Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

Monday. 14th. CFA Monday. 14th. CFA
Monday. 14th.

A very warm day. Our Summer comes without any Spring. I continued and finished the rough draught of my Catalogue. This will require copying after which I do not think I shall give any further trouble to that matter. Went to the Office. Received a letter and documents. The former from T. B. Adams about his Property.1 It will require an elaborate answer. Occupied in business and a walk. My time was not profitably employed however. Returned home.

Passed part of the afternoon in reading Sismondi, and rode out with my Wife the rest. Quiet evening at home. The Child was not very well today. This always affects my spirits. But independent of this I suffered considerably from depression all day.

The utter waste of my powers and my time which is taking place and the little prospect of any future improvement affect me. I have lost a great deal of the springy elasticity which distinguished me a year or two ago. My efforts fail, and my confidence in my own powers go with 298it. I hope this does not forebode what I have all along dreaded and what has been so often predicted of me, a life of ease, and of inglorious sloth. Advantageous as my situation is in a worldly point of view, I have nobler purposes to accomplish than the mere life of a fainéant. I belong to a race2 who have refused no labour, and in comparison with whom my idleness would only present a pitiful picture of degeneracy. O, May this not be!


Letter missing.


CFA generally uses the word, as here, in the sense of “family.”

Tuesday. 15th. CFA Tuesday. 15th. CFA
Tuesday. 15th.

Morning pleasant but weather very warm. I went to the Office after sitting down to have some Conversation with I. Hull. He seems very much depressed and not altogether in so good a state of mind as I wished. I now and then repent of having offered him any convenience. But I suppose I ought not to.

Began my Catalogue which I propose to be pretty careful with. Read Gibbon. Had Several interruptions and walked with Mr. Peabody. The child is not very well which always troubles us. In addition to this, we get no information from Washington.

Afternoon, devoted to writing a long letter to my father—Upon the subject of Mr. McLane’s report.1 He will not thank me for boring him upon that subject. Read a little of Sismondi. Evening quiet. My wife went to Medford with Miss Fowle. It rained a little. I read some of Corneille’s Cid. But am overcome with Drowsiness. Omitted Paley.


Letter in Adams Papers. JQA had recently sent to CFA a copy of Secretary Louis McLane’s plan for a “Judicious Tariff.”

Wednesday. 16th. CFA Wednesday. 16th. CFA
Wednesday. 16th.

Fine morning. I worked upon my Catalogue a good deal and then went to the Office. My whole available time was engrossed by my answer to T. B. Adams’s letter. I draughted his Account for the last six months and explained my views of his interest.1 This is a piece of business which I am pleased to finish. The whole is a voluntary labour without profit or satisfaction to me. I think I perceive one great difference in my own character as it is now and as it was two or three years since. Then I was anxious for occupation and responsibility. I assumed my father’s agency with pleasure and T. B. Adams’ with cheerfulness. To the former I am now indifferent, and the latter I should willingly be rid of. Experience of money affairs has made the hazards of it disagreeable. The only reason why I still adhere to my 299father’s affairs, is that I give a little something in payment for my subsistence, and that I hope at least to prevent the shocking waste of his property which has heretofore taken place.

At one, I attended a Meeting of the Bar for the election of Officers, and nonsensical debates kept me there until two. Afternoon passed in copying Thomas’ letter which I despatched. We had showers in the Evening. Read to my Wife Campbell’s Gertrude of Wyoming. It is no great thing.2 Read part of Corneille’s Cid. And my usual tasks.


CFA to Thomas B. Adams Jr. (LbC, Adams Papers).


When first published in 1809, Gertrude of Wyoming, a Pennsylvanian Tale, established Thomas Campbell’s reputation as a poet.