Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

Thursday. 6th. CFA Thursday. 6th. CFA
Thursday. 6th.

Morning rainy but warm. The weather cleared up however very shortly afterwards and produced another lovely day. I went to the Office and passed most of my morning in reading Marshall, the interesting portion of whose history I have now finished. In reflecting upon what I should do next, I felt a marvellous inclination to take up Aeschines and Demosthenes, though not a little awed by the amount of the labour which will be necessary to do any thing with it. I went to Hilliard’s Store to see what was to be done and upon examining the work of Mr. Negris I thought I would purchase and go directly to work to see whether something could not be done out of it.1 I propose to begin upon it coolly, to devote six months to the materials and the composition and if necessary to give two months more to the perfection. If I can make nothing more out of it, my labour will still not be lost. Called in to see Mr. Brooks who notified me of the birth of a son to Mrs. Everett, a matter which will delight them all—As Mr. Everett has been long regretting his want of one. Afternoon passed in my beginning of the Book of Mr. Negris, and found myself quite surprised that I had made myself so fully master of the text in my previous reading, but the Notes are very good. I read ten or fifteen pages easily. Evening Eustace to my Wife, after which I tried with little success to throw together some preliminary thoughts.

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1.

On Alexander Negris’ edition of The Orations of Aeschines and Demosthenes on The Crown in the original Greek with English notes, and on CFA’s efforts at a translation, see above entry for 26 Oct. 1829, note 4.

Friday 7th. CFA Friday 7th. CFA
Friday 7th.

Morning clear with a cool West Wind blowing pretty strong. I went to the Office as usual and sat myself down to study Demosthenes with attention and to try my hand at translation. I expected to have proceeded much more rapidly than I did and found accurate translation to be difficult. Something must be given to the genius of the tongue. But my purpose will be at first to be sure to get the precise sense after which I shall be better able to render it into elegant English. Translation is more difficult than composition inasmuch as it requires that two languages should be made to convey the same ideas in the same spirit. But my occupation was so interesting as to engross me very much so that I did not go to see Mr. Brooks as I should have done. Afternoon passed in reading more of Aeschines. It is now I find the benefit of having read this work, for I am no more puzzled and distracted by ignorance of words and thus since yesterday have read thirty pages in Negris which before cost me a month. I now also see the beauty of the style. I was able to pursue the subject until late in the evening as my Wife was out, and I only went down for an hour to Mrs. Frothingham’s where we had a pleasant little Oyster Supper, and returned early.

Saturday 8th. CFA Saturday 8th. CFA
Saturday 8th.

Morning fine although the weather was very considerably cold. I went to the Office after receiving a visit from Miss Oliver my Tenant who paid me forty dollars of her rent on account and thus relieved me from much of my anxiety respecting that House. She has now materially diminished the weight of her debt, and having received a polite warning from me proves one of the most anxious to pay. My father’s real Estate is now in the best condition, all the Tenants being now about to manifest the result of my care, in their increased sensibility to the duty of punctuality which had become somewhat dulled. After balancing my books at the Bank, and inquiring for the condition of the Horse which this morning was a little encouraging, I spent the rest of the time at the Office in translating more of Mr. Negris, and felt as if I had succeeded better today.

After dinner I went to see the furniture of Madame de Walewsky formerly Mrs. Humphreys who made a silly match, and now leaves 231Boston to follow her husband, probably an impostor wherever he chooses to say. I know of no instance of greater folly in a woman, likely to be attended with more unfortunate circumstances to herself. Her large fortune will probably vanish under his hands, and then she is an old woman tied to a young and unprincipled spendthrift.1 I could not help thinking of this when looking at her house, which was all comfortably and some of it splendidly fitted up. Returned home and read Aeschines for two hours, after which I had agreed to go to Medford. Owing to the confinement of Mrs. Everett Mr. Brooks is left quite alone down there, and I therefore thought it would answer to go and spend two evenings instead of one. The evening was fine but cold and I thought I would vary our ride by going through Milk Row and the Old road near West Cambridge. We were paid for it in the beauty of the scenery which now shows the luxuriant freshness of the Season. I know nothing finer than the appearance of the Apple Orchards here in the month of May. Our ride was agreeable and we reached Medford directly after Sunset. The evening passed in conversation with Mr. Brooks.

1.

Mrs. Ann F. Humphreys was the wealthy widow of Gen. [properly, Col.] David Humphreys. Her property had been further enhanced by a bequest of $150,000 from her sister. On 31 Dec. 1829 she had married Col. de Walewsky, a Polish gentleman who was said to have served in Napoleon’s army. She was 51, he 41. At his insistence that any other arrangement would be an offense to his honor, she allowed all her property to pass to his control. In the months after marriage the house became “a resort for the young rakes of the town who have been treated by the Col. with fine dinners and choice wines.” The marriage, the ménage, and the reasons animating their removal from Boston evoked interest and gossip. The furniture, wines, &c. were on display at the residence, corner of Sumner and Mt. Vernon streets, and were to be sold there at auction on 10 May at 9 o’clock. (CFA to LCA, 17 Jan., Adams Papers; Charlotte Everett to Edward Everett, 4, 10, 24 Jan., 2 May, Everett MSS, MHi; Columbian Centinel, 5 May, p. 3, col. 6.)