Diary of John Quincy Adams, volume 2

330 16th. JQA 16th. Adams, John Quincy

I waited upon Parson Cary this forenoon, in expectation of much edification; but he gave us a more indifferent sermon than usual; which in addition to the weather's being very cold, prevented me from going in the afternoon: instead of which I read three or four of Yorick's sermons; Townsend, who returned last night from Boston; was here all day: in the evening I concluded the first volume of Gibbon's history. The two last chapters which treat of the rise and progress of Christianity, are written neither with the indulgence of a friend, nor even with the candor, and ingenuous openness which an enemy ought ever to show. The sentiment, however with which he concludes the volume is a melancholy truth; and it is to the immortal honour of the present age, that no new religious sect, can gain ground, because it cannot find a persecutor.

17th. JQA 17th. Adams, John Quincy

I have continued reading in Sullivan's lectures. The book is entertaining, and the author so far as he goes appears to be master of his subject. In general he is perspicuous and intelligible, but the Treatise is rather historical than professional: it was a posthumous work, and therefore probably much more imperfect, than it would have been, had the author himself given it to the public. The style is rather harsh and inharmonious, and there are many inaccuracies even of grammar, which are probably nothing more than errors of an uncorrected press. Townsend and I pass'd the evening in the office till about 8, after which I went in and play'd with Mr. Parsons at back-gammon about an hour.

18th. JQA 18th. Adams, John Quincy

Passed the day at the office; Townsend and Thompson were there in the evening.

The question, what am I to do in this world recurs to me, very frequently; and never without causing great anxiety, and a depression of spirits: my prospects appear darker to me, every day, and I am obliged sometimes to drive the subject from my mind, and to assume some more agreeable train of thoughts. I do not wish to look into futurity; and were the leaves of fate to be 331opened before me, I should shrink from the perusal. Fortune, I do not covet. Honours, I begin to think are not worth seeking, and as for “the bubble reputation,” though deck'd with all the splendors of the rainbow, yet those very splendors are deceitful, and it seldom fails to burst, from the weight of the drop which it contains.