Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

Monday. 7th.

Wednesday. 9th.

256 Tuesday. 8th. CFA Tuesday. 8th. CFA
Tuesday. 8th.

Arose and found that instead of a bright day we were having a very heavy rain, with a warm south wind. This did not last, though we had occasional showers with thunder through the day. At the Office where most of my time was taken up in reading Mitford, the volume I wish to finish. It has been a matter of some satisfaction to me to find, that the impressions received from the book now are exactly the same with those I had in my first reading at College.

The literature of England for the early period of the nineteenth Century bears the characteristic strongly, of the times. The terror of the French revolution, and jealousy of the success of a rival nation threw nearly all the scholars in England into an attitude hostile to all institutions excepting such as supported the great weight of their own system. And as democracy was the most fearful enemy, it partook most largely of their enmity. The Tory party, Mr. Mitford, Mitchell the translator of Aristophanes, the Writers in the Quarterly Review, Walter Scott in his way, and many others which I cannot now recollect, have laboured with much assiduity and some success at this Oar. But they have perverted history, and unsettled political principle.

The Afternoon was devoted to Dr. Parr’s Life. He to be sure went to another extreme, but perhaps the most correct one. Time should never hallow abuses, though change ought not to be rashly attempted. I took up the works of Sir Joshua Reynolds to inform myself a little more upon the merits of Painters, and the science.1 This is a proper time to apply the information. Finished Eustace to my Wife in the evening, after which I attacked Logic. How multifarious is knowledge. How extended the ways of learning. Who can compass them all and yet who feels not the desire of trying more than he can accomplish.


Sir Joshua Reynolds, The Complete Works. The edition published at London in 3 vols., 1824, in MQA, has GWA’s autograph and CFA’s bookplate.