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Browsing: Diary of John Quincy Adams, Volume 1

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0005

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-05


After passing all the day, at pretty Close Study, I went and spent the Evening at Mr. White's. Mr. Osgood, and Major Bart• { 367 } lett,1 with their Ladies, were there: I had at length, an Invitation from the former, to go to his House. The terms that subsist between his family and Mr. Shaw's, are such, that, I did not expect any notice from him: nor had I any right to expect it: but as a man possess'd of liberal Sentiments, his enmities do not extend further than persons. He is acknowledged to be a very Sensible, as well as an hospitable man; and Mr. Shaw often laments, that a reconciliation cannot take place. Found Mr. Thaxter here, when I return'd home: he is to set off on a journey to Boston, and Hingham, to-morrow morning. Mr. Marsh was here too. He is the eldest of 12 Children, of an old Lady in town, and it is remarkable, that 11 of the 12, are uncommonly Sensible, for the few advantages of education they have enjoy'd, as they are all mechanics. This man is between 60 and 70 years old. He was mentioning a person, who had an opinion of some religious point, different from his own. Now says he, he is very wrong.
Perhaps, said Mr. Shaw, he thinks you are wrong.
Ay, but I know he is.
If such a degree of certainty, is not Philosophical, at least a man is perhaps the happier for professing it. When I see People, says some French author, adoring the Image of a Saint, for its miracles, I pity them, and yet wish, I believed as firmly as they.
1. Probably Israel Bartlett, Haverhill goldsmith and Revolutionary officer, cousin of Bailey Bartlett (Chase, Hist. of Haverhill, p. 620–621).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0006

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-06


Miss Betsey Cranch came and stay'd here all day. Miss Nancy went out to day, and will spend the rest of the week, with some of her friends. Went with my Cousin to Mr. White's in the Evening. Mr. Ben: Blodget was there; but soon took his leave. There is something in this person that makes me, and Eliza smile, whenever we look at him. I don't doubt however but he is a very good sort of a youth.
I feel in much better spirits, than I have for a considerable time, and I hope, the gloom that has oppressed my mind, for some weeks, is now entirely dispelled. I have not that I know of, been ever, more contented, and happy, than I now feel myself; and I am now fully satisfied, that I have nothing to fear from a Quarter, which has given me a great deal of anxiety.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0007

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-07


It snow'd all day; in the Evening it clear'd up, and grew very cold. Eliza, came in the morning, and on account of the Snow that has fallen, stays here to-night.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0008

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-08


A colder day, than I have experienced, for nearly these three years. It froze very hard in the night, and if this weather continues, we shall have very fine slaying. The cold has ruin'd my horse; for it is put him in such a situation, that I have no expectation that he will be alive three days hence. Immediately after dinner Eliza, went home; between 5 and 6. I went down to Major Bartlett's, and spent the Evening there. The two Miss Duncan's, P. White, E. Cranch, and N. Hazen; Mr. B. Osgood, J. Duncan, B. Mores, and myself, were all the Company. We play'd a rubber of whist, and yet I kept awake: the Evening was otherwise agreeably spent. I never saw Nancy Coquet it, quite so much; she seem'd really determined to outstrip herself. I really believe I have form'd too favourable an opinion of this girl: let me not however too hastily conceive prejudices against her. To judge Characters with impartiality, is by no means an easy task. Affection or Resentment, will almost always misrepresent things. These passions are the Jaundice of the mind, for they show every thing of the same colour. I wish to free myself from them, in as great a measure as I possibly can. At about 8 I came away, and waited on Miss B. Duncan home. Went into the house, and remained about half an hour there. The Weather seems to be a little more moderate now, than it has been in the Course of the day.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0009

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-09


The air is very temperate, in Comparison to that of yesterday. The river, was froze over in such a manner, that it was almost sufficient to bear a man's Weight: but it is now so different, that Mr. Peabody, came over this Evening in a boat: the closing of this River, is always a sudden affair. Mr. Duncan, and Mr. Payson, were here, in the Evening; and Mr. Ben Willis, a youth, about 17 years, old, who has so much sedateness, and steadiness, in his looks and manners, that he goes by the name of the young { 369 } Captain: I received a Horace, by the Post, from my Brother, to whom I sent for it last Week. I began upon the Odes, and went through the two first.1
1. In addition to reading Horace's Odes, JQA very likely began, but never completed, a translation. See the undated document in M/JQA/44, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 239, which contains a prose translation of the first three odes.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0010

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-10


Mr. I. Smith came over before dinner. He is to preach to-morrow at Bradford for Mr. Allen, who is gone to Boston, as he says himself, for special purposes, that is; to be married.1 In the afternoon I went with him, and visited Mr. Osgood. This was the first time I had been, in that house; and he said when I came out of it, Come, we have not been neighbourly: you must come, in, and see us often.
Dreadful Complaints of the times: Decay of Trade, scarcity of money &c. but these are grown mere Common place Observations, and do not make so deep impression, as if real distress, was seen attending them. Went into Mr. White's. Mrs. Soughton, was there; arrived this morning from Boston. Ran into Judge Blodget's, for a few minutes, found Nancy there, and Miss Sally Perkins, a young Lady I have not seen before. Bil Blodget squeaked a few tunes, on the violin: return'd and drank tea at Mr. White's. Paid a few Compliments to Miss Peggy, which surprized her very much. She had thought before, I made it an invariable Rule, never to make Compliments. I rather did it, with a View to receive a few less, myself: she is very fond of making them.
1. The following day Rev. Jonathan Allen married Elizabeth Kent (1747–1821), first cousin of AA and daughter of Ebenezer and Anna (Smith) Kent of Charlestown (Boston Record Commissioners, 30th Report, p. 71; Thomas Bellows Wyman, The Genealogies and Estates of Charlestown, in the County of Middlesex and Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1629–1818, 2 vols., Boston, 1879, 2:571).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0011

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-11


Mr. Shaw went over to Bradford, in the morning, to preach for Mr. Allen, and Mr. Smith supplied his place here. The forenoon discourse, was from CXIX Psalm. 165. Great Peace have they which love thy law; and nothing shall offend them. In the after• { 370 } noon, it was from Genesis VIII. 22. While the earth remaineth, seed time, and harvest, and cold, and heat, and summer and Winter, and day, and night shall not cease. I was much pleased with both; there were several persons, that attended to day, whom I have never seen there before. There are a number of gentlemen in Town, who, make it a Rule, never to attend divine Service here, if Mr. Shaw preaches. What narrow illiberal prejudices attend us, almost in every Circumstance of our lives. Closed my letter to my Sister in the Evening.1
1. Letter not found.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0012

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-12


I am exceedingly pleased with what I have done in Horace; and have come across many very noble Sentiments. One of those in the 9th. Ode, which I read this morning, comes, very near to one, that proceeded from the Saviour of the World. Matthew VI. 34. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. Horace Ode IX. 13.

Quid sit futurum cras, fuge quaerere; et

Quem fors dierum cumque dabit, lucro

Appone .................................1

The writer, that has ideas, so correspondent to those uttered by the mouth of god, and that without the real inspiration, must very justly hold his rank among the greatest authors. Mr. Smith set out in the afternoon to return to Boston.
1. “Cease to ask what the morrow will bring forth, and set down as gain each day that Fortune grants!” (Horace: The Odes and Epodes, transl. C. E. Bennett, Cambridge, 1952, p. 28–29 [lines 13–15]). The long series of spaced periods are JQA's; he failed to include the next line from Horace: “Nor in thy youth neglect sweet love nor dances, whilst life is still in its bloom and crabbed age is far away!” (same).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0013

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-13


Went in the afternoon, with an Intention to visit Mr. Soughton, but stopping in at Mr. White's, was told he, and his Lady were spending the afternoon at Judge Blodget's: found Eliza, somewhat unwell. Mr. Sears, Mr. Burges, and Mr. Marquand, were at Mr. White's all the evening; and Mr. Osgood and { 371 } Mr. Duncan. Mr. Sears I take to be between 30 and 35 years old; has made an handsome fortune in the late war: his manners are easy, and agreeable: his Principles not so rigid and severe, as are required in this Country. Mr. Burges, is an Englishman: plain in his Countenance, dress, and manners: though he says some things, that I cannot easily reconcile, with certain Circumstances. Mr. Marquand, is a Merchant from Newbury, who is not I imagine in danger of losing the use of his Tongue. He did not suffer the Conversation to grow languid; from the manner in which he related a number of things, I imagined, he preferred adding a few supernumerary Circumstances, which might create wonder, to giving a plain unadorned account of things. Peggy called some of his expressions flummery, I called them Puffs. Either may express the proper Idea. Miss Nancy, finally return'd home this Evening.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0014

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-14


Remained at home all day. Just at dusk Eliza came, up, and Leonard White with her. He brought me a Couple of Letters from my Cousin and brother.1 He came, only to keep Thanksgiving, for the winter Vacation, will not begin, before the first Wednesday in January.
1. Letters not found.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0015

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-15


Thanksgiving Day, a day of feasting throughout the State. Custom (and I know not but law also) has established, that towards the End of the year, the Governor, should appoint a certain day, for returning thanks to the supreme being for his favours during the course of the year, and the Custom is, universally, to have something extraordinary on that day, to feast upon. We had a sermon in the forenoon, upon the occasion, from Exodus. XXIII. 15. 16. and none shall appear before me empty; And the feast of the harvest, the first-fruits of thy labours, which thou hast sown, in the field: and the feast of the in-gathering, which is in the end of the year, when thou hast gathered in thy labours out of the field. Mr. Shaw who has been ill of a cold for some time, and was very hoarse, wish'd Mr. Porter1 to preach for him, but he refused, because, sometime ago, just before the { 372 } thanksgiving day in New Hampshire, upon his applying to Mr. Shaw to preach for him, he answered that Every Minister ought to preach his own thanksgiving. Mr. Soughton, with his Lady and Daughter dined here, and our Eliza. We had a very abundant Entertainment. We spent the evening at Mr. White's. The usual Circle, were present; and Mr. Johnny White2 (as they call him here, for distinction sake) and his Lady. We play'd cross Purposes, and I know not what. We laugh'd at one another all the Evening, and at about 9 in the Evening retired respectively, in good humour.
1. Huntington Porter, minister at Rye, N.H. (Langdon B. Parsons, History of the Town of Rye, New Hampshire, From Its Discovery and Settlement to December 31, 1903, Concord, N.H., 1905, p. 498).
2. John White Jr., Haverhill merchant and shopkeeper and older brother of JQA's future classmate Leonard (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 17:672–673).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0016

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-16


Dined at Mr. White's. His Son and Mr. Soughton with their Ladies, were there. Spent all the afternoon; and when I return'd home, I found, B. Duncan, and her two Brothers with, our sweet Nancy, who play'd with James, as amiably and as innocently, as if they were both in their first or second lustre. Betsey was reading, the Night Thoughts, and I recommended to her perusal the 5th and 6th. Satires of the Love of fame the universal Passion.1 Mr. and Mrs. Shaw went over in the afternoon, and paid the wedding visit to Mrs. Allen, who is in high spirits, as indeed she well may be for if Expectation makes the blessing dear she has had enough of it. Mr. Porter spent the Evening with Mr. Shaw.
1. Edward Young, The Complaint: Or, Night Thoughts on Life, Death, and Immortality, London, 1745, and his Love of Fame, The Universal Passion, In Seven Characteristic Satires, London, 1728. The fifth and sixth satires are “on women.”

