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JQA Diary, volume 30 26 July 1816


Neal Millikan

26. V:45. Anniversary of my Marriage day— Since which nineteen years have passed away— I brought up at last the arrears of my Journal in May and closed the fourth Volume.— The increasing difficulty that I experience in writing with my own hand, has sufficiently convinced me that it cannot be long before I shall be compelled either to cease keeping this Diary altogether, or of reducing within the smallest compass the record of every day.— The idea occurred to me, of beginning to keep a separate minute; allotting one line to every day, and by an arrangement which would give one page to every Month— A subsequent idea was, to carry this abstract backwards as well as forwards and to make it as far as I may be able an Index to all my Journals.— In November 1779. in the thirteenth year of my age, I first began to keep a Journal— It was upon embarking on board the French Frigate la Sensible, at Boston for Brest, though we landed at Ferrol in Spain. But easy as this practice of journalizing appears to be, it requires one quality not very common among men; and yet scarcer among boys—Perseverance— I had it not— My journal soon became irksome and I dropped it— Not however for any length of time— I resumed it again in 1780. in July, on leaving Paris with my father, to go to Holland—but soon drop’d and resumed it again— At various periods of my life I did the same; and from my first effort in 1779 until 1795, I believe there was never at any one time six months of intermission, and seldom six Months of unintermitted journal.— It was kept sometimes on loose sheets of paper, sometimes in paper covered books and sometimes in bound volumes of various dimensions. Several years I followed the practice which I now expect will be my last resort, of giving one line to every day, and one page for each Month— At other times I attempted to note only the days upon which something remarkable occurred; once or twice a week for example— This I soon found the most impracticable of all—that is it soon slided into total neglect. My last attempt was on the first of January 1795. Since which I have kept my journal, I think without intermission of a day. I began it however in a small duodecimo, leather covered book, which I ran through in two Months. I then concluded to use Volumes of the small Quarto form— Small enough to be portable, and large and thick enough to contain a considerable portion of time—several years, in each Volume— The first and second of these Volumes containing the Diary from 1. March 1795. to 4. August 1809. I left in a trunk in the charge of my brother at Boston, when I sailed for Russia— The preceding loose sheets, Sybil leaves, interleaved Almanacks, and motley volumes of all sizes, are many of them lost, and the rest, in that same trunk— On the first of this Month I began in a separate Volume, at page 301. the Index to my Diary for the future— And this day after closing my late arrears I commenced the retrospective Index, beginning with the immediately preceding Month, and proposing to allow five days to make out the Index for each previous month— I wrote Letters also to Cresswell and Addams the Proctors at Doctors Commons, returning them the note from J. & J. Dunlop to them, which they had sent me—to the Secretary of State, despatch N. 51. and a Note to Count Fernan-Nuñez the Spanish Ambassador, concerning the case of the William and Mary— Walk before dinner to Ealing, and across the fields, returning by Hanwell, and after dinner in the garden.