Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

Wednesday. 13th. CFA Wednesday. 13th. CFA
Wednesday. 13th.

The Weather was cold and the sky cloudy this morning when I went to the Office. It began to snow but it did not moderate sufficiently to allow of the fall of any quantity. I was engaged in the supervision of the repairs necessary for the House in the rear of my Office. It gives me much trouble, as I find myself standing in danger of being taken in constantly by workmen or others who think me young and easy to be imposed upon. One man cautions me, and another man cautions me until I feel as if I had rather more to do than I was able. But this is my first trial on this Agency. So long as Houses are occupied, it is an easy business, but when empty, and they need considerable repair, the trial begins.

I called in a few moments to see Mr. Brooks, and wrote a part of a letter to my Father on business, from which I desisted to see Mr. Curtis who came in to talk over the unfortunate affair of Mr