Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 2

Monday. 19th. CFA Monday. 19th. CFA
Monday. 19th.

Returned to Boston, rather late and passed the morning, or rather 336what remained of it, in reading Law. Afternoon, Adam Smith upon the Value of Silver. The day was pleasant. In the evening, Mr. Tarbell had Company and in compliment to him, I was present during the evening. The party consisted of persons in the second rank in life in this City, being merchants and professional men of respectability. I made some acquaintances and attempted to make myself tolerably agreeable, as in commencing my career in Boston, I feel as if much might depend upon my course. For I fear, I shall fail.

Tuesday. 20th. CFA Tuesday. 20th. CFA
Tuesday. 20th.

Morning at the Office. Received at last a letter from my Father with a remittance. There was not in it exactly what I expected. Although in noticing my allusion he made some kind of apology, yet it was not so kind as I expected after so long a silence. He attempts also to make me in the wrong, when I believe myself entirely right, or at any rate when I still feel as if I had suffered from his harshness.1 The larger part of his letter was upon other subjects. I read, but very loosely, and on the whole both morning and afternoon were not passed profitably owing to the difficulty which I found in fixing my thoughts. Evening, occupied in reading Mr. Boswell.


Sending CFA $250, JQA urged his son to forget their angry scene of 22 August 1828. “I told you then and repeat now,” he wrote, “that I will assist you and my other sons to the extent of my power, so long as I have the power and they are unable to support themselves. I will deny myself comforts to contribute to theirs, and only ask them to remember that I am retiring from the public service, with scanty resources, no light embarrassments, and a family unavoidably and heavily expensive” (JQA to CFA, 13 Jan. 1829, Adams Papers).

Wednesday. 21st. CFA Wednesday. 21st. CFA
Wednesday. 21st.

Morning at the Office, engaged in writing a reply to my father’s last letter. I touched upon the topic so sore between us; perhaps I said too much, but I could not avoid expressing my feeling at any hasard.1 The tone was very subdued. I then discussed other matters of politics. Afternoon, much interested in a Chapter of Adam Smith upon the Banking System, which gave me many new notions. Evening, Mr. Boswell who is still interesting, although one’s opinion of him diminishes as we go along, and Mr. Otis upon the Hartford Convention, whose reasoning is rather specious than solid.2


Acknowledging receipt of his allowance, CFA recurred to “the very tender . . . subject” of his angry interview with JQA over finances on 22 August 1828. Instead of using harsh reproaches, his father should have resorted “to the influence of kindness or of reason.” “. . . if there is a disposition on your part so great to aid us,” he added, “let it also be remembered that it requires 337only a fair conviction of the fact, to occasion cheerful and much greater sacrifices ... on our part to prevent it. Until this time at least, it will be admitted, the occasion has not called for them on either side” (CFA to JQA, 21 Jan. 1829, LbC, Adams Papers).


Harrison Gray Otis, Letters Developing the Character and Views of the Hartford Convention, Washington, 1820.