Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 8

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

A very fine morning, but the weather soon came round to the Eastward wind feeling which is the sign of our spring. I went to the Office. Received today a letter from Mr. T. B. Johnson inclosing a power of Attorney as I had desired. I immediately wrote to the various persons concerned to that effect.1 Letter from Washington also,2 but nothing new. My Wife is becoming better, but the first nurse will not do and we are to have another.

Sophocles and coins in the afternoon. Evening I went to a party at Mrs. Lawrence’s, given to Lord Gosford3 whose presence here seems to have turned the heads of half the Bostonians. This is a peculiarity of our national tastes singularly at variance with our professed principles. The number invited was large and the party very dull.


Although the letter from T. B. Johnson and those written by CFA upon its receipt are missing, CFA, in a letter to LCA, 15 March (Adams Papers), gives 7“the sum and substance of [Johnson’s] remarkable letter”:

“He complains of the physicians upon whom he expends most of his substance in vain, and of his health. He says living in England and France is detestable, and he must come to America, but not to seek the crowded haunts of men. His wish is a retired spot in the vicinity of Washington or Baltimore, to which he desires his friends to direct their attention for him. He has tried to get Shepherd to do so without success, that he and his relations have tried to frighten him out of this plan by bug-a-boo terrors of the blacks, but that he is not convinced, inasmuch as he finds the whites in Europe to be not a whit more honest and a great deal more impudent. Finally he has conceived a violent dislike of the absurd vanities of rank &c. in the old countries and wishes to return home soon, for after all he concludes ‘America is the only country, where man is seen to advantage.’ ... I know what allowances are to be made for the unfortunate position he occupies in life and therefore I will not allow myself even a smile at the extraordinary revulsion of feeling here betrayed.”


LCA to CFA, 8 March, Adams Papers.


Archibald Acheson, 2d earl of Gosford, lord lieutenant of Armagh and governor-general of Canada. His visit is the occasion of extended comment in the letter from CFA to LCA referred to in note 1, above.

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

Our weather now is remarkably pleasant. Clear and cool but not too cold. My Wife now appears to be gaining strength pretty rapidly, and will I hope feel the benefit of her decision about the child.

I went to the Office and was occupied in matters of account. Mr. Beebe called in and begged off from the payment of the principal until better times. This was somewhat unexpected and hardly agreeable. I told him I would consult with Mr. Brooks. The state of affairs can hardly be worse now. I did talk with Mr. B. and found he agreed with me.

Home too late for Sophocles. Afternoon, coins. Evening, an hour with Abby who now sits up, after which I went to a party at Governor Everett’s. A small number compared with yesterday and many members of the Legislature but on the whole pleasant.

Thursday 15th. CFA Thursday 15th. CFA
Thursday 15th.

Fine mild day. I went to the Office as usual and was occupied in Accounts &c. Received letters from Washington which made necessary the writing of some Notes &c. A long one from my father about the events of Washington, particularly the duel.1 Home early as my Wife had fixed the dinner hour a little earlier to accommodate herself. I therefore read Sophocles in the afternoon, and began Adam Ferguson’s Essay on Civil Society with which I was pleased.2 I took a day of vacation from my coins today, and enjoyed it. Evening sat some time with Abby after which I wrote quite a long letter to my Mother.3

8 1.

The letter from JQA referred to is apparently that dated 27 Feb. (Adams Papers) but which, on internal evidence, was not completed and dispatched until 10 March; see also the note to the entry for 28 Feb., above.


A copy of Adam Ferguson, Essay on the History of Civil Society, 8th edn., Phila., 1819, is in MQA.


Adams Papers. On the letter see the notes notes 1 and 3 to the entry for 13 March, above.