Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

Thursday 10th.

Saturday 12th.

Friday. 11th. CFA Friday. 11th. CFA
Friday. 11th.

Morning at the Office as usual. Passed a considerable part of the morning in reading Williston’s Eloquence of the United States, and the different Speeches made in the Convention of Virginia upon the adoption of the Federal Constitution.1 The reflection which most strongly occurs to me continually in reading it is how totally erroneous the spirit of their predictions of it’s evils was and how differently it’s actual parts of weakness are situated. The weakness of the Constitution seems to be in the great power of the House of Representatives, as opposed to the Judiciary and the Executive, and the method of election of the latter. But this may happen to be speculation equally vain with all the rest. On the whole the plan has worked admirably and disappointed all the croaking of the opponents to it’s adoption. Perhaps it might not be a profitless study to look into the subject historically and critically.

I called to see Mr. Brooks and Josiah Quincy Jr. Talked a little, pleasantly enough with both of them.2 My morning flew away, and it became time for me to go and dine by invitation with Chardon Brooks, the result of which was that I read no Greek this afternoon. My married life subjects me to a few interruptions which are not agreeable, but considering every thing I incline to the opinion that on the whole I gain. Lord Bacon said very truly long ago that “wife and children are impediments to great enterprises.” Why should I so foolishly long for the latter. My spirit verily is restless. I copied my Letter to my father and then went to hear what Dr. Lieber had to say upon the Fall of the Turkish Empire,3 previously slipping in to the Athenaeum thus commencing upon my newly acquired right. I wasted my time for I saw nothing of interest. Dr. Lieber’s Lecture was good in itself but being an attempt to pronounce a language necessarily acquired in an imperfect manner at least in pronunciation, it rendered the situation of an auditor unpleasant. I spent the rest of the evening at Chardon Brooks’. We returned in the rain.


The speeches of Patrick Henry, Edmund Randolph, James Madison, and John Marshall delivered in the Virginia Convention in 1788 are in Williston’s Eloquence at 1:73–251.


Josiah Quincy’s law office was at 27 State Street ( Boston Directory, 1829–1830). He served as his father’s agent in matters relating to the administration of JA’s estate, as CFA did his.


Francis Lieber (1800–1872), Ph.D. Jena 1820, was editor (1829–1833) of the Encyclopedia Americana, the first volume of which had appeared in October ( DAB ).