Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

Friday. 17th. CFA Friday. 17th. CFA
Friday. 17th.

A return of sharp cold upon us this morning. The Winter is long and trying to people who are not in good circumstances. I accomplished a good deal of Gibbon at the Office not having quite so many Newspapers to read. But the detail of the breaking up of the Western Empire is dull. Nothing but a series of rapine, and devastation with the greatest barbarity. The effeminacy of civilization contrasted with the energy of untaught nature. Took a walk and enjoyed the day cold as it was.

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Afternoon, engaged still upon the Oration for Cluentius, the examination of the condemnation of those Judges concerned in the trial of Oppiancius. Argumentative and as it seems to me very satisfactory. I believe when I read it before, the Account of the crimes of Oppiancius and Sassia is the only thing very hard for me to swallow. It seems scarcely conceivable that such a man and such a woman could be kept in Society at all. Much less in Rome famous for it’s Laws.

Evening quiet at home. Read the latter part of Hunt’s book to my Wife, into which he throws every thing he can muster. His account of his trip to Italy is in some respects better than any of the rest. It has his faults but more beauties.

Saturday. 18th. CFA Saturday. 18th. CFA
Saturday. 18th.

My Record of today can have but little of interest in it. I pursued my reading of Gibbon without material interruption. Finished the fifth volume and the Roman Empire under Arcadius and Honorius. No letter from my father. His occupation in the House now employs him so much that he will not give me a syllable even upon the most necessary topics. My Mother writes occasionally.1

Afternoon quiet at home. Finished the Oration for Cluentius, which on this reading strikes me as about the summit of this kind of Oratory. The vigour and yet the flow of the language is admirable. I wonder if I could form to myself any thing like the same style. It would be worth all the gold in the world.

Evening quiet at home. Finished the Bible. We have been reading the Chapters of Revelation. Of which neither she nor I can make any thing. Part of it certainly betrays ignorance of the doctrines now received of the Constitution of the Universe and no apparent light to supply it’s place from above. It makes the sun and moon and stars much more tributary to the earth than their relative size and importance in the Creation would seem to justify. I must confess it looks to me much more like the vision of a heated brain than the natural result of the mild and heavenly doctrine and practice of the Saviour. In him there was no rant, no extravagant visions, every thing is adapted to reason and to the conduct of life. Perhaps this single point is one of the greatest in which he can be contrasted with all mere men who have arrogated similar powers. They all more or less display the weak parts of the human mind. An imagination inflamed into wild enthusiasm, and showing itself in visions and ravings. He on the contrary works miracles and preaches Peace. Finished Hunt’s book. And Began Rose’s translation of Ariosto.2

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1.

CFA had received on the day before, LCA’s most recent letter (11 Feb., Adams Papers), in which she reported JQA well but “overwhelmed” with the business of the House.

2.

Orlando Furioso. Translated into English verse. With notes by William Stewart Rose, 8 vols., London, 1823–1831. The copy at MQA has CFA’s bookplate.