Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

Friday. 27th. CFA Friday. 27th. CFA
Friday. 27th.

We returned to town this morning, my Wife in the little Carriage with my Father, myself with Mr. Brooks. The weather had cleared off and was rather pleasant although the roads were obstructed with the snow which fell in quantity of about three inches upon a surface during the Night. Such are the varieties of our weather. I found my father at the Office, and we then performed a considerable number of the remaining little pieces of business necessary to be transacted previous to his leaving this part of the Country. This took a considerable time and I had not much of the morning left. The remnant of it was taken up in reading a Number of the Edinburgh Review which I had brought with me from Medford which had an interesting article upon America and one upon the Drama.1 I read them with much interest and although I cannot think that they are fair or correct Articles yet I must allow them to be interesting. My father who looked into one of them appeared much incensed. He is almost too quick however upon matters relative to this Country.

After dinner, I occupied myself in making a draught of what I had translated during the two last days of Aeschines into my little pamphlet book,2 and as Abby went down to take tea with Mrs. Frothingham, I read Potter’s Translation of the Seven against Thebes of Aeschylus and tried to steer clear of the excessive partiality of Potter on the one side, and the other extreme of La Harpe on the other. Aeschylus must not be read as an Author of Dramas of the present day. But he contains much which has never been since exceeded. I had barely time to finish, before it became time to go down and hear Mr. Channing’s second Lecture to the Society of Useful Knowledge. It was upon Climate acting physically, and upon Diseases the effect of Climate or Soil, particularly alluding to those which go under the names of Yellow or Malignant Fever. It was interesting, to some extent, although not in itself so much so as to pay me for my trouble in coming down. On my return, called for Abby at Mrs. Frothingham’s, this lady 89being sick with a headach we hurried home, and I passed another hour in reading Voltaire’s criticisms upon Moliere’s Plays.

1.

The Edinburgh Review for June 1829 contained an article on the ancient and modern drama (p. 317–361) and an article on the United States, ostensibly a review of James Fenimore Cooper’s Notions of the Americans by a Travelling Bachelor, 2 vols., London, 1828, and Travels in North America by Capt. Basil Hall, 3 vols., Edinburgh, 1829 (p. 473–525). Peter C. Brooks had subscribed to the Edinburgh for a number of years (see Brooks, Waste Book); his file of the magazine is in MHi.

2.

See above, entry for 26 Oct., note

Saturday 28th. CFA Saturday 28th. CFA
Saturday 28th.

Morning damp and chilly, I went to the Office unusually late. After doing my usual business of little things which take up time though I hardly know how to describe them, I went into Court and heard Mr. Webster in the Insurance Cause taking to pieces the Depositions of the opposite side. He has great power in the prodigious clearness of his ideas which leads him to results at once. Admiration of Mr. Webster is not a voluntary thing, for when I have not been near him for some time I begin to think less of him, but the moment I again hear any exhibition of him, I am compelled to award him the merit which is his due. He is a good model to study in order to know what constitutes the particular power which he wields, so as to be able to place it before us for imitation. Clearness of the Mind is the great and essential requisite. I was obliged to leave the Court in order to go and see about one or two little Commissions before the time came for me to leave town and go to Quincy.1

I delivered to Josiah Quincy Jr. the Share in the Athenaeum to be transferred to me, who upon the occasion informed me of his fortune in having a Son last Evening—A great fortune as it had been somewhat questioned heretofore. He has been married two years or more.2 I was really very glad. On going to my Office, I found I had been sent for and I accordingly hurried to get ready to go out of town. My preparations were soon made and I hastened home, found Abby just returned from walking. The town is full of a scandalous affair arising from an elopement of John C. Park and a Miss Moore the daughter of Col. A. Moore, a brother of our profession. It is an affair which will very much injure him, who before stood tolerably well.3

At last we started in my father’s Carriage and rode to Quincy having a very cold and dreary ride—The weather being severely influenced by a chilly North Easter. We reached Quincy before three and in time for the dinner for which we were invited. My father previous to his departure was for going to make a return to the civilities of the Gentle-90men of Quincy and accordingly invited them to dine. The Company consisted of Messrs. Miller, Beale, Thos. Greenleaf, Danl. Greenleaf, Marston, T. B. Adams, Smith, W. C. Greenleaf, myself and my wife, the Revd. Mr. Whitney and Mr. Douglass, Miss M. Foster and the rest of the family.4 My seat was cold and uncomfortable, near the door. But the dinner got through much better than I had expected considering the want of necessaries for large entertainments. They went early and we spent the evening at home in conversation.

1.

A verdict for the plaintiffs, whose case Webster argued, was returned on 30 Nov.; the sum at issue was $12,000 (Columbian Centinel, 2 Dec. 1829, p. 2, col. 5).

2.

Josiah Quincy (1802–1882) had married Mary Jane Miller two years earlier (Columbian Centinel, 8 Dec. 1827). The son was Josiah Phillips Quincy (1829–1910); see DAB and Adams Genealogy.

3.

The marriage of Park to Miss Mary F. Moore, oldest daughter of Col. Abram Moore, had taken place on 23 Nov. (Columbian Centinel, 28 Nov.). Miss Moore’s mother, who was Miss Woodham, had been an actress in Boston. The bride “is said to be without character, and some have doubted whether he or Ned Prescott ought to have felt obliged to marry her. At any rate, Prescott was a Groomsman and accompanied them to Brattleboro, where I am told they are to live. This is a most mortifying affair to poor Dr. Park and his family; and it produces a great excitement in town” (Charlotte Everett to Edward Everett, 29 Nov., Everett MSS, MHi).

4.

Of the sixteen at table, Edward Miller, George W. Beale, Thomas Greenleaf, and TBA were newly constituted Supervisors of the Classical School at Quincy provided for by JA’s Temple and School Fund. Others in the company, in addition to those clearly identified by CFA, were John M. Gourgas Jr. (affianced to ECA; vol. 2:387), John Marston, Mr. Douglass, William Smith, his sister Louisa Catherine Catharine Smith, and their niece Mary Smith Foster (b. 1807), daughter of the James H. Fosters (JQA, Diary, 27, 28 Nov. 1829).