Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 8

Friday. 20th. CFA Friday. 20th. CFA
Friday. 20th.

My fourth and last letter came out today. It is not quite so well written as the rest and is also defaced by misprints, but on the whole terminates the thing well. That they make some impression is clear from the announcement of an answer to appear tomorrow. I see it also in men’s faces who look constrained before me. The pieces are thought 27very radical. Perhaps they may be, but I shall think better hereafter of radicalism if they are.

I went to Quincy this morning and occupied as usual in directions and so forth. They have gone on swimmingly and now really make the House look cheerful. I begin to feel as if there was some probability of an end. It has been irksome to me from the fact of my having to do the whole. Home in a cold wind.

Did some business at the Office and then to dinner. Afternoon, at work on coins, and finishing up all odd things. Evening at home. Read Walter Scott’s melancholy Diary. Alas, what clouds over the pleasantest landscape. Such is life, and happy for us in the end, it is so, for what would be man’s feeling if this was Paradise when he was called to leave it.

Saturday 21st. CFA Saturday 21st. CFA
Saturday 21st.

This morning appears a long communication from Mr. Buckingham endeavouring to weaken the impression made by my articles,1 but bearing the mark of mental weakness resulting from his confinement by sickness so long. He professes not to know who wrote them. Is this true? I suspect it is although my friends think otherwise. I believe him partially but think he equivocates. It is clear that he has been hard pressed and seeks to find an outlet, although resolved to execute his intention. The letters met with no delay, nor were put in a corner, as might have been done if it was wished to injure their effect. My opponent promised yesterday, also appears but is a very poor creature.2 The other papers persevere in the usual course towards me of silence. It remains to see how they will do in other places.

I was very much occupied all the morning by Accounts and payments of various debts which I wished settled previous to departure. I think I now begin to see light after the heavy expenditure which has now been pressing upon me with much severity for more than eighteen months, of shortened resources. W. Spear in from Quincy and called for a settlement. Thus the morning passed until half past one when I met my Wife for the purpose of taking her to see Celestini’s pictures. He was civil but evidently out of humour by the failure of all negotiation. And he had therefore lost much of the courtesy of manner which he had while he had an object.3

Afternoon, continued at work upon the coins which I must now soon give up. I have got very nearly through the assorting and now the 28catalogue making only remains. Evening Mr. Brooks was here, after which I was not active.

1.

The editorial, dated “Cambridge, April 19” and signed “J. T. B.,” undertakes a detailed refutation of CFA’s position and concludes, “Of Mr. Biddle we are not the apologist. We give him credit for great talent as a financier, and for patriotism, so long as it was for his interest to be patriotic and public-spirited. For some of his selfish atrocities within the last two years, he ought to have his ears nailed to the pillory; and we could look upon him in that position with undiminished complacency, if Gen. Jackson and Mr. Van Buren were permitted to enjoy the same dignified and elevated station on either side of him” (Boston Courier, 21 April, p. 2, col. 1).

2.

The letter, addressed to “A Citizen,” attacks CFA’s position as having “a most unpleasant smack of locofocoism; it looked too much like—cant.” The writer professes no admiration for Biddle either. He identifies himself as being in the mercantile business “in a small way, some eight or nine years” and signs the letter “C.” (same, p. 2, col. 3).

3.

Despite the indication that Count Celestini failed to sell his paintings in Boston, he did succeed in disposing of nine of them to the Boston Athenaeum. The particular works that CFA had admired on his several visits to the Gallery were not among those purchased (Mabel M. Swan, The Athenaeum Gallery, 1827–1873, Boston, 1940, p. 128).