Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

100 Thursday 10th. CFA Thursday 10th. CFA
Thursday 10th.

Mrs. Everett left us this morning. I went to the Office as usual and passed the morning. My studies were much as usual, engaged in reading Mr. Williston’s Book and reflecting upon what I had written. It is very certain that I do not feel quite satisfied with the result but I yet do not feel despair, perhaps what I have done may form a Nucleus for much better things. I arranged my father’s Affairs and obtained the proper balances of my books at the Bank. My money Accounts take up a little time, but on the whole look pretty well at present. I passed some time in reading the Message of the President to Congress which arrived here in the unprecedented time of thirty one hours and some minutes from Washington. It is on the whole a better document than I had expected, certainly not written by him, but rather singular in the amount of propositions started in it. I have a little wondered at those respecting the Judiciary and the Bank of the United States.1 I must reconsider this a little.

After dinner as usual I read a little of Aeschines and translated what I had read for the two last days. This Author becomes rather easier after leaving the technical parts of his Argument and consequently a little more interesting. As Abby was going out, I sat after tea and wrote another Letter to my Father in which I very candidly detail to him the difficulties which surround me, and my hopes to overcome them.2 I do earnestly hope to overcome them, for with me much should be done to establish that character I am ambitious to sustain in this Community. Are my visions dreams? Perhaps, but I never cherished them so much till now. I am the only Stock of an old House, and is not the object glorious to continue it in character even if I do not it’s name. The fear in this last regard is the only fear I entertain,3 but it would be strange even if I was to be fully happy in every thing. I make my humble supplication to God, though I cannot feel now as if I could complain if he tried me a little. Yet I feel as if I had a pure heart and a willing mind to obey his Counsels wherever they might end. Enough of this. I called for Abby at Mrs. Gorham’s and copied part of my Letter.


See entries for 14, 15 Dec., below.


(Adams Papers) Reflecting the purposiveness and confidence evident in the diary entries of the preceding five days, CFA analyzes his problems, asks JQA’s advice on a course of study and action that would seem designed to lead to a public career, and rationalizes the direction of his current employments as (1) a mastery of the principles of eloquence through the study of the models of ancient oratory; (2) the improvement of his literary style by translating, writing essays, letters, &c; (3) a full exploration 101of American history before and after the Revolution.


see above, entry for 8 Nov., note, and below, next entry.

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 ).