Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

Wednesday. 29th.

Friday. 2d.

Thursday. March 1st. CFA


Thursday. March 1st. CFA
Thursday. March 1st.

Day fine though cooler than yesterday. I went to the Office as usual and passed my time pretty diligently. Finished a Chapter of Gibbon upon the origin and progress of the Monastic habits and also of the Christian religion among the Barbarians. Though he is very much prejudiced and consequently never altogether fair in his Account, there are yet some things of value in his criticisms. That the Religion of Christ has been abused to a most extraordinary degree will admit of little doubt. The visions of Plato have done something but fanaticism resulting from excessive ignorance far more. Took a walk with Mr. Peabody at one.

Afternoon at home. Read portions of the second and third Georgic. The author has handled ticklish subjects with considerable delicacy. 251But after all, there is not much to be said for the details of rural Economy. Like Mr. J. Randolph’s stud advertisement which amused me this morning, there is too much of sex in it.1

Evening, resumed Ariosto to my Wife. He rises as he treats of the storm of Paris. Indeed this is the only place where I have seen a great deal of vigour. The personification of Silence and Discord, the latter particularly is very good. Read Dryden’s Medal and the first part of the Hind and Panther.


In the Daily National Intelligencer, 25 Feb., p. 3, cols. 5–6, there appeared a full two-column advertisement in the form of a letter signed by John Randolph of Roanoke. In announcing that his three stallions (Janus, Gascoigne, and Rinaldo) were at stud for the year, he provided in picturesque detail, of which a sample is given below, the information thought appropriate about each horse, with incidental comment on current taste and fashion:

“Janus has more of the blood of old Janus (his great great grandsire) than any other horse living, and his action surpasses that of any other animal of his species that the writer of this advertisement ever saw, his dam Frenzy only excepted.... He won several times—among others at Tree Hill, when Gen. Lafayette was there—but although a real racer, with great speed, he was a very unlucky one.... He beat the far-famed Henry ... the two first heats out of five, of one mile each, the best three in five; and could he have been kept back, so as to throw away a heat, it is believed that he would have won the race—(Such was the opinion, among others, of that model of the Old Virginia Planter and Sportsman, the late Edmund Irby, Esquire.) But ... his ungovernable temper caused his defeat.... Janus at sixty dollars and one dollar to the Groom; forty dollars the leap, to be paid at the stable door, before the mare is led away. ... Any mare not proving in foal shall be covered next season gratis by Janus or Gascoigne....

“[Rinaldo] is a horse of vast strength and great activity. He, too, was bred after the dam, most luckily, for easier trotters, or a more hardy and thrifty race of horses never existed; they will keep fat upon what will barely keep alive the leggy, long-backed Garsons that are now all the rage, and which are fit for nothing but a long race, or a collar and hames; whereas, the true serviceable horse is the quarter horse, being active, sure footed, speedy, and capable of breaking down the fashionable stock in a hard ride of fifty, or even five and twenty miles.... Rinaldo is of the best running blood, as will be seen. His neck was injured by too early smelling at mares. His body and limbs cannot be surpassed by any horse. His head is large and bony.... His feet are of the old horny and cupped description that distinguished the Virginia horse before Colonel Hoomes inundated our country with worthless Stallions, and introduced the flat, thin-soled, weak crusted foot that can hardly hold a shoe, and cannot travel five miles without one. Our old-fashioned horses never required shoeing except in hard frosts, or hard work on stony ground. The new stock must be shod when not at work, or they fall lame....

“There cannot be a higher bred horse [than Gascoigne], and he is of immense power.... He is a most beautiful creature, not tall enough to suit the present depraved taste for leggy horses.... As a stallion he is untried, having only covered last year privately. He is eight years old next grass.... He will cover at one hundred dollars.... Any winner or breeder of a winner of respectability shall be covered gratis.... And one hundred dollars will be paid to the proprietor of Ariel for permission to cover her, and to the owner of Reality also, provided she be not past bearing.... Profit, it will be seen, forms no part of the object of Gascoigne’s master.”

CFA’s allusion to the advertisement without naming the Intelligencer sug-252gests that he had taken to reading the Washington paper regularly, perhaps since his father’s term in the House began. This is confirmed by CFA’s general awareness, evident in his letters, of JQA’s actions and speeches in the House, even where no explicit reference is made in a journal entry. An example is JQA’s speech of 8 Feb. against a proposed revision in the ratio of representation in Congress to population, his first major oratorical effort in the House, printed in extenso in the Daily National Intelligencer, 28 Feb., p. 2, cols. 1–4.