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Browsing: Diary of John Quincy Adams, Volume 1

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0012-0004

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-10-04


I began this day to translate the Eclogues of Virgil.1 What a difference between this Study, and that of a dry barren greek Grammar. But without sowing the grain there certainly can be no harvest, and there is no Rose, without a thorn. I have been invited to several places, but as yet have had to plead, as an excuse, that my trunks are not come, and I have no Clothes to appear decently in. Although I am much in want of my trunks, yet I should be glad if I could make the excuse serve, longer, than I shall be able to: for I feel every day the desire of forming new Acquaintances, diminishing. I have been for these eight years continually changing my Society: as soon as I have been able to distinguish good Characters from bad, and have obtained any friends, I could have any Confidence in, I have been obliged to leave them, probably never to see them more. My heart instead of growing callous by a frequent repetition of the same pain, seem'd to feel every seperation more than, any of the former ones. I am really weary of this wandering, strolling kind of Life, and now I wish to form few new acquaintances, have few friends, but such as I may

Grapple to my heart with hooks of steel.2

1. JQA's translation of Virgil's Eclogues, mentioned here, is undoubtedly the undated MS, M/JQA/43 (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 238), which contains only the first four eclogues. Two years earlier he had copied all ten of the eclogues in Latin, each (except the last) followed by Dryden's English translation (4 vols., London, 1782, at MQA). The Latin text used here is uncertain; JQA had bought the Brindley edition, London, 1744 (at MQA), in Paris on 11 March 1785, but there were at least two other editions of Virgil's works previously purchased by JQA, now also at MQA, which may have been in his possession at this time ([Christian Lotter], Inventory of JQA's books, 6 Nov. 1784, Adams Papers).
2. ”Grapple them unto thy soul with hoops of steel,” Hamlet, Act I, scene iii, line 63.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0012-0005

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-10-05


Mr. Thaxter came and dined with us, to day, the first time he has been to see us, since Mr. Shaw went away. In the evening Miss Nancy had Company to Visit her. Mr. W. Osgood, who is said to be her very humble Servant, and something like a Mr. Hickman, to a Miss Howe.1 Mr. Ca[leb] Blodget, who bears the same title, but if fame be true, with still less Success. I am afraid she either treats her admirers too well or too ill. Miss B. Duncan, Mr. Thaxter's reputed flame, she is in my opinion the greatest { 336 } beauty in Haverhill: at least of the Ladies I have seen. Her hair alone is sufficient to justify the admiration of the ancients for golden locks. Her face is very pretty, and her eye sparkles with Vivacity, and good nature, without that wildness which indicates want of thought. She is as Fielding says, too tall for a pretty woman, and too short for a fine Woman: that is no one can wish her an inch taller or an inch lower. Her shape, is inferior to none I ever saw, and her taste in dress is elegant, with the utmost simplicity. If her mind is equal to her Person, I hope she is destined, to complete the happiness of a Person for whom I have the greatest Esteem and Affection. Her Sister Peggy was here too this evening, and Miss Debby Perkins, of whom I shall speak all in good time.
1. Hickman and Howe are characters in Samuel Richardson's Clarissa Harlowe.
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2017.