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0017

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-17


Mr. Thaxter return'd from his journey this Evening. He had a very disagreeable time to-day; as the greatest part of it, has been very Rainy. But with such special calls as he has here the Weather must be no impediment to travelling: he brought a number of Letters from Braintree,1 and some books for me.
1. Letters to JQA, if any, have not been found.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0018

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-18


Both our Sermons were from the Psalms. In the morning, LXXVIII. 52. But made his own People to go forth like sheep, and guided them in the wilderness like a flock. After Dinner XVI. 8. I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. There are two sorts of preaching: the one, doctrinal, the other, practical. The latter is generally considered as the most useful, and I believe really is. The abstruse points of religion, have so long been disputed upon, that it is probable every argument that can be of any use on either side, has been repeatedly offered; and the preacher can do little more than give his own opinion. But of our moral duties we can never be too often reminded, and for the most part, we require to have them continually told us. Spent part of the Evening at Mr. White's. Mr. Thaxter, Mr. T. Osgood, and the young Captain were there. Mr. Osgood, and I were very sociable together; it was the first Time, I have had any Conversation with him. I was told my friend W. Warren, had return'd from Lisbon, and arrived at Boston last Wednesday.
Mr. White had a Vessel in at Newbury Port from the West Indies.
Leonard goes for Cambridge to-morrow morning.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0019

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-19


Finished the first book of Horace's Odes.
I went in the afternoon, and pass'd the Evening, at Mr. Johnny White's. Besides his father's family, there were, in the course of the Evening Sukey Sargeant, Sally Bernard, Debby Perkins, and Ben Blodget. Mrs. White's Sister Sally also, who is not handsome, but agreeable. I am more pleased with Debby, than I have been, and think, she might be made something very Clever: poor Benny, is somewhat unfortunate, for in the short stay, he has made in the town, he has afforded subject of mirth for the young Ladies, but they are not always the best judges of real merit. Mr. White has something curious in his Character. He very frequently complains, of being rude before Ladies, and sometimes proves it immediately: Miss Sukey, I am going to be very unpolite, and I believe this is the first time, you have found me so: I want to see, that Sweet heart of your's. The Lady answered with { 374 } great Propriety; but it would certainly have exposed many girls to have made, either an unmeaning or an insincere one.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0020

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-20


After studying, all day, as usual, I went in the Evening to Mr. Duncan's. Our time pass'd in chatting, laughing, romping, and dancing. Young Squire White,1 (for there are so many persons of that name in this Town that they are known only by their nicknames) humm'd and whistled a number of Country dances. This is another of the young Ladies' playthings here, but it is his own fault for suffering it. He seems to talk childish now and then, but he is not yet five and twenty; his youth may be his excuse. Studied late, as I most commonly do. Twelve or half after is my hour for retirement of late. I do not admire it much; but it is quite Necessary; and I therefore submit to it.
1. Samuel White Jr., son of Squire Samuel White, prominent Haverhill merchant and farmer and first cousin of John White Sr. (Daniel Appleton White and Annie Frances Richards, The Descendants of William White, of Haverhill, Mass. . . ., Boston, 1889, p. 9–12, 16, 22–23, 27, 53).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0021

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-21


All day at home. I am often at a great loss, what to say at the End of a day, in this Journal, of mine: I would place my thoughts upon Persons and things: but Persons I do not often see, and when I am in Company with a new Character, and recollect my Observations upon it, they are for the most part either such as I am afraid I should in future consider as partial and ill natured, or wholly insignificant; and my time is so entirely taken up, in other employments, that I make very few reflections upon things. However this scene of perpetual sameness, which does not agree perfectly with my disposition, will not last very long. The family I am in, presents as perfect a scene of happiness, as I ever saw: but it is entirely owing to the disposition of the persons. A life of Tranquility is to them a life of bliss. It could not be so to me. Variety is my Theme, and Life to me is like a journey, in which an unbounded plain, looks dull and insipid; while it affords greater pleasure to be surrounded by a beautiful valley, altho' steep and rugged mountains must be overcome, before it can be got at. I know not whether my Choice is the wisest: and it is possible I may live to change it; but such it is, at present.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0022

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-22


The snow was entirely gone from the ground, and the three first days in this week, were such as might be expected in April, or May, but are not common, at this Season of the year: Last Night some new snow fell again: but it is not very cold now. In the Evening I read to my Aunt for about an hour. I began and went through the first book of the Conquest of Canäan. The Versification is very fine. Many of the Ideas are noble, and all such as highly become a republican pen; the following are a specimen.

Mine be the bliss, the bliss supreme to see

My long-lov'd nation bless'd, and bless'd by me:

Let others rule; compar'd with this pure joy,

A throne's a bubble, and the world a toy.1

It will not be easy I believe to find, more excellent thoughts, and better express'd in the best of the british Poets. These lines also I think need only to be read, to be admired.

Of all the sympathy, that woes impart

To the soft texture of the good man's heart,

Departed friendship, claims the largest share,

And sorrow in excess is virtue there.2

Mr. Wibird who borrow'd the book when it was at Braintree, read it, and was very much pleased with it. He says, the author of it, is the american Pope, as he calls the author of McFingal, our Butler, and Belknap who has written an history of New Hampshire,3 our Robertson.
1. Bk. I, lines 593–596.
2. Same, Bk. I, lines 497–500.
3. Jeremy Belknap, the Dover, N.H., minister whose literary reputation rests chiefly on his History of New-Hampshire . . ., 3 vols., Boston, 1784–1792.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0023

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-23


Mr. Thaxter return'd from Exeter Court, (where he went last Tuesday) and dined with us. Mrs. Shaw was out, all the afternoon and evening. This morning I finish'd the 2d. book of Horace's Odes, and had one, which pleased me, as much, or more than any I have met with yet. It is the 16th. All those that Compose, this book are very fine, and I remember I have heard my { 376 } father who is very fond of the author, speak, in a peculiar manner of it.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0024

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-24


Eliza, spent the day here. Received some books from Braintree. Studied Watts's logic, in the afternoon, and have now got upon the subject of Syllogisms, which I do not as yet perfectly understand, but believe I shall with another reading. This method of Syllogism, is not the most perfect kind of rhetoric. Anything may be proved by it according to the rules: though nothing can be proved in fact but what the adversary chooses to grant.
It snow'd hard, all day. Wrote a letter in the Evening to my Mamma.1
1. Probably the letter dated 28 Dec. (Adams Papers).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0025

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-25


Christmas day.1 Among the Roman Catholics and the followers of the Church of England it is a great and Important day, but it is not observed in this Country, nor any where I believe by the dissenters. We had a couple of doctrinal Sermons to day. One from Isaiah XLIV. 23. Sing, o ye heavens; for the Lord hath done it: shout, ye lower parts of the Earth; break forth into singing, ye mountains o forest and every tree therein; for the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified himself in Israel. The other from John XIII. 8. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.
The weather has been very pleasant. Eliza is unwell and was not at meeting. In the Evening I read to the Ladies, the 2d. book of the Conquest of Canäan; it is not inferior to the first, but the hero has nothing to do in it, and it consists all in relation, as the 2d. and 3d. Books of the Æneid. The hymn to the Sun, is beautiful. Mina's account of the Creation, and the subsequent history, is as concise, and comprehensive, as any thing of the kind I have read: the observation she makes concerning the Sun,

Yon orb, whose brightness claims thy raptur'd praise,

Is but a beam of his unbounded blaze.2

is admirable, but the author must have supposed that the Educa• { 377 } tion of young Ladies, at the time he writes of, was much more excellent, than is given them in this age of the world. It is probable, that the reading of history has since been replaced by that of novels and plays, which were not invented then; young Ladies now, would be much more expert at giving an account of some high flown Romance, than of any history, even that of their own Country.
1. A Sunday.
2. Bk. II, lines 153–154.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0026

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-26


Exceeding cold Weather all day. Such as I have not felt these three years. Went and pass'd the Evening at Mr. White's. Eliza, has been unwell since Saturday, but is recovering. The Ladies play'd several tunes on the harpsichord, and make considerable proficiency.
Peggy, is a fine girl, and her case claims the Compassion of every body that knows her. The Unhappy state of mind which she laboured under last Winter, seems an hereditary disorder: her Mother has been in the same Case; Mrs. Duncan, whose dreadful fate has been mentioned was Mrs. White's Sister, and a brother1 not long since, put an end to himself; in the same state of Mind. This must necessarily be a disadvantage to her, for her future settlement in Life. And although she has recovered, and is in good Spirits, yet a great curiosity, and a continual absence of mind, are evident proofs, that some traces of her disorder still remain: she was one of the most promising young Ladies in the Town; with an high Spirit, such as every female, at her time of Life should be possessed of, and a cheerful agreeable disposition; I sincerely wish every consequence of her former disorder, may, as most of them already have, gradually disappear, and that she may wholly recover her first state of mind, not to lose it again. She seems to have inherited none of her father's qualities. He appears to have a great deal of the dutchman in him. If he has none of the delicious enjoyments that proceed from deep Sensibility, neither is he exposed to the painful Sensations, which it often causes.
1. Abiel Leonard committed suicide in 1777 (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 14:450–455).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0027

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-27


Was at home all day. The Cold, has in some measure abated, but is still severe. The Ladies pass'd the afternoon out. In the evening I read the 3d. Book of our Epic Poem, which does not please me, quite so much as the two first. The Characters of Hezron, Irad, and Selima, are drawn with a masters hand; and the scene of the mutiny, with the death of one of the rebelling chiefs has a vast deal of force and spirit in it. But I did not so much admire, the dialogue between Irad, and Selima, concerning the justice of the War. It was not perhaps necessary to suppose, that any person among the Israëlites doubted the righteousness of their Cause, and it is a digression which seems to leave the action of the Poem languishing. The author cannot be accused as Virgil is of being partial against the female sex. The Characters of Mina and Selima, would rather lead one, to suppose he had too exalted an opinion of them. If he errs that way it is a failing, much more amiable and excusable than the other.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0028

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-28


The sharpest day we have had, this Season. Dined at Mr. Duncan's, in Company, with Miss P. White, E. Cranch, and Nancy, Mr. Moores, Mr. Bartlett, Mr. Thaxter, Mr. Tyler and his brother. Spent the afternoon and part of the Evening there. I wonder, how it happens, that almost every kind of Conversation, that may be of any use to persons, is excluded from polite Companies every where; is it because the children of ignorance and folly, are so much more numerous than those of thought and science, that these must submit to imitate them. There were this day in Company several persons, who were able to afford us much improvement and entertainment; if they had conversed upon subjects that were susceptible of it; yet by the tyrannical law of Custom, they were obliged to talk Nonsense. When I returned home, I read the 4th. Book. I know not whether the Critic might not find considerable fault with it: there are a number, of beautiful detailed descriptions, which seems to be peculiarly the author's talent. That of Eleazer, with which the book opens is admirable: but he marries Elam and Mina rather suddenly. She had been in Gibeon but very few days, in which time she had not it seems been idle; she had converted a Nation, and made a Conquest of the Kings Son. Is not this proceeding with a little too { 379 } much dispatch. But this Circumstance, produces, a very just and excellent observation. He represents Mina, after her marriage, as rather impatient to return, with her husband to Gibeon, and says.

