Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

Friday. 17th. CFA Friday. 17th. CFA
Friday. 17th.

Rain in the morning. I was in doubt as to what to do. Remained at Quincy until nearly ten o’clock when as it seemed to hold up I thought it best to start. My time was in this manner shortened in Boston very much. As there was no additional case of Cholera reported, the public seemed to be a little more quiet. Mr. Degrand called in and I purchased five shares of the Columbian Insurance Co. Stock, and the transfer was effected today. Two of these are on account of my father.1

Horatio Brooks accompanied me to Medford. I found the ladies had concluded not to go to Nahant yesterday, after I left there. So that I might have been saved my visit to Quincy. Mr. Brooks and Horatio went. There may have been other reasons for this change of resolution. I should regret it if I had prevented my wife from enjoying herself.

Quiet afternoon and evening. The weather cold. I read part of Mr. 348Canning’s life, Vol. 3d, in which he treats of the United States and the Colonial question. Also made up my numbers of the Adventurer.


Purchased at $115.25 a share as a part of CFA’s program to keep fully invested JQA’s funds that might shortly have to be paid to JA’s heirs (M/CFA/3).

Saturday. 18th. CFA Saturday. 18th. CFA
Saturday. 18th.

Morning cloudy. I went to town accompanied by my Child’s Nurse who went in for the day. She being somewhat ponderous retarded my progress a little. Morning consumed very much as usual. I purchased and began to read the exposition of the Committee of the Rhode Island Legislature who investigated the business of Masonry and published a Report, the Copy Right of which was secured according to law.1 A very extraordinary proceeding. I did not finish much of it. Returned to Medford to dinner.

Mr. and Mrs. Gorham Brooks dined here. Nothing of particular consequence occurred. I continued reading Stapleton’s life of Canning, especially in the most interesting period of his life, the close. The account of the Portuguese War — “I called a new World into existence, to redress the balance of the Old.” Somewhat of the bravado style. Nevertheless Canning deserves some consideration for his support of liberal opinions at a time when a formidable combination existed against them. He was ambitious, but that surely is not a Crime if directed to an honest purpose with honest means.


Although there were a number of pamphlet publications purporting to be records of the legislative investigation in Rhode Island in 1831–1832, CFA seems to have been reading the Report of the Committee Appointed by the General Assembly of Rhode Island to Investigate the Charges against Freemasonry & Masons ... Together with All the Official Documents and Testimony Relating to the Subject, Providence, 1832. This account, the fullest of those published, consisted of the committee report of 72 pages and an appendix of 148 pages containing documents and testimony.

Sunday. 19th. CFA Sunday. 19th. CFA
Sunday. 19th.

Is it possible that I should have finished my record of yesterday without recollecting that it is the completion of twenty five years of my life? What can I say of myself on this occasion — Have I done as much as I ought to have done? Am I what I should be? He must be eminently happy who can say yea conscientiously to these questions. I believe I can say that I am happy—That my share of prosperity has continued so far increasing rather than diminishing; at all times, I will humbly acknowledge, far beyond my deserts. But I must admit my exertions not to have equalled my duty, and my success to be trifling. Perhaps my position is not by any means as advantageous as it was, and the 349habits of retirement in which I am settling down, to be making it worse daily. If so it is, I regret it. But I never will do an act merely for the sake of popularity or public attention, nor will I court any man only to advance myself. My conscience must be clear or my position will be gone. Let me, as I trust I ever will, place my great reliance in the support of the Deity.

The day was excessively rainy. We attended divine service however and heard Mr. Stetson preach two respectable Sermons. The remainder of the day was passed quietly at home. I finished the life of Canning. He died at a critical moment for his fame. No one knows how affairs would have turned out. But he did not leave an equal behind him. How totally the face of Europe is changed since his death.