Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

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

The morning was cloudy and damp with a slight drizzling rain. I rode into Boston very uncomfortably, and passed my morning at the office. Much surprised to hear of the death of Judge Parker. He has been for many years a distinguished character in the history of this State, has played a part both as jurist and politician, and dies now with more name and reputation than would have been given him in 1812. I never admired his principles but am willing to admit his merit as the only good Judge upon our bench upon all questions not political, and as an excellent private character.1 Peace be to his manes.2 This generation are rapidly passing off, after having played a very respectable part. Their successors do not seem to equal them.

Heard also of a shocking accident which happened to the son of Mr. T. W. Ward at Medford; he was thrown from a horse and killed instantly. We had not heard any thing of it at Mr. Brooks’ though the thing took place on Saturday.3

I read Walpole and wrote so that my time passed rapidly. Left town in a shower of rain and without Mr. Frothingham whom I had agreed to bring out, which troubled me much as I feared I had started too soon. He had walked in the morning. Mr. Brooks brought John Gorham. After dinner I read Winthrop and Batteux. The former has become very tiresome. And I have no resources at Medford. Here is the true superiority of Quincy to me which more than compensates for all the things of this world. Evening quiet at home.


Judge Isaac Parker, Harvard 1786, was chief justice of the Supreme Judicial Court from 1814 to his death (see vol. 1:467). Following an apoplectic attack on the 25th, he died just after returning to Boston from Salem, where he had delivered a charge to the grand jury summoned to consider indictments in the murder of Capt. Joseph White (JQA, Diary, 27 July; Boston Patriot, 26 July, p. 3, col. 1; 27 July, p. 2, col. 2). Although antifederalist feeling ran high against Parker before he became chief justice, particularly in the several years that followed his presiding over the trial in 1807 of a prominent federalist, T. O. Selfridge, for the murder of Charles Austin (of which Selfridge was acquitted), Judge Parker’s fairness and ability on the bench soon won general acclaim ( DAB ).


That is, soul or spirit.


William Ward, ten years of age, was the son of Thomas W. Ward, of Boston and Medford, and his wife Lydia, a daughter of Samuel Gray by his first wife (Boston Patriot, 26 July, p. 3, col. 2; Medford Vital Records, p. 317, 454; Brooks, Waste Book).

Tuesday. 27th. CFA Tuesday. 27th. CFA
Tuesday. 27th.

The morning was very damp and wet. I had felt a slight twinge in the bowels upon getting up, so that I concluded not to go to town today. Instead, I remained at home and read Batteux upon Oratory. His instruction is excellent though most of it is taken from the old and 289standard sources which have been so often used as to become commonplace. Yet good writing and speaking are not to be met with every day. The reason is that the theory though ever so excellent is nothing gained towards perfection unless the practice is carried on simultaneously. And the true art is missed in three attempts out of four. My own experience trifling as it is, tells me what a different thing it is to read in the Closet, and to speak before a thousand.

The weather was dull and evidently affected the family in spite of themselves. The afternoon passed in reading Winthrop. I cannot help sometimes reflecting how much better I should be doing if I was at home, but every thing in this world cannot be as we wish. We were all confined to the House, excepting to ride. And the day was stupid.