Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

Monday. 22d. CFA Monday. 22d. CFA
Monday. 22d.

The day was exceedingly warm. I went to town, according to agreement for the purpose of collecting rent, but was disappointed, as I was also at Payne’s hill where I called before starting.


I remained very quietly at my Office all the morning reading Marshall’s Life of Washington, and I could not help being astonished at the vast amount of difficulty to be overcome to get our present system of Government into action. Nobody but Washington could have started the vessel. It is hard enough for others to keep it afloat. Returned to Quincy—My horse suffering more from the heat that I ever knew him to do for the five years that I have used him.

Afternoon, wrote my Diary, read an Ode or two of Horace finishing the second book and began copying some of the Letters to my Grandfather. I have been reflecting that as there seems no immediate prospect of a continuation of my father’s proposed biography, there is very great probability many of the valuable evidences may be lost which are exceedingly important as testimonials. I have concluded to take copies of them, without saying any thing to any body.1

The Evening was bright and warm. Mr. T. Greenleaf and his two daughters were here for an hour. It is the first time for two years that the Portico has been delightful to sit in, which always puts me in mind of former days. Read the Observer—Cumberland’s peculiar view of Harmodius and Aristogiton.


In the Adams Papers is a volume of 115 pages, mainly in CFA’s hand (M/CFA/31; Microfilms, Reel No. 327), consisting of transcripts from the letters of JA and AA and also reminiscences of JA by others. Most of the work was done during 1833. The first page bears a note:

“Quincy. July 23, 1833. The Manuscript papers of the late John Adams are in a state of confusion and liable to destruction from a variety of accidents that might happen. As this state of things does not at present seem to be likely soon to be remedied, I have thought it expedient to copy into this book, such Letters as from their nature are most liable to be lost, while at the same time, they are valuable as testimonials in the hands of his posterity. As I go on in my investigation, it is possible I may find other papers, copies of which I shall be glad to embrace in my present plan. I hope thus to form a volume which will be of value to myself at least, even should events show my labour to have been a useless public precaution. Charles Francis Adams.”

Tuesday. 23d. CFA Tuesday. 23d. CFA
Tuesday. 23d.

The day was quite cool with an Easterly wind which to the feeling was very pleasant after yesterday’s heat. I was occupied all day pretty busily. Read Horace and finished Tudor’s Life of Otis besides copying several Letters into my book.

My new scheme may lead me into an extensive examination of the papers remaining which will not be without its uses to me hereafter, I hope. I read this afternoon a portion of the correspondence of my Grandfather with his Wife about 1780–82 which is exceedingly char-133acteristic.1 I do not know a part of his private MS. which are calculated to be more amusing. There is nothing in them but the high toned honesty which prevails in all his actions throughout his Life. But the gentler tones of affection are constantly to be found in them, and here it is that the public understands him very little.

Elizabeth C. Adams spent the day here. She is better since her return from the Journey lately taken with Mrs. Miller. Evening quiet at home. I was exceedingly drowsy, but managed to copy a letter for my father2 besides reading a couple of the Observer.


The letters of this period are contained in vols. 3 and 4 of Adams Family Correspondence .


JQA’s reply (LbC, Adams Papers) to A. H. Everett.