Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

Tuesday. 11th. CFA Tuesday. 11th. CFA
Tuesday. 11th.

Another very beautiful day. What a contrast between this and last year. We then were suffering under the severest of the Winter. I look back upon that time with a lively remembrance of the anxiety and discomfort that attended it. Yet it was on the whole a prosperous Winter to me. This year, I have been much more free from care and trouble yet it may not turn out so successfully to me. Let me not worry my mind. I trust in a higher Power.

At the office—Engaged in Diary and Accounts. Went into State Street, and drew a Dividend upon my Columbian Ins. Shares. None upon my father’s in the New England. My Affairs have done exceedingly well this year, while I regret to say those of my father have gone backward. One or two calls. A Mr. Flagg about some Boylston Market Shares he wanted transferred, and William C. Greenleaf respecting his return to Washington. I took the opportunity to make of him some inquiries about the state of things there, John’s health, and the success of the Mill—The answers to which were not in any one point encouraging. The horizon looks black in that quarter. Took my usual walk —Mr. Peabody with me. He and I though now good friends, have not exactly the same agreement of opinions that we formerly had.

Afternoon quiet at home. At work upon No. 8. But I was not at all satisfied with the result. My No. 3 was published this morning. It does not meet my expectation, in print.1 Quiet evening. Read Malvina and continued the life of Flaxman. Afterwards, I began an extract from Wieland but did not get through the first sentence which reached down the page.2

418 1.

“A Brief History of the Masonic Outrages in New York,” Boston Daily Advocate, 11 Dec., p. 2, cols. 3–4.

2.

Christoph Martin Wieland’s Geschichte der Abderiten had been published at least as early as 1781. From CFA’s words, however, it seems likely that what he was reading was a selection from the work in a German reader, Follen’s or another’s.

Wednesday. 12th. CFA Wednesday. 12th. CFA
Wednesday. 12th.

Warm, but heavy clouds and rain. At the Office much as usual. Read Lingard very attentively and finished the History of the Reign of Elizabeth. He treats her character very harshly, by heightening her follies and shading her good sense. She was nevertheless a very remarkable woman. Her successful career brought England up to the first rank among Nations. And her Ministers made themselves a lasting reputation for wisdom by their judicious management of a difficult game. From this last reading, however I am more and more satisfied that nothing positive can be deduced from the history of the modern world unless you put Religious feeling at the foundation. It is this to which we owe our civil liberty. But Dr. Lingard is not the man to make this discovery.

I killed half an hour looking over some books about to be sold, at Auction, and walked, though not far, owing to the weather. Afternoon, finished No. 8 which I shall be forced to write over again. And I then studied the division of the rest of my subject, which will require much reflection.

Evening at home, finished 1st volume of Malvina and the life of Flaxman. I afterwards finished two Paragraphs of Wieland’s History of the Abderites.

Thursday. 13th. CFA Thursday. 13th. CFA
Thursday. 13th.

Colder. I went to the Office and after getting through with my usual duties went out to call upon Mr. Hallett, Editor of the Advocate, in return for a visit paid by him to me. I had never seen him before. He is older than I expected and not at all the kind of man, but his conversation is full of information and his appearance intelligent.1 After a considerable stay, I went to the Athenaeum where I obtained a book or two and from thence to a Sale at Mr. Cunningham’s at which I purchased several works which I did not want. What a difference in satisfaction there is upon such occasions. When I buy a really useful book to me at Auction cheap, I am always glad of it. But when my purchase is merely for cheapness I regret it.

Afternoon, continued upon Masonry. Read several papers given me by Mr. Hallett, and began writing over No 7. I found it exceedingly 419hard work. My mind was not quiet. O, the difficulties of writing, and the uselessness of it. Yet day after day multiplies a thousand fold what man writes.

Evening quietly at home. Read Malvina, and began Lockhart’s Life of Burns.2 Apparently a tolerably agreeable book. Afterwards, travelled through two more paragraphs of Wielands. A paragraph is a sentence.

1.

Benjamin Franklin Hallett (1797–1862) was a graduate of Brown University, had practiced law, and had been a newspaper editor in Rhode Island before moving to Boston to become editor of the Advocate in 1831. He soon assumed leadership in antimasonic politics in Massachusetts. A fairly extensive correspondence between JQA and Hallett, largely on antimasonic affairs, began just at this time, on 10 Dec., and continued through almost the whole of JQA’s interest in Antimasonry to 25 June 1836. An exchange of letters between CFA and Hallett covering a much briefer span, Nov. 1836 —July 1837, reflects the shift in CFA’s interests also, but more significantly the change in Hallett’s political stance and the end of CFA’s use of the Advocate for the expression of his opinions. Hallett’s later course, a refutation of his early principles, took him far from the Adamses’ position on public issues. ( DAB ; Bemis, JQA , 2:279–351 passim; Duberman, CFA , p. 46–57 passim. Hallett’s letters to and from JQA and CFA are in the Adams Papers.)

2.

John Gibson Lockhart, Life of Robert Burns, Edinburgh, 1828.