Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

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 ).

Wednesday. 8th. CFA Wednesday. 8th. CFA
Wednesday. 8th.

Morning at the Office. Weather dull and disagreeable. The Child had caught a severe cold and was dull all day and restless in the night. This is so unusual with her that it made us both restless. My morning was spent as usual. Conant from Weston came in and paid me a sum of Money which gave me a little business. I read Gibbon, finishing the short remainder of the fourth Volume, and took courage to despatch my writing to Mr. Willard with what success I know not. Property in this Country is so precarious that a man ought always to make himself of value if possible, in order that he may in time of need have the benefit of reputation. I try hard enough.

Mr. Brooks dined with us and I remained conversing with him until four o’clock. So that I had very little time for Quinctilian. The consequence was that I read only fourteen pages of the fifth book upon the examination of witnesses and treatment of evidence. One thing struck me. His giving advice as to the management of false testimony for a cause, and yet laying it down that no man can be an Orator if he is not virtuous.

Evening quiet at home which I enjoyed very much after being out a night or two. Read part of Hunt’s book. Afterwards, the rest of the 8th and the 9th Odyssey over, and the Guardians.

Thursday. 9th. CFA Thursday. 9th. CFA
Thursday. 9th.

The Child still seemed heavy and restless so that I felt uneasy all day with a sensation of undue depression of spirits. I went to the Office as usual and employed myself but my time was broken in upon by various interruptions, more particularly that occasioned by taking in a new supply of Coal to last me as I hope for the remainder of the Winter. Mr. Peabody and I divide half a Chaldron. Read a little of Gibbon but without making much real progress. The Snow was falling all day so that I did not take my usual walk.

Afternoon. Continued reading Quinctilian upon Common places 237and Arguments, all of which was very good. But my progress was not very great. My Wife received a letter from Washington in very good spirits.1 They seem to be doing quite well there.

Evening quiet with my Wife. Continued Leigh Hunt’s book, which is a compound of truth and malignity, of just reflection and a low spirit, of indignation and book making. Afterwards, I went on with the tenth Odyssey, and read a little of Graham’s second Volume of American History,2 with the usual Guardians. My night was again anxious and disturbed on account of my Wife and child.


No letter of about this date to ABA from any member of the family in Washington is known to survive.


See above, vol. 3:27, 213.