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Browsing: Diary of John Quincy Adams, Volume 1


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

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

31st.

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

2d.

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.
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, 2014.
http://www.masshist.org/apde2/