Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

Sunday. 25th. CFA Sunday. 25th. CFA
Sunday. 25th.

Morning cold and gloomy. We doubted a considerable time as to the expediency of going to Medford and finally hit upon that side of the alternative which was certainly the least prudent. But as our departure was deferred until eleven o’clock I passed two hours in examining and re-arranging my observations upon the American History. Having done this, I began reading Chalmers regularly in order to see what was to be said in addition of him. This book is the most violent misinterpretation of American facts that I have seen and that probably exists. The time came to go and we had a very uncomfortable ride indeed.

Arrived, and found at dinner with us, Mr. Walker, the Clergyman of Charlestown. He was quite pleasant, and in the afternoon I went to hear him. The Sermons he preaches are peculiar for the closeness of the reasoning and the simple texture of the style. He assumes a point and brings it forward in all it’s shapes. His subject this day was happiness as an object. He touched very well upon the general weakness of man in not looking for happiness, but he did not very distinctly illustrate what he meant by the term. His moral was too short. But on the whole, there are few preachers whom I prefer to hear before Mr. Walker. The remainder of the day was passed in looking into Mather’s Magnalia a copy of which Mr. Brooks has,1 in order to look for the authorities for certain statements in Graham which I found generally correct. The book is a curiosity inasmuch as it is a strange specimen of a mind regulated with little judgment, and blunted by entertaining a too great multiplicity of objects, so that the leading ones 221are huddled with the indifferent and worthless without much discrimination.

1.

Cotton Mather, Magnalia Christi Americana: or the Ecclesiastical History of New England. An edition published at Hartford in 2 vols., 1820, is in MQA, but there is no indication that it is the copy that had belonged to Peter C. Brooks.

Monday. 26th. CFA Monday. 26th. CFA
Monday. 26th.

The day was mild but exceedingly windy, so much so that upon riding back to town I felt exceedingly apprehensive that we should be blown over. My head also felt a little out of order and when I reached home, my entire feelings were far from enviable. Found a note from Miss Oliver inclosing the amount of her taxes for the past year. I did not know what to do about replying to her and so prefer to let the matter go on as it does now, until next Quarter when I shall feel obliged to make a final decision according as she is able to pay. To the Office where Mr. Conant came in to pay me the balance of the sales of wood at Weston. It fell a little short of what I had expected, but it was not a final settlement. Mr. Kinsman came to tell me that Whitney had consented to compromise by giving his Note with satisfactory endorsers to which I assented. I put into his hands the demand against Ayer for Collection, being tired out by his want of punctuality. The remainder of my morning was taken up at the Probate Office where I assumed the responsibility of Administrator of New’s Estate, signed the Bond and inclosed it to my Father for his signature and John’s.1 The latter I objected to in my own mind, but as two were necessary and I could ask no one else I sent it intimating an understanding that no risk was to be incurred by any one but my Father.

In this manner the morning vanished with great rapidity and I returned home. The afternoon was passed in reading over the Essay I had written and as on the whole I approved of it and thought if I once sent one it would help me to write constantly, I set about copying it, so that now I think I shall send it to Mr. A. H. Everett before the close of the month.2 Once acquire confidence and I shall do better. My wife thinks the tone too positive and I believe she is right but I am not able to write milk and water. Evening, reading Eustace’s Account of Naples to my Wife. It is interesting, though his positive tones ought to give me a lesson how disgusting they are. I afterwards continued copying.

1.

CFA to JQA, 26 April (LbC, Adams Papers). When Thomas Welsh Jr., himself disabled by circumstances from finding a bondsman, had offered CFA the administration of Robert New’s estate, which consisted of real property that would have to be sold to satisfy debts that might prove as large as the amount 222realized from the sales, CFA had asked his father for guidance. JQA had advised acceptance and had agreed to execute the bond required. (CFA to JQA, 13 March, LbC; JQA to CFA, 19 March; both in Adams Papers.) New had been a hairdresser on Cambridge Street ( Boston Directory, 1829–1830); his life story was a melancholy one (below, entries for 14 May; vol. 4, 27 June 1831).

2.

Everett had become the editor of the North American Review after he and his associates had purchased it from Jared Sparks (JQA to CFA, 24 March; CFA to JQA, 2 April; JQA to CFA, 8 April; all in Adams Papers).