Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

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

Uncommonly warm for the Season. I went down to the Office. My time passed quite unprofitably. My good resolutions produce little benefit of any sort. What with lounging at Insurance Offices, and conversation with Mr. Walsh, and reading Newspapers, and accounts now and then, I am making useless my most valuable time. Walk, after stopping at the Athenaeum where I saw nothing new.

Afternoon reading Benjamin Constant. His Account of the Jewish History remarkable and not unworthy of attention. Tusculan question whether death is an evil. The elegance of the style always pleases—Even when the argument is inconclusive or the reasoning fanciful. Some of the ideas have abundant force particularly in the mouth of 281the Pagan. Evening quietly at home. Finished Ennui and began Almeria. German which begins to come easier.

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

It rained last night but was clear in the morning. I read some of Constant, and went to the office. Most of my time was taken up by the Conants who came in to settle the Lease. One of them found me more decided than I have been accustomed to be upon the article of rent. He brought me in his usual account for labour which I did not admit, as the provision of the Lease was that it was not to be asked for unless they should not clear themselves upon the farm. Hay is the great product of the farm, and it is perfectly absurd to imagine that with hay at its present and ruling price within the year they should not have cleared themselves. It is true on the other hand that labour was high and the corn failed. Yet Silas Conant did not affirm he had not cleared himself, and his brother when appealed to was totally silent. I put off the day of settlement by agreement to Monday.

Walk. Benjamin Constant. His book fails occasionally in interest, and I read it at the very worst time in the day for my benefit. Cicero’s Tusculan which as my Wife was out I continued in the evening. It is very charming. I wish I could possess myself of half his elegance of style. Went for my Wife at Mrs. Frothingham’s. Miss Mary and Miss Ann Dehon with their brother. The first sung several songs with little or no expression, but as I thought, correctly, not being an exact judge. Home at ten.

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

I spent most of my morning at the Athenaeum reading in the English Periodicals and amusing myself as well as I could. The English as well as ourselves grow dismally heavy. There is nothing to do, and no genius to produce any thing. Literature is at a stand, yet the press groans under the efforts of the writers for bread. Walk. Benjamin Constant after dinner, then Cicero. Evening, Almeria. My days are monotonous enough.

Saturday. 22d. CFA Saturday. 22d. CFA
Saturday. 22d.

A cold and very windy day, much in character with the month. I amused myself this morning with reading Baron d’Haussez upon the 282manners and Institutions of England. He treats Great Britain pretty much as Hamilton does America.1 He pushes forward the unfavorable side. There is truth in each picture but it is overcharged.

Office. Read a good deal of Jefferson but not interesting. His early correspondence is flat compared to my Grandfather’s. He had more judgment and less genius than my grandfather, yet he was less sound in his theories which is remarkable.

Walk. Dined with a party at Mr. Brooks—Messrs. Shepherd, W. Wells, Kirk Boott, G. Bancroft, Palfrey, Story, Col. Baldwin, Edward, P. C. Brooks Jr. and myself. A very handsome dinner and tolerably pleasant, but not remarkable. I returned home at sunset. Quiet evening. Finished Almeria. Read d’Haussez.

1.

On the preceding day CFA had borrowed from the Athenaeum, Great Britain in 1833 by Charles Lemercher de Longpré, Baron d’Haussez, 2 vols., London, 1833, and Men and Manners in America by Capt. Thomas Hamilton, 2 vols., Edinburgh, 1833.