermon time. And the assembly chanted most sweetly and exquisitely.

Here is everything which can lay hold of the eye, ear, and imagination. Everything which can charm, and bewitch the simple and ignorant. I wonder how Luther ever broke the spell.


John Adams