Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 6

Wednesday. 17th. CFA Wednesday. 17th. CFA
Wednesday. 17th.

Fine morning after a gentle rain during the night. I went to the Office after writing a good deal of my new draught of my numbers. The Centinel in reply to me is so feeble that I consider the question for the most part abandoned by it.1 I have now nothing left but the Appeal which I am going to subject to my father’s examination although I know it will discourage me.2 After a visit from Mr. Walsh and working upon my Accounts I returned home and wrote the remainder of the morning finishing the argumentative part of the second number.

Mr. Frothingham and Mr. Davis dined with me and had a pleasant time after which the latter accompanied me to Quincy. We found my father and mother quite nicely and the former in an agreeable, talkative mood. We thus enjoyed an agreeable discussion upon matters of 160literature, history and government in which my father as usual showed his extraordinary powers of memory. I think this is the defect of my education.

After remaining there until after tea, we left. I called upon Mrs. T. B. Adams for the purpose of having off my mind the payment of money which she must need. Found her at Mrs. Miller’s whither I followed her. The intrusion was perhaps thought singular with so great a collection of ladies, but I accomplished my work and then returned home to Boston which we reached late.

1.

The Columbian Centinel’s comment (17 June, p. 2, cols. 1–2) on CFA’s No. 9 is more an announcement of the forthcoming series on “the ‘main question’ ... the Constitutionality of the Executive Patronage Bill” than a reply to his last.

2.

JQA’s attitude would be anything but discouraging. His diary comment was that Charles “has commenced as a writer of political controversy.... His nine numbers have already drawn considerable public attention, and these papers when published in the Centinel, will draw much more. The undertaking is perilous; for it is to counteract a prevailing torrent of popular opinion, in the place where he resides. But he has the cause of Truth, of Justice and of the Constitution” ( Diary, 17 June).

Thursday. 18th. CFA Thursday. 18th. CFA
Thursday. 18th.

A beautiful morning. I took a vacation from writing today in order to give myself some variety. Office where I passed two hours as usual in examining Accounts and writing Diary.

At eleven I returned home for the purpose of taking my child Louisa to the exhibition of mechanical figures by Maelzel. He has made a collection of all the extraordinary pieces of workmanship which have occupied the attention of ingenious men. A tight rope dancer with music, a lady playing the piano, a boy drawing, and a little figure imitating the motions of reading, rising, bowing and sitting down. Besides these are a little spider, a lizard, a mouse and a man. The latter by far the most difficult and the least successful. This last cost three year’s labour and is not worth an hour’s. Yet the exhibition is a very curious one to grown people and pleasing to children.1 It lasted about an hour after which I returned to see Mr. Brooks and from there to Durand for the purpose of making an arrangement for his sitting.2

Home. The Afternoon and evening devoted to a perusal of the whole debate of 1790 which exhausts the subject. I noted all the points.

1.

Although John Maelzel’s reputation had been won by creating automated novelties and spectacles for adult audiences (see below, entry for 16 July and note), he was also an early and successful deviser of entertainments for children, to whom he offered special attention ( PMHB , 84:72, 79–80, 82 [Jan. 1960]).

2.

CFA, pleased with the portrait of 161his father, commissioned Durand to paint a likeness of Mr. Brooks as a gift for ABA; see entries for 22, 25, 27, and 30 June, below, and vol. 2:ix–x, above. The portrait is reproduced in that volume, facing p. 304.