Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

Thursday. 17th. CFA Thursday. 17th. CFA
Thursday. 17th.

Morning at the Office as usual. My occupations are not now decided enough and I must take early opportunity of fixing them. This was the day fixed for the sale of my brother’s books and I accordingly went down to Mr. Cunningham’s1 and attended. They were generally sold at a very great sacrifice, so that I stopped the sale of the most valuable of them. The remainder being worthless to me and more desirable to my brother’s affairs in the shape of a little money, I suffered them to go, although there was not a single volume that did not go below it’s value. This passed much of my morning, but on returning to my Office, I again felt the necessity of doing something. My brother’s Journal again fell in my way and I was struck with the superiority of 19his general pursuits, to those which I have fallen into during the last three months. This must be amended.

After dinner as Abby went out, I passed the Afternoon in my Study and made an attempt to arrange the remainder of my Books. Finding that they are so numerous, I have come to the conclusion to put them in double rows, which will thus accommodate them all until I feel able to make some arrangement at a future time, which may suit them more conveniently for reference. This took up most of the Afternoon. The remainder and the evening were passed in reading Devereux and Conversation with Abby. The book was dull and so we preferred talking.


Probably Joseph L. Cunningham, auctioneer at Federal and Milk streets ( Boston Directory, 1829–1830).

Friday 18th. CFA Friday 18th. CFA
Friday 18th.

Arose early having felt slightly unwell this morning from an attack of pain in the stomach rather common to me at this season of the year though I have not felt it before this year. After breakfast, I started to go to Weston to arrange the affairs of my father in that place for the season. I was imprudent in not being thicker dressed for it was colder than I had expected. I suffered more in my ride than I should have done, and than considering my attack of the morning, was altogether safe. I called for Richardson on the route and he accompanied me there. Upon our arrival, we immediately took to the Kitchen fire, and with the assistance of this externally and the revivifying influence of something internal properly administered, we began to feel able to do something. Having met Col. Jones, the Auctioneer and in appearance the teetotum of the town,1 his brother and our two tenants, we sallied forth in quest of the Woods. We walked round them and through them and felt pretty thoroughly fatigued before we returned. Indeed as I felt far from well, I was compelled to hurry home as fast as possible. But I saw and heard enough of the Wood to feel satisfied that if properly sold it will bring a considerable sum to replenish my father’s Treasury. Not a disagreeable prospect. But we must stand the chances of sale and these are capricious enough. I made arrangements with the Auctioneer to get the sale advertised, and the measurements made, and allotted about one half to the Hammer and the Axe. The remainder shall go next Autumn.2 This job being finished we returned to the House and dined. The Tenants had made preparation for us and it was essentially necessary that I should so far assent to their arrangements as not to appear too proud to sit down with 20them. We made quite a dinner party and had a very tolerable meal upon Chickens. But feeling so unwell, I was not enabled to support that character which I had wished and desired. I was therefore glad to get away and return to town, which I did at a rate sufficiently rapid, so that I was at home before three o’clock. Miss Julia Gorham spent the day with Abby which was a relief to me as I was fatigued and out of spirits. I seized an hour while she was out and commenced La Harpe’s Course of Literature with his Analysis of Aristotle but I could not progress very far from the want of the habit of reading which I have lost, but must now endeavour to resume. Evening with Abby reading Devereux which I finished.


On Col. John Jones of Weston, see vol. 2:251. CFA’s meaning here is unclear. He may have meant that Jones was a little man, or one who spins about busily like a top; see OED : “teetotum.” Or perhaps there was a confusion or blending with “factotum.”


The auction of the cut wood was held on 13 Nov. (see below under that date), and netted $407. The second sale, in 1830, brought in $428.25. An annual sale thereafter through 1835 brought revenue each year in excess of $500 (M/CFA/3).