Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 6

Wednesday. June 1. CFA Wednesday. June 1. CFA
Wednesday. June 1.

A clear day with a continuation of the sharp East wind which we have had for so long. I went to the Office and was engaged in Accounts and Diary as usual. I propose and hope to be able to devote 401myself to something more in the time I am at the Office but I fear my attempt will be vain, because I know it always has been. Mr. Wild called to let me know he vacates my house and accordingly I set about making arrangements to fit it up. I was also somewhat occupied in superintending the repairs about the Estate of my father in Tremont Street, occasioned by the raising the level of the Street. Home to read Livy, nearly finished the twenty third book.

Afternoon, Sir James Mackintosh and a little of Ariosto—I finished the former before night. On the whole I know few books more pleasing. There is that spirit of kindness beaming through all he writes which draws one to him and makes one feel that he very eminently deserves the title of good. His nature must have been kind because it is clear that his sentiments are not put on for mere effect. They are not like Sterne’s the result of a lively imagination. I think my motives of action are higher when I read this book, and my ambition to acquire knowledge and virtue raised. How few books give one any similar feeling. Moderation and kindness are what I desire.

In the evening went over to Charlestown, saw Governor Everett and the various members of the family. Evening dull, and home early. Wrote a page to my Mother.1

1.

A response, unfinished and apparently not sent, to LCA’s letter in verse of 27 May (both in Adams Papers).

Thursday. 2d. CFA Thursday. 2d. CFA
Thursday. 2d.

Fine morning though still an East wind. I went to the Office but instead of remaining there, called upon Mr. Walsh and with him I went over to Chelsea in the Ferry boat. There has of late years been a very great disposition to go out a little way into the Country and cut up the great farms for the sake of making out of them numbers of building lots. The success which has attended late speculations of the kind has induced others, so that now there is hardly a spot in the vicinity which is not used. Among others is Chelsea upon which some of the Perkins family have made a settlement.

I yesterday spoke to Mr. C. Coolidge about a plan, for my proposed house.1 He asked me to go over to Chelsea and see one drawn for W. H. Gardiner which is there executing. Accordingly I went. There were two, one small and one larger one. They are in Mr. Coolidge’s style with sloping roofs, and dormer windows with porticoes all round. I could see hardly a single recommendation to them. I begin to think Coolidge’s taste more doubtful. His contrivance is unequalled.

We returned home by way of East Boston. All this is new creation. 402It is cheerful to see such evidences of prosperity here. We only hope it is not most of it on an artificial basis and that time will not show us that speculation is a very dangerous basis to build our calculations upon.

Home, Livy, finished 23d book and read in Hook’s tome,2 an extract from Sir Walter Raleigh demolishing the edifice of national partiality the roman historian has erected. Afternoon, began Burnetts Memoir of his own time,3 a thing I once attempted and failed. Also finished a letter to my Mother.4 A canto of Ariosto. Evening, a few of Spence’s Anecdotes of Pope5 and a couple of Swift’s Drapier’s Letters.

1.

On Cornelius Coolidge, a principal architect of Beacon Hill houses, see Chamberlain, Beacon Hill , p. 281–284.

2.

See above, 21 January.

3.

At MQA is CFA’s copy of Bishop Gilbert Burnet’s History of His Own Time, 6 vols., Oxford, 1823, as well as two additional copies, one (JQA’s) in 6 vols., London, 1725–1734, one in 4 vols., London, 1725.

4.

Adams Papers; a substitute for the unfinished attempt of the preceding day.

5.

CFA had borrowed from the Athenaeum Joseph Spence’s Observations, Anecdotes, and Characters of Books and Men, London, 1820.