Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

Wednesday. 15th.

Friday. 17th.

Thursday. 16th. CFA


Thursday. 16th. CFA
Thursday. 16th.

The weather was bad and I had been to town so much this week that I resolved to stay at home and busy myself in the old Papers. This morning I came across a very interesting parcel of Lovel’s communications to my Grandfather.1 They explain much of the private history of the Revolution. How little does a man gather of the true 69causes of public events from the pages of common history. How different is human nature when seen in the gross, and in separate parts. There is enough to make a man humble when he looks at the fallibility of his fellows, even when they are acting for the best general purposes. My progress was necessarily slow.

Read a part of Emile containing the famous Creed of the Savoyard, which seems to me as much levelled at the Philosophy of the period as at the Christian faith. They both took it up, the former with words, because they could use nothing else, the latter with the temporal arm. Indifference would perhaps have better served the turn of both.

Afternoon the balance of the 2d Antonine. A powerful exposition of the condition of the Republic and the worthlessness of it’s Rulers. The Conspiracy of Catiline was only the first signal of universal corruption in the State. Cicero merely cut off one of the heads of the Hydra, and exhausted his powers in the process. Clodius, and Antony finished the work not by superior skill, for they were probably both inferior to Catiline, but by that steady perseverance before which every thing gives. Caesar perhaps pulled the wires in each instance, and perished after all, because there was still a greater remnant of the ancient patriotism left than he calculated. Evening, Emile and the Spectator.


James Lovell (1737–1814) was a long-time friend and correspondent of JA and AA. His letters to JA in the Adams Papers extend over a period from 1777 to 1809 and are of special interest on public matters during his service in Congress from 1777 to 1782. Many of his letters to and from AA are being printed in Adams Family Correspondence, vol. 2 et seq. See also JA, Diary and Autobiography , 1:288, and DAB .