Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 8

Sunday. 11th. CFA Sunday. 11th. CFA
Sunday. 11th.

Pleasant day. Usual Exercises. Evening at the Mansion.

I spent an hour in my usual way with my daughter, teaching her some little notion of religion. Read a little of Tucker’s Light of Nature which does not grow in my regard as I go on.

Attended divine service and heard Mr. Lunt preach from Jonah 4. 9. “And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry even unto death.” An interesting abstract of the book from which the text is taken with some moral applications of the story which never occurred to me before. Also from Matthew 15. 5.6. “But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.” I recollect this discourse when it was preached before, a very good one.

Read also another discourse of Bishop Butler on the same subject and text of the one last Sunday, and marking the closeness of thought 278which distinguishes his writing. The ladies went down to Mrs. Quincy’s, but I spent the evening with my mother.

Monday 12th. CFA Monday 12th. CFA
Monday 12th.

Cloudy with showers. At home. Evening, a short ride. At the Mansion.

I devoted three hours of my morning to a copy of a letter of my grandmother’s sent to me by the kindness of Mrs. John Greenleaf. It is long and in the nature of a Journal so that I finished only about a quarter part.1 Finished Texier which is a good book and read a little of Menzel.

After dinner, I went out, deeming it a favorable opportunity and put in a multitude of buds being my second experiment, the first having been but partially successful on account of a mistake in setting the buds too low in the tree. I took a short ride accompanied by my father after tea and returned soon. Rest of the evening at the house.


The journal letter is probably that from AA to Mrs. Greenleaf’s mother, Mary Smith Cranch, 6–30 July 1784, describing her voyage to join JA and her first days in London. Now in MWA, the letter in its entirety was included in AA, Letters , ed. CFA, 1840, p. 199–241.

Tuesday. 13th. CFA Tuesday. 13th. CFA
Tuesday. 13th.

Clear and cool. To town. Afternoon company. Evening at the Mansion.

My daughter Louisa is eight years old this day. As she grows, she becomes the subject of greater hopes and anxieties. I see in her the germ of much that is good and the prospect of weeds that must be skilfully eradicated or they will prevent a crop. Heaven prosper my endeavors.

I went to town and was busily engaged in my affairs which worry me a little at present.

Home. After dinner, only three or four sections of Tacitus before Edward Brooks and his Wife came to take tea. Of course, nothing more. Evening at the Mansion.

Wednesday 14th. CFA Wednesday 14th. CFA
Wednesday 14th.

Cold and foggy. At home, dine and evening at my father’s.

I passed some time in the morning in continuation of the work of copying a long letter. I have now seriously commenced the duty of 279preparing the work which I have been meditating during the Summer, and shall continue it easily as I find it convenient. It will afford me a kind of agreeable occupation for some time to come, and in the mean time I will try to arrange in my mind the elements of a biographical summary.1

The materials for the Lecture worry me much more and I must be collecting them.2 Yet on the whole I like the kind of life I now lead exceedingly, for it seems to furnish me with a hope of earning an honest reputation without putting me into the region of violent passions and overstrained wishes and fears. The life of the politician in this country most particularly is a life of terror and of personal sacrifices which are hardly compensated even by the most brilliant momentary triumphs. And every day the thing grows worse instead of better.

Read an hour in Menzel who thinks justly, and moderately. At my father’s there dined with us Mr. and Mrs. Lunt, who also remained until after tea. I therefore did nothing during the afternoon but put in three buds into apple trees.


JQA had suggested to CFA the preparation and publication of a memoir of AA (see the entry for 13 June, above). CFA, stimulated by the idea and by the warmth with which her letters had been received when included in his Massachusetts Historical Society lecture (entry for 23 Jan. 1838, above), thereafter must have thought of combining the memoir with a collection of the letters. Reading the letter lent him two days before by Mrs. Greenleaf seems to have convinced him to proceed.


Doubts about accepting the invitation to address the Mercantile Library Association in New York (entry for 8 Aug., above) seem also to have been resolved.