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Browsing: Diary of John Quincy Adams, Volume 1


Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0021

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-21

21st.

The weather cleared up in the Night; somewhat cold, and very windy. Mr. Evans set off in the afternoon for Portsmouth.
Finished the 4th. and began the 5th. Book of the Iliad. The 200 { 408 } last lines in the 4th. are much more difficult than any thing I have met with in Greek as yet.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0022

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-22

22d.

Mr. and Mrs. Allen, and Eliza, stopp'd here on their way to Kittery, at about half after 8. I was not up. I cannot study in the morning, because there is always so much stirring; but when every body else in the house is in bed, I have nothing to interrupt me, so that I seldom retire before 1 in the morning, and rise, between 8 and 9. I have endeavoured to sleep less but have not been able.
The weather mild all day. Looks something like rain; which would make very bad travelling, and the Town less lively: Finished the second Volume of the Essay upon the human Understanding. There is much said in the latter end of the Book, concerning the real essence of things. He may be right in his conjectures, but I know not how far upon those Principles, Pyrrhonism,1 might be carried; and perhaps, it is not a question of great Consequence, whether we know the real essence of things or not.
1. The philosophical doctrine which claims the impossibility of attaining certainty of knowledge, first taught by Pyrrho of Elis, ca. 300 B.C. ( OED).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0023

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-23

23d.

Mr. Shaw went to the funeral of Mr. Wingate, formerly a Minister at Boxford. A Mr. and Mrs. Swift from Andover dined here. Mr. True, came home with Mr. Shaw, and will lodge here tonight. Read Guthrie's Grammar in the Evening. This is to me, at present a more entertaining study, than Locke; and does not require so close application.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0024

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-24

24th.

Another Snow storm; almost all day. Closed the Acts, in the Testament, and began the Romans. In the last Chapter of Acts, there is a Story, which, shows how far ignorance and prejudice, mislead the judgment of men. A Viper sticks upon St. Paul's hand, and the People, immediately suppose him to be a murderer, but as soon as they find he receives no hurt from it, they conclude he is a God. Eventus Stultorum magister,1 says Livy, { 409 } but if all those who judge of most things from the Event, are to be comprehended under that denomination, who would escape the charge of folly. But I think it the duty of Every one, to endeavour to be, as little as possible influenced by Events. As men, and their Actions, are really, either good or bad in themselves, and not according to their success; it is unjust to judge them upon any other Principles.
1. “Nec eventus mode hoc docet, (stultorum iste magister est),” Livy, The History of Rome, Bk. 22, chap. 39 [line 10] (Titus Livius Historiarum Libri qui Supersunt Omnes, 3 vols., Leipzig, 1769, 1:742, at MQA with JQA 's bookplate and inscription): “nor does the event only, that instructor of fools, demonstrate it” (Titus Livius, The History of Rome, transl. D. Spillan and Cyrus Edmonds, 4 vols., N.Y., 1892, 2:809).