Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

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

Morning clear and pleasant. I went to the Office after riding into town as customary. My time was taken up in the ordinary way, writing my Diary, and in reading a portion of Puffendorf as abridged in the Bibliotheque d’ un Homme Public.1 But I felt disposed to conversation so I went to make a visit to my old acquaintance T. Davis. Found him alone and had quite a pleasant discourse of an hour and a half. So that I left myself little time remaining. Called to see Mr. Brooks but found him engaged so that I returned directly from town.


Afternoon quietly at home although I must plead guilty to doing very little. My present unsettled state here is the cause of this, and as usual I am forming great plans of study for my return which may or may not be accomplished as it pleases God. One thing however is certain, that only at home can I pursue any thing with that thoroughness which alone gives me any Kind of satisfaction. My Wife was not very well all day. I returned to their places my Grandfathers papers, and read in a very desultory manner from several books. Evening, the family went up to the Judge’s to take Tea and I to pass an hour. Returned with my father but he was very silent. Read Grimm and the Spectator.


The abridgement of “Le droit de la nature et des gens” appears in vol. 10.

Thursday. 14th. CFA Thursday. 14th. CFA
Thursday. 14th.

The morning opened heavily, and it soon began to rain, which lasted all day. I remained at home very quietly and passed the greater part of my before dinner hours in a continuation of my yesterday’s occupation. In returning home, I wish to enrich my library in Boston with as many of the Works of which there are duplicates here, as I am able. They are convenient for reference and occasional reading when I know not what to do with myself. There are hours when a man requires a power of extensive selection, when he is tired with steady reading and looks for his pleasure to short and easy Essays or broken pieces of literature. O, the desire of knowledge, the power of enriching the mind with all that others in times gone by have thought, what a fund of rich enjoyment they present to Man. What a source of innocent and profitable delight. Afternoon, read Phedre of Racine, Act 1st and admired it, though to be sure a double Love plot seems foolish. Read Grimm finishing the 5th. volume, and the Spectator.

Friday. 15th. CFA Friday. 15th. CFA
Friday. 15th.

Fine morning. I rode to town as usual and passed my morning partly at the House making a new arrangement of my Library, partly at trying to obtain some new Furniture for our return, and the rest at my Office reading Mr. W. F. Otis Oration, which has just come out. The spirit of its principles is rather wild for a very wild age. What he can think will be the use of his advice passes my utmost comprehension.1 I could not finish it today. Returned home to dine.

Afternoon, I was tempted by the heat to go and take a bath with I. Hull, which lasted longer and tired me more than usual so that I took a Nap after it. The consequence was that I did very little during the 90afternoon. Finished Racine’s Phedre the poetry of which strikes me much. I had formed much too low an idea of the character of the French drama, from reading only some of the most indifferent of their best authors, always excepting Voltaire who made some alterations and is hardly classed with the old School. Evening with the Family. I afterwards read Grimm and the Spectator.


As a part of the Independence Day celebration in Boston William Foster Otis, Harvard 1821, delivered an oration in the First Church, Chauncy Place (Boston Daily Advertiser, 6 July, p. 2, col. 1). It was published in pamphlet form as An Oration ... before the Young Men of Boston, on the Fourth of July 1831, Boston, 1831. In substance it was an appeal that precedents and subservience to old institutions not be allowed to deter the country from experimentation and the development of new forms.