Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 8

Friday 7th. CFA Friday 7th. CFA
Friday 7th.

Day fine. To town with Mr. Brooks and return. Dine at Gorham Brooks’ and afternoon generally wasted in company.

My day has little of remark as I was entirely drawn away from books, and conversed unprofitably. I went to my house in consequence of the stories of housebreaking which have been generally circulated, and removed my coins and such silver as was most valuable, to Mrs. Frothingham’s.

Nobody but Mr. Brooks and ourselves dined with Gorham but he lives very pleasantly and very genteelly, perhaps rather too luxuriously for this country. He is labouring at improving his place at much expense. This is for amusement and occupation, yet I see the kernel of discontent at bottom which will spoil the whole. He will be pleased only while he is pursuing.

Allyne Otis came out in the afternoon on a visit. He is really as 107empty a puppy of thirty as I can well conceive.1 Evening Mrs. Angier called, and for want of other things I tried to extract from P. C. B. Jr. some commercial information which he gave fluently and intelligently.


On Allyne Otis, CFA’s Harvard classmate and a son of Harrison Gray Otis, see vol. 2, index, and Morison, H. G. Otis, 1969, p. 487–490.

Saturday. 8th. CFA Saturday. 8th. CFA
Saturday. 8th.

The day cold. Morning to town. Return to Quincy to dinner and Afternoon spent in reading without progress. Evening at the Mansion.

I left Medford immediately after breakfast without regret, for I cannot spend time so idly with any satisfaction. The acquisition of knowledge in some shape or other being my principal pleasure, I feel not at home where I do not pursue it. My present mode of life has done much to fasten upon me attachments which the interruption of former summers tended to weaken.

My occupation in town was to read General Gaines’s plan for the defence of the Western frontier, a document having some bearing upon the Texas schemes and remarkable for exhibiting the foibles of its author.1

Upon my return to reading Lucretius I found how much my mind had been dissipated and gave it up. So I read a little of the desultory criticism of Grimm. Dr. Palfrey and his daughter made us a visit. In the evening a discussion with my father upon the influence of College educations.


The report of Gen. Edmund Pendleton Gaines submitted to the War Department on the defense of the western frontier proposed floating batteries for harbor defense and the construction of a network of railroads in the interior ( DAB ).

Sunday 9th. CFA Sunday 9th. CFA
Sunday 9th.

Fine day. An hour before service devoted to arrears of my Diary. Then attendance upon divine service and reading. Evening a walk with my father to see Mr. and Mrs. Quincy. Mr. W. Lee called to see us.1

Mr. Lunt preached two Sermons from the text John 17. 21. “Behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” Full of excellent reflection upon the tendencies of the present age to error either by excess or deficiency with allusions to the doctrines in philosophy which are at present somewhat in vogue among us. Mr. Lunt dissented from the views of John Locke as tending to establish materialism which I agree 108with him in. At the same time he did not clearly explain the reply which I wish to obtain.

Read a sermon in the English Preacher by Bishop Hutton. 2. Corinthians 8. 21. “Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.” Upon cultivating with proper attention the good opinion of the world. An unnecessary exhortation.

Mr. Lee was dull and out of spirits. At Mrs. Quincy’s, a dissertation upon the Bible history and upon some disputed points of doctrine which cannot interest me much although Mrs. Q.’s mind seems much exercised by them.


William Lee, a resident of Washington for most of his adult life, was a friend of JQA’s both during their youth and in their foreign service years. See vols. 1:51; 3:355, 375.