Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

20 Wednesday. 30th. CFA Wednesday. 30th. CFA
Wednesday. 30th.

Morning cloudy and mild. I went to the Office. Received a short and exceedingly dispirited letter from my Mother.1 She has been ill, and John and my father, and she hints at depression from circumstances which I pretty well understand. I am very fearful of events in that quarter.2 They involve consequences which I have been labouring hard to counteract. A little more time and fortunate incidents might do so. I put my trust in a higher power.

Read Lingard and was engaged much as usual. Walk. Felt singularly. I believe it is the consequence of my present habit. It must be altered. Afternoon, lazed over Anquetil’s spirit of the Fronde. I must settle down into a more regular occupation. Listlessness comes over me. This must be avoided by proposing some new subject of investigation, or continuing old ones. Evening at home, reading Caroline of Litchfield and Lady Craven. Afterwards, reviewing Wieland, I find I have made some progress.


Letter missing.


CFA’s concerns about his mother and father in Washington were of several sorts. Their repeated spells of illness, together with the general ill-health of his brother John (JA2) and his wife and children, CFA tended to blame upon a combination of Washington’s climate and poor household management. CFA also continued to oppose JQA’s decision to return to the political scene in Washington. Finally, his father’s and his brother’s financial affairs in Washington, especially the debt-ridden Columbian Mills, seemed to CFA to offer little hope of improvement. On these matters, see vol. 3:xxxi; 4:79–80, 92, 370, 424–425.

Thursday. 31st. CFA Thursday. 31st. CFA
Thursday. 31st.

A snow storm and the first we have had this season. It makes a great change in the appearance of things. However severe the cold may be, there is nothing of Winter until snow comes. I went to the Office. Examined and squared my Accounts for the month.

Then read Lingard whose fourteenth and last Volume I finished. His history has on the whole been quite interesting. It is avowedly written to sustain a religious party and is therefore occasionally rather disposed to conceal the true state of the Catholic question. But apart from this it is generally candid and disposed to sustain the liberal view of the British Constitution. I believe I shall now read James Macintosh for the purpose of rectifying.1 And if this does not give me some basis in English History I do not know what will. I have an idea of undertaking an examination of American History from the beginning to help me in any future undertakings I may meditate. But it is dimly 21shadowed forth before me. I know not exactly where to begin. Supposing I were to write at the same time.

Did not walk today. Afternoon, I continued Anquetil’s spirit of the Fronde. Character of Mazarin. How the world has been governed, and is and will be. Evening quiet at home. Caroline of Litchfield, Lady Craven and reviewing Wieland.


Sir James Mackintosh was a writer for whom CFA came to feel a peculiar affinity and from whom he frequently derived stimulation. He returned to the reading of one or another of his historical or philosophical works again and again. The History of England, for example, which he was to pursue for the next several months, had been part of his reading program a little more than a year earlier; see vol. 4:165, 441.