Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

Wednesday 9th.

Friday. 11th.

Thursday. 10th. CFA Thursday. 10th. CFA
Thursday. 10th.

Morning to the Office as usual but I was able to do little or nothing as I had hardly seated myself before my old friend Richardson 9dropped in.1 I was very glad to see him and we talked pleasantly for a considerable time. He has not seen me since my marriage and at first he seemed to feel a little awkward, but he soon got over it and we then chatted very pleasantly an hour or two. He is one of the only men with whom I can say I have been exceedingly intimate, and although our present circumstances are such as to separate us considerably from each other, yet I like to see him to remind me of old times. We were interrupted by Thomas B. Adams who brought me a Note from my father with some Commissions to execute.2 I performed some and postponed others—for consideration and conversation with him. Mr. Curtis also called, and asked as to the Deed which I had prepared and which he requested me to send to my father to be executed, which I accordingly did.

I then returned home and having agreed to dine with Mr. Brooks at Medford,3 I drove out there with Abby. Found there Mr. and Mrs. Everett, Mr. and Mrs. Frothingham, Mr. and Mrs. Brooks, Miss Gorham her sister,4 and ourselves. The dinner was pleasant enough and the time passed rapidly. Abby was not so much affected as I had expected, and luckily a visitor happened to come in who was not pleasant and broke up any feeling the parting might have otherwise created. We started early, in order to take tea at Mrs. Everett’s. He is a singular man and puzzles me exceedingly. But sincerity is not his forte.5 I like her although she has many decided faults.

We left early and returned to town with a fine Moon and a cold night. But the ride was pleasant. After stopping to inquire how Miss Carter was, we returned home, and from thence went to spend the Evening at P. C. Brooks’s.6 They are pleasant, agreeable and kind hearted people and I ought to like them very much, but now and then a little vulgarity escapes them which annoys me exceedingly. I am always anxious to do my best, but I cannot copy the same style and this makes me appear a little like a silent censor, and as if I was making myself a little high about it. But this must be for I will not do what I think degrades me, and though they may dislike my notions, yet I trust to the rest of my manner to show that I wish to make no offence. P. Chardon is a clever fellow, exceeding good natured, but very brusque, with whom I have always endeavoured to keep on the best terms, and whose attentions are exceedingly obliging.

1.

John Hancock Richardson, CFA’s Harvard classmate, long-time friend, and correspondent, was an attorney with an office in Newton, Mass. (vol. 1:12 and passim).

2.

9 Sept. (Adams Papers). The commissions included the acquisition of three pair of blankets, the purchase and installation of a Rumford stove for his kitchen and of sundry Franklin fire-10places, the exchange of a $50 bill for smaller ones, requests for several books, and conveying his “paternal love” to ABA with an invitation to visit at Quincy to “come and stay and go” as at “a second father’s house.”

3.

Peter Chardon Brooks (1767–1849) and his wife Ann Gorham (1771–1830), ABA’s parents, had their home in Medford (vol. 2:ix–x, 105; DAB ; Adams Genealogy), living in a mansion built by Brooks in 1805 on ancestral land (vol. 2:xi, illustration facing 305). The house, situated on splendidly landscaped grounds and with farm lands adjacent, though generally known as “Elms Farm,” within the family was called “Mystic Grove” (letters of Charlotte Everett to Edward Everett, Everett MSS, MHi). Entertainment in the household in 1829 was restricted partly because of the death of Ward C. Brooks the year before, but more especially because of the poor health of Mrs. Brooks during the whole year (vol. 2:359–429passim; Brooks, Waste Book, 31 Dec. 1829; Charlotte Everett to Edward Everett, 12 April 1829, Everett MSS, MHi).

Brooks took great pride in the estate, reacquiring all the lands held by his grandfather before division between heirs and purchasing additional parcels. On the location and bounds of the lands, see p. xviii and the map of Medford in this volume. In his “Book of Possessions” (Brooks MSS, MHi) are the deeds and papers relating to the property beginning in 1709 and a record of his own improvements. He several times gave a history of the holdings in his Waste Book, and in his Farm Journal he recorded from 1808 to 1848 production figures, daily activities, the weather, &c.

4.

Elizabeth Gorham (1769–1845), Mrs. Peter C. Brooks’ only unmarried sister, continued to live in Charlestown, the Gorham family home, until sometime after 1823, when she moved to Cambridge (T. B. Wyman, The Genealogies and Estates of Charlestown, Boston, 1879, 1:424; History of the Harvard Church in Charlestown, Boston, 1879, p. 105). She had been visiting her sister since 5 Sept. (Brooks, Farm Journal).

5.

CFA’s reservations on this aspect of the character of Edward Everett, which find some corroboration from the judgment of others and from events (see vol. 2:418; Frothingham, Everett , p. 272–273, 354, 428–429; CFA2, R. H. Dana , 2:279), persisted almost to the end of Everett’s career. Only in the last four years of Everett’s life (1861–1865) did CFA find a change in him:

“In his last days he reappeared in another and better character. The progress of events had brought him to a point where his fears no longer checked him, for his interests, such as might at his age be supposed to survive, ran on all fours with his convictions. As a consequence he spoke forth at last with all his power what he really felt. The change was wonderful. From that time I felt myself drawn to him as never before .... To me his four last years appear worth more than all the rest of his life, including the whole series of his rhetorical triumphs.”

(CFA to Richard Henry Dana, 8 June 1865, Dana Papers, MHi, printed in CFA2, R. H. Dana , 2:280)

6.

Mr. and Mrs. P. C. Brooks Jr. lived at 3 Chesnut Street ( Boston Directory, 1829–1830).