Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

Wednesday. 23rd. CFA Wednesday. 23rd. CFA
Wednesday. 23rd.

Morning at the Office. The Officer came and settled with me for Titcomb’s business which clears that Law business from my Docket which has been standing there for a very considerable time. I am very glad it is settled for it had worried me a good deal throughout the Summer.1 I went down to Deposit the sum on hand and to see Mr. Tarbell about the other little affairs which he had intrusted me. He 113directed me to wind up, so that as soon as possible I propose to make a close in the affair. I then met Degrand and found that he had not been yet successful in his transactions for me, which is a matter of trouble to me. The shares of the State Bank have fallen below par so that I gave more for mine than I could have got them at in the Market. But as mine is a permanent Investment, I think the advantage it afforded me in the smallness of the Number more than overbalances the difference in price. I then went to the South End of the Town to see Sharpe the Cabinet Maker and pay him the amount due to him, and to see Mrs. Bittner for the settlement of that demand. She is poor and makes a very long face. I was obliged to make a very short one. This with a visit from Titcomb to talk over matters was quite enough to consume all the time till dinner.

Miss Carter and Miss Gorham, Abby’s friends dined with us. I was out of humour. Afternoon, reading Aeschines and reflecting upon an excellent letter I have received from my Father.2 It is in the spirit of kindness. As a cousin of Abby’s, Miss Bartlett married to Mr. Walker the Clergyman of Charlestown,3 received her Company this evening, we went over with Mr. and Mrs. Frothingham and Chardon Brooks, a terrible bore but it was done to please Mr. Brooks. We returned shortly, and after a short Supper at Chardon’s, went home.

1.

On the suit against Titcomb, entered at Thomas Tarbell’s instance, see entry for 30 Oct., above.

2.

18 Dec. (Adams Papers). A reply to CFA’s letter of 10 Dec., on which see above, entry for that date, and note. He counsels perseverence in CFA’s tripartite endeavors and suggests: (1) that each part be made auxiliary to the other parts; (2) that CFA reconsider his aversion to theoretic writers; and (3) that in his writing CFA attempt more complex forms, differing styles, and then begin to publish without revealing authorship.

3.

Catherine Bartlett (b. 1797), niece of Mrs. Brooks, was a daughter of Dr. George Bartlett (b. 1760, apothecary of Charlestown) and Mary (Gorham) Bartlett (1767–1832); see vol. 2:168, 270. James Walker was to remain as minister of Harvard Church, Charlestown, until 1839, when he would become successively Alford Professor of Natural Religion and President of Harvard, 1853–1860 ( DAB ).

Thursday. 24th. CFA Thursday. 24th. CFA
Thursday. 24th.

The morning was cloudy and damp, and I did not reach my Office until it was quite late. Indeed this practice of mine is bad, and ought to be corrected. I passed my morning much as usual—Not doing so much as I wished but having no moment unemployed. My spirits were rather depressed, owing to the constant struggle I am obliged to keep up to be at all Master of my own time. I confess I am disappointed in this. For one of the great reasons which had impelled me to urge so strongly the accomplishing my marriage, was the entire 114dissipation of time in which my engagement kept me. And now the same action in another form operates. Mrs. Brooks is anxious to see her daughter and to have her spend not hours but days and nights with her, and I am therefore under a pressure to avoid doing it. For they see only what I appear to be compelled to do, and judge from that, my time to be at my own disposal. I feel all this, and yet I feel more strongly what I believe to be a more urgent duty—That of fitting myself for all situations in life to which I may be called.

I read Williston this morning, the Speeches on the British Treaty.1 They all want power, they need that force which is essential to Eloquence, that clearness which gives it power. I also prepared my Quarterly Account for my Father’s inspection. It is long though tolerably clear. After dinner, I was engaged in reading Aeschines which I enjoyed very considerably. The Greek is far from difficult, and I find some reason to flatter myself for the knowledge which I picked up at College, much more firmly than I had myself supposed. How delightful are these occupations. I read to my Wife, Clarissa Harlowe, my progress in this is slow, and I feel desirous now to get through it, to attempt something pleasanter and better. After she retired, I seized an hour to continue an Article upon Eloquence which upon reflection does not please me a bit better than any of the rest.

1.

The speeches of James Madison, William Branch Giles, Albert Gallatin, and Fisher Ames delivered in the House in 1796 on the appropriation bill to effectuate the terms of the British Treaty of 1794 are included in Williston’s Eloquence at 1:332–463.