Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

Thursday. 15th. CFA Thursday. 15th. CFA
Thursday. 15th.

The morning afforded us one of the finest specimens of Autumnal weather, we have had this season. I was at the Office but am ashamed 46to say that I wasted my time very much. The want of a systematic plan of study forces itself upon my attention more and more every minute and today in opening a book in which for the three last years I have usually written a little at this season of the year, I could not avoid pouring out the current of my feelings at length.1 It is strange and not without pleasure to me to read these successive memorials of fleeting years, and it is rather gratifying to my vanity to find them so prettily written.

My friend Richardson called to see me this morning and I asked him to dine with me. The rest of the time was passed in turning over the leaves of old Newspaper files and slamming over the disgusting records of old political Battles. How much there is of passion, how much littleness of soul in these miserable contests. Richardson dined with me and sat a little while afterwards, the rest of the afternoon was passed in reading La Harpe’s view of the merits of the Minor Latin Poets which is not such as to tempt one much to the perusal. I have read but little of them, and therefore can express no opinion of my own.

The afternoons are however so exceedingly short as to afford me but small means to progress in my studies, and while the evenings are wasted as this one was in conversation of no use and productive of nothing agreeable T do not feel able to reconcile myself to my course of life. Abby is so fatigued as to feel often unable to keep awake, and I therefore this evening to please her did nothing; but our conversation was worse than profitless in it’s consequences to us both, and it decided me to take a different course in future, and be mindful of the precept pursued both by her father and mine, that there is no time which cannot be usefully employed. Evening after she retired, I sat up an hour, reading La Harpe upon the sacred Scriptures, an eloquent answer to Voltaire, and five Chapters of Matthew which led me to design examining the Life of Christ by Jeremy Taylor,2 in order to form some decided and original opinion of the character of our Saviour.

1.

This “book” cannot be identified and is evidently missing from CFA’s papers.

2.

CFA owned an edition of The Life and Death of ... Jesus Christ published at London, 2 vols., 1811, now in MQA. As indicated by his autograph, it had earlier belonged to GWA; there are numerous marginal notations in his hand.

Friday 16th. CFA Friday 16th. CFA
Friday 16th.

Morning to the Office, occupied in re-examining for a final disposition the old papers and accounts of my brother. I found two or three which might be of some use and one or two more which I ought to 47have had before. How much money has been lost by my father through his negligence and how badly the Houses look which have been under his care. Poor George. Much merit as he had for his spirit of literature and his generosity of heart, he was eminently unfitted for the duties and common occurrences of life. His mind was thoroughly speculative, at times philosophical, but always unequal to what the world terms common sense. With a keen sense of right, he was unable to resist wrong in an alluring shape, and with a bitter recollection of the past, he could not turn to improvement for the future. Thus his life was a continued scene of virtuous resolutions, and vicious transgressions, of violent repentance and passionate repetition.

Thomas B. Adams called in and I asked him to dine with me. He came to make a settlement with respect to the purchase of some of my brother George’s Clothes, upon which we agreed very shortly. He goes on Monday for Charleston.1 Miss Mary B. Hall from Medford also dined with us making in this manner quite an enlargement of our family circle.2 The afternoon was elegantly spent in the household occupation of bottling my Whiskey and in continuation of La Harpe’s criticism of the sacred writings which is very interesting although from my losing the habit of reading I am obliged to make more effort to condense my attention. Evening at home reading Scott’s Life of Cumberland which my Wife did not relish. I am afraid I must give up the point of creating any thing like a decided interest in literature and this grieves me for I cannot waste my time in worthless and trifling conversation. I read afterwards more of La Harpe and five Chapters of Mathew before retiring.

1.

Lt. Adams was stationed at Fort Pickens, S.C.

2.

Mary Brooks Hall was a first cousin of ABA; see vol. 2:155.