Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

Tuesday. 19th.

Thursday. 21st.

Wednesday. 20th. CFA Wednesday. 20th. CFA
Wednesday. 20th.

Very cool indeed. I went to the Office and was busy in reading Milton although not with a great deal of profit. Called upon Mr. Hallet and had a conversation upon political affairs. I asked him to withdraw my name from the Antimasonic list of Representatives. He demurred. I told him how I was situated, that I did not wish positively to refuse but that if it was a matter of indifference to the party, I would rather have it taken off. He said he would see how the thing was received and if he could do it easily, my request should be complied with, but that they wanted names and especially Lawyers. My Law is a vast thing to be sure.

Received a letter from my father with a caution about the Post Office. It seems, one of my packets came quite open, but whether forced open or merely worn through, I cannot say.1

Miss Julia Gorham dined with us. Afternoon continued Bacon, and read three hundred lines of Virgils fifth book. Evening, Tom Jones, and Racine’s Andromaque. I have now finished all Racine’s best tragedies. I admire them as fine specimens of versification, and strong personation of passion and character, but I regret the clogs which the stiffness of the French taste has embarrassed him with. All Plays in 217French are alike. They all turn upon love, and they all have heroes and heroines out of nature, with each a confident or confidente to work out the plot with. And this in the face of the fact so often stated by the “Grand Condé,” that no man is a hero to his Valet de Chambre. They use no bigger words than the mass of mankind. What call is there to elevate them out of nature?

1.

JQA to CFA, 16–17 Nov. (Adams Papers). JQA was less willing to suspend judgment: “It had been broken open ... I suppose they will do the same by this. So write me nothing by the mail which you are not willing to see published.... Look to your Jackson-Masonic Post-Office, but make no complaint. The Post-Office here is in the very lowest depth of corruption, insolvency and swindling, and so are others if not all the Departments of the Government.” Having vented his wrath, however, in a postscript he had second thoughts, noting that the broken cover was of flimsy material.