Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

Tuesday. 28th. CFA Tuesday. 28th. CFA
Tuesday. 28th.

Morning mild and pleasant. Went to the Office as usual, and received a letter from my father at considerable length, in which he answers a casual expression of mine which seems to have touched him considerably. The tone of his reply is painful as he seems to feel very unpleasantly. I regret that any thing I did could have induced such a feeling, more especially as I was very far from intending anything of the kind.1 He has written me nothing of business matters which is another subject of regret as I had hoped to have acted upon good information and authority before the first of January.2

I was occupied as usual in prosecuting my affairs of business upon the coming Quarter, and in writing more Comment upon the Wise sayings. I then went down to the Athenaeum and obtained some books for my study of Cicero. John Gorham dined with us today. Afternoon occupied in reading Brutus thirty Chapters of which I reviewed, it grows better towards it’s close. On the whole it is interesting as a History of Oratory in the principal Ages of it’s existence.

Evening, after accomplishing a considerable portion of L’Hermite en Londres, I read to my Wife for the rest of the evening from Evelina one of Miss Burney’s Novels, and a very amusing one.3 After which I continued my Work upon my Catalogue and read two Numbers of the Tatler.


The letter from JQA (22 Dec., Adams Papers) is, in effect, an explanation and apologia of his concerns and activities during 1829 and 1830, and of those pursuits which he had had to postpone or abandon during that period; it is moreover a renewed defense of his decision to stand for election to Congress. The letter had been provoked by CFA’s remark in his letter to his father of 16 Dec. (LbC, Adams Papers): “I always desire to obtain something from your knowledge which may be advantageous to me in my own occupations. I must confess that in the whole of my expectations for last Summer, I was somewhat disappointed. The preceding Season had raised them too high, the Washington Winter had turned your attention too exclusively to the present state of things, and it was not until about the period of your return there that I began to retrace what I saw the year before. This may be speaking very freely but I trust not disrespectfully.”

JQA’s interpretation of his remark continued to trouble CFA, who several times entered a disclaimer of broad intent. He wrote definitively on 9 Jan. 1831 (CFA to JQA, LbC, Adams Papers): “To constitute myself a Judge upon the suitable employment of your time never entered into my head and I hope never will.”


JQA’s reply to CFA’s questions on business matters was made in a separate letter on 25 Dec. (Adams Papers).


First published in 1778.

Wednesday. 29th. CFA Wednesday. 29th. CFA
Wednesday. 29th.

The day was a very pleasant one, and seems to be paying with the rest of our present week for the severity of the past. I went to the Office as usual and performed my usual work besides giving some attention to what is now my amusement, writing Commentaries upon the sayings of the wise men.

Two interruptions. Mr. Veazie is the Carpenter at Quincy who came in to see about the Posts about which Mr. Beale and I were talking. I discussed with him many points in relation to the old House, and concluded by asking him to provide estimates for the Stone, after which I would talk with him. This is a good opportunity to make a permanent improvement in respect to the externals of the old house and one which I should think it not undesirable to embrace.1 Mr. Taylor called about my Uncle, the Judge’s accident and asked me to interfere in his favour, which I declined wholly to do. I wonder what people will come for next. If the Judge will not pay, I suppose they think his friends must.

I also drew my few bills for professional Services which I may claim on the New Year. I wish they were more. Afternoon, finished Brutus and began the Orator which Middleton says was designed as a completion of the whole subject in connection. It seems to me by far the most finished piece of writing. The commencement of it is beautiful, but there is a little repetition. Evening, L’Hermite with my Wife, and Evelina aloud to her, after which, I went on with my Catalogue, and read two Numbers of the Tatler.


The wooden posts supporting the fence on the side of the Old House had been renewed, but when work was begun on the front fence it was found that all new posts would be needed. It was the opinion of Mr. Beale and CFA that it was opportune to replace the gateposts with stone ones; that at least estimates should be secured (CFA to JQA, 25 Dec., Adams Papers). In his reply JQA approved replacement of the posts with ones constructed of hammered stone (JQA to CFA, 30 Dec., Adams Papers).