Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

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

Fine morning with the air mild and pleasant. I went to town accompanied by Mr. Brooks. Time occupied in commissions of various sorts. Called in at a sale of pictures,1 from thence to my House which I found duly closed and at the office where I read a considerable part of the Report and Investigation by the Committee of the last Legislature upon the subject of Freemasonry. It is evidently from the pen of Mr. Hallett and very clear but rather dull. He often writes with spirit but not with that sort of vigor in his serious papers which makes them amusing.

Returned to Medford to dinner. Afternoon. Commenced Madame de Stael on Literature,2 and read Ovid, Deianira to Hercules. I also took up Italian which with German I mean to make my occupation this Summer. Evening. Mirabeau, Considerations sur l’ordre de Cincinnatus, a translation of Burke’s pamphlet which first attacked the order in this Country.3 Began to feel more settled.


The paintings were advertised as having been received from Antwerp and as the work of Rubens, Cuyp, Hobbema, Poussin, &c. (Columbian Centinel, 8 May, p. 3, col. 6).


In CFA’s set at MQA of Mme. de 309Staël’s Oeuvres complètes, 17 vols. in 9, Paris, 1820–1821, “On Literature” is in vol. 4.


A copy of the London, 1788, edition is at MQA. The author of the original pamphlet, published in 1783, was Aedanus Burke of South Carolina ( DAB ).

Friday. 9th. CFA Friday. 9th. CFA
Friday. 9th.

Fine morning. I went to the Office after riding into town with Mr. Brooks. My time taken up for the most part in business matters. Conversation with Mr. Walsh and doing little or nothing.

Finished the Pamphlet relating to Freemasonry, in which I am a little disappointed. The refusal of the Senate to sanction a demand for the evidence defeated the Investigation. No Mason would attend or testify voluntarily thereby pretty clearly manifesting the indefensible nature of the Institution. The more I think of that question, the more I am amazed at it’s character—That so much bad faith should have been found among men in the common relations of life, and that so much influence should be constantly and yet silently exerted over the Community.

Returned to Medford at noon. After dinner read Madame de Stael’s book upon Literature. Ovid, Canace to Macareus—A disgusting story of incest. Ovid had no delicacy in his notions of Love. It is all desire.

Saturday. 10th. CFA Saturday. 10th. CFA
Saturday. 10th.

I had fixed upon this day to go to Quincy, but upon waking, I found it raining heavily which continued without intermission through the day. Consequently I sat down very quietly and deliberately to read and occupy myself at home. My time was not heavy at all. I began reading the Letters of Ortis in Italian,1 a work of high sentiment apparently upon the plan of Werter. I do not much admire the Author’s preface. My hours were divided between Mirabeau, Madame de Stael, Ovid, and this Italian, besides a Letter to my Mother which I completed and yet with nothing in it.2 The air was so cold as not to make it perfectly pleasant to sit out of the reach of the fire, yet I could not very well do much in the room where the family assemble. Mr. Brooks though he has uncommon resources for a man who has led so active a life, yet flags a little. Evening quiet at home.


CFA’s copy of Jacob Ortiz, Ultime lettere, 2 vols. in 1, London, 1817, is at MQA. On its acquisition see vol. 4:278, 286.


To LCA, 10 May (Adams Papers).