In love's kind heat, like ice in summer's ray,

All former ties, dissolving, pass away;

To new found friends the soul oblivious flies

New objects charm us, and new passions rise.1

The story of Helon, which is something like that of Nisus, and Euryalus in the Æneid, is pretty, and affecting.
1. Bk. IV, lines 529–532.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0029

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-29


Young Lakeman,1 who studies with us, came over the river in the morning upon the Ice. The river closed last Night. In the afternoon, I went over with Mr. Thaxter, and paid a visit to Mr. and Mrs. Allen. They look as domestic, and as much settled as if they had been keeping house, these ten years. They both seem to have attained at least the summit of the hill of Life; and they will now be able to go down, hand in hand, which is much better than travelling alone. Mr. Thaxter came up, in the Evening, and supped with us. I wish I could see him pair'd also; and if I can judge from the apparent alteration, which has lately taken place in his sentiments concerning marriage, it will not be long before he too will get entangled.
1. Probably Nathan Lakeman, of Boxford, who later practiced medicine in Hamilton and Gloucester, Mass. (Sidney Perley, “The Dwellings of Boxford,” Essex Inst., Hist. Colls., 29:120 [Jan.–June 1892]; Russell Leigh Jackson, “Physicians of Essex County,” same, 84:87 [Jan. 1948]).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0030

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-30


Snow'd hard all day. The weather very chilly and disagreeable. I finish'd the first book of the Cyropaedia; to admire the beauties of this book I must be much more acquainted with the Language, it is written in, than I am at present. The Events related in what I have gone through, are in themselves small, and not very interesting; related with a simplicity of style, adapted to them: the Conversation between Cambyses and Cyrus, which concludes the book, may perhaps be of great service to military { 380 } Characters. In the Evening I read the 5th. Book of our Poem. This too seems to be entirely Episodic; and has no tendency to advance the Action, of the Poem; but it is in itself charming, and perhaps, if a Poem, is moral, instructive and entertaining it is not necessary that it should be confined to the severe rules of a phlegmatic, cold-blooded Critic. The Character and history of Irad appears to be an Imitation of that of Pallas, in Virgil, and the additional Circumstance of his being in Love, is not amiss. The Reflections upon the first fall, are noble, and pleasing, the different effects that the intention of Irad to join in the war, has upon Hezron, and Selima, are proper and natural. The Sentiment of Irad

But doom'd to fall, should Heaven my life demand

And death betide me from a heathen's hand,

I fall in Virtue's cause. Far happier doom,

In that bless'd path, to find a speedy tomb!

Than, lost in sports, or sunk in shameful ease,

To drag a worthless life, and swell inglorious days.1

ought to be that of every youth, who wishes for the applause of his Country, and the Esteem of mankind.
1. Lines 673–678.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0031

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-31


Finish'd Watts's logic. Which I have been a long time, about, but have never look'd in it except Saturdays in the afternoon. What I this day read were rules to guide our Reason, and I was much pleased with them. The Ladies went in the afternoon, down to Mr. White's to see Eliza, who has again been very much indisposed.
And now the year has come to a close; one half hour more, and probably before I shut this book, a new one, will be ushered in, and the present added to the number of those that have performed their course, and are never more to appear, unless in the annals of past Time. A large portion of the Life of man, has elapsed, since I began, this volume; and can I boldly say to myself, that my improvements have been in proportion to the moments that have flown? I dare not search into my heart, for an answer, Time steals gradually, and imperceptibly away; so that we are not sensible how important it is to employ it well, untill it { 381 } is gone too far to be retrieved. Moment after moment passes off, and seems as nothing; but when millions of those nothings, have collected into a year, and we see it gone, cruel Reflection rushes upon us, and undeceives us of our Error. One minute to come, is worth a thousand years past; which can only serve, to teach us how to make a proper use of it. But I still esteem myself as happy, that I can this night lay me down and sleep with this Consolation, that whatever errors, or foibles, may have misled me in the course, of the past or of the preceding years, at least I have not to reproach myself with Vice, which it has always been my principle to dread, and my Endeavour to shun. May it always be so, and may my Conscience, at the time, when the unerring hand of Death, shall be laid on me, clear me, as it now does.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0001

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-01

January 1st. 1786. Sunday.

The forenoon discourse from Acts XXVI. 22. Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day,1 inculcated thankfulness for the goodness of Providence in suffering us to live to this day. That in the afternoon from Psalm CXVI. 12. What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits towards me? was more general, and respected all the blessings, the People have enjoyed during the course of the last year. Both were occasional, and as good as any I have heard since I have been in this Town. I received in the Evening, a Letter from my Sister, and a packet from the Marquis de la: Fayette.2
1. Punctuation has been editorially supplied.
2. Probably AA2 to JQA, 18 Oct. 1785 (Adams Papers); the contents of Lafayette's packet have not been identified.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0002

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-02


At about half past 7 this morning, a slight shock of an Earthquake, was felt here. It lasted about 2 minutes. It was perceived by several persons in this house, and by most people in Town. I was asleep, and perceived nothing of it. Spent the Evening at Mr. White's. Mr. and Mrs. Allen, came over in the afternoon, and drank tea, here, and took Betsey Smith away with them. I finished this morning the third book of Horace's Odes. Many of them are very fine, and the last one shows he was himself, sufficiently Sensible of it. When a Poet promises immortality to himself, he is always on the safe side of the Question, for if his works { 382 } die with him, or soon after him, no body ever can accuse him of vanity or arrogance: but if his predictions are verified, he is considered not only as a Poet, but as a Prophet. But I don't know if this Consciousness, which great men have of their abilities, is so great a failing, as is often supposed. It seems not to be required that they should not have a sense of their superiority, but that they should not show it. This perhaps proceeds from our own Vanity, which cannot bear the least mortification. No man, I believe underrates himself, and I have a greater opinion of a man's Sincerity when he frankly owns his Sentiments of himself, than when he, hypocritically undervalues himself, and shuns fame, but to make it sure.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0003

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-03


A heavy Snow storm, all day. Not less I imagine, than two feet fell, upon a level. Mr. Thaxter dined and spent the afternoon here. Wrote to my Sister1 in the Evening, was obliged to lay aside my morning lesson, on account of my eyes which begin to be weak.
1. Letter not found.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0004

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-04


It has not yet cleared up, but no Snow fell this day. In the Evening I went down to Mr. White's to see Leonard, who arrived from Cambridge this afternoon. The Winter Vacation, at the University began this day, and will last, five Weeks. There was Company at Mr. White's. Mr. White from Boston,1 a person exceeding tall, but of easy manners. Mr. Bil: Blodget, the study of whose life is, to be accounted a droll fellow; and it must be confess'd he has acquired the art of speaking Nonsense, in such a manner, as commonly raises a laugh. Whether this is wit or no, is what I shall not at present determine.
1. William White, of “Merchant's-row,” Boston, was a cousin of John White Sr. (Daniel Appleton White and Annie Frances Richards, The Descendants of William White, of Haverhill, Mass. . . ., p. 9–12, 15–16, 29–30, 59; Boston Directory, 1789).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0005

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-05


It snow'd again almost all day. Mr. W. White, and Leonard, came, and pass'd an hour here, in the Evening. As this prevented { 383 } me from writing, I studied in the 4th. Book of Horace's Odes; but it did no good to my Eyes. The third, to Melpomene, is supposed to be one of his best, and is that which Scaliger would have preferred being the author of, rather than King of Arragon, which after all, was not I believe a very excellent way of expressing his Admiration if he had the choice of two Impossibilities, he tells us, which he should rather have.1 It is a very Vulgar manner of Expression, though more commonly made use of by lovers than Critics.
1. Joseph Justus Scaliger, the foremost Latin scholar and critic of the 16th century and editor of Greek and Latin classics (Hoefer, Nouv. biog. générale). This preference is mentioned in several editions of Horace's works owned by JQA at this time, including Philip Francis, A Poetical Translation of the Works of Horace, With the Original Text . . ., 8th edn., 4 vols., London, 1778, 2:138 ([Christian Lotter], Inventory of JQA's Books, 6 Nov. 1784, Adams Papers).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0006

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-06


Went down in the Evening and was a couple of hours at Mr. White's. They were to have had Company, there, but were disappointed. I was not. I pass'd the Evening, in a very agreeable, sociable manner, which I should not have done in the other Case. The way we have here of killing Time, in large Companies, appears to me, most absurd and ridiculous. All must be fixed down, in Chairs, looking at one another, like a puppet show, and talking some Common Place phrases to one another, and those that do make observations, adding to their Treasure of scandal which is afterwards dealt out prodigally, in smaller Societies. Why cannot mankind, study their own, and each other's Ease, upon such Occasions, instead of making Society a toil rather than a pleasure.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0007

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-07


Dined at Mr. Bartlett's. There were 15 persons at Table, of whom I was not acquainted with Mr. McCard, Mr. Parsons, and Mr. W. Codman, from Boston. Mr. Parsons, is a great wit; but not a Christian. He is very fond of ridiculing the Bible. He pass'd a number of jests upon it, at Table. There was no man, he said in this Town, who read the Bible more, than he did, or who made less use of the Principles it contained. He had never seen any Book, he did not believe there existed a book, that contained such excellent Precepts for Life, and by following which a Man, { 384 } might be happier. But there were an hundred tales, in it, which were childish and silly. People talk'd of Inspiration. He wondered what the book of Ruth, what the book of Esther, had to do with Inspiration. If he had a family, he would conform, to the established religious customs, because, they were for the good of Society in general. But as it was, he thought best to follow his own Ease and Inclination. This man, has a very lively fancy, and a sprightly natural wit, but I think he makes a bad use of it. Whatever a man's religious principles may be, I believe it is very unpolite and improper for him to ridicule the general Opinion.
When I return'd home, I found a large Company of Ladies there, Miss Stevenson, Eliza, Duncan,1 Peggy White, two Miss Reddington's and Miss L. Night,2 a young Lady from Newbury, who is here on a visit. She comes as near a perfect beauty, as any Lady I remember to have seen. Tall, but a beautiful shape, fine eyes, and in short every feature pleasing, except the nose, which is rather of the Roman sort, and injures her appearance, in profile; her taste in dress Elegant, and her disposition said to be excellent, which is much more to her advantage, than her personal figure. Mr. T. Osgood is said to be her admirer. Was working all the Evening, and was confirm'd in an Opinion which I conceiv'd a considerable time since, and which gives me much pain. I could not be induced to live long in such a Situation, to be suspected and spied, and guarded, all from a Chimaera, rising in a persons brain, is what I cannot bear. It proceeds I am perswaded, from good motives, and a wish for my welfare; but it is like putting a man, perfectly well, into a course of Physic, which may create real disorders. But this will not I hope be the case.
1. “Eliza, Duncan”: JQA may mean Eliza Cranch and Elizabeth (Betsy) Duncan as both were there (“Journal of Elizabeth Cranch,” p. 24).
2. Lucy Knight was later satirized as “Lucinda” by JQA while a law student in Newburyport and was incorporated into his poem “A Vision” (entries of 30 Jan. 1787, note; 28 March 1788, below).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0008

