Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 8

Thursday 17th. CFA Thursday 17th. CFA
Thursday 17th.

Fine day. Morning as usual. Dinner late at Mr. Otis’s. Evening at home.


I was occupied as usual this morning upon my Arrears of Diary which keep growing in spite of myself and upon the accounts the end of which is not yet. I take no exercise this year excepting such as I can get by going out to various places. Home to read Electra. And as Mr. Allyne Otis had invited me to a late dinner I occupied my intervening time in my pursuit of the coins. Miss Louisa C. Smith spent the day with my Wife.

At five I went down the street to the place of invitation and was ushered into a room where were assembled a company among whom I was most surprised to see myself. T. H. Perkins Jr., W. Amory, R. S. Fay, J. L. Stackpole, W. Lee Jr., Mr. Crowninshield, T. Dwight, Copley Greene, T. Motley Jr., P. Grant, J. M. Warren, F. Codman, besides Mrs. Ritchie, Mr. Otis the elder and his two sons. These are the members of the club to which Otis had called my attention. A poor business enough. I felt much out of my element, but was treated with great civility and left the table at eight.

Mr. Otis feels aggrieved by my father’s political career. He thinks it destroyed him and probably is correct insofar as this, that he was made by it to pay a heavy penalty for his own faults. He has always treated me with attention and though I cannot admire nor respect the motives of action which have gone through his life, yet I think his age and his private character are entitled to respect.1 Evening at home, reading Miss Martineau.


The long maintained but often unhappy relations of Harrison Gray Otis, now 73, with JA and JQA are chronicled in Morison, H. G. Otis, 1969, p. 190–193, 272–274, 446–448. These connections spanned the years of controversy among the Federalists and between them and the party’s opponents, from the Hamiltonian break in 1799 through the charges of disunion conspiracies in 1804 and 1814 to the breakup of the Federalists in 1828. The stormy relationship was punctuated on several occasions by pleasant dinners at which Otis was a genial host to an Adams. Of the present occasion, CFA wrote to LCA: “Among other wonderful events is the rapproachement between us and the O’s. We have talked and becarded and bedined and are mighty friendly” (6 Feb., Adams Papers).

Friday. 18th. CFA Friday. 18th. CFA
Friday. 18th.

Day pleasant. Quietly divided. Evening at home. E. C. Adams here.

Otis’s wine was a little too strong for my head, I think, for I suffered a little from head ach this morning for the first time this winter. But it did not turn out very severe as with fasting I got over it before night.

I made little head way in my Office matters notwithstanding my leisure and as to my bill department it is very far behindhand. Home where I went on with Electra.


Mrs. Angier dined here with Elisabeth C. Adams who passed the day. I continued upon the coins finishing the reign of Constantine the great with which the heaviest part of the labour finishes. I shall not be sorry to have it completed for it takes all of my disposable time, and I am to consider the winter as in other regards profitless.