Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 8

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

Morning fine. Ride to town. Afternoon, ride also. Evening passed at the Mansion.

I went to the City accompanied by my father, but not with my own horse, he having been fretted too much before he started. As a consequence I was however obliged to take him out in the Afternoon, and to exercise him. I went round through Braintree to the edge of Randolph and thence through Weymouth home. My Wife was with me. I thus have little or no progress to mark in study. My City hours are wasted in small profitless commissions so as to make me very unwilling to multiply them. Lucretius 915–1005. A very poetical portion of the work.

I find T. K. Davis out in continuation in this morning’s paper.1 There is only one remark which keeps perpetually returning to me in reading which is that he wants bottom. For the rest, the quarrel about Mr. Webster keeps on thickening, and may ruin the Whig party.

1.

The continuation of the article of the preceding day is headed “To the Mechanics of Boston,” Boston Morning Post, 20 Sept., p. 2, cols. 1–2.

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

Clouds and warm rain. At home all day in study. Evening at the Mansion.

Continued Locke’s Essay 300–352. Chapter of Identity and Diversity. The line between things comprehensible and things not so is so thin that it is very difficult to keep exactly within the former. All identity springs from consciousness, says Mr. Locke, but then of what are we conscious? for all ordinary purposes we have clearer evidence than consciousness in the fact of existence in a shape readily cognizable by the senses, and for extraordinary ones what do we gain by changing the word.

Lucretius, finished the third book and read 100 lines in the fourth. On the whole the conclusion of the third book is most of all to my taste. Had Lucretius grappled with a subject more susceptible of the introduction of the graces, he would have scarcely been exceeded by his borrower Virgil. But philosophical abstractions are a potion the bitterness of which to most readers no honey of poesy can make palatable.

Finished the first Chapter of Winkelman’s History of Art, which did not interest me. Also one or two Chapters in Bayle’s Réponse aux questions d’un provincial, which led me to examine in the Causes Cé-114lèbres the curious case of Martin Guerre.1 Nothing new from the conversation of the evening.

1.

This return to a reading of F. Gayot de Pitavel’s Causes célèbres et interessantes, which had interested CFA in 1831 and 1832 (vol. 4:174 and index), was directed to the case of Martin Guerre who, in the 16th century, was the victim of an extraordinary imposture perpetrated by Arnaud du Tilh (Hoefer, Nouv. biog. générale ).