Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 7

Tuesday. 23d. CFA Tuesday. 23d. CFA
Tuesday. 23d.

Cool, but on the whole as fine a winter’s day as we have had of it. I received a notice from Mr. Brooks of his intention to go to Medford in which case I had expressed my wish to go with him. He accordingly called very soon after breakfast. My object was to call and see Mrs. T. B. Adams who is at Mrs. Angier’s. I found her there exceedingly distressed and knowing little of any species of comfort. I do feel very much for her and would gladly do any thing to console her if I knew how. But such cases as this are beyond man’s medicine. I could only feel sorrow and be silent.

Returned to the Office by twelve and home shortly afterwards. Sophocles which I find easy. Afternoon, gave my Lecture a final examination and prepared myself to deliver it.

After tea I went down to the Masonic Temple. A company of about two hundred present, a considerable number of whom were personal friends who had come to support me. I felt as if the experiment was rather a critical one, and although success might produce little, failure would be discreditable, so I exerted myself, and if silence and profound attention are any tests I certainly must have succeeded. The reception I met with from my friends at the close showed clearly enough that they felt relieved by the result of my experiment.1 Mr. Frothingham accompanied me home, where his Wife had been sitting, and they finished the evening with us.


The lecture delivered at the Masonic Temple in Boston as one of the series of public lectures undertaken by the Massachusetts Historical Society was largely a recital of selected letters exchanged between JA and AA, and quoted in extenso 386(the holograph text is in the Adams Papers, shelved as M/CFA/23.3, not microfilmed). It is notable as marking the first occasion on which any considerable number of letters from the Adams family archives were communicated publicly. It should be thought of as prelude to CFA’s publication in 1840 of Letters of Mrs. Adams, the preface to which is in large part a restatement of the views expressed in the lecture:

“John Adams was one of the many actors in the public drama whose course must abide a scrutiny from other hands than mine. But he had a wife to whom he communicated much of the secret emotion of his soul, and who reciprocated the confidence in a manner which it may be advisable to disclose not from the poor vanity of exalting her, but from an earnest desire to present to the attention of those among the living who value historical memorials, an illustration of the connection between the domestic feelings and the public principles of the Revolution.

“It will at once be understood that I propose nothing in the way of eulogy or biography, that I consider any contribution which in my own person I could make in the way of general essay or dissertation, to aid the objects of the Historical Society as a cipher in comparison with the ability to resort to ancient papers never before seen, and that I draw from such papers only with a view to the illustration of an age that is past.”

Wednesday 24th. CFA Wednesday 24th. CFA
Wednesday 24th.

A mild day, almost like Summer weather. I went to the Office and had Mr. Walsh who came to talk of my Lecture and of Marine Affairs. His repugnance to foreign service increases and he wishes very much a home berth. Met several persons all of whom spoke favourably of my Lecture. T. K. Davis renewed his application made last evening for his old grandmother who lived in those times. I felt very unwilling to grant it, and yet could not resist, but asked him to dinner.

I can hardly say that I did any thing today. Read a few lines of Sophocles whose Lyrics I find more difficult than I had anticipated. T. K. Davis dined with me and we had much conversation afterwards respecting literary and political prospects during this age. He has strong democratic tendencies, which may lead him astray. In our age there is much of pseudo democracy which must more or less soon become exposed and it is hardly worth while on any account to try to lift it up when it is falling. After a turn round the common we parted and then I passed the evening at home. Mr. R. Robbins came in and spent an hour.

Thursday. 25th. CFA Thursday. 25th. CFA
Thursday. 25th.

Morning foggy with clouds. I went down first to the Office after Market and a look in at Faneuil hall. A meeting had there been called of all opposed to the annexation of Texas, and I was desirous to attend it but the thing looked so lame and I was so busy that I left it.

Accounts. As things look daily more thick and troubled, I am anx-387ious to get rid of all my liabilities so I pay to the National Office by their consent my debt which has but half expired and take back my Stock. This at any rate gets rid of one difficulty. Nothing new. Home to read Sophocles.

Afternoon being now much at leisure I have resumed Father Jobert with some little mistrust however, that I might not more usefully employ myself. Evening Lockhart to my Wife. After which I turned my attention to finishing off the returned sketch for the biography of my Mother.