Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

Wednesday. 12th. CFA Wednesday. 12th. CFA
Wednesday. 12th.

Fine day and mild as May. I went to the Office. Occupied in my Accounts and paying off as many of my engagements as possible. This took me some time. I had some to spare for Jefferson’s Life which I began. I wish to read this with attention and observation.1


Walk. Afternoon, Constant who begins his system while he attacks the habit of system making. Phormio of Terence and as my Wife was out a Speech of Mr. Canning upon the Congress of Verona. It is on many accounts very remarkable. There is some prophecy in it. A person in considering the present state of things feels almost sick at heart. The democratic principle is sweeping with such ravages over us. Mr. Canning foresaw it.

Went to Mrs. S. Gray’s in the evening—The family, and Mr., Mrs. and Miss Sumner. Cards and light supper. On the whole we got through the evening very well. Home by ten.


The reading here begun of Thomas Jefferson Randolph’s 4-volume edition of the Memoir, Correspondence, and Miscellanies of Jefferson had been preceded by the reading of numerous reviews of it, conversations about it, &c., since its appearance in 1829. See above, vols. 3 and 4, passim.

Thursday. 13th. CFA Thursday. 13th. CFA
Thursday. 13th.

A very fine day. I went to the Office and was occupied in my usual manner. Made some progress in the Life of Jefferson and was much struck with his Account of the Debates in the first Congress. It is quite a pity that he had not continued them more fully. Was engaged in several commissions which consumed some of my morning.

Walk and home. I did not accomplish much this afternoon, as my wife wanted me to give directions and superintend the table she proposed to entertain her guests with this evening. We have been invited out this Winter to the houses of every member of the family and this was designed as a general return for the civilities. Mrs. Everett, Mr. Brooks, Mr. and Mrs. Frothingham, Mr. and Mrs. P. C. Brooks, Mr. and Mrs. Story, Miss Henrietta Gray, Mr. and Mrs. W. G. Brooks, and Edward Brooks made the company, being the largest I have ever entertained. We had a very pretty light supper, and tolerably agreeable time until ten o’clock when they all arose and dispersed. On the whole, I was glad to get rid of this kind of engagement at once.

Friday. 14th. CFA Friday. 14th. CFA
Friday. 14th.

Fine day but cool. I went to the Office, but was not very industrious. Read the National Intelligencer for the Debates and was somewhat surprised at Mr. Webster’s tone which intimates pretty decidedly a refusal to adjourn during the present unsettled state of the times.1 Of course, this will make us a summer residence here—A thing hitherto untried.


Mr. Walsh came in and consumed some time. He is lengthy when he comes. Walk. Afternoon, Benjamin Constant, but he did not interest me. Continued Terence’s Phormio, to the last Act. Evening quiet at home, which is agreeable as a variety from the past. Ennui and conversation. Afterwards I read German.


Webster’s speech touching adjournment, along with Henry Clay’s, appeared in the National Intelligencer on 10 March (p. 3, cols. 1–4).