Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO JOHN MARSTON. - The Works of John Adams, vol. 10 (Letters 1811-1825, Indexes)
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TO JOHN MARSTON. - John Adams, The Works of John Adams, vol. 10 (Letters 1811-1825, Indexes) 
The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States: with a Life of the Author, Notes and Illustrations, by his Grandson Charles Francis Adams (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1856). 10 volumes. Vol. 10.
Part of: The Works of John Adams, 10 vols.
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TO JOHN MARSTON.
Quincy, 1 September, 1821.
The Roman dictator was Lucius Quintius Cincinnatus. His master of the horse was Caius Servilius Ahala, whose daring and dangerous exploit was killing Spurius Mælius for aiming at royalty. The story is in Livy, book 4th, chapter 13th; in Rollin’s Roman History, vol. ii. p. 46; in Adams’s Defence, vol. iii. p. 242.1 The Roman Antiquities of Dionysius Halicarnassensis come not down so low. His account is lost, but I presume the anecdote is to be found in every general Roman history.
Is it not remarkable, that this most memorable of all the applications of the phrase, “Macte virtute esto,” is omitted in all the dictionaries? Stephens, Faber, Ainsworth, amidst all their learned lumber, have forgotten this. They have quoted Virgil, Ovid, Cicero, and even the wag Horace, but overlooked Livy.2
Horace, the rogue, in his first book of satires, satire second, lines 31 and 32, puts these words into the mouth of Cato, and applies them for a very curious moral purpose,—
Virgil, in his ninth Æneid, has made Apollo say to Ascanius, after his noble juvenile exploit in killing Numanus,—
He afterwards descends from his cloud, in the shape of old Butes, the armor-bearer and janitor, and gives Iulus good advice.
[1 ] Vol. vi. p. 27 of the present work.
[2 ] In an address to the corps of military cadets from West Point, who paid a visit to Mr. Adams at his house, Mr. Adams had used these words. Mr. Marston, who was a townsman and constant visitor, had asked for some account of them. The address itself, as coming from a man, then in his eighty-sixth year, is sufficiently remarkable to be preserved in the appendix (A) to this volume.