Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

Thursday. 30th. CFA Thursday. 30th. CFA
Thursday. 30th.

Dull morning but it afterwards cleared away. I remained at Quincy. In the hope of improving my time better, I this day moved my place of study to the Office, and devoted a considerable portion of the morning to reading the first Chapter of Neale’s History of the Puritans.1 My winter’s examination of English History has given me a pretty good idea of the subject of this book. Yet I may here pick up bits.

I take up the work as preparatory to a general view of American History which it is highly necessary for me to take. The very extraordinary slowness of my father in doing any thing with the Papers which were a legacy to him for the purpose of using, and his perceptible 97advance in age warn me of the necessity of gathering what I may for some distant occasion.2 My present leisure could not be better employed.

I have finished the Epistles of Horace and begin the Epodes. Afternoon, a walk to Payne’s hill in quest of rent. I pick it up by driblets. It is hardly worth the trouble—I mean my Commission for which I do it. Evening, Madame de Sevigné and the Observer.

1.

Daniel Neal’s History of the Puritans ... to 1688 is in MQA in an edition in 5 vols., Newburyport, Portsmouth, and Boston, 1816–1817.

2.

Upon his retirement from the Presidency, JQA had projected as an occupation for himself the writing of a biography of JA and had in a desultory fashion, under CFA’s persistent urging, composed some of it. However, he never summoned the necessary enthusiasm for the task and was drawn ever farther away from it by his return to the political arena (see vol. 3:257; 4:175, 352).

Friday. 31st. CFA Friday. 31st. CFA
Friday. 31st.

Fine morning. I went to town. My time was consumed at the Gallery, in my performance of Commissions and at the Office. I met at the first several acquaintances and did not enjoy myself as much as when I am entirely alone. Pictures require a perfectly quiet, contemplative mood. They call for the exercise of imagination. I might sit and enjoy some single pictures for hours. One thing however strikes me, which is the disagreeable contrast between the old and the new pictures. There is a want of tone in most of these which is manifested very much. A fury of colouring that regards little but the most unpractised eye. We are behind in Painting in this Country.

Saw Mr. Frothingham for a moment, and called at Mr. Brooks’s. Then out of town. Afternoon, reading Horace. Interrupted by a visit from Miss Julia Gorham and her brother. In the evening also Mr. Whitney with his two daughters were here.

Finding that according to my present mode of life my Journal is interrupted, I brought it to Quincy with me and was engaged in bringing up the Arrears of it. Elizabeth C. Adams spent the day here. She looks better than I expected to see her. But she seems to be in a bad way. Her situation is one of an unpleasant character. Contracted in marriage for many years, and likely to remain so indefinitely.1 Read Madame de Sevigné and the Observer.

1.

To ECA’s other problems was added the threat of tuberculosis. “She is in a very bad way. She has been ordered to ride on Horseback and stays with Mrs. Miller to ride at the manage. Mrs. M. has been a Mother to her. Gourgas goes on as usual. He has not been near us” (LCA to JA2, 25 May, Adams Papers).