Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 6

Thursday. 12th. CFA Thursday. 12th. CFA
Thursday. 12th.

My cold is changing places a little but not going very fast. I do not remember that for many years I have had any thing like it. Certainly not since my residence here. I read the Maid of Orleans which is nearly as easy to me as English and is a very delightful poem. There is something in Schiller’s style exceedingly charming. His pictures are simple yet lovely. There is a pathos in them which touches deeply. Goethe’s simplicity borders often upon the vapid, Schiller’s upon the strong.

Office. I did not feel able to cope with my work so I sat down and read part of Cicero’s first book de Oratore. It never appeared to me so delightful before. He is after all the first and the last writer upon his subject. Every sentence is a coin. Walk. The day was delightful but the streets are in very bad condition.

Home. Began the Ibis, a sort of curse upon one of his enemies, who was doing every thing to destroy him in his exile. The name is fictitious, a curious proceeding. Afternoon, finished Cuvier’s Theory of 95the Earth. An exceedingly ingenious thing and based upon tolerably sound reasoning. The subject is wonderful. But it hardly conflicts much with the tradition of antiquity, and shakes very much the foundations of the doubting school. Grimm, who continues my idling book, and is amusing. Evening Mr. Guizot and the Maid of Orleans.

Friday. 13th. CFA Friday. 13th. CFA
Friday. 13th.

I find my cold as inconvenient, although not perhaps quite so severe as it has been. Continued reading the Maid of Orleans and then to the Office, where I occupied myself for the most part with Cicero’s first book de Oratore which I finished. How discouraging to study such a model. To see what can be done by a great genius and how little one must feel in making even an attempt in comparison. I do mean however to try my best upon my new work when I get over my cold.

Walk and collected my Dividend upon Shares in Lawrence Factory, Mr. Brooks last present. It is not very large for Manufacturing Property in the Stability of which I have very little confidence. Read more of the Ibis which to be sure is a curse beyond every thing of the kind excepting the curse of Obadiah.

Afternoon, Grimm. He gives an Account of a journey of Louis 16. made in 1786 in which it would seem as if the whole French people were at his feet, and he maintains the opinion that no king of that Country ever was more firmly seated in the heart of his people. Five short years made his words folly. Read Mons. Guizot whose views are clear enough but I do not know that any reading of this sort will be of much use to me. My main difficulty is the desultory character of my studies. Began today a curious book, Deontology by Bowring from the Manuscripts of Jeremy Bentham.1

1.

That is, Bentham’s Deontology, or Science of Morality, ed. J. Bowring, 2 vols., London, 1834.

Saturday. 14th. CFA Saturday. 14th. CFA
Saturday. 14th.

Pleasant day. Finished the Maid of Orleans, a piece with which I have been much charmed. The mechanism is perhaps objectionable by the introduction of a spirit who seems to have no effect upon the conduct of the piece nor to be essential in any way to it’s catastrophe. How different from Hamlet who learns from the unearthly visitant the secret which impels his whole course of action.

96

Office. My cold still prevented me from sitting down seriously to work. I attended to money matters and Mr. S. Conant from Weston came with whom I settled for the yearly rent of that Farm. Walk with E. Quincy.

Afternoon, nothing remarkable. Read Grimm and continued the book of Deontology with the tone and spirit of which I find it hard to put up. Nor do I see any great value in the pretended discovery. Mr. Brooks dined out and I sat with my Wife in the evening in conversation. Nothing material.