Characteristic Enteries in His Diary

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Author: John Adams  | Date: 1826

Some Youthful Resolutions

GOOD sense will make us remember that others have as good a right to think for themselves, and to speak their own opinions, as we have; that another man’s making a silly speech does not warrant my ill-nature and pride in grasping the opportunity to ridicule him and show my wit; a puffy, vain, conceited conversation never fails to bring a man into contempt, although his natural endowments be ever so great, and his application and industry ever so intense; no accomplishments, no virtues, are a sufficient atonement for vanity and a haughty overbearing temper in conversation; and such is the humor of the world, the greater a man’s parts, and the nobler his virtues in other respects, the more derision and ridicule does this one vice and folly throw him into. Good-sense is generally attended with a very lively sense and delight in applause; the love of fame in such men is generally much stronger than in other people, and this passion, it must be confessed, is apt to betray men into impertinent exertions of their talents, sometimes into censorious remarks upon others, often into little meannesses to sound the opinions of others, and, oftenest of all, into a childish affectation of wit and gayety. I must own myself to have been, to a very heinous degree, guilty in this respect; when in company with persons much superior to myself in years and place, I have talked to show my learning; I have been too bold with great men, which boldness will, no doubt, be called self-conceit; I have made, ill- natured remarks upon the intellectuals, manners, practice, etc., of other people; I have foolishly aimed at wit and spirit, at making a shining figure in gay, company; but, instead of shining brighter, I only clouded the few rays that before rendered me visible. Such has been my unhappy fate. I now resolve, for the future, never to say an ill-natured thing concerning ministers or the ministerial profession; never to say an envious thing concerning governors, judges, ministers, clerks, sheriffs, lawyers, or any other honorable or lucrative offices or officers; never to affect wit upon laced waistcoats, or large estates, or their possessors; never to show my own importance or superiority by, remarking the foibles, vices, or inferiority of others. But I now resolve, as far as lies in me, to take notice chiefly of the amiable qualities of other people; to put the most favorable construction upon the weaknesses, bigotry, and errors of others, etc.; and to labor more for an inoffensive and amiable, than for a shining and invidious character.

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Chicago: John Adams, "Some Youthful Resolutions," Characteristic Enteries in His Diary Original Sources, accessed April 22, 2024, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8UPPLW3CFUVS5TY.

MLA: Adams, John. "Some Youthful Resolutions." Characteristic Enteries in His Diary, Original Sources. 22 Apr. 2024. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8UPPLW3CFUVS5TY.

Harvard: Adams, J, 'Some Youthful Resolutions' in Characteristic Enteries in His Diary. Original Sources, retrieved 22 April 2024, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8UPPLW3CFUVS5TY.