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Browsing: Diary of John Quincy Adams, Volume 1


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.

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

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

3d.

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

4th.

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

5th.

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).
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/