Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

Tuesday. 25th. CFA Tuesday. 25th. CFA
Tuesday. 25th.

Snowy morning and an appearance of recurring winter. I went to the Office but did very little. Mr. Walsh came in and conversed upon 269English History so long, that my leisure was pretty much taken up. I do not think such use of time absolute waste, and I felt gratified today that I could remember so clearly the succession of British Ministries from the time of Anne.

Walk was short as I went to see some of Mr. Cogswell’s books. He is selling his Library having made a bad business of his Round hill School.1 I do not however propose to buy. Afternoon passed at home reading Dubos. Finished the account of the ancient Stage. Finished also the play of the Self Tormentor. The characters of Menedemus and Chremes are strong delineations of human nature. I do not perceive that husbands adopted a different tone then from that which they often assume now. Evening at home, Vivian, and German.

1.

Joseph Green Cogswell in 1823 at Northampton with George Bancroft had established Round Hill, an experimental school remarkable in a number of ways, but which had been at various times beset by troubles including a revolt of students during which they had consigned their masters to a dungeon while they themselves went on a week-long spree at a Northampton hotel (Charlotte Everett to Edward Everett, 10 March 1830, MHi:Everett Papers).

Cogswell’s distinguished career, however, earlier and later was largely concerned with books. He, along with George Ticknor and Edward Everett, had studied at Göttingen in 1817. He traveled widely in Europe, met and corresponded with Goethe. When he returned to Harvard in 1820 to become librarian and professor of mineralogy and geology, he brought for the College library the Ebeling collection of 3,000 volumes and 11,000 maps and charts. It was in discouragement at the lack of interest there in the development of the library that he left to found Round Hill. Much later he was to become John Jacob Astor’s adviser in establishing for the public the Astor Library in New York City, its superintendent, and the compiler of its printed catalogs 1848–1861 ( DAB ; Morison, Three Centuries of Harvard , p. 266). His own book collection must have been a substantial one. The Columbian Centinel gave the sale notice in its news columns, an unusual procedure, recommending it to “the attention of scholars.... These books were selected by Mr. Cogswell when in Europe, and a large portion of them are works which can rarely be purchased in this country” (25 Feb., p. 2, col. 2).

Wednesday. 26th. CFA Wednesday. 26th. CFA
Wednesday. 26th.

Morning clear and cooler than for some time past. I went to the Office and from there to a sale of Mr. Cogswell’s books. I did not go to purchase, nor yet from curiosity but rather from the sense of nothing to do. I met there W. E. Payne and Dr. E. G. Davis with whom I had much amusing conversation. But this is wasting precious hours. Alas, my regrets lead to no reformation. Lounged over the Newspapers and lounged at Office.

Walk. Afternoon, Dubos, upon Genius, the difficult question of natural powers. A man who admits his definition must deny one of 270Jefferson’s dogmas that all men are born free and equal. Began the Adelphi. The first Speech of Micio is admirable. Evening at home. Vivian, a very strong exhibition of the truth of the assertion that all wickedness is weakness. Began the German of Wieland.