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Browsing: Diary of John Quincy Adams, Volume 2


Docno: ADMS-03-02-02-0003-0003-0024

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1788-03-24

24th.

I attended at Mr. Atkins's Court; and appeared to the actions. Mr. Marquand who had been summoned there, appeared, and somewhat diverted us by his impetuosity. I met young Thomas in the street who gave me some information from Cambridge.
This being the last day of service, we have been uncommonly busy in the office in copying the writs and making out records, according to the Justice's act,1 which is useless and even trouble• { 379 } some on every account. I this day finished reading Gibbon's History, which I have had a long time without perusing. It has given me much information upon a part of history with which I was but little acquainted. The style upon the whole I think is elegant, but his manifest partiality against the Christian religion; is equally injurious to his character as a philosopher, and as an historian. He affects to despise those men who from a zealous attachment to their religion, have adopted the effusions of enthusiasm, as readily as the pure and indisputable relations of history; while he is himself guilty of the other extreme, which in my mind is much less excusable. Knox however is I believe too severe when he says, that this writer by a meretricious and affected stile, far beneath the native dignity and simplicity of the ancients has caught the transient applause of the public, and indeed the occasion upon which he passes this judgment renders the censure very reprehensible:2 The reflection upon Julian's leaving Paris, was to me one of the most ingenious passages in the book: And Knox, by setting himself up as the Champion of english prejudices, cannot be quoted by a neutral person as an authority of great weight.
1. Perpetual Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1780–1800, 3 vols., Boston, 1801, 1:146–149.
2. Vicesimus Knox, Liberal Education; Or, A Practical Treatise on the Methods of Acquiring Useful and Polite Learning, 10th edn., 2 vols., London, 1789, 2:307–309.

Docno: ADMS-03-02-02-0003-0003-0025

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1788-03-25

25th.

Copies of all the actions which are to be entered at the next Court of Common Pleas were this day sent to Salem, to be filed in the clerk's office; seven days before the sitting of the court, as the law directs: And as we have now got through the hurry of business, we have this day been very idle: Mr. Parsons has been talking all day with some one or other who came to the office: much of our time is lost in this manner; and if we complain, we are told we must learn to read without suffering ourselves to be interrupted by any noise whatever, a direction with which I believe I shall never be able to comply. And It would be much more agreeable to me, if he would receive his company in the other room, and spare us the trouble of an apprenticeship to an art which we cannot acquire.
{ 380 }