Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

Wednesday 11th. CFA Wednesday 11th. CFA
Wednesday 11th.

Morning fine but the Weather becoming more and more decisive. I have not yet succeeded in taking a result from my Thermometer which I placed some days since for observation, but only in my Study. At the Office reading a part of Pufendorf where I succeeded in accomplishing the first Chapter after so long a struggle. It is exceedingly difficult to comprehend the meaning and to embrace the general tendency of the author. I went on with the translation of the Preface which I hope to make tolerably clear. It is on the whole better than the Book. I finished the first draught so that tomorrow I propose to make a fair Copy.

Mr. Curtis came in for a Minute to tell me that he wished by my father’s request, to consult older Counsel upon the forming of a Deed as my father thought I had inserted what was superfluous. I told him I was willing. The deed was the best result of my Judgment and aided by good advice; if they did not feel confident I should be glad that they would consult others and Mr. C. P. Curtis was fixed upon.1 This was a little mortifying but I have some command of my temper 73to bear these things, thank Heaven, and I can rest satisfied with the conviction that I gave what I was asked for, my own opinion.

Returned home, and in the Afternoon, read a portion of Aeschines as usual, and translated according to custom. The legal Argument is a little dry. My wife went out to tea and this afforded me an opportunity of continuing my studies, which I did with La Harpe, who writes with partisan fury against Seneca and disgusts me. With some justice, he mixes much of the contrary. At eight I went to Chardon Brooks’ to meet an assembly of the family which is held as I am told weekly at each others houses. That tonight embraced all those in town excepting Mr. Frothingham. It was stiff and cold owing to the low spirits of Mrs. Edward Brooks who from some cause or other was cold enough to freeze the whole. I am not pleased with what I have seen of her conduct at either of the Meetings which I have attended this season, and this I regret for I think him deserving of a more fortunate fate. We returned before ten.

1.

Charles Pelham Curtis, Harvard 1811, had his law office at 16 Court Street ( Boston Directory, 1829–1830).

Thursday. 12th. CFA Thursday. 12th. CFA
Thursday. 12th.

Morning fine and clear. At the Office as usual. Commenced the corrected translation of the Preface of Puffendorf and finished one page in one of the unfinished Blank books of my poor brother.1 He had attempted a series of answers to Field’s Interrogatory Analysis of Black-stone, and as usual had left off very early. I have resolution to finish what I begin if nothing else, and if possible shall exemplify it in this Preface. I began the second Chapter of the Treatise but was interrupted by my Father who came in and sat an hour or more. We had some Conversation upon the late publications of R. H. Lee and the works of Mr. Jefferson2—And upon the course Mr. Sparks is likely to take in his history which he3 thought would not be agreeable to his notion of History.4 I left him to attend an Auction where I had expected to find a Copy of a French Work, Arts et Metiers. But it had been previously sold. I returned to my Office to read a little further. Col. Quincy came in to give me the result of the application made by my father to the Athenaeum to have his name reinstated among the Proprietors of that Institution—It was with a Certificate of a Share.5

I returned home and dressed myself to attend a Dinner at Govr. Winthrop’s. The Company consisted of my father, uncle, Mr. Brooks, Mr. Everett, Frothingham, Ed. Everett, Brimmer, Welsh, Genl. Dearborn, Gorham, and myself.6 The dinner was handsome as usual, 74and I felt more in the humour than I have for years. I sat between General Dearborn and Robert Winthrop and was on the whole very well entertained. I did not leave until the latest went and until I had drunk quite as much wine as was consistent with the bounds of propriety. I walked down to Mrs. Frothingham’s after Abby and amused them a good deal with the liveliness of my Conversation. Returned before ten o’clock.

1.

Missing.

2.

Thomas Jefferson, Memoir, Correspondence and Miscellanies, edited by his grandson, Thomas Jefferson Randolph, in 4 vols., the first attempt at a collected edition of Jefferson’s works, appeared in 1829, first at Charlottesville, then at Boston. JQA’s judgment of Jefferson as revealed therein was bitterly critical; see JQA, Memoirs , 8:270 ff.

3.

JQA.

4.

Jared Sparks had in process an edition of The Diplomatic Correspondence of the American Revolution, which was published at Boston in 1829–1830 in 12 volumes.

5.

Josiah Quincy (1802–1882) was the secretary of the Boston Athenaeum ( Mass. Register, 1829, and see entry for 27 Sept., above). On the controversy between JQA and the Proprietors resulting in the restoration of his share, see below, entry for 26 Feb. 1830. Upon its restoration to him, JQA transferred the share to CFA (entry for 25 Nov., below).

6.

The home of Thomas Lindall Winthrop, lieutenant governor of Massachusetts, 1826–1832, was on Beacon Street at the corner of Walnut ( Boston Directory, 1829–1830). His son, Robert Charles (1809–1894), also present, later a member of Congress and a senator, had graduated from Harvard the year before and was reading law in Daniel Webster’s office ( DAB ); his political career was to be closely intertwined with those of both JQA and CFA. JQA in his account of the occasion (Diary, 12 Nov.) lists the guests somewhat more fully. Those not previously identified were Benjamin Gorham, member of Congress and ABA’s uncle (vol. 2:152); George Watson Brimmer, merchant and Beacon Street resident ( Boston Directory, 1829–1830); and Joseph Coolidge, Harvard 1817, who had married a granddaughter of Thomas Jefferson.