Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

Thursday. 20th. CFA Thursday. 20th. CFA
Thursday. 20th.

Beautiful morning. I staid at home quite late on account of one of the Conants from Weston who came in with some Wood and some money, both of which were very acceptable. My father’s affairs in this quarter look somewhat gloomy. The interest he pays on his debts is consuming,1 and his management does not make what property he has most productive. I felt again depressed, but rather relieved by writing my Diary. Read Lingard and took a walk.

Dined at Mrs. Frothingham’s. Company, Mr. Brooks, Mr. Gorham Brooks and his Wife, Mr. Stetson my Wife and self. Returned in the evening after a short interval at home.

Gorham Brooks is the most singular of the world. He advances startling doctrines upon all subjects. I always endeavour to keep my tongue quiet but there are moments when the impetuosity of my natural character will burst forth and then it rushes with tenfold violence. I was impelled to day as I ought not to have been. I may as well now as at any other time, take myself to task for the warmth of my temper. I ought daily to set before myself some monitory sentence to guard me from the natural and powerful tendency of my own passions. In other climates, it would matter little, but here where the natural character and manners are cold, mine appear unpleasantly. I must learn to press down, to restrain the intense force of my feelings. I must teach myself to dissent only in mind, to give no vent to thoughts let them rush up ever so thick, to assume nothing, to arrogate 425nothing. O! God, thou who lookest down upon all our efforts whether they tend to good or ill, who knoweth the inmost heart of man, guide me in the path when my steps are feeble, show me the true road when I am going upon a wrong one. Let me not fall when I may be weak. My will is to do well, but my power sometimes deserts me in my utmost need. I do not enough study the spirit of the Christian Religion. Read German after my return.


LCA, two months earlier, had written that the debts on which JQA was paying interest amounted to $40,000 (to JA2, 20 Oct., Adams Papers). This figure seems excessive, however. In scheduling his debts in the course of preparing his will, JQA had listed $13,000 of bank loans and $14,404 due the heirs of JA (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 203).

Friday. 21st. CFA Friday. 21st. CFA
Friday. 21st.

Morning clear and fine. I went to the Office as usual. Then to the Athenaeum for the purpose of getting some more of the volumes of Lingard. This took some time. I then went down to take up a Note of my father’s and renew it paying the Interest. These various operations kept me so long that I had very little time to devote to my regular reading. Our days have now reached their shortest. And I hope my industry will increase as they will, in future. Under a depression of spirits which I can not understand and which is unworthy of me, I am likely to suffer time to pass without due improvement. The hope of being useful has stimulated me heretofore and under it the six weeks elapsed since my return home have been much improved. But I have been considerably disappointed in my success. I probably expected too much. Took a walk.

Afternoon, did not write a word. Continued Villemain. I find no reason to change my opinion. A superficial translation of Hume, varied occasionally by extracts from the party Memoirs of the period without any discrimination in regard to the weight of the evidence he uses. I am surprised at M. Villemain.

Evening, my Wife had company. Her brothers Henry and Gorham, with his Wife, Miss Carter and Miss Gorham with her brother. It was a little stiff, no very animated conversation. I read no German.

Saturday. 22d. CFA Saturday. 22d. CFA
Saturday. 22d.

A severely cold morning. Went to the Office as usual. My No. 4 appeared in this morning’s Newspaper and put an end to my doubts concerning its reaching its destination safely.1 What the motive could have been so long to delay it, I cannot very readily conceive. I felt 426ashamed of my late depression of spirits on so very miserable an account.

Wrote at the Office and read some of Dr. Lingard. One or two interruptions. Mr. Eben. Adams from Quincy with a bill which I declined paying—My father’s funds being rather scantily off. He is so sharp a man too that I care not much to have him look to me as the source for money. Mr. Geitner also, my Tenant. He came for a subscription to a Concert which I gave him. I consider it as a matter of interest. Though I have no objection to hearing good music. Walk with Mr. Peabody. The cold was biting.

Afternoon very quiet at home. My Wife met with an accident to her teeth which produced excessive pain, and as there seemed to be no alleviation, I sent for the Dentist. She went to bed, however in very great pain. I tried to continue my numbers but the fit was not upon me. I made no head way at all. Read some of Villemain, and German. Progress tonight encouraging.


Boston Daily Advocate, p. 2, cols. 4–5.