Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 7

Monday 22d. CFA Monday 22d. CFA
Monday 22d.

I went to town this morning principally for the purpose of finishing the investment left on Saturday and this I fortunately accomplished. My time was very much engrossed by numerous visitors. Mr. Isaac P. Davis who brought out a book containing the papers wanted by my father. He touched a little upon politics and intimated that the Majority in the State would prefer General Harrison to Mr. Van Buren. As he is himself a delegate to the Worcester Convention and understands clearly the views of the leaders, I conclude that Harrison is to be the man. Mr. Webster has probably received intimations of future favors which pacify him. Alex. H. Everett was here too and talked of the prospect. Also George Bancroft and Mr. Parmenter of Cambridge who were discussing the election. The returns from North Carolina very much realize my expectation that Southern men will never vote for any person living north of the Potomac.1 Should this be the case Mr. 76Van Buren’s prospect is by no means brightening. I am rather indifferent whether he does or does not succeed, but as I have myself taken passage on board his ship in fine weather I am perfectly ready to weather out the gale.2 The gentlemen are very sanguine respecting the result in this State, more so than as I think is quite just. But we all agreed that exertion would be necessary.

Home to Quincy. Afternoon to Mount Wollaston with my father, William Spear, Mr. Price Greenleaf and my boy John who intruded himself into the party. The object was to measure off to Mr. Hardwick a piece of salt marsh which he has agreed to purchase, and during the process I played with my boy on the beach. There is something very invigorating in the seabreeze as it blows along this shore. It gives one an idea of health and freshness. Returned home to tea. Mrs. T. B. Adams, her daughter Elizabeth and Miss Smith were here.

Evening accompanied my father to a Lecture, by a Mr. Evans. He goes about making a living in a very harmless way, taking as subjects of discussion the various divisions of the globe and interspersing the historical and geographical account with illustrations of manners &ca. His Lecture this evening was introductory and upon Oriental customs in connection with the geography of the Holy Land. Superficial but innocent enough.

1.

Partial returns from North Carolina strongly indicated that the whigs would control the legislature and had elected a governor over the Van Buren candidate (Daily Advertiser, 22 Aug., p. 2, col. 2).

2.

In the contest among Martin Van Buren, William Henry Harrison, and Daniel Webster for Massachusetts’ support in the presidential election, Alexander Hill Everett and George Bancroft had joined CFA in supporting Van Buren; see above, entry for 26 June, and vols. 5:xv–xvi; 6:239, 295.

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

I passed my morning at home and was engaged in writing and a variety of occupations. Read the remainder of the twenty fifth book of Livy, giving the account of the vicissitudes of the Punic war. There is great reason to believe that Livy drew his accounts from partial historians and yet how manifest is the deathstruggle which the Romans were carrying. Hannibal was unquestionably second only to Caesar in Antiquity and was at last conquered like Napoleon, rather by nature than by man.

I tried to write the first of a series of political essays for present use, but the ideas would not come. There is something about the present contest for the Presidency which very much disables one from taking a 77very active part in it. I will do what I can in my way but it must be mine. I will not submit to have it any body else’s.

Afternoon I went up to the Meeting House where I met Mr. Spear and made a selection from my father’s Pews.1 He is to notify the Tenant to move and I am to receive it as a gift in consideration of having it carpeted and cushioned. I went into the burying ground and looked at the tombs there. It is many years since I examined them before.2 There is however not much change. Those placed by my grandfather are still in good preservation, although they do not look to me as if they could long remain so. The soil is eminently unfavorable for the object, it being very spongy, springy land. I was a little surprised to find inscriptions recording so many deaths young. This is not the general character of the Quincy climate and I can only account for it by supposing the larger number of aged people to have been placed in tombs. This is the case with most of those whom I know.

From thence I went upon the hill and examined the stone upon it generally. It is remarkable that almost all of it is pudding stone or breccia according to the scientific. This and the granite are the two decided formations here and how very different from one another! I also went round to trace the boundaries and form some distinct idea which I have not before had of the nature and extent of the property. My principal wonder was that any man should have had the courage to undertake the cultivation. But my grandfather was a man of that iron will which his descendants have but in part inherited.

Home and read a little of Davila. Evening to Mrs. Quincy’s. A Quincy party. Nothing new excepting my proposed building which luckily affords conversation in plenty. Home early by a bright Moon.

1.

When, upon completion of the Adams Temple, many pews remained unsold, JQA had purchased thirty at a cost of $3,000 (Daniel Munro Wilson, The “Chappel of Ease” and Church of Statesmen, [Quincy], 1890, p. 147).

2.

CFA’s last visit to the Adams family vault in the First Church burying ground, just opposite the Adams Temple, had been in 1832; see vol. 4:260.