Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

Sunday. 21st. CFA Sunday. 21st. CFA
Sunday. 21st.

The morning was lowering and an easterly wind made it chilly and disagreeable. In order to avoid the rain we started from Boston early after breakfast and reached Medford just as the shower was beginning. We found the family much as usual, having only the addition of Miss Elizabeth Phillips.1 We attended divine service and heard Dr. Ware deliver a Sermon which I recollect very well as an old one at Cambridge in my time.2 Dr. Ware is a sensible man and a clear writer, but so dry that it is next to impossible to keep the attention fixed. I tried it but did not succeed. He dined at Mr. Brooks, but I do not enjoy his Company much as I respect him. Our dinner was dull and Afternoon Sermon drowsy. The remainder of the day was passed as usual without much to remark. I finished the volume of Bausset’s Napoleon 193which I began last Sunday in which he carries out his proposition. A very questionable one in fact, but ingeniously drawn up. Medford has lost much of it’s attraction however, in the mistress of the house.

1.

Elizabeth Phillips, on the day before, had taken Mary B. Hall’s place in the Brooks household (Charlotte Everett to Edward Everett, 21 March, Everett MSS, MHi).

2.

Henry Ware was Hollis Professor of Divinity at Harvard ( DAB ).

Monday. 22d. CFA Monday. 22d. CFA
Monday. 22d.

The morning came in the most lovely shape of Spring, bright and warm. We returned to town and I found myself at the Office writing with my windows open, a thing in itself unusual at this season, perhaps imprudent. But the day was most uncommon. I was engaged during the time in reading, which I did with much less interruption than usual. Mr. Farmer came in very much humbled in his tone and talked of a settlement and reconciliation very strongly. I urged him to make it and he went away with the feeling so strongly upon him, that I feel as if I may escape this unlucky business without much injury. I hope the very lowering state of things is gradually cooling off and growing bright. But still there is much to trouble me. The very considerable amount due to me from Whitney, the small sum actually in hand are troubles which at present annoy me. Miss Longhurst’s failure also is a troublesome thing. Mr. Haskell came to have his bill of repairs paid upon the Store, which after having canvassed it considerably I settled.1 To me who am in a great measure ignorant and inexperienced in matters of this kind, it is no small source of uneasiness that I am subject to so many chances of imposition.

I read several Eulogies in Williston and was scarcely pleased with any. They are not sufficiently in the natural style. Too turgid.2 Afternoon reading Demosthenes, in which I go on so rapidly now that I soon shall finish this Oration. A noble effort and strongly illustrative of the power of words. Every one should remember that words are things. Evening at home. Abby was unwell, and it was not at all agreeable.

1.

J. Haskell, housewright (M/CFA/3; Boston Directory, 1830–1831).

2.

Eulogies of Alexander Hamilton by Harrison G. Otis and Eliphalet Nott, of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams by William Wirt (Williston’s Eloquence, 5:191–229, 454–503).

Tuesday 23rd. CFA Tuesday 23rd. CFA
Tuesday 23rd.

Morning as it opened surprised us with the sight of snow. After such a day as yesterday, it might have been expected, but it certainly was not welcome. I went to the Office, and passed the day pretty 194quietly. Mrs. D. L. Child called upon me to tell me that her husband had been arrested and was in prison, and she herself paid the amount of the sword.1 This was an agreeable settlement of a disagreeable affair. I am sorry for Child’s misfortunes although circumstances had led me to expect them. Mr. Brackett, my new Tenant at the corner of Common Street, and Mr. Hurlbert of the Store, called in and I finished the business of the Leases—So that now, every bit of my father’s heavy real Estate is under Lease. I hope, to give me less trouble than heretofore.

I had a comfortable time reading Williston and progressed considerably. Mr. Everett’s Address to the Phi Beta Kappa is an admirable thing of it’s kind.2 I see nothing after all, that equals it in this particular line of exertion. It is fine, and presents much for reflection and example. Mr. Webster does not succeed so well in this kind of effort, but his best specimen is strangely omitted in this Collection—The Address at Plymouth.3 After dinner, read my portion of Demosthenes, and wondered at the artful method he uses of acting upon the feelings, of the people of Athens. How is it that the art has been lost. How is it, that by not recurring to the models of Antiquity as Students in Sculpture do to the works of it’s masters, men do not attempt to catch some of the spirit of brilliant eloquence.

Afterwards, I read Silas Deane’s Address to the American People, in order to explain if possible the difficulty resting in my mind about him, but it did not do it. He was however either a knave or a coward, no matter which so far as his character for patriotism is involved.4 Then went to Edward’s, where we had a very pleasant time. Chardon not being there allowed us an opportunity to talk and that very pleasantly. He is too noisy for comfort. Returned home at ten in the snow.

1.

This payment of $15 (M/CFA/3), together with the earlier payment of $85 by Child, brought to settlement the sale of GWA’s accouterments to Child, who succeeded GWA as brigade major. Child had begun to serve sentence following his conviction in a libel action against him as editor of the Massachusetts Journal (vol. 2:351). Lydia Maria Child, in addition to being an unusually attentive wife, was conducting the Massachusetts Journal alone during Child’s imprisonment and engaging in numerous other projects as means of support. Her books for children, her Frugal Housewife, and her other unconventionalities made her the subject of sometimes violent comment. See Charlotte Everett to Edward Everett, 10, 28 Jan., 13, 20 April, Everett MSS, MHi; DAB .

2.

Delivered at Cambridge, 26 Aug. 1824; in Williston’s Eloquence at 5: 262–298. CFA had attended the Phi Beta Kappa exercises that year as an undergraduate and had then pronounced good that part of Everett’s oration that he heard; see vol. 1:301–302.

3.

Discourse, Delivered at Plymouth, December 22, 1820, in Commemoration of the First Settlement of New-England, Boston, 1821. There were four editions before 1827.

195 4.

An Address to the United States of North America..., London, 1784. On the long-argued controversy relating to Deane’s conduct as an American commissioner at Paris during the early years of the American Revolution, see above, entry for 28 Oct. 1829, note.