Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

Friday. 21st.

Sunday. 23d.

Saturday. 22d. CFA Saturday. 22d. CFA
Saturday. 22d.

It had been the intention this morning to go to Medford, but our eyes were again saluted with snow which continued all day. I received a letter from my father requesting me to go to Quincy and get him those papers relating to Mr. Crawford.1 This is a fine season truly for the purpose, but I suppose winds and weather must not prevent. At any rate I would not think of going until Monday. I sat down this morning after finishing my usual occupations, to write a little Article about our railroads which are again in agitation. This took up the whole time I had to spare.

In the afternoon, I read the remainder of the Oration for Quintius with which I was much struck. It is a powerful effort for a young man, but yet smells too much of the studies pursued. It does not reach that ars celare artem, which displays itself in other Orations, afterwards. As my father says in the Analysis he made of it, it is notwithstanding a study for a young speaker.

The Evening was so stormy I did not go out but sat at home and read to my Wife from the Book upon Spain, after which I read Vossius which I regret having taken up. It teaches me little more than I knew from Cicero. Afterwards, I began the last volume of the Tatler, and saw poor George’s marks and comments before me. Among the latest Acts of his Life was reading the British Essayists.2

1.

William Harris Crawford (1772–1834) of Georgia was secretary of the treasury in President Monroe’s cabinet while JQA was serving as secretary of state. In ill-health and bitter retirement after successive disappointments in his quest for the Presidency, he sought for several years after 1828 to foster a rift between President Jackson and Vice-President Calhoun by maintaining publicly that in the Cabinet meetings of July 1818 on the first Seminole War it was Calhoun who had proposed that Gen. Jackson be disciplined for having exceeded his authority in invading the Spanish province of Florida. In April 1830 Crawford’s accusation was published in a letter and the controversy blazed. On 5 July he had written to JQA stating his recollections of those 407meetings and asking for JQA’s. JQA replied on 30 July, not speaking to the point of who proposed the censure of Gen. Jackson but affirming that he, JQA, had at that time opposed any censure and that he still adhered to that position. On 12 Jan. 1831 Calhoun wrote JQA (letter in Adams Papers), asking for a copy of JQA’s letter to Crawford and requesting any further records or recollections that JQA had that bore upon the issue. On 14 Jan. JQA wrote to CFA (letter in Adams Papers) asking him to make copies of Crawford’s letter and JQA’s reply. Two copies of each letter in CFA’s hand are in the Adams Papers. Subsequently, extracts from the correspondence and other documents relevant to the controversy were published in Niles’ Register , 40:11–45 (5–19 March 1831). See also entry for 22 Feb., below; Bemis, JQA , 2:212–215; and JQA, Diary, 14 Jan. 1831, printed in JQA, Memoirs , 8:274–277.

2.

The Tatler is contained in vols. 1–4 of the edition of The British Classics published at London in 1813 in 24 volumes. The copy in MQA bears GWA’s signature and the date 1823. At the opening of the first number, in CFA’s hand, are the dates 10 Oct. 1830 and 12 Feb. 1855; following the last number of the Tatler, also in his hand, is the date 3 March 1831.

At the conclusion of the Preface to the final volume of the Tatler (vol. 4), in GWA’s hand, is written: “The closing paragraph is admirable both in sentiment and style. And a very apt close of a moral and delightful book. The Tatler indeed abounds in the finest forms of English composition upon an immense variety of instructive and familiar topics.” In the course of the volume there are marginalia in his hand, and GWA has written following the final paper the date, 18 Dec. 1828, and a comment which concludes: “I have this morning finished the Tatler. Of its merits and value I shall speak elsewhere only saying here that this reperusal has strengthened the feeling with which I first closed it, that it is a useful instructive entertaining and agreeable book.”