Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

Wednesday. 3rd. CFA Wednesday. 3rd. CFA
Wednesday. 3rd.

Morning cold but clear, latterly as a violent March Wind arose and dispersed the fog. I went to the Office as usual and was occupied the larger part of the time in reading Williston. The conclusion of Mr. Webster’s Speech came on however and I sat down to read it carefully. It appears to be an exposition of his principles in opposition to the doctrines at present advanced by South Carolina. It is in the latter part argumentative in a high degree, but after all the subject does not form a true foundation for so large and unwieldy a superstructure. I think it may be ranked high as a defensive operation, and in opposition to the host of things laid upon the other side, but in itself it has not the merit which many other of his speeches on measures are entitled to claim.1 I also made some progress in Williston, finishing the Speeches in the deliberative style and beginning the Judicial, with Alexander Hamilton’s defence of Croswell,2 of which I did not think much. I had one or two interruptions, one from a person who came to tell me that my tenant Miss Longhurst had closed her career as a Milliner in Jail, and I am a loser of five hundred dollars without remedy. So much for that besides having another House upon my 178hands. Hollis the Carpenter came and I settled with him for the Quarter ending February 1st. My store is about being on my hands too. All this is trouble, and expense, vanity and vexation of spirit. After dinner I went down to the property and gave directions for repairs in order to get them ready to rent again, as soon as possible. This is now a poor property. Pity it was not sold during the time when land was so high. I returned and read Demosthenes but not comfortably. Evening was passed in reading Lord Kaimes. His strictures are generally clear, but I feel unwilling to give up some passages which are favourites with me, though criticized by him.

1.

Printed as a supplement to the Boston Daily Advertiser for 3 March. See above, entries for 20 Feb. and note, as well as 27 Feb. and note. 20, 27 Feb. and notes there.

2.

On an indictment for a libel on President Jefferson, delivered in 1804 before the N.Y. Supreme Court (Williston’s Eloquence at 4:261–290).

Thursday. 4th. CFA Thursday. 4th. CFA
Thursday. 4th.

Morning clear, and tolerably mild. At the Office as usual, where I was occupied in reading Williston. Drew my quarterly Check from Mr. Brooks and deposited it. My funds appear now in a condition tolerably healthy and so I hope to invest a little more. The affairs of my father are in a condition so doubtful, that I feel in duty bound to do every thing by which I may assist myself.

Mr. Jackson the Painter called to take my directions about the Houses, in Tremont Street, which must be put in order as soon as possible.1 Richardson came in for a little while to talk, though he appeared suffering with a cold, and Mr. Whitney passed an hour, upon whom I exerted all my powers of persuasion to induce him to pay me three hundred and fifty dollars in full settlement, but without effect. This is the toughest affair I have ever yet had to go through, because it seems to me that this man is relying upon my accepting three hundred dollars, and thus is going to run into twice the expense to get me out of the trifling balance. He left me promising to give me an answer tomorrow. I called in a moment to see Mr. Brooks. All the rest of the morning was passed in reading Mr. Hopkinson’s very good Speech upon the trial of Judge Chase and Mr. Emmet’s upon Col. Smith and Mr. Dexter upon T. Selfridge.2 The first I think much the best. It is clear, comprehensive and forcible and though not worked up quite so much as it could have been, yet shows no little skill and talent. On the whole I did a tolerable morning’s work.

Afternoon passed as usual in reading Demosthenes, but I have lost the general train of reasoning and feel less interested. I tried to get it 179up again by looking over La Harpe’s Analysis but it is not clear. I shall have to take Auger’s. My Study was cold as I am circumscribed in fuel owing to the great use made of it by the copyists.3 Evening, engaged in reading Lear to my Wife. After which Lord Kaimes.

1.

Ebenezer Jackson completed the painting of the Tremont Street houses during the next month and was paid $152.74 on 26 April (M/CFA/3).

2.

Joseph Hopkinson upon the impeachment of Justice Samuel Chase, Thomas Addis Emmet in the trial of William S. Smith, Samuel Dexter in the trial of Thomas O. Selfridge, all 1805–1806 (Williston’s Eloquence, 4:291–383).

3.

That is, by Jared Sparks and his assistants.