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Browsing: Diary of John Quincy Adams, Volume 1


Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0007

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-07

7th.

Drank tea, and spent the evening at Mr. Payson's. His lady, who has had two daughters1 by a former, takes, as I believe, the shortest possible method to ruin them. She made one of them this evening, mimic, the peculiarities, of several respectable persons in town. The Child, would first examine particularly, to see if the persons she was to ape was not present, and when satisfied they were not, would imitate all their oddities, so as to raise the laughter of the Company, who must all at the same time suppose, that to morrow, they would themselves afford the same diversion to others. And this is an accomplishment! If such a Character in a person already grown up, is always hated and avoided, what ought our sentiments be, of one, who encourages it in a Child, and creates an habit which is as contemptible, as dangerous.
Leonard White took his leave of us. The Vacation ends to-morrow, and he returns to Cambridge.
{ 400 }
Began upon the second book of the Iliad: it is something very extraordinary to me, how the fondness for Antiquity can lead men (and women) of taste and learning to such extravagant partiality for the ancients, as it has in many instances. Madam Dacier,2 went so far as to say that even the customs and manners of Antiquity, were as much better than those of modern times, as they were different. To be consistent she should have added religion too, for all the rest have their Source in that. I have been reading this day, that Jupiter the greatest of the Gods, revolving in his mind, how he might avenge, an injury of one man to another, by destroying thousands of innocent men, at length determines to send a deceitful dream, and frames, an impudent lye for the messenger to tell. What an idea, of the supreme being! Is it not a denial, of his wisdom, and justice, as well as of his Power? Surely our ideas of a God, are much more perfect at this Time. To say that this owing to no merit of our own, but to our having been favour'd with Revelation, is no argument against us, but on the contrary assigning the cause of our improvement. I shall continue to commit my Ideas on this subject to Paper; according as I have occasion.
1. Sarah White and Mary Henley White (Dean Dudley, History of the Dudley Family, Wakefield, Mass., 1886–1894, p. 798–799).
2. Anne Lefèvre Dacier, the distinguished Latin and Greek scholar and translator of the Odyssey and Iliad (Hoefer, Nouv. biog. générale ). At this time JQA may have owned copies of the Dacier translation of the Odyssey, 3 vols., Amsterdam, 1717, and the Iliad, 3 vols., Amsterdam, 1712, which have his bookplate (MQA).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0008

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-08

8th.

At home all day. Mr. True, was here all the afternoon. There is something extraordinary [about] this man: he has formerly been in a Melancholy state of mind, and appears even now to retain it, to a certain degree.
Finished the book of Luke in the afternoon.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0009

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-09

9th.

Miss Nancy, finally left us, this afternoon; and is going to board at Mr. Israël Bartlett's. Her going away, has given me pleasure, with respect to myself; as she was the Cause of many disagreeable little Circumstances to me. There was a Time, when I was Sensible of being more attached to her, than I should wish to { 401 } be; to any young Lady, to whom I was not in any way related: but it was of very short duration; indeed her character is such, as acquires a persons affection, much easier than she preserves it. But her natural disposition which is excellent, and the many good Qualities which appear, even through the mist of foibles and errors that surround them, have given me, a friendship for her, and it appears to me, that the present step, must do her essential injury, unless she can immediately assume a fund of Prudence, which, I have never seen her make use of. With one third part of the Vanity she has, she would be exceeding amiable. All her principal faults proceed from that, which has been fostered and fanned ever since she was introduced into company; and she was then too young, not to be tickled, with the Admiration paid her by a number of real and feigned admirers, such as always follow a young Lady of Wit and personal Attractions.
Spent the Evening at Mr. Dodge's in Company with Mr. Thaxter, Mr. Bartlett, the two Mr. Osgoods and Major Starke. The Conversation was partly upon literary subjects, and partly upon religion, a topic Mr. D. is not averse to.