I began this day to translate the Eclogues of Virgil.1 What a difference between this Study, and that of a dry barren greek Grammar. But without sowing the grain there certainly can be no harvest, and there is no Rose, without a thorn. I have been invited to several places, but as yet have had to plead, as an excuse, that my trunks are not come, and I have no Clothes to appear decently in. Although I am much in want of my trunks, yet I should be glad if I could make the excuse serve, longer, than I shall be able to: for I feel every day the desire of forming new Acquaintances, diminishing. I have been for these eight years continually changing my Society: as soon as I have been able to distinguish good Characters from bad, and have obtained any friends, I could have any Confidence in, I have been obliged to leave them, probably never to see them more. My heart instead of growing callous by a frequent repetition of the same pain, seem’d to feel every seperation more than, any of the former ones. I am really weary of this wandering, strolling kind of Life, and now I wish to form few new acquaintances, have few friends, but such as I may
Grapple to my heart with hooks of steel.2
1. JQA’s translation of Virgil’s Eclogues, mentioned here, is undoubtedly the undated MS, M/JQA/43 (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 238), which contains only the first four eclogues. Two years earlier he had copied all ten of the eclogues in Latin, each (except the last) followed by Dryden’s English translation (4 vols., London, 1782, at MQA). The Latin text used here is uncertain; JQA had bought the Brindley edition, London, 1744 (at MQA), in Paris on 11 March 1785, but there were at least two other editions of Virgil’s works previously purchased by JQA, now also at MQA, which may have been in his possession at this time ([Christian Lotter], Inventory of JQA’s books, 6 Nov. 1784, Adams Papers).
2. ”Grapple them unto thy soul with hoops of steel,” Hamlet, Act I, scene iii, line 63.