Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

Sunday. 17th.

Tuesday. 19th.

Monday. 18th. CFA


Monday. 18th. CFA
Monday. 18th.

The day was rather cloudy, occasionally threatening rain. I went to town as usual, overtaking Mr. G. Dawes. I invited him to accompany me. I was once very well acquainted with one of his brothers, and now look back upon the time with wonder at the changes which the world has produced.1 He seems to be one of the do nothings of this world, of which there are so many. Without industry and without resources, and his mind is limited almost to the circle of the senses. I went to the Office and was busy in my worldly affairs. Mr. Geitner called and paid me rent. I wrote Journal, went to the Athenaeum to get a book for my father, and passed the remaining time in writing my criticism of Mr. Otis. I shall not find time to publish it as soon as I ought. Left town at the regular hour.

Miss Elizabeth Adams dined with us. I wasted the Afternoon in putting back Papers, and in reading the North American Review. Mr. Ballister called upon me. He is one of the Consignees of John’s Flour in Boston. His request was for Instructions, as much of it was spoiling upon his hands.2 I told him I would report to my Father. In doing so, I took occasion to express my own opinions upon the expediency of his continuing the business. I did it in a firm but temperate way expressing as far as possible my own want of individual interest in the 92course I was pursuing. He seemed indisposed to listen much less to follow,3 but I have done my duty and wash my hands of the consequences. That the result would be ruin to my Father I have foreseen all along and have been trying to shelter myself as much as possible from the Storm but it comes more rapidly than I had anticipated.4

This is the last day of our visit to Quincy. In the evening I accompanied my Father in a visit to Mr. T. Greenleaf’s which I felt that I owed. Nothing new. Returned home. Read Grimm and the Spectator.


On CFA’s early friendship with Horace Dawes, a brother of George Dawes, see vol. 1:1, 395; 2:301.


To McLellan, Ballister & Co. and Rice & Thaxter, both of Boston, along with Charles J. Cazenove & Co. (above, entry for 12 May), JA2 had sent shipments of flour and had drawn on each against sales from the consignment. Apparently a minimum price had been fixed at which the flour could be sold. The intent had been to hold until winter when it was hoped the price would rise. The consignees, because of actual and anticipated spoilage during the hot weather, and in the face of continually declining prices, pressed for sale. JQA, convinced finally that there was small likelihood of a substantial rise in the market in the immediate months ahead, authorized each of the consignees, over the next several weeks, to sell at the best price obtainable. (JQA to McLellan, Ballister & Co., 28 July, 16 Aug.; to Charles J. Cazenove & Co. and to Rice & Thaxter, 15 Aug. [ LbC’s] ; also JQA to JA2, 13 Aug. [all in Adams Papers].)


JQA would seem to have been more impressed by CFA’s words than was apparent: “Charles brought me also a message from Mr. Ballister, which gave me cause enough for Meditation, and he gave me advice, which ought by me to be pondered still more” (JQA, Diary, 18 July).


JQA proposed to provide himself with a substantial sum in cash by September and had apparently made this known to CFA. Perhaps not explained to CFA was JQA’s intent to use these funds to retire the remaining notes which he and JA2 had signed jointly in Washington, thereby relieving JA2 of any liability for debts which JQA felt had been contracted at his own instance. To raise the sum needed, JQA saw two possibilities, both ominous: the pledging of additional securities as collateral for a new loan he would make in Boston, or the sale of real estate he owned in Washington. (JQA to JA2, 26 June, 16 July, 13 Aug., Adams Papers; and see also entries for 29 and 30 June, above.)