Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

Tuesday. 25th. CFA Tuesday. 25th. CFA
Tuesday. 25th.

The weather gave a very little, but it was still cold. I decided upon going to Quincy at all events, and ordered an open sleigh for the purpose. At the Office where I was entirely occupied in writing off a fair Copy of my Article which after all I did not entirely finish. This was owing to some interruptions for the Houses which are not occupied. I am an occasional writer for the Newspapers without much success, counting now upon some happy bit which may serve my turn rather than upon any credit their general reasoning may give me. Indeed, such is the effect of chance, that had I not read a chance passage in one of my father’s letters to me, I should not have written again.1

Received a letter from my father which I did not fully read. I shall reserve it for future consideration.2

After dinner, my man Benjamin accompanied me in a single Sleigh to Quincy. I had a pretty bad time of it as the track was barely beaten out and passing was very difficult. I called at my Aunt Adams’, at Mr. Brigham’s about the Canal affairs,3 and at the House, where I obtained the necessary papers and returned. Our ride was by Moonlight and more comfortable than I expected. Reached home early, and went to P. Chardon Brooks where the family were. Returned, read Vossius and the Tatler.


In his letter of 7 Jan. (Adams Papers), JQA alluded to the negotiations which the executors of Ward Nicholas Boylston had in progress with the President and Fellows of Harvard College, represented by Nathaniel Bowditch, and which turned upon Bowditch’s view of the limitations in the Corporation’s powers. In the communication on railroads published in the Boston Daily Advertiser, 29 Jan., p. 2, cols. 2–3, which in all likelihood is the one CFA wrote, the central thesis is that the resolution passed at the public meeting in Faneuil Hall and submitted to the General Court on the support of railroad construction by a tax has no validity in that the acts of such a meeting are limited to the powers conferred, which do not include the right to levy a general tax, in the same way that private corporations are limited by their charters.


JQA to CFA, 15–16 Jan., Adams Papers. The letter, a long one, dealt with a number of minor matters, but in large part it was a continuation of JQA’s apologia for his concerns and activities during the two preceding years. The theme had been recurrent in the correspondence of father and son for a month, CFA several times insisting that his remark which had provoked JQA to justify himself had been interpreted by JQA in a way totally different from CFA’s intent. CFA had hoped in his most recent disclaimer on 9 Jan. that the subject would be there concluded. For a fuller account, see above, entry for 28 Dec. 1830 and note.


Because the meeting of the directors of the Quincy Canal was held in the evening, CFA did not attend and was not reelected as a director. It was voted to pay no interest on the Canal’s notes (CFA to JQA, 5 Feb., Adams Papers).

Wednesday. 26th. CFA Wednesday. 26th. CFA
Wednesday. 26th.

Morning clear but rather more moderate than it has been. I went to the Office as usual and was busy in despatching Jonathan Simple,1 after which I wrote my Journal and then sat about copying my papers obtained yesterday. By some strange luck however, I was more than usual interrupted by persons upon various errands, so that I accomplished in fact only the letter of Mr. Crawford2 which was very short. This certainly was not a very good morning’s work.

Returned home to dine, and passed the afternoon in copying my father’s reply,3 and preparing two or three other short papers which it was necessary for me to finish to send off by the evening’s Mail. No time was left me to make particular use of and so I used the fraction in reading a report of Col. Davis’s upon Anatomy, which seemed a curious thing for the purpose it was designed to promote. He and I have different notions about the General Court.4

Evening, reading the Year in Spain which we have almost finished. It is a very good production for a young man and keeps up it’s interest very well. Perhaps a little too much enthusiasm for the different classes of the Spanish Women, but that is very pardonable in a young man. I afterwards read Vossius, in his sketch of the different kinds of figurative language, and finished with two Numbers of the Tatler.


Perhaps the nom de plume used by CFA in his communication to the Boston Daily Advertiser, but which when published was unsigned. More likely CFA 410was using it as a generic name for anonymous letters to the press as an equivalent of “John Smith” or “John Doe.”


See entry for 22 Jan., above.


That is, to Crawford; same.


In the Mass. House of Representatives on 25 Jan. “on motion of Mr. Davis of Boston, the bill more effectually to protect the sepulchres of the dead, and to legalize the study of anatomy in certain cases, was taken up for consideration” (Boston Patriot, 26 Jan., p. 2, col. 1).