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-08


Mr. Adams, the Minister of another Parish, belonging to this Town changed with Mr. Shaw, and preached here in the forenoon, from Matthew XI. 21, 22. Wo unto thee Chorazin! wo unto thee Bethsaïda! for if the mighty works which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented { 385 } long ago, in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of Judgment than for you. The discourse, was I thought very good; and had a proper Tendency to inculcate the moral duties. The Sermon in the afternoon, was upon Romans, XV. 3. For even Christ pleased not himself; we were told first, negatively; what was not the Sense, of these words; and then positively, what was. This is an old fashion, but, was in this Case, very proper. In former times a Minister would take, an hour to prove, negatively, that the Lord, was not Job, nor Satan, nor in short any thing but God. This absurd custom, is now I believe, universally abolished: but in this Case, it was very proper, to show what was not meant by the Text, because the passage, might be mis-construed; so as to raise the reproach of contradiction and inconsistency which has been so often laid to the Scripture. Mr. Adams held up the doctrine of mortification and self-denial, but at the same time disapproved of Hermitage, pilgrimages, penances &c. which could answer no End. He recommended self denial, when our important interests, or the good of our fellow Creatures required it.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0009

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-09


Was all day at home, and in the evening, closed my Letter to my Sister,1 as the Post goes for Boston, to-morrow, one day sooner than common, and Captain Lyde2 sails in a few days, for London: it kept me up exceeding late, or rather till very early, for it was near 2, in the morning, when I finish'd; I burn't my fingers, bruised my toes,3 and went to bed: but what was worst of all I affronted Miss Nancy by speaking somewhat too abruptly.
1. Letter not found.
2. Nathaniel Byfield Lyde, captain of the Boston Packet and formerly captain of the ship Active, in which AA and AA2 sailed to England from Boston in 1784 (Boston Independent Chronicle, 12 Jan.; JA, Diary and Autobiography, 3:154, 156).
3. JQA probably meant that he burned his fingers on the candle and bruised his toes in the dark afterward.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0010

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-10


Leonard White came up in the morning, and proposed to me, to make one of a small slaying party to Ham[p]stead, where Mr. White has an house, and farm. At about 10 o'clock, the slay stopp'd at the gate, and we immediately set away; Eliza, Peggy White Mr. Moores, Leonard, and myself. It was half past 11 before we got to the Place, although only 8 miles distant; on ac• { 386 } count of the great number of loaded teems which we met on the road; the Country People, come down in the Winter in Slays, from 40 or 50 miles, to supply this and the neighbouring towns, with provisions of various kinds; and as the path is now very narrow, and the Snow deep, it is difficult, and sometimes dangerous for two carriages to cross each other. About 3 miles from Mr. Shaw's, is the line which seperates the States of Massachusetts and New Hampshire, I had never cross'd it before this day. We dined at Hamstead, and at about half after four set out to return; it was about 6 o'clock when we got to Mr. White's house. We had quite an agreeable party; the weather very good, and the Company small; return'd from Mr. White's, at about 8 o'clock, and went very early to bed, as what with setting up so late last night, and what with the jaunt, I was very much fatigued.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0011

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-11


Finished in the forenoon, the second Book of the Cyropaedia; which I began, the 2d. of this month, and in the afternoon I began upon the book of Luke, in the Testament. I finish'd Matthew, last Thursday, and passed over Mark, in which it is supposed there is no difficulty, and which I may go through, in case, I have leisure. Miss Nancy, went in the afternoon with a large Party on slaying; and dancing. I loiter'd away the whole evening, which I have not done before, for some time. But I made up the lost time in the Night: between 1 and 2 in the morning when I retired to bed.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0012

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-12


Began in the forenoon upon the third book of the Cyropaedia; Eliza Duncan, Miss Stevenson and Mr. Bil. Osgood spent the Evening here. Nancy has been very much in the dumps, these two or three days. I hope she is not offended with herself; for though she has many very great foibles (the lot of humanity) yet, upon the whole she is really a good girl.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0013

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-13


Mrs. Payson pass'd the afternoon here. A Daughter of Mrs. Sargeants who was a Coquettish young Widow, and married, about 9 months since; she is in some measure the arbiter of Taste { 387 } and fashion here: and makes very smart and severe Remarks, upon every one, who does not happen to dress or dance, according to her Taste.
I went down with Nancy to Mr. Duncans, and was there all the Evening; there was considerable Company: the young Squire, as empty, as a Drum, though it must be said in his favour, that he is not very talkative. Mr. Tim Osgood, who return'd yesterday from Newbury, where he went to carry Miss Knight. Mr. Duncan, said, he was an ambitious man, for that he was doing all he could to be Knighted. Miss Stevenson, endeavours to say very witty things, and has an archness of look, as who should say, is not that excellent. There is perhaps a little affectation in the matter, but it is all very excuseable, in a Lady. We must always judge of persons and things from their qualities, relative to others of the same kind. In this Country where fortunes are almost universally very small, four or five hundred £ sterling, annual income is considered as a large fortune; in Europe, it is a very trifling one. Were our young Ladies generally remarkable, for great virtues, and very few and inconsiderable faults, one might with Reason be strict, and severe; but as the matter stands, we must entirely over look small, foibles,

Be to their faults a little blind,

Be to their virtues very kind,1

for most of our damsels are like portraits in crayons, which at a distance look, well, but if you approach near them, are vile daubings. There are some indeed who like the paintings of the great masters, excite admiration more and more, the nearer, and the longer they are examined. A few such, alone can reconcile me to a sex, which I should otherwise, doubt whether to hate, despise, or pity most.
1. Matthew Prior, “An English Padlock,” [lines 78–79]; JQA has reversed the lines. A copy of Prior's Poems on Several Occasions, 2 vols. in 1, Glasgow, 1759, was owned by JQA at this time (MQA).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0014

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-14


I was up late last Night, to finish the fourth book of Horace's Odes; and found my Eyes, this morning very sore indeed, so that I could not write or read. Mr. Storer,1 Mr. Atkinson,2 and Mr. W. Smith arrived, at about 10 in the morning, and my time was { 388 } taken up, in going about with them. Visited Mr. Stoughton for the first time: Mrs. Stoughton is by no means fond of this Town. The sudden transition, from London, to so small and retired a Town as this, where she has no intimate acquaintance, must be disagreeable. Solitude, can never constitute a man's happiness, much less a woman's. I imagine they will not continue in Town long. Mr. Thaxter, Eliza, and the gentlemen, dined here; I had a thousand Questions to ask, Charles Storer, and forgot three quarters of them, not knowing which to ask first. He brought me, my watch chain, and some Letters.3
1. Charles Storer (1761–1829), distantly related to AA through his father's second marriage into the Quincy family, went to Europe in 1781 and lived with JA at The Hague in 1782 and in Paris 1782–1783 while serving as an additional secretary to the minister. Storer left the Adamses late in 1783, spending much of his time in England, but kept in contact through a series of letters to JQA during 1784–1785. He returned to America in Nov. 1785 (Adams Family Correspondence, 4:127; Storer to AA, 17 Oct. 1782; JA to John Jay, 25 Aug. 1785, LbC; AA2 to JQA, 24 Sept.–1 Oct. 1785, Adams Papers).
2. John Atkinson, who married Elizabeth Storer, daughter of “Deacon” Ebenezer Storer and half-sister of Charles (Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates, 12:213–214; Scrapbook, MHi:Elizabeth Hall Smith Papers).
3. The letters probably included at least the following: AA2 to JQA, 26 Aug.–13 Sept. 1785; JA to JQA, 31 Aug., 9 Sept. 1785; AA to JQA, 6, 12 Sept. 1785 (Adams Papers).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0015

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-15


Snowy weather all day. We attended however both the meetings. The forenoon text was from Isaiah VII. 13. And he said, Hear ye now, o house of David, Is it a small thing for you, to weary men, but will ye weary my God also? Somewhat of a foul weather Sermon, pretty short, and upon a subject of which little can be made. The field for expatiating, was much wider in the afternoon from Acts X. 38. Who, went about doing good. Here the Christian Clergyman, can produce the example of the author of his religion to recommend the most amiable virtues, benevolence, and humanity, which have so often been inculcated by the Philosophers of every age, and sect, but None have so completely added example to Precept, as he of whom this was said. We went down to Master White's, in the Evening, and staid there a couple of hours.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0016

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-16


The gentlemen left us this morning for Portsmouth. The weather very cold. At home all day. Began the book of Epodes in { 389 } Horace in the Evening. Between 1. and 2 in the morning before I retired. <9> 10 in the Evening, is the professed bed hour, here: but there are Circumstances, which 19 times out of 20 delay it, till after 11. and it is a disagreeable reflection to me, that from an useless, attention, and fear for me, so far from producing its desired effect makes me lose, at least one hour every day; besides the additional vexation of seeing myself suspected; all these things are however only for a time, and I am thankful, that, it is verging so fast towards its end.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0017

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-17


An extreme cold day. I regretted much, not having my thermometer with me, to see the Proportion, between the severity of the weather in St. Petersburg, and here. My Brother Charles, and Cousin Cranch, arrived here in the forenoon. They came yesterday from Braintree, as far as Andover. My Brother's coming, was the more agreeable, for being in some measure unexpected. We pass'd the Evening at Mr. White's. Eliza, went to the Assembly: the first this Season, because, it has been delay'd for some time, by the misfortune in Mr. Duncan's family. There has been a great complaining, among the old-womanish People in town, on this Subject: Superstition of some kind will prevail with mankind every where. Mr. Smith the minister of the Baptist Society in this Town, is violently opposed to dancing. It is in his mind, of itself an heinous sin. He has preached a Sermon himself, and hands about among his Parishioners, a printed one, inculcating this Principle, and there are many People, here, so warped in Prejudice, that they are really perswaded, they should incur the divine displeasure, as much by dancing, as by stealing, or perhaps, committing murder. Besides this there are many who, do not participate of the diversion, and are envious to see others amusing themselves. Their pretended reasons for disapproving an assembly are, that it is an idle expence, which many of the subscribers cannot afford; that it renders them unfit for business the next day, or that it makes them keep bad hours. This is nothing more, than meddling, in the affairs of other People, which mankind in general are too prone to. Some sillier than all the rest find fault, with the time of day, that is chosen, and an old woman, wisely told Mr. Shaw, that It was a dark purpose, and therefore they took a dark time. How one of { 390 } the most innocent, and rational amusements, that was ever invented, can find, so many opposers is somewhat mysterious. But the mind of man is too often dispossed, to strain at a gnat and swallow a camel. However, the Subscribers wisely take no notice, of all these things, but go on, their own way, and despise all these senseless clamours.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0018

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-18


The severest day we have had this Season. Did not stir out of the house, all day. Nancy, perceiving, that the cold had very much abated went out, and dined: but when she return'd again in the Evening, discovered, that the Cold, had been rather increasing continually than otherwise. I could not write in the Evening, which was past in conversation with my Cousin and Brother.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0019

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-19


The Cold has not been so violent this day, as the two former. Mr. and Mrs. Shaw, Miss Nancy and myself dined at Mr. N: Bradley's. This family is said to be remarkable for oddity. I was told I should have the greatest difficulty to keep my Countenance. There was indeed something singular in all of them, but nothing, that I thought very extraordinary. Every Nation has certain Customs peculiar to itself, and is not ridiculed for it. I do not see, why, every little singularity in a family should be laughed at.
I went after dinner to see Mr. Thaxter, at his office, and staid with him till 8 in the Evening, and pass'd my time very agreeably, as I always do, when with him alone. Mr. Harrod1 was there, an hour or two: the first time I have ever been in Company with him. Studied the Epodes, in the Night; I do not admire them so much as the rest of their author's works. It would be much for his Reputation, I think, if some of them, were destroy'd, or left out of the Collections of his writings.

