Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

Saturday. 5th. CFA Saturday. 5th. CFA
Saturday. 5th.

Fine day. Office. Mr. William Spear called upon me to let me know that William Field one of the Tenants had run away from Quincy after having embezzled and forged to no inconsiderable amount. Loss to my father of half a year’s Rent and House vacant. At the same time here the Tenant has gone from the House in Court Street without paying his last month’s due. These are losses resulting from the state of the times. I gave Spear a general power to collect the remaining rents for fear of loss.1


Accounts. Walk. Afternoon reading Constant and Cicero. Mr. Brooks came in by request to see my Wife and they settled it between them that we are to go out on the tenth of May to Medford. In the mean time there seems to be a probability of the adjournment of Congress. I never was more in doubt in my life.2 Evening quietly at home, reading Miss Edgeworth’s Manoeuvring and German.


The defections of Field and CFA’s employment of Spear in his own stead as JQA’s agent in Quincy are reported in CFA to JQA, 18 May (LbC, Adams Papers).


CFA reported the tentative arrangements in a letter to LCA (5 April, Adams Papers). ABA would remain at Medford in charge of Mr. Brooks’ household for two months. CFA’s stay was to depend upon the adjournment of Congress, he to go to Quincy whenever the family arrived.

Sunday. 6th. CFA Sunday. 6th. CFA
Sunday. 6th.

Fine day but cool. I attended Divine Service all day and heard Mr. Frothingham and Mr. Ripley. The first from 6. John 57. “As the living Father hath sent me and I live by the father: so he that eateth me even he shall live by me.” A Sermon upon the Communion, explaining the common understanding of the words with us and the effect of them in their operation upon that ceremony. The other from 4. Amos 12. “Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel: and because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel,” upon death and deathbed repentances. Mr. Ripley is no doubt a good thinker and a fluent writer, but I can never feel much pleased with his discourses, nor do I admire in any degree the sort of character which my College associations invest him with.

Read a Sermon of Atterburys. Text. Matthew 27. 25. “Then answered all the people and said, His blood be on us and our children,” the curse of the Jews, its fulfilment and the justice of God seemed to be the leading topics of it. I think Atterbury’s second set of Sermons not so good as the first. Indeed with the exception of a few of the first, they are all indifferent. Evening quietly at home. Read Miss Edgeworth.

Monday. 7th. CFA Monday. 7th. CFA
Monday. 7th.

Morning pleasant. I went to the Office and passed my time very easily. My office boy has deserted me and consequently half the time I make no fire. My Office is dirty and on the whole very disgusting. I wish I could make some arrangement by which to give it up, and make 291one at home, but this is not possible while I live in my present house.

Walk and Newspapers. Athenaeum. What an idle life! After dinner finished Benjamin Constant whose book has not held out equal to my expectation. His theory is a doubtful one, but I like his incidental criticism. Cicero, fourth Tusculan upon the Passions. He argues in favor of perfect apathy, and I do not know but he may be right.

Evening. Theatre with my Wife. The Hunchback. Sir Thomas Clifford by Mr. Kemble, Julia, Miss Kemble. This piece I saw performed about eighteen months since and then gave my opinion of it in this Diary. The inferior parts were then better cast than now but Miss Vincent though thought by some equal appeared to me inferior by far to Miss Kemble. The former wanted ease, she spoke too fast, and had not so much expression. Indeed, this is the great point of the latter. Her eyes give her great power. Mr. Barry though respectable did not equal Mr. C. Kean.1 Home. Half an hour to the Mille et une Nuits which are charming.


CFA’s response to The Hunchback by Sheridan Knowles and to its earlier performance is at vol. 4:413–414. The Kembles’ engagement, announced as their “farewell,” was to end on 11 April (Columbian Centinel, 11 April, p. 3, col. 4). CFA’s final verdict on Fanny Kemble, as is suggested in the present passage, was a highly favorable one: “I cannot help thinking that with all her mannerism and affectation she has points which I have not seen elsewhere equalled” (CFA to LCA, 2 April, Adams Papers).