Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

Thursday. 8th. CFA Thursday. 8th. CFA
Thursday. 8th.

As the Judge is so sick, it is on the whole lucky that I invested the last remnant of T. B. Adams Jr’s money yesterday,1 for after his TBA’s death I imagine there will be no further opportunities.

The day was cloudy with rain so that my Wife did not go out and I read Demosthenes very slowly and imperfectly gathering the Sense from a first perusal. Then to the Office.

I had three Clients today. One, Mr. Curtis to draw a Deed which occupied me all the Morning. One a tipsy Baker who had just been sued and came to me to know what it meant. The third Mr. J. Minot, a reformed Custom House Officer,2 who came in consequence of my letter of Collection. He seemed to think he had suffered enough on my father’s account not to be troubled by the Son. I felt sorry, but how can I mend the matter?

Returned home and read Cicero making no great progress. The Letters to Atticus are excessively difficult, from their concise style and the allusions to subjects now forgotten. If I remarked the same upon the familiar Letters how much more I have occasion to do so now.

Evening quiet at home. I finished a rough and literal translation of Cicero de Optimo genere Oratorum.3 How hard any translation is? Read Bacon on Counsel and the Spectator.


CFA bought for Thomas B. Adams Jr. one share of State Bank stock (M/CFA/3).


John Minot had been an inspector for the Custom House in Boston and Charlestown during the Presidency of JQA ( Mass. Register, 1828), but he had apparently lost his post upon the change of administration. On the use of “reformed” in this sense, see above, entry for 29 May.


CFA used two editions of Cicero’s Opera: the large-paper edition published at Oxford in 10 vols. in 1783 and the typographically undistinguished but more useful one edited by Ernest and published at Boston in 20 vols, in 1815 (see above, vol. 3:328, 364–365; below, 132entries for 11 and 12 Jan. 1832). His practice seems to have been to translate from Ernest’s edition, then compare the text with the Oxford edition, entering errors or variants in the margin there and even his translation itself (below, entry for 13 Sept.). The “De optimo genere oratorum” is in vol. 3 of Ernest’s edition; in vol. 1 of the Oxford edition, the copy of which at MQA contains CFA’s translation in his hand (p. 540–544). See above, p. xvi–xvii.

Friday. 9th. CFA Friday. 9th. CFA
Friday. 9th.

Morning clear and pleasant instead of having the Storm we anticipated. After reading Demosthenes as usual in the hour before going to the Office, and not riding with my Wife, as Mrs. Frothingham took my place, I passed much time in drawing up the Mortgage corresponding with the Deed made yesterday—The whole much more tedious than profitable. I did little else; Judge Hall called to ask about my Uncle and I had some conversation with Mr. Peabody; then returned home.

Afternoon passed in reading more of the Letters to Atticus, which display in pretty strong colours the condition of Rome and the motives of the principal Actors. I do not find any person exempt from reproach excepting Cato, and he is much the least popular of all. Cicero plainly considers him foolish. Read Bacon’s Essay on delay which is excellent. Tried my hand over again at Cicero in translating. Read a Lecture of Blair for the purpose of encouragement and finished with the Spectator. Wife and Child well.

Saturday. 10th. CFA Saturday. 10th. CFA
Saturday. 10th.

Morning pleasant. I read my usual time in the Oration of Demosthenes upon the false Embassy. Then to the Office where two hours were taken up in talking with Mr. Curtis, Mrs. Boylston and Mr. J. Brooks who called as parties to a Deed but as I had not received it from my Father at that time, it could not be executed. I then went down and drew the several Dividends in the Massachusetts Fire and Marine Insurance Company, and examined all my Accounts for the purpose of making them correct previous to leaving town which I talk of doing.

As Mr. Brooks wished to rectify the Deed in case of any mistake, he appointed the afternoon at my Office for the purpose so that I went down and lost my labour.

The time being too much split up for regular study, I read my father’s Eulogy of Mr. Monroe which is just out. It is a brilliant piece of writing, and displays his usual extent of mental capacity, but I think it written with less care and more strain than the generality of 133his compositions. Read an Essay of Blair. Translated more of Cicero, and the Spectator as usual.