Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 7

January. 1837. Sunday. 1st. CFA January. 1837. Sunday. 1st. CFA
January. 1837. Sunday. 1st.

The morning was cloudy with snow. I could not avoid reflecting upon the passage of another year and the commencement of a new one. My blessings continue as ever. I am favoured in all external goods beyond the lot of most mortals and want only the consciousness of doing something to deserve them. But things do not favour my success as a politician and I believe I must make up my mind to quit that field. Literature may still furnish resources and to that I propose hereafter more to devote myself. In doing this however, I am perfectly free from any remorse of conscience. During the late political canvass my pen has been felt and it has produced effect at the same time that I have done nothing that I can regard with a single emotion of regret. My course has been bold, direct, independent and effective. I have solicited nothing for myself and declined it when it was offered me. I have no wish for place in itself and should refuse almost every thing of the kind if voluntarily offered. But I should like reputation because that is the result of a man’s own acts, and to me it would be grateful on account of my descent. For this I will still continue to try with undiminished ardor. If I can get it without place, why so much the more to my credit. At any rate, I felt more cheerful today than usual. My depression has passed away, I hope, and I shall now go on peacefully in the regular performance of what is set before me.

I attended divine service this morning and heard Mr. Frothingham from 1. Samuel. 11. 14. “Then said Samuel to the people, Come and let us go to Gilgal and renew the kingdom there.” An occasional Sermon upon the entrance of the new year and the feelings which it might be expected to occasion. He rested mainly upon the avoiding of discouragement and the necessity of a vigorous action of the will with which every thing is possible. This is to an extent true, but when I look about me and see so many persons with high vigour and different degrees of mental power who are nevertheless struggling almost for life, I think there is a necessity for various qualifications to the general remark.

Mr. Walsh walked and dined with me. Afternoon John 11. 9. “Jesus answered, are there not twelve hours in the day.” A very good discourse upon the use and employment of time. I afterwards read a very short Sermon of Dr. Barrow upon the crucifixion of Christ. 1. Corinthians 1. 23. “But we preach Christ crucified.” He briefly gives reasons why the Saviour should have submitted to so humiliating a punish-158ment and so dreadful a degree of suffering. But the discourse is short and appears very imperfect. Evening at home. Cold. Nothing new. Read Mrs. Trollope’s book.1


Some earlier reading in Mrs. Trollope’s Domestic Manners of the Americans had been undertaken in 1833; see vol. 5:53.

Monday 2d. CFA Monday 2d. CFA
Monday 2d.

Morning cold and cloudy but it cleared afterwards. I went to the Office and was occupied very busily in Money affairs. I deposited a sum of money and then began the work of paying it away. The debts have very much accumulated this year owing to the difficulty in which I have been to cash the Stocks I had intended to use in building.

Mr. Ayer came in by my desire and we had some talk about sundry portions of the work for it. The main point I find is to check his tendency to expense. He wishes to do more than I desire to have him. I was obliged to remind him of this very decidedly today.

Home late. Afternoon reading Plutarchs Essay upon the Administration of public affairs, parts of which I admire extremely, and some of Burnet who appears to be a careless kind of a writer. Evening at home. Finished the strange tirade of Mrs. Trollope, after which Goguèt.

Tuesday. 3d. CFA Tuesday. 3d. CFA
Tuesday. 3d.

Clear, but the weather seems to have regularly set in for the season. The glass has ranged at about zero for forty eight hours. Office where I was engaged in matters of money. Finished my Account Current and got papers ready to accompany it transmitting money to Washington to Elizabeth and Mary the latter in consequence of the discovery of an old debt to her of which I knew nothing till she mentioned it to me.1 Mr. Ayer kept me another hour discussing all the details of the house which I felt bound to give him very specifically as he seems likely to go wrong. Called at various places paying small debts which are in considerable numbers, then home where I read Livy.

