Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

Monday. 17th.

Wednesday. 19th.

Tuesday. 18th. CFA Tuesday. 18th. CFA
Tuesday. 18th.

Fine day though exceedingly cold. I went to Boston. Finding that my time was much wasted by my way of life, I went to the Athenaeum and got the second Volume of Marshall,1 which I propose to look over for the political events of the period after the close of the war. The History of the course of Washington is among the astonishing Romances of life. There never was a man before in such a situation to do good to the world and never one before so much disposed to improve it. Patriotism may derive a shining and a warming light from his example. It teaches that all is not hollow pretence, that there can be public virtue and that the world will appreciate it. I was very much struck with his address to the army officers, notwithstanding the very dry style of the biographer. Mr. Curtis called on me for a moment, about a paper to be drawn up for Mr. Boylston’s Estate.

I returned to Quincy, and passed my Afternoon reading Mirabeau’s 109Letters. A singular genius of whom I must learn something more. What a diversity of human character is to be found in this world. No two persons are alike when you see them in history, and although the common mass of mankind resemble each other sufficiently to pass together in a general view, yet a careless observer will note the differences between the individuals who compose it. Mirabeau was a genius and a rascal, an active and an indolent man, quick to see beauty and fitness, dull to practise it. Unprincipled and yet full of sentiments the most exalted. What a contrast to Washington. Passed the evening at home. Read a few of Madame de Sevigné’s letters and the Observer.


John Marshall’s Life of George Washington, probably in the revised edition, 2 vols., Phila., 1832.