Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

Monday. 11th. CFA Monday. 11th. CFA
Monday. 11th.

I had designed going to town today, but the clouds threatened rain so much that I felt unwilling to trust myself. After balancing a longer time than was necessary, I sat down and made considerable progress in Thucydides. This writer is worth studying on account of his moderation and his sententiousness. I propose hereafter to translate some of the principal passages. The Sun came out with some force at Noon, and I felt a little the indisposition of yesterday so that I did not stay out long.

Afternoon, finished the second book of Seneca de Ira. I admire much of the wisdom contained in it. The forgiveness of injuries is perhaps the greatest pagan approximation to the doctrines of the Christian Religion. But he mixes with it advice which does not suit a Code of Ethics or a Moral Philosopher however well it may turn out practically in life. Submission to the caprices of the powerful is a maxim of policy for a tyrant’s Court, not a principle of morals which lead to setting aside artificial distinctions. I passed an hour or more in a visit to our neighbour Beale who seems to feel alone in the world. He wants to be married again but hardly dares express it.1 The night was clear.


On the tentative approaches by the widower George Beale to Mary Roberdeau, see above, entry for 4 Oct. 1831. His shy probing continued and was duly reported to the lady: “Let me beg that you ... come and take compassion upon your Swain who really seems to be in a deplorable state and complains bitterly of his loneliness” (LCA to Mary Roberdeau, 12 June); “Your Swain droops very much.... Mrs. Miller insists if you were here he would offer himself and 313I have been sounded shyly more than once to know if I thought you would have him” (same to same, 28 Aug., both letters in Adams Papers).

Tuesday. 12th. CFA Tuesday. 12th. CFA
Tuesday. 12th.

For once we had a very fine day. The whole force of the Season coming upon a very uncommon state of cold. I went to town and occupied myself in Accounts. The less I visit the City however, the more I find my time wasted when I do go. I do not know that I shall ever secure the quiet necessary for me to make great progress in learning, but at any rate I have more chance for it in the Country than I have in town. I went to the Athenaeum and selected some books to hammer upon. It was so warm however that I was glad not to move about much. Returned to Quincy with pleasure.

The Afternoon was intended to be devoted to reading, but interruptions of one kind or another make me confess a very imperfect application. I commenced Vaughan’s Memorials of the Stuart dynasty,1 a work which if it suits my purpose I intend to review. I am not yet certain however that it will answer. The heat of the day drew together clouds in the evening with such rapidity as to produce a thunder gust with some rain.

My evening was passed at home reading the Newspapers which are full of matters from Washington. There seems little probability of any adjournment of Congress. My father’s letters to me seem to express disgust but I doubt it.2 Read the usual papers of the Rambler.


Robert Vaughan, Memorials of the Stuart Dynasty, 2 vols., London, 1831. CFA was using a copy borrowed from the Boston Athenaeum.


JQA to CFA, 6 June (Adams Papers). Printed (in part) in MHS, Procs., 2d ser., 19 (1905):521.

Wednesday. 13th. CFA Wednesday. 13th. CFA
Wednesday. 13th.

The Wind Easterly and the day threatening rain. I went out to look at the weather, but concluded at any rate to stay at home. It cleared away however. I was occupied nearly all of my working day in reading Mr. Vaughan’s book. It seems to be the Puritan side of the Account. I think very just, but it may not appear so much so to others whose feelings and prejudices take different directions.

My health has not been perfectly good during a few days past, but I hope it will not be materially touched. Without that, what is life to Man. It may be that he can bear it, but very certainly he cannot enjoy it.

Quiet evening. Miss Smith, Miss Adams, and Mr. Gourgas came in the evening and spent an hour very pleasantly.