Afternoon, Plutarch and Burnet, copied the letters and sent away the packet. Mr. Brooks took tea with us and dragged me out afterwards to a Lecture. He seemed so desirous of having some companion that in order to please him rather than myself I went. I was the more induced to this as the lecturer was to be Mr. Felt a sort of relation of ours whom I somewhat respected.2 He is an Antiquary and withal not being very attractive either as preacher or Lecturer would not be likely to 159draw full houses. His Lecture was upon the intrigues of the French Officers in Nova Scotia during the early part of the seventeenth century and particularly the feud between La Tour and d’Aulnay.3 The subject was a more fruitful one of romantic incident than I expected and in the hands of an Orator would have paid largely. As it was Mr. Felt was far from dull. Home by eight or after where I found young John Gorham who staid here until near ten, after which Goguet.


CFA’s letters to ECA and to Mrs. JA2 are in the Adams Papers (2 and 3 Jan., LbCs). In the letter to Mrs. JA2, which reveals perhaps a stiffness remaining from their earlier relationship (see vol. 3:7), the circumstances in which the debt to her was incurred and in which it had again come to his notice are recounted. “May it please your Ladyship. Some time in the course of the last Summer ... in a Carriage ride to Boston you incidentally alluded to some pecuniary assistance rendered to me many years ago by yourself when I was at Philadelphia wanting funds to get to Washington. I had utterly forgotten the circumstance and was particularly disturbed by the idea thrown out that it had never been paid. This determined me to make some investigation among my papers to find a clue to the transaction. Very fortunately I found a letter from my father dated ... 15 Sept. 1826 in which he not only mentions the sum ... to be fifty dollars but remits me the money to pay it. How it should have happened that I did not use it as I ought, I cannot at this moment divine. I hope there are some circumstances at present forgotten by myself which palliate this gross breach of trust.... I must be allowed to insist upon repairing my negligence at this late hour.”

However, as will appear below (entry of 16 Jan.), CFA had misunderstood Mrs. JA2’s remark during the carriage ride. She returned his draft to him with a letter (not found) making clear that he had indeed repaid the debt at the time. He brought the matter to a close with a letter (16 Jan., LbC, Adams Papers): “My dear Mrs. John ... Under these circumstances I owe to you an apology for misunderstanding you. Although I cannot admit myself not to have had some reason for so doing.... I shall regret it much if the subject has been unpleasant to you, but in taking leave of the subject forever I must say that I could not have been satisfied without going through a process of explanation.”


Rev. Joseph Barlow Felt was the husband of AA’s niece Abigail Shaw; see vol. 6:343.


The lecture, “Rival Chiefs, D’Aulnay and La Tour, Governors of Nova Scotia,” was one of a course of lectures given at the Masonic Temple by members of the Massachusetts Historical Society for the benefit of the Society (MHS, Procs. , 2 [1835–1855]:80). The long and bitter conflict between Charles Amador de la Tour and Charles d’Aulnay Charnisay for dominion in Acadie began upon the death in 1636 of Commodore Isaac de Razilly, under whom both had served as commandants. It was a conflict with overtones from the Huguenot-Catholic struggles in France and in which each side sought aid and involvement from the newly established English settlements in Boston and Massachusetts Bay. A principal figure in the drama, intrepid and adroit, was the remarkable wife of La Tour. She died in 1646 within weeks of the betrayal which forced the surrender of Fort St. John, which she was defending following her husband’s flight. After d’Aulnay died in 1650, and La Tour had successfully defended his record before the French Court in 1651 and received a new commission as governor, the feud was concluded in 1653 with La Tour’s marriage to d’Aulnay’s widow. The text of the Rev. Felt’s lecture has not been found, but the documents upon which it seems likely he relied were printed in MHS, Colls. , 3d ser., 7:90–121. A detailed recounting is in Beamish Murdoch, A History of Nova-Scotia or Acadie, 2 vols., Halifax, 1865, 1:73–123.