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Browsing: Diary of Charles Francis Adams, Volume 1

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].
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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).

Docno: ADMS-13-01-02-0003-0011-0016

Author: CFA
Date: 1824-10-16

Saturday. October 16th. VIII.

Missed Prayers this morning without my intending it in the least. After breakfast attended Mr. Everett’s Lecture. I regret that I was absent yesterday morning as I had wished to keep the course of all { 392 } his, although many of them and that one of yesterday in particular, are not of a particularly interesting nature. He went over all the scholiasts of Homer today—the most considerable are Didymus a grammarian of the Age of Cicero who is supposed the author of all the smaller scholia in the Oxford editions of the work. Some however of these mention authors who existed later than the age of this Didymus of whom we speak. The commentary of Eustathius is much more distinguished; he was a native of Constantinople and educated there in the twelfth century. A catalogue has been made of 45 pages of authors whom he had read and quoted but his erudition has been exaggerated. He read no ancient author of any note who is now lost. Owing to the scarcity of books in the middle ages, it was the habit to comprehend as much as possible in a single volume and hence the most famous codices of Homer include the scholia in the way of marginal notes. But there appears to have been no original criticism from the time of Porphyry to Eustathius, as all these scholia except the Venetian appear to have descended from a common stock. These Venetian are the most famous, they are valuable for their appeals to old authors, to old political manuscripts and to ancient scholiasts not known to us. The origin of it is not known. This was the work which gave the impulse to the study of Homer at it’s publication by Villoison. The Göttingen Journal has given an analysis of all the scholiasts we now have. These are held in too great veneration at the present day and indifferent books have obtained under the name of scholia much respect.
Translations of the poems of Homer have been made in almost every language, many and the most important are mentioned at full length in the synopsis. The origin of the prose Latin translation attending most of the copies of Homer is not distinctly known but it has been supposed to have been generally made by Schrevelius.1 The best translations into English are those of Pope and Cowper. Cesarotti’s, in the Italian, who has very much changed the poem. He has omitted the repetitions, shortened the prolix speeches of Nestor and cut off the episodes, he has even altered the name of the poem. The German by Voss2 is an imitation of the ancient hexameter. He then went over a list of the principal copies of Homer, and as it was very little more than a mere enumeration of the copies which are put down in the synopsis, I scarcely think it worthwhile to repeat it. He only stated that Heyne’s copy was indispensable to a student of Homer. He made rather a sarcastic observation when speaking of Clarke’s3 edition. He observed that we probably were personally acquainted with it. { 393 } It has a Latin version which has probably been consulted by every man in the class. He has thus finished with Homer. I am surprised that he confines himself so much to dry detail as I think from the very nature of the subject he should attempt to give ornament, and particularly where it could be given to so much advantage. He has all the display of his learning but he must be confessed to partake of the German character he mentioned.
After lecture I went to read the newspapers, found nothing but a nomination of Professor Everett to Congress and a letter of his which appears to me to be as great a curiosity as I have ever seen.4 The election is at a dead stand, I think as every body seems to believe, exertions are useless, it will go to the House without any doubt in my opinion. I received this morning a delightful letter from John,5 long enough to make up for the deficiency. He writes much more agreably than usual, as he has less levity and seriousness, although it does not amount to morality of the rigid sort or to sentiment. He mentions every thing that is passing, and what is very pleasant, my mother’s safe arrival at Washington after very considerable fatigue. This raised my spirits which once inclined to be quite low and I felt well all day. I was employed a larger part of the time in writing off my Journal and the rest in company with Richardson.
I will now take Mr. Ticknor’s last night lecture. He passed through the remainder of Fenelon and Crebillon6 last night and commenced tonight the series of French Comedy since Moliere. Comedy he says dates from the time of Corneille’s Lyar7 1643. Moliere came on soon after and brought it to perfection for a long series of years. The comic writers were mere imitators of Moliere without any originality or pretence to new qualities, with the exception of a little lively sprightliness. The first man who can be said to have differed materially was John Francis Regnard8 who was born in 1656 and received a good education. Travelling and gaming appear to have been the great objects of his life. In the course of his various voyages, he once met with a misfortune. He was taken by Pirates and carried to Algiers where he was sold for a slave. Being an epicure however he was soon promoted to the place of his master’s cook. From here he was carried to Constantinople where he came very near losing his life for an affair in the haram of his master. He got his liberty in time however and returning wrote a romance called the Provinciales [La Provençale]. In 1681 he again left Paris on an expedition to Lapland, and after going farther than any countrymen had before gone, he left a boasting latin inscription upon the rock. He wrote eight pieces { 394 } for the Italian and a number for the French and died in 1710 in a singular way, recorded in his life prefixed to his works. Eight comedies are entirely his own, others he wrote with [other?] men. Le Joueur appeared in 1696 and is his best effort; it is drawn from the best rule, personal experience. He then analysed the plot. Le Distrait, and les Menechmes appeared; these were neither of them very remarkable but the Legataire Universel appeared last in 1705. The whole plot turns on the fourth act; the abstract of it gives us little of peculiar talent but there is a gay spirit, a liveliness and ease of tone which equals or even surpasses Moliere. These are his distinguishing characteristics. He is the only considerable variety from the school of Moliere for one century.
The next change introduced was that of the “Comedie Larmoyante,” or as it should be interpreted, the whining Comedy. This was made by Monsieur de la Chaussé.9 He was born in 1692 but did not write until he was forty one. He was the author of “la fausse antipathie” and the “Prejuge’s a la mode,” the first a poor play, the second not much. The “Gouvernante” appeared in 1747. This is called his best play. It is a sort of dramatic romance and nothing more, an extreme. He died in 1754, 62 years old. Denys Diderot who carried this to its extreme, was the son of a cutler, he is more famous for other works than for his plays. He is the author of the Pere de Famille and Fils naturel, sentimental to excess, consequently improbable, but perfect in what they set out to be. This closes Comedy, none of importance after this and no tragedy excepting Voltaire. This is the order of the light drama school of Moliere, Regnard and Comedie Larmoyante.
I wrote to John10 this Evening, and spent some time sociably with Sheafe and Richardson in the latter’s room. We also took supper at Willard’s. XII.
1. Kornelis Schrevel Schrevelius (Sandys, History of Classical Scholarship, 2:492).
2. Johann Heinrich Voss (1751–1826), professor at Heidelberg (same, 3:61–63).
3. Dr. Samuel Clarke (1675–1729), of Cambridge University (same, 2:413, 3:13).
4. Dissatisfied with the regular congressional nomination in the Middlesex district, a group of JQA’s supporters met in Lexington on October 14 and, influenced partly by the fame of Everett’s recent Phi Beta Kappa address and partly by his well known friendship for the Adams family, nominated the Harvard professor. In accepting, Everett said he personally favored JQA for the Presidency but expressed the hope that his congressional contest would not turn upon the presidential question. See Frothingham, Everett, p. 87. How little Everett’s wishes were to be respected is indicated by the ease with which CFA jumped in the very next sentence to the presidential race.
5. Missing.
6. Prosper Jolyot de Crébillon (1674–1762).
{ 395 }
7. The Liar or Le Menteur.
8. Jean François Regnard (1655–1709).
9. Pierre Claude Nivelle de la Chaussée.
10. Letter missing.
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, 2018.