Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 1

Sunday June 20th. IX.

Tuesday. June 22d. VI:5.

Monday. June 21st. VI. CFA Monday. June 21st. VI. CFA
Monday. June 21st. VI.

Attended Prayers and recitation in Enfield this Morning reading 199my Chapters in the recess. At study bell, I attended Mr. Channing’s Lecture which was today on the subject of modern deliberative oratory in general. He took a view of the different ages, he compared the advantages of the one with those of the other. The modern deliberative Orator he said did not address himself to any but those few who were members of the same assembly with himself. His duty was to act upon them and no one else, he should mind neither the persons on the floor nor in the gallery but merely the ones immediately interested in the business. And to them he was to speak only with arguments founded on the strongest reasoning, he was to affect their heads and not their hearts. On this account modern eloquence had been styled cold, and perhaps it might be so, but it was the more noble, it was an appeal to the understanding and also to the feelings not merely to excite the violent passions. He said the difference between a lawyer and an Orator was that the former was bound to defend his client to the utmost and never to yield the argument, the latter came to the Assembly prepared to be influenced by the strongest reasoning which he heard whether in support or against a measure.

It had been said he was aware by some that this was all fudge, that in a state agitated by violent party spirit a vote was given always on the principles of the side, that an opposition voted against many measures of the minority even when they had no reason but that they originated so. He was inclined to think however that this was not entirely so, and that there always existed a certain portion who were influenced by the force of argument. The Lecture on the whole, was quite a good one and I was much pleased, at the same time convinced that he knew very little indeed concerning ancient affairs of any sorts and was willing to slide over them as gently as possible.

I from thence went to the Athenaeum where I found no news of any importance. I came home, wrote my Journal and attended a recitation to Dr. Popkin in which I was taken up first and being suddenly called upon when I had not previously read the passage, I made a singular mistake which evidently manifested my neglect of the lesson. They are of a nature however not to profit me in reading over as a Concordance with a Testament will serve when I wish to prosecute the study at some future time when my doubts shall have taken some broader head than they have at present for at this time, this could do me no good.

After dinner I studied Botany and dissected flowers until two o’clock but was not successful in any of my trials. I advanced so far last year that now I see nothing to do although I am very conscious 200that something is wanting, principally a knowledge of the terms and leaves. At two o’clock I attended Mr. Nuttall as usual, he lectured to day upon the stamens, a principal and important part of the flower. He illustrated the various classes by examples beginning with Monandria and going through the whole sexual system of Linnaeus. He is so simple that it is impossible to give any thing of an abstract of his lectures. He is also so illustrative that I could do nothing but write all the flowers which would take too much time.

Returning home, I immediately prepared to visit Mr. Farrar. Otis and myself went from our house today, Sheafe returning into the section. We spent half an hour pleasantly enough and derived at least for my part some instruction. He gave me another system to look over at my leisure. After this recitation, I came home and read the seventh Chapter of Mitford which closes the first volume. It continued the history of the rise of the connection between the Persians and the Greeks, the affairs of Persia, the history of Histiaeus and closed with an account of the failure of the first expedition of Darius under Datis and Artaphernes, the victory of Marathon and the death of Miltiades, a circumstance much to be regretted as it shows that the people can easily be made a tool by the designing even against their greatest benefactors. I am afraid that all history will prove this.

I attended Prayers after which, I took a walk with Otis conversing much as usual. After which I employed my Evening in reading the life of Solon in Plutarch which gives an account of the age and the wise men so famous in it. There appear to be many more than seven aspirants however as I counted over ten in this and in Anacharsis where I read a portion of what the author calls the age of the laws. He divides the history into three ages as he calls them; this is the first, that of Themistocles and Aristides is the second, and that of Pericles the third, these two he calls the ages of glory and of luxury. I finished this evening the account of the laws of Solon which are generally well adapted to the people. The author however makes some observation concerning the laws and government which I would desire to reconsider before assenting to them. Thus the Evening passed away much to my satisfaction and I retired with pleasure at the consideration of every duty fulfilled. X.