Much less can that obtain a place,

At which a virgin hides her face.2

No fame, can justify, such gross indecency as some of these Poems exhibit, and which if they came from any one else, would be called infamous. An officer who should behave, as a dastard, { 391 } would not escape being broke, because upon former occasions, he had given proofs of great intrepidity.
1. Joseph Harrod (ca. 1748–1828), whose daughter Ann married TBA in 1805.
2. Abraham Cowley, “Ode. Of Wit,” lines [45–46] (Works, 11th edn., 3 vols., London, 1710–1711, 1:4, at MQA).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0020

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-20


A Number of Ladies, drank tea here, and Judge Sargeant also. I went with Mr. Thaxter and my brother Charles, and spent the Evening at Mr. Osgood's. This is a very ingenious Sensible man, well versed in English Literature, and has had what here is called a liberal Education; which means, he has been through the University. We conversed upon subjects, which please me more than cards, or dress or scandal, upon history and upon a book publish'd about a year since, by Dr. Chauncy, upon universal Salvation.1 His System is, that all mankind will finally be saved, and he pretends2 to prove it, from the Scriptures. When the English Translation of the Bible tells us, that the wicked shall be cast into eternal fire, it does not render the original Idea. The greek word εις αιωνα, means an unlimited space of time: it sometimes signifies a century, and sometimes the life of man. Reason alone, will inform us, that the Goodness as well as the power of the Almighty require that all mankind should be saved, and if the authority of the Scriptures, is not opposed to this System, the Christian religion is undoubtedly, the noblest plan, that was ever followed by men. But even after the great and admirable reformations, that have taken place within these three Centuries, there are many absurd, unnatural, and trifling articles, to which every sect of it are too much attached; great veneration is due to the holy writings, but it must be confessed, they have many Imperfections in the original Languages, and still more in the modern translations of them. The writings of Moses, subsisted, during a period of 3000 years, before the invention of printing, in the numerous Copies that were taken of them; many false words must have crept in, and in some passages may have altered entirely the original Sense. The Translators, may have mistaken, many places, and given Ideas which are not intended in the true Language. If therefore we find in the modern Translations of the Bible, Sentiments which are repugnant to Reason, we must suppose, that they are not of those, that are the truly { 392 } inspired. In short Mr. Osgood said, when he first heard of Dr. Chauncy's Book, he had a great deal more to say against his System, than he had after he had read it. Although I have not seen the Book, as I have no Idea of a supreme being, that is not infinitely merciful, and good, as well as powerful, I cannot but admire every thing that tends to inculcate that Principle. Mr. Thaxter said, he fancied that opinion would gain ground very much within half a Century in this Country: and supposed it could not do any harm, if it was rightly understood.
1. [Charles Chauncy], The Mystery Hid from Ages and Generations, Made Manifest by the Gospel-Revelation: Or, The Salvation of All Men . . ., London, 1784.
2. Pretends: puts forward an explanation (OED).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0021

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-21


Finished the Epodes of Horace, and the third book of Xenophon's Cyropaedia. There is no poem of Horace's, that has ever pleased me more, than that which closes the odes: the Carmen Saeculare. The beauty of language, and of numbers seem very well united. And of all the kinds of verse, that are used by this Poet the Sapphic, I think has the most dignity. The Saecular Games were celebrated in honour of all the Gods, but this poem, is addressed wholly, to Apollo, and Diana: at least, very little is said of any of the rest. I do not know but it may be very presuming to think that The Cyropaedia, is a very childish thing. There are now and then, it is true some noble Ideas. But I do not see that any great improvement can be derived from reading it.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0022

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-22


The Weather has softened so much, that, it thaw'd last Night, and has, all this day. We had nevertheless in the forenoon, a Sermon, from, Psalm CXLVII. 17. who can stand before his cold. And a cold Sermon it was. The Subject indeed was such, as that much, was not to be expected from it, nor indeed was much made of it. It was however short, which is a very good Quality at this Season of the year. The afternoon text, from I Corinthians. III. 18. Let no man deceive himself, opened a much wider field for reasoning, and morality. The discourse pleased me much better. My Brother sat up with me; I began upon the first Book of the Satires,1 which are upon a very different plan from the Odes. Close reasoning, sharp ridicule, and few ornaments are the { 393 } Characteristics of this kind of Poetry. Ridicule, and even reasoning, may be made use of in an Ode, but it absolutely requires the most fragrant flowers of rhetoric, and Poetry to adorn it.
1. JQA apparently also made at this time a translation of Horace's Satires; there is an undated fragmentary document in M/JQA/44 (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 239), which contains translations of Satires 1 and 3–10 of Book I, Satire 1 being incomplete; and Satires 1–8 of Book II, Satire 8 being incomplete.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0023

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-23


Began upon Homer's Iliad, in the morning, and got through 50 lines. This author would be very easy to understand, was it not for the various dialects he makes use of.
Drank tea, and spent the Evening at Mr. McHard's; but as the Company was chiefly composed of young Ladies, of Course, there was nothing said, which may not be found in Swift's polite Conversation;1 and I am sure there is nothing there, that deserves to be repeated. We play'd cards, till about 9, and then all retired.
1. A Complete Collection of Polite and Ingenious Conversation, published under the pseudonym of Simon Wagstaff, Esq., good-naturedly satirizes through three dialogues the inane attempts at repartee of such characters as Miss Notable, Lord Sparkish, and others. The examples of smart conversation offered, Swift's introduction declared, should fill every need of genteel people “met together for their mutual entertainment.”

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0024

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-24


Went over, with my Cousin and brother Charles, to dine with Mr. Allen at Bradford. A lame foot prevented Tom from going with us. Last Saturday, he turn'd his foot as he was walking, and disjointed three bones. So that he cannot yet walk.
Walker and Ebenezer Webster, formally a pupil of Mr. Shaw's dined with us: and an old gentleman by the name of Osgood1 belonging to Andover, a very sensible man, and by the manner in which he conversed I judged he had been a traveller. There was after dinner, another Doctor Osgood,2 came in: a young man very talkative I fancy: he reason'd more than half an hour to prove to Mr. Allen, that a minister without a fortune, did very wrong to marry; I thought his attempt was somewhat ill-timed.
Returning home we met the young Ladies from Master White's going to Johnny's. We escorted them; sat there half an hour: and came off.
{ 394 }
1. Probably Joseph Osgood Sr., a physician at Andover (Ira Osgood, A Genealogy of the Descendants of John, Christopher, and William Osgood, Salem, Mass., 1894, p. 38–39).
2. Possibly Dr. Isaac Osgood Jr., a son of the Haverhill merchant (Russell Leigh Jackson, “Physicians of Essex County,” Essex Inst., Hist. Colls., 84:182 [April 1948]).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0025

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-25


Dined with my Cousin, and brothers at Mr. White's; the young Captain1 was there, a youth, who goes by that title because, he has assumed the man somewhat young. Peggy told me to write some Verses in her Pocket book, and after hesitating between a number of silly ideas, I at length pitch'd upon these, which are full silly enough.

Ah what avails it, to invoke the Muse,

To sing your praises as the Poets use,

Since t'would exhaust the richest flow of Verse,

One in a thousand Beauties to rehearse.

If it is but insipid flattery, it is no more than what every young Lady expects from Gentlemen; and what few of the Gentlemen refuse them.
My Cousin went with the Ladies to spend the Evening at Major Bartlett's. My brothers and I return'd home.
1. That is, Capt. Benjamin Willis Jr.; see entry of 9 Dec. (above).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0026

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-26


This morning my Cousin and Brother left us, to return back to Braintree. The late thaw has made the roads very bad for them; but the weather has been agreeable, till the Evening, which is Snowy. Mr. Piper, a Clergyman, belonging to Wakefield in New Hampshire, spent the Night here; I felt not in so high spirits as I sometimes do, and much in a silent mood: so that I did not stay to hear much of Mr. Piper's Conversation.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0027

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-27


Finished the first book of the Satires, and began, the 2d. These I find no difficulty in, as I have translated them before.1 Read in Locke's Essay upon the Understanding, in the afternoon; the whole of the first book is taken up in proving that there are no innate Ideas. A person should never pass judgment upon such { 395 } points, or indeed any others that are the subjects of Contention, without hearing both sides of the Question: but he appears to reason in such a manner that I am very much inclined to think him right. It has been said, that his arguments to prove that the existence of a God is not an innate Idea, may be injurious, but they make no alteration in the reality, nor do they in the least invalidate, the evidence, of, what Nature cries aloud in all her works. This is the only idea, which I think might be contended for as innate; for as to those of a Virtue, justice &c. I conceive of nothing that can be answered to what he says upon the subject.
1. JQA began earlier a written translation of Horace's Satires, containing only Satire 1 of Book I. He first turned it into Latin prose by transposing the order of words and then translated it phrase by phrase (M/JQA/42 [1783?], Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 237).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0028

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-28


Mrs. Shaw went over to Bradford in the afternoon, and pass'd it at Mr. Allen's. Read Locke, upon the Question whether the Soul always thinks: he endeavours to prove that it does not: he has not however satisfied me, so well as upon the Subject of innate Ideas. His principal argument is, the improbability, that we should think several hours together, and not recollect what it was we thought of. But it is beyond dispute that some men do both walk, and talk very rationally in their sleep and yet never recollect one Circumstance of it, and are entirely ignorant of it, unless told by Persons present, at the Time. Now, this being the case, it is no unreasonable argument, to say that if we are sometimes wholly insensible after waking, of what we did while asleep, it may be so always. But I take it this matter must always be somewhat obscure, because it cannot be demonstrated either way. The author seems to think that dreams, are no proof of the soul's being active, but supposed it may be caused by some faculty like that possessed by Beasts. This Idea is ingenious, but is not sufficiently proved true, to be admitted as an argument.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0029

