Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

Friday. 2nd.

Sunday. 4th.

34 Saturday 3rd. CFA Saturday 3rd. CFA
Saturday 3rd.

Morning at the Office, after seeing at the House, Mr. Conant, one of the Tenants of the Farm, at Weston. He came to make inquiry respecting my determination in regard to the place. I told him that I supposed I must accede to his Terms in the end but proposed an experiment in order to try and find whether the place would not be so improved as not to need all. He said he thought they could agree to it.1 I was occupied during the morning in reading Marshall, and in drawing up the Accounts of my brother George’s affairs which I am desirous to commence closing. I accordingly again wrote to Genl. Winthrop for a settlement of his debt.2 As I went into Hilliard’s I obtained some further Numbers of the Library of Useful Knowledge and obtained a Life of Sir Isaac Newton which I read—And wondered at.3 A mathematical genius is a singular gift and a precious one, but which I never could envy perhaps appreciate. Indeed there is no character on record which I would not sooner desire to equal and my taste must therefore be considered as decidedly poor.

Home to dine and as Abby went out in the afternoon I passed it in reading La Harpe. His remarks upon the Epic and the different specimens in ancient times which approach it are very interesting and I only broke off in the evening to go down for Abby to Mrs. Frothingham’s. Calling in to see how the Private Debating Society flourished, a meeting of which was called for tonight, I found only Quincy, and Park, the President and Secretary and myself.4 This looked poorly so I went in to Mrs. Frothingham’s and took a little Supper and chatted with them for an hour before returning home. I feel infinitely more at my ease with them now than formerly.

1.

See entry for 15 Sept., above.

2.

Brig. Gen. John Temple Winthrop was commander of the 3d Brigade, 1st Division of the Massachusetts Militia (“City Guards”), in which GWA had been a major and to which he had made a loan in 1827; see below, entry for 13 Oct.; Mass. Register, 1829, p. 93.

3.

Hilliard, Gray & Co., booksellers, were at 134 Washington Street ( Boston Directory, 1829–1830). The volumes of the Library of Useful Knowledge (1827–1842), published by The Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, London, were issued first in parts. Among the works included in the Library was Lives of Eminent Persons (1833), which had appeared in 13 parts, one of which was a life of Newton, adapted by Sir H. Elphinstone from the French of J. B. Biot.

4.

The Private Debating Society, to which CFA had been elected a year earlier and which met on Saturday evenings from October to the beginning of April, though earlier said to have been the Boston Debating Society (vol. 2:309), was distinct from it and the other “public” debating society whose officers and meeting days were different from those mentioned in the present entry and in later ones. See Mass. Register, 1829, p. 142. Edmund Quincy and Edward Blake were among those who were both active in the Society and friends of CFA. On John Cochran Park, 35the secretary, an attorney with office at 16 Court Street ( Boston Directory, 1829–1830), see entries for 21 and 28 Nov., below.