Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

Monday. 20th. CFA Monday. 20th. CFA
Monday. 20th.

The Morning was very warm and clear, so that the riding was pleasant enough after the shower. I went to town as usual and was busy for an hour in performing my Commissions for various Members of the Family. Returned to the Office and passed some time in reading the Discourse of Agrippa to Augustus translated from Dion Cassius, and a part of that of Maecenas.1 The idea is that they gave the Emperor advice of an opposite character. One that he ought to resign, another that he ought not. They neither of them seem to me to touch the point in dispute—The particular character of the Roman People at the moment.

Returned to dinner, and after it, I read the sixth and seventh Philippics of Cicero, continuing his advice as to the course to be pursued with Anthony. They are all noble Monuments of his Patriotism, in the last hours of his life. He was one who battled with the times, and if he had not the Sternness of ancient Roman virtue, it was because the age did not admit of it. Cato was not so useful a Citizen, though of a more unbending disposition. Rome was degenerate.

Evening very warm and without air. The Mosquitoes were very troublesome. I read Dummer’s Defence of the New England Charters2 and the Spectator.


The two orations on monarchy were taken from the 52d book of Dion Cassius’ Roman History; they appear in vol. 8 of Bibliothèque de l’homme public as “Discours d’Agrippa et de Mécène à Auguste.”


Defence of the New England Charters by Jeremiah Dummer was first published in London in 1721.

Tuesday. 21st. CFA Tuesday. 21st. CFA
Tuesday. 21st.

Morning warm but cloudy. The Air having the sultry character of August. I went to town as usual and have rarely experienced more of heat. My time was taken up in Commissions for my Father. First to my House, next to State Street for the purpose of finishing the business of his Loan, which I did.1 I then answered a letter from my Brother received this morning, about a proposed loan of Mr. Frye’s, which is curious from the apparent confidence of the proposition.2 The hours passed in this way with great rapidity and I returned to Quincy.

The heat ended today in occasional showers during the afternoon. I read the Eighth and Ninth Philippics of Cicero upon the course to be pursued after the return of the Embassy to Antony and upon the Honors due to Servilis Sulpicius. This business of honors was one of the greatest signs of the decay of the Republic. For the rest, these are like all his latter Orations, fluent and honest. Took a Bath with I. Hull in the Evening, and read J. Otis’ Rights of the Colonies asserted and the Spectator.


JQA had given CFA a power of attorney to transfer 50 shares of New England Insurance Co. stock as collateral for a loan ($5,000 for 6 months at 4 1/2 percent) which P. P. F. Degrand had negotiated at the American Insurance Co. CFA received the money and deposited it in JQA’s account at the U.S. Branch Bank for withdrawal by JA2 to meet his and JQA’s joint note at the Union Bank of Georgetown due on 26 June (JQA, Diary, 10 and 21 June; JQA to JA2, 14 and 26 June, Adams Papers).


JA2’s letter is missing. In it he wrote that their uncle, Nathaniel Frye Jr., had requested him to inquire of CFA at what interest Frye could borrow in Boston with a mortgage on his house in Washington as collateral. CFA’s reply was a discouraging one; he doubted that any loan would be made on property outside the state, certainly at no less than a 6 per cent rate. CFA to JA2, 21 June (Adams Papers). On Frye, see vol. 1:4 and Adams Genealogy.

Wednesday. 22d. CFA Wednesday. 22d. CFA
Wednesday. 22d.

The Morning was bright and cool. I had intended remaining quietly at home but made accidentally an engagement which I felt obliged to fulfil, so I went to town and called at nine o’clock to see Dr. Stevenson, and consult him about my Wife. Found him and was satisfied with his replies. Time taken up at the Office as usual. One or two calls. One from a Creditor of New’s whom I paid. Finished the imagined address of Maecenas to Augustus and not much edified. Began the Analysis of Mirabeau’s Ami des Hommes, apparently a work upon Population and 73Political Economy,1 but I could accomplish very little of it before it was time to return to Quincy.

Mr. J. Coolidge called upon me to assist the Fayetteville sufferers which I declined doing. It is a difficult thing to resist public charities. The man who can say No in this Community must have firmness as well as judgment. I reflected upon my opinion in this instance and hope that it was just. My share of assistance from peculiar circumstances in my situation must be necessarily small, and I am therefore driven to choose what I shall patronize. The town of Fayetteville has so much excited the public sympathy that I doubt not it will have more ready Cash in it than it has had for many years, if ever. I therefore think they are not so pitiable as many objects we have nearer home.2

Afternoon passed in reading Cicero’s Tenth Philippic upon the course to be pursued after the receipt of the Letters from Brutus. It is animated and worthy of a better age and a bolder audience. But Antony had friends in the City, who though they could not entirely destroy the ancient spirit had a considerable influence in damping it. Mr. and Mrs. Farrar from Cambridge called and took up half an hour so that I did not accomplish as much as usual.3

Evening quiet at home. I finished J. Otis’s Rights of the Colonies asserted—A Work more applauded than it really deserves. It wants method and clearness. The ideas are just but not developed with grace. It was lucky in its time, for now much more would be required. Indeed the difference in the demands of the public is very striking— Though the masculine character of works has been injured. The Night was beautifully clear. Miss Adams and Mr. Gourgas were here. Read the Spectator.


“L’ami des hommes, ou traité de la population” is in vol. 8 of Bibliothèque de l’homme public.


Fayetteville, N.C., had several weeks earlier been ravaged by a fire that left the larger part of its population homeless. Collections for the sufferers had been begun almost immediately and a city-wide committee on relief appointed. (Boston Daily Advertiser, 6–14 June passim.)


On Professor John Farrar, see vol. 1:100–104, 239. Farrar and his wife had been acquainted with the Adamses in England and at Washington. Now in poor health, Farrar was preparing to go abroad and wished a letter of introduction from JQA to the president of the Royal Society, the Duke of Sussex (JQA, Diary, 22 June).