Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

102 Saturday 12th. CFA Saturday 12th. CFA
Saturday 12th.

It was cloudy with wind and rain during the day, being one of those heavy storms of which we have had so many during this Season. But as the wind was from the South it was warm and by thus keeping off the severity of the Winter more than paid me for it’s violence. I was at the Office engaged in reading Williston, and in a variety of occupations too minute to describe. Mr. Curtis called upon me for the settlement of the affairs of Mr. Boylston, and I agreed to finish with them if Mrs. Boylston would call upon me early next week. I also succeeded in passing an Account against the Estate which George had made my Father pay. It was very small to be sure but it will now pay Jones’s new charge against my Father. Orcutt too came up to see me, just as I began to feel a little afraid I had suffered a total loss from him. He told me the usual Story and as I had got tired of it I finished off by offering to take his Interest in the Estate he speaks of as security for the payment of the debt. He promised next week to make a final settlement. I intend to press him. It is better to get beyond contingencies.

After dinner, I studied Aeschines as usual but did not accomplish as much as I ought to have done, considering that I have added an hour to my time. My writing does not progress as I wish it did. I am almost in despair. The evening was taken up in reading to Abby from Clarissa. The storm was such that I could not go out to the Debating Society, being impressed with the notion that we could not have a meeting. Here is another branch in which I aim at success and feel as if circumstances were against me. Can I not pronounce the words, I will.

Sunday. 13th. CFA Sunday. 13th. CFA
Sunday. 13th.

The morning opened clear and cold—The weather of that bracing kind which promises health and not suffering. We went to Meeting all day and heard in the morning Mr. Walker of Charlestown,1 in the afternoon, Mr. Emerson.2 Their Sermons were neither of them first rate, not even so good as their’s are generally, but nevertheless there is a fine tone of masculine feeling in them which denotes a considerable advancement in the tone of the pulpit. It is that which I most complain of in Mr. Frothingham that he is deficient in this very tone. Mr. Walker leads too much the Church Militant, he is rather over disposed to talk at the powers of others, and their doctrines, and their authority, as if he was jealous of it, but he is still a strong powerful 103preacher and among the best with us. Mr. Emerson has talent and manner which with us is more rare, but his health is indifferent and he has none of the greater powers of the Orator.

I passed part of the day in reading a Discourse of Jeremy Taylor upon the nativity of Jesus Christ. There is wonderful vigour in the style of this man, and though he has faults arising from obscurity of expression and perhaps pedantic language, yet these are trifles compared to his force and the wonderful beauty of his ideas. I also wrote a letter to my Mother3 due long since, and on the whole did better than I expected. My ideas flow easily in letters, but they will not elsewhere. In the one, the careless writing is all natural, in the other it imposes restraint. The remainder of the evening was passed in reading the old Journal of my Grandfather when but a young man of twenty one or two years old.4 It seems to have been nothing but an exercise, to express ideas which in his mind were worthy of it, and on the whole it is admirable. His account of his Writ is also very good.5 How very similarly have I felt at times and particularly now when my trustee process plagues me. It took me all the evening.


On Rev. James Walker (1794–1874), referred to at vol. 1:419, see below, entry for 23 Dec. and note.


Ralph Waldo Emerson was minister of the Second Church, Middle Street, 1829–1832. His sermons are referred to at vol. 2:223, 338.


Letter in Adams Papers. CFA had last written on 30 Oct., to which LCA had replied on 15 November.


This passage marked the beginning of CFA’s study of JA’s papers—a task that was to occupy him at intervals for many years and that culminated in CFA’s edition of his grandfather’s Life and Works, 10 vols., 1850–1856.

JA’s “old Journal” was a volume of heterogeneous character into which inter alia JQA had earlier in 1829 had T. B. Adams Jr. and W. C. Greenleaf transcribe JA’s journal entries of 1755–1759 (D/JA/47, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 3). With these CFA had compared the two booklets in JA’s own hand from which the transcription had been made (CFA to JQA, 20 Dec. 1829, Adams Papers). Later, when he came to the arranging of JA’s papers, CFA numbered these booklets “Paper Book No. 1” and “Paper Book No. 2” (designated D/JA/1 and D/JA/2 in the Adams Papers). The entries which CFA had found admirable in reading are those printed in JA, Diary and Autobiography , 1:1–85.


JA, Diary and Autobiography , 1:48–50, 62–65 62–63, 64–65 . JA recounts the doubt and uneasiness he experienced in drawing a writ in his first case as a practicing lawyer (Field v. Lambert) and his anguish when the writ proved defective. His notes written preparatory to drawing the writ and a draft of the writ itself, JA put into another booklet that became separated from his papers during his lifetime and was newly discovered in 1965 in VtHi (JA, Earliest Diary , p. 89–90, 93–95). A full editorial review of Field v. Lambert and the problems it presented the young JA appears there also (same, p. 13–14, 82–89).