The Beehive: the official blog of the Massachusetts Historical Society

JQA's St. Petersburg Reading List (November/December)

Continuing our series of posts highlighting John Quincy Adams' reading, now during his residence in St. Petersburg as American minister. Remember that you can follow along with JQA's trip via his line-a-day entries on Twitter. For previous reading lists, see the August, September and October posts.

Following his arrival in Russia, JQA doesn't mention his daily reading as often in his line-a-day diary, but occasionally he comments on it in his long diary entries for November and December (start reading his November long entries here). For much of the time during these first months in Russia, however, he is kept quite busy with the pressing needs of finding suitable housing and the social pressures of his post:

11/2/1809: In his long diary entry, JQA reports "Mr. Harris called again and passed a couple of hours with us in the Evening. He sent me also a Russian and French Dictionary and Grammar, from which I began the attempt to learn the characters of the Russian Alphabet. 

11/29/1809: In his long diary entry, JQA writes that he "read a little of General Pfuhl's pamphlet, and wrote very little." This is presumbly Russian general von Pfuhl's Fragmente über die Kriegskunst nach Gesichtspunkten der militäischen Philosophie ([St. Petersburg, Lesznowski, 1809]).

11/30/1809: "Wrote little; and read only part of my German pamphlet."

In his synopsis for the month of November, JQA records "We rise seldom earlier than 9. in the morning, often note before ten. Breakfast. Visitors to receive, or visits to make untill three, soon after which the night comes on. At 4 we dine, and pass the Evening either abroad untill very late, or at our lodgings with company untill ten or eleven o'clock. The night parties abroad seldom break up untill 4 or 5 in the morning. It is a life of such irregularity and dissipation, as I cannot, & will not, continue to lead."

12/3/1809: In his long diary entry, JQA notes "I read this day two sermons of Massillon - the Samaritan woman and on alms giving. Both of them excellent. The pretences for neglecting a religious life, and for not distributing charity are victoriously refuted; and the vices of luxurious wealth are chastised with just severity." See entry for 8/6.

12/10/1809: Two Sermons of Massillon; on Infidelity and Slander. See entry for 8/6.

12/19/1809: In his long diary entry, JQA records that he "sent an excuse" to a ball at the de Bray's, and "pass'd part of the night in reading and writing."

12/21/1809: Storch's Picture of St. Petersburg. This is Heinrich Freidrich von Storch, The Picture of Petersburg (London: Longman and Rees, 1801). Available via Google Books here. In his long diary entry, JQA notes that he finished the book today.

I'll continue to update this post through December with additional notes on reading as JQA provides them.

permalink | Published: Wednesday, 2 December, 2009, 11:30 AM


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