Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

Monday. 6th.

Wednesday. 8th.

Tuesday. 7th. CFA


Tuesday. 7th. CFA
Tuesday. 7th.

Clouds and occasional rain. I remained at home today. Began reading a Biography of Oliver Cromwell with the view of making something out of it.1 I was led by it to look into the Parliamentary History and to make a kind of Analysis of the facts in the beginning of the Revolution.2 I have thus cleared my ideas still more. Perhaps I should have written some passages of my last Essay differently at this time. But vox missa nescit reverti. I must stand the test of my own offering. My whole morning was taken up in this manner.

Afternoon, finished Seneca’s second book of benefits. I certainly am agreeably disappointed in this work. He makes a great deal out of it. And what is more he hits upon a doctrine of extraordinary purity. He considers generosity as it’s own reward, excepting so far as gratitude on the part of the benefitted heightens it. This gratitude acquits the debt. Though a kind of obligation yet remains, to be valid for the return of benefits, provided the thing is possible.

Evening, continued Mr. Canning. My life on the whole at Quincy is a studious one. I accomplish a good deal, though somewhat of a varied nature. It may fairly be questioned how far my plan is beneficial to me, but one thing is certain, that I know not how I can at present better myself. Perhaps if I was to write more and read less, it might be more useful, but I do not feel like taking so much trouble unless under the incitement of publication in prospect. This is a suggestion however worth thinking over again.


Mark Noble, Memoirs of the Protectorate-House of Cromwell. CFA’s bookplate is in the edition published at Birmingham, 1784, in 2 vols., now at MQA. However, only the day before, CFA had borrowed a copy of the work from the Boston Athenaeum.


An edition of The Parliamentary or Constitutional History of England by Several Hands, 24 vols., London, 1762, with JQA’s bookplate is now at MQA.