Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

Thursday. 29th. CFA Thursday. 29th. CFA
Thursday. 29th.

We had a fall of snow during the night and it was dark and cloudy today. Went to the Office, finished my third Number upon the public lands with which I was well pleased and sent it.1 The Vanity of an Author is perhaps the most deceptive thing in the world. I write and write. Nothing of mine has ever yet been at all taking, and yet I flatter myself along, that what has not yet been, may nevertheless be. 207So is it with the young. My next task is fully equal to all the ability I can muster. Went to the Athenaeum and tried to look up the subject.

Afternoon, continued and finished the second book de Officiis. But instead of going on with the Treatise I began to reflect upon Mr. McLane’s discussion of the Tariff.

Evening, after reading to my Wife, part of the Canterbury Tales, I sat down to commit my ideas to Writing, but I found infinite difficulty in giving clearness to them. The subject of Political Economy is even now a most puzzling subject to the most thorough student of it, because its laws are not yet fully understood. To me who see but as through a glass darkly, though I know Mr. McLane’s error I can not quite describe it. My attempts did not please me at all. I left off late to read the Spectator.


In the third number of CFA’s reflections on Secretary McLane’s report, the first on the section relating to the public lands, CFA expressed the view that any scheme that would cede or sell public lands to any one of the states was a danger to the Union itself. On the publication of the third number, see below, entry for 31 Dec., note.

Friday. 30th. CFA Friday. 30th. CFA
Friday. 30th.

Morning clear after a fall of snow sufficient perfectly to renovate the sleighing and make it even better than ever. I went to the Office and after having been occupied in drawing up my Agency Accounts for the close of the Quarter and the year, I devoted the remainder of my time to making up my fourth number upon the Treasury Report. I then went to the Athenaeum to obtain another Book for my Wife’s amusement and thence went home.

After dinner, I read the first half of the third book de Officiis which came very pleasantly as a well known acquaintance of times past. Interrupted by Mr. Nathl. Hall of Medford a Cousin of my Wife who came to take Tea. He did not however remain long. Afterwards, I fell into conversation with my Wife and I believe from the result we derived mutual benefit. In married life, every thing should be regulated by the spirit of concession, and with my unbending character, it is very necessary for me to keep rigid watch over my disposition. Prosperity has had considerable effect in making me forget my faults, until they have grown upon me. May I have resolution to set about checking them immediately.

Evening, Homer’s Iliad Book 15th. Wrote a draught of my 4th Article and read the Spectator.