Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

Monday. 15th. CFA Monday. 15th. CFA
Monday. 15th.

The weather promised to be warm so that I concluded to remain at home. It was in fact however quite tolerable the wind coming out from the North West. I went to the Bath and enjoyed a very agreeable plunge. My way is not to remain long enough to fatigue myself and yet to obtain the benefit of the freshness. I read a little of Horace and also some of Neale and Tudor’s life of Otis, but I do not advance much in my project. I want energy to begin.

The Afternoon was passed in reading St. John de Crevecoeur. He gives some statistics which for that period were no doubt quite valuable, and some account of customs which are curious and to me in a great degree new.

Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Lee came out and paid a visit this Afternoon. Mrs. A my Mother was too unwell to see them. She is suffering severely from her old complaint the Erisypelas. In the evening I went 128out in the Carriage with my Wife and the Children. Little Louisa, our child was taken sick and gave us some trouble. She is in the process of cutting teeth and gives us much anxiety. We did little or nothing. I read the Observer.

Tuesday. 16th. CFA Tuesday. 16th. CFA
Tuesday. 16th.

Fine day and as cool as need be. I rode to town by way of the Neck for the purpose of seeing the improvements going on there. Roxbury is receiving a great deal of the surplus population of the Capital and bids fair itself to become quite a City. The peculiar situation of Boston insulated as it is, prevents the possibility of an indefinite increase, and the progress of the building mania has already taken up most of the vacant spots. The price of land is so enormous that I do not wonder so many people prefer to avoid it. An admirable house might be built for the money that a small one costs with the land in the centre of the City. Boston has unquestionably been under an impulse within a few years which makes one wonder at the remembrance of what it was.

My morning was not very usefully spent. I hardly know what I did with it, excepting to pay a few bills and make up old accounts. Stopped in at a second hand book store where I purchased a nice copy of Grahame’s History of the United States.1 I also went in to see the collection of Pictures belonging to the late President Jefferson, which are poor enough in all conscience.2

Home. My Mother was quite ill all day but more particularly in the Afternoon. Dr. Holbrook came over and seemed to comfort her more by his mildness of manner than by his medicines.3 I read an Ode or two of Horace and some of St. John. Quiet evening.

1.

CFA’s copy of the 1827 edn. of James Grahame’s History is in MQA. He had earlier given careful study to the work and had published an essay-review of it (vol. 3:27, 204, 213, 226).

2.

The paintings from Thomas Jefferson’s collection were on exhibition at Chester Harding’s Gallery on School Street and were to be auctioned on 19 July. They were said to have been acquired by Jefferson in Paris with the assistance of John Trumbull, then living there (Columbian Centinel, 13 July, p. 3, col. 1). The titlepage of the catalogue of the collection issued before the auction is reproduced in the present volume; see also p. xi–xiii, above.

3.

On Dr. Amos Holbrook, see vol. 3:287.

Wednesday. 17th. CFA Wednesday. 17th. CFA
Wednesday. 17th.

The day was cool. I remained at Quincy and occupied myself in reading according to my usual way. An Ode or two of Horace, a Chap-129ter of Neale who becomes more and more prosaic as we go along. Tudor’s Life was more interesting. He gives sketches of three of the leading men of the day, Hawley, S. Adams and Hancock, which I compared with those drawn by Hutchinson. Considering the difference of the source, I think the likeness is tolerably kept. While Tudor either does not mention at all or softens away the unfavourable portions of character, Hutchinson makes them a little the strongest, but both admit the correctness of each other, the one by confessing the faults, the other by allowing the virtues. This is as much as can be expected from history.

Poor Hutchinson. Dr. Holbrook was only yesterday telling a Story of Dr. Jeffries visit to him three days before his death. He then regretted his house on Milton hill, and his old habits in his native State.1 Such is the fate of Man.

Afternoon reading St. John who was a little dry and uninteresting. I called in the evening at Mrs. T. B. Adams. She has gone to Medford. Saw E.C.A. her daughter with whom my little business was. Saw there Miss Smith, Mr. Beale and Mr. Gourgas. Returned home at nine. My Mother was much better today.

1.

Dr. John Jeffries, a Bostonian and a loyalist, afterward practiced in London, where, in addition to attending former Governor Thomas Hutchinson, he was present for the birth of JA’s first grandchild, William Steuben Smith, in 1787 (JA, Diary and Autobiography , 3:203). Hutchinson built his celebrated countryseat on Milton Hill in 1743 and resided in it, mainly during the summer months, with pride until 1774, when he left Massachusetts for England. The history of the estate is to be found in Malcolm Freiberg, Thomas Hutchinson of Milton, Milton, Mass., Milton Historical Society, 1971.