Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

Thursday. 21st. CFA Thursday. 21st. CFA
Thursday. 21st.

Morning cloudy and cool. I went to the Office as usual but must plead guilty to a great deal of idleness. At the Athenaeum, where I read the English Newspapers and Magazines. I think the alteration in the British mode of thinking is one of the most surprising incidents of the present age. They talk democracy more than I ever expected to hear 53them. Query, Is this for the better? I fear not. My doubts as to the durability of our Government lead me to hope that others will be aware in time of the danger to be incurred in adopting our principles.

Took a walk. Afternoon, busy copying my letter which engrossed nearly my whole time. I read a little of Retz finishing the second Volume. My Wife and Miss Phillips took tea out so that I spent my Evening studying Architecture. It must be a delightful pursuit but then it is an enormously expensive one. Our little fortunes in this quarter would vanish in a trice before it. For myself, I do not know that I shall ever want to exercise myself practically in it, but at any rate, it is a useful branch of refined acquirement.

Went in the Evening to Mrs. Frothingham’s. Found there, Gorham Brooks and his Wife, William G. Brooks and our families. Nothing material took place. I returned home with the ladies at ten. The Wind had come round to the South and it was warm.

Friday. 22d. CFA Friday. 22d. CFA
Friday. 22d.

The day was a lovely one. I went to the Office and from thence to the Athenaeum after lounging round idly at various places. Read several Articles in the Quarterly Review, done in the blackguard style of that periodical. One upon Coaches amused me a good deal.1 The perfection to which riding has been carried in England is very surprising. In this Country we have great facilities through our water communications. We improve also, every year.

Intended a walk this fine day, but an engagement or two disappointed me. Dined with Mr. Frothingham, my two ladies being there. Conversation with him afterwards upon the Brooks family and the prospects of some of the Members. We agreed in wishing them well.

Returned home and did nothing but draw up a Caption to my father’s Report. Evening quietly at home. Mrs. Trollope’s second volume.2 She does tell a good deal of truth. We ought to see ourselves and take advantage of even such corrections. The style of self puffing is rather ludicrous. Architecture afterwards.


An essay-review of The Traveller’s Oracle by William Kitchener and The Horse and Carriage Oracle by John Jervis (Quarterly Review, 48:346–375 [Dec. 1832]).


Domestic Manners of the Americans, borrowed from the Athenaeum.

Saturday. 23d. CFA Saturday. 23d. CFA
Saturday. 23d.

Another beautiful day. I went to the Office and was engaged there part of my time in writing, partly in reading a little of the History of 54the United States and partly in correcting proof of my Father’s Report. I drew off the final copy of my Caption, and took it to the Office to be referred to Mr. Davis. Thus went the morning with a long walk in consequence of the beauty of the day.

After dinner I was engaged in drawing off the last of my Sherry Wine purchased some time since from Mr. Williams. In consequence of my want of confidence in my Man, I did the whole of the work myself. Afterwards, I read a good deal of Cardinal de Retz. Felt interested in the account of the Meeting with the Grand Condé, but on the whole, as Voltaire observes, there is a very great inequality in the style. Some portions are decidedly heavy.

Evening quietly at home with my Wife and Miss Phillips. This is almost the first evening since her stay that we have been domestic. Her spirits require company and variety. And I think her stay with us has improved them. Read Mrs. Trollope. She did not see the best Society. But she judged well of what she did see. An American could judge equally well of England. It is all nonsense. Architecture and the Connoisseur.