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-29


Mr. Allen preach'd here to day. In the morning from Matthew VI. 33. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. I liked the Sermon well enough, all but this Sentence. The antecedent to { 396 } which the pronoun relative his here refers, is God. Surely those of the hearers who had studied Grammar, were not to be told this, and those who had not were probably ignorant of the meaning affixed to the words, antecedent, and pronoun relative. I thought, his prayer was exceeding good. His afternoon discourse was from John XIV: 27: Peace I leave with you, my Peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. He seems to be fond of grammatical disquisitions, and talk'd about Synonimous terms, excepting that I was pleased with his speaking.
Very moderate weather, and exceeding fine; more adapted to the month of April, than to the present Season.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0030

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-30


Rain'd almost all day. Finish'd the first Book of Homer's Iliad, which is far more entertaining than the Cyropaedia; there is a vast deal of simplicity in the Poetry, but at the same time great dignity, and so much Nature, that it is not without Reason, that an English Poet has said of him,

To Study Nature is to study him.1

I began in the evening a Letter to my Sister.2
1. JQA was undoubtedly thinking of the following lines from Pope:
“Nature and Homer were, he [Virgil] found, the same.
Convinc'd amaz'd, he checks the bold design:
And rules as strict his labour'd work confine,
As if the Stagirite o'erlook'd each line.
Learn hence for ancient rules a just esteem;
To copy nature is to copy them.”
(“An Essay on Criticism,” lines 135–140).
2. Letter not found.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0001-0031

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-01-31


Began upon the 4th Book of the Cyropaedia. The wind at about noon, shifted to the North West, and grew cold very fast. Assembly Night, and as all the young folks in town were there, I staid at home. Nancy return'd at 12. o'clock from the Assembly.
Finished the Satires.
About 2 months longer, will put an end to my Residence here, and I shall then rejoice for more than one Reason.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0001

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-01

Wednesday February 1st. 1786.

Slept none last Night. Felt unwell all day. Went in the evening to Mr. White's but nobody was there: from thence to Mr. Duncan's where I found Mr. Thaxter, and the young Squire, about as opposite to each other as North and South. Mr. Duncan, talk'd a great deal about paper money times, and the amazing depreciation, of that Currency. Went from thence in to Mr. Osgood's, where there was all Mr. White's family. Says Mr. W. we have not seen you, before, this month. I said I had been at his house last week. But that was not this month. This was wit. Spent an hour with Mr. Thaxter at his office. Studied none in the Night.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0002

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-02


Lecture day. Mr. Adams, Mr. Allen, and Master Parker,1 dined here. I did not go. In the afternoon Eliza, finally came, and intends to stay here, as long as she remains in Haverhill; I imagine we shall both leave town about the same time. Mr. Thaxter came and spent an hour here in the Evening, which he seldom does, as he is a little too closely engaged in other business. He often reminds me of the lines in the Conquest of Canäan quoted, in page 240, of this volume.2 They are I think very applicable to him.
1. Presumably Daniel Parker, the Haverhill schoolmaster.
2. See entry for 28 Dec. 1785 (above).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0003

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-03


Drank tea at old Mrs. Marsh's. Mr. and Mrs. Shaw have, a very high opinion of this Person; and I believe a just one. She appears to me, to be ting'd with Superstition, but of such as can do no harm in the world, and may be greatly conducive to her own happiness. Was about an hour at Mr. White's, and afterwards at Mr. Duncan's; a numerous Company there. Mr. Moores, and Ab: Duncan came and spent the remainder of the Evening here. Felt low spirited but tickled my spleen, by reading Young's 6th. Satire in the love of Fame.1
1. “On Women” (Edward Young, Love of Fame, The Universal Passion, In Seven Characteristic Satires, London, 1728).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0004

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-04


Dined at Mr. Osgood's in a large Company. 16 persons, at table. Mr. Larieu, a frenchman, and Mr. W. Greenleaf, were the only, that I was not before acquainted with. Mr. Larieu has been very unfortunate in losing almost all his Estate, by the failure of Mr. Fessenden, in this Town. Drank tea at Mr. White's, where, Eliza pass'd the Day. In the Evening I was conversing my aunt, upon the subject of Courtship, and that of Self love. Mr. Shaw was present when I said I thought, Self, was the ultimate motive of all actions, good, bad, or indifferent. He opposed the idea, and as I persisted in my opinion, he said he thought it a little Strange, that at 19 a youth should make such positive decisions, in opposition, to persons much older, than myself. I believe in answer I shew, too much warmth, as his charge was partly true. I fear I am too tenacious of many of my opinions, and what in itself is nothing, but as to the effect it has on mankind, is all; I still own, that I have not altered them, even after hearing them Reason upon the subject; unless I have really been convinced. It has made persons suppose I was obstinate, and dogmatical, and pedantic, as Mr. Shaw expressed himself, when if my heart deceives me not, I only wish to acquire information, and own my thoughts, without ever having an Idea, to wish other persons might adopt my Sentiments; it is not unpolite to think differently from a person older than yourself, but the unpoliteness lies in combatting his opinions. I wish to be more fully Sensible of this maxim, at times, when it is necessary to put it in practice. Reverence for age, is one of the most important and necessary qualities, a young man can have: and a deference to their sentiments, ought, apparently to be shown, even although, they were absurd and ridiculous. N.B. To think more upon this Subject.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0005

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-05


A Snowy day.
Two Sermons from Hebrews XI. 1. Now faith is the Substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. I should not conceive how one Sermon [could be made?] out of this text, much less two. However, what with faith, and the immortality of the Soul they were made out. That ancient and celebrated Poet Homer, had taken notice of a place, which he called αδης1 and supposed it to be appointed the receptacle of good souls. { 399 } Plato a great Philosopher had written a large treatise upon the Subject: and Cicero, says that if the opinion of the Souls immortality, be false, he owns himself happy to be in error. There was a great deal of Erudition shown here; but for my Part, I want neither the Authority of Homer, of Plato, nor of Tully, to be persuaded of a thing, which Nature speaks so plainly. A child was baptized, by the name of Sally Cogswell.
1. That is, Hades.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0006

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-06


Finished the 4th. Book of the Cyropaedia; I shall have no more to do with this author while I remain here, and am heartily glad of it. It is not now, as in the first book. The Conquest of Empires is related, but in the same manner, that the trifles of the hero's childhood were. Gobryas appears to me to tell his story, just as a crabberly boy complains to his mother, that he has been beat, not like a sovereign, ardent to revenge the death of his Son: there appears moreover in this Romance, a very great degree of improbability. Human Nature must have been very different then from what it is now, if a short speech, could not only restrain soldiers from plundering, but make those of one Nation, tamely give up their prey to their allies.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0007

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-07


Drank tea, and spent the evening at Mr. Payson's. His lady, who has had two daughters1 by a former, takes, as I believe, the shortest possible method to ruin them. She made one of them this evening, mimic, the peculiarities, of several respectable persons in town. The Child, would first examine particularly, to see if the persons she was to ape was not present, and when satisfied they were not, would imitate all their oddities, so as to raise the laughter of the Company, who must all at the same time suppose, that to morrow, they would themselves afford the same diversion to others. And this is an accomplishment! If such a Character in a person already grown up, is always hated and avoided, what ought our sentiments be, of one, who encourages it in a Child, and creates an habit which is as contemptible, as dangerous.
Leonard White took his leave of us. The Vacation ends to-morrow, and he returns to Cambridge.
{ 400 }
Began upon the second book of the Iliad: it is something very extraordinary to me, how the fondness for Antiquity can lead men (and women) of taste and learning to such extravagant partiality for the ancients, as it has in many instances. Madam Dacier,2 went so far as to say that even the customs and manners of Antiquity, were as much better than those of modern times, as they were different. To be consistent she should have added religion too, for all the rest have their Source in that. I have been reading this day, that Jupiter the greatest of the Gods, revolving in his mind, how he might avenge, an injury of one man to another, by destroying thousands of innocent men, at length determines to send a deceitful dream, and frames, an impudent lye for the messenger to tell. What an idea, of the supreme being! Is it not a denial, of his wisdom, and justice, as well as of his Power? Surely our ideas of a God, are much more perfect at this Time. To say that this owing to no merit of our own, but to our having been favour'd with Revelation, is no argument against us, but on the contrary assigning the cause of our improvement. I shall continue to commit my Ideas on this subject to Paper; according as I have occasion.
1. Sarah White and Mary Henley White (Dean Dudley, History of the Dudley Family, Wakefield, Mass., 1886–1894, p. 798–799).
2. Anne Lefèvre Dacier, the distinguished Latin and Greek scholar and translator of the Odyssey and Iliad (Hoefer, Nouv. biog. générale). At this time JQA may have owned copies of the Dacier translation of the Odyssey, 3 vols., Amsterdam, 1717, and the Iliad, 3 vols., Amsterdam, 1712, which have his bookplate (MQA).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0008

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-08


At home all day. Mr. True, was here all the afternoon. There is something extraordinary [about] this man: he has formerly been in a Melancholy state of mind, and appears even now to retain it, to a certain degree.
Finished the book of Luke in the afternoon.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0009

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-09


Miss Nancy, finally left us, this afternoon; and is going to board at Mr. Israël Bartlett's. Her going away, has given me pleasure, with respect to myself; as she was the Cause of many disagreeable little Circumstances to me. There was a Time, when I was Sensible of being more attached to her, than I should wish to { 401 } be; to any young Lady, to whom I was not in any way related: but it was of very short duration; indeed her character is such, as acquires a persons affection, much easier than she preserves it. But her natural disposition which is excellent, and the many good Qualities which appear, even through the mist of foibles and errors that surround them, have given me, a friendship for her, and it appears to me, that the present step, must do her essential injury, unless she can immediately assume a fund of Prudence, which, I have never seen her make use of. With one third part of the Vanity she has, she would be exceeding amiable. All her principal faults proceed from that, which has been fostered and fanned ever since she was introduced into company; and she was then too young, not to be tickled, with the Admiration paid her by a number of real and feigned admirers, such as always follow a young Lady of Wit and personal Attractions.
Spent the Evening at Mr. Dodge's in Company with Mr. Thaxter, Mr. Bartlett, the two Mr. Osgoods and Major Starke. The Conversation was partly upon literary subjects, and partly upon religion, a topic Mr. D. is not averse to.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0010

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-10


Thaw'd all day. The winter seems in some measure, to be gone; very little snow remaining on the ground, and the weather much like Spring.
Finished the Ars Poëtica of Horace, with which his works conclude. Thus I have of late dismissed several books, but shall be obliged, rather to increase my diligence, than otherwise; as Mr. Shaw received this Evening, from Mr. Williams the Professor of Mathematics, and natural History at Cambridge, a Letter informing him that his Lectures begin, the 21st. of next Month; so that I shall be obliged to go, much sooner than I expected. I have a great deal yet to do; but hope to go through it as, I have already done, so much. The Clock has just struck twelve, Consequently a new day begins, I shall therefore close this for the present.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0011

