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Browsing: Diary of John Quincy Adams, Volume 2

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

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


Read through the remainder of the Dialogues, which Reid says, “prove by unanswerable arguments, what no man in his Senses can believe.”1 There are however, great objections to the System which are not mentioned. This work appears to me, to confound the cause with its effect for ever. Thus if I burn my fingers, they say, the fire by which I burnt them is in my mind, because, the Sensation which it produced is there. Reasoning in the same manner might I not conclude, that there is a Bottle in this wine glass, because the wine that is in it was poured from a bottle? Every one readily agrees that the Sensations, which heat or cold, hardness or softness, solidity, extension, motion &c, raise in his mind, are not in the inanimate matter, which causes them but they are causes which produce those effects in our { 76 } mind. But says Bishop Berkeley, no being, can communicate that which it hath not, which is as much as saying that a hone, cannot whet a razor, because, it is not sharp itself: in short if the ideal System be true, either every animal in creation has an immortal Soul, or else, man must have two; for I take it a horse, and a dog, have as clear ideas of heat and cold, and even of a tree or a river as man. The conclusion is evident, and for my Part, if ever I doubt of the existence of matter, I will likewise doubt of my own existence, and of that of every thing else, nor do I see, how one can be given up with out the other.
I went down in the afternoon, and drank tea at my uncle Quincy's. Charles Went to Cambridge yesterday to move our things, and returned this afternoon. Mrs. Apthorp and her Daughters spent the afternoon at Mr. Cranch's.
1. Thomas Reid, An Inquiry into the Human Mind, p. 21–22.

Docno: ADMS-03-02-02-0001-0007-0009

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-08-09


All the forenoon down in the Library; reading and writing. Pass'd the afternoon at my uncle Adams's. There was some conversation concerning Mr. T——r.1 He has not many friends I believe in Braintree. I believe him at best a very imprudent man, or as Horace says of a character something like him

Nil fuit unquam, sic impar sibi.2

1. Royall Tyler.
2. “Never was a creature so inconsistent,” Horace, Satires, Bk. I, Satire 3, lines 18–19 (Satires, Epistles and Ars Poetica, transl. Fairclough, p. 32–33).

Docno: ADMS-03-02-02-0001-0007-0010

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-08-10


Spent the whole day in my father's library; wrote but little, I cannot indeed write half so much as I wish to, for if I leave off two minutes, I take up some book as if by instinct, and read an hour or two before I think what I am about. I intended to have written a great deal this vacation; it is now almost gone and I have not written twenty Pages.

Docno: ADMS-03-02-02-0001-0007-0011

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1786-08-11


I went down with Charles and Billy to Mrs. Quincy's, in the afternoon. Mr. and Mrs. Gannett were there, Captain Freeman of Dorchester, and Mrs. Edwards, an antiquated Coquet, who { 77 } was about half a century gone. Very much such a thing as Narcissa is at present; and if her face did not give the lye to her behaviour I should suppose her now to be 17 rather than 70.

Her grisled locks assume a smirking grace,

And art has levell'd her deep furrow'd face.

Her strange demand no mortal can approve,

We'll ask her blessing, but can't ask her love.1

1. Edward Young, Satire V, “On Women,” from “Love of Fame, The Universal Passion. In Seven Characteristical Satires” (Poetical Works, 2 vols., Boston, 1854, 2:120).
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.