Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

Tuesday. 13th. CFA Tuesday. 13th. CFA
Tuesday. 13th.

A fine day. I felt pretty well although a little uneasy. Went to the Office. Pretty industrious in reading Dr. Lingard. He affirms pretty positively that Anne Boleyne was the King’s Mistress. I hardly believe it, first, because if she had been the King would not have cared about marrying her, second, because she had no children until after her true marriage. The fact that the child was premature is however somewhat in favor of his position. I do not know what to think but shall read Burnet.

Mr. Conant from Weston came in and we proceeded to make a 398settlement of last year’s Accounts, upon the sales of Wood. I somewhat regret that I have not better accountants to deal with as I cannot push these men to the exactness which all business requires, but if I believe them honest in substance I suppose that is as much as I ought to require. At least it is what I might not get.

Afternoon, continued writing upon the Anti Masonic subject but I do not at all satisfy myself. The intricacy of the detail is what discourages the attention of the many.

Quiet evening at home. Read to my Wife part of the life of Romney the Painter. It is interesting although the name and style of the painting is not familiar to me. Afterwards, I continued working upon the Antimasonry. Political results are curious enough. The whole nation seems to have gone by acclamation for General Jackson. Yet Can we believe him to be a good or a great man.

Wednesday. 14th. CFA Wednesday. 14th. CFA
Wednesday. 14th.

Weather changed today and it became chilly and with a feeling of snow. I went to the Office. Time passed with tolerable industry. I make more progress in Lingard than I have been accustomed to in reading at my Office. The only interruption was William C. Greenleaf who has at last arrived and informed me of the place where the vessel is. I immediately went down, saw the Captain and made my arrangements with him for getting the boxes removed tomorrow. William C. Greenleaf has been here since Friday and might have stayed a month longer in all probability if I had not sent for the information that was necessary in the case.

Dined early at Mr. Frothingham’s with him, our two ladies being gone to Medford, and started at two for Quincy. The Country looks desolate enough, and to go to a House deserted, which you have been accustomed to find full of persons of your own family is the climax of cheerlessness. I drove first to the Canal Wharf and found a sloop just starting for Boston with whose skipper I made a bargain, then to the House to give the necessary directions there. Mrs. Kirk seemed to be fixed quiet and solitary enough. I returned at sunset and had a comfortable evening at home. Continued working upon Antimasonry.

Thursday 15th. CFA Thursday 15th. CFA
Thursday 15th.

Cold but clear. On account of my ailing, I thought I would change my diet in the morning to Rice and Milk, but it gave me a head ach this morning so that I shall not try it again. Read Lingard all the time 399that I was not engaged in superintending the disembarkation of all my father’s prints and things. To attend to these I left my house at eight in the morning and was busy about them in all two or three hours. I got the prints safely to my house and in the afternoon opened them. They are on the whole in as good a condition as I expected. Three or four of the glasses are broken and one or two otherwise injured, but the mass are pretty well preserved considering where they have been for eight years.1

Took a long walk. Time so much broken up in the afternoon that I had only a moment or two to look into Burnet for the purpose of examining the other side of the question of the Reformation.2 My Wife took tea out so that I had the evening. Began translating “le trepied d’Helene,” and was much entertained by my attempt. The style is peculiar. My first effort will be a lame one. It seems to come easy however.


CFA dispatched twenty-four heavy cases of books to Quincy by lighter. “The remainder I caused to be landed on learning that some of them contained broken things. They contain your prints and pictures — Your little busts and Madame’s china cups and saucers. Such as appeared in good condition have been sent to Quincy by Mr. Baxter.... The Glasses in three of the frames of prints were broken.... And many of the Engravings are otherwise injured from the cause that affected those last year. Such as required it most, and were worth it, have been sent to be cleaned and repaired. Some remain at my house to go to Quincy in the course of the Winter” (CFA to JQA, 18 Nov., LbC, Adams Papers).

To this report that his artifacts had been received and were being properly cared for, JQA responded: “Of all my Prints, that which you have of Cicero at his Villa, has the deepest and strongest hold upon my affections, and next to that, my six little bronze Busts, the two Philosophers, the two Orators, and the two Poets, come closest to my heart. I would not speak it profanely, but to me they are as household Gods. I have missed them from my mantle piece for the last four years, but hope to have them replaced there at Quincy next Spring, and that in due time they will pass from mine to your’s” (JQA to CFA, 25 Nov., Adams Papers). In the will which he had lately drawn JQA identified the busts more precisely as those of Socrates and Plato, Demosthenes and Cicero, Homer and Virgil, “which I have been used to keep on the mantle piece of my writing chamber” (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 203).

The busts in their place as here described are illustrated in the present volume; see the Descriptive List of Illustrations, p. vii.


The edition of Gilbert Burnet’s History of the Reformation of the Church of England published at Oxford in 1816 in 6 vols., which CFA owned, is now at MQA.