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-11


Eliza spent the day at Mr. White's; went down and drank tea there, with Mr. Thaxter, who was here part of the Evening. Mr. Shaw preaches to-morrow at Boxford, and is to be supplied, by a Mr. Howe,1 who came here this Evening. An extraordinary { 402 } { 403 } Character. He adopted a degree of familiarity, as soon as he came into the house, which, did not in any measure prejudice me in his favour. Indeed by the tenor of his Conversation I am led to Suspect his brain is a little crack'd but the singularity of his behaviour may be owing to the manner in which he has been educated and the Company he has kept. It is said that he carried himself through College, by working at wages as a farmer, at different times, so as to pay his bills, and to avoid being known he went by a feign'd name: this shows, a spirit of Ambition, and fondness for Study, which argue a mind above the common.
1. Undoubtedly, Tillotson Howe, a Dartmouth graduate and minister in several northern New England towns. As JQA's entries for 12 Feb. and 5 March (below) make clear, Howe exemplified dozens of young men trained at Eleazar Wheelock's nursery for the New Light ministry (Dartmouth College and Associated Schools General Catalogue, 1769–1940, Hanover, N.H., 1940; Eliza Ann Gibson Stickney, Reminiscences of Brownfield: Short Sketches from the History of the Town, East Brownfield, Maine, 1901, p. 55–56).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0012

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-12


Mr. Howe, preached us two Sermons from John III. 3. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily I say unto thee, Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. The text did not please me at first, and the tenets held forth, were pretty much such as I should have expected from this beginning. In the morning he said he would have us suppose, that we all wish'd and desired our own Destruction. In the afternoon we were told, that without grace, we could not believe, and without believing, we could not be saved; and that we could not acquire grace of ourselves; nor if we obtained it, was it owing to merit in us. An Impious System in my opinion. He said that an unregenerate man, supposing even he was admitted into heaven, could not be happy. This was quite a new Idea, to me. He illustrated it by a simile saying, a Swine, could never be happy, was he put into a Palace, elegantly furnish'd. He carried on this elegant simile for ten minutes. Another he made use of was still more ludicrous. A man could no more obtain grace, by works, than he could walk to get himself feet. At another time he said Adam's original sin, was imputed to all his Posterity. I know added he, this point is much contested, but my business is not to prove it here, and I shall therefore, take it for granted. This is a short way to prove anything, but, although he maintained a doctrine { 404 } which appeared to me, opposite to common sense, as well as injurious to the supreme being; yet sometimes he would speak for a quarter of an hour at a time, with a great degree of energy and Propriety. Some parts were excellent, but the, whole, was but indifferent at best. Spent the Evening with Mr. Thaxter. Eliza, was unwell in the afternoon.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0013

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-13


Mr. and Mrs. Allen, came over and dined here. They carried away my Cousin with them. She purposes spending a week at Bradford.
Finished the second Book of the Iliad, the latter part of which is a tedious enumeration of the Ships, which might I think as well have been omitted. Pope's Translation of this, is surely an excellent Poem; but the Ideas, are often very different. There is indeed a simplicity in some Passages of Homer, which in a modern language would be ridiculous. At the description of a Sacrifice and an Entertainment Homer says, of the victim, they knock'd out its brains, cut its throat, and thrust a spit through it. How different from this, Pope's paraphrase is, may be seen in his Iliad II. verse 202 &c.1 There are few of this Poet's original Pieces, in which it is not as plain to see imitation, as in the Homer.
1. JQA wrote 202 for 502:
Their Pray'rs perform'd, the chiefs the rite pursue,
The barley sprinkled, and the victim slew.
The limbs they sever from th'inclosing hyde,
The thighs, selected to the Gods, divide.
On these, in double cauls involv'd with art,
The choicest morsels lie from ev'ry part.
From the cleft wood the crackling flames aspire,
While the fat victims feed the sacred fire.
The thighs thus sacrific'd, and entrails drest,
Th'assistants part, transfix, and roast the rest.
(The Iliad of Homer, transl. Alexander Pope, 4 vols., London, 1759, 1:99; this edition, in JA's Library at MB, contains JQA's earliest bookplate, which is inscribed with the date 1781).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0014

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-14


Snow'd all the morning. Young Mr. Willis arrived from Boston, and informed us that a vessel will sail from Boston for London, in the Course of this Week. I wrote all the Evening, and closed a Letter to my Sister.1 Began the third book of the Iliad, and the Acts in the Testament.
1. Letter not found.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0015

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-15


The weather, very mild; it thaw'd all day. Spent the Evening at Dr. Saltonstall's; the first time I have been at his house, since I came to Town. The Doctor is a very Sensible man and an able Physician; but has a very disagreeable voice; a person accustomed to it, may not take notice of it, but at first it is almost intolerable. Finished my Latin Studies with the Andrian of Terence1. The Play is interesting, and many of the Sentiments are fine; but the unravelling of the Plot, is not very probable; indeed I might say it fails highly against the probability: not only in the Circumstance of the discovery itself which poets have often taken, and as it may well happen, is justifiable: but would a man, whose daughter had been shipwreckd sat silent without seeking for her. And why did not Phania, after being saved from a wreck at Andros, write to his brother, an account, of his Situation or if he could not write, inform him some other way, for Andros was not at a great distance from Athens, and probably there were often opportunities of sending from one place to another. <Many> other Circumstances, increase this improbability; but the Critic can never find Perfection, and the person that is willing to be pleased with what he reads, is happier than he who is always looking for faults.
1. Terence's Andria:JQA probably used the Brindley edition of Terence's Comoediae Sex, London, 1744, p. 1–42 (at MQA), which he had purchased the previous April in Paris.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0016

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-16


Mr. Thaxter and Miss Nancy dined here. The latter appeared very different from when she lived here. She seem'd to feel under restraint, and obliged to behave with propriety, I cannot see, how persons think that provided they behave well in Company, it is of no Consequence, how they behave at home. I believe I never knew a young Lady, of whom I thought so differently at different times; and as my present disposition of mind is not much in her favour, I will say nothing.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0017

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-17


Began the 4th. Book of the Iliad. Here again the despicable beings, the Heathens made of their Gods appears very plainly. In { 406 } a Counsel of the Gods, Jupiter begins with a bitter sarcasm, on purpose, as the Poet says, to raise the spleen of his wife. She raves like a fury, and then to appease her, he gives her the permission to destroy his favourite City, which of all others, had been the most pious to him. But he grants the favour, only upon condition that if he should take it into his head to destroy one of her beloved Cities, she should have no objection, and to this she readily assents. Enthusiasts in favour of the Ancients perhaps will say, that Religion is to be excepted, from what they admire them for and do not all relations from man to man, all our duties towards one another, and all the customs of Nations, flow from, Religion. And though it may be confessed that mankind in General, do not behave agreeable to the admirable Precepts, contained in the Christian System, yet they universally approve of them, and there are numbers of People who really follow them. A Man at this day, will not glory in avenging a trifling injury, by the slaughter of thousands. Nine men, in ten would heartily execrate the Idea. But the Reason, why such Complaints of the world's growing worse, have been made in all ages, I take to be this. Few men live long in the world without having suffered from baseness, and wickedness in others. They immediately lay to the whole race, those evil qualities they perceive in Individuals; but as they have received no personal injury from men that lived before them they form no antipathy against the race. They are prejudiced when they form the Comparison, and cannot therefore judge impartially.
Mr. Evans came to stay till Monday, and will preach for Mr. Shaw on Sunday.
Went down in the Evening to Mr. White's. There was a large Company of young ladies, and gentlemen there; for which Reason I stay'd but a little while there.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0018

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-18


All day within; the weather uncommonly mild. Mr. Thaxter spent the Evening and supped here. Began the 2d. volume of the Essay upon the human Understanding. There are many things, somewhat abstruse, in this book, and I have not at present time to read them with sufficient attention, but there is one thing, which I never heard of, and which surprized me. He seems to adopt the opinion of the transmigration of souls; and in a very { 407 } long note, where he defends himself, against the bishop of Worcester, he rather enlarges upon it. All this is upon the subject of identity, which takes up a considerable part of the book.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0019

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-19


Mr. Evans preach'd in the forenoon from Luke XV. 18. 19. I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee. And am no more worthy to be called thy Son: make me as one of thy hired Servants. In the afternoon the two ensuing verses. And he arose, and came to his father: but when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy Son. There is not perhaps in the whole Bible, a subject upon which a clergyman, can employ his talents more usefully. This Story naturally leads to the encouragement of all the virtues that adorn human Nature, and shows, in a striking light the terrible consequences of Vice. Mr. Evans had two good Sermons upon it; there was an apparent imitation of Yorick's,1 but I did not like them the less for that. He did not take certain heads to his discourse, as is a general custom among our Clergymen; but I think like Mr. Osgood, who said he did not see what good a parcel of heads without any bodies, could do. The discourses were moral, and practical; and I prefer hearing none at all, to hearing those of any other kind. Mr. Redington, and Judge Blodget were here in the Evening.
1. Laurence Sterne, Sermons of Mr. Yorick.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0020

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-20


Snow'd almost all day. In the evening I went over to Bradford, with my brother. Eliza, thought to be sure somebody was sick, that we came in such weather; stay'd a couple of hours: as I return'd I stopp'd in half an hour at Mr. White's.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0021

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-21


The weather cleared up in the Night; somewhat cold, and very windy. Mr. Evans set off in the afternoon for Portsmouth.
Finished the 4th. and began the 5th. Book of the Iliad. The 200 { 408 } last lines in the 4th. are much more difficult than any thing I have met with in Greek as yet.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0022

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-22


Mr. and Mrs. Allen, and Eliza, stopp'd here on their way to Kittery, at about half after 8. I was not up. I cannot study in the morning, because there is always so much stirring; but when every body else in the house is in bed, I have nothing to interrupt me, so that I seldom retire before 1 in the morning, and rise, between 8 and 9. I have endeavoured to sleep less but have not been able.
The weather mild all day. Looks something like rain; which would make very bad travelling, and the Town less lively: Finished the second Volume of the Essay upon the human Understanding. There is much said in the latter end of the Book, concerning the real essence of things. He may be right in his conjectures, but I know not how far upon those Principles, Pyrrhonism,1 might be carried; and perhaps, it is not a question of great Consequence, whether we know the real essence of things or not.
1. The philosophical doctrine which claims the impossibility of attaining certainty of knowledge, first taught by Pyrrho of Elis, ca. 300 B.C. (OED).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0023

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-23


Mr. Shaw went to the funeral of Mr. Wingate, formerly a Minister at Boxford. A Mr. and Mrs. Swift from Andover dined here. Mr. True, came home with Mr. Shaw, and will lodge here tonight. Read Guthrie's Grammar in the Evening. This is to me, at present a more entertaining study, than Locke; and does not require so close application.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0024

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-24


Another Snow storm; almost all day. Closed the Acts, in the Testament, and began the Romans. In the last Chapter of Acts, there is a Story, which, shows how far ignorance and prejudice, mislead the judgment of men. A Viper sticks upon St. Paul's hand, and the People, immediately suppose him to be a murderer, but as soon as they find he receives no hurt from it, they conclude he is a God. Eventus Stultorum magister,1 says Livy, { 409 } but if all those who judge of most things from the Event, are to be comprehended under that denomination, who would escape the charge of folly. But I think it the duty of Every one, to endeavour to be, as little as possible influenced by Events. As men, and their Actions, are really, either good or bad in themselves, and not according to their success; it is unjust to judge them upon any other Principles.
1. “Nec eventus mode hoc docet, (stultorum iste magister est),” Livy, The History of Rome, Bk. 22, chap. 39 [line 10] (Titus Livius Historiarum Libri qui Supersunt Omnes, 3 vols., Leipzig, 1769, 1:742, at MQA with JQA's bookplate and inscription): “nor does the event only, that instructor of fools, demonstrate it” (Titus Livius, The History of Rome, transl. D. Spillan and Cyrus Edmonds, 4 vols., N.Y., 1892, 2:809).

