Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

Sunday 6th.

Tuesday. 8th.

Monday 7th. CFA Monday 7th. CFA
Monday 7th.

Morning at home until ten o’clock with Abby. Then finding she had some of her friends coming, I went to the Office. Wrote my Journal but wasted my time considerably otherwise. Mr. Curtis called in to see me for a minute or two and we had much conversation respecting Mr. Boylston’s Will and the arrangement and disposal of his Estates. I have not yet been able to finish the Deed.1 After this I went to see Mrs. Longhurst and my father’s other Tenants. But I obtained from them nothing but promises. Money seems now to be a difficult thing to obtain. And there is so much due to my father that it is high time to collect it. I have done my best.

5

Thence to the House to dinner. Found numbers of her relations with Abby and therefore she had become over excited. It is wonderful to see on what high pressure her spirits go, and sometimes I am really frightened for her lest they should prove too much, Afternoon passed restlessly, giving orders and directions for the evening. My father came in early and I asked him up in my Library. The rest of the family came too.

This was the Evening upon which Abby was to receive her Company and when she was to be fairly launched into Society. She was dressed magnificently and really looked quite a new thing. Her marriage has had a wonderfully beneficial effect upon her appearance so far and we are perhaps more struck with the contrast as she now comes out of black.2 The Company both in character and number was highly flattering. All the most distinguished people in Boston favoured us and if I did not feel resolved not to be elated, I think I might with some reason. But all this is mere show. I hope I have too much sense not to see that it is all but as the passing shadow,3 and that I have other and deeper duties to perform, to support and sustain my character, in the event of which there is much doubt. But I hope I shall be aware of my situation, and that adulation to my Wife is not respect for myself. The Company went early.

1.

Ward Nicholas Boylston (1747–1828) of Jamaica Plain, kinsman and friend of JQA (vol. 1:442 and Adams Genealogy), had by his will appointed as coexecutors of his estate, his wife, JQA, and Nathaniel Curtis (1774–1857) of Roxbury, a merchant of integrity and judgment (vol. 2:178; Francis S. Drake, The Town of Roxbury, Roxbury, 1878, p. 427).

The executors, faced with the prospect of conveying numerous parcels, wished a deed form prepared that would serve them generally. CFA had been chosen to prepare the somewhat complex instrument and was named conveyancer for the estate. See vol. 2:418; JQA, Diary, 1 Aug., 19, 25 Nov. 1829; and below, entries for 11, 16–18 November.

2.

ABA’s brother, Ward Chipman Brooks, had died in March 1828; see vol. 2:223 and Adams Genealogy. It would appear that the Brooks sisters had continued to wear black since that time. Charlotte (Brooks) Everett had written to her husband on the subject, 1 July 1829, saying “there is little chance I think of my being able to have it off” (Everett MSS, MHi).

3.

Father and son shared similar views of such occasions, but JQA, less accustomed to the prevailing mode, is more explicit:

“It was near nine, when the company began to come, and by half past ten, all excepting the family had retired .... There is a fashionable formality in these wedding visits, and subsequent parties, different from the practice heretofore, and objectionable in many cases for its expensiveness. The Lady sends her Cards with her maiden name, and on the back of it At Home, such an Evening. The bridesmen introduce all the Visitors, to the bride with as much ceremony as at an European Court presentation. The dresses of the Ladies are too costly: and this wedding visit is succeeded by evening parties or dinners given by friends.”

(Diary, 7 Sept.)

Those other than family whose presence JQA marked were the Chevalier Huygens, the Minister from the Nether-6lands, with his wife and two daughters; Lt. Gov. Thomas L. Winthrop; Daniel Webster; Rev. Henry Ware, the Hollis Professor of Divinity at Harvard, and wife; Mr. and Mrs. Richard Derby; F. C. Gray; Jared Sparks.