Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

Tuesday 6th. CFA Tuesday 6th. CFA
Tuesday 6th.

Morning clear, but this snow storm has brought the Winter upon us a Month before its time. I found it cold going to the Office and when there did not accomplish any more than common. Made up my Accounts, received a Quarter’s rent from a man about whom I had doubts and deposited on my own account. This done, took a walk. Returned home and felt unusually well with an appetite to correspond. How it is that I have suffered so much of late I cannot tell but for two or three days I have been as I was a year ago.

Afternoon, engaged in reading Cicero de Natura Deorum which contains the strangest Medley of most ridiculous notions entertained by the old Philosophers. It seems to have been made a Sport of the intellect to see how many ridiculous fancies could be started upon the subject of all the most serious. Cicero certainly shines among them very much. Most from comparison. My fire troubled me.

Evening quiet at home. My Wife was quite sick with a cold. Read to her a part of Byron’s Island, which for him is poor though it has 193good strong verses. Afterwards, read Pope’s Iliad and finished the seventh volume of the Spectator.

Wednesday. 7th. CFA Wednesday. 7th. CFA
Wednesday. 7th.

Morning clear and cold. I went to the Office and from the sickness of my boy had the gratification to find my own fire to make. This done and after a time to get warm, I went through my usual duties, the performance of which left me only about an hour to continue the Speech upon the Nabob of Arcot’s debts. I read however a fine parcel of the best of it especially the remarkable passage describing the irruption of Hyder Ali into the Carnatic. I. Hull Adams called with some sheets of Journal and requesting Stationary which I gave him. Then I went on my regular business of purchases and to the Athenaeum which consumed my hour until dinner.

Afternoon. Read a considerable portion of the second book De Natura Deorum giving a defence of the Theory that the Earth is a Deity which has for its only merit a little sophistical but ingenious reasoning. My Wife was quite sick with the Influenza all day so that she retired early. I began Gibbon this evening,1 and the 8th Volume of the Spectator.


The only edition of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire at MQA, CFA’s, is that published in 6 vols. at London, 1846. However, there are two 18th-century editions, each imperfect, among JA’s books in the Boston Public Library, one of them bearing JQA’s bookplate as well as JA’s autograph ( Catalogue of JA’s Library , p. 101–102).

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

Morning very cold. The sudden rush of the severity of the Season upon us is somewhat unusual. I went to the Office and occupied myself in my common way. Read the rest of Burkes Speech upon the Nabob of Arcot’s debts. A very able thing and worth attentive study by a man who is likely to be a Speaker. For myself it seems so doubtful whether I shall have any chance to shew myself in this way, that I must be content to speculate upon its effect and the means by which such a thing was composed. Nothing of any particular consequence took place. I went to the Athenaeum and then took a short walk. My Wife still continues very unwell from her cold. This is a great annoyance and one of the Taxes of our Climate.

Afternoon. Continued reading the Work, “De natura Deorum” and was much pleased with it today. The reasoning from Nature’s Works to the existence of a Deity is admirable and can be improved by nobody. 194But the idea that the Earth is that Deity is realizing the step from the sublime to the ridiculous. On the whole the book is a valuable historical relic.

My Wife felt so much indisposed that I could not read to her, but went on with Gibbon. His opening Chapters are excellent. They make so good a starting point. I then read a Book of Homer’s Iliad, but was almost overpowered with drowsiness. Finished the evening with two numbers of the Spectator.