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Browsing: Diary of Charles Francis Adams, Volume 1


Docno: ADMS-13-01-02-0003-0011-0014

Author: CFA
Date: 1824-10-14

Thursday. October 14th. VI.

Attended Prayers and recitation in Topography as usual. After breakfast went to Mr. Everett’s. He was treating today of the works of Homer. The first mentioned is a work in 305 [294] hexameter verses called Batrachomyomachia or the battle of the frogs, of which he gave an analysis. It is mentioned as his work in the Life ascribed to Herodotus. Plutarch and Henry Stephens [Stephen] ascribe it to Pigres who lived at the time of the Persian invasion. Modern critics are divided in opinion with respect to this poem, but sundry internal marks prove that this is not the work of Homer. The irony, the jests upon the Gods, the use of writing tablets and the trumpet, and a variety of circumstances go to prove that it was written in later times. These are all put down in the pamphlet.1 The poem has often been imitated, one of the most important is the Galeomyomachia [Galeomachia], a dramatic piece in Iambics written by Prodromus, a native Greek, in the 12th century.
There are many others besides. There is a translation of the battle of the frogs which is a very good specimen of modern Greek. It was first published by Crusius and is written in political verses. This is a sort of verse which was of very ancient use and has since come into fashion with a popular author who has employed [it]. It consists of seven trochaic feet and was supposed to be called political from the adaptation to poems on civil occasions. But they have been called so in distinction to ancient verses as the word can be made to mean modern. They are to be found in the ancient version of Virgil of Ogilvie [Ogilby] a specimen of which he gave us. They must be read by quantity and not by accent as is done by the modern Greeks. They are found in the ancient comedy. There are many hymns attributed to him which are popularly believed his, but there have not been wanting persons who refused to believe that any of his works have remained except the Iliad and Odyssey. The hymns of Homer are now generally ascribed to the Homerides, men who followed him and who by their imitation of him obtained that name. An analysis of them will show { 388 } that they are neither the production of one age nor of one author. He accordingly entered into an analysis of the different hymns to Apollo Mercury, Venus and Ceres. It would take by far more time and space than is necessary to give it at length, particularly when it is contained in the pamphlet to which I have already often alluded.
The fragments of Homer consist of sixteen epigrams and some quotations from ancient poems ascribed to Homer such as the Margites, Cypria, the lesser Iliad, all which however amount only to seventy lines and are consequently very insignificant. He then concluded with mentioning a few authors who might be valuable to consult upon the subject.
After Lecture as we had nothing more to do for the rest of the day, I determined to go to Boston, and accordingly rode in with Chapman. We went round to Roxbury and I met with an accident in driving. I pique myself a little on driving and wish to improve so that I was sorry for the accident. It was very trifling but nevertheless I thought it ought not to have happened. Arrived, I went immediately to my brother’s room where I did not find him, and as I supposed he had gone for the morning, I went upon the common to see the review. Met Lothrop and Pratt and Stackpole there with whom I had some conversation. Returning to George’s room, I found he had been and gone, for he went off to Quincy with Mrs. Bailey2 so that I should not see him until night. I remained and dined with the family at Dr. Welsh’s, after which I went to see Mrs. De Wint3 who was at Col. Pickman’s.4 She has just come on and looks quite well I think. It is sometime since I have seen her, but it is of not much importance how long, for it is mere formal civility between relations. The Colonel was quite polite, he has rather a pretty house than otherwise. At least it looks comfortable; he is unfortunate in his marriage however as I suppose he wishes descendants.
I remained here a little while only and then went to see the review of the remaining regiments. I wished to see them go through the drill for Light Infantry but they did very little of it. I then tried to find Chapman to tell him that I should not go out to Cambridge tonight as I thought it was too much to come in again to find George, the expense attending such another visit being considerable. I spent the rest of the afternoon in his room reading Madame de la Roche Jaqueline’s account of the War of La Vendée.5 It is an interesting and a curious history as it gives an account of a state of society, which if to be relied on as true, must have been extremely pleasant, and certainly for this part of France, the revolution could not have been a desirable or even an equally pleasant situation.
{ 389 }
I accomplished a good deal while here but as I thought that I did not go away from Cambridge to read, I might as well after tea attend the play. George came in and after our meal drove me down to the theatre. The play tonight was Tom and Jerry, a farce which has had a most amazing run, and I have always been surprised at not having seen it before. It has had success merely from it’s being a slightly exaggerated specimen of dissipated life. The events follow each other so rapidly and there is so much show and glitter that it seizes with the common people. The scenes in low life also come nearer to the ideas of the generality of the world than the stiff laboured forms of tragedy or the light wit of polished comedy. I think however that it holds out evil in most attractive colours as it shows a parcel of dashing young blades running their course of dissipation and ruining themselves, or at least doing their best for it, but being saved only by a turn in the plot, which will scarcely fall to the chance of any unlucky wight6 who might feel emulous of their great deeds. I was highly diverted however and heard it through with pleasure. The afterpiece was called the “falls of Clyde”7 and was one of the sentimental cast, of which I am not extremely fond. Mrs. Henry looked as beautiful as ever. I met then my classmates Cunningham and Fay, the first time I ever met either of them here. I retired very well satisfied as Mr. Finn8 was again upon the boards; he is undoubtedly the best actor here.
I returned to my brother’s. I know not how it is but I like him very much less than I used to. He has got into the world and is thinking upon entirely different concerns, his tastes are entirely different, and we have but few common topics of conversation. John is and always has been more to my taste, and although I suppose time will make changes in him also, yet they are not of such a nature. His temper hitherto has suited me better. I sat up with George sometime talking upon different subjects and without much interest. My day’s excursion had been very considerable, and I felt fatigued and on some accounts low spirited. These I shall mention tomorrow. It is a singular thing that I of all persons, who dislike most troubles and embarassments of a certain kind, should always be so unfortunate as to fall into them. George was not amusing so that I was sleepy soon and retired. XI:30.
1. Everett, Synopsis, p. 48–49.
2. Mrs. Jeremiah Bailey, of Wiscasset, the former Charlotte Welsh, daughter of Dr. Thomas Welsh. See Adams Genealogy.
3. Mrs. John Peter de Windt (1795–1852), the former Caroline Amelia Smith, a niece of JQA. See Adams Genealogy.
4. Benjamin T. Pickman, a Boston merchant (JQA, Memoirs, 9:163).
5. Mémoires de Madame la Marquise de Larochejacquelein, Paris, 1815.
6. A human being, man or woman (often implying contempt or commiseration) (OED).
7. An English melodrama by George Soane.
{ 390 }
8. Henry James Finn (1785–1840), an English actor, who later managed the Federal Street theater in Boston (Hornblow, Theater, 1:292–293).

