Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

Tuesday. 26th. CFA Tuesday. 26th. CFA
Tuesday. 26th.

Morning dark and rainy. I have rarely seen Water fall much faster. My man servant asked leave to go away for some days, much to my surprise and the dis-organization of my family. He has acted singularly since my return. In this Country, one of our greatest troubles is the 99difficulty about domestics.1 The Country is too independent to make them very subservient. I have had infinite difficulty with them since my marriage. After reading Aristotle, I went to the Office, and passed a very quiet morning, reading the Defence. There is more merit in it than it has gained credit for. The insight into human nature is very great, and the political views are to me perfectly clear.

Returned home and passed the Afternoon in reading the Epistles to Caelius and various others. The arrangement of these Letters is very poor, and the Chronology is consequently difficult to be preserved. They are written however with great nature and have the merit of showing the behind the Scenes.2 To be sure Cicero does not show much for the better in his public course by it, but he is only one. The weakness of human nature is the general rule by which he like others must be leniently tried. Evening at home. Mr. and Mrs. E. Everett spent the Evening with us. They seemed both rather dull. I read Aristotle and after it, the Spectator.

1.

ABA and CFA “returned to Housekeeping under inauspicious circumstances as it regards their Servants. Benjamin is married to Elizabeth who is dismissed and he remains with them with an old woman from the Country. Bridget turn’d out a Sot and we had the credit of having spoilt them” (LCA to Mrs. JA2, 20 July, Adams Papers).

2.

Thus in MS.

Wednesday. 27th. CFA Wednesday. 27th. CFA
Wednesday. 27th.

Morning clear but quite cool after the rain of yesterday. I made considerable progress in the Poetic of Aristotle. The Commentators upon all the works of the ancients make a large class by themselves. Many of them have done little but to heap up useless masses of quotation to show their learning. Perhaps of all the follies to which the human mind is subject, none is greater, than the folly of disquisition upon trifling points. To see the fury with which men take sides upon the true reading of a passage supposed to be corrupted, one would suppose that the world was to feel the consequences of a mistake.

Went to the Office and read the Defence of the American Constitutions. I was very quiet and without any interruption. Read Mr. Berrien’s exposition of the causes that led to the difficulty in the Cabinet. It is very dignified, and calculated to bring men back to their senses if any thing can. But the view it gives of Genl. Jackson is disgraceful enough to the Nation.1 Talked with Mr. Brooks and went to the Athenaeum. Home to dine, found Miss E. C. Adams from Quincy who told us the family were well.

Afternoon, reading Cicero as usual. Letters to Appius. They are beautifully written but Melmoth is a painful expositor of their want 100of sincerity.2 Evening, Judge Hall, and Mr. and Mrs. Frothingham, so that I had only time to read the Spectator.

1.

The account addressed “To the Public” by John Macpherson Berrien, the former attorney general, is dated 22 July and appeared in the National Intelligencer for 23 July (p. 1–3) along with supporting documents: letters to and from J. H. Eaton, Col. R. M. Johnson, S. D. Ingham, and Francis P. Blair.

2.

“Evidently CFA was reading in Cicero’s Letters to His Friends: with Remarks by William Melmoth, 3 vols., London. Editions published in 1753 and 1803 are at MQA.