Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

Monday. 14th. CFA Monday. 14th. CFA
Monday. 14th.

Milder with the wind more from the Southward. I went to the Office. But my time was not very usefully taken up. After getting through ordinary duties, I attended the annual Meeting of the Stockholders of the Suffolk Insurance Company—My Stock there being sufficient to make it an object. The Report of the President was very satisfactory. For seven years they have never omitted a Dividend, and now they have forty five thousand dollars in crib1 over the Capital. They have also paid seventy odd thousand dollars for losses during the last year. It seems to me that on the whole it is fair to suppose that in the run of any seven years with the same direction no worse fortune may be expected inasmuch as the losses have been twice within those seven years excessive. I am glad to hear this Account inasmuch as my investments here have been at a high rate of premium, and I was fearful I had been hasty.

Took a walk and then home. After dinner wrote on the article which I am rapidly closing. At five went to the Athenaeum to a Meeting of the Stockholders about one or two motions to increase the privileges of the Reading public. I expected a debate but nothing took place. Voted against the motions and then went to the Tremont House to meet my Wife and Mrs. Gorham Brooks with whom I crossed over to the Theatre.2 Mr. Sinclair and Mrs. Austin in Cinderella. The Music of that Opera charms me always, and I prefer her singing a thousand times over to that of Miss Hughes. The mere Spectacle went wrong perpetually.3 We returned rather late.

1.

That is, in reserve or storage, by abbreviation and transfer from corncrib ( Dict. of Americanisms ). The transfer might have come equally well from the name given to the reserve pile of cards in cribbage ( OED ).

2.

On the two impressive structures designed by Isaiah Rogers and located on opposite sides of Tremont Street, see vol. 3:xiii–xiv.

3.

The singing of Mrs. Elizabeth Austin, especially in the adaptation of 11Rossini’s Cenerentola, was one of CFA’s persistent enthusiasms; see vol. 4:ix, 263–264, 283. He writes of the operatic season in Boston and comments on the principal performers in a letter to LCA (27 Jan., Adams Papers).

Tuesday. 15th. CFA Tuesday. 15th. CFA
Tuesday. 15th.

Coldest morning we have had. It moderated afterwards. I went to the office. Time taken up as usual. Read a Chapter or two of Lingard. Reign of Charles the second. Singular Revolution of sentiment and shows the danger of straining the human mind too high. No interruptions. Took a walk for which I felt the better. My Stomach seems to be becoming more quiet. It is but within a year or two that I have suffered from it.

Afternoon and evening engaged upon my article which I have again finished. And I read it over afterwards to myself. It has taken me a week to write it. And it struck me so deplorably poor, I was completely disheartened. I shall do no more. I have kept up my courage so far, against every species of disappointment, hoping always that at least there was some substance to redeem my style, if there was much dross. But it does seem as if there was not enough. And I must cease to write or attempt to acquire reputation beyond that of a moral and quiet member of the Community. This at least is within my power. Read to my wife from Lady Craven. Some observations are too sensible to have originated with her. She heard and copied them from others.

Wednesday. 16th. CFA Wednesday. 16th. CFA
Wednesday. 16th.

The weather suddenly changed during the night, and it was sultry with a Southerly wind and rain in the morning. I went to the Office. A letter from T. B. Adams, in reply to my semi-annual statement and mentioning his departure from Camp Armistead to Fort Mitchell in Alabama. He seems to be likely to pass pretty thoroughly over the Southern Country.1 I read Lingard and wrote my Diary as usual. Nothing new. Walk and home.

Afternoon, resumed the second Philippic of Cicero which I had begun some time back. It is a powerful specimen of invective although far too personal for what we should call good taste. Yet I am at a loss to know why if a man confines himself to speaking truth of an adversary he should not as well expose private as public vices. The latter are a natural consequence of the former. The only obstacle is the difficulty of avoiding slander in the mouths of the unscrupulous. In other respects, the power of Cicero is no where more visible than in this 12Oration. It’s vehemence is charming. That is the study for a writer who desires to assume the grand style.

Evening quiet at home. Read more of the Margravine. A curious book for trifling. Resumed my German which my studies had broken off.

1.

While Thomas Boylston Adams Jr., a lieutenant in the U.S. Army, was in service and after his father’s death, CFA acted as his financial agent; see vol. 3:2, 337, and Adams Genealogy. The letter is missing.