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Browsing: Diary of John Quincy Adams, Volume 2

Docno: ADMS-03-02-02-0001-0002-0011

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-04-11


We recited this morning in Locke on the Understanding to Mr. Hale. A number of the scholars first read, the Lesson that has been given, and the others in their turns give an account of particular Sections. At about 10 o'clock 2 horses came from Braintree for my brother and myself to go home upon. Mr. Cranch came a little before 11. At about 11 ½ the Government and Corporation came and seated themselves, and the President spoke very audibly, expectatur Oratio in Lingua Latina, per Andrews. It was in praise of Literary Societies, and mentioning the advantages derived from them. The next thing was a forensic dispute upon the Question, whether Error could be productive of good to mankind. Sullivan supported, and Taylor opposed it. Their parts were both very well; but Taylor, though I think he had the wrong side of the Question maintained it best. The English Dialogue, between Scipio Africanus, and Julius Caesar,1 was spoken by Williams, and Waldo, and I thought well. The Greek Oration by Cranch, and the Hebrew by Burge followed, and lastly the Oratio in lingua Vernacula, as the President calls it, by Gardner. It was upon the progress of the Christian Religion; was very well done, and closed with about 20 lines of very pretty, Poetry. The President then called out expectatur Symphonia, and a song was sung, after which, as all the Company was going, the musical Club play'd a number of tunes upon their Instruments which closed the Scene. We soon after went into Commons, and dinner was not quite ready; there was no bread, and there was such a screaming from every part of the Hall, bread! bread! that it might be heard I suppose at a mile's distance.
At about 4 o'clock Beale, my brother, and myself set off to re• { 17 } turn to Braintree. Beale left us about 3 miles from Mr. Cranch's where we arrived just at Sun set. The weather very fine.
1. This was the highly republican dialogue in George Lyttelton's Dialogues of the Dead, 4th edn., London, 1765, p. 353–370 (MH-Ar: Faculty Records, 5:216–217).

Docno: ADMS-03-02-02-0001-0002-0012

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-04-12


I went down to our Office,1 to see if there was a Gravesande, there, but none was to be found;—while we were at dinner my Cousin came in from Boston, where he went last night from Cambridge. In the afternoon Charles, and I went out fowling, but came home, as deeply laden as we went. We went in the Evening, and Cranch play'd to an Echo; it has a very agreeable effect.
1. That is, JA's law office, a ground-floor room in what is now known as the John Quincy Adams Birthplace.

Docno: ADMS-03-02-02-0001-0002-0013

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-04-13


Went down and staid part of the forenoon, at the Office. Drank tea at Mr. Apthorp's. A man of a strange character. I intended when I came from Cambridge to have written, a great deal during this Vacation, but I find there is continually something or other happens to prevent me; so that I begin to fear, I shall do but very little.

Docno: ADMS-03-02-02-0001-0002-0014

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-04-14


We went down to General Palmer's at German town. Went to catch fish, forenoon and afternoon, but with little success; It was late before we got home, and I was very much fatigued; I have, not walk'd so much in one day these 6 months.

Docno: ADMS-03-02-02-0001-0002-0015

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-04-15


At home all day; wrote to my Sister.1 Mr. Cranch return'd, in the Evening, and brought a number of English News Papers with him. All, as common, full of nothing.
A Declamation to be spoken on Wednesday June 7th. 1786.
“Varro, the most learned of the Romans, thought, since Nature is the same wherever we go, that this single circumstance was sufficient to remove all objections to change of Place, { 18 } taken by itself and stripped of the other inconveniences which attend exile. M. Brutus, thought it enough, that those, who go into banishment cannot be hindered from carrying their Virtue along with them. Now, if any one judge that each of these comforts is in itself insufficient, he must however confess that both of them joined together, are able to remove the terrors of exile. For, what trifles must all we leave behind us be esteemed, in comparison of the two most precious things which men can enjoy, and which we are sure, will follow us wherever we turn our steps, the same Nature, and our proper Virtue? Believe me, the providence of God, has established such an order in the World, that of all which belongs to us the least valuable parts can alone fall under the will of others. Whatever is best is safest; lies out of the reach of human power; can neither be given nor taken away. Such is this great and beautiful work of nature, the world. Such is the mind of man, which contemplates and admires the world whereof it makes the noblest part. These are inseparably ours, and as long as we remain in one we shall enjoy the other. Let us march therefore intrepidly wherever we are led by the course of human accidents. Wherever they lead us, on what coast soever we are thrown by them, we shall not find ourselves absolutely strangers. We shall meet with men and women, creatures of the same figure, endowed with the same faculties, and born under the same laws of nature. We shall see the same Virtues and Vices, flowing from the same general Principles, but varied in a thousand different and contrary modes, according to that infinite variety of laws and customs which is established for the same universal end, the preservation of Society. We shall feel the same revolution of Seasons, and the same Sun and Moon will guide the course of our year. The same azure vault, bespangled with stars will be every where spread over our heads. There is no part of the world from whence we may not admire those planets which roll, like ours, in different orbits round the same central Sun; from whence we may not discover an object still more stupendous, that army of fixed Stars, hung up in the immense Space of the Universe, innumerable Suns, whose beams, enlighten and cherish the unknown worlds which roll around them; and whilst I am ravished by such contemplations as these, whilst my soul is thus raised up to heaven, it imports me little what ground I tread upon.”
Bolingbroke, Reflections upon Exile.2
{ 19 }
1. Letter not found. One letter, printed in AA2, Jour. and Corr., [3]:106–112, bears the date 15 April – 16 May 1786, but the substance of the letter under the initial date shows that it was begun on 25 April.
2. Henry St. John, Viscount Bolingbroke, Letters on the Study and Use of History, London, 1770, p. 445–448 (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, 2018.