Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 6

Tuesday. 12th. CFA Tuesday. 12th. CFA
Tuesday. 12th.

The sun broke cheerfully into our new Quarters this morning and gave us the promise of a lovely day. I took up Spenser’s Fairy Queen and read the sixth canto of the second book before going out.1 Then to the Office where I was engaged in my usual routine. Thence a walk. 137At home, began Juvenal and read seventy lines but with great difficulty and not with a full understanding of the Text.2

Afternoon as the weather was fine and I felt indolent, I thought I would take a drive round the Country. The trees are not yet out and the vegetation is barely lively enough to relieve the eye. I went through the cultivated parts of Brookline and Roxbury, a very pretty but rather too densely settled tract for Country. Home to tea.

Somewhat alarmed by the information that the houses at the end of our Avenue had been entered by thieves last night and all the silver stolen. This is coming rather near home and I have no small stake in the silver way. It is somewhat singular that in this good city of steady habits, these things should be suffered to go on with impunity now for the greater part of a year. The Watch are as certain to be as out of the way as possible. I took all the precautions I could think of before going to bed but felt strongly the difference of care that my new situation involves me in. I resumed an old and long discontinued plan of copying important papers which I find among my Grandfather’s.

1.

An earlier reading is recorded above, vol. 2:91–102.

2.

There are six editions of the satires of Juvenal in the original Latin at MQA, of which two (London, 1819, and 2 vols., London, 1824) bear CFA’s bookplate. Nevertheless, while CFA was reading Juvenal he borrowed from the Athenaeum an additional one, as well as a verse translation by W. H. Marsh.

Wednesday. 13th. CFA Wednesday. 13th. CFA
Wednesday. 13th.

Morning clear but the air no longer had the softness which distinguished it for the two last days. I read the seventh Canto of the second book of the Fairy Queen. It is very pleasant to take up in this way. Office. Mr. Winkley called and I executed my part of the Lease after which we exchanged the Papers. I dawdled as Fanny Kemble hath it over Debrett’s Peerage with Mr. Walsh, moralizing upon the shortness of date of the most of English Titles and their ignominious origin. This is rather a shameful account of time. Hence to read Juvenal, a nervous writer but the wind makes me drowsy.

After dinner, began Duclos, Considerations sur les Moeurs de ce Siecle.1 The style is too studied. The thoughts fatiguingly laboured. Dipped into Mad. du Deffand.2 On first coming back to my books I am guilty of some literary dissipation. In a few days all this will settle down so that I can pursue my path more regularly again. Evening read to my Wife from the first part of Lalla Rookh.3 There are many good lines in this poem and some fine figures, but Oriental affectation has 138gone out of fashion and it’s terms disfigure the Poem while there is a great irregularity of versification. The Veiled Prophet of Khorassan is a disgusting story too.

Evening, copying. On looking over what I have done, I find it so valuable that I shall be induced to extend it considerably. Indeed I think now is the time for me to be gathering up materials for a definite purpose—And to read in connection with it.

1.

A copy, London, 1784, with JQA’s bookplate is in MQA.

2.

CFA’s copy of Marie de Vichy-Chamrond, Marquise du Deffand’s Letters to Horace Walpole, 1766 to 1780, to which are Added Letters to Voltaire, 1759 to 1775, 4 vols., London, 1810, is in MQA.

3.

In reading aloud from Moore’s Lalla Rookh, CFA was returning to the approach to the poem he had used five years earlier; see above, vol. 3:189–196 passim.