Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 8

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.).

Wednesday. 5th. CFA Wednesday. 5th. CFA
Wednesday. 5th.

Clear and warm. Morning work for an hour, then study. Dined at the Mansion and took a drive with my father in the Afternoon. Evening a visit to T. Greenleaf also with him.

Read Locke. p. 121 – 162. The various modes of thought subsidiary to the main division. Mr. Locke is a remarkably clear thinker and deserves to be studied for that quite as much as for his philosophy. With him, metaphysical science is not the impenetrable jungle it is often reputed by the unskilfulness of many to be. Read part of Lessing’s Essay upon the Mode in which the Ancients represented death. Ingenious at least.

I rode to the edge of the town of Randolph and thence home by Weymouth where we stopped to see Col. Minot Thayer. A very ingenious politician who likes the strong side in his neighborhood.1 He has a drop of flattery for all, and my share came today. He intimated that the people in Quincy had a great desire to send me to the Legislature this Autumn to which I answered very simply that just the same objection which existed last year existed this. I feel much pleased with the idea which this man’s act thus holds out of the good will of my neighbors, but have schooled my mind to entire moderation in my political aspirations which I hope I may never lose. There is no reasonable prospect of greater happiness for me in public life than I now enjoy in private life, so that on my own account I cannot desire the change.


Minott Thayer of Weymouth was a whig who maintained good relations with both JQA and Daniel Webster; see Edmund Soper Hunt, Reminiscences: Weymouth Ways and Weymouth People, Boston, 1907, p. 53, 67.