Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

Monday. 19th.

Wednesday. 21st.

Tuesday. 20th. CFA


Tuesday. 20th. CFA
Tuesday. 20th.

Morning cool but clear. After going through my regular labours I started off again with Joseph and this morning we were successful. I had some conversation with him i.e. Commodore Morris about the outfit necessary and found it was by no means so great as I anticipated. That his Joseph’s principal expense of uniform might be dispensed with and that he might wear whatever he had already, on board the ship. If Mrs. A. had any Judgment, this would be the easiest matter in the world but the misfortune seems to be every thing must be done in spite of her. My principal object however was accomplished and on our return Joseph went immediately to Quincy. I passed the rest of the morning at the Office. Deacon Spear called and consumed half an hour and some time passed in writing my Journal.

Afternoon, busy in reading Cicero. Forwarded an answer to my Father’s letter received this morning which sent me an inaccurate Note. His Congressional Affairs now turn his head as much as others formerly did. He runs into every thing headlong.1

Evening finished the sixteenth Chapter of Gibbon, which is indeed a curious specimen of insidious warfare. Read my two Spectators.


CFA’s letter to JQA (LbC, Adams Papers) was, in fact, an acknowledgment of the receipt of two letters from JQA, one of 13 Dec., the other of 15 Dec. (both in Adams Papers). The defectiveness of the new note arose from the omission of the phrase “with interest.”

The letter of the 13th was a response to what JQA styled CFA’s “objurgative letter” of 30 Nov. – 1 Dec., “charging me with a violation of the most sacred of my duties.... I could say much in reply, but will only say that there might be violations of duty, more discreditable.” On other matters alluded to in JQA’s letter, see the entries for 23 Sept. and 3 Dec., above; and for 21 March 1832, below.

In a letter to LCA from CFA, 21 Dec. (Adams Papers), the exchanges between him and JQA, which have been excerpted in the notes to the entries of 12 and 29 Nov., and 1 Dec., above, are characterized by CFA to good effect: “We keep up a kind of warfare that gives the letters a little spirit, and though apparently differing very much, agree well enough in the main. I tie my faith to no man’s sleeve, and perhaps indulge opinions altogether too speculative and impracticable, but it hurts nobody and 202keeps me up at least with a sense of independence and justness of feeling, without which I should be as a broken reed.”

For a different view of the spirit manifested in the interchange, less sympathetic in its appraisal of the motivation for CFA’s remonstrances, see Bemis, JQA , 2:220.