Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 2

Sunday. 16th. CFA Sunday. 16th. CFA
Sunday. 16th.

Morning pleasant. I went to St. Paul’s Church after calling upon George who was not prepared to go with me. Heard Mr. Potter,1 and deeply, solemnly did I accord in the Prayer this morning, that I might be encouraged to the performance of whatever was before me. My feelings once or twice almost overpowered me when I came to passages which had peculiar application to the state of my mind. On the whole, I felt better when I withdrew. These sensations must exhaust themselves.

On my return, I found a note from Abby2 asking me to dine with Mrs. P. C. Brooks Jr. which I determined to do as I had not seen her yet. Found there Abby and Susan Phillips. We had a tolerably pleasant dinner and on my return home, I read the life of William Caxton published by the Society for Knowledge in England.3 It was exceeding dry and uninteresting. After the afternoon service, I drove with Abby to Winter Hill and took tea with Mrs. Everett. I seized the opportunity of their going to Washington, to send on my Volume of Executive Record and some other little Commissions which my Mother gave me. They 310go on Wednesday, and I shall not see them again. Rode to Medford and passed the evening there. Horatio Brooks, Abby’s youngest brother was there, just returned from Gibraltar.4 I had never seen him before. Conversation with Abby upon affairs in general and our marriage in particular. Much feeling on both sides as to the course I think proper to take.


Alonzo Potter was the Episcopal rector of St. Paul’s Cathedral, on Tremont Street ( Boston Directory, 1829–1830).




See entry for 2 May, and note, above.


Horatio Brooks (1809–1843). See Adams Genealogy.

Monday. 17th. CFA Monday. 17th. CFA
Monday. 17th.

Returned to town this morning after a short conversation with Abby, somehow unaccountably relieved from my low spirits. Instead of feeling gloomy at so long a separation from her compared to those I formerly had, my heart seemed relieved from a load. I presume this course had been pressing upon my mind in anticipation, and so, when it once was commenced my courage rose to the trial. Morning at the Office. Conversation with George and reading Law. In the afternoon, reading Mr. Burke’s Speech on the plan of Economical Reform. This and a conversation with Mr. Degrand at George’s Office made it pass rapidly.

Mr. Degrand came to propose to me a partnership. I was to furnish a Capital, and we were to take his experience in the Market to loan Money on good Notes for short spaces of time. This no doubt would be a profitable plan, but the question immediately occurring where my Capital was to come from, his idea to meet that was amusing. I was to ask my father to give me twenty thousand dollars, and he intimated only, that I was to borrow as much from Mr. Brooks on the strength of my engagement with Abby. Of course such a proposition was absurd, in all it’s faces. I mentioned it here only as one of the curious occurrences in my life. I laughed the matter off as well as I could and so we parted. But he will not apply to me again. I sat in my Office this evening for the first time and read Burke.

Tuesday 18th. CFA Tuesday 18th. CFA
Tuesday 18th.

Morning at the Office. Commenced reading regularly the Massachusetts Reports and propose now to pass my Mornings in devoting myself to the Profession of the Law. I have been made to drink so much of the bitterness of dependence, that I hope now not to cease my exertions until I am on my own ground. But independence would bring to me 311none but sad reflections, as it would proceed from the consciousness of having been forced to it when others who had no better claim than I are equally assisted without the labour. This is a very incorrect system of education. It checks the well disposed for it gives them little encouragement to meet the labour of life. Afternoon reading Burke and some of the History of the United States.

On my return home in the evening, I took up the Boston Daily Advertiser and noticed a piece signed a Yankee Farmer, attacking my father on the old score of 1807 1808.1 It was such an evident attempt to act upon the public mind unfairly, that I could not help sitting down on my return to my Office, and answering it at least so far as to expose the partial effect it was designed to have. This took up all the evening excepting time for the eleventh Book of Milton.2


After the publication of Jefferson’s letter to W. B. Giles (see entry for 19 Oct., and note, above), JQA authorized the National Intelligencer to publish on 21 October a statement in his name which corrected some obvious errors in Jefferson’s recollections but which reaffirmed his belief that Massachusetts Federalists in 1808 were seeking the cooperation of Great Britain with a view to the “dissolution of the Union, and the establishment of a separate confederation” (HA, New-England Federalism , p. 23–26). The former leaders of the Massachusetts Federalist party were much disturbed, and one of them, probably John Lowell (1769–1840), signing himself “A Yankee Farmer,” called for a careful public investigation of JQA’s charge, warning that unless the President could substantiate his allegation of treason “it would seem to be impossible, that his character should not deeply suffer” (Boston Daily Advertiser, 18 Nov. 1828).


There are three sets of Milton’s Poetical Works in the Stone Library, the earliest published in London in 1731, 2 vols. In addition, the Library contains six copies of Paradise Lost, four of which bear JQA’s bookplate.