Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

61 Friday. 3d. CFA Friday. 3d. CFA
Friday. 3d.

Morning cloudy, with a thick sea fog but no rain. I went to town and was busy much as usual. I had more leisure time and was therefore enabled to read rather more than common. Finished the review of Languet,1 who is an able writer and for his age a genius, though now the same things told in so formal and reasoned a way would make one smile. I began Mably upon Legislation and found him very absurd.2 I begin to think the fault must be in myself who cannot relish these fancies of enthusiastic men. But every system avowedly departing from the leading principles of man’s nature strikes me as Nonsense. The Republic of Lycurgus is always cited as authority for the most hypothetical projects, and moreover as an example. Now to me nothing appears more unnatural, and more undesirable than those very Institutions. Was Man made to fight his Neighbours, or to employ Slaves to keep him in suitable idleness for the purpose? Where is the so much vaunted equality of man? Where is the Law of the Creator that he shall live by the sweat of his brow? Where are all the Qualities that adorn and sweeten life? The gentle affections, the social bonds formed by nature, and only severed by the caprice and art of Man? Let us hear no more then of the Republic of Lycurgus, as an example. An abominable perversion of all natural principles.

Returned home to dine, and passed the afternoon in reading the Oration for Milo, which I finished and began to review. Took a ride with my Mother and Wife. The gentlemen came again and persuaded my father to take the Oration. I am very glad of it. For I like to be saved any trial, about which I have any doubt. And my father is not a preference of which I have any reason to complain as to vanity.

After passing the Evening with the family, I finished it by reading a little of Grimm in which I make slow progress and two Numbers of the Spectator.

1.

“De la puissance légitime du prince sur la peuple, & du peuple sur le prince” by Hubert Languet in Bibliothèque de l’homme public, vol. 7.

2.

Abbé Gabriel Bonnot de Mably’s “De la législation, ou principes des loix,” is in the same volume; both abridgments in vol. 7 have CFA’s marginal notations.

Saturday. 4th. CFA Saturday. 4th. CFA
Saturday. 4th.

Morning warm although the wind had a great effect in cooling the air so as to be tolerable. I concluded not to go to town today, and sat down to my task. But this new Chest has somewhat discouraged me, and my Father’s Apathy adds so much that I decided upon not working all the time as I designed, and instead of it sat down to 62Rousseau’s Emile.1 This is a work on Education which I have been for some time wishing to read. The first book, all I accomplished today, appears to me admirable. It is more practical than he commonly is. Read also a part of the Oration for Milo in review. Half an hour passed in the Articles Rousseau and Voltaire in the Dictionnaire Historique.

Afternoon, my father asked me to accompany him in a visit to Genl. Dearborn at Roxbury. We accordingly rode there through Milton, very pleasantly. Found him and his daughter. Sat two hours a larger part of which I was tete a tete with the latter. And yet she was agreeable enough to get through it—A thing all young ladies could not have done. Returned late. Evening as usual. Grimm and the Spectator.

1.

The edition of Emile et Sophie, published at Paris in 1795, at MQA has CFA’s signature and bookplate. Although CFA had heard Professor Ticknor lecture on Emile at Harvard (see vol. 1:414), this was apparently a first reading.