Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

Thursday. September 1st. CFA Thursday. September 1st. CFA
Thursday. September 1st.

Morning fine. I could do little or nothing however. My father and Mother carry with them wherever they go such an Atmosphere of Agitation that one gets almost entirely discomposed from pursuing active work. He went out to Cambridge early and I went to the office. Nothing of material consequence. Some sensation was excited by an article in the Courier against my father’s late Letter about Antimasonry.1 I read it and felt so much irritated at it that I wrote an Answer from the impulse of the moment. Took it down myself to the Patriot Office after dinner and it was accepted.2 This may be injudicious, but I feel as if it was worth-while to make some attempt to resist the scandalous conduct of this infamous scribbler. My mind was so much agitated about it, that I was not able to study to any purpose. Read Bacon’s Essay upon Kings and that was all I did.

Evening, quiet until eight when my Father and I went to Govr. Winthrop’s party. It was very brilliant, there being every body there of the body of Strangers with whom the City is filled. I saw many old faces of the Washington Society. Returned home before eleven and read the Spectator.

1.

On 22 Aug. JQA, in addressing a letter to the Free Press denying that JA had been identified with Freemasonry, had used the occasion to disclose publicly his support of Antimasonry. The Boston Courier (as well as the Boston Patriot) on this day reprinted the letter, the Courier subjoining it to an editorial headnote, as follows:

“We perceive that some anonymous maker of Presidents at Philadelphia, has nominated John Quincy Adams for that office. Our antimasonic friends will not be under the necessity of seeking any further; if they nominate him ..., our word for it, he will show himself too pure a patriot to decline the trouble of the election, or the honors of the office.... If Mr. Rush has a prior claim ... Mr. Adams will take the Vice Presidency, or the Speaker’s chair, and in the mean time,—we speak not by his authority, but prompted by his example,—he will be happy to make speeches, write letters, or psalms, or do any other odd, antimasonic or other jobs, which may promote the honor and prosperity of the country, by—exalting such an humble servant of the people.

“But it was not our purpose to advertise Mr. Adams as a political doctor ready to physic the body politic (until it throws him up again into the presidency).... It seems that some person has claimed the elder Adams, as a Freemason, and the late President has taken up the cudgels to defend his father from so foul an aspersion. Ye gods, masonic and antimasonic! John Quincy Adams defending the fame and memory of John Adams! Such a work of supererogation was never before undertaken by such a laborer! We advise Mr. Adams to take care of his own reputation while living, for it may be that no one can volunteer, with so much hope of success, to make out a clean case for him, when he shall cease to be a candidate for public office—for we apprehend, that is the latest period of which he will have any earthly recollection, so never-ceasing is his love for his poor country”

(p. 2, col. 3).
2.

“A Looker On” in a letter in the Boston Patriot (2 Sept., p. 2, col. 2) charged Joseph T. Buckingham, the editor of the Courier, with “impudence,” “effrontry,” and “gall” for his calumnies within the month on Messrs. Ingham, Branch, Berrien, Rush, and Adams. He 126continued: “Mr. Buckingham is not a fortune to the party he wishes to assist. Mr. Clay may well say ‘preserve me from my friends’ if he has many of this character—and Mr. Adams, whom he particularly abuses, has already felt the benefit of it. A suggestion made in the Courier last year with a sneer, placed him in Congress, and if the same proscriptive course is adopted by him as the friend of Mr. Clay against all antimasons ... it will not only ruin Mr. Clay, but may go hard to bring about the very catastrophe which he would most of all avoid.”

JQA in a letter to JA2 (13 Sept., Adams Papers) expressed his own reaction to the continuing attacks upon him: “Masonry, and Jacksonism, and federalism, and Nullification, with all their united forces cannot kill me, and if they could, they would slander my ghost for haunting them after death.”

On JQA’s earlier relations with Buckingham, see above, vol. 3, entries for 16 Sept. and 18 Oct. 1830.

Friday. 2d. CFA Friday. 2d. CFA
Friday. 2d.

Morning fine, but did not continue warm, the Wind coming round to the Eastward. I wasted my time as usual. My mind and body are both unwell from the distracted life I am leading, and yet I have kept as much as possible out of the places of excitement. My father spoke to me at breakfast of the libels published about him and of my notice of them. He begged me not to mind them and by no means to answer them. I told him exactly how I felt on the subject. That I had no disposition to notice these things in general but that I thought this particular individual rioted in indulgence. That he never treated persons so here who were able to defend themselves, and that the mere absence of this was the cause of his perpetual violence against him. If a notice now and then of him could be serviceable, I was perfectly willing to undertake it.

My time was occupied all day in running about town. Called to see Dr. John Hopkinson who is in town,1 and invited him to dine with me. I then went to see Mr. Blunt2 and invite him and then to T. Davis. This with Marketing and sending Notices and fifty other things again distracted my whole time. I talked a little with Mr. Peabody and wrote my Diary. Returned home early. Our dinner was a little parti quarré3 and was pleasant enough.

Afternoon, my father went to Cambridge and I did absolutely nothing. “Waste of hours unemployed.”4 I retired having read Bacon’s Essay upon Nobility and The Spectator.

1.

On Dr. John P. Hopkinson of Philadelphia, see vol. 2:44. His father, Judge Joseph Hopkinson, had received an honorary degree at the Harvard commencement the day before ( Harvard Quinquennial Cat. ).

2.

Joseph Blunt of New York City, a political supporter of JQA and publisher of the American Annual Register (see above, vols. 1 and 2 passim), who currently entertained the idea of writing a life of JA for Harper’s Family Library. When Blunt inquired whether this would interfere with JQA’s announced plan to write the life of his father, JQA replied that he would offer no objection to Blunt’s undertaking but renewed the pledge he had made to himself to devote 127his energies to the completion of his own biography. JQA, Diary, 19 Oct.; JQA to Blunt, 19 Oct. (LbC, Adams Papers).

3.

That is, partie carée, imprecisely or ironically applied to a party of four gentlemen. ABA still kept to her room. Those at dinner were Dr. Hopkinson, Thomas K. Davis, JQA, and CFA (JQA, Diary, 2 Sept.).

4.

CFA evidently was here adapting from Byron’s The Giaour: “The waste of feelings unemployed.”