Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

Tuesday. 14th. CFA Tuesday. 14th. CFA
Tuesday. 14th.

Morning cloudy at last. It is now three weeks that we have had constantly fine weather, so that the slight shower that fell in the morning was grateful, and the heavy rain in the afternoon and evening very refreshing. I went to Boston as usual and my time was taken up in much the same fashion as common. I had some conversation with Mr. Degrand but came to no conclusion as to investment. The difference in the New England Ins. Dividend alters my views seriously.

I went to the Boylston Market today and draughted the Record of the Directors Meeting into the Book. From thence I went to the Athenaeum and obtained J. Otis’s Rights of the Colonies for my Father.1 The remainder of the morning was passed in reading it. But it was too short to progress far.

I returned to Quincy, and passed the Afternoon in reading the first Oration against Antony, which is much to my taste. The tone of it is subdued, but yet firm, willing to take things fairly, but prepared for the worst. Cicero was an extraordinary compound of timidity and courage, of sublimity in sentiment and timidity of action. His character is in itself a study. I filed Letters afterwards. A Quiet Evening at 68home after which I pursued Rousseau’s Emile in the third Stage of his Education, and the Spectator.

1.

James Otis, Rights of the British Colonies Asserted and Proved, Boston, 1764.

Wednesday. 15th. CFA Wednesday. 15th. CFA
Wednesday. 15th.

The Morning looked very cloudy and dark. I went to town nevertheless and the consequence was that I was in the rain. At the Office however very quietly all the time, not having many errands to run. I was engaged in writing and in arranging my own and New’s Affairs which I am rapidly bringing to a close—Having paid off the larger half of what remained in my hands. This has been a very good business to me, for the money has yielded me four per Cent besides my Compensation as Administrator.1 I had some leisure time, during which I was occupied in finishing the Analysis of Mr. de Mably. His close upon the influence of infidelity in a State is curious and sensible. The work generally does not however recommend itself in any manner to me. It is highflying Nonsense. This world was not created for purposes of War and discord. Nor is the natural condition of man military, let Hobbes say what he pleases. I never read him therefore can only judge his doctrine at second hand.

Returned to Quincy to dinner. My father had gone as one of the delegates from the Church at Quincy to the ordination of Mr. George Whitney at Roxbury.2 I read the first half of the second Antonine of Cicero. This is the famous one, which though not delivered, cost its Author, his life. The invective is in the usual style of bitterness, with an occasional coarse personality not to my taste. Yet if it can be excused, perhaps there is as much here to be said in its defence as any where. Evening after the ladies retired, I read Emile and the Spectator.

1.

See above, vol. 3, entries for 5 and 6 January.

2.

George Whitney, Harvard 1824, a son of Rev. Peter Whitney of Quincy, was ordained and installed at the Second Church in Roxbury. I. Hull Adams accompanied JQA. The occasion seems to have been observed as an event of more than ordinary importance. For an account, see JQA, Diary, 15 June. On George Whitney, see also vol. 1:155–156.

Thursday. 16th. CFA Thursday. 16th. CFA
Thursday. 16th.

The weather was bad and I had been to town so much this week that I resolved to stay at home and busy myself in the old Papers. This morning I came across a very interesting parcel of Lovel’s communications to my Grandfather.1 They explain much of the private history of the Revolution. How little does a man gather of the true 69causes of public events from the pages of common history. How different is human nature when seen in the gross, and in separate parts. There is enough to make a man humble when he looks at the fallibility of his fellows, even when they are acting for the best general purposes. My progress was necessarily slow.

Read a part of Emile containing the famous Creed of the Savoyard, which seems to me as much levelled at the Philosophy of the period as at the Christian faith. They both took it up, the former with words, because they could use nothing else, the latter with the temporal arm. Indifference would perhaps have better served the turn of both.

Afternoon the balance of the 2d Antonine. A powerful exposition of the condition of the Republic and the worthlessness of it’s Rulers. The Conspiracy of Catiline was only the first signal of universal corruption in the State. Cicero merely cut off one of the heads of the Hydra, and exhausted his powers in the process. Clodius, and Antony finished the work not by superior skill, for they were probably both inferior to Catiline, but by that steady perseverance before which every thing gives. Caesar perhaps pulled the wires in each instance, and perished after all, because there was still a greater remnant of the ancient patriotism left than he calculated. Evening, Emile and the Spectator.

1.

James Lovell (1737–1814) was a long-time friend and correspondent of JA and AA. His letters to JA in the Adams Papers extend over a period from 1777 to 1809 and are of special interest on public matters during his service in Congress from 1777 to 1782. Many of his letters to and from AA are being printed in Adams Family Correspondence, vol. 2 et seq. See also JA, Diary and Autobiography , 1:288, and DAB .