Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

Monday. 11th. CFA Monday. 11th. CFA
Monday. 11th.

The Winter will not leave us. This morning we had snow and sleet and weather altogether disagreeable. I went to the Office. Nothing new. Wrote a good deal and made some progress in Sparks, the latter part of whose book is very cautiously worded indeed. He says but little respecting the violent days of the embargo and the war.

Took my usual walk. In the afternoon, I attended a meeting of the stockholders of the Boylston Insurance Co. for the purpose of learning something in regard to their Affairs. Found them not so well off as 47I anticipated. The amount of business is so trifling that any loss comes hardly. They have no means of setting aside a reserve to meet it and make Dividends too. I crossed over and then attended a Meeting of the Directors of the Boylston Market. Nothing material done. A good deal of talk about that stock. Mr. Williams1 would give 130 for it. He will drive every body out of the Market literally.

Quiet evening. Read Madame de Genlis and Mrs. Child. Afterwards, Herder.


John D. W. Williams; see vol. 3:150–151.

Tuesday. 12th. CFA Tuesday. 12th. CFA
Tuesday. 12th.

Morning mild but cloudy and rain. I went to the Office and was occupied as usual. Finished Mr. Sparks’ book. He is a writer who has gained reputation by the absence of every thing that can interest any body. He is not a bit more attractive than an old Almanack. Yet having got hold of the subject of the American Revolution, he interests people through that and makes money. Gouverneur Morris lived a life which might have been made vastly amusing.

Went to the Athenaeum. Learnt that the body of Mr. Dehon had been found in the harbour. Poor man. Life’s fitful fever is over. He is before another and a final tribunal.

Afternoon read Cardinal de Retz. He is composing a Manual for an Intriguer. He affects a candour in judging of himself which he does not feel, and claims a merit which he does not deserve. His principle was a sham. His life a disgrace.

Evening, finished the first volume of Madame de Genlis’ “parvenus.” I wonder what could have given her books so much success. To me they are intolerably tedious. A letter in the life of Gouverneur Morris gives some insight into her own character. Another intriguer. Finished Mrs. Child’s book. Afterwards, Read German which continues exceedingly difficult.

Wednesday. 13th. CFA Wednesday. 13th. CFA
Wednesday. 13th.

Morning wet and mild but it afterwards cleared away with a North Wester. I went to the Office and was somewhat occupied. Mr. Curtis came in with General Towne from Worcester County. And they wished me to draw up a Deed and Mortgage for the purpose of selling the remainder of the land owned by Mr. Boylston at Princeton in the 48homestead, with the exception of the 600 Acres reserved.1 They wanted it done by noon tomorrow, so that I worked pretty steadily until one and finished all but the description, which for the present, I merely put into a rough draft.

Took a walk. On my return home found Miss Elizabeth Phillips who has come to spend some days with my Wife. She has altered much since I first saw her. Her spirits have not yet recovered from the shock experienced by the behaviour of her lover.2 Afternoon, reading de Retz whose book does not hold on perfectly from its containing a little too much of the same thing. Evening, read one of Horace’s Satires, though they are misnamed, and then went to a little party given to the bride Mrs. Stevenson—Only forty or fifty people and a little fatiguing. We got home at half past ten.


Upon the death of Ward Nicholas Boylston of Jamaica Plain and Princeton, Mass., JQA and Nathaniel Curtis of Roxbury, appointed by his will as coexecutors, made CFA conveyancer for the estate. General Salem Towne had been the purchaser of several parcels of the extensive land holdings. See vol. 3:5, 78, 85–86.


Elizabeth Phillips, a cousin of ABA’s from Andover, had, a few months earlier, been jilted on the evening intended for the wedding; see vol. 3:146; 4:416.