Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

Friday. 5th. CFA Friday. 5th. CFA
Friday. 5th.

A warm hot cloudy day with a southerly wind and rain. I went to town in the Carriage with Mr. Brooks and Sidney and Wife. Time passed very quietly at the Office in writing Diary and setting down some thoughts which I have entertained an intention of communicating to the world. Whether I shall do it, or this will prove only one of a thousand abortive attempts I am as yet puzzled to know.

Sidney Brooks came in for half an hour to inquire if my father could give him any letters of recommendation to Europe whither he pro-380poses to sail on the 1st of next month. I told him exactly how I believed my father stood in those respects, that he had been long at home and that most of those persons whom he knew were dead. He said he was aware of the fact. I promised with this understanding to state the case.1

Home in the rain. I have for several days been suffering with a great oppression upon the chest caused by a cold and today felt particularly unwell. Afternoon quietly at home. Read Madame de Maintenon and Ovid. Evening, German.

1.

On 24 Sept. JQA wrote letters introducing Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Brooks to Edward Livingston, U.S. minister to Paris, to Daniel Brent, American consul there, and to Aaron Vail, chargé d’affaires at London. LbC’s of these letters and a draft of JQA’s covering letter to Brooks, dated 26 Sept., are in the Adams Papers.

Saturday. 6th. CFA Saturday. 6th. CFA
Saturday. 6th.

This being the day fixed for the delivery of the Eulogy of La Fayette by Mr. Everett, Mr. Brooks, my Wife and I went to town in the Carriage. The day was very fine and the town seemed to be all in motion. I went to my house where I found my father, mother and Walter Hellen who had come from Quincy for the occasion. Thence to the State House. Being a member of the Committee of arrangements I enjoyed its privileges, though it must be confessed I have not troubled myself much with its pains. We were kept waiting for nearly two hours, but at last started upon a very long procession, the length of half the town. This took us until two o’clock. We reached Faneuil Hall and obtained seats not far from the Speaker—Being within one on his right. The Hall was appropriately decorated and the ceremonies effective.

Mr. Everett fulfilled the public expectation. It is now many years since the last time I heard him in the House of Representatives. He has gained in manner by throwing off the formality which still remained to him from the pulpit and by perfect ease and self possession. His modes of hitting the audience remain the same, brilliant contrasts, happy allusions, striking anecdotes, but there is no depth or maturity of thought, no greatness of view, no ingredients that make the Statesman or the Philosopher. As a popular festival Orator he will be unrivalled, but I doubt his success as a name for futurity. He appeared very much exhausted by his effort to speak, and closed sooner than he had intended.1

At four o’clock the ceremonies were through. I joined my father and 381father in law, and Walter Hellen to go to Mr. Frothingham’s to dine. My Mother and Wife, Edward and Sidney Brooks with his wife made up the company. We had a tolerably pleasant time and returned home quietly to Medford. But I was so very much fatigued that I could not remain long up.

The standing and walking and hearing and seeing in such a day fatigue me more than the hardest work. I am not fond of this overturn of life, not all the distinction in the world could make me think it more than a heavy tax one pays to society. The happiness of life is the quiet enjoyment of the pleasures of the world—The moderation of man’s desires, the peace of his conscience, the blessedness of his social relations. I hope that my aim will be good, that I shall be seduced by no jack a’ lantern to injure so much of those ingredients of happiness as I already possess.

1.

“A splendid Oration of an hour and fifty minutes was delivered by Edward Everett. He ... for lack of time abridged his discourse perhaps nearly an hour.... It was delivered every word from Memory—his manuscript lying on the table, and he never once recurred to it” (JQA, Diary, 6 Sept.).