Diary of John Quincy Adams, volume 1



363 28th. JQA 28th. Adams, John Quincy

In the forenoon I, began, upon Xenophon's Cryopaedia,1 and in the afternoon, upon the book of Matthew; closed in the Evening my N: 9 to my Sister.2 I have for about a month past, recited in the morning, with my brother in Virgil, and it is rather to me a relaxation, than a study. It is a general Observation, that mankind have too exalted ideas, of those goods they do not possess, and too low an opinion of them, when attained. But I believe, with Respect to Science, this maxim must be reversed. It is most commonly despised by the ignorant, but is well appreciated by those, who have overcome, the difficulties, that occur in the road to it. A youth seldom takes pleasure, in the first pursuit of those Studies, which afterwards afford him, the highest Entertainment. When I first went through Virgil, I was struck with many Beauties, which it is impossible to overlook, but the difficulty of understanding the passages, often overbalanced the Satisfaction, I then derived from them: but whenever I read over any part of this Author again I am abundantly rewarded, for all the pains I ever took, in becoming acquainted with him.


The Greek writer whose Cyropaedia, a historical novel in eight books, used Cyrus the Elder as a model statesman. The work, a staple of 18th-century college education, focuses on the maintenance of law and authority and political organization. There are several copies of the work in the Adams libraries at MB and MQA.


No letters written by JQA to AA2 between 29 Oct. 1785 and 15 March 1786 have been found. JQA has misnumbered this letter in his Diary, for no. 9 was his of 8–18 Sept. 1785 (Adams Papers).