Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

Tuesday. 10th. CFA Tuesday. 10th. CFA
Tuesday. 10th.

Morning Cloudy and warm. I went to the Office as usual and passed my time in translating a part of the Preface of Pufendorf, but was less interested in the work and did not do it so well. There is much sense in this Preface, rather clumsily given and it is my desire to make my translation express the ideas even more clearly than the original. Whether I shall succeed I do not know, nor care, but I hope the attempt will do something to facilitate my powers of writing. They say practice makes perfect. Why not so with me? And are there many men who use themselves to it equally. I again attempted the first Chapter of Pufendorf but did not succeed in mastering it even this morning which makes me almost despair. I should not have taken so long to have read the larger work. It is to be allowed that the 72arrangement of it is clumsy for it forms divisions and subdivisions according to the ancient mode, which only serve to perplex and entangle.

I returned home without having been much interrupted, Mr. Champney, my father’s Tenant in Common Street being the only person, who came to tell me he could not yet pay me. I told him I was sorry, but could wait a little longer. Afternoon, passed in continuing my Catalogue which has nearly come to it’s end, and a further portion of Aeschines. I completed all my task and felt better satisfied than I did yesterday. My translation of this Oration goes on with perseverance and upon it’s success will depend the continuation of it to that of Demosthenes, which is the most important, and would certainly be much the most beneficial one. My time however is so limited that much must be done in a very little while, and I must hurry even what I now do. In the evening I read to Abby some of Clarissa Harlowe, interesting but interminable. She is a little too apt to prose, as all very good people are.1 I continued La Harpe in his Chapter upon Seneca. He is warped by his ideas of the French Revolution and tries one.

1.

CFA has unconsciously shifted from a comment on the novel to one on its title character. Both CFA and JQA frequently used prose as an intransitive verb in the pejorative sense of talking or running on tiresomely.

Wednesday 11th. CFA Wednesday 11th. CFA
Wednesday 11th.

Morning fine but the Weather becoming more and more decisive. I have not yet succeeded in taking a result from my Thermometer which I placed some days since for observation, but only in my Study. At the Office reading a part of Pufendorf where I succeeded in accomplishing the first Chapter after so long a struggle. It is exceedingly difficult to comprehend the meaning and to embrace the general tendency of the author. I went on with the translation of the Preface which I hope to make tolerably clear. It is on the whole better than the Book. I finished the first draught so that tomorrow I propose to make a fair Copy.

Mr. Curtis came in for a Minute to tell me that he wished by my father’s request, to consult older Counsel upon the forming of a Deed as my father thought I had inserted what was superfluous. I told him I was willing. The deed was the best result of my Judgment and aided by good advice; if they did not feel confident I should be glad that they would consult others and Mr. C. P. Curtis was fixed upon.1 This was a little mortifying but I have some command of my temper 73to bear these things, thank Heaven, and I can rest satisfied with the conviction that I gave what I was asked for, my own opinion.

Returned home, and in the Afternoon, read a portion of Aeschines as usual, and translated according to custom. The legal Argument is a little dry. My wife went out to tea and this afforded me an opportunity of continuing my studies, which I did with La Harpe, who writes with partisan fury against Seneca and disgusts me. With some justice, he mixes much of the contrary. At eight I went to Chardon Brooks’ to meet an assembly of the family which is held as I am told weekly at each others houses. That tonight embraced all those in town excepting Mr. Frothingham. It was stiff and cold owing to the low spirits of Mrs. Edward Brooks who from some cause or other was cold enough to freeze the whole. I am not pleased with what I have seen of her conduct at either of the Meetings which I have attended this season, and this I regret for I think him deserving of a more fortunate fate. We returned before ten.

1.

Charles Pelham Curtis, Harvard 1811, had his law office at 16 Court Street ( Boston Directory, 1829–1830).