Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

Wednesday. 27th. CFA Wednesday. 27th. CFA
Wednesday. 27th.

Our usually quiet habits have been so exceedingly disturbed of late that I confess I looked with great pleasure to the moment when we might get back to them again. I confess I am not made for a gay, dissipated life. I have tastes of home, which absence from it only makes more sensibly felt.

Went to the Office. Felt unwell and feverish all day. Received a letter from my Father1 inclosing the Conveyance made the other day in which I had made an important omission. Sat down immediately and drew up another which I sent off at once.2 A long walk with Mr. Peabody and then home. Afternoon, Cardinal de Retz of whom I finished the third volume. His escape from France was on the whole 57a surprising one—Though I should have supposed Mazarin would not have been sorry for it. My eyes and head pained me so much I was not diligent. These wens still continue to trouble me. Evening, Mrs. Trollope who is biting enough, but her book is after all a very small concern.

1.

23 March (Adams Papers).

2.

CFA to JQA, 27 March (LbC, Adams Papers).

Thursday. 28th. CFA Thursday. 28th. CFA
Thursday. 28th.

The North West wind makes our weather exceedingly cool, but it keeps it clear. I went to the Office. Read the History of the United States, the first volume of which I finished. It is a poor superficial affair. A good deal of time taken up in little Commissions of various kinds. To the Athenaeum and thence to walk. Went to South Boston which is a dreary walk. Home to dine.

Afternoon, finished the Memoirs of Cardinal de Retz. On the whole, they present no pleasing picture. He makes himself out a man of not very agreeable character to that of his profession, and he no doubt varnishes his case as far as possible—At least so says his Companion Guy Joli, whose memoirs come next. I do not know what has induced me to take to this line of reading. Perhaps I should do better to drop it. I have a hundred other things to learn of more consequence.

Evening at home. Read the Bible, Mrs. Genlis’ second volume of les Parvenus, and Mrs. Trollope. The latter is really too absurd. Afterwards I resumed German but being tired of Dr. Follen’s German Reader which I am satisfied is a very poor book for beginners, I took up at once Schiller’s History of the Thirty years war which I found easy.1

1.

A copy with JQA’s bookplate of the Geschichte des dreyssigjährigen Kriegs, 3 vols., Leipzig, 1793, is at MQA.

Friday. 29th. CFA Friday. 29th. CFA
Friday. 29th.

Another cool fine morning. I went to the Office and passed my time principally in Accounts, bringing down those of the Quarter to the close of the month. I also went out to purchase a copy of the Report of my father which I found selling very cheap.1 The Edition at this rate must circulate.

Passed an hour in looking at Haydon’s Picture of Christ entering Jerusalem.2 I was on the whole disappointed. The canvas is too much 58crowded, it takes away all feeling of unity in the composition. Had the crowd been represented more distant this would not have been so striking, the face of the Saviour is totally unworthy of him. A gigantic figure of the Canaanitish Woman is disgusting both from its bold prominency and from it’s ugliness. Even the Penitent girl which the Painter tells us he considers as his best composition, is a great masculine figure with her back to the Spectator and without expression from her face being covered. I confess I was most pleased with the face of Joseph of Arimathea and the Ass.

Took a walk at one. Afternoon, the Memoirs of Joli.3 He is dry and uninteresting. There is none of that philosophical observation of human character that help one out so much with De Retz. Evening at home, finished Trollope, Les Parvenus, and Schiller’s Thirty years war.

1.

John Quincy Adams and Lewis Condict [of New Jersey], Report of the Minority of the Committee on Manufactures, Submitted ... February 28, 1833, Boston, 1833 [37 pages]. On the inside front cover, along with Walsh’s comments (entry for 18 March, above), is a preface, unsigned [by CFA?], giving the background and circumstances of the preparation of the Report and estimating its significance beyond the immediate issues: “Under the guise of a Report, Mr. Adams enters into a full exposition of the domestic policy of the country, taken as one connected system, and he explains the principles which for forty years guided us in our unprecedented career.... The peculiar character of this paper is to be found in the ... complete issue it makes up with the President, and the whole race of what are called ‘strict construction’ politicians, nullifiers, and all who would stop the prosperity of the nation on a cavil for a ninth part of a hair.”

2.

The painting had been on exhibition for some months at Harding’s Gallery on School Street. It was described as 15 feet long and 12 high, six years in the painting, and the only work by Benjamin Robert Haydon in America (Columbian Centinel, 1 Jan., p. 3, col. 2).

3.

At MQA is a copy of the Mémoires de Guy Joly, 3 vols., Geneva, 1751, the third volume of which contains the Mémoires of Claude Joly and of the Duchess of Némours.