Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

Wednesday. 25th. CFA Wednesday. 25th. CFA
Wednesday. 25th.

Morning at the Office. Weather bright and cold. I attempted a little translation but did not progress far before Mr. Curtis came in to see and meet my father who got there half an hour afterwards. I went into the Supreme Court for a little while but found them still occupied upon the details of the Insurance Cause. My father and Mr. Curtis called to finish the Conveyances which were to be made of Mr. Boylston’s property before his going away. They sat all the morning, and signed the conveyance of Land to John Bullard, the 86Assignment and the Deed to Towne, which were acknowledged before Mr. Gay as Magistrate. I then had some conversation with my father upon his Affairs, which are not now at this moment entirely easy. We made arrangements by which he will be relieved for the present, to be taken out of the next proceeds from his Estate here.1 He has very much changed his nature as to expenses here, for now he has been so long accustomed to large funds that the restraint of his private means comes upon him. I hope he will not be driven to incroach upon his Capital at all for should that happen, my own expectations must soon be realized. I am anxious myself to make provision against such an event gradually, so as2 that I may relieve him from the pressure of my Allowance—Although I think that it is not much more than my labour on his account deserves.3

My father dined with me and in the afternoon transferred his share of the Athenaeum to me, for which I am very much obliged to him.4 It will be of considerable service to me. He then started to go to Medford whither Mr. Brooks had invited him to go to spend Thanksgiving.5 I went to my study and passed a short afternoon in finishing the Suppliants of Aeschylus. It is a very simple specimen of the original drama. The fifty daughters of Danaus fly from Egypt to avoid marrying the Sons of Aegyptus, they call upon the King of the Greeks to protect them, who promises so to do, the Herald of the Bridegrooms comes to claim them and is refused. As La Harpe observes this is rather a Dramatic Poem, but we do not feel the less bound to admire it upon that account. It’s simplicity is one of it’s principal charms, but after all so far as we can judge at this day it seems affectation to think these Plays superior to our modern productions. The latter have the advantage of being compelled to reach a standard already assumed, an advantage not to the author but to the merit of the piece if successful.

In the evening, Abby had the usual meeting of her family with the addition of Mr. and Mrs. Alex. H. Everett. The Evening passed off not very pleasantly, to me, on some accounts. But these are my misfortunes not my fault. I am apprehensive of experiencing this bitterness more strongly perhaps as I go on. Mrs. Everett is a pleasant woman and I should be very glad to be on good terms with them while they live here.

1.

JQA and Josiah Quincy (1772–1864) were co-executors of the estate of JA, of which JQA was a principal legatee (JA, Will, inventory, and estate papers, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 181). On 27 Nov. JQA executed a note to the Executors borrowing $600 from the estate to be repaid in 60 days with interest (JQA, Diary). On 28 Jan. 1830, CFA as agent deposited $606 to 87the Executors’ account in the U.S. Branch Bank (CFA to JQA, 2 Feb. 1830, LbC, Adams Papers).

2.

Thus in MS.

3.

CFA received from his father $250 quarterly as allowance and fee for managing JQA’s Boston property and financial matters (M/CFA/3).

4.

On the proprietor’s share in the Boston Athenaeum transferred by JQA to CFA, see below, entry for 26 Feb. 1830 and note.

5.

JQA had wished CFA and ABA to spend Thanksgiving at Quincy. The invitation from Mr. Brooks had resolved the problem for all. However, Mrs. Brooks’ illness impelled one of their daughters to the view that “there ought to be no one here while Mother is in her present state” (Charlotte Everett to Edward Everett, 25 Nov., Everett MSS, MHi).

Thursday. 26th. CFA Thursday. 26th. CFA
Thursday. 26th.

Morning opened cloudy and with rain. I sat in my Study after breakfast and wrote a letter to Mr. Sparks1 besides doing some other little necessary things. As it was the day devoted to Thanksgiving, I was unable to have a command of my time, sufficient to sit down to any serious occupation. I only read two or three of the pieces in the Melanges Litteraires of Voltaire, which only tended to confirm me in my great admiration of the particular elegance of that Author.2 Writing as he did upon all subjects it is wonderful to perceive how delightful he can be upon them all. We were called for and so I stopped.

We rode to Medford with Mrs. Frothingham, and Mrs. E. Brooks. The day was rainy throughout and what might be strictly called gloomy. But I did not feel it quite so much as heretofore, although far from being in very exalted spirits. We found on arriving, Mr. and Mrs. Brooks, Mrs. Everett and children, my father, Edward Brooks and Mr. Frothingham the two latter just arrived before us. The time passed pretty much as such time has often passed before, in the demolition of eatables which were given us in fair quantity and quality. I sat next to Mr. Frothingham and Eliza Brooks and did not derive much pleasure from their Company. The former is not a man to my taste, the latter is a pleasant woman but reserved and distant. The dinner passed off tolerably and in the Evening as Abby and I were to return with my father tomorrow morning, the Company left us to return before dark. We were therefore at home alone, and passed the evening very quietly in Conversation upon miscellaneous matters. It was a little sleepy but on the whole passed off well. I feel a species of constraint here which I cannot get over in any way and it troubles me exceedingly for I am aware that it hurts me with Mr. Brooks and with the rest. Strange to say, I feel it no where else excepting here and at home when they are present. For with strangers it seldom happens.

88
1.

(LbC, Adams Papers). Upon request of Jared Sparks that he be allowed to examine and copy JA’s letters on public matters during the Revolution and JA’s second mission to Europe with a view to their publication in The Diplomatic Correspondence of the American Revolution, JQA had brought to CFA’s house 21 volumes of JA’s letterbooks and written Sparks that he might have access to them there (13 Nov., LbC, Adams Papers). CFA repeats the terms and offers the use of his study for the work any mornings in the week.

2.

In the Deux-Ponts, 1791–1792, edition of the Oeuvres complètes of Voltaire in 100 vols., Mélanges littéraires is vol. 68. JQA’s copy is in MQA.