Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

Wednesday. 19th. CFA Wednesday. 19th. CFA
Wednesday. 19th.

My morning was wasted in reading over some English Newspapers. There is something quite charming in the appearance of comfort and 266solidity which one finds in them. I should like exceedingly to live in England, provided I had a very large fortune and no roots in this Country. America is a fine Country and to people of middling circumstances a paradise, but the spirit of change is too active, the blast of unlimited democracy too furious to make it agreeable to the classes who happen to be exempted by circumstances from labor. In a regular democracy there should be no property. I can imagine no state of things in which any thing like equality can otherwise be secured. And this would prove an equality of misery.

At the Athenaeum, nothing particularly new. Walk. Afternoon, Dubos, who manifests his French opinions more and more as he goes on. I cannot imagine why people should be so anxious to put the human intellect into a strait Jacket. Fiction is fiction, and it matters little whether we regard it one way or another provided it touches the heart. That is the true test of the good. That is the point from which to start in investigating causes. Terence. Evening, Emilie de Coulanges. Miss Edgeworth understands the heart. German.

Thursday. 20th. CFA Thursday. 20th. CFA
Thursday. 20th.

A very lovely day. I went to the Office and occupied myself in writing and reading. Made some progress in the Parliamentary Debates. These were at that time acrimonious enough and remind me much of the state of things at Washington. This is not becoming one particle better but the excessive pressure is going off from the commercial men. Perhaps this will have an effect upon the decision of the present question. What ever that may be, the General will do nothing to aid the distressed community. He relies for his popularity upon far different people.

Took a walk and dined with Mr. Brooks. Nobody there but my wife and myself. Tolerably pleasant. Returned home to tea. Evening Emilie de Coulanges, and German. I translate into English each Fable of Lessing in the German reader. The Child is as restless, and uneasy as ever. Our nights are disturbed.

Friday. 21st. CFA Friday. 21st. CFA
Friday. 21st.

Fine day. I went to the Office, but did not spend my time as profitably as I might have done. Received a letter from my Mother not in very good spirits and describing a very heated state of things at Washington.1 Our Country is doomed to go through a perpetual agitation 267under the influence of individual passions. Ambition when beyond a certain limit is a terrible scourge.

I took a walk to the North part of the City to see the changes and improvements going on there which are certainly very great. But a check must now come upon the prosperity of our people.

After dinner, read Dubos, and Terence. In the evening I went to Mr. J. Sumner’s in Chesnut Street—A family party, Mrs. Gray and her Daughters, Mrs. Story and Miss Henrietta, Mr. Brooks and his three daughters, Mr. F. Coffin. We played one game of Whist. Returned at ten more amused than I expected to have been.


17 Feb., Adams Papers.