Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

Tuesday. 19th. CFA Tuesday. 19th. CFA
Tuesday. 19th.

I left Quincy this morning, for the Season. The period passed here is exactly two Months, and on the whole more pleasantly spent than I had anticipated. The house has been more quiet, my Mother has enjoyed uninterrupted health and we have been extraordinarily free from trouble. My father has appeared to droop however, to feel oppressed by a kind of languor which for him is remarkable, and to take little interest in pursuits which one would have supposed, he might have enjoyed. I have been so unfortunate as to differ from him in several matters, and the consequence has been rather to increase than allay the evils of his condition. Under these circumstances perhaps it 93is as well that I do not remain. I regret exceedingly the dejection which he feels, and I experience the same myself, from other causes however. My reason is this, that I foresee ruin to the pecuniary affairs of the whole family and great consequent misery to his old age.

My time was occupied at my Office as usual. I wrote the first Number of a Criticism upon Otis’s Oration and attended to my Accounts. Dined at an Eating house as my Wife did not come until Evening. Afternoon passed at my study, arranging my Books, and commencing upon my task of reading the Epistles of Cicero. Began the first Book ad Familiares and read several of the Letters to Lentulus. Being in the broken style, leaving much to be supplied, I found it hard. My Wife came home to tea, and my Mother accompanied her returning in the evening. The former was so much depressed that it also affected me. Read Grimm and the Spectator.

Wednesday. 20th. CFA Wednesday. 20th. CFA
Wednesday. 20th.

My night was not a quiet one. Morning clear, I arose at my usual City hour. After breakfast began a new branch of Study, Aristotle upon Poetical Composition.1 One would suppose I was a Poet from my studies but Nature gave me no flights. It endowed me with a tolerably strait forward sense and middling Judgment which is perhaps more than a counterbalance so far as regards the practical affairs of life. I read Aristotle and Horace to form a critical Judgment, and to apply much of their rules to prose composition, for which they answer equally well. Felt languid and unwell so that my exertions during a considerable part of the morning were lame. I finished a re-composition of my first number against Otis and wrote my Father a letter.2 Mr. Ballister called upon me with a short statement of his Account with my brother, which I inclosed to my Father with an explanation. Mr. Curtis came to ask me to mention an intended visit from himself and Mrs. Boylston on Friday morning. Judge Hall called for general conversation. Nothing was therefore lost of the time, that I could save. But these interruptions from people about my father’s concerns is something of a tax.

Returned to dinner. Afternoon, continued the Letters to Lentulus. There are some pleasures in living in town, but the situation of my Wife at present renders me anxious, and I take less interest in my books. Evening, Mrs. Frothingham called. Read Grimm and the Spectator.


Although there are three editions at MQA of Aristotle’s Poetics published as a separate work, including one in Greek and Latin (Leipzig, 1780) with CFA’s 94bookplate, apparently CFA was reading the text in Batteaux’s Les quatres poëtiques. See entry for 11 Aug., below.