Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

Monday. 18th. CFA Monday. 18th. CFA
Monday. 18th.

The day was rather cloudy, occasionally threatening rain. I went to town as usual, overtaking Mr. G. Dawes. I invited him to accompany me. I was once very well acquainted with one of his brothers, and now look back upon the time with wonder at the changes which the world has produced.1 He seems to be one of the do nothings of this world, of which there are so many. Without industry and without resources, and his mind is limited almost to the circle of the senses. I went to the Office and was busy in my worldly affairs. Mr. Geitner called and paid me rent. I wrote Journal, went to the Athenaeum to get a book for my father, and passed the remaining time in writing my criticism of Mr. Otis. I shall not find time to publish it as soon as I ought. Left town at the regular hour.

Miss Elizabeth Adams dined with us. I wasted the Afternoon in putting back Papers, and in reading the North American Review. Mr. Ballister called upon me. He is one of the Consignees of John’s Flour in Boston. His request was for Instructions, as much of it was spoiling upon his hands.2 I told him I would report to my Father. In doing so, I took occasion to express my own opinions upon the expediency of his continuing the business. I did it in a firm but temperate way expressing as far as possible my own want of individual interest in the 92course I was pursuing. He seemed indisposed to listen much less to follow,3 but I have done my duty and wash my hands of the consequences. That the result would be ruin to my Father I have foreseen all along and have been trying to shelter myself as much as possible from the Storm but it comes more rapidly than I had anticipated.4

This is the last day of our visit to Quincy. In the evening I accompanied my Father in a visit to Mr. T. Greenleaf’s which I felt that I owed. Nothing new. Returned home. Read Grimm and the Spectator.


On CFA’s early friendship with Horace Dawes, a brother of George Dawes, see vol. 1:1, 395; 2:301.


To McLellan, Ballister & Co. and Rice & Thaxter, both of Boston, along with Charles J. Cazenove & Co. (above, entry for 12 May), JA2 had sent shipments of flour and had drawn on each against sales from the consignment. Apparently a minimum price had been fixed at which the flour could be sold. The intent had been to hold until winter when it was hoped the price would rise. The consignees, because of actual and anticipated spoilage during the hot weather, and in the face of continually declining prices, pressed for sale. JQA, convinced finally that there was small likelihood of a substantial rise in the market in the immediate months ahead, authorized each of the consignees, over the next several weeks, to sell at the best price obtainable. (JQA to McLellan, Ballister & Co., 28 July, 16 Aug.; to Charles J. Cazenove & Co. and to Rice & Thaxter, 15 Aug. [ LbC’s] ; also JQA to JA2, 13 Aug. [all in Adams Papers].)


JQA would seem to have been more impressed by CFA’s words than was apparent: “Charles brought me also a message from Mr. Ballister, which gave me cause enough for Meditation, and he gave me advice, which ought by me to be pondered still more” (JQA, Diary, 18 July).


JQA proposed to provide himself with a substantial sum in cash by September and had apparently made this known to CFA. Perhaps not explained to CFA was JQA’s intent to use these funds to retire the remaining notes which he and JA2 had signed jointly in Washington, thereby relieving JA2 of any liability for debts which JQA felt had been contracted at his own instance. To raise the sum needed, JQA saw two possibilities, both ominous: the pledging of additional securities as collateral for a new loan he would make in Boston, or the sale of real estate he owned in Washington. (JQA to JA2, 26 June, 16 July, 13 Aug., Adams Papers; and see also entries for 29 and 30 June, above.)

Tuesday. 19th. CFA Tuesday. 19th. CFA
Tuesday. 19th.

I left Quincy this morning, for the Season. The period passed here is exactly two Months, and on the whole more pleasantly spent than I had anticipated. The house has been more quiet, my Mother has enjoyed uninterrupted health and we have been extraordinarily free from trouble. My father has appeared to droop however, to feel oppressed by a kind of languor which for him is remarkable, and to take little interest in pursuits which one would have supposed, he might have enjoyed. I have been so unfortunate as to differ from him in several matters, and the consequence has been rather to increase than allay the evils of his condition. Under these circumstances perhaps it 93is as well that I do not remain. I regret exceedingly the dejection which he feels, and I experience the same myself, from other causes however. My reason is this, that I foresee ruin to the pecuniary affairs of the whole family and great consequent misery to his old age.

My time was occupied at my Office as usual. I wrote the first Number of a Criticism upon Otis’s Oration and attended to my Accounts. Dined at an Eating house as my Wife did not come until Evening. Afternoon passed at my study, arranging my Books, and commencing upon my task of reading the Epistles of Cicero. Began the first Book ad Familiares and read several of the Letters to Lentulus. Being in the broken style, leaving much to be supplied, I found it hard. My Wife came home to tea, and my Mother accompanied her returning in the evening. The former was so much depressed that it also affected me. Read Grimm and the Spectator.