Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

Monday. 19th. CFA Monday. 19th. CFA
Monday. 19th.

A lovely day. I went to town with Mr. Brooks. Time taken up in some Commissions and at the House where I copied a letter to my father written yesterday and afterwards dispatched it.1 Afterwards, Accounts. Nothing of particular consequence transpired. The prob-315ability seems now to be that Congress will sit until quite late, and very probably the family will scarcely come from Washington at all, or if a short time, not till our engagement at Medford shall be well closed.

Returned to dinner. Afternoon, a little of Mandeville, and Sappho to Phaon which I compared with Pope. Some passages seemed to me better and some poorer. But the general spirit well maintained. Evening, Hume’s Essays. Tried to write a little.


To JQA, 18 May (LbC, Adams Papers).

Tuesday. 20th. CFA Tuesday. 20th. CFA
Tuesday. 20th.

Day pleasant although somewhat cooler. I read Italian for some time and then rode to town accompanied by Mr. Brooks. Passed some time in writing, reading from Mr. Jefferson’s work and at my house. Nothing new. Returned to Medford and occupied in the Afternoon in reading Mandeville. Ovid, Paris to Helen, an epistle the authenticity of which is very much doubted. There are fine points in it nevertheless. The objection however still exists of the immoral character of the piece, an invitation to commit adultery. Evening, Hume’s Essays.

We have now been two weeks at Medford and I find nothing to object to the residence except it’s enervating character. I feel a languor, an inaptitude to exertion coming over me which will very probably in it’s tendency be fatal to my success. I have tried to contend against it with some effort, but the influence of circumstances prevails. I may continue however to cultivate myself and enjoy the luxury of literature as a resource from the dangers of idleness and apathy.

Wednesday. 21st. CFA Wednesday. 21st. CFA
Wednesday. 21st.

Very warm and pleasant day. I accompanied Mr. Brooks to town and not having much of any thing to do, I sauntered into the Artist’s Exhibition for an hour. Four of the Boston Painters appear to have assumed the business of showing their works. Harding, Doughty, Alexander, and Fisher.1 The pieces of each are of very unequal merit. Harding does not appear to me to improve. Alexander has. Fisher and Doughty being needy are obliged to paint too much for sale. Nothing that I saw counterbalanced the unpleasant feeling produced by the multitude of portraits of people who have themselves painted without rhyme or reason for the mere gratification of their beautiful selves— of this vanity comes all the support our poor artists get.

Home. Mr. Shepherd and P. C. Brooks and his Wife dined. Mr. 316Stetson called in afterwards. Thus the afternoon passed and I only reviewed a little of the Epistle to Helen. Evening, Hume’s Essays, and writing without profit or aim.


Chester Harding, Thomas Doughty, Francis Alexander, and Alvan Fisher had recently banded together to establish at Harding’s rooms on School Street an “Artist’s Gallery” in which their works could be exhibited for sale. Unlike the annual exhibitions at the Athenaeum Gallery, the proceeds of which were used to purchase paintings for the Gallery’s permanent collection, the profits from the sale of tickets at the “Artist’s Gallery” were shared among the four artists (Mabel M. Swan, The Athenaeum Gallery, 1827–1873, Boston, 1940, p. 98–99).