Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

Tuesday. 15th.

Thursday. 17th.

Wednesday 16th. CFA Wednesday 16th. CFA
Wednesday 16th.

Morning exceedingly chilly and disagreeable, so that the house and Country seemed raw and uncomfortable. We took Breakfast and I felt very anxious to get away. It would be difficult for me to describe exactly my feelings today. In reflecting now upon the singular condition of our family, it seems as if my father was left to himself and as if, after him, I was the only person who could be expected to take the old property. Now in this there is much difficulty. For my tastes are not very warmly engaged in it and there is little or no temptation excepting that which springs from my decided attachment to the family name and character. I am now the last scion of the race in this State and upon me it must fall or upon some collateral branch of the name. 18The place is itself falling into decay from the want of practical qualities in my father to keep it up, and I have other avocations to call me to different scenes. The future is always uncertain and it is possible my father may settle these questions by a very definitive step, and relieve me from all doubt about the matter.1 Such a step would however afford me no pleasure. It has nothing but mortification to attend it. And though I am preparing my mind for it, it is only as an anticipation of evil.

We left Quincy in the little Carriage and arrived in town just in time to avoid the rain and see Mrs. Brooks who had come in to see Abby.2 She appeared sick and out of spirits and seemed to mourn the loss of Abby. This affected the latter who was dull in consequence all the afternoon. It rained heavily and I remained at home. Abby’s spirits have been generally good, even better than I had expected, under this separation and upon the change in her condition. I have not had occasion to feel as if I had done wrong, nor can I now repent of it. The engagement was long and was becoming unnecessarily extended, and I was playing the part of a fool with little or no satisfaction. It is impossible for me to confess the difference of my sensations now. I amused Abby with conversation and in the evening read aloud in Devereux. The comfort of home was strongly contrasted in my mind with the cheerlessness of my father’s at Quincy.


During 1828–1829, JQA had entertained several designs as alternatives to the unsatisfactory living conditions at the Old House. These included the purchase of a home in Boston (vol. 2:287–288), building a new house in Quincy (CFA to JA2, 21 Sept. 1829, Adams Papers), and apparently giving up Massachusetts residence altogether. Ultimately he went no further than the repair of the Old House, on which he was then engaged.


This was the first day on which Mrs. Brooks had been well enough to come into Boston since 27 Aug. (Brooks, Farm Journal, 16 Sept.).