Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

Wednesday. 22d. CFA Wednesday. 22d. CFA
Wednesday. 22d.

The Morning was bright and cool. I had intended remaining quietly at home but made accidentally an engagement which I felt obliged to fulfil, so I went to town and called at nine o’clock to see Dr. Stevenson, and consult him about my Wife. Found him and was satisfied with his replies. Time taken up at the Office as usual. One or two calls. One from a Creditor of New’s whom I paid. Finished the imagined address of Maecenas to Augustus and not much edified. Began the Analysis of Mirabeau’s Ami des Hommes, apparently a work upon Population and 73Political Economy,1 but I could accomplish very little of it before it was time to return to Quincy.

Mr. J. Coolidge called upon me to assist the Fayetteville sufferers which I declined doing. It is a difficult thing to resist public charities. The man who can say No in this Community must have firmness as well as judgment. I reflected upon my opinion in this instance and hope that it was just. My share of assistance from peculiar circumstances in my situation must be necessarily small, and I am therefore driven to choose what I shall patronize. The town of Fayetteville has so much excited the public sympathy that I doubt not it will have more ready Cash in it than it has had for many years, if ever. I therefore think they are not so pitiable as many objects we have nearer home.2

Afternoon passed in reading Cicero’s Tenth Philippic upon the course to be pursued after the receipt of the Letters from Brutus. It is animated and worthy of a better age and a bolder audience. But Antony had friends in the City, who though they could not entirely destroy the ancient spirit had a considerable influence in damping it. Mr. and Mrs. Farrar from Cambridge called and took up half an hour so that I did not accomplish as much as usual.3

Evening quiet at home. I finished J. Otis’s Rights of the Colonies asserted—A Work more applauded than it really deserves. It wants method and clearness. The ideas are just but not developed with grace. It was lucky in its time, for now much more would be required. Indeed the difference in the demands of the public is very striking— Though the masculine character of works has been injured. The Night was beautifully clear. Miss Adams and Mr. Gourgas were here. Read the Spectator.

1.

“L’ami des hommes, ou traité de la population” is in vol. 8 of Bibliothèque de l’homme public.

2.

Fayetteville, N.C., had several weeks earlier been ravaged by a fire that left the larger part of its population homeless. Collections for the sufferers had been begun almost immediately and a city-wide committee on relief appointed. (Boston Daily Advertiser, 6–14 June passim.)

3.

On Professor John Farrar, see vol. 1:100–104, 239. Farrar and his wife had been acquainted with the Adamses in England and at Washington. Now in poor health, Farrar was preparing to go abroad and wished a letter of introduction from JQA to the president of the Royal Society, the Duke of Sussex (JQA, Diary, 22 June).

Thursday. 23d. CFA Thursday. 23d. CFA
Thursday. 23d.

Morning cloudy with an Easterly Wind which became a rain Storm for the day. I concluded to remain housed today and pursue the train of my Quincy pursuits. A great part of the morning taken up in as-74sorting Papers of no interest. I will therefore take occasion to finish my reflections upon Emile, though I have already given so much in detached passages as to leave little to be said. Rousseau’s peculiar character violently influenced all his Works. He had made the Reputation he prized, by a bold and Paradoxical Essay, and being thus made aware that his natural bias was precisely that with which the world was disposed to be pleased, he gave it scope and spread it more or less through all the rest of his Writings. The great principle he seems to have adopted was, that All civilized systems and habits in Life were corruptions from the natural happy condition of man. This foundation being good for nothing, of course all his building upon it is useless. His education he boasts is a natural one. He says what he will do, shall be what the Child shall take, and not what he will say. He will lead by acting upon his senses and not upon his mind. But he forgets that the foundation of man is principle engrafted upon habit, and that few opportunities can be found of acting directly upon the interests of children compared to the number requisite to fix an impression permanently in the mind. Withal, there are a multitude of maxims interwoven with the system which are undoubtedly excellent. A child cannot be governed merely by reasoning, it’s principal guide must be example, and steadiness.

I read a part of Horace’s Art of Poetry with Hurd’s Commentary wherein he endeavours to prove it a connected piece of instruction upon the Roman Drama.1 It has generally been thought an easy way of throwing out loose maxims. Whatever it is, It is a gem.

Afternoon, read the Eleventh and Twelfth Philippics of Cicero, upon the course of Dolabella and the appointment of Cassius to command against him; and the new Legation to Antony. He excuses himself because he is afraid. I do not doubt he was. But there is a principle in the human character which will never admire though it may not disapprove such a reason. Quiet evening at home. Read two or three Pamphlets on the Question of Taxation, without profit, and the Spectator.

1.

An edition of the Epistolae of Horace with an English commentary and notes by Bishop Richard Hurd, published at London in 3 vols., 1776, is at MQA.