Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

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.

Thursday. 16th. CFA Thursday. 16th. CFA
Thursday. 16th.

Morning clear and cold. I walked down to the Tenements to get out my annoyance of an Irish Woman. She has moved herself but one of her Tenants is still in the House and worries me. Thence to the Office where with a few interruptions I was busy nearly all the morning in writing a letter to my Father.1 I received one from him at New York giving an Account of his progress tolerably amusing.2 Mr. Jackson, Painter called upon me with his bills which I paid, finding them much larger than I anticipated.3 This business of Houses requires a very skilful hand. I also had half an hour’s conversation with Mr. Peabody.

Afternoon, engaged in copying my letter, and in looking over the Papers of Massachusettensis and Novanglus4 to discover the point which I think represented in the Society’s Pamphlet. I found abundance of matter in it, such as I wanted. Evening, Miss Julia Gorham came to see my Wife and I went out to be present at the Meeting of the Commissioners of Insolvency. Nothing was however done there. Returned and wasted the time excepting a little for my Catalogue and the Tatler.


LbC, Adams Papers. For this letter, see above, entry for 14 Dec., notes, and below, entry for 28 Dec., note.


JQA to CFA, 11–12 Dec., Adams Papers.


Payment to E. Jackson amounted to $45 (M/CFA/3).


On CFA’s earlier reading of the “Novanglus” papers, written by JA in answer to Daniel Leonard’s “Massachusettensis” papers, see vol. 2:233–240; on the papers themselves, see JA, Diary and Autobiography , 2:161; 3:313.

Friday. 17th. CFA Friday. 17th. CFA
Friday. 17th.

Morning bright and clear. I went to the Office after having paid my usual visit to the Tenements to see how they are going on. Found the Irish Tenant had moved but the person she left was still there. This is a piece of work. At the Office where after reading some political articles upon the President’s message I sat down to arrange what I proposed to say tomorrow at the Meeting of the Debating Society upon the Working Men’s Party. I did not make very rapid progress and felt obliged to go to the Athenaeum for the purpose of consulting the works upon America in the question that occurs to my mind.

As P. Chardon Brooks had invited Abby and me to dine at his house today, we accordingly went. It is the first time that I have dined 384there for I do not know how long. We found them pleasant as usual and I returned home in time to accomplish a considerable portion of Cicero’s book called Brutus or de claris Oratoribus1 which seems to be a mere account of such as have enjoyed reputation in the Republics of Athens and Rome. Evening at home. We read a little of Corinne and some of the Baroness Minutoli’s Book, after which I made good progress in my Catalogue and read my usual numbers in the Tatler.


In most editions of Cicero’s Opera this work appeared immediately following the De Oratore.