Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

Tuesday. 6th. CFA Tuesday. 6th. CFA
Tuesday. 6th.

Morning at the Office. The Easterly winds have now set in and give the usual disagreeable chill to the Air. I walked down to State Street, and received at the Boston Bank the Dividend of Stock, being one third of their Capital—My share being one hundred and fifty dollars and reducing thus much my Capital in Bank Stock. This amount is already invested in the Atlas Insurance. Whether for better or for worse remains to be seen. I then obtained the Dividend of one per cent in the American Bank—A very large distribution for one year. This Company has lost part of it’s Capital. My little property has on the whole been far from prosperous,1 having done very little for it’s increase in the way of profit. Returned to my Office and spent the morning in reading Marshall, where I made considerable progress, yet I feel dissatisfied with that book. It does not contain that extent of philosophical view which I should have expected from such a pen. My morning time is not available as I would wish. So many interruptions occur, and so much trouble in regard to the pecuniary affairs of the moment that the mind is distracted and unsteady. I hoped to day, that Whitney would come to settle. He did not. I had expected the rent from the House occupied by the Olivers. They fail to pay this Quarter, making another trouble upon my hands.2

After dinner, I read Beverley’s History of Virginia, Part the first. A curious book published in 1705 a copy of which happened to belong to George.3 It relates the History of the Settlement plainly and apparently in a very concise and impartial way. I then began Grahams, 207Account of New England. He is a warm Advocate of the Puritans, and justly so for in England they have been much misrepresented. I was then called down to spend the Evening at home at the usual meeting of the Brooks family, which was this week at my house. It was as usual tolerably pleasant, but not so much so as some of the later ones have been.

1.

CFA’s holdings were six shares or stock in the Boston Bank purchased at $75 a share (vol. 2:286), three shares in the American Bank (vol. 2:288, 339).

2.

No rent on 55 Hancock Street having been received from the Olivers since early January, CFA wrote to Miss Oliver on 10 April (LbC, Adams Papers) suggesting removal unless regular and substantial payments could be assured.

3.

Robert Beverley, The History and Present State of Virginia, published at London in four parts, 1705. The copy in MQA is without indication of GWA’s ownership, having the signature of David Evans, 1753, JQA’s bookplate, and a brief note in CFA’s hand on the titlepage referring to a position taken by Beverley antithetical to that of Grahame.

Wednesday. 7th. CFA Wednesday. 7th. CFA
Wednesday. 7th.

Morning cold and blustering. I went to the Office as usual. Heard of the murder of Mr. Jos. White at Salem, a shocking affair enough. Found in his bed this morning stabbed and bruised in the head. The City was a good deal excited about it.1 Read this morning Genl. Harrison’s Pamphlet and was satisfied by it, that his vanity and ignorance of the whole had made a fool of him.2 The worst danger of all to public men comes from themselves. Many are fully equal to prevent surprises from others, who are totally overset by some strange and insidious enemy in their own persons. Although this gentleman was most certainly ill treated, yet he proves himself fully unfit for the place he was occupying. I also read something of Marshall, relating to the early debates in Congress which formed the parties in the Country. These are interesting but they are not managed by Marshall as I should have supposed a man of his powers would have done. He wrote it in too much haste, and did not leave his mind to form conclusions, instead of merely hurrying over premises. But there is notwithstanding much information to be derived from the work. It contains a definite and not altogether a dry statement of facts, and explains the motions of parties, though by one side asserted to be partial.

I received today the Dividends upon the Stock in Neponset and West Boston Bridge.3 The latter is again becoming tolerable stock. My father’s personal Property here is generally good. And all, both real and personal, tolerably productive. If his other property was equally so, he would have been a wealthy man.

The afternoon was passed in reading Graham’s History of the United 208States, the portion relating to New England is very interesting as it conveys a clearer and more impartial account than any preceding Historian. I also compared Robertson.4 In the evening, I began reading aloud to my Wife a part of Eustace’s Tour in Italy,5 in order to render myself a little more familiar with places in that country. It was pleasing. After it, I read part of my father’s Lectures, and found in them much food for reflection.

1.

The 81-year-old Captain White was murdered with hatchet and dirk (Boston Daily Advertiser, 8 April, p. 2, col. 1; Columbian Centinel, 10 April, p. 2, col. 3). The crime became “an all-engrossing topic” for nearly two months until announcement was made that the perpetrators had been discovered, again during their trials, and afterwards, because of the prominence of some of the accused. See below, entries for 29 May and note and 18 Aug. and note , 18 Aug. and notes there . The murder, developments subsequent thereto, and the trials of the accused are reconstructed in Charles Pelham Curtis’ “The Young Devils and Dan’l Webster,” American Heritage, 11:52–54, 101–103 (June 1960); also in Howard A. Bradley and James A. Winans, Daniel Webster and the Salem Murder, Columbia, Mo., 1956.

2.

With his letter of 31 March (Adams Papers), JQA had sent CFA Remarks of General Harrison Late Envoy ... to the Republic of Colombia, on Certain Charges Made against Him by That Government, Washington, 1830, which tended to justify the Bolívar government’s contention that Harrison had involved himself in their domestic conflicts ( DAB , article on William Henry Harrison). CFA amplified his views on Harrison in a letter to JQA, 17 April (LbC, Adams Papers).

3.

These amounted to $79 on JQA’s six shares of Neponset Bridge and five shares of West Boston Bridge stock (M/CFA/3).

4.

William Robertson, The History of America. GWA’s autograph is in an edition published at London in 4 vols., 1803, now in MQA. Also there, is an edition published at Basel, 3 vols., 1790, with JQA’s bookplate.

5.

John Chetwode Eustace, A Classical Tour through Italy, an. 1802. CFA owned an edition published at London in 4 vols., 1815, now in MQA.