Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

11 Thursday. 17th. CFA Thursday. 17th. CFA
Thursday. 17th.

The day cloudy with a cold Easterly Wind and a flurry of Snow, occasionally. After reading Buffon after breakfast, I went to the Office, and continued my reading of Mons. J. Bodin. No interruptions of any consequence. These two Tenements still bring two persons on an average daily but with no serious views. My progress was tolerable. Took a walk in company with Edward Brooks, and as my Wife had gone out of town to see Mrs. Gorham Brooks, I dined with Mr. Frothingham, and had a pleasant time.

Returned to my Study and sat down to the Oration for Cluentius, which I completed. On reconsideration, I must modify my Opinion in this instance. If Cicero’s opinion of some points in the case were really as strong as he asserts them to be, then the Rest was superfluous and Oration making. If as is more probable the Defendant was not so clearly innocent, he was authorized in his elaborate and long argument. At any rate, this is a great model of an Advocate’s effort. He says every thing that can be said. The Opinions expressed in regard to the future state, are remarkable, and conflict with the known opinions of the Author as elsewhere expressed.

My Wife returned in time for me to read some of Parry. After which I continued Buffon and the Spectator.

Friday. 18th. CFA Friday. 18th. CFA
Friday. 18th.

Morning quite clear. I went to the Office after passing an hour in reading Buffon’s Natural History of Man. Occupations as usual. I finished Jean Bodin. This Author is rather injudiciously praised. He has a good many things that are valuable but I cannot see that his System such as it is, has any merit. He talks about absolute Sovereignty as being necessary to a Prince, and although he qualifies this remark by confining him to the performance of just things, yet he seems to leave the Judgment of what is just and unjust entirely to him. We know from history that even with good dispositions power produces rather strange effects. I also read the Account of the resources of France in the Sixteenth Century. A valuable paper though showing the deficiency which existed at the time in the knowledge of Political Economy. Also the Essays and the Prince of Machiavel—These forming the first volume of the Bibliotheque.1

Took a long walk as far as Dorchester Heights and South Boston. What a change since the time of my boyhood. All this was Common 12and quite desolate.2 Returned home and passed the Afternoon, in reading the Orations against Rullus upon the Agrarian Law. I did not complete the Second. Evening, Captain Parry until interrupted by Edmd. Quincy who spent the Evening. After which, very Drowsy. Read the Spectator.


CFA’s annotations accompany the “Etat du commerce en France,” “Discours de Machiavel sur la Ie décade de Tite-Live,” and “Le prince de Machiavel.”


South Boston was reached by the older South Bridge and the Free Bridge, opened in 1828. Formerly a part of Dorchester, the area was annexed to the city of Boston in 1804 at which time ten families were resident on it. By 1830 the population had grown to 2,865; numerous factories and commercial establishments had been built and several public institutions constructed. See C. H. Snow, A Geography of Boston ... and the Adjacent Towns, Boston, 1830, p. 117–123, 126–127.