Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

Wednesday. 7th. CFA Wednesday. 7th. CFA
Wednesday. 7th.

It was quite a warm day although early and at noon there were showers. I remained quietly ensconced in my Office. Read some Odes of Horace, and looked over a mass of old papers.

I derive a great deal of advantage from this occupation in the way of fixing dates of the events of the Revolution, and a good deal of the private history which gives the clue of mysterious public affairs. I made a discovery today of two or three additional private Journals of John Adams, and a curiosity in some old coins of the time of the English Commonwealth, 1649. These were inclosed in a letter from T. Brand Hollis,1 though this has no notice respecting them.

Little occurred that is worthy of particular notice. My father seemed 142better today, and in the evening I had an interesting conversation with him upon the old Massachusetts history, James Otis, Hutchinson, Bernard, Sam. Adams and the actors of that day. Afterwards, a little of Humphry Clinker. Mirror.

1.

Thomas Brand Hollis, heir of Thomas Hollis, benefactor of Harvard College, was an English antiquarian, dissenter, and political radical whom JA visited in July 1786 and with whom he maintained a correspondence for eight years thereafter on a variety of subjects; see JA, Diary and Autobiography , 3:188, 196–200. CFA’s expression of interest in the coins is apparently his first in a subject that was to absorb him for most of his life.

Thursday. 8th. CFA Thursday. 8th. CFA
Thursday. 8th.

My day passed in the quiet pursuits which render my Diary so exceedingly monotonous. I finished the Odes of Horace which completed my perusal of the book. It has been tolerably thorough this time, and I have for the first time formed an idea of the peculiar qualities of the Poet. Heretofore I was under an impression derived from some of his Anacreontic Poems, that he was a pleasant, Jovial, Epicurean Poet, but I find him now possessed of the Power to fly high into the sublimest regions of Poetry. He has also one great attribute of a Poet which supplies a wonderful charm to his verses, the faculty of happy application of epithets. This forms the superiority of Byron’s muse over that of all modern Poets and it goes a great way to make the fascination of Shakespear. A single adjective will very often form a picture out of the sentence, and the mind has the pleasure of filling up the outline with as much additional colouring as suits the particular taste of each reader.

The remainder of my time was filled up with my common occupation, examining letters of which I found many additional files. They contain much of the gloomy. My Grandmother’s trials were severe indeed. War, her husband absent a rebel with certain danger to himself of death if he should be taken, her Mother dying, her child very ill, a Servant in the house in the last and most dreadful stage of dysentery which at that time pervaded the Country. She was a wonderful woman to go through it so well—The Country too in an extremely poor condition and depressed by an unequal war. I cannot imagine any thing much more gloomy.1

Evening, My brother John, his Wife and child arrived having been two weeks at Long Branch. He looks out of health, although he has grown stout and fat since I saw him which is now three years.2 Conversation and the Mirror.

143 1.

The references are to AA’s letters to JA of Sept. 1775 ( Adams Family Correspondence , 1:276–288passim).

2.

Some account of JA2 appears in vol. 1:xxvi; a likeness of him is in vol. 3 along with further observations, p. xv-xviii, xxxi. Since his last visit to Quincy in the summer of 1830 (vol. 3:277) JA2 had been in progressively poorer health, suffering especially with failing eyesight (vol. 4:414, 417; LCA to ABA, 11 Jan. 1833, Adams Papers). Accompanying him and his wife, Mary Catherine, was their daughter Georgeanna Frances, aged two. The older daughter, Mary Louisa, now five, had preceded them to Quincy, coming with LCA (JQA, Diary, 10 May). On all, see Adams Genealogy.