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JQA Diary, volume 31 15 July 1820
JQA Neal Millikan Adams Family Residences Recreation

15. IV:30. Morning absorbed upon the Journal of yesterday. After breakfast I went to the river with the purpose of bathing, but found the spot occupied by twenty or thirty fishermen and their boats— Hickey was at the Office, and said that Genl. Van Ness had informed J. L. Edwards that he wished to have the business respecting the house, and lot concluded— I told Hickey that I would write to Van Ness on the Subject— I prepared a Letter to T. Stith, Consul at Tunis, to be sent by Captain Mullowny— The day was cool and showery. I called and spent an hour this Evening with Mr Calhoun; found Mr John Law there— Conversation about Hindus and Mahrattas— Soon after he went away, a Captain Smith of the War Department came with Edwards of Connecticut, and as they were upon business I took leave; Mrs Calhoun and her mother, who is a very religious Lady had left the room before Law— I then went to W. S. Smith’s, where I found Mrs Adams and Charles. I went out this Evening in search of conversation; an art of which I never had an adequate idea. Long as I have lived in the world I never have thought of conversation as a school, in which something was to be learned. I never knew how to make, to controul or to change it— I am by Nature a silent animal, and my dear mother’s constant lesson in childhood, that children in company should be seen and not heard confirmed me irrevocably in what I now deem a bad habit. Conversation is an art of the highest importance, and a school in which for the business of life, more may perhaps be learnt than from books— It is indeed, and must be desultory and superficial; and as a school consists more in making others talk, than in talking. Therein has been and ever will be my deficiency— The talent of starting the game— A man who has that need talk but little himself—when once the ball is set in motion, it will roll, and in considering conversation as a school, I mean it as a school to learn, and not to teach.