Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

Monday. 10th. CFA Monday. 10th. CFA
Monday. 10th.

I have rarely known a time when my existence was more monotonous than at present. Even my literary occupations which usually give some variety to my Journal have dwindled so much as to be scarcely perceptible. I vegetate and am likely so to do. This is an incident of my condition from which I must not start. In a Community like our’s where all classes are in eager pursuit of wealth, and can spare no time 260for other purposes, he who by circumstances is relieved from the pressure, is in some degree thrown aside from the current of affairs.

Office, where Mr. Brown kept me the whole morning in argument about the Infirmary.1 He had taken advantage of the Tenant and got a Contract for it from me in April next. The Tenant came to complain and I thought him aggrieved. I have endeavoured in consequence to rectify my mistake. I kept my temper perfectly throughout.

In the Afternoon, read Stuarts Essay upon the Beautiful in which he endeavors to refute Burke and substitute a new theory. I do not think him perfectly satisfactory. Mr. Brooks took tea and spent a couple of hours, though he had not much to say. I read a little of the Absentee. Afterwards, took an incidental direction in my reading and examined Buffon’s Natural History of the Ass.2


See the note to the entry of 2 Dec., above.


In the Library of Useful knowledge.

Tuesday. 11th. CFA Tuesday. 11th. CFA
Tuesday. 11th.

Beautiful day. I went to the office. I find my new acquaintance in the room opposite takes up full as much of my time as the former one Mr. Peabody did. Indeed he seems less busy and more talkative.

Read the Intelligencer which contains the last debate, in Congress. The scale seems to be balancing now pretty even. In the mean time there is great distress. A certain amount of Bankruptcy and nothing else will relieve the Community.

Walk. Afternoon, Stewart on the sublime. He derives the beautiful from sight and the association of ideas by which the terms descriptive of impressions on the eye are gradually transferred to other objects of different senses and mental observation. The sublime he likewise draws from elevation. Terence, the Eunuch. Afterwards, read Plato’s Apology of Socrates, with the Account of Socrates in Enfield’s History of Philosophy.

Wednesday. 12th. CFA Wednesday. 12th. CFA
Wednesday. 12th.

Cold again. I went to the Office but executed little excepting a Lease of the Tenant at Weston, and studied a little the returns of the Massachusetts Banks. I judge from them that our currency is in a pretty dangerous condition. There is considerable difference among the Institutions, but the oldest Institutions do not in all cases appear strongest or best managed. In the mean time the public distress is not dimin-261ishing nor likely to be diminished. The effect will probably be felt by us all only after the lapse of months. The Manufactures of the Country must depress wages, and this will operate far and wide.

Short walk only, in consequence of some Commissions. Afternoon, read Stewart on Taste. His power of illustration is greater I think than his original matter. Terence, the Eunuch. In the evening Miss Edgeworth’s Absentee. Finding myself without purpose, I intend now to go back to my German.1 Began again today.


CFA had at least twice before, in the winter months of 1830 and of 1832–1833, undertaken the study of German through the use of the grammar and reader compiled by C. T. C. Follen (vol. 3:357–377passim; 4:403–431passim). Despite his abandonment of Follen earlier (entry for 28 March 1833, above), it would appear from the selections read over the succeeding weeks that he had returned to the same text.