Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 8

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.


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.


The National Insurance Co. offices at 66 State Street.


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).

Saturday 18th. CFA Saturday 18th. CFA
Saturday 18th.

On this day I count myself thirty one years old. The change into middle life is now complete and I bid adieu to it’s spring time. Well, I have had more than a common share of enjoyment and feel grateful to God that I have reached this day with health unimpaired, and with more of the blessings of this world than fall to an ordinary lot. I have striven to deserve them with not so much success as I had hoped. Indeed my remembrance of my own errors is always keen, and though it has not always the effect to correct them, very much moderates my propensity to ambition of worldly distinction. The desire to be useful is one thing, the anxiety to be prominent is another, and perhaps the task of a conscientious man is greatest when he strives to draw the line which divides the duty consequent from the first from the selfish variety prompting the last.

My time was quietly passed in reading in the morning, MS, and Lessing. Afternoon, Lucretius and Scott. Evening, took Tea at the Mansion. Mrs. Frothingham’s two sons, Octavius and Edward are with us.

My plans for improving my Diary have all failed, yet I am mortified by its present insipidity, and propose to try another from today, of this kind, first in memorandum form to notice the weather, then my gen-96eral employment of the day. Visitors if any of interest, and upon the plan of Gibbon a statement of my reading, and remarks if I have any to make. Perhaps I may fail in this new scheme, but any thing is better than this monotony of trifles.