Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

Friday. 13th.

Sunday. 15th.

Saturday. 14th. CFA


Saturday. 14th. CFA
Saturday. 14th.

The day tolerably pleasant, though the Wind began to show symptoms of change. I this morning made a finish of the Oration in defence of Ctesiphon. This review has not been without its utility. It has shown me more strongly the power of the Orator, and has developed beauties of thought which before escaped me. The defence is in itself peculiar in its generality. He declines embarrassing himself with the technical details of the accusation of Aeschines, and yet impresses you with the idea of its weakness much more fully than if he did so. I think this is the principal alteration I trace in my mind upon this review. The charges of Aeschines seem to have less weight in them, they do not bear examination. It is a very unanswerable position assumed by Demosthenes. “You knew of all you now charge me with, many years ago. You have suffered these laws to be violated time after time without remonstrance, (which you now affect to consider so binding). Why did not you speak before? Moreover why did not you accuse me at once, instead of transferring your attack to another? Or why have you not attacked others for doing the same things heretofore, which you now bring against Ctesiphon?” Inasmuch as Aeschines depends in that part of his Attack upon the justice of his position, and goes into a panegyric upon law, this exposition of his motives in this instance seems to undo all the foundation of his best arguments. And on this account it is, I think that the defence must be taken to be 48complete, though the late critics in England incline to the other side. It is plain Aeschines himself does not rely upon his two first points as he passes over them soon, and urges more strongly the last which engrosses much the larger share of the Oration. Yet the critics think it is only on the former that he makes out his case. Taking into consideration the result, it seems on the whole probable that at Athens the matter was very well understood, and that the first portion of the Speech must be considered rather specious than actually strong. But stop.

Office all the morning, finishing Cimon with much joy, for I had become tired of a thing that paid me nothing.1 It is not my destiny to make my fortune by writing for Newspapers. So that the more time I spend in doing it, the more I must charge as uselessly employed. Went to vote,2 paid Miss Adams a visit, and passed her Settlements, then went down and scolded the Tenant.

Afternoon passed in reading over the Oration for Caelius after finishing it first. I do not like such abuse. It is too bad even for a dog. Evening, Boswell, after which Boileau’s Art poetique3—and Two Spectators.


In the third number of CFA’s series on “The Resignation of the Cabinet” he concluded his analysis of a situation he maintained was replete with selfishness and intrigue: “This is the fulfilment of the glorious promises made to us at the outset; this is the new era of retrenchment and reform. An increased public expenditure, a degraded representation abroad, and a vacillating policy at home; a timid attack upon the Judiciary of the Union, ... and a bolder attempt to substitute for the present simple institutions, a great corrupting Government Bank, under the control of the President. These are the improvements we have endured” (Boston Patriot, 17 May, p. 2, col. 2).


All seven of the National Republican candidates were elected. Joseph T. Buckingham, lowest of the seven in votes, achieved a bare majority. Boston Patriot, 16 May, p. 2, col. 1.


As with Horace (above, entry for 11 May), CFA seems to have been reading Boileau-Despréaux’s “L’art poëtique” in Les quatres poëtiques; see entries for 11, 19 Aug., below. However, “L’art poëtique” is contained in three editions at MQA of the writings of Boileau-Des-préaux, including one published at Lyons in 1816 which is inscribed “To Charles Francis Adams from his affectionate brother George.”