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Browsing: Diary of John Quincy Adams, Volume 1

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0012-0025

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-10-26


I was greatly disappointed to find, that neither of my Cousins nor my brother had any Letters for me from Europe. Surely my Sister did not let both opportunities slip. I began to day upon the { 348 } Testament but shall not I fear proceed far this week. Company in the afternoon to drink tea.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0012-0026

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-10-27


This morning Miss Nancy return'd, upon hearing Lucy Cranch, was here, as they are very intimate together; not from a similarity of character however, for Lucy, has still more gravity and seriousness in her disposition, than her Sister. Every person I believe has, in some measure, a double Character; the one implanted by nature, and the other form'd by education. A Character naturally vicious, may by proper training, be led in the right path, and a mind originally excellent, may be injured, by an erroneous method of raising it. How fortunate are those, who enjoy both the blessings! and I know of nobody who has them to a greater degree, than both of my Cousins. They have been taught to admire, and to know, what is useful, and durable, and not to spend three quarters of their time thinking, how they shall do, to be stared at the fourth. Mr. Thaxter and Leonard White dined with us; in the afternoon, Mr. Shaw, and the Ladies went down and drank tea at Doctor Saltonstall's. We went out on a gunning party, but had not, any great success. Spent part of the evening at Mr. White's, and part, at Mr. Duncan's, where I had not yet been. Felt very dull all the evening, owing to a number of circumstances. Mr. Duncan supped here.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0012-0027

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-10-28


This morning My two Cousins left us, to return to Braintree, at about 9. Nancy, and Cousin Betsey, went down to Mr. White's; So that our house was very considerably thinn'd. Mrs. Shaw spent the afternoon out. In the Evening Charles and myself went and stayd an hour at Mr. Duncan's. Found Mr. Thaxter there. The weather is uncommonly mild for the Season; I was obliged to make a fire last Fall, in France, by the middle of this month, and I have, not as yet felt the necessity of one, here, although the Season is further advanced and the winters are colder, than there.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0012-0028

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-10-29


I began to give over all hopes of receiving any Letters from my Sister by the last Vessels, but this morning while we were at { 349 } Breakfast A large packet came in from Boston; inclosing me a very long Letter, with the account untill the 15th. of August. The pleasure I received was enhanced, by having it when it was unexpected. But it has not satisfied me, upon one subject, which gives me still a great deal of anxiety. Doubts, hopes, and fears alternately rise in my Breast, and I know not what to Conclude. The subject is of great importance to me, as it regards the happiness of a Sister, for whom I have the tenderest and sincerest affection.1 Between 12 and 1 I went down to Mr. White's, and read my Letter to the Ladies. Stay'd and dined there. Spent part of the afternoon with Mr. Thaxter: he gave me a piece of information which surprised me very much, but which I sincerely hope to be true. Nancy came home, this Evening. I have been endeavouring for some time past, to climb, up some steps upon the hill of the muses but, Boileau says with great truth

C'est en vain qu'au Parnasse un téméraire auteur

Pense de l'art des vers atteindre la hauteur

S'il n'a reçu du ciel, l'influence secrete,

Si son astre en naissant ne l'a formé Poete.2

The hill I fear is by far too slippery for me.
1. This is AA2's 32-page letter dated 4 July–11 Aug. (Adams Papers), but it contains no mention of her breaking the engagement with Royall Tyler.
2. Nicholas Boileau-Despréaux, “L'Art poetique,” from Oeuvres choisies, 2 vols., Paris, 1777, 2:[3], a copy of which is at MQA with JQA's bookplate and MS signature with the date 1781. JQA quotes the first four lines of the first song, line three of which should read: “S'il ne sent point du ciel.”
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, 2018.