Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 8

Wednesday 15th. CFA Wednesday 15th. CFA
Wednesday 15th.

Cool day. After breakfast, walked down to the House to see how Mr. Rowley got along. Found him at work still.

Received by mail from Boston, a copy of the Washington Globe of last Saturday the 11th, containing some strictures upon my papers together with a transfer to it’s columns of the second number.1 This is singular enough. But as the Editor of the Courier probably marked this paper as an invitation to me to notice it, I took it home and devoted 94the remainder of the morning to writing a reply. Curious is the fate of my productions. The Globe makes them a charge against Mr. Webster, and the Whigs shun them as they would pestilence. They nevertheless attract a little attention, and perhaps may be the means of insuring to me respectability in the world.

After dinner which I took at my father’s as usual on this day, he accompanied me in a ride to Squantum which consumed the afternoon. Evening, called with the family upon Mr. Lunt. Found F. A. Whitney and his sister there. Nothing material. Home by ten.

1.

To its reprint of the second of CFA’s four letters to the Boston Courier signed “A Conservative,” The Globe added the argument and conclusion of the fourth letter, that of 8 August. The letters were offered (mistakenly) as examples of the Webster effort to effect an alliance between the abolition party and the National Bank party “upon the broad platform of national consolidation” (11 Aug., p. 3, cols. 2–4).

Thursday 16th. CFA Thursday 16th. CFA
Thursday 16th.

Cloudy day with occasional showers. I remained at home and occupied myself steadily in reading over the MS papers of J. A., the old journals and controversial papers which seem to be numerous in our family.

I also for the sake of refreshing my German resumed Lessing’s Laocoon which I had partially read last year.1 I began it over again and was still more pleased than ever with the critical acumen it displays. There is something exceedingly agreeable in turning from the tempestuous sea of politics to which I have been bred, to the calm and sunny repose of art.

Afternoon, read Lucretius finishing the first book and reviewing a part of it in the annotated edition of Gilbert Wakefield. A scholar, but a bold conjectural critic of the Bentley school.2 Continued Lockhart also. Evening at the Mansion and home in rain.

1.

Above, entry for 23 July 1837.

2.

Of the four copies of De rerum natura at MQA (above, entry of 7 Aug.), that in 4 vols., Glasgow, 1813, contained the commentary of Gilbert Wakefield. On him, see DNB .

Friday. 17th. CFA Friday. 17th. CFA
Friday. 17th.

A fine, clear day. I went to town where I was occupied much as usual. Looked into the National Office1 and found that the Courier had published my communication,2 but as usual without a remark. It reads tolerably well, but will I suppose be received like the rest and the Globe finding it can make no political use of the article will fall into the general silence.

95

My various duties carried me to different parts of the town but I still had a leisure hour at the Office. Home. Afternoon, Lucretius. A nervous writer with occasionally beautiful passages. Also Scott whose last days are like the gray clouds of evening closing over a setting sun.

My father came up after tea to look for Mercury whose greatest elongation from the sun permits him to be now visible with the naked eye. We saw him for half an hour as he rapidly descended towards the horizon. Mr. E. P. Greenleaf came and passed an hour, also.

1.

The National Insurance Co. offices at 66 State Street.

2.

The letter to the editor, signed “A Conservative,” is a reply to the Washington Globe, which had on 11 Aug. reprinted a part of CFA’s review of the “Democratic Address” along with an attack upon the review’s author as a follower of Webster, a whig, and an abolitionist. While denying the rest of the charge, he directs his answer principally to a definition of his differences with the abolitionists: “Their views are not my views. They look to the single question of slavery as a question of abstract right. I look to it as operating upon every interest in our country. They regard the Southern citizens as subjects to make proselytes of. I regard them as responsible politicians. They move heaven and earth to accelerate the abolition of slavery. I stand by waiting its downfall by ... irresistible destiny ... and only resist attempts whencesoever they may come to harness my fellow-citizens and myself into the criminal work of pulling down the constitution to make the materials with which to struggle to the last against that destiny” (Boston Courier, 17 Aug., p. 2, cols. 1–2).