Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

Monday 23d. CFA Monday 23d. CFA
Monday 23d.

Morning very dark with rain. The weather unusually warm and the Storm attended with Thunder and Lightning. I went to the Office as usual, and very shortly after went down to look after the Susan and Phoebe, the vessel in which the remains of my poor Brother were returned here from New York. The rain was such as very thoroughly to drench me before I had completed my business. I found the vessel at the head of Long Wharf and saw the Captain who made an arrangement with me to deliver the case which contained his remains any time during tomorrow morning. I accordingly returned to my Office and wrote a Note which I sent out by the Driver of the Stage to let my Father know it, and direct accordingly.1 But in the performance of all this I became so wet as to think it expedient to go home and dress myself over again, which I did with much haste. The Storm while it lasted was very great but it did not continue long after dinner. I returned to my Office, saw Mr. Charles P. Nath. Curtis who was at my Office and received Instructions in regard to Henderson. The former came to see my father and I told him the Storm was such he could not come.2 In the afternoon I read as usual 84my portion of Aeschines and was engaged a considerable time in making my usual translation of the same Author.

My former Man Servant left me today.3 Although a good man, in knowledge of his business, yet his temper and character are very intolerable, and as his Wages are high I have thought it advisable to send him away and take another more manageable and cheaper one. These are the smaller troubles of life. I also sent today to Mr. Stetson fifteen twenty five dollars as a present to him for marrying me,4 rather a late affair, but it was only yesterday that Abby informed me he had never received any thing. The truth was that I supposed it customary here for the lady’s Parent to arrange that article in the Wedding affair, but as it is not, I took an opportunity immediately to repair my thoughtless omission. In the evening I read a part of Clarissa Harlowe to Abby—The series of letters recounting their skirmishes.

1.

Letter missing. JQA’s response, as agreed, was to send by the sexton at Quincy authorization to CFA to receive the remains (JQA to CFA, 23 Nov., Adams Papers). The Susan and Phoebe, Captain Baker, had docked on Saturday (Columbian Centinel, 25 Nov. 1829).

2.

The meaning is not certain. A possible reading: At my return, Mr. Nathaniel Curtis was at my office to see my father, but I told him that the storm had prevented my father from coming in. I also received instructions [from Mr. Tarbell( ?) for response to Mr. C. P. Curtis] in regard to Henderson. See entries for 19, 20 Nov., above.

3.

“William” seems to have been replaced by “Benjamin.” See entries for 14 Sept., above, and for 13 Feb. 1830, below.

4.

The payment of $25 to Caleb Stetson is recorded in CFA’s account book, 1829–1844 (M/CFA/9); but see below, vol. 4, entry for 28 March 1831.

Tuesday. 24th. CFA Tuesday. 24th. CFA
Tuesday. 24th.

Morning at the Office. Weather again turned off clear and cold. I went early this morning to be ready for any call which might be made upon me. Soon after I had reached there, Mr. Hubbard the Sexton of the Parish at Quincy came and I accompanied him to the Vessel where I saw the remains of my poor brother transferred to his Waggon and on their road to their final resting place.1 It gave me at the moment a strong feeling of melancholy, for I knew him well and was witness to much of the latter part of his feverish dream. For such it was indeed. Here was the close of all his views, and if his steps were retrograde during the latter part of life even in spite of himself, here they met a termination almost too abrupt to afford our feelings any solace. Much in him there was that I admired, much that I wish I could imitate, but still there was unfortunately more that was equally unfit for him and for me.2 And I rest comforted in the strong conclusion that I have come to that he would not have lived for his 85own good had God spared him longer. May Heaven deal mercifully with his Soul. His earthly remains lie with those of his Fathers.

I spent an hour in the Supreme Court hearing Mr. Webster and Judge Orne sparring upon an Insurance case.3 The former has a magnificent way with him. It strikes me with wonder whenever I see it. It is power in truth over our fellow creatures. I would give much to possess it—And why not try? The field is open to the bold, the perservering and the brave. I am conscious of some power that way. Why not endeavour to turn it to some advantage.

I translated a little but not much of Pufendorf. This work lags in it’s latter end. I also attended a sale of Flower roots in which I purchased a considerable number, they going very low. I carried them directly home. Afternoon as usual, reading Aeschines but instead of doing all my common quantity of Translation, I took a part of the time to read Mr. Mitford’s Account of the Two Orations on the Crown which made me as angry as it always does. Although I must agree with him in the force of evidence adduced on the two first points of the Oration of Aeschines. But I do not as yet see the same weight in the third. As I was about to continue Clarissa to Abby, we were interrupted by Edmund Quincy who came and sat pleasantly all the Evening.

1.

Mr. Hubbard reached Quincy about half past one. There, in the presence of JQA and W. C. Greenleaf, after a short prayer by Rev. Peter Whitney in the graveyard opposite the Adams Temple, the remains were placed in the family tomb next to the grave of JQA’s sister, Abigail (Adams) Smith (AA2), who had been reburied there in 1813. (JQA, Diary, 24 Nov.; JQA to LCA, 24 Nov., Adams Papers; CFA, Diary, 14 March 1832; Ford, ed., Statesman and Friend , p. 110.)

2.

The literary character of this passage, the Shakespearean echoes, may derive from CFA’s identification of GWA with poetry, as well as with some aspects of the flawed or tragic hero.

3.

Peters, Pond & Co. v. Commonwealth Insurance Co. Daniel Webster and Lemuel Shaw were counsel for the plaintiffs; Henry Orne and William Prescott for the defendants (Columbian Centinel, 2 Dec. 1829, p. 2, col. 5).