Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

Wednesday. 18th. CFA Wednesday. 18th. CFA
Wednesday. 18th.

Fine day. I remained quietly at home. My time was divided between Thucydides and Sydney in the morning. I read in the former the account of the plague of Athens, which has a peculiar interest at this time from the fact of their being such a thing now in the Country. There is no similarity at all in the symptoms of the two. The old plague seems to have been a fever arising from an overcrowded and ill settled population, this spreads in City and Country through three quarters of the habitable globe. In New York it continues with rather increased virulence, though on the whole it has as yet been tolerably confined in it’s operations there.

Afternoon, I concluded for want of more attractive occupation to 332resume Seneca, so that I took up the second Volume and the Treatise upon Clemency in a Prince. It was addressed to Nero.

I took a drive with my Wife, and we went through Milton round the factories passing a house which certainly has a very imposing appearance. It is an old house lately repaired and much improved. Mr. Greenleaf very politely handed me a Newspaper which contained some late and important news from Europe. The French seem to be again in a state of commotion.1 Mr. Beale and his daughter called in the evening.


The Boston Daily Advertiser & Patriot for 17 July contained a dispatch from London of 7 June reporting a new insurrection in Paris (p. 2, col. 3).

Thursday. 19th. CFA Thursday. 19th. CFA
Thursday. 19th.

Morning fine. My wife accompanied me to Boston where she met her sister Mrs. Frothingham. I was engaged in various vocations, but very few of them of a useful nature. Received a letter from my brother stating his reasons for not coming this way.1 There is much foundation for them. The alarm in relation to the progress of this disease is increasing, I think, and the consequent difficulty of transportation from New York here. Little or nothing else is talked of, and the public as usual in cases of panic does a great deal to accelerate it’s fate.

Returned to Quincy just in time to save a violent thunder gust, though after all it passed principally to the south of us. The absence of thunder and lightning this season is I think one of the most remarkable signs of this remarkable year. I read some of Seneca upon Clemency and found much that was wise in it, although I could not subscribe to the slavish doctrines it professes. Quiet evening at home.


See above, entry for 17 July; the letter from JA2 is missing.

Friday. 20th. CFA Friday. 20th. CFA
Friday. 20th.

Fine day. I did not go to town. It is marvellous how little attraction there is for me in the heated streets. And the less I go, the less I feel inclined to. Occupied in reading the second book of Thucydides in which I have been very much interested. The very clear sketch of the sea fight kept me reading much beyond the time I commonly devote. I also progressed a little and but a little with Sydney.

The probable return of my father also makes it necessary for me to change my situation. It is now nearly two months that I have had the study entirely to myself, during which time I have not been entirely idle. Perhaps I ought to have done more, considering the advantages 333I have in this collection of books. But on the other hand, though they make my progress seem small, it is well to resist the propensity to miscellaneous and desultory reading which would show it greater.

After dinner, I read but little of Seneca as in the first place I went to the bath and in the second my Wife wished to go to Weymouth, so I drove over there. Returned to tea but I felt unusually fatigued. After tea, my Mother, Wife, and I walked up to see Mr. T. Greenleaf and his family. No person was at home excepting Mrs. G. We remained a short time and returned before nine. I retired soon.