Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

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.

1.

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.

2.

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.

Friday. 16th. CFA Friday. 16th. CFA
Friday. 16th.

Clear and cold. I went to the Office and was tolerably industrious the whole morning reading Lingard. He does not please me quite so much in his history of the Reformation. The reign of Edward 6. is one in which he has full scope. The difficulty I now find in him is that he attributes too much weight to the influence of the Crown. He makes 400Henry and after him the Protector Somerset do pretty much what they have a mind to from motives the most equivocal, and insists upon it eleven twelfths of the People were against all change. This cannot be true. If it had been, the insurrections that took place could not have been quelled by the Protector so easily. The fact is that the reforming doctrines had taken deep root in the Country, and there was a general indifference to the Catholic Religion which paralized every exertion to counteract them. Even the Rioters claimed the ancient rites rather as matter of discontent with the Government, just as they did Agrarian laws, than from any fanatical enthusiasm. Had this existed in truth, Henry would have found himself at his wits end.

A walk, felt better today. Miss Carter and Miss Gorham, Abby’s friends dined and spent the day here. I worked upon Antimasonry and upon Marmontel. My time has not for a long while been so faithfully spent.