Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 6

Tuesday. March 1st. CFA Tuesday. March 1st. CFA
Tuesday. March 1st.

A mild, wet day. I went to the Office, and afterwards occupied in Diary and making arrangements for the investment of Mr. Johnson’s funds. Called to see Mr. Welles, who finally concluded to pay the Draft on the day it became due. I then went to see the Cashier of the Merchants’ Bank and procured from him an advance of the sum necessary to meet the wants of the Mortgagor. Thus I settled that business. Mr. Walsh called in and held a conversation about things in general. Nothing else of any consequence.

As I was returning home, met Mr. I. P. Davis who called me in to look at the collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society. A good many very curious papers they have, and they take more pains with them than I suppose. My worthy relation, Mr. Felt is a lover of these matters and pursues them with great avidity. The MSS are the most remarkable part of the collections. Of course I could do no more than barely glance at what he showed me.1 But I lost my time for Livy by it.

Afternoon, writing to Mr. Slade which I followed up assiduously in order to finish the first paper tonight. I also read to my Wife from the Duchess d’Abrantes, which is really a very valuable book of contemporary Memoirs.

343 1.

Although JA had been elected to membership in the Massachusetts Historical Society in 1800, thus initiating the unbroken connection of the Adams family with the Society that has continued from that date to the present, there is no indication that he was ever an active member. JQA’s election to membership followed in 1802, but his almost continuous absence from Boston during those periods of each year when the Society’s meetings were held apparently prevented any extensive participation in the activities of the Society until the later years of his life. His more active participation, in point of fact, was about to commence at the time of the incident here recorded. CFA’s present visit to the Society’s rooms is obviously his first. His election to membership did not occur until 1841, from which time his lifelong interest dates. He was for many years vice-president; three generations, thus far, of his immediate descendants have served as presidents of the Society.

Rev. Joseph Barlow Felt, after a period in which he undertook to bring the State’s records into order, in Aug. 1835 had been elected by the Society to compile, with the Librarian, a catalogue of the Society’s books, pamphlets, and manuscripts. In Dec. 1836 he would become the Society’s Librarian. Felt was the husband of AA’s niece, Abigail Shaw, and brother-in-law and executor of William Smith (“Athenaeum”) Shaw, on each of whom see Adams Genealogy.

The connection of the various members of the Adams family with the Society can be followed in the successive indexes to the Society’s Proceedings. For an account of the stages by which the family’s archives became domiciled in and ultimately the property of the Society, see JA, Diary and Autobiography , 1:xxx–xxxiv

Wednesday. 2d. CFA Wednesday. 2d. CFA
Wednesday. 2d.

Morning clear with a high wind quite in character for the month of March. I went to the Office and was occupied very constantly in a great variety of matters. First it was necessary to make settlement of the business of Mr. Johnson, which took up much time but was finally accomplished. I loaned upon two houses in Somerset Court for him, the sum of twenty thousand dollars for five years at six per cent payable semi-annually. And as the draught was not due until the tenth I procured at the Merchants Bank a credit for one half of it in advance and gave a Check to Mr. Stanwood the Mortgagor for the other half payable the 11th. I then called to see Mr. Derby about his House in Acorn Street and finally agreed to purchase it on my own Account. Mr. Degrand called upon me respecting the payment on my Bank Stock and I made another engagement with him. Mr. Jones also called to make a payment on his Note. Thus every instant of my time was taken up, and I was fatigued with my exercise when I got home losing my Livy.

Afternoon reading Niebuhr and writing to Mr. Slade. I sent my first letter today. The second is doing but without spirit. In the evening, my Wife and I went to hear the Woods who have come back again for a few nights to warble the Notes of the Somnambulist.1


I was as much delighted as ever. The Opera gains if possible upon repetition. Home at ten. Cold.


CFA, with ABA or alone, would attend all three of the performances of La Sonnambula given during the Woods’ two-week engagement, their final one before returning to Europe (entries for 4 and 9 March, below; Columbian Centinel, 2–15 March passim).