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Browsing: Diary of John Quincy Adams, Volume 1

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0013-0028

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-11-28


In the forenoon I, began, upon Xenophon's Cryopaedia,1 and in the afternoon, upon the book of Matthew; closed in the Evening my N: 9 to my Sister.2 I have for about a month past, recited in the morning, with my brother in Virgil, and it is rather to me a relaxation, than a study. It is a general Observation, that mankind have too exalted ideas, of those goods they do not possess, and too low an opinion of them, when attained. But I believe, with Respect to Science, this maxim must be reversed. It is most commonly despised by the ignorant, but is well appreciated by those, who have overcome, the difficulties, that occur in the road to it. A youth seldom takes pleasure, in the first pursuit of those Studies, which afterwards afford him, the highest Entertainment. When I first went through Virgil, I was struck with many Beauties, which it is impossible to overlook, but the difficulty of understanding the passages, often overbalanced the Satisfaction, I then derived from them: but whenever I read over any part of this Author again I am abundantly rewarded, for all the pains I ever took, in becoming acquainted with him.
1. The Greek writer whose Cyropaedia, a historical novel in eight books, used Cyrus the Elder as a model statesman. The work, a staple of 18th-century college education, focuses on the maintenance of law and authority and political organization. There are several copies of the work in the Adams libraries at MB and MQA.
2. No letters written by JQA to AA2 between 29 Oct. 1785 and 15 March 1786 have been found. JQA has misnumbered this letter in his Diary, for no. 9 was his of 8–18 Sept. 1785 (Adams Papers).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0013-0029

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-11-29


The Ladies, went in the afternoon, to pay what is called, the wedding visit to Mrs. Woodbury: a mere ceremony, this, and I believe a very unmeaning one: there were four or five and twenty persons, there, to stare, at one another, for an hour, and then return home, to be the objects of each others observations: I did not go. Spent the evening at Mr. Dodge's, in Company with Mr. Audlin, a gentleman from Exeter, who looks, as if he was not to continue long in this world, a sociable, person, and of agreeable manners; Mr. James Duncan, Mr. Bil: and Mr. T. Osgood. The first is said to be a very sensible young man, and has something very soft in his looks and address: the other at least in his personal appearance, is somewhat in the other way, but I neither { 364 } know, nor have heard much said as to his Character. Mr. D. Tyler, at times, and in particular this Evening, an easy, good-natured laughing person, who observed that it was wrong in a gentleman to swear; Miss Abial (I think it is) Osgood, of whom I could make, neither this nor that, for in the course of the whole evening she opened her lips twice, to answer Questions: my good Mr. Thaxter, and the charming Nancy. Upon the whole it was as agreeable an Evening as I have spent for a long time. There was sociability and good humour, and no Cards. Between 9 and 10 we retired, and I found at home, a long Letter from my Sister, coming down to the 2d. of October.1 My obligations to write to her increase thus daily, and when I shall be able to fulfill them I know not.
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.