Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

Tuesday. 11th. CFA Tuesday. 11th. CFA
Tuesday. 11th.

The Snow was thick enough to make very good sleighing, and the Streets looked very lively. I went to the Office as usual, and passed my time in writing my Journal and reading Enfield’s Philosophy, in which I made progress as far as the Cynic Philosophy. This is a very useful book and I am a little surprised I never took hold of it sooner. It has given me a better insight into the doctrines of the different Masters whose names we see perpetually in the Classics, than I ever possessed before. How much knowledge we ought to possess before even starting to read the older Authors, and yet we touch them first in boyhood when we do not even understand the Language, much less the multiplicity of allusions to mythology, philosophy, religion, habits 400and manners. No wonder there is so little taste for the Dead Languages.

My time was cut in halves by being obliged to go and see my Cousin Miss A. S. Adams who was in town, expecting to receive her Quarterly Interest. This however saved my going out of town as I had intended. After dinner I finished the Orator with which I have been on the whole edified. Though part of it is mysterious, yet it contains a vast deal of excellent matter to be practically exercised. The whole business of the choice of words, how vastly different from our Teachers. Yet who compares with Cicero in the most unerring test, success.

Evening. Began A Year in Spain, a new book by a young New York man.1 Quite lively. Continued my Catalogue and read the Tatler.

1.

Alexander Slidell Mackenzie, A Year in Spain, Boston, 1829.

Wednesday. 12th. CFA Wednesday. 12th. CFA
Wednesday. 12th.

Morning cloudy and mild, but it cleared off and became colder during the day. I went to the Office as usual, and with a few interruptions was engaged in arranging my Accounts which are very much in want of assistance, and in reading Enfield in which I made considerable progress. But this broken way of reading the Book makes it much less profitable and instructive than if I could have a continuity of time. My visitors were Mr. Forbes, Stable Keeper to be paid, a person about one of the Tenements and Mr. Sega about a subscription.

Returned home after taking a walk, and had Mr. Brooks to dine with us. After he went away, I pursued my study of Cicero by beginning the Topica, addressed to Trebatius, and owing to the great difficulty I had in understanding the great variety of allusions to their particular habits and laws, I thought ten Sections quite a Quantity of Work. Evening at home, reading French and continuing the very spirited book on Spain. After which, I continued my Catalogue which has arrived at W. and read two Numbers of the Tatler.

Thursday. 13th. CFA Thursday. 13th. CFA
Thursday. 13th.

The Season began again to show itself this morning in a severe degree of Cold. I went to the Office as usual, and from thence to an Auction Room where were to be sold two or three books that I wanted very much.1 It is my rule to buy no books, yet how often I infringe upon it. Today however I really did not repent, for such a work as Middleton’s Life of Cicero is to me almost necessary in my present pursuit and certainly beneficial.2 To keep a work of that kind out of the Athenaeum would be impossible so long as I must want it, and to 401buy a good Copy of it at Auction prices is rare. I also obtained Guthrie’s translation of Cicero’s Offices,3 which is a valuable though not so very desirable an acquisition. Read Enfield at my Office and finished the History of the Ionic School which is a principal branch of Ancient Philosophy. But the Book must be often referred to, in order to fix the knowledge I acquire.

After dinner, reading the rest of the Topica, which is short, in this case a recommendation for it is both dry and difficult. Much of it the same with what is found in the books de Inventione and both taken from Aristotle. I began to review them also, for one reading does but clear the way. Evening, continued reading the book upon Spain, and much pleased with it. After which, I worked upon the Catalogue, until I brought it down to X which is cheering. Also read the usual numbers of the Tatler.

1.

The sale of “a collection of valuable books” began at 9:30 a.m. in Cunningham’s Auction Room at Milk and Federal streets (Boston Daily Advertiser, 13 Jan., p. 3, col. 5).

2.

CFA’s copy is in MQA; see vol. 2:200.

3.

The copy in MQA with CFA’s bookplate is of the edition published at London in 1820.