Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 7

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.

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

Fine morning. I went into town and was much occupied during the time. First to the House to get a book for my father, then to the Office for further business. Engaged in Accounts which I left unfinished on Monday. One or two calls from Tenants and persons who desire to become so. Conversation with Mr. Everett for a few minutes. He and I differ upon the effect which the present tendency of politics is likely to 78have upon the prospect of Mr. Van Buren. I think any active and capable Whig could make that bell ring1 in a manner to startle the Advocate. But luckily for us there is no probability of such a one starting up. Nothing further.

I returned home. After dinner Mr. W. Spear came down and I went with him over the hill and pointed out my situation and what I desired to have done. I also showed him where I thought the Stone could be drawn that would answer for part of the foundation and well work. We then went over to the Quarry which Colburn2 hired of my father and which this day fortnight when we visited we found entirely deserted. He has men now very actively at work and appears very well satisfied with the Stone. The facility with which this business is now carried on is wonderful. The Stone is got out almost as fast as if it had not the quality of tenacity and great weight. I see no obstacle to this man’s pursuing his track here unless it is in the lowness of the site which renders a system of drainage necesssary, and this is as yet but little understood. I spoke to the foreman about supplying me with what stone I might want, and he appeared glad to have the opportunity. Then home having consumed the afternoon.

I saw Mr. Carr the Tenant of the place and agreed with him upon the terms of the Lease. Such a property as this which my father owns in Quincy calls for the constant attention of the master. He is the last man who can hold it to advantage. But if the extraordinary prosperity attending the Country generally and this town in particular should continue even he must be much benefitted. Evening quiet at home.

1.

Perhaps “threaten that interest” by extension from bell-ringer, “a bill introduced in a legislative body to extort money from those whose interest it threatens” (H. L. Mencken, The American Language, suppl. 1, N.Y., 1962, p. 294–295).

2.

This would seem to be the same lessee of JQA’s granite quarry CFA had earlier called “Colman” and “Collum”; see vol 6:238, 305.