Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

Saturday. 19th. CFA Saturday. 19th. CFA
Saturday. 19th.

Morning warm. Went to Boston, and passed my time as usual in a variety of occupations, first going to the House where I wanted a volume to be returned to the Athenaeum. Then busied with writing Notes, to Mrs. Woods, about New’s Estate, Col. Tyler about George’s subscription, and to a certain Mrs. Bailey to try to recover something from that large demand.1 All of this disagreeable business necessary to be done, without hope of good to come from it. I then went to the Athenaeum and to execute one or two little Commissions with which I was charged by my Mother. Returning to the Office I found Mr. Curtis, who gave me some papers to carry to Quincy, relating to a Mortgage of real Estate in the hands of the Boylstons, which he had succeeded in selling.2 Returned to dinner and was occupied all the afternoon in the Catalogue which my father and I are taking together.

My mother I am glad to find considerably better and more cheerful than I have known her for years. I am in slight hopes that she will find some things to recommend this part of the Country to her, and that finding herself now more independent than she ever was before, she 264will relish having a house of her own. My father seems to me however to be exceeding heavy, and not to take as well as he did the leisure with which he is perhaps overburdened. He thinks more of politics than I wish he did, but this is a necessary consequence of his situation in the Winter, in such a hot bed as Washington is. Evening my Mother went to ride, after which I had a little conversation with her. My father walked out to pay a visit or two, and I read Hume’s Essay upon Eloquence.3

1.

The notes to Mrs. Woods and Col. Tyler are probably the same as those mentioned in the preceding entry; the letter to Mrs. Bailey is missing.

2.

Nathaniel Curtis negotiated the sale to the Treasurer of Harvard College of a mortgage for $10,000 on the Tremont Theatre (JQA, Diary, 19 June).

3.

CFA owned an edition of David Hume’s Essays and Treatises published at London in 2 vols., 1788, now in MQA. The “Essay upon Eloquence” is in vol. 1.

Sunday. 20th. CFA Sunday. 20th. CFA
Sunday. 20th.

The morning began with a violent rain. So it has been for several successive Sundays. We (My father and I) went to Meeting in the morning in the Carriage, but in the afternoon it held up so that we walked. A certain Mr. Crafts preached but very flatly.1 His style was ambitious without any foundation to sustain a flight. If a clergyman would form for his beginning plain sense strongly worded how much more it would take, particularly if he assisted the delivery of it with a little knowledge of manner. It is one thing to write well, another to read well. Many a man might easily afford to lose a little of the former character if he could gain in the latter, for bad speaking takes off half the effect of a good style, and good will grace even a defective one.

The weather was very disagreeable, being an Easterly Storm and I felt it more from being under the influence of a violent cold. I sat with my Wife nearly all day as she was quite unwell. In the evening, some conversation, for the first time with my father—This being the only occasion upon which he has not slept from weariness. Our talk was literary and not political, turning upon the character of the French drama, and upon versification in general, then upon Moliere whose plays we reviewed. Altogether, the pleasantest time I have had.

1.

Probably Rev. Eliphalet P. Crafts of East Bridgewater ( Mass. Register, 1830).

Monday. 21st. CFA Monday. 21st. CFA
Monday. 21st.

The morning was cloudy, and the day attended with rain and a cold Easterly wind. After some deliberation, I concluded not to go to 265Boston, a decision, I had no subsequent reason to regret, for I had a cold upon me which would have been made much worse by my visit without any outside coat to Boston. My father and I instead of it, went on vigorously with the Catalogue of his books, spending five or six hours in their arrangement, and in this way completed a great deal. He talks now of selling his Books, and so on. Every day astonishes me more at the change in his mind and feelings. The dejection is surprising, and the total indisposition to all the kinds of occupation which amused and interested him last year. He was so fatigued by his morning’s work, that we did not resume it in the afternoon, and instead of it, I read a large part of Sheridan’s Art of Speaking or Reading.1 A good work, explaining very clearly the force of emphasis in the use of language. His illustrations taken from the book of common Prayer are clear and forcible—And made me feel as if I was a mere haphazard tiro in the art. It is however a more difficult thing than he allows to see clearly the sense of a passage. For any in the world may be varied by changing the emphasis. Evening, another agreeable conversation with my father. We discussed the political character of the close of the last Century. Pitt, Fox, Burke, Sheridan, Chatham, and the authorship of Junius.2

1.

Thomas Sheridan, Lectures on the Art of Reading, London, 1775.

2.

JQA had just received a letter from Dr. Waterhouse on the subject of the identity of Junius in which he had urged the claims of Lord Chatham and of Horne Tooke (JQA, Diary, 21 June).