Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

Thursday. 13th. CFA Thursday. 13th. CFA
Thursday. 13th.

Morning cloudy, and threatening rain, which however did not come on heavily during the day. We had a few slight showers rather pleasant than otherwise. I saw nothing remarkable and found at my Office no occupation excepting writing out my Translation of Aeschines which lags somewhat. It is a heavy work and the more I think of my own powers, the less I feel myself able to draw any conclusions favourable to my prosecuting my design. Should the article I wrote for the North American ever appear, I shall then be better able to form some clear idea of the probability of my success.

A man named Morse called to purchase the equities of redemption of New’s estates. He wanted to make a speculation out of them and offered what I thought was very little. I told him that I could do nothing about them now. Mr. Degrand called to offer par for my father’s Stock in the State Bank, about which I wrote to him immediately.1 I do not know whether it would be advisable to sell or no.

Dined at Mr. Frothingham’s very pleasantly with my Wife and Mr. Brooks. He gave us specimens of his new purchases of wines. None very excellent, many quite good, and all cheap. After dinner I went to the Gallery at the Athenaeum and mused over the Pictures,2 the afternoon was not favourable, and on the whole I was not so much pleased 235as I expected. But I must go again. Read a little of the Works of Mr. Jefferson and returned for Abby at nine, but too sleepy to work.

1.

CFA to JQA, LbC, Adams Papers.

2.

Designed to house the Athenaeum’s collection of paintings and thus the forerunner of Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, the Gallery occupied the top floor of the three-story addition, sixty feet long and fifty wide, built in the rear of and detached from the library of the Athenaeum on Pearl Street. The building is visible in an engraving of the Athenaeum reproduced in the present volume. The great room, twenty feet high, was lighted “only from the top.” A loan exhibition had been held each spring since 1827 to which the public was admitted on the payment of an admission charge (Mabel M. Swan, The Athenaeum Gallery, 1827–1873 ..., Boston, 1940, p. 10). The current exhibition had opened on 10 May and was to remain on view each day from 9 a.m to dusk until 17 July (Boston Patriot, 10 May, p. 2, col. 5; p. 4, col. 2). It was reviewed in six articles signed A.B. (same, 14–26 May).

Friday. 14th. CFA Friday. 14th. CFA
Friday. 14th.

Morning dark with heavy rain. Went to the Office as usual. No letters from my father which I cannot help thinking a little strange. Something must be the matter to keep him so very silent about his coming in this direction. I am afraid it is again my Mother. My own spirits are much affected by this idea. But it cannot be helped. The great misfortune for a man is to marry and live at a distance from his natural home, for his Wife never gets a taste for her husband’s proper residence, and this keeps him away from it.

The greater part of my morning was passed in my translation of Aeschines which in this manner progressed exceedingly. I am engaged at present in ascertaining the meaning merely and design to beautify afterwards. Only one person came in, with an Account against New’s Estate, and he gave me some account of the man, his life and the causes of his death. Intemperance, a natural leaning to which increased by the misconduct of all his children, brought him to his grave just as he saw the close of his property. He probably dies insolvent.

Afternoon continued Demosthenes but somewhat superficially as I had forgotten Negris and was therefore aware that I must go over it again. The style is very different and much more close than that of Aeschines. I progressed rapidly during the afternoon and evening. And succeeded in reading a good deal to my Wife from the Tour in Silesia.

Saturday. 15th. CFA Saturday. 15th. CFA
Saturday. 15th.

Morning cloudy, but it cleared up in the course of the day into very fine weather. At the Office as usual. Little or nothing of interest occurred. I was busy in translating in which I made great progress. But it is dry and disagreeable work. I do not relish it much. No inter-236ruption at all. Went to the Bank and put in Prentiss Whitneys Note for Collection. This will settle that business in one way or the other, and get me out of another scrape in which I had thought myself deeply engaged. It remains to wind up with him his other small demands, about which I feel exceedingly unwilling—He having behaved in so very shabby a manner. But those demands must be settled.

Called for a moment to see Mr. Brooks after which I returned to the Office and continued Aeschines. As my Wife wanted to go to Medford to pay some visits, I agreed to ride out early after dinner. We accordingly started at four and stopped at Mrs. Gray’s, and afterwards at Mrs. Hall’s, Abby’s two Aunts. The former we did not find, the latter was upstairs and I did not see. After staying a short time, we went to Mr. Brooks. Found Edward Brooks and his Wife just leaving there for Boston. The evening was short, for Mr. B. and I took a ramble on the banks of the Canal and enjoyed the pleasantness of the west Wind. We went as far as the Farm which belonged to my Uncle and is mortgaged to my Father.1 It is a fine situation and by a Tenant who could improve it would make a great Estate for the Country—But as it is, brings little or nothing. My Uncle obtains whatever benefit there is in it. We saw also the Aqueduct over Medford River which has just been made. A substantial work and likely to be durable.2 But this Canal may after all be only finishing itself as a sacrifice to the rage of rail road improvement. Evening reading and Conversation.

1.

Originally JA’s, the milk farm of eighty acres was owned in common by TBA and Rev. Joseph Barlow Felt of Hamilton. It lay to the south of the river on both sides of the canal about a mile southeast of the Brooks residence and a quarter of a mile west of Medford’s center. See above p. xviii; Boston Patriot, 24 Nov. 1827, p. 3, col. 4; JQA to GWA, 4 Dec. 1827, Adams Papers.

2.

The walk along the canal from the Brooks Stone Bridge southward to the river was just over half a mile. The canal’s course was through Brooks’ lands along what is now Sagamore Avenue, under a bridge on the road to West Cambridge, now High Street, then along the present Boston Avenue to Medford Lock. Beyond it, the canal spanned the river by aqueduct. Both lock and aqueduct had been built in 1804. In 1829 the earlier supporting structure of wood was replaced with stone. The aqueduct and the course of the canal through Medford are illustrated in this volume. See above, p. xviii and xix; Roberts, The Middlesex Canal, 1793–1860, p. 195; and Lewis M. Lawrence, The Middlesex Canal, Boston, 1942 [processed], p. 110.