Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

Wednesday 28th. CFA Wednesday 28th. CFA
Wednesday 28th.

Morning cool but fine. At the Office as usual and but little interrupted. A Copy of the Life of Arthur Lee being left here for my Father I was tempted to look over it to find the papers which were said to relate to some misunderstandings between the American Mission in France during the revolution. I had heard the disclosures were important but I found little that was new. This is a new publication from the pen of R. H. Lee.1 Richardson called in for a few moments but had little or nothing new. Orcutt called to tell me he could not raise the money, but did not yet despair. I suppose I shall be compelled to take his property. He then talked upon other subjects so as to detain me until dinner, a practice not pleasant of his, but I think his honesty about this debt meritorious.

At home, Miss Julia Gorham dined and passed the afternoon with my Wife. I continued my Catalogue, finished Auger’s Treatise upon the habits of the Greeks, read over La Harpe’s Sketch of Demosthenes and nibbled at the beginning of Aeschines, but as it was late, I postponed the attack until tomorrow when I am resolved to begin. In looking at the Greek today I felt a little more encouraged about it, and gave myself a little more credit than I did for my acquisition at College. Miss Julia Gorham remained here until after tea when Abby went to pass the Evening at her sister Susan’s, and I accompanied her. We found Mrs. Frothingham there and Chardon and her husband soon after came in. We had as usual a little sociable Supper and a very 60pleasant time. These things are always agreeable because they are easy. And I feel now very differently about them than when I was engaged for I feel as if I had a kind of right to be considered a part of the family, and therefore much less sensitive as to the opinions which may be formed of my conduct.


Richard Henry Lee, Life of Arthur Lee, LL.D.... With His Political and Literary Correspondence, 2 vols., Boston, 1829. The author was a great- grand nephew of Arthur Lee; his biography was based on the extensive papers of the Lees in his custody and was one of the earliest (and most unsatisfactory) compilations of sources for the Revolutionary history of the United States. Lee dedicated the work to John Quincy Adams, stating in his dedicatory letter that JQA would find in Arthur Lee’s writings “a spirit of patriotism congenial with your own.” The copy of the biography in MHi was presented by CFA in 1849. CFA had a natural interest in Arthur Lee’s correspondence because Lee and JA had, together with Franklin, been fellow commissioners from the Continental Congress at Paris in 1778–1779, had corresponded extensively, and had made common cause in the bitter and protracted dispute over the conduct of Silas Deane, JA’s predecessor as joint commissioner. For JA’s contemporaneous and retrospective accounts and views of the “misunderstandings” to which CFA alludes, see JA, Diary and Autobiography , 2:304 ff., 345–350; 4:43, 68 ff.

Thursday 29th. CFA Thursday 29th. CFA
Thursday 29th.

Morning chilly and many Clouds reminding us of the rapid approach of Winter. I was at my Office all the morning and occupied in reading a part of the Memoir of Arthur Lee which is interesting. He certainly took a very considerable part in the early Stages of the revolution and that on a stage where he was in some measure alone. I found some letters from my Grandfather which struck me as favourably as any thing I had ever read of his.1 The force and fire which was so characteristic of him are both to be found here in full strength. Arthur Lee was apparently a favourite of his. I read also a little of Marshall. My interruptions were numerous but not long. Richardson came in only for a few minutes to warm himself, Mr. Curtis with a letter for my Father which he wished to send directly and Mr. Clapp the Mason to consult about the Rumford at Quincy. My father wants every thing put into it, which will materially increase the expense and be of little use. I gave the Mason my own opinion and he went to follow it.

After dinner and continuing my Catalogue I commenced the Oration of Aeschines upon the Crown and read twenty lines for my afternoon’s work. It was not as difficult as I anticipated and I had time after translating them to read the Summary of Auger and his remarks upon the two Orations. My afternoon was thus well and usefully employed. Evening passed downstairs with Abby, and read the second part of the Menageries published by the Society for Useful 61Knowledge containing the Account of the Camel and the Deer. But it seems to me the publication would be more useful if it took the Horse and the Cow, animals which we know by observation, but of which we may still desire information. Read five Chapters of John.


Eleven letters from JA to Arthur Lee, 1778–1788, are printed in R. H. Lee’s Life of Arthur Lee, 2:242–262; see note on preceding entry.