Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

Friday. 29th. CFA Friday. 29th. CFA
Friday. 29th.

Morning bright and exhibiting all the beauty of Winter commencing. With us this Autumnal Season is the finest in the year. It braces and enlivens. At the Office as usual where I consumed an hour in looking over New’s Papers and destroying them by hundreds. I then read a little of Mr. Meisel upon the diplomacy of Europe, and spent an hour in Accounts. But on the whole my Morning cannot be said to have been profitably used.

Returned home and occupied myself in the Afternoon though with some interruptions upon Cicero de Oratore. I was surprised to find that I could ever have passed over this book so utterly unconscious of it’s worth. The recommendations it contains, the advice it gives, and the example it sets, have all been lost upon me until now. And every day now puts me in mind how much time has passed, that the season for action has come and I am barely opening the preparation. These thoughts and feelings discourage me, they throw a damp over my power of exertion which is I am afraid ominous of the result to take place. But I will persevere in my present course if for nothing else, at least for the pleasure the knowledge gives me.

Evening, Corinne with my Wife. After which Edward Brooks came 351in and sat an hour very pleasantly indeed. I finished afterwards the first book of Paradise Lost, and read two Numbers of the Tatler.

Saturday. 30th. CFA Saturday. 30th. CFA
Saturday. 30th.

Morning clear, beautiful weather. I went to the Office after walking up to see what was to be done at the Tenements in Tremont Street which I am overlooking. The repairs there must necessarily be considerable, as they have been suffered under Hollis’ management to go to rack and ruin. This is a new leaf turned in the Agency which will as I suspect be the best that has been so turned for fifteen years. Indeed it always seemed to me wonderful that property should have depreciated so fast as my father’s here in Boston has done. I hope that in a little while, I shall bring it up again, but it must take time. The estate in Court Street has been brought up considerably. That of the Tenements will soon be done. That in Hancock Street must be left to next Summer, and the other two will be continued on as well as they can be, until a final disposition can be made of that property.

Engaged at the Office much as usual. Received a Note from Alex. H. Everett requesting the return of my Article. I sent to Quincy for it.1 Occupied after dinner upon Cicero de Oratore and finished the first book with which I have been exceedingly pleased.

Evening, went to Faneuil Hall, for the purpose of hearing Mr. Webster make his famous Speech. The Crowd was prodigious. I despaired almost of being able to hear him, and in effect was obliged to stand all the time. His Speech had commenced when I got there and lasted until after nine when I left.2 It was powerful and convincing if any thing was necessary. But I cannot help thinking that he has been one of the converted. For let them all say what they will, the principles they opposed in 1820 were as good then as they are now whatever might have been the question of expediency. The principle has existed ever since 1789 though in 1820 it was not agreeable here.3 Went to P. C. Brooks’ for my Wife where after waiting a little while to eat a supper we returned home.

1.

The letters from A. H. Everett to CFA and from CFA to JQA are both missing.

2.

At the adjourned meeting of citizens friendly to the election of Nathan Appleton to Congress, Webster rose at 6:30 and addressed the gathering “for about three hours, at the expiration of which time, before he had finished his speech, Col. Perkins moved an adjournment to Quincy Hall at 6 o’clock on the following evening.” An extended summary of Webster’s speech was printed along with a promise of the future publication of the speech itself (Boston Daily Advertiser, 1 Nov., p. 2, col. 1)

3.

The supporters of Lee had republished a passage from a speech by Webster delivered at a time when he, reflecting the then prevailing New Eng-352land view, had opposed the adoption of a tariff for the protection of domestic manufactures. Webster, now a protectionist, devoted a major part of his speech of 30 Oct. to a justification of his changed position. He affirmed that the earlier opposition to protection was to its inexpediency at the time rather than to the principle; moreover, that he had never questioned that the right of Congress to protect manufactures was firmly embedded in the commerce clause of the Constitution (same).