Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

Tuesday 5th. CFA Tuesday 5th. CFA
Tuesday 5th.

Morning bright with the Sun in great force relieved however in the Country by a free circulation of Air. I went to town and to the Office. Thence to the House and afterwards performing Commissions, for my Wife and others of the family. I was also occupied in my Accounts which at this period always take up some of my time. Mr. Clough called and settled with me for an execution in favour of I. Farrar,1 and I drew afterwards my Atlas Ins. Dividend together with that belonging to the Adamses. In these various ways my time was taken up until the moment for my return.

Found my Wife not very well today, owing to the fatigue and over-excitement of yesterday and I experienced myself a languid feeling not altogether agreeable. Afternoon passed in carelessly arranging Papers. This work has been so little seconded by my Father that it is likely to turn out a grand failure. I shall leave most of the Papers in greater confusion than when I began.


Took a Bath at the Wharf with my Father and I. Hull, and from thence went to the Judge’s to pay Miss Eliz. her Quarter’s Interest. I was not however lucky enough to find her at home. Returned finding my Walk almost fruitless. The rest of the evening was passed quietly at home. Finished the Cunningham Correspondence and the Biography of my father2 together with two numbers of the Spectator.


See above, entry for 11 April.


Despite the ambiguity of its wording, this is probably a reference to the fragmentary life of JA which JQA had begun in 1829 (see vol. 3:257) and to which he returned on 26 May with the hope that he would “no more neglect it,” only to record on 7 June, “I make no progress in my father’s biography” (JQA, Diary).

Wednesday. 6th. CFA Wednesday. 6th. CFA
Wednesday. 6th.

The morning was cloudy with a warm wind from the South west which terminated in a steady rain for the day. I went to town and was occupied in making up my deficient Diary and in visiting my House for the purpose of seeing the state of my Fire place. Found it bad enough—The House being hardly a fair risk for Insurance. It seems that they cut the Fire place for my Study after building the Chimney and to give it breadth, took off a portion of the Kitchen flue without filling in with Mortar. The consequence was great danger of fire in case the Kitchen Chimney had caught. I am glad I have remedied this. Made a visit to Mrs. Sidney Brooks at her Mother’s. Found her well and quite lively. Mr. R. D. Shepherd was there. Returned only in time to start as usual.

Afternoon passed in my usual way, of filing old Letters. We had expected Mr. and Mrs. Frothingham today, but the weather prevented. Evening, the Spectator.

Thursday. 7th. CFA Thursday. 7th. CFA
Thursday. 7th.

My father accompanied me to town this morning and consequently made me somewhat later than usual. I went to the Office and passed the time much in my usual way. Writing up my Journal and Accounts. News arrived this morning of the death of Mr. Monroe. Another coincidence as it happened on the fourth of July. He was a worthy man, and his career on the whole a creditable one, but he was not perhaps entitled by nature or education to the distinction which his fortune gave him of being elected to the Presidency by a nearly unanimous vote. A thing that will not soon occur again. His later hours have been extremely painful to himself. Poverty and debt hung like a weight about his neck and these finally put an end to his course. He was not 85old comparatively speaking. For my Grandfather was ninety one, and Mr. Jefferson eighty four. He was seventy two. The Country has finally faced his debts, so that perhaps he does not die insolvent.1

My father returned from the Meeting of the Overseers of the College earlier than I had anticipated so that we were enabled to leave town at my usual time. The afternoon was spent as usual by me in assorting my Grandfather’s Papers and in replacing those which I find no time to arrange. I have done little in the time passed here, but that little is more than was called for. I read in the afternoon and evening a portion of the North American Review for July. The Number is generally good although I am a dissenter in many instances from the opinions expressed in it. Not having been able to obtain a new volume of the Spectator today, I read but one Number this evening.


The death of ex-President James Monroe was the occasion of widespread retrospective comment not unlike that by CFA. JQA, invited by the City of Boston to deliver a memorial address, was so absorbed by a consideration of the life of one of the last figures of importance whose public career had spanned the whole of the nation’s history that the task of condensation became impossible. See entries for 16 and 25 Aug., below.