Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 8

Wednesday 29th. CFA Wednesday 29th. CFA
Wednesday 29th.

Clear and cool. I work about an hour upon my trees for the sake of exercise during the cool weather, then read until dinner time. Afternoon reading also until tea and Evening at the other house. P. C. Brooks Jr. here in the evening and spent the night.

Began to read Locke’s Essay on the Human Understanding to p. 40. A book I know more of by what I have seen in others than in itself. The first proposition that there are no innate principles is the pulling 101 image away to make room for the edifice. I assent to the force of the reasoning with doubt and mistrust, and desire to examine more fully.

Continued Lessing 275–336. Also Lucretius 151 to 303rd line of 2d book. A very difficult portion of the text. But great poetical energy. Mrs. DeWint and her family called in the afternoon and we saw them again in the evening.

Thursday 30th. CFA Thursday 30th. CFA
Thursday 30th.

Rather warm with a heavy shower in the Afternoon. One hour passed in work, the remainder of the morning excepting that portion taken up by P. C. Brooks Jr. before his departure. Afternoon work and study also. Evening spent at the Mansion.

I continued Locke’s Argument against innate ideas p. 40–76 and finished it. I am not satisfied with it and nevertheless should be troubled to answer the reasoning. Perhaps I should complain of a want of method in not defining what ideas are first and then proving that they are not innate. Then what is an innate idea? Do we get them all from mere sensation? I cannot believe this. The reasoning faculty seems to be above the senses. But we shall see. Continued Lessing p. 336–374. Also Lucretius 303 to 425 l, B. 2. A poetical account of the doctrine of atoms.

My father went to Cambridge to attend the exercises of the ΦΒΚ and did not return until late. Nothing new.

Friday. 31st. CFA Friday. 31st. CFA
Friday. 31st.

Morning clear and cold. Town accompanied by Miss Julia DeWint. Afternoon taken up with company. Evening at the Mansion. Not a profitable day.

My business in town was principally of the smaller sort. Commissions and Agency duties. But I called to see Mr. Brooks and there met Dr. Frothingham with whom I had a pleasant talk. He informed me of a fact which more pleased than grieved me. He had proposed me at the annual meeting of the ΦΒΚ yesterday without success. This had vexed him and my friend T. K. Davis much, but I felt fully the causes which operated to my exclusion and which have always and will ever do so, and hence was neither surprised nor hurt at the result, whilst I was highly gratified as well by the opinion as by the zeal of my friends.1 For the object itself I cannot say I feel in any degree anxious. The lesson is a good one to humble my arrogance as it respects ene-102 image mies open or secret, and to stimulate me in deserving the estimation unduly put upon me by my friends.

Home. Mr. Lunt dined with me very pleasantly, and we had a visit from Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Angier afterwards by which much of the Afternoon was taken up. So that instead of reading I consumed what was left in a ramble to the quarries in the pasture and then round to measure the ground I am tempted to inclose in front of my house. Evening passed as usual.

Conversation upon Coins in connection with the very unexpected recovery of a set of ancient ones in silver purchased long since by my father and missing until now.2 They make a very valuable acquisition to my collection. I looked over many of them and only doubted their genuineness because some are so rare. There can be no doubt however of the greater part of them.

1.

In 1840, when CFA was again proposed for membership, he was elected (CFA, Diary, 29 Aug. 1840). Although JQA was in Cambridge in 1838 for the ΦBK ceremonies, his journal contains no indication that he attended the meeting of the chapter at which membership was considered.

2.

On the earlier disappearance of that part of JQA’s collection consisting of ancient coins, see vol. 6:279–280. The present entry renders the note there incorrect. JQA’s account adds no details: “Found and gave to Charles my old Roman coins” (Diary, 31 Aug., Adams Papers).