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0025

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-25


Very pleasant, all day. A curious Event happened, at the last Assembly: a misfortune befel one of the Ladies; and a few days after, an scandalous Advertisement, was fastened upon a sign post. I have as yet heard no more, but I much suspect it will be attended in the End with some disagreeable Circumstances. Some persons can be taught prudence and Caution only by bitter experience. We expected Mr. Allen, with the Ladies back this Night, but yesterdays storm, probably prevented them. Mr. Thaxter was here, about an hour in the Evening.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0026

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-26


We had this day two very good Sermons, from II. Kings XXII. 20th. Behold therefore I will gather thee unto thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered into thy grave in peace, and thine eyes shall not see all the evil which I will bring upon this place and from Romans XII. 15. Rejoice, with them that do rejoyce, and weep with them that weep. The former, was an occasional discourse; the other was practical, and properly inculcated the virtue of participating, in the happiness and the griefs of others.
Spent the Evening with Mr. Thaxter. He has been unwell all day.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0027

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-27


Finished the 5th book of the Iliad; containing, the gallant actions of Diomed[es], who drives all before him; wounds two { 410 } Gods, and pursues a third very closely. This part of the story is very interesting. Went in the evening, down to Mr. White's. Peggy, and Nancy Hazen, went to Salem this afternoon; to attend the Assembly there to-morrow, and return again on Wednesday.
Went in to Mr. Bartlett's, a few minutes. Found Eliza return'd when I came home. I Was much chagrined, at something I perceiv'd.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0002-0028

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-02-28


Company to dine. Assembly Night. Went, with Eliza, but did not dance. There were 27 Ladies present, and about 20 Gentlemen. There were a number of strangers among the Gentlemen; I might make a number of sarcastic reflections, upon the manner of dancing, and appearance of several persons there; but I do not think it is a matter of sufficient importance to induce one, to laugh, at a person who cannot show the elegance of a dancing master; and if it is; as I did not dance myself, it would be unfair to laugh at those, who had they had the opportunity might have laugh'd equally at me. It is base to ridicule a person for any failing that is owing to no mental vice or foible.
There was one Lady present (Mrs. Payson) for whom I was anxious all the Evening: I feared she would; while she was throwing herself about, be taken with a different kind of throes. It is exceedingly imprudent for a Lady in that Situation to frequent such places. We returned home, at a little after 1. in the morning. I drank a dish of Coffee which kept me awake almost all Night. In the Evening I had some conversation with Mr. Larieu, and I was told, the Ladies, laugh'd at us, for the contrast, that we appeared to make. He is exceeding thin. This is an advantage in dancing. He did not miss once; and except, about an hour of interval, he was up, all the while I was there. I ask'd him, if he was not fatigued and warm; he said j'ai un peu chaud, et je suis un peu fatigué, mais il n'y a pas une goutte de sueur dans mon corps.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0003-0001

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-03-01

Wednesday March 1st. 1786.

At home all day: Eliza, dined and passed the afternoon, at Mr. Duncan's. Mr. Thaxter went to Portsmouth upon business. Felt { 411 } quite fatigued all day, though, I did not sit up, later than common last night. Retired at about 11.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0003-0002

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-03-02


Finished, the sixth book of Homer's Iliad in the forenoon, and shall go no further in it here. I admire this Poem, more, and more, though it must be confess'd the author now and then nods. It has however more, and more confirmed me, in the opinion that the world has vastly improved, even as, to sentiments since that time. In the last book, an instance occurs where a young warrior entreats Menelaüs to spare his life, but Agamemnon, kills him immediately, and old Nestor, highly approves the cruelty. Whenever the Greeks are exhorted by their chiefs, the arguments made use of, are, that if they are conquerors the wives, daughters, and fortunes of the Trojans, will be at their disposition. Now I will own, that in modern times there are examples of great Barbarity in War. But there are also many of humanity which among the ancients was thought inconsistent with war. But I will say no more, on this subject.
Mr. Thaxter return'd this Evening, though it has been either snowing or raining all day. He was not to come home till to-morrow; but gave two reasons for coming so soon: he did not mention a third, which I fancy, was as strong, as either of the others.
Storm'd hard in the night: was up after 1. in the morning.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0003-0003

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-03-03


I have often wish'd to hear the following Question discussed by persons well acquainted with the human heart. Whether any Person can at the same time, Love, and despise, another, of a different sex? I think the two sentiments not only can be, but very often are united: but I may mistake. No Love can be permanent, but what is founded on esteem; but there may be a temporary attachment to a person, who<m> we are sensible is wholly unworthy of it, and such must be I imagine, all the Conquests of a Coquette who though she may be beloved by many, can be esteemed by none. This Character is so contemptible; that one would think no being blessed with any share of Reason ever could assume it. Vanity it is true, may be flattered for a Time; but it is soon doubly mortified, and when once the flower of { 412 } Beauty is gone, they have nothing left to recommend them: but so much must suffice for the present.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0003-0004

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-03-04


Eliza, spent the day at Mr. White's. Mr. Thaxter was here in the Evening. The weather very mild: a farmer, who was here in the Course of the day, said the river was very ticklish.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0003-0005

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-03-05


Snow'd all the morning, but the air so mild, that it melted generally as it fell to the ground. Two Sermons from I. Corinthians X. 31. Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. The text in itself is good, but like most other texts of Scripture, has been shamefully abused. There was in this Sermon, as in many I have heard since I have been here, little, that I admired, and little, that I disliked. Liberality of Sentiment, cannot be expected from a Pulpit, on religious points. If a Clergyman ventures, not to be quite illiberal, it is the most he can do. While they exclaim against the Palpable absurdities of the Romish Church: they themselves fall into others equally ridiculous, and the never failing resource of texts from Scripture, is continually produced. There is a new System which carries the depravity of human Nature further, than, any I ever heard of, all arising from the text which Mr. Howe, who has adopted the plan, preach'd on three Sundays agone. I have several times discovered my abhorrence, of any Idea, of a divinity who should condemn men to everlasting torments, for what they could not in any measure help or prevent. I was perhaps too zealous; and a person who I suspect is inclined to the same uncharitable way of thinking, though he does not profess to be, used this Argument. Did I think it was possible I might be wrong? I did. Well; who of two Persons was most probably right, one who was merely a youth, who had not studied those things; or a man who had made them his chief (he might have said only) study for many years? But this proves nothing. Should a man, who for 50 years had studied nothing but the Proprieties and differences of colours, tell me that ebony and alabaster, were of the same colour I should think the assertion absurd, though I judge of colours only as they strike my Senses. I desire never to have an Idea, of a god, who is not infinitely good, and merciful, as well as powerful.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0003-0006

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-03-06


Mrs. Saltonstall, Mrs. Harrod,1 and Betsey Duncan drank tea here. Mr. Thaxter remained part of the Evening. He is I think as much attached as I ever saw any body: and is an instance, of what has often been observed that men, free from any passion, can reason, upon them, much better than they can practice, when called to. Many times have I heard him declare his disgust at fondness shown by Husbands and Wives before Company: but now, he is behind hand to no person I am acquainted with. He cannot bear to see Parents indulgent to little children: perhaps, in three or four years I shall see him do like most other People in the same Situation.
1. Anna Treat Harrod (ca. 1752–1832), mother of Ann Harrod, who later married TBA.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0003-0007

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-03-07


Fine Weather, all day and very mild, yet the river is not so weak but what Teems and slays cross'd it.
This day Week, I am, to go to Cambridge. The nearer any Circumstance approaches; the greater is our Impatience of it. What two months ago, I did not think of once in a week; now comes to my mind almost every hour. Studied Watts in the Night.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0003-0008

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-03-08


Mr. White's family, and Miss Sally McKinstry, drank tea here. This young Lady has been all the Winter at Boston; she is very genteel, and was it not for a little twist in the Position of her eyes, would be uncommonly handsome. Notwithstanding this blemish her Countenance, is pleasing, and frequently dimpled with a smile. She is sociable, but unfortunately I cannot be so with a stranger, and had not much Conversation with her.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0003-0009

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-03-09


Mr. Shaw went over to Bradford, to Mr. Allen's Lecture. The river still remains in a dangerous situation; but freezes so much in the night, that the mildness of the day is not sufficient to break up the Ice.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0003-0010

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-03-10


Clear, but cold Weather. Went, and took a walk with Eliza, just before dusk, as far as the ship yard, we pass'd the Evening, at Mr. White's. Mrs. Moody and Miss Codman were there. The Latter is a Lady from Boston; not handsome, and appears to be in a poor State of Health. Mrs. Moody, is a widow, who, is fond of appearing young, and is what the french call une jeune femme de 20 à 60 ans. Miss Priscy McKinstry, and Nancy Hazen came in too in the course of the Evening. Nancy was very formal, and ceremonious to me, as she has been, uniformly, since she left this house. I was not displeased at it, and return'd it as much as I could. Where a person will not be upon terms of friendly intimacy; I wish never to be behind hand with him in Ceremony.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0003-0011

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-03-11


Dined at Dr. Saltonstall's, with Mr. Shaw, Mr. Thaxter and Master Parker. Spent the Afternoon at Mr. White's. Mr. Thaxter was here in the Evening.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0003-0012

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-03-12


Went all day to hear Mr. Smith. I had never heard him before. His text for the whole day was from Solomon's song II. 14. O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see, thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely. The discourse in the forenoon, was entirely taken up in a description of the Properties of the Dove, and how they Coincided with those of the Church of Christ. Its Innocence, it's Beauty chastity and cleanliness, and Swiftness, were all taken notice of, and some good practical observations were drawn from the subject in the afternoon. The remainder of the text was considered, but as he commonly is said to do, towards the latter end of the discourse he grew extremely vociferous, and it was a continued strain of declamation. As he preaches without notes, and with very little previous studying, his sermons do not shine in the disposition of his arguments. He often starts from his subject; and when embarassed with any contested point, screaming, is his only resource.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0003-0013

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-03-13


The Day was employ'd in paying visits, and packing up my trunks. I went to Mr. White's, Major Bartlett's, Mr. Osgood's, Mr. Duncan's, and Mr. Dodge's. The weather very mild.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0008-0003-0014

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-03-14


At 7 in the morning, we mounted our horses, and went about half a mile up the River where a passage for a Boat was cut through, yesterday, as the Ice was so much weaken'd as made it dangerous to cross over it. We went in to Mr. Allen's, for about half an hour, and then proceeded before dinner as far as Wilmington. We arrived at Cambridge, a little after Sun set, much fatigued as the roads were but indifferent. The weather was mild.
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.