Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 8

Monday 17th. CFA Monday 17th. CFA
Monday 17th.

Windy and cool. At home all the morning. Afternoon, Ride. Evening at the Mansion.

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Our season has been by no means an agreeable one. An alternation of rainy and cold and boisterously windy weather make the external pleasures of country life much less than usual. We had a slight frost this morning.

I finished the substitute of the old Sheet for Tucker and then went down to the other house for the purpose of examining old papers. I am now out of occupation and this will not do for me. Indeed I suspect it is already the secret of the reaction that I feel upon my health. My doubt now is whether I will undertake the proposed plan by my father or devote myself to something else. In the meantime I am endeavouring to get rid of a parcel of papers that are embarrassing while left unexamined.

Continued Lessing’s Treatise upon Fable. He is too acute a critic, it becomes tiresome. He finds fault with every author for defining fable imperfectly when after all an imperfect definition is not a serious evil for such a thing. A fable is the illustration by anecdote of some moral lesson. That’s enough. Nobody fails to understand what a fable is who ever read one. Your acute critics get to be over verbal disputants.

After dinner, Lucan 8. 330–616. This book which gives the fate of Pompey is perhaps the best for vigor and harmony. I took a long ride accompanied by my Wife and we enjoyed the country round Milton much. Evening at the Mansion.

Tuesday 18th. CFA Tuesday 18th. CFA
Tuesday 18th.

Clouds and latterly rain. To Boston. At home after dinner and evening.

I went to town and was industriously engaged all the morning in business of the Agency, of Mr. Curtis for the Boylston Estate and in my own. This left me little or no time for any thing else. Received a notice that my Tenant in No. 4 Acorn Street vacates which is a vexation.

Return to dinner. Afternoon Lucan finish the 8th book, and read Grimm whose criticism is often extremely amusing. Also Le Comte’s description of China about which I am curious.1 In the evening retained at home by the rain. Mascou, Costume des Anciens Peuples.2

1.

At MQA is Louis Le Comte, Nouveaux mémoires sur l’état présent de la Chine, 2 vols., Amsterdam, 1697.

2.

Perhaps the reference is to a section of Johann Jacob Mascou’s Geschichte der Teutschen. CFA’s copies are at MQA in the original German (Leipzig, 1750) and in English: The History of the Ancient Germans ... and other Ancient Northern Nations, transl. T. Lediard, 2 vols., London, 1737–1738. However, CFA’s use of the title in French is puzzling.

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