Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

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

Morning clear and pleasant. Went to the Office as usual and occupied myself in continuing the Debates in the Virginia Convention. Read the Speeches of Messrs. Madison, Lee and Nicholas,1 which all of them confirmed me in my former opinions. Some of my time was also taken up in money matters and in writing my regular Diary. Also a short time at the Athenaeum, and a walk.

Afternoon. Read the rest of the third book de Finibus containing an explanation of the Stoic or Doctrine of Zeno. Much of it is obscure and unintelligible, justifying the supposition of Cicero that the School was made to be a distinct School rather than from variance in doctrine. The vanity of the former Philosophers did more mischief to the intellectual character than their ingenuity reflected credit.

Continued Sir Joshua Reynolds’ Lectures and in the evening read the Life of George 4th to my Wife previous to our going to the Ball at Mrs. N. Appleton’s.2 It was an excessively crowded party, very much mixed from the necessity of the case, he being the Representative from this district in Congress. I did not enjoy myself much. Many of the People I did not know, others I did not have any opportunity of seeing as I wished. So that I was glad to get away. But they were both very brilliant affairs, these two balls, and I am glad I attended them though 180I cannot say I wish to be going again. Glad to get home and close by reading the Spectator.


Richard Henry Lee of Westmoreland, George and Wilson Nicholas, delegates to the 1788 ratifying convention.


The residence of the Nathan Appletons was at 39 Beacon Street ( Boston Directory, 1831–1832).

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

Morning fine and clear. I went to the Office but did not remain long as I intended going to the sale of Engravings. Perhaps it would have been better for me if I had been prevented, but it consumed my whole morning and a considerable sum of money besides. But my purchases though luxuries are cheap, to any one who can afford them. The most valuable was a large Collection of landscapes of Rubens, Claude, Gaspar Poussin, Rembrandt, Salvator Rosa and one other which I gave 35 cents each for. How can I who am poor pay for all these things? A love of the fine Arts, though it is a real pleasure which others who have it not are therefore so much the less happy, is yet a dear thing.

Returned home. Afternoon taken up in reading part of the fourth book de Finibus or the refutation of the Stoic doctrine, part of which is as obscure as the doctrine itself. Evening quiet at home. My Wife wrote to my Mother1 and I read Sir Joshua Reynolds. Then, the Spectator.


This letter is missing.

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

Morning fine after a rainy night. I went to the Office as usual: thence to obtain the Engravings purchased yesterday. I sent them home and paid for them. Then returned to the Office and was busy in writing my Journal. Deacon Spear called from Quincy and made a settlement about wood. He paid me a considerable sum and gave his Note for the rest. This with two others payable on the first of May will make seven hundred dollars and there will be about enough due from Weston to make up a thousand, so that Wood is not an unprofitable business. If my father had not embarrassed himself with this miserable flour business concern, this would have been a productive year to his private fortune.

Went to the Athenaeum for a book or two upon the fine arts and took a short walk. Afternoon, occupied in reading the rest of the 181fourth book de Finibus which is a pretty satisfactory reply to the Stoics.

Evening quiet with my Wife. Read part of the Life of George 4th which as it comes down is more exclusively political than ever, and if possible still more prejudiced. Afterwards, read the Lectures of Sir Joshua in continuation and the Spectator.