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Browsing: Early Diary of John Adams, Volume 1


Docno: ADMS-02-01-02-0005-0002-0002

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1754-03-08

March 8th.1

A Clowdy morning. I am now reading my lord Orrerys letters to { 52 } his son Concerning Dr. Swift and his writings, which for softness and delicacy of style, accuracy and serenity of sentiment, are absolutely inimitable.2 Reading also the last volume of Monsieur Rollin’s Belles Lettres which are worth their weight in gold.—for his excellent reflections on every remarkable event that occurs in history he informs his readers of the true source {Folio: 5} of every action and instructs them in the method of forming themselves upon the models of virtue to be met with in History.3
1. The first day of the fourth quarter of the academic year 1753–1754 (MH-Ar: Steward’s Records, Quarterbill Books).
2. Remarks on the Life and Writings of Dr. Jonathan Swift ... in a Series of Letters from John Earl of Orrery to His Son, the Honourable Hamilton Boyle, London, 1751, was the work of John Boyle, 5th Earl of Orrery (1717–1762), a friend of Swift, Pope, and Johnson and the author of miscellaneous literary works ( DNB ). “ [A]s the first attempt at an account of Swift,” it “attracted much attention” (same); but modern estimates of its authority and style fall far short of JA ’s enthusiasm for Orrery’s book.
3. The faulty punctuation of this passage on Rollin follows that of the MS precisely.
Charles Rollin (1661–1741), rector of the University of Paris, was the author and compiler of numerous historical and pedagogical works that, in translation, were extraordinarily popular in England and America for many years and notably so in the Adams family. See Adams Family Correspondence , 1:142–143, where the known Adams copies of Rollin’s works are listed. See also JA ’s commendation of Rollin’s Method of Teaching and Studying the Belles Lettres in a letter to AA , 7 July 1776, and a facsimile of the titlepage of that work (same, 2:40–41, and facing p. 263).