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Browsing: Diary of John Quincy Adams, Volume 2


Docno: ADMS-03-02-02-0002-0012-0024

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1787-11-24

24th.

I went in the forenoon, and exhibited my complaints to Dr. Swett, but he told me, they were not worth speaking of; and so I will e'en let them take their chance.
This afternoon Townsend, and I, went down to Mr. Tracey's, upon a disagreeable piece of business, but which we got through quite comfortably. Ben Hooper called on me in the evening. I have again begun upon Gibbon's roman history, and hope, I shall this time go through.1 I read the first volume last Spring; but at that time my avocations were so numerous, that I could not proceed in reading the book. I admire the style, and in general the Sentiment, though I think there is sometimes an affectation of { 321 } wit in the one, and sometimes a glaring tinsel in the other, which are far beneath the majestic simplicity of nature.
1. JQA 's 32 pages of MS notes from his rereading of Gibbon, begun on 19 Nov., and 54 pages of sources used by Gibbon, undated but presumably made at the same time, are in M/JQA/46, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 241. In addition, there are random notes from Gibbon on blank pages in the almanac JQA used for his line-a-day Diary from 11 Jan.–31 Dec. 1788 (D/JQA/13, same, Microfilms, Reel No. 16).

Docno: ADMS-03-02-02-0002-0012-0025

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1787-11-25

25th.

I thought I was too unwell to pass two hours in a cold meeting house this forenoon, and staid at home. In the afternoon I ventured out, and went with Townsend to Dr. Tucker's meetinghouse; but finding there was no service there, we went to church. Parson Bass,1 is not much of an orator, and was rather negligent in treating common place topics, in common place language. Drank tea at Mrs. Hooper's,2 and pass'd the evening at Mr. J. Tracy's. Captn. Fletcher was there. Tracy was quite warm upon the subject of the late election. He is a militia officer, and possessed very strongly of the esprit de corps. He was offended that Genl. Titcomb, should come in the last of the four members for this town, and in the course of conversation went rather beyond the bounds of prudence.
1. Rev. Edward Bass, rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Newburyport (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 11:340–359).
2. Mrs. Mary Harris Hooper, wife of the loyalist Joseph Hooper, and landlady of JQA 's fellow law student Horatio Townsend (same, 15:404–406).

Docno: ADMS-03-02-02-0002-0012-0026

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1787-11-26

26th.

I took an additional cold, yesterday, and am still more unwell than I have been. I pass'd the evening at my lodgings; reading Gibbon, and translating a piece from the french.

Docno: ADMS-03-02-02-0002-0012-0027

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1787-11-27

27th.

Better than I have been for these ten days past: all the time again at the office, or at my own lodgings. It is of great advantage to us to have Mr. Parsons in the office. He is in himself a law-library, and a proficient in every useful branch of science. But his chief excellency is, that, no student can be more fond of proposing questions than he is of solving them. He is never at a loss, and always gives a full and ample account, not only of the subject { 322 } { 323 } proposed, but of all matters which have any intimate connection with it. I am perswaded, that the advantage of having such an instructor is very great, and I hope I shall not misimprove, it, as some of his pupils have done. Where nature is deficient, application must supply her place, and if Nature is liberal, there is so much more reason, for turning her partiality to advantage, for

Nature never lends

The smallest scruple of her excellence

But like a thrifty goddess she determines

Herself the glory of a creditor

Both thanks and use.1

1. Measure for Measure, Act I, scene i, lines 37–41.