Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

Friday 26th. CFA Friday 26th. CFA
Friday 26th.

Morning fine. The Weather for the past week or ten days gives new life to a man, though I must confess that during nearly the whole of it, I have been a little annoyed by a headache which is not agreeable. My time was taken up very much at the Office in settling my Account with my Father of George’s Affairs. I drew up the Account, Inventory and my own Letter upon business which explains the whole. But the work took up all my morning so that I had not time to copy the Letter and finish off the whole to send to him today.1 It is all of it a laborious business. But I have progressed thus far and now hope to go through clear this week. Returned home, and after dinner was engaged in comparing letters for Mr. Sparks until four when I went to attend a Meeting of the Middlesex Canal Company Directors. We were called to see about the propriety of taking further measures in regard to a Rail Road projected to go from here to Lowell. Our remonstrance produces no effect, and the Committee of the Legislature have reported a bill to carry into effect the purposes of individuals by an Act of Incorporation. I am afraid the Canal will be a poor concern. We remained rather longer in time than was necessary, but I went down from there to the Athenaeum and obtained my Certificate in the Athenaeum as a Proprietor which settles that business. This is a great privilege, and one which was obtained in rather a singular manner.2 I returned home to tea and was just in time, after which I was occupied until late in examining the copies Mr. Sparks has taken of papers. He has drawn rather largely but on the whole if it was not so much trouble to me, I should be glad to have the letters appear in that collection.

1.

CFA to JQA, 26 Feb. (LbC, Adams Papers). The administrator’s account showed assets of $3,245.07 after deducting all charges. Against this sum were JQA’s claims against the estate, consisting of GWA’s note for $2,065 and unexplained deficiencies in GWA’s Agency account of $1,093.24. The Court had signed an order for distribution of all the assets to JQA. For this letter, see also below, entry for 20 March, note.

2.

At some time before 7 Sept. 1829, JQA, as was proper for one who had been a member and proprietor since 1807 and a benefactor through the deposit there of a large part of his library from 1809 to 1822, had sought to avail himself of the privileges of the Boston Athenaeum but had been informed that he was no longer numbered among the proprietors. He thereupon wrote a letter of inquiry. There followed an exchange of letters culminating in his reinstatement and in the issuance to him on 11 Nov. of a proprietor’s share, No. 255. See Walter Muir Whitehill, “Three Letters of John Quincy Adams,” Athenaeum Items, No. 62, July 1955, where the letters are printed and the circumstances recounted. Two weeks later JQA transferred the share to CFA and after further reflection wrote him:

“The share as a proprietor of the Athenaeum which I gave you, I consider as the portion which I took out of the hand of the Amorite with my bow. It had been taken from me in a manner which for the thousandth time taught 174me how tenacious a man must be of his own interests and rights in this world, and how unceremoniously they are disposed of when entrusted to the memory, justice or generosity of others. I acknowledge with pleasure the liberality of the present Directors of the Athenaeum when the facts were made known to them, and I should rather have abandoned my right than attempted to recover it for any other purpose than that of transferring it to you.... May you drink deep of the fountain there open’d.”

(26 Dec. 1829, Adams Papers)
Saturday 27th. CFA Saturday 27th. CFA
Saturday 27th.

Morning at the Office. Weather mild and pleasant. I was at the Office and spent a large part of the time reading Webster’s Speech which should have been occupied in my duties. But it had just arrived and was so fascinating that I could not resist it. It is a fine effort upon a subject in itself rather hard. For a mere resolution of inquiry is not and has seldom been considered a matter to talk much about. The Speech itself is one upon a small subject, defence from attacks upon sectional differences. It has nothing to recommend it of the great views and enlarged purposes of a real Statesman. It is a quarrel about small things.1 I had no great time however to think of it for I was obliged to copy my Letter to my father and I had a long interruption from Mr. Whitney, whom I had sent for to converse upon the debt he owes me. Our conversation was earnest and I made him liberal propositions until I thought I could go no farther, but he was stubborn and would not give me more than three hundred dollars, which was altogether too little, so we parted. Mr. Ayer came to tell me, he should leave his Store, but he said he had a Tenant who was ready to take his place at a higher rent.2 I told him that under those conditions I was willing to let it go.

I was excessively hurried to finish my Letter, because my Wife had engaged to go out of town in her father’s carriage rather earlier than was convenient to me. But I got through at last, and returned home, where I found my Wife and we rode to Medford with Mrs. Hall. Nothing remarkable took place. I found Mr. Brooks rather dull and heavy, and unable to keep up his spirits, but we tried to talk to him. Chardon came out in the afternoon, and we did as well as we could in conversation until night. But the loss to Mr. Brooks is sensible every hour of his time. His home is not now what it was, but far otherwise.

1.

The first half of Daniel Webster’s reply to Hayne, delivered in the Senate on 26 Jan. and later studied by generations of American schoolboys, was published as extra sheets to accompany the Columbian Centinel and Boston Daily Advertiser, 27 February. See above, entry for 20 Feb. and note 1 there; below, entry for 3 March.

2.

C. C. Ayer dealt in dry goods; he was insolvent, but CFA accepted him as a tenant of at least part of the store at 23 Court Street vacated by Prentiss Whitney. His account was not settled until 5 May. (Brooks, Waste Book, 17 Dec. 1830; M/CFA/3.)

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