Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

Tuesday. 2d. CFA Tuesday. 2d. CFA
Tuesday. 2d.

Morning fine although the wind was a little Easterly. I went to the Office after walking a little while on the Common with my Wife and child. At the Office time taken up in Accounts and in listening to Applicants for the house at the corner of the Common. A Mr. Fuller came and took it rather against my Will.1 I then went out and was busy in giving various orders for the purpose of getting it ready. I must however inquire a little about Mr. Fuller. Went to see about my Horse and found he had arrived—So that I can now begin my expeditions to Quincy.

Walk as usual. Afternoon at home, reading Mr. Guy Joli. I am tired of him, he does however expose some curious things and he teaches one great moral lesson, of how debasing to the finest intellect the slavery to any sensual passion in a course of years becomes. Old age loses all it’s dignity when it clings so to the flesh. Evening quiet at 61home. Shakespeare’s Merry Wives and Schiller, but the night is not the proper time to read German.

1.

Elijah Fuller was to prove a punctual tenant of 105 Tremont Street for four years (M/CFA/3).

Wednesday. 3d. CFA Wednesday. 3d. CFA
Wednesday. 3d.

Out early this morning to make arrangements and draw Money from the Bank in order to go to Quincy. Started at ten and got there in an hour—My horse being very lively. Walked to Mrs. Adams’. Settled Affairs with her though Elizabeth being out, I did not see her. Then back to the old Mansion where I saw painter and carpenter, and gave the necessary orders for the little Repairs which I contemplate executing this Spring.1 Saw Carr the Tenant and endeavoured to be looking out after a man.2 On the whole I did as much today as I expected, and even more, for my time was very limited.

Returned home to dinner. The ride out had been delicious, but my return was in one of the Easterly breezes which are cheerless enough. After dinner, finished Gui Joli and was glad enough so to do. I shall stop here with that pursuit. What to take up next is the question? Evening quiet at home. The Merry Wives. Omitted German and read the Account of the French Revolution. There is nothing new in it, excepting the statement of the utter ignorance in which the King and the Ministers appear to have been of the public feeling. If not so clearly vouched it would appear utterly incredible.

1.

Among CFA’s responsibilities as JQA’s agent in managing his properties in Boston and Quincy was maintaining the Old House in good repair and preparing it each year for occupancy by the family upon their return from Washington.

2.

In addition to the Old House, JQA’s lands in Quincy, inherited from JA, included the farm at the foot of Penn’s Hill and a tract at Mount Wollaston. John G. Carr was the latest in a series of tenants (see vol. 3:38, 186; 4:249, 261).

Thursday. 4th. CFA Thursday. 4th. CFA
Thursday. 4th.

Rain with Easterly breezes. This was the day appropriated for the regular Fast—A custom of Puritan origin which has gone somewhat to decay.1 It being observed far more as an occasion for feasting and excess.

I finished the Account of the French Revolution. Attended divine service at Mr. Frothingham’s where the collection of persons was somewhat small. Mr. F. preached from Proverbs 20. 1. “Wine is a Mocker.” His subject was Intemperance, which he announced to be 62peculiarly appropriate to the day, as probably this of all the year was the occasion of the greatest excesses. A singular though perhaps a correct assertion. He considered it as the prominent National vice. Much had been done to check it, though occasionally with a somewhat injudicious zeal. “Wine is a mocker” because it deceives in every respect. It presents itself in the attractive form of social enjoyment until it destroys the spirit of society. It promises strength and gives weakness, it seems to sharpen while it actually dulls the faculties. It is the purpose of this day to amend by the consideration of one’s faults. Let every man reflect upon this and so regulate his conduct. A very good Sermon and I am sorry there were not more to hear it. Afternoon, Mr. Parkman.2 Psalms 106. 3–4. “Remember me, O Lord, with the favour that thou bearest unto thy people. That I may see the good of thy chosen, that I may rejoice in the gladness of thy nation, that I may glory with thine inheritance.” The Preacher reproved us a People, for a somewhat excessive self-complacency, for a tendency to worldliness and for slander and party spirit. All of which is true and fair enough.

I remained at home afterwards, reading Voltaire’s Correspondence which is the luxury of idleness. But not being satisfied, I began Botta’s account of the Revolution.3 My Wife took tea at Mrs. P. C. Brooks Jr. Mr. Degrand called in for half an hour. I went for Abby at 9. Supper. Gorham Brooks and his Wife there. Return at ten.

1.

On the custom in New England, see vol. 3:208–209.

2.

Rev. Francis Parkman, on whom see vol. 3:51, 204–205.

3.

CFA was reading Charles Botta’s History of the War of the Independence of the United States of America in a version in English by G. A. Otis (below, entry for 6 April). In MQA are JQA’s copies of two editions of this translation (3 vols., Phila., 1820; 2 vols., Boston, 1826) as well as one in French (4 vols., Paris, 1812–1813). The copy of the 1826 edition had been GWA’s.

CFA returned from time to time to Voltaire’s correspondence. The 16-vol., 1785, edition in MQA, which in the note at vol. 1:139, above, is said to be of the Oeuvres complètes, is of the Correspondance only.