Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 6

Thursday. 17th. CFA Thursday. 17th. CFA
Thursday. 17th.

Morning cloudy with snow. I went to the Office—Time uninterrupted but I accomplished very little. Diary and Accounts—Nothing else. I waste much very valuable time. Walk which was rather short. Met T. Dwight who is an amusing man as a companion. That family are a singular one for their modes of thought. In this State and throughout its limits, there is a peculiar class with a distinct character marked in a manner not to be mistaken. One would suppose that Toryism could be nothing else even in it’s remotest ramifications.

Home to read Livy. Afternoon, wrote over again my third and last number to Mr. Slade. This set does not satisfy me, and the reason is that they turn upon personal discussions rather than principles. I finished with it and have now done, as I hope for months. The mode of publication by Mr. Hallett renders me very unwilling to resort to it 354any more, until again desired, in an urgent manner. Evening, a family party at Mr. Frothingham’s—Judge Lyman and Mrs. Henshaw, Governor Everett and his Wife, Edward Brooks and ourselves. It was very dull.

Friday. 18th. CFA Friday. 18th. CFA
Friday. 18th.

Morning clear. I went to the Office and passed my time in Diary and in drawing up accounts for the close of the present Quarter. This is a laborious business for so heavy a quarter as the last one has been. And it requires more skill to bring it exactly to correspond with my books than my former and simpler system did. The double entry plan is no doubt very useful for very extensive operations but it is a little cumbrous for plain ones.

Short walk and home to read Livy. Finished the sixth book, with the account of the struggle for the laws of Licinius Stolo and the final victory of the plebeians over the money power of the nobles. The speech of Appius Claudius is a fine one whether genuine or not. There is something remarkable in the continuation in these families of great ability with the influence of name. No modern history shows any parallel to it. Even in England, wealth sustains the nobility but how few leading men in the debates of the House of Lords are not novi homines, created for merit from the gentry and middling classes? In our Country, where are the old names?—All gone out of the list of leading men.

Afternoon, Niebuhr and de la Motte Fouqué with a glance at d’Israeli’s Literary character which hurts my eyes in the fine print.1 I can read but a very little at a time. Evening, Madame Junot, and afterwards Scott’s Life of Swift prefixed to his works which I have just received and mean to study.2

1.

Isaac D’Israeli, Essay on the Genius and Manners of the Literary Character.

2.

See above, entry for 16 February.

Saturday. 19th. CFA Saturday. 19th. CFA
Saturday. 19th.

Morning clear and severely cold for the Season. I went to the Office and was occupied very attentively in Accounts and in Diary—Also in a general clearing out of papers which becomes necessary every little while.

The Accounts from Florida are somewhat alarming. There has been miserable blundering from the beginning as well in the plans as in 355the execution. General Gaines appears to have introduced himself without reason or authority and to have committed a gross imprudence which is likely to carry with it the fate both of Tom Adams and Robt. Buchanan. Bad enough to lose one’s life in action but to be the victim of blundering and little jealousies is a little too grievous.1

Nothing of consequence. Walk and call upon Mr. Brooks. Home to read Livy. Afternoon, Niebuhr and de la Motte Fouqué. Evening, at home reading to my Wife from Madame Junot—After which the Life of Swift.

1.

The prosecution of the war in Florida against the Seminoles had been marked by numerous allegations of blundering against those in command. Gen. Scott had been placed in charge of operations, but Gen. Gaines’ presence greatly complicated matters since the two generals were “notoriously hostile to each other, and each ... claims to rank the other.” Gaines had mounted an expedition unauthorized by Scott; he had run short of provisions and his situation had so deteriorated that he needed aid. It was affirmed and denied that Scott had refused to send help. Gen. Clinch did effect a jointure of the two forces on 5 March (Columbian Centinel, 19 March, p. 2, col. 3; 21 March, p. 2, col. 3; 23 March, p. 2, col. 2). The whole matter became the subject of official investigation in 1837.