Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

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.

1.

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.

Friday. 8th. CFA Friday. 8th. CFA
Friday. 8th.

Morning cloudy and unpleasant. I concluded not to go to Boston this morning. My time was taken up in arranging the few Papers left belonging to the period previous to 1790 and returning the balance. Very few interesting ones in comparison with the great mass. I also read a large portion of Hurd’s Commentary upon Horace’s Art of Poetry. It exemplifies the art of book-making. For Horace needs nothing but a reflecting mind to relish all his beauties. It matters little to that whether it is a regular Essay, or a disconnected series of maxims.

Judge Adams and his daughter Elizabeth dined here today. The latter seemed well, and I took the opportunity to pay her, her money. The former is irretrievably dull. I walked to Mount Wollaston to look at the condition of the Orchard down there. Found it doing nicely. The trees generally look healthy though the cold weather of last Winter killed the extremities of many of them. I took off from two of them a collection of Eggs from some Insect which I did not know. It had been formed round the small limbs of the Trees, and strongly protected by a thick, black gummy substance, so as to resist considerable pressure. If I had intended to remain out here I should have pursued the investigation, but as it is, they were better away from all harm to the Trees.

Evening quiet at home. I read Mr. Everett’s Article upon the State 86of Europe. Tolerably bold, and containing many radical principles which I cannot swallow.1 I did not read the Spectator tonight.

1.

Edward Everett’s article, “The Prospect of Reform in Europe” ( North Amer. Rev., 33:154–190 [July] 1831), was openly sympathetic to the democratic as opposed to the aristocratic forces in their current confrontation.