Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

Thursday. 22nd. CFA Thursday. 22nd. CFA
Thursday. 22nd.

Cloudy and dark with rain. I went to the Office as usual, but a considerable part of my morning was engrossed at Cunningham’s Auction Room whither I went to buy a German Dictionary. I do not think that I made much by my bargain. In my opinion bargains are not very often made at auction. I did not succeed in getting any thing else I wanted. Walk notwithstanding the rain.


Afternoon, finished No. 2 on Antimasonry. I think it good. At any rate the occupation makes my time light enough upon my hands.

Evening quiet at home. Read with my wife part of the little Tale of Undine in French taken from the German.1 And afterwards hung over the German Grammar, with a stanza or two of Ariosto. The acquisition of language is tiresome. I detest the mud of the Grammars. Received letters from both my parents who are safe arrived at Washington.2


La Motte Fouqué’s Undine had been translated into French by I. Montolieu and published at Paris in 1822 as Ondine.


JQA to CFA, 15 Nov. (Adams Papers). The letter from LCA is missing.

Friday. 23rd. CFA Friday. 23rd. CFA
Friday. 23rd.

Morning clear and pleasant. Our weather is on the whole uncommonly mild. I hope it is not to be followed again by so severe a winter. At the Office where I accomplished much of Lingard. I think every body ought to read him who wishes to form a clear notion of English History, but not without closely comparing him with other writers. He admits something in regard to Mary. Others will explain the rest. He claims for her a merit she probably deserves, which in others she has not had attributed to her. He certainly is skilful in shading his pictures.

Took a walk and stopped to look at House 105 Tremont Street which has been lately vacated by Mr. Brackett. It must be repaired. Afternoon, worked hard upon Antimasonry and continued it in the evening. I have finished three numbers and shall now offer them for publication previous to going on with more.

Quiet evening reading Undine with my Wife. I this night finished the Idler, making the twenty fourth and last Volume of my edition of British Essayists. I have been two years, one month and thirteen days, in going through them at the regular rate of two Numbers nightly.1


See above, vol. 3:337–338, 407.

Saturday. 24th. CFA Saturday. 24th. CFA
Saturday. 24th.

I sent this morning three numbers to the Editor of the Advocate, for publication.1 The success of my writing has been so indifferent that I always regard it as rather a favour that the pieces see the light. If ever I had any pride of authorship, it has been pretty effectually humbled. Yet I feel as if my style was not without power and that it ought to take better. Perseverance may effect what my amount of skill cannot.


At the Office working upon Lingard with assiduity. The day was half and half. Took my walk notwithstanding. Afternoon, working upon No. 4. I have got into a train and must not break out of it.

Evening quiet at home, reading with my Wife. Undine is a pretty little thing. Afterwards, began upon Follen’s German Grammar which seems to be composed of more simple elements.2 But after all a man learns more by translating five sentences of a book than by reading twenty Grammars. Began reading the World. A periodical Essay though not belonging to my set of the Classics.3 I pursue in this, the same method that has carried me so quietly and easily through all the others.


Publication of CFA’s series of antimasonic articles in the Boston Daily Advocate, the organ of the antimasonic movement, began on 5 December. See below, entries for 6, 8, and 11 Dec.; Duberman, CFA , p. 47.


In the years since Charles Theodore Christian Follen began to teach the German language and literature at Harvard in 1825 (see above, vol. 3:22) he had brought out several textbooks in the language.


The World, an essay-periodical by Edward Moore, was published at London during the years 1753–1756. It was included in some editions of the British Classics and of Chalmers’ British Essayists.