Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

Thursday. 26th. CFA Thursday. 26th. CFA
Thursday. 26th.

At last we had a day that seemed to show some signal of the season of the year. It was very dusty however and windy, so that we did not enjoy it as much as we otherwise should have done. At the Office, very closely all the morning as Field had left word he should be here from Quincy today. He was not here at all. This is just the way I have been served more than once. I must pluck up more character and go to him. Finished the eighth volume of Gibbon with a Chapter upon the Sects of the Church. A little dry & dusty. My Wife received a letter from my Mother in which she makes no mention of her being likely to come on.1 Indeed it seems now tolerably likely that Congress will not adjourn till July.

In the afternoon I read more of Mons. Sismondi but found him exceedingly dry. He discusses the origin of the French Monarchy which seems to be lost in a mass of doubt and fable. I shall make nothing of that.

Quiet evening at home. Mr. Brooks took tea here and passed the evening. Conversation principally upon the state of public affairs. He looks to singular authority for his politics. But though we do not often travel the same road, we generally come to the same conclusions. Afterwards I finished the Life of Napoleon by Walter Scott. A work of a Scotch Jacobite, who however amiable in his private relations and 287his literary spirit, is altogether unsafe as a political guide.2 Omitted Paley.


Letter missing.


On 27 April CFA wrote on the flyleaf of the first volume of the copy of the work now at MQA:

“This is the work of a man whose whole life has been passed with feelings of hostility to the subject of this Memoir. He is a Scotch Tory, engaged in a work of apology and Justification of his own Country. All his statements, and reasoning upon them, must therefore be considered with distrust. Not that I admire the character of Napoleon. On the contrary, whether I regard his career or the influence of his name upon the age, infinite mischief seems to have resulted from it. But in order to bring this truth more fully to the eyes of the public, a little more appearance of impartiality would be desirable.”

Friday. 27th. CFA Friday. 27th. CFA
Friday. 27th.

A lovely day. I began reading Vasari’s Works this morning which I have lately purchased. The Italian of this is tolerably easy. Went to the Office but wasted my time having forgotten to bring with me the next volume of Gibbon. My progress was therefore stopped. I amused myself in looking over the old Journals of my brother George which give a kind of melancholy picture of the past to me whenever I take them up. But so it is. Our days were deceitful ones then. The adversity which we have experienced has been a very fortunate thing for me who was young enough to be able to avail of the lesson. I have never yet known any thing that has happened to me which I thought at the time a misfortune not turn out in the end a very advantageous thing. Returned to my House.

Afternoon passed in reading Sismondi’s Account of Clovis which is pretty good, but very dry. The history has nothing agreeable in it’s details. Murder, Robbery and Violence form the monotony of the pages. Evening at home. I finished the publication upon France in the Useful Knowledge books1 and read a little of Paley.


A History of France by E. Smedley was being issued in parts in the Library of Useful Knowledge of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, London.

Saturday. 28th. CFA Saturday. 28th. CFA
Saturday. 28th.

The day was unpleasant with a cold Easterly wind and rain. I went to the Office after reading a little of Vasari. My time was not very well employed as I again forgot the Volume of Gibbon. I occupied it in reading the Account of several remarkable trials in a Collection I have at the Office. Among them those of Louis 16 and Marie Antoinette. They are interesting and since I have looked into it, I think better of the book than I did.1 It seems much superior to the Newgate Calendar. Went down to purchase some Coal but failed.


Mr. Brooks dined with us today, after which in spite of the weather I went with Hull to Quincy. I thought if I delayed, it might be late in next week before I could go. The lateness of the season is surprising. Occupied myself in pruning and straitening Trees more particularly the Oaks which are taking shape surprisingly well. On the whole I was well satisfied with my progress and returned home to tea. Quiet evening at home.


Perhaps the book was Causes célèbres; see above, entry for 10 Nov. 1831.