Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

Monday. 12th.

Wednesday. 14th.

Tuesday. 13th. CFA Tuesday. 13th. CFA
Tuesday. 13th.

The morning began with very heavy showers and wind from the South. It afterwards cleared away and was hotter than was at all comfortable to the feeling, which a shower again qualified to tolerable.

I was occupied in looking over and attempting to discover some papers among the general mass of my Grandfather’s. I found but one, 147the original of the Letter to Webb which I copied. This has been published over and over again, but I thought a copy would not be useless from the genuine paper.1 I spent an hour in comparing copy of the old Journals with my father, a work intermitted since last Autumn.2 I also began reading over Virgil critically, and finished the first Eclogue.3 This gives pretty much the sum total of my day, the labour of which was shortened by the very enervating effect of the South wind. I am as yet doing little for Hutchinson.

On this day my child completed her second and entered upon her third year. She has enjoyed very good health during the year and has given us full as little trouble as any little thing of her age could. May I be thankful ever to the Divine being for having dealt so kindly to me, and blest my lot with a degree of happiness I know not how I can deserve. May he continue it to me, and I will endeavour at all times to turn the lesson of prosperity to the true account, my own amendment, in feelings, temper, vices &c. The cares and anxieties of life are so great that they require a mind well disciplined to bear them. Mine although I know that they are in themselves comparatively trifling to those of the mass of men, I am ashamed to say, sometimes unduly worry me. I must bear it in mind. Evening, I tried to read aloud, but my book was dull. Mr. Aug. Whitney and his Sisters4 called to see Mrs. J. Adams.


CFA appended to his transcription of JA’s letter to Nathan Webb, his cousin, “Play fellow at the Grammar School in Braintree, and ... contemporary at Colledge” (12 Oct. 1755; fair copy with JA’s note, 22 April 1807; both in Adams Papers), a memorandum, “This letter was first published in the [Monthly] Anthology for [May] 1807 and many times since” (M/CFA/31). He continued to attach significance to the letter, characterizing it in terms unusual for him when he came to print it: “Perhaps there never was written a letter more characteristic of the head and heart of its writer.... It was the letter of an original meditative mind ... formed, by nature, for statesmanship of the highest order.... The ken of the stripling schoolmaster reached far beyond the visible horizon of that day ... But it is not in the light only of a profound speculative politician that this letter exhibits its youthful writer. It lays open a bosom glowing with the purest and most fervid affections of friendship” (JA, Works , 1:23–26, with text of letter to Webb).


In Sept. and Oct. 1832, JQA and CFA had begun to collate sections of JA’s diary with transcriptions which JQA had had made by amanuenses (vol. 4:365–384passim; see also Introduction to JA, Diary and Autobiography , 1:xli–xliv).


CFA returned to the study of Virgil periodically, most recently during the preceding year (vol. 4:247–279passim). He would pursue his current reading of the poems until 21 Jan. 1834 in his copy of the Opera, London, 1824, now in MQA and with his annotations throughout. On the day he finished he noted the fact in it with an explanation of his procedure: “This text is from the edition of Heyne, Leipzig 1798 with which I have compared it. The Notes were too voluminous to transfer with any success.” The edition of Gottlieb Heyne which CFA names is not among the numerous editions in MQA nor among JA’s books in MB nor JQA’s in 148 MBAt; however, among the last named is JQA’s copy of the edition by Heyne, 4 vols., Leipzig, 1767–1775.


Children of Rev. Peter Whitney (JQA, Diary, 13 Aug.).