Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

Tuesday. 14th. CFA Tuesday. 14th. CFA
Tuesday. 14th.

Morning cold and cloudy. I went down on my usual walk to see my Irish Tenant, and thence went to the Office. Arranged my usual business and then went down to obtain the Dividend upon the New England Insurance Office Stock which was quite handsome and puts my father’s Affairs here quite above Water.1 This speculation was among the fortunate things of his life. It has saved his affairs here from embarassment several times. And now carries him through what is I hope the last of his undertakings for the Estate of my Grandfather.2

I read the short Account of the American Revolution and was pleased with every part of it but the Note in which bad doctrine is taught. In order to ascertain how far it was supported by its Authorities, I went down and read at the Athenaeum certain papers written 382by Mr. Burke at the period when a secession from Parliament was meditated. I did not find what I wanted.3

Afternoon, reading Cicero and accomplished another portion of the third book de Oratore, which I had read before superficially. It is very good, and relates to propriety of language. Evening, Corinne and a little of Baroness Minutoli’s Recollections of Egypt,4 after which, more of my Catalogue, and two Numbers of the Tatler.


The dividend received on 108 shares was $864 (M/CFA/3).


In addition to the regular payments due quarterly under the terms of JA’s will, portions of the legacies to John Peter de Windt (1786?–1870), Alexander Bryan Johnson (1786–1867), Louisa Catherine Catharine Smith, and T. B. Adams Jr. remained unpaid to a total of $485.63 and payable 1 Jan. 1831 (CFA to JQA, 16 Dec., LbC, Adams Papers; Adams Genealogy).


[W. Shepherd], History of the American Revolution, London, 1830; a publication in the Library of Useful Knowledge issued by the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, London. CFA sought corroboration for the statement therein that “when Lord Chatham was taken ill in the House of Lords, he was about to propose his plan for conciliation with America, and ... that this was generally understood to be a kind of federal union under the British Crown” (CFA to JQA, 16 Dec., LbC, Adams Papers).


Baroness W. A. L. M. von Minutoli, Recollections of Egypt, London, 1827.

Wednesday. 15th. CFA Wednesday. 15th. CFA
Wednesday. 15th.

Morning cloudy and warm with heavy rains, which came on at intervals more like the Summer than this season. I went to the Office, where after talking a little with Mr. Peabody, I sat down to my usual occupations. I read over carefully the pamphlet upon the subject of the Revolution and noted the passages upon which I desired information. Nothing of further moment occurred.

I returned home as usual and in the afternoon resumed and finished Cicero de Oratore. I have on the whole benefitted from this tolerably thorough perusal of this work. And although few ideas in it were new to me as they form the basis of all subsequent doctrines of eloquence, yet I have been a gainer by the study of a clear style, and the perception of beauties which never struck me before. Cicero was perhaps the greatest Master of the Theory of Oratory that ever existed, though perhaps in the practice he may have been equalled by Demosthenes. He understood the influence upon the passions so that when he speaks, we do not feel as if we were listening to a visionary. I should think that this very book was worthy of being always held as a Text book, although the influence of such a man as Edward T. Channing has rejected it at Cambridge.1

Evening, Corinne and after it, a visit from Mr. Edmund Quincy, so that I had little or no opportunity to continue my Catalogue, though I read two Numbers of the Tatler.


On Edward Tyrrel Channing, Boylston professor of rhetoric and oratory at Harvard since 1819, for whom JQA and CFA entertained no high regard, and on his approach to the study of oratory, which, according to CFA, gave no emphasis to the classical orators, see vol. 1:176–229 passim.