Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 8

Monday 3d. CFA Monday 3d. CFA
Monday 3d.

Cold and clear. Morning spent almost entirely in working at the garden with Kirk, superintending the various little improvements I wished to be made. This is after all the only way of gaining satisfaction with us. For directions are rarely executed in full.

But an hour of reading Afterwards. Afternoon devoted to riding, ac-104companied by my boy John. Evening Tea at my Mother’s and walk to Mrs. T. B. Adams’ to see her and the family. Thus I have no very material account of progress in study to give.

My reading of Lessing was interrupted as I found that the second part of the Laocoon was never completed and what remains of it is in small fragments, hardly to be retained in the memory if read. The ride was cold and so was the evening. Mrs. Angier and Mr. E. P. Greenleaf were at Mrs. Adams’ besides the two families.

Tuesday 4th. CFA Tuesday 4th. CFA
Tuesday 4th.

Cold East wind in the morning but warmer afterwards. Morning in town, the rest of the day devoted to the festivity gotten up for the occasion. I went to town with an incipient head ach and had so much to do that it did not improve it. Commissions of various kinds besides going to my house and from thence to the painter’s in Tremont Street. Three or four persons to see me also. Mr. Boies, about a well, Sidney Brooks, Mr. Stanwood about the Mortgage &ca.

Home, dine at my Mother’s and proceed soon after with the ladies to the Hancock lot where the Quincy people had prepared a sort of entertainment, which is now called a Pic nic. The general plan is for the females of the place to make contributions in money and in edibles, and then for all classes and conditions of persons to meet and amuse themselves either in speeches, or singing or dancing. This like the one at Hingham was given to my father who was addressed by Mr. Whitney and who made a handsome reply. The tables were handsomely decorated and the behaviour was orderly throughout.1

In the evening there was a ball at the Hancock house to which we returned after tea, which was also very quietly and properly conducted. I was much surprised to perceive how slight the difference was between the behaviour of a hundred and fifty mechanics and farmers and their families, and that of our Boston exquisites. A little more exactness in dancing and a slight roughness in motion were perhaps the most perceptible variations.

My head ach prevented me from acting the part which I should otherwise have done, but as it was I got through as well as I could without giving way. It is difficult to avoid giving some offence from misconstructions which spoil the best intended efforts. But it is wiser to try than to wrap one’s self up in a mantle of pharisaical conceit and thus announce yourself to be better than your neighbours. In America 105there can be but one interest for all the members of the Community, but if you make artificial distinctions and divisions by which self is set up to the prejudice of others, those others having the majority will make you feel your folly in the end.


An account of the event appeared in the Quincy Patriot, 8 Sept., p. 2, col. 5. JQA included in his journal entry a somewhat lengthy summary of his remarks together with a comment on Mr. Whitney’s brief welcome: “Much to my relief he said no more, for more according to the custom which has lately crept in among us from England of beplastering a man with flattery to his face, more would necessarily have been fulsome and unmeaning adulation in the shape of praise” (Diary, 4 Sept.).