Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 8

Saturday 23d. CFA Saturday 23d. CFA
Saturday 23d.

Clouds and fog. Division made as usual.

At the Office today I concerned myself with Accounts, but got into an examination of Mr. Woodbury’s last report where I found some things which require notice in my proposed publication. The public here is now in great excitement from the accounts of a collision likely to take place between our people and those of Great Britain.1 What a strange jumble of elements in our political world and what very ordinary persons are those who have the management of it in their hands.

Home, where I finished Antigone. I have read this play in thirteen days, one hour of each day, which is encouraging although I do not mean to pique myself upon fast reading. I shall now review, and be more thorough. After all, this hour’s occupation though perhaps the 193least profitable in a mere worldly estimate of my time, gives me the most unmixed pleasure. My labour upon the Currency still going on, but rather hesitatingly for I have to write over much. Evening, Miss Mary Hall who had been staying here is gone.


The simmering dispute between the United States and Great Britain over ownership of a substantial portion of Maine lands, usually called the northeast boundary dispute, would appear to reach a boil on several occasions before the alarms would give way to serious diplomatic attention in 1841–1842. In the new administration, with Webster as secretary of state and JQA as chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, conditions prevailed which permitted the negotiation and ratification of the Webster-Ashburton Treaty.

Sunday. 24th. CFA Sunday. 24th. CFA
Sunday. 24th.

Day pleasant. Exercises as usual. Evening at Mrs. Quincy’s.

I am working upon my papers respecting the currency in order to get them out of the way of Burr. But they do not suit me. And the public mind is now so entirely taken up with the threatening aspect of affairs at the Eastward as to make publication at present quite inexpedient.

Attended divine service and heard Dr. Frothingham preach from Ephesians 3. 21. “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus, throughout all ages, world without end.” A very sensible and beautifully composed discourse upon the necessity of a visible church and the preservation of external observances, together with the duties inculcated by its ministers, of attention to religious feeling and not to extravagant fanaticism.

Mr. Young gave us in the afternoon from Hebrews 11. 13. “These confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” A noisy sermon upon the vanity of earthly pleasures and occupations. Mr. Young writes well but thinks wordily.

Read a discourse by Archbishop Tillotson. Psalm 119. 59. “I thought on my ways and turned my feet unto thy testimonies.” Upon the necessity of reflection and consideration of religious truth. A good sermon.

Called to see Mrs. Josiah Quincy in the evening. Found her a little nervous, but had a pleasant evening enough.

Monday 25th. CFA Monday 25th. CFA
Monday 25th.

Snow but cleared by night. Time as usual. Evening, Assembly.

At the Office this morning I devoted my time to business and making out my quarterly account, in which I have been backward. This 194took all my leisure. Read the translation of Antigone by Francklin, and Brumoy’s analysis of it as well as Potter’s version of the choruses,1 after which I began my review.

The afternoon was devoted to currency my last draught of which I finished without satisfaction and then laid them away. I have rarely in composition experienced so much of difficulty.

We went this evening to the fifth Assembly. It was more full than the last and was quite pleasant. I have enjoyed these parties as much as I can ever enjoy society of this kind which is after all to a person who feels himself equal to better things but a vapid pleasure. Home at midnight.


Of Pierre Brumoy’s Le théâtre des Grecs and the translations of Sophocles by Thomas Francklin and Robert Potter, see vol. 3:93, 119, 121.