Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

Wednesday. 14th. CFA Wednesday. 14th. CFA
Wednesday. 14th.

Arose a little earlier and by this means succeeded in getting to the Office a little earlier than heretofore. The morning was quietly passed partly in reading Marshall, partly in the settlement of my Accounts. My interruptions were not many. Dr. Storer called and I settled with him.1 This closes the affairs contracted with the Estate of my Brother by a business not over creditable to any of the parties concerned. I 45paid this considerable demand with less difficulty because I did not wish to hear what probably might have been disclosed to me. The whole affair ought to be forgotten. My mornings are not now spent satisfactorily. I feel as if I should be doing something more creditable than settling accounts and talking nothings. But at present I am not in the way of commencing with spirit. John has promised to send me the Trial of Dr. Watkins and I have expected it in order to try my hand and expend my time upon it, but he does not keep his resolutions.2 I must talk with my father upon it.

Afternoon at home, reading La Harpe’s view of the Ancient Fable and Satire, with his parallel between Horace and Juvenal. The reading of this Author has inspired me with a Taste for Ancient Literature and I propose directly to turn my attention again to the Latin Classics, and to become more completely the master of their Style than I have yet been. This will require study but I am equal to it. In the evening I read to Abby, Scott’s Life of Smollett which is not so interesting as either of the preceding. It is too long, and mixed up too much. He borrows to save himself the trouble of writing, and makes the whole book appear like a Catch penny thing which in fact it was. After Abby retired, I again read La Harpe and five Chapters in Matthew, and reflected more upon the beauty of the precepts of Jesus Christ as given in the Sermon on the Mount than I had hitherto done. It merits deep consideration.

1.

Dr. David Humphreys Storer had been attempting since GWA’s death to collect from the administrator of his estate for medical services allegedly rendered by Storer to Eliza Dolph in childbirth. See. vol. 2:382, 392, 403–404. Settlement was made for $37 (M/CFA/3).

2.

CFA had asked JA2 in a letter on 21 Sept. (Adams Papers) to send him a newly published pamphlet complete with all the papers on the case of Dr. Tobias Watkins, a JQA supporter and appointee at the Treasury who had been removed by Pres. Andrew Jackson and then convicted of embezzlement (see vol. 1:51; 2:399). CFA was resolved to write an article on the case for a Boston legal publication to which he had been invited to contribute. JA2 had apparently responded to the request, but the letter is missing. Soon afterward he did send the pamphlet to Quincy (CFA to LCA, 30 Oct., Adams Papers). Although it is clear from letters of JQA to JA2 and to LCA complaining of unanswered letters to John and from letters of LCA to JQA explaining John’s failure to write that JA2 was not so faithful a correspondent as were others of the family, nevertheless the lack of any recorded surviving letters to any of the Adamses from JA2 after childhood points to a later systematic removal from the family papers. Numerous references in the family papers to the receipt of letters from JA2 confirm this.

Thursday. 15th. CFA Thursday. 15th. CFA
Thursday. 15th.

The morning afforded us one of the finest specimens of Autumnal weather, we have had this season. I was at the Office but am ashamed 46to say that I wasted my time very much. The want of a systematic plan of study forces itself upon my attention more and more every minute and today in opening a book in which for the three last years I have usually written a little at this season of the year, I could not avoid pouring out the current of my feelings at length.1 It is strange and not without pleasure to me to read these successive memorials of fleeting years, and it is rather gratifying to my vanity to find them so prettily written.

My friend Richardson called to see me this morning and I asked him to dine with me. The rest of the time was passed in turning over the leaves of old Newspaper files and slamming over the disgusting records of old political Battles. How much there is of passion, how much littleness of soul in these miserable contests. Richardson dined with me and sat a little while afterwards, the rest of the afternoon was passed in reading La Harpe’s view of the merits of the Minor Latin Poets which is not such as to tempt one much to the perusal. I have read but little of them, and therefore can express no opinion of my own.

The afternoons are however so exceedingly short as to afford me but small means to progress in my studies, and while the evenings are wasted as this one was in conversation of no use and productive of nothing agreeable T do not feel able to reconcile myself to my course of life. Abby is so fatigued as to feel often unable to keep awake, and I therefore this evening to please her did nothing; but our conversation was worse than profitless in it’s consequences to us both, and it decided me to take a different course in future, and be mindful of the precept pursued both by her father and mine, that there is no time which cannot be usefully employed. Evening after she retired, I sat up an hour, reading La Harpe upon the sacred Scriptures, an eloquent answer to Voltaire, and five Chapters of Matthew which led me to design examining the Life of Christ by Jeremy Taylor,2 in order to form some decided and original opinion of the character of our Saviour.

1.

This “book” cannot be identified and is evidently missing from CFA’s papers.

2.

CFA owned an edition of The Life and Death of ... Jesus Christ published at London, 2 vols., 1811, now in MQA. As indicated by his autograph, it had earlier belonged to GWA; there are numerous marginal notations in his hand.