Docno: ADMS-13-01-02-0003-0011-0015

Author: CFA
Date: 1824-10-15

Friday. October 15th. VII:20.

Arose and dressed myself, my brother according to his usual custom having arisen much earlier—his custom of late I mean. I breakfasted and during the morning read much farther in the Memoirs I took up yesterday but I did not have time to finish them. I applied for my money to George, according to arrangement, but I found the bank rather deficient, a curse which I have so often felt and which I had congratulated myself was not to happen again. This was the occasion of the trouble yesterday. I received a sufficient sum however to clear me at Cambridge for the next three months as to debts although I shall be compelled to resort to the old mode of getting myself along. I then took a walk about town and at twelve went to Cambridge in the Stage. I dined in a hurry and at one went out to practice the rifle exercise which we performed quite well today. I then went to Declamation which was not remarkable today and employed the rest of my afternoon in writing my Journal which by my one day’s absence had fallen behind hand. It is now a much more serious matter than ever to miss a day although it has always been sufficiently difficult to make it up. I was constant to it all the afternoon.
In the Evening after Prayers we had a regular drill and were more of soldiers than ever. Indeed we were much delighted with the conduct of the company tonight and felt exactly as we wished to with respect to the men under our command.
After drill although somewhat fatigued at this double exercise, I attended Mr. Ticknor’s Lecture. I shall however fill up what I left [out] in the last lecture which I attended. Bourdaloue the unattained model of the pulpit eloquence of France was born in 1632 and educated a Jesuit. That body always knew how to cultivate the talent which would most promote them, so that they soon called him to Paris which happened in 1669, and in 1671 at the age of 38 he had no rival, which continued until his death in 1704. He was during this time the most popular and successful preacher in France. His works are in 16 volumes octavo, all sermons. There is in them greater conciseness, greater persuasion and more sincerity than in those of Bossuet. His logic is compact and his strength irresistible. He is perhaps less touching than Massillon1 but it is natural that force of character should spring up before tenderness and the assertion has been justified by the experience of all ages. Without great exertions he has equalled Bossuet and checked [him].
{ 391 }
Fenelon might have been his rival had he not been above ambition. This man from his genius, his labours and talents was entitled to be called the champion of the Church, but he had not the desire. He was born in the South West of France in 1651 and educated at home, from whence he was sent to College where he was distinguished. Indeed at 15 he preached. At one time he determined to be a missionary and move to the settlements in Canada but his family diverted him from it. At 24 he conceived the project of a mission to Greece and wrote a letter to that effect which fully discloses his enthusiasm. At 27 he was made superior of the new Catholics [ . . . ] he governed with success for 10 years. He was then sent on a mission to Poictou to quell an insurrection of the Protestants. He only agreed with the king that force should not be used and he was successful. The deep feeling in that part of France which showed itself in the revolution may fairly therefore be attributed to him. In 1689 he was made preceptor to the Duke of Burgundy. But he had been successful too long, intrigue arose and oppressed him. He was too powerful for the favourites of the court although he never used his strength, and they made a handle of his intimacy with Madame Guyon2 who was at the head of the quietists in France. In 1695 however he was made Archbishop of Cambray which placed him at the height of power. Bossuet attacked him and influenced the king who caused the Pope to condemn Fenelon’s answer and finally he was exiled to his Archbishopric. His Telemaque completed the King’s anger and he caused the man’s name to be erased from the list of his household. Fenelon endured it all with most perfect patience; he retired to Cambray where he remained for the rest of his life. He obeyed with most perfect submission the orders of the Pope and read from his own pulpit the condemnation of his book. This is the “Maximes des Saints.”
I have got thus far and have only finished the preceding lecture so that I shall only be able to give that today, reserving the remainder for tomorrow and Sunday, in which days I have no observations to make in addition. I wrote until I was half asleep, after I returned, when I thought it best at once to retire. XI.
1. Jean Baptiste Massillon (1663–1742), bishop of Clermont.
2. Jeanne Marie Bouvier de la Motte-Guyon (1648–1717).
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2014.
http://www.masshist.org/apde2/