Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

Monday. 27th.

Wednesday. 29th.

Tuesday. 28th. CFA Tuesday. 28th. CFA
Tuesday. 28th.

Morning mild and pleasant. Went to the Office as usual, and received a letter from my father at considerable length, in which he answers a casual expression of mine which seems to have touched him considerably. The tone of his reply is painful as he seems to feel very unpleasantly. I regret that any thing I did could have induced such a feeling, more especially as I was very far from intending anything of the kind.1 He has written me nothing of business matters which is another subject of regret as I had hoped to have acted upon good information and authority before the first of January.2

I was occupied as usual in prosecuting my affairs of business upon the coming Quarter, and in writing more Comment upon the Wise sayings. I then went down to the Athenaeum and obtained some books for my study of Cicero. John Gorham dined with us today. Afternoon occupied in reading Brutus thirty Chapters of which I reviewed, it grows better towards it’s close. On the whole it is interesting as a History of Oratory in the principal Ages of it’s existence.

Evening, after accomplishing a considerable portion of L’Hermite en Londres, I read to my Wife for the rest of the evening from Evelina one of Miss Burney’s Novels, and a very amusing one.3 After which I continued my Work upon my Catalogue and read two Numbers of the Tatler.


The letter from JQA (22 Dec., Adams Papers) is, in effect, an explanation and apologia of his concerns and activities during 1829 and 1830, and of those pursuits which he had had to postpone or abandon during that period; it is moreover a renewed defense of his decision to stand for election to Congress. The letter had been provoked by CFA’s remark in his letter to his father of 16 Dec. (LbC, Adams Papers): “I always desire to obtain something from your knowledge which may be advantageous to me in my own occupations. I must confess that in the whole of my expectations for last Summer, I was somewhat disappointed. The preceding Season had raised them too high, the Washington Winter had turned your attention too exclusively to the present state of things, and it was not until about the period of your return there that I began to retrace what I saw the year before. This may be speaking very freely but I trust not disrespectfully.”

JQA’s interpretation of his remark continued to trouble CFA, who several times entered a disclaimer of broad intent. He wrote definitively on 9 Jan. 1831 (CFA to JQA, LbC, Adams Papers): “To constitute myself a Judge upon the suitable employment of your time never entered into my head and I hope never will.”


JQA’s reply to CFA’s questions on business matters was made in a separate letter on 25 Dec. (Adams Papers).


First published in 1778.