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Browsing: Diary of John Quincy Adams, Volume 1

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0030

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-30


Snow'd hard all day. The weather very chilly and disagreeable. I finish'd the first book of the Cyropaedia; to admire the beauties of this book I must be much more acquainted with the Language, it is written in, than I am at present. The Events related in what I have gone through, are in themselves small, and not very interesting; related with a simplicity of style, adapted to them: the Conversation between Cambyses and Cyrus, which concludes the book, may perhaps be of great service to military { 380 } Characters. In the Evening I read the 5th. Book of our Poem. This too seems to be entirely Episodic; and has no tendency to advance the Action, of the Poem; but it is in itself charming, and perhaps, if a Poem, is moral, instructive and entertaining it is not necessary that it should be confined to the severe rules of a phlegmatic, cold-blooded Critic. The Character and history of Irad appears to be an Imitation of that of Pallas, in Virgil, and the additional Circumstance of his being in Love, is not amiss. The Reflections upon the first fall, are noble, and pleasing, the different effects that the intention of Irad to join in the war, has upon Hezron, and Selima, are proper and natural. The Sentiment of Irad

But doom'd to fall, should Heaven my life demand

And death betide me from a heathen's hand,

I fall in Virtue's cause. Far happier doom,

In that bless'd path, to find a speedy tomb!

Than, lost in sports, or sunk in shameful ease,

To drag a worthless life, and swell inglorious days.1

ought to be that of every youth, who wishes for the applause of his Country, and the Esteem of mankind.
1. Lines 673–678.

Docno: ADMS-03-01-02-0007-0014-0031

Author: Adams, John Quincy
Date: 1785-12-31


Finish'd Watts's logic. Which I have been a long time, about, but have never look'd in it except Saturdays in the afternoon. What I this day read were rules to guide our Reason, and I was much pleased with them. The Ladies went in the afternoon, down to Mr. White's to see Eliza, who has again been very much indisposed.
And now the year has come to a close; one half hour more, and probably before I shut this book, a new one, will be ushered in, and the present added to the number of those that have performed their course, and are never more to appear, unless in the annals of past Time. A large portion of the Life of man, has elapsed, since I began, this volume; and can I boldly say to myself, that my improvements have been in proportion to the moments that have flown? I dare not search into my heart, for an answer, Time steals gradually, and imperceptibly away; so that we are not sensible how important it is to employ it well, untill it { 381 } is gone too far to be retrieved. Moment after moment passes off, and seems as nothing; but when millions of those nothings, have collected into a year, and we see it gone, cruel Reflection rushes upon us, and undeceives us of our Error. One minute to come, is worth a thousand years past; which can only serve, to teach us how to make a proper use of it. But I still esteem myself as happy, that I can this night lay me down and sleep with this Consolation, that whatever errors, or foibles, may have misled me in the course, of the past or of the preceding years, at least I have not to reproach myself with Vice, which it has always been my principle to dread, and my Endeavour to shun. May it always be so, and may my Conscience, at the time, when the unerring hand of Death, shall be laid on me, clear me, as it now does.
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.