Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

Thursday. 10th. CFA Thursday. 10th. CFA
Thursday. 10th.

Morning cold. At the Office as usual, where I spent my time in the occupations usual with me, after which I sat down and made considerable progress in Enfield. The Account of the philosophy of the Middle Ages is curious and wonderful for it manifests a strange stage of perversion of the human intellect. Afterwards I took a walk previous to going according to invitation to dine at Mrs. Frothingham’s. I found Edward and Mr. Brooks were to be there with Abby and myself. The party was tolerably pleasant and I left it to attend the funeral of poor old Dr. Welsh. Had some conversation about him with Dr. Shattuck1 and found it was as I had thought, that he was in a desolate situation and felt himself to be so. And that this operated upon his mind to shorten his career a little.

Returned home and instead of spending the remainder of the afternoon in reading Cicero, I thought I would devote it to the rest of my father’s Paper. This is among the ablest of all his controversial efforts, and appears to me convincing. But it’s present is not the best shape in which it could be put. The substance of it is singularly powerful, and when divested of the acrimony which runs through the tone, would be calculated to produce a great effect. It requires however 420repeated reading.2 Evening Conversation with my Wife after which the Latin Grammar and the Tatler.

1.

Dr. George Cheyne Shattuck; see vol. 2:202.

2.

In his letter to his father on 13 Feb. (LbC, Adams Papers), CFA wrote similarly of JQA’s “Reply to the Appeal of the Massachusetts Federalists,” but at much greater length and included his reasons for not favoring publication of it until a later time and until its tone was modified.

Friday. 11th. CFA Friday. 11th. CFA
Friday. 11th.

Morning as usual at the Office. But my time was passed in a singular way. The interruptions were so numerous, that they hardly left me the power even of doing nothing. I was desirous of conversing with Mr. Peabody but was unable owing to the very singular manner in which different persons kept coming. Mr. Jones the Auctioneer from Weston, an applicant or two for Houses, the old Tenant Mr. Spear all came in turn to talk and make their different requests or excuses. This took up the morning in a very desultory kind of way. I had time only for a short walk before returning home. I might say in further extenuation that I spent some time at Market.

Afternoon Engaged in reading the second Oration against Verres and with difficulty finished it. The last part of it is very hard to be understood from the entire allusion to the habits of the age. It is necessary to remember that they had customs which in themselves involve a knowledge of all the manners of the age. Since I began Cicero I have exceedingly enlarged this knowledge, but it is yet sadly deficient. And the acquisition of it implies an amount of time that I am afraid I should find it hard, unless I materially improve my present economy, to apply.1 The Applicant for my House vacated by Mr. Spear called again in the Afternoon and having softened down in his demands, agreed to take it,2 which will relieve me from any further trouble about it, I hope.

In the evening, I went to see the young Roscius who is making a great stir here. Master Burke in Shylock, and Looney McTwolter. A Wonderful boy certainly but not half so astonishing as he has been represented. Better in the latter than the former part.3 Returned in good season, and read the Tatler.

1.

Commas editorially supplied.

2.

John Gulliver followed John I. Spear as the tenant of 103 Tremont Street (M/CFA/3).

3.

Master Burke, “the celebrated Irish Roscius,” during the five weeks of his appearance in repertory in Boston regularly appeared in the leading role of the principal play on the bill, in the farcical afterpiece, and also conducted the orchestra between the two productions. The farce on this occasion was “The Review, or the Wags of Windsor,” in which Burke played his acclaimed creation, Looney McTwolter (Boston Daily Advertiser, 11 Feb., p. 3, col. 5).

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