Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

Monday. 28th.

Wednesday. 30th.

Tuesday. 29th. CFA Tuesday. 29th. CFA
Tuesday. 29th.

Morning fine. I reached the Office quite early and had a fine opportunity for work. I was first interrupted by the entrance of Henderson and his Trustee, who are desirous of making a settlement. I told him I would compound on very favourable terms, and mentioned one half the demand with costs. He said he did not know, that he would go and see, which he did. I am now a little encouraged about this demand and hope very earnestly that I may be able to settle it, for I have little confidence in the result of a trial.

My next object was the framing a short letter to Mr. Barry which I did, complaining mildly of the violation of my Letter at the Post Office at Washington.1 I do not know that it will produce any very particular effect, but it is curious to see the operation of it. I then passed all the remainder of the morning in drawing up a Letter to my Father upon the Affairs of the Agency which I completed, and now needs nothing but copying. I flatter myself that it is clear and distinct. My morning was thus usefully employed though with hardly any reference to literary pursuits. The practical affairs of Life demand Attention as much as any, for the science of living with respectability depends much upon the clear superiority of the receipts over the expenditures. I hope to keep this in view clearly myself.

It was time to go down by Invitation to see Mr. Frothingham where we were to dine. I found there Mr. Storrow, a gentleman residing in Paris, now here on a visit, a certain Dr. Fisher who is a friend of Mr. F.’s,2 Edward Brooks, Abby and myself. The dinner was to me exceedingly dull. But somehow or other this seems universally the case, probably from the fact that I feel out of my element at them. I was glad to return to my room, but it being too late for Greek, I finished 119Brumoy’s Parallell between the Ancient and Modern Theatres and Franklin’s Dissertation prefixed to his Translation of Sophocles.3 This happened between my leaving Mr. F.’s and my return, for it was the evening of the Collection of the Family. The meeting was much as usual and ended in a spirit not a bit pleasant. This is not much to my taste. Nor does it make me feel in very good humour. Returned home early.

1.

To William T. Barry, Postmaster General of the U.S. (LbC, Adams Papers). To this letter Barry responded to JQA (8 Jan. 1830, Adams Papers) asking for particulars and promising fullest investigation. JQA answered Barry on the 9th (LbC, Adams Papers), but when he received a letter on the 14th from William Jones, postmaster at Washington, asking numerous questions and proposing an interrogation of JQA’s servant (letter missing), JQA on the same day wrote indignantly to Barry (LbC, Adams Papers) that the investigation, if it was to be carried forward at all, should be carried forward by Barry. Barry’s civil and apologetic reply (missing) disarmed JQA temporarily (JQA to CFA, 17 Jan. 1830, Adams Papers), but on the 28th he had to write Barry once more (LbC, Adams Papers) enclosing cover of a letter received that day open at one end. Coincidentally, in the same mail was a letter on political matters from his old supporter, John Brazer Davis, in which Davis expressed fears of the Post Office. On the 29th, JQA with some acerbity recounted the two “accidents” in a letter to Davis (LbC, Adams Papers), in consequence expressing caution about committing political comments to the mails. In the meantime, CFA, in better humor now than his father, tells the story with relish, admitting to making “a noise at the Post Office here, where poor Greene feels all the time like a condemned criminal and after flying round the town to convince every body of the enormity of the injury, I sat down quite satisfied that I had so much cause for complaint—and so little for regret.... [I]t is a very comfortable thing to feel ourselves sometimes wronged by people against whom we have no disposition to charge merit” (CFA to LCA, 17 Jan. 1830, Adams Papers).

2.

Probably John D. Fisher, physician, of 11 Hayward Place ( Boston Directory, 1830–1831); Mr. Storrow has not been further identified.

3.

The Tragedies of Sophocles, from the Greek by Thomas Francklin, London, 1793. JQA’s copy is in MQA. At p. 5–61 is “A dissertation on ancient Greek tragedy.”