Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 8

Thursday 27th. CFA Thursday 27th. CFA
Thursday 27th.

Drizzly morning. Study. Afternoon, spent an hour at the Wharf of Mr. Greenleaf, attempting to catch smelts. A Concert in the Evening.

Continued Locke’s Essay p. 427–462. Upon Words and language. A fruitful subject and worthy of profound reflection, but it may reasonably be doubted if the ablest writers are among the greatest students of words. They come to attach too much importance to them and thus invest them with a meaning which not being exactly the popular or common one does not go home to the minds of the many. Lucretius 709–914. What is his theory good for, and yet his verses will remain for many of them are not excelled in Latin literature.

I took in the Afternoon an hour’s recreation in catching or rather 117trying for smelts without success. On my return a few pages of Grimm. Both families attended a Concert at Mr. French’s hotel given by Mrs. Valentine a woman who has instructed some of the girls here in singing. There was much bad and some good, showing however in general much progress in cultivation among our townspeople.

Friday 28th. CFA Friday 28th. CFA
Friday 28th.

Cloudy, damp day. Morning to town. Afternoon at home in reading. Evening at the Mansion.

My father accompanied me to town. Time taken up in giving final orders about the repairs in Acorn Street, and in visiting it to see the progress. Mr. Apthorp finally agreed for it to take possession whenever I notify him. Lucretius b. 4. 914–1130, and Grimm.

My father today in conversation suggested to me the expediency of following up the examination of the South Carolina policy. I have had some idea of this myself, but there is to me little satisfaction in producing for others what they will not approve, or hardly read, and when even admission to a press appears to be rather tacitly granted as a favour than considered desirable. Nothing but a strong sense of duty to myself induces me to persevere in a system productive of such discouragements.1 Evening with the family.


The idea that CFA should prepare a piece on the subject here discussed eventuated in the publication of his “Political Speculations Upon the Carolina Policy”; see entry for 15 Nov., below.

Saturday 29th. CFA Saturday 29th. CFA
Saturday 29th.

Cloudy day with heavy rain at times. Morning divided between study and a search after papers at my father’s. Afternoon study, evening at the Mansion.

Locke, finished the first volume of the Works which closes with the meaning of words. My mind has certainly been invigorated by the study of this Analytical Treatise. Much of my time was however wasted in trying to find materials for a composition which I now design. Whether I shall have either the ability or the perseverance to bring out what I propose I do not know but the attempt is at least an amusement. I did not succeed at any rate today and must therefore put it off until I go to Boston.

Lucretius through the fourth book and ninety lines of the 5th. The former is hardly philosophical and certainly very coarse. Read also some of Grimm who is amusing in spite of his ridiculous prejudices. 118My boy John continues unwell and in consequence of the sickness prevailing we feel uneasy about him. Evening at the Mansion.