Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

Wednesday 18th. CFA Wednesday 18th. CFA
Wednesday 18th.

Heavy rain with more Wind. I read a little of the Peruvian Letters. Went to the Office, and from thence to the Athenaeum where I lounged an hour without any profit. Returned and devoted a short time to Gibbon. Interrupted in this by a visit from my good friend Mrs. Armstrong whose face I never expected to see again. And indeed I can scarcely say I wanted to. My progress in Gibbon is slow but I hope to be able to persevere in finishing it.

Mr. Brooks dined with us. Not much to be obtained from dinners where the parties are dull. I felt but little disposed to make exertion and he seemed not very lively. Afternoon short, filled up with reading Spanish as I have transferred my Italian to the morning. I find the latter on the whole much the easiest language of the two. It is not filled with so many strongly idiomatic expressions and I think the Dictionary I have is better. But in this I think that there is great room for improvement.

Evening quiet at home. I read a few Chapters in the Bible to my Wife, an exercise designed to be regular, but from some reason or other often omitted. Finished the first division of Paley’s work upon Christianity. It is remarkable for perspicuity and logic.

I have felt today a little depression of spirits. Now and then I am subject to them a little. They always show themselves in a kind of regret that I am not making the most of my time and abilities. Yet I 282have no opportunities. I know I ought to seek them. Have I not? When I reflect how much I am favoured in my situation I know I ought not to allow myself to repine, but I trust it is only from anxiety to support a mighty responsibility to my name, and therefore may be forgiven.

Thursday. 19th. CFA Thursday. 19th. CFA
Thursday. 19th.

Another cold and cloudy disagreeable day. Our bad weather all comes at once. I read a little Italian. Then to the Office. Time variously occupied. Read a little of Gibbon however. Had a long conversation with Mr. Peabody and afterwards a walk. One interruption from Mrs. Armstrong in the morning and three in the Afternoon. She is a very great nuisance. Finished reading the Moorish Letters of Cadalso. He is, I find, one of the Classical writers of Spain. I think his book a pretty trifle enough. I afterwards read the first Chapter of Mariana’s History of Spain.1 I doubt whether I shall have the vigour to go on with it. He begins with the Deluge. Read Mr. Everett’s Memorial in favour of the restriction party. It seems to me very good. Though it is not entirely to my satisfaction. His strictures upon Mr. Gallatin are not agreeable to me. I am no friend of this gentleman, but I hate base measures.2 Went to a party at Mrs. Frothingham’s in the evening. Felt a little dull but on the whole got through it well. Read only the Rambler.

1.

There are two copies of Histoire generale d’Espagne by Jean de Mariana at MQA, one of the edition in 9 vols., Paris, 1723, the other of that in 5 vols., Paris, 1725. Both bear JQA’s bookplate.

2.

On 26 March the Speaker conveyed to the House of Representatives and the Vice-President to the Senate “The memorial of a convention of Friends of domestic industry assembled at New York on 25 Oct. last,” which was signed by A. H. Everett as chairman and dated Boston, 19 March 1832. Copies were ordered printed and became available on 4 April (Edward Everett to A. H. Everett, 23, 26 March; 4 April, Everett MSS, MHi).

The memorial was intended as a definitive statement of the protectionist or restrictionist position on the tariff and as a reply to the memorial of the Free Trade Convention in Philadelphia written by Albert Gallatin (see above, entry for 20 Feb., note). Like Clay’s reply to Gallatin, but in a more veiled manner, the memorial attacked the “foreign origin” of the anti-protectionist ideas and alluded to the interests of “the Swiss manufacturer” being served by it (Memorial ... of Friends of Domestic Industry [Washington, 1832], p. 9; HA, Gallatin , p. 641).

Friday. 20th. CFA Friday. 20th. CFA
Friday. 20th.

It is now one week that we have had very bad weather all the time. The rain of today was again mingled with snow and the whole appeared cheerless enough. I read some Italian and went to the Office, from thence to the Athenaeum where I lounged an hour out of the reach of Mrs. Armstrong. But my time was a good deal wasted. I also 283managed to accomplish a little more of Gibbon. What a dreary waste, the history of the middle ages. Religion mystified,1 morality forgotten, murder and robbery stalking over the earth, it seems as if all the elements of the social system had been separated and thrown aside. Nothing else material.

Afternoon, began reading Sismondi’s History of the French.2 I have some idea of writing something upon it. It takes up the same wretched period which I have just passed through in Gibbon.

Evening. Went to the Theatre and heard Mr. Sinclair and Miss Hughes in Cinderella.3 They jointly make a pretty interesting entertainment. But the latter is not nearly equal in point of power to Mrs. Austin. She has a voice of a lower tone but does not seem to sing with so much ease to herself. He seems to have no middle key in his voice. He runs from a low one directly into a high one without being able to command any variety of tones. Yet his training is pleasant. I accompanied Mrs. Frothingham, her Children and my Wife. On the whole I was pleased. Returned rather late. Read only the Rambler.

1.

That is, made into a mystery.

2.

Jean Charles Léonard Simonde de Sismondi, Histoire des Français. The edition owned by CFA and now at MQA was that published at Paris, 1821–1844, in 31 volumes. The period up to the 15th century is treated in the first 12 volumes.

3.

The performance of Cinderella (Cenerentola) was the 28th of that opera in Boston and the final one of the engagement of Elizabeth Hughes and John Sinclair at the Tremont Theatre (Boston Daily Advertiser & Patriot, 20 April, p. 3, col. 4; on Miss Hughes and Mr. Sinclair, see Odell, Annals N.Y. Stage , 3:545–560 passim).