Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

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.

Saturday. 19th. CFA Saturday. 19th. CFA
Saturday. 19th.

Morning cloudy and dark. I read Buffon as usual for an hour and then went to the Office in snow. This continued pretty smartly until noon when it turned to rain for the remainder of the day. After my common occupations I sat down and reviewed the two pieces of Machiavel which I read yesterday. There is a great deal of knowledge of Government contained in them, and though some of the maxims they contain are horrible enough, yet there are others which deserve deep consideration from Rulers. I was also busy some time in Accounts. Returned home directly being unable to take my usual exercise.

Afternoon instead of reading Cicero as usual, I thought I would finish pasting the Crests in my Fathers books, a business which has been hanging on from day to day for more than a year. I also did a few of my own. This was not entirely finished though I worked steadily the whole time. Evening, Continued reading Captn. Parry, which is still interesting, and after it, continued Buffon and the Spectator.

Sunday. 20th. CFA Sunday. 20th. CFA
Sunday. 20th.

Morning clear and cold again with a high wind. This felt more sharp from the mildness of what had preceded it. I am altogether inclined to the belief that the effect of weather upon the human frame is not in proportion to the degree of its severity, but its variation. A cold day coming after a warm one is more trying than a uniform decrease of temperature to a much lower degree. This is strengthened by reading Parry.

My Wife attended at Meeting with me and we heard a learned Sermon from Mr. Frothingham upon the doctrine of the final destruc-13tion of the Earth by fire. Afternoon I heard Mr. Ripley, alone. He is very prosy. Continued reading Buffon who is both instructive and amusing. Evening, finished Parry’s first voyage. An amusing work on the whole, being a history of a portion of the earth probably never before inhabited during its winter season by civilized man. He failed in his undertaking but on the whole the Voyage has not been without some profit to the knowledge of mankind. Continued Buffon and read the Spectator as usual.