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JQA Diary, volume 31 14 July 1820
JQA Neal Millikan Commerce Louisiana Purchase

14. IV:45. When I rose Fahrenheit’s Thermometer was at 80. and the lassitude occasioned by the sultriness of the weather so great that I could not sit down at the table to write— So I took a chair at my window, and finished the perusal of the Protagoras, upon which several incidental remarks occurred to me— There is some singularity in the hour of the day, which Plato has selected for this Dialogue— Just at the dawn—Socrates is roused from bed; and goes to the house of Callias, where he finds the Sophists assembled with a company of at least fifty persons. Protagoras is represented as surrounded by a train of disciples who treat him as modern Courtiers do kings; following his train, as he walks and whenever he turns round, fall into two files, to let him pass between them— Alcibiades and Cr itias come in immediately after Socrates— It would seem that there were no fixed hours at which the Sophists taught their Science— Their disciples followed them; and they delivered their doctrines in formal harangues— Socrates finds fault with this mode of instruction, by saying that he is forgetful and cannot remember long discourses. His method of teaching was by interrogatories and familiar conversation— There is a keen stroke of Satire upon the declamation of the Sophists, thrown in by way of incident in the narrative— When Socrates and his young friend come to the house of Callias, they stop a few minutes in the porch to finish the Conversation in which they were engaged on the way. They then knock at the door— The Porter, an old Eunuch, half opens it and seeing them exclaims—So! More Sophists? He has not time!—and shuts the door upon their faces— They have quite an expostulation with him, and solemnly protest they are no Sophists, and only want to see Protagoras, before he lets them in— There is in the dialogue a long and acute critical analysis of a Song of Simonides, which is first quoted by Protagoras, as containing two contradictory passages, but which Socrates vindicates against the charge of inconsistency— He calls in aid the nice distinctions of Prodicus, and makes free use of them in this discussion, but concludes by censuring the introduction of quotations from Poets; which he compares to the introduction of music at entertainments; by those who have no resources of conversation in themselves— This passage opens a train of reflections which I should be glad to pursue— But my Sylph or Demon must say like the old Eunuch of Callias, he has not time— After I had passed an hour or two at my window, reading there came up a shower of rain, followed by a change of wind and a fall of ten or twelve degrees of the thermometer— I sat down to write, and brought up my Journal— But for this I was obliged to encroach upon my Office hours after breakfast— At the Office, I finished my draft of Instructions to Captain Mullowney, and wrote to J. J. Simpson, the son of the late Consul at Tangier— Two men by the name of Audley and Florence, came to the Office, saying that they belonged to Charleston South-Carolina, which they left nearly a year since; that they had been residing some time at New-York; then went upon a visit to Boston— There took passage in a Coasting vessel for Alexandria—went ashore at Barnstable, and passed the Night; during which their vessel made sail and left them behind— Then they took passage in another vessel to Baltimore, and thence walked to this place, to enquire after Commissions in the army; but were informed there was no vacancy— And now they were here in want of the necessaries of life— They had the dress, and pretensions of Gentlemen, and Audley pretended to be personally acquainted with the President— They were not truant boys, escaped from school, and pushing to seek their fortunes, but one avowed 391himself to be twenty, and the other twenty-four years old. After putting several questions to them, which I found them shy to answer, I told them that their account of themselves was so strange that I could only advise them to write to their friends at New-York or Charleston whom they represented as respectable and wealthy, for relief. Mr Roth, the Chargé d’Affaires from France, brought and left at the Office the two Letters of State, from the King of France, and his brother the Count d’Artois, announcing the Death of the Duke de Berry— He also read to me the despatch from the Minister complaining that similar Letters had heretofore not been answered— I told Roth that it was because they had not been received and assured him that the answers to these should be sent to Mr Gallatin. Roth told me that he should be obliged to address me a Note of remonstrance against the late Act of Congress laying extra-duties of tonnage upon French vessels; especially with reference to the eighth Article of the Louisiana cession Treaty. The claims upon him from New-Orleans he said were so strong that he could not resist them—though he should have preferred to leave it as a subject pending for discussion between the two Governments— I told him I would readily receive his note, and give it all due consideration— While I was at dinner there was a Mr Weems a Clergyman came with a subscription book, for an Edition of Le Sage’s Atlas, now publishing by Matthew Carey— Weems is author of a life of General Washington—and of one of General Marion. He had been an old acquaintance of Mr Johnson my wife’s father, and of my father also. He says that he has a passion for the circulation of books; meaning that he is an itinerant collector of subscriptions. Mrs. Adams and the children spent the Evening at Frye’s