Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 8

Monday 26th. CFA Monday 26th. CFA
Monday 26th.

Warm day. At home, bath. Usual occupations. Evening visit to Mr. Whitney.

My time was consumed much in the manner that it usually is. I devoted some time to copy which goes on pretty slowly, and to Storch’s chapter upon credit and paper money with which I am certainly much edified. I think him next to Smith of all the writers whom I have read.

In consequence of my going to bathe I was obliged to forego reading Menzel whose spirited style amuses me. Reading is on the whole a very 285great pleasure when the writer puts in action the mind of the reader. Whereas writing as an elaboration of thought is exceedingly tedious and painful. Yet a reasoning mind commonly will succeed in turning over an old train into a new shape and perhaps may draw something out of it worth recording. Menzel however shows us what this impression in a studious age will lead to and that is to the multiplication of worthless books.

After dinner, finished the remainder of the fragment of the sixteenth book of Tacitus whereby we lose the closing scene of the tyranny of Nero. I have refreshed my ideas by this perusal very much.

A ride to Mount Wollaston and Germantown afterwards, accompanied by my father. A visit in the evening to Mr. Whitney’s to see his son Frederick who was not at home. Returned early.

Tuesday. 27th. CFA Tuesday. 27th. CFA
Tuesday. 27th.

The warmest of the season. To town with my father. Home. Evening below.

I was much exhausted today by the various commissions I had to perform as it was very hot and I hardly sat down before twelve o’clock. It seems to me that it always happens that in the hottest weather I have most running to do. Finished the paper for the heirs of T. B. Adams but did not get through a copy before it was time to return.1 My father came in and went out with me.

After dinner began the first book of the History of Tacitus and read ten sections but spent some time in overseeing the men who were upon my road today. Evening at the house below.

1.

The estate of Lt. T. B. Adams amounted to approximately $4,600. When divided into 33 parts, his mother received 20 parts, each of his two sisters 5 parts, and each of his three brothers 1 part. Distribution was effected and the estate settled in October (CFA to Legatees, 27 Aug., 9 Oct., LbCs, Adams Papers).

Wednesday 28th. CFA Wednesday 28th. CFA
Wednesday 28th.

Cold change. At home all day. Usual occupation. Evening at the Mansion.

The temperature fell very fast today from the point which it has maintained for a week or ten days past. I remained at home superintending the work doing upon my road and working a little myself until my time came that I devote to copying. Read Storch’s Note upon Law’s system which begins to give me some idea of it, but I must go more deeply into it.1 I think I can do something out of it.

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Dined at my father’s after which read Tacitus History b. 1. S. 10–30. This appears to me much the most elaborate work. Tea and evening at the Mansion. Nothing new.

1.

John Law, a Scotsman, occupied in France, 1715–1720, a succession of fiscal offices leading to that of controller-general of state finances. Through them he applied the tenets of his “System,” with extraordinary success at the outset but ending in the unmitigated disaster called the “Mississippi bubble.” The “System” provided for a vast increase in credit through the issuance by a state bank of paper currency redeemable at a fixed value and acceptable in payment of taxes. In the resulting expansion of industry and trade, a state company was created and given a monopoly in the handling of trade and banking in and with France’s foreign possessions. When the state bank, the mint, and the company were brought under unified control, shares were offered to an eager public, were wildly oversubscribed, and brought sensational profits to the holders. Failure of the “System” came only when the speculators and investors, seeking to convert their new paper fortunes into specie, forced the bank to suspend cash payments. Panic and all but universal bankruptcy marked the end ( DNB ).