Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

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

Fine day. I arose and immediately after breakfast returned to Boston. Passed my morning very quietly at the Office writing and making up Accounts. There is no time flies so fast with me as the morning and yet there is none in which I do so little.

Returned to Medford at noon. Found my Wife with Mr. and Mrs. Frothingham, and soon after came Mr. R. D. Shepherd and a Mr. Harrison from Louisiana, a relation of Gorham Brooks’ partner at Baltimore. The dinner was dull, and I felt very dull myself. So that I did hardly anything for the afternoon.

As Mr. Brooks and Abby went out in the evening, I made up a little of my allowance of Ovid and read some German—Part of one of Augustus Lafontaine’s familiar Historys in German.1 Also two Cantos of Chaucer’s Knight’s Tale modernized by Dryden.

352 1.

CFA was to use the novels of August Heinrich Julius Lafontaine (1759–1831) for his German studies during the remainder of 1834, and in 1835 as well. Two sets of his Familien Geschichten, one in 2 vols., Berlin, 1797, the other in 8 vols., Berlin, 1800–1801, are at MQA.

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

I came into town with Mr. Brooks and found my father at the Office when I got there. He had made such arrangements as necessitated my going to Quincy with him in the evening. Much of my morning was passed at the Athenaeum in reading a new book upon Railroads that struck me very much. If the statements of the Author whose name is Grahame are true, Railroads must cease to be private property.1

I went into the Athenaeum Gallery and saw two marble busts, one of Mr. Webster and the other of Mr. Bowditch, by Frazee of New York.2 They are certainly admirable. I think far superior to any thing of Greenough’s excepting perhaps the bust of Mr. Quincy. I do not speak of his works of imagination.

My father returned to the office from a meeting of the Overseers of Harvard University. He seemed unwell and out of spirits. He complained of head ache and resumed the conversation of the other day.3 I shall have to reflect well upon my course in this matter, and especially refrain from the expression of individual opinion.

I went over to Charlestown and dined with Mr. Everett. Nobody but Mr. Brooks and myself. The dinner was not pleasant. I cannot like that gentleman. My efforts have been great and they have been perpetually defeated. His public popularity is to me unaccountable.

Returned to town to ascertain the arrival of the mail and with it my father’s horses and carriage which had been sent to Dedham for the contingency of my Mother’s arrival and if she did not come, to return to town. I saw nothing of them so that at seven o’clock I hired a Chaise to take my father who had dined at Dr. Parkman’s to Quincy.

In the interval however, I observed the ascension of Mr. C. F. Durant in a balloon. He rose from the bottom of the Common at about 6 o’clock and moved rapidly to the North East gradually rising until he appeared like a mere speck in the horizon. The day was so clear that it was a beautiful spectacle and the whole town and it’s vicinity were alive to witness it.4 Such is the daring of man in pursuit of mere pelf, for the idea of philosophical advancement is pretty nearly given up. He was last visible directly over the Ocean. Evening fine. I arrived at Quincy at nine but no horses or carriage there.

353 1.

Perhaps Thomas Grahame’s Treatise on Internal Intercourse and Communication in Civilized States, London, 1834.


The marble busts of Webster and Nathaniel Bowditch by John Frazee were the first of seven for which he was commissioned by the Athenaeum between 1833 and 1835 and which remain there. Frazee, originally a stonecutter, at about the time of his sculptural commissions became the architect of the New York Custom House (Mabel M. Swan, The Athenaeum Gallery, 1827–1873, Boston, 1940, p. 143–147; Groce and Wallace, Dict. Amer. Artists ).


Probably that in regard to JA2 on the 29th. JQA recorded in his journal: “I was very unwell almost the whole day, with a severe feverish headache, and a load upon the Spirits, almost beyond my strength to bear” (31 July).


JQA and the guests at Dr. George Parkman’s dinner rose from the dessert to witness the event from the top of the house (JQA, Diary, 31 July). A contemporary print of the ascension appears in the present volume; see also p. xix–xx.