Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

Friday 15th.

Sunday. 17th.

Saturday. 16th. CFA Saturday. 16th. CFA
Saturday. 16th.

The day was dark and rainy. I read Aeschines as usual and went to the office where my time was passed with little interruption in reading and my usual occupations. Completed a Dissertation by Condorcet upon the question whether Errors are at any time useful in government.1 It is not very valuable, as the tendency of it is to weaken the belief in true Institutions the practical benefit of which no reasonable man can doubt. My own notion is that Religion is necessary to the human mind, and, even if I suppose it an error which I never could, that the error is practically productive of much of the whole amount of human happiness. This is an argument about which I should never reason, nor think of weighing the logical sentences of Condorcet or even much better writers. In truth if there is any thing which leads me more particularly to doubt the great benefits of the spirit of Revolution which is overrunning the Continent of Europe, it is the connection which seems evident between it and Scepticism. This leads to the unsettlement of all Society and brings us to a State of utter confusion.

Walked down to the Athenaeum where I looked over the European Papers. Full of moment. Afternoon, continued the Oration pro domo sua. It displays a good deal of vanity, let him say what he will, yet these little things are not to be weighed in the great scale of merit.

Evening, Mr. N. Hall, a Cousin of my Wife took Tea and passed the Evening. After which, I began reading Mackenzie’s Track to the Arctic Ocean,2 and my usual numbers of the Spectator.

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1.

“Dissertation philosophique et politique” in Bibliothèque de l’homme public, vol. 6.

2.

Sir Alexander Mackenzie, Voyages from Montreal, on the River St. Laurence, through the Continent of North America, to the Frozen and Pacific Oceans, ... 1789 and 1793. With a preliminary account of the ... fur trade of that country, London, 1801.