Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

Monday 7th.

Wednesday 9th.

Tuesday. 8th. CFA Tuesday. 8th. CFA
Tuesday. 8th.

Arose this morning and breakfasted a little late, my wife being quite unwell. I sat with her until Susan Brooks came in, and I then went to the Office. Morning passed in writing my Journal and in arranging my papers. Chardon Brooks dropped in for a minute to speak about some Coal which he had engaged for me and to talk a little over the party. My Office has fallen into terrible confusion ever since the departure of my boy and I do not know when it will be restored. Returned to the House and found Mrs. Everett there, who was soon followed by her husband, Blake, Quincy and Mr. Lowell.1 Abby however was not over well to receive them. After dinner I sat with Abby and commenced reading to her Devereux a new Novel by the Author of Pelham.2

Julia Gorham interrupting us, I walked to the Office and became unconsciously engaged in reading portions of my brother’s Journal scraps which affected me exceedingly.3 There is much moral to be learned from his Life and the candor and warmth with which it was set down made me reflect upon his character and mine. He possessed all the cultivation of mind essential to his success, he held what is infinitely more to the purpose than any thing in my possession, an aptitude of language and power of style which made a fascinating writer. I have only steadiness of character, without the boldness of enterprise essential to success—and without any confidence in myself. Much of his record affected me much, particularly his ample details of his love affairs with Mary which materially affected his life—ever afterwards.4 Not that a marriage with her would have made him happy for I never believed any such thing, but his object of living was broken, and a chance was given to his weaknesses and evil inclinations to gain ground which never afterwards could be recovered. His Journal is interesting as a moral lesson to warn all young men and especially myself.

I returned home and found Abby alone. The Evening was quietly passed at home and I read a portion of Devereux to her. Quite happy.

1.

Charlotte (Brooks) Everett (1800–1859), the second eldest of ABA’s sisters, and her distinguished husband, Edward Everett (1794–1865), currently a member of Congress, had been hosts to ABA in Washington in early 1827 at the beginning of CFA’s courtship of her; see vol. 1:8; 2:x, 92, 97–113 passim; DAB ; Adams Genealogy.

Probably John Lowell (1769–1840). Massachusetts Federalist and a leading member of the bar, on whom see vol. 2:311 and DAB .

2.

Edward George Earle Lytton Bul-7wer (afterwards Bulwer-Lytton), Devereux, 3 vols., London, 1829.

3.

GWA’s efforts to keep a diary had been sporadic. However, what survives must represent but a fraction of the successive false starts. CFA, although an admirer of his brother’s literary talents, eliminated from GWA’s papers those that CFA judged would be damaging to his brother’s name or painful to the family. The only section preserved is that for 1–23 Aug. 1825 (M/GWA/1, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 287). However, there are other pieces preserved of a related character: a series of weekly letters to Claudius Bradford from 4 Sept. to 30 Oct. 1817, each of which is composed of journal entries for the intervening period; an account in five “essays” of a journey from London to Paris in 1817, written in early 1818, each of which he signed “Sterne” and entitled “A Sentimental Journey”; an “Introduction” to a contemplated “Review of the year 1825,” which is in fact a memoir of his life up to that year. The remainder consists of a collection of poetical and prose compositions done at college, 1817–1821; poems copied by his mother in her commonplace book; “The Influence of Natural Scenery on Poetry,” his commencement part at Harvard (MH-Ar); and an essay “Elements of Knowledge,” dated 21 Dec. 1826, which was intended as an introduction to an anthology and to which CFA on 25 Dec. 1830 appended an appreciative note calling it “one of the best specimens of his mind” (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel Nos. 271, 287, 288, 291, 295).

4.

GWA had become engaged in 1823 to his first cousin, Mary Catherine Hellen (1806?–1870), with whom CFA had earlier been in love, and who subsequently chose the third brother, JA2, becoming engaged to him in 1827 and marrying him in 1828. See vol. 1:xxvi, xxix, and Adams Genealogy.