21 February 1828
adams-john10 Emily Wieder Foreign Relations

21. VI.15. Thursday.

Elgar— Joseph Silsbee— Nathanl Maury— Richard Slade— William jr Dickins. Asbury Bateman— Ephraim Forward— Chauncey Clark— Satterlee Hellen— Thomas J.

Stopped in my morning walk at C. B. King’s and sat to Mr. Harding and Mr Greenough at the same time— The first for a Portrait, the second for a Bust—promised them another sitting Saturday Morning. I sent for Mr Elgar the Commissioner of the Public Buildings, and spoke of an application of    Houston for the purchase of a certain Lot of the public Land in this City, for which he makes what Elgar considers a fair offer, but Robert King has a claim upon the land, for services which he alledges to have rendered heretofore as a Surveyor to the value of 500 dollars, and for which he appeals to a verbal promise of a former City Commissioner of this same land— Elgar says that his predecessor Lane, refused to acknowledge this claim, and that he cannot acknowledge it unless by direction from me— I desired him to see Mr King and require him to present a Statement of his claim in writing— Mr Silsbee came with papers from J. A. Bates, reviewing his claim for an appointment as a purser in the Navy, and his complaints of injustice from the Navy Department, in not giving him the appointment before— I took the papers, and told Mr Silsbee that Bates’s complaints were founded upon inadmissible pretension and misrepresentations— Mr Maury came from the Navy Department with a Commission for one of the Lieutenants recently appointed, which I signed— He afterwards sent me two others. Mr Slade from the Department of State, came with the ratifications of the three Conventions, concluded by Mr Gallatin, with Great-Britain 1. The Commercial Convention of 6. August 1827. 2. The North-western Boundary Convention also of 6. August 1827. and 3. The North-eastern boundary Convention of 29. November 1827. which I signed— They are to be sent to England by a young Mr Blunt as a special messenger— Mr Dickins, Secretary to the Columbian Institute, brought me to examine Designs for a Seal and Diploma, for that Society, well drawn, and which suggesting some alterations I approved. They have not adopted the device I had proposed for a Seal, but propose in its stead a hissing rattlesnake coiled round a book; to which I object as odious imagery; and instead of the classical motto from Horace Lucent Sidera Nautis, with the Ship; they have discarded the Ship, and substituted for the motto Favent Astra; which I disapproved, as an idea borrowed from the false Science of judicial Astrology, and therefore inappropriate to an Institution for the promotion of true Science— On this as on the former occasion of the Pediment to the Capitol, I observe the extreme diversities in the Sentiments of learned and ingenious men, upon matters of taste and invention— My device for the Seal, and motto were in my own self-conceit ingenious, classical elegant and appropriate—but no one thought them so, except myself; and they have taken in its stead a Serpent Sibilant, which would be an excellent emblem for the House of Representatives at this time, but is in my judgment a very absurd one for a learned and literary Institute; and instead of the Stars of Horace, illuminating the Mariner’s Night, they have the Stars of judicial astrology, favouring the deadly venom of the Rattlesnake— Mr Dickins also gave me some seeds of two or three plants which he has received since the Circular of the Institute was sent out a variety of Lettuce from Alabama, and the Turpentine weed— Mr Bateman, the Senator, and Mr Forward of the House of Representatives, of the Committee of enrolled Bills, brought me two short Bills which I signed— Satterlee Clark called for the decision upon his case, and his papers; which had been sent to the War Department— Thomas J. Hellen dined with us. Johnson and Mary are yet both confined to their chambers—