Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

235 Monday. 6th. CFA Monday. 6th. CFA
Monday. 6th.

My Diary is a pretty monotonous record of the very even tenour of my life. I believe it is of use to a man to accustom himself to keep one, but the profit is derived not from any value attached to the record itself so much as the ease it gives to one’s pen.

It was quite cold again this morning, and I went to the Office to do nothing. I. Hull Adams came into town from Quincy to ask my advice about the offer of a Commission at West Point.1 I discussed the matter with him pretty closely and he promises very fair. Mrs. Adams has now all her Children disposed of and ought to have no more anxiety about the future, excepting what her husband gives her. Took a walk, after which I read a good deal of Quinctilian. His advice upon the Exordium of a Speech is good and to the point. Moreover he condemns as I have done the subtleties which he explained.

This was the regular evening for the Annual Meeting of Proprietors of Boylston Market. I went and the whole of the time was consumed in various matters. I “demitted” as Director and was chosen Clerk. This suits me much better. After performing the regular business I went home and had time to read a book of the Odyssey and the Guardians.


On 25 Jan. JQA had requested of Secretary of War Lewis Cass an appointment to West Point for Isaac Hull Adams. Cass had replied to JQA on the following day with a warrant of admission, and JQA on the 27th notified Hull, instructing him to forward his acceptance to Secretary Cass (Cass’s letter and LbC’s of JQA’s letters are in the Adams Papers).

Tuesday. 7th. CFA Tuesday. 7th. CFA
Tuesday. 7th.

Morning at the Office. Nothing of any consequence. I tried to finish the fourth Volume of Gibbon but did not make out. Occupied in reading Newspapers which consumes much time and writing my Journal. I then started for a walk, but what with my hair to be cut and two or three orders for purchases I did not get very far.

Afternoon. Finished the remainder of the fourth Book of Quinctilian in which he gives excellent advice upon the distribution of the essential parts of an Oration. The narration, proof and conclusion. This is illustrated principally from Cicero’s practice, which proves that this author did not agree with the idea of Cornificius or whoever is the author of the four Books to Herennius.

As my Wife was out, I read also Gorboduc or Ferrex and Porrex by Lord Sackville which is the first attempt at the Drama in the English Language.1 It is curious but on the whole hardly pays the perusal. 236Afterwards, I went down to Mrs. Carter’s where my Wife was spending the Evening with her daughter, and stupified2 for a little while. I am not now fit for young ladies Society. Returned home at ten. Read a little of the 8th book of the Odyssey over again and the Guardian.


Volume one of Old English Poets, 4 vols., London, 1820, is devoted to Thomas Sackville’s works, including Gorboduc. The copy at MQA has CFA’s bookplate.


CFA’s apparent meaning, to indulge in stupid conversation, is derived from the intransitive and already rare use of stupefy: to become stupid ( OED ).