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Browsing: Diary of John Quincy Adams, Volume 1


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

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

5th.

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

6th.

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

7th.

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).
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/