Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

Monday. 26th. CFA Monday. 26th. CFA
Monday. 26th.

Morning mild but cloudy with high wind. At the Office as usual where I read and finished the seventh Volume of Dr. Lingard. He is very hard upon Elizabeth as he was upon her Mother before her. And I have done feeling an inclination to justify him. The mind of man is not equal to the comprehension of truth. Some human passion will always interfere to pervert objects to the sight of even the most conscientious. I am sensible of this influence myself, and see it strongly in others. Took a walk.

A silly paragraph is running the round of the Newspapers about my father and Mr. Van Buren. I feel a regret always rising that my father should have placed himself in any situation where the public must be constantly discussing his merits. It is true the general practice of bringing him in connection with every public trust shows the confidence which all the Community place in him, but this is not enough to make up for the having his name bandied about at every corner.1

Afternoon, finished No. 4, which is, I think, the best I have written. The Editor proposes to publish them. I must therefore proceed pretty steadily in the composition. Evening quiet at home. Read a good deal of the Life of Henry Raeburn, a Scotch Painter to my Wife, but did not finish it. Evening finished by reading the beginning of Follen’s German Class Book.

407 1.

An item originally appearing in the National Intelligencer and reprinted in the Boston Daily Advertiser & Patriot (26 Nov., p. 2, col. 2) gave currency to the rumor that JQA would soon be appointed secretary of state in place of Mr. Livingston. It was alleged further that Mr. Van Buren not only favored this step but “had already suggested the propriety of naming Mr. Adams for the next Presidency, as under his broad National Banner all parties might unite, and that he himself would consider it ‘glory enough’ to serve one term as Vice under such a Chief as we now have, and another under such a Statesman as the Cincinnatus of Massachusetts!”

JQA’s name had only a few days before been given renewed prominence in the press with the publication of his letters to William L. Stone on Antimasonry. Written in August and September to Stone, who was one of the editors of the New York Commercial Advertiser and whose earlier letters to JQA on Freemasonry had been published as a book in June (see above, entry for 5 Sept.), JQA’s letters at his request had been withheld from publication until after the national election. Immediately following their publication in the Commercial Advertiser, they were reprinted widely in newspapers over the country and in pamphlet form. (Boston Daily Advertiser & Patriot, 20 Nov., p. 1–2; Bemis, JQA , 2:294–295.)

Tuesday. 27th. CFA Tuesday. 27th. CFA
Tuesday. 27th.

Fine morning. Mild as September. I thought I could not do better than to pay my last visit to Quincy, so after stopping half an hour at the Office, I went on. My ride was quite agreeable. And I found the Country did not look today quite so desolate. I looked over the books and regretted to find them in a very poor condition.1 Many of them are consumed by mould and those that have fresh sheepskin bindings are full of worms. The four years that they have been packed up, have been productive of more injury to them than the twenty in which all the rest were kept in the Athenaeum and in Mr. Lyman’s Warehouse.2 Returned home to dinner.

After dinner, began No. 5 upon Antimasonry. Labour in vain I fear, yet still it is labour and that is better than idleness. It makes me accustom myself to examine the minutiae of transactions and try to show them to the best account.

Evening. Read one of Marmontel’s Tales, “Il le falloit” rendering it in English aloud to my Wife. Afterwards. Slow progress in a German fable of Lessing’s.3


That is, the books recently received from Washington; see entry for 15 Nov., above.


See vol. 3:32. JQA, in replying to CFA’s letter informing him of the arrival of the books, wrote of his hopes upon the reassembly of his library: “[A]lthough I have been compelled to abandon the hope that I had cherished through a long life, of being able before its close to erect a building spacious enough to contain them all, and to give me the full enjoyment of them in my last days, I still indulge the anticipation that cooped and cabined as they are and must be, like the Soul within the Body, they will yet afford me pleasure and contribute to some useful purpose” (25 Nov., Adams Papers).


JQA’s bookplate is in the edition now at MQA of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Sämmtliche schriften, 21 vols., Berlin, 1771–1774. The “Fabeln” are in the 18th volume.