Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

Friday. 12th. CFA Friday. 12th. CFA
Friday. 12th.

The dark and dismal weather still continues without improvement. My spirits are not at this moment, I thank Heaven, particularly liable to depression or this would try them. At the Office, where after occupying myself with my Journal and Accounts, instead of continuing my German, I sat down to consider the subject proposed for discussion at the Debating Society tomorrow evening. As I gave it last Saturday, to be my opinion that a man should go prepared to take a part in the discussions of the evening, I feel in a degree bound to support my 361doctrine by my example. I laid out very good ground for my line, if I should conclude to take part in the discussion. My father’s Servant, John Kirke came from Quincy with a Note,1 and some Commissions to be executed. My Mother appeared in much better spirits than she had been.2

Tried to take my Walk but the weather was so bad, that I was somewhat disappointed about it. This is bad for to me now, regularity of exercise is of some consequence. After dinner, I read Cicero and accomplished pretty thoroughly what heretofore I had done slightly. The book is very interesting, there is a flow in the style so gentle and natural, the words seem to be placed with such peculiar fitness where they are to stand, that it holds forth a wonderful example for us pigmies to imitate.3 Evening, Corinne with my Wife when we finished the first Volume. After which I read to her from Byron several of his smaller and sweeter pieces. I also read for the first time, the Critique in the Edinburgh Review of the Hours of Idleness,4 which produced his famous Satire of the English Bards and Scotch Reviewers. It is rather harsh, and shows the danger in which Critics often are of undue severity. The Lion may be roused and use his teeth to some purpose. I afterwards went over two thirds of the fourth book of Paradise Lost, and read two Numbers of the Tatler.




LCA apparently spent at least part of the day in Boston with ABA and CFA (LCA to JA2, 11 Nov., Adams Papers).


In the literary debates during the 17th and 18th centuries on the superiority of the ancients or the moderns, modern man was sometimes referred to as a dwarf or a pigmy on a giant’s shoulders.


Edinburgh Review, 11:285–289 (Jan. 1808).

Saturday. 13th. CFA Saturday. 13th. CFA
Saturday. 13th.

Nothing but rain. I went to the Office and was busy in digesting matter for the discussion at the Debating Society this evening. I wrote out the whole and arranged it in my mind in a fit manner for delivery. This cost me some labour but I hope it will benefit me inasmuch as I shall be better able to rely upon my strength on any occasion that may come up suddenly. Having a little head ach, I was driven to my usual walk to remove it notwithstanding the badness of the weather. Returning home, found my Wife quite unwell, and I therefore sat in her room and read Cicero as well as I could, during the Afternoon. But my progress was not perfectly satisfactory. I am so sensible of the influence of situation in reading, that when I am out of my study nothing seems to go well. I did not much more than half understand what I did read, and read only half the usual quantity.


In the evening I went through the rain to hear the Debate, found about twelve present and had a pretty sensible course of reasoning, for it is not debate, there is not warmth enough. On my return, finished the fourth book of Paradise Lost and reviewed a portion of it, and read two Numbers of the Tatler.