Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 6

Friday. 25th.

Sunday. 27th.

Saturday. 26th. CFA Saturday. 26th. CFA
Saturday. 26th.

I remained at home all day today with a view of putting an end to the assorting of the papers which since my coming here I had under-229taken. But I did not accomplish as much as I expected. My Grandmother and grandfather had both of them the fancy of keeping papers together which is an unfortunate circumstance in many respects. It retains details of private history which would have been better forgotten, and it relates incidents too trifling for record which consume the time and weary the patience of the examiners. Out of these bushels of chaff the grains of wheat are hard of selection.

I went over today a great deal of melancholy matter. The history of my family is not a pleasant one to remember. It is one of great triumphs in the world but of deep groans within, one of extraordinary brilliancy and deep corroding mortification—The misery of children falling as much below the ordinary standard of human conduct from vicious sensual indulgence as the gratification is worth of others to rise above it.1 I would not have any one of my children particularly distinguished, at the price of such a penalty upon the rest. I would myself much rather remain beyond the sphere in which trial and temptation is so great.

I did little or nothing else during the day. In the evening I tried to put down upon paper what I thought would answer for Resolutions to pass at the approaching Convention, but I did not succeed to my satisfaction. Afterwards, passed a little time in looking for the Comet which I think I found.2 It resembles a bright vapour rather than any thing else. But this Comet is the one which establishes Dr. Halley’s theory, and fixes some curious philosophical predictions.

1.

Thus in MS. Though the sentence is defective, the meaning is clear enough.

2.

Halley’s comet had been observed for some time in the heavens; JQA reported in his Diary seeing it on 5 September. However, on this day (the 26th) the Columbian Centinel reported (p. 2, col. 3) the recent observations of Professor Anderson, of Columbia College, with the naked eye.