Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

Tuesday. 9th. CFA Tuesday. 9th. CFA
Tuesday. 9th.

The day was cloudy with rain. I went to the Office and busied myself all the morning in learning my share of the German Grammar. I found upon a review of the substantives a very considerable difficulty in ascertaining the distinctions drawn between the declensions. This is not over clearly explained in my Grammar. I therefore took up another, that of Gottsched,1 to see if this would answer better. But I could not accomplish enough to judge, as I was forced to attend to advertising Mr. New’s Estate in Cambridge Street which is again to be sold. This accomplished, I started upon my usual walk for health, 359tedious but necessary. “There is no enjoying life without thee” so says Ben Jonson I believe, and whether he does or not, so says the truth.

After dinner occupied with Cicero de Oratore, and reviewed about twenty five sections with much pleasure. Eloquence is a fascinating study, if Lord Bacon’s Maxim be true that Knowledge is Power, the only way to understand it is by the implication of the proper means to convey it. Knowledge lying locked up in a man’s head is as inert and useless a mass as so much gold in its primitive bed. It is circulation that gives both power. They differ in one thing alone, that the first has influence increasing in proportion to the attention bestowed to the shape in which it is circulated, the other seldom rises above a certain fixed value, attached to the native metal in its roughest state. But a truce with speculation. Evening passed in reading Corinne with my Wife, and a visit from Mr. Degrand who has again much against my will, showed his face at my House.2 I finished the second book of Milton’s Paradise Lost, reading with attention the famous Allegory of Sin and Death, and closed with two numbers of the Tatler.

1.

J. C. Gottsched, Le maître allemand ou nouvelle grammaire ..., Paris, 1763.

2.

See above, entry for 29 Nov. 1829.

Wednesday. 10th. CFA Wednesday. 10th. CFA
Wednesday. 10th.

Morning still cloudy and dark. I have not progressed much since my review took me away from it, in the Catalogue of my father’s Library. But now that I have my time this ought to become a very serious consideration. For the last two mornings, Conversation with my Wife has taken up the time I generally devote to it, but my time is precious, and I am reminded of the necessity of labour.

At the Office where I devoted myself to the study of Gottsched’s Grammar and liked the arrangement of it much better than Meidinger’s. For he begins with a most necessary thing to understand, the Article, while the other hardly seems to treat it by itself at all. Mr. Stone, the Treasurer of the City Guards, called upon me to pay the balance of the demand of my late brother’s Estate upon that Company. I was delighted to close the whole of that business and allow all his troubles and his pleasures to rest in peace. This demand I was particularly glad to collect, as it shows that his confidence was not always misplaced.1

I took my usual walk. After dinner, resumed and finished the first book of Cicero de Oratore in review. The argument is upon the necessity of all other Science to constitute the Orator. A question which involves no question when rightly considered, for it is solved by what 360may be made the definition of an Orator. The wider sense in which Crassus is made to understand it, is perhaps the pleasantest to minds generally, though that of Antony is likely to be the most accurate. Evening, Corinne and a little poetry in a desultory way, after which I read the first half of the third Book of Paradise Lost and two dry numbers of the Tatler.

1.

The unpaid balance on the loan made to the City Guards by GWA amounted to $71.20 (M/CFA/3).