Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

Thursday. 16th.

Saturday. 18th.

Friday. 17th. CFA


Friday. 17th. CFA
Friday. 17th.

The weather was still foggy and damp, threatening rain. I therefore thought I would remain at home today instead of tomorrow as I had intended. Engaged in arranging a full file of Mr. Jefferson’s Letters. On the whole, Washington, Jefferson and my Grandfather were the three most remarkable men of our Revolution. And the two latter had more distinguishing peculiarities. Jefferson’s mind was of a very capacious character, his temper philosophical, and his personal feelings kind. But he was ambitious, hypocritical and occasionally ungenerous, besides a narrowness of mind and inveteracy of prejudice peculiar to himself. He was more than a match for my impetuous, irascible but open hearted ancestor. I read the Correspondence between my Grandmother and him and could not help admiring her letters as much the best.1 I did little more than arrange this single file today.


Read more of Emile in the last book upon the passions. Rousseau was a sensualist, a most abandoned sensualist, and every line is tinged with that spirit. One may judge how fit he is to write upon Education. So long as he confined himself to early infancy when nothing could be introduced upon the subject, he mixed more truth than falsehood, but in rising to the age of the Passions he gradually abandons himself to imagination and to his own voluptuous fancies. I doubt if this work ever guided a single man right beyond the first book. Read the third and fourth Antonines raising up Octavius Caesar, as a counterpoise to Antony. They display the Policy but are otherwise of no great interest. Evening, rode with my Mother and Wife, we called at Judge Adams’ and paid a visit. Afterwards, Emile and the Spectator.


CFA had already recognized and responded to AA’s extraordinary capacity as a letter-writer (vol. 2:337). His appreciation of these gifts was long maintained and reached a culmination in his preparation of The Letters of Mrs. Adams, Boston, 1840, which, in that and subsequently expanded form, became the most popular of the books CFA edited from the family’s papers and established his grandmother’s epistolary reputation. AA’s correspondence with Jefferson extends, with conspicuous intervals, from 1785 to 1817, but is most voluminous for the period 1785–1787.