Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

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.

Friday 13th. CFA Friday 13th. CFA
Friday 13th.

I was obliged to rise early this morning in order to get ready to go on my expedition to Weston to sell the wood off part of that Farm. I obtained my breakfast early and started with the air most nipping cold. The morning was a true November specimen of our Climate and though cutting not uninvigorating nor without a tendency to excite and enliven. I stopped for Richardson at his House, and he accompanied me from thence. We arrived there after the time appointed and found a very considerable number of persons collected for the sale. The wood proved rather unsatisfactory to the purchasers. It happened that the Auctioneer had with a view to my Interest so divided off the portion to be sold, as to include in this day’s sale all the thinnest and poorest of the Wood, and owing to the quantity and the small size of the Lots, the rest could not be inserted today. Much murmuring resulted from this, but nonetheless what was offered 75brought by the general consent of all a very fine price. We remained out all day, having only some Crackers and Cheese and Rum for the whole of our Dinner. I confess I did not like much the nature and character of the Company, because they were very coarse, but I adapted myself as well as I could to my situation which in all places is wisest, and so I talked with all who would talk with me.

The day was on the whole fatiguing, and it was not until after sunset that we had completed our day’s work. We were then obliged to return to the House and take Tea out of complaisance. The sum of what was sold today amounted to only four hundred dollars. This was hardly worth coming out for. But as I was told that almost every stick had brought its price I was compelled to be satisfied. I was unable to discover the quantity that remained, though my Tenants the Conants thought full two thirds of what I had designed to sell. If so, it is well though I distrust it and much fear the quantity will fall short. At any rate I think it probable that I shall stop for this Season, provided my Father is not of a contrary opinion. So far I feel confident that his Interest has been fully preserved.

We started at last and had a dark and a cold ride home. I left Richardson safe at his house and came through without any accident, to my great gratification, for it is now some time since I gave up my inclinations for Nocturnal excursions. I returned home at eight having been absent twelve hours, and feeling burnt and uncomfortably chilled, rather a singular combination but the most uncomfortable to which the human frame is subject. Mrs. Francis Parkman was with my Wife, so that I was obliged to amuse her though myself infinitely fatigued. Her husband came in at Nine and sat for half an Hour. I was so tired as to be glad when they left us. So after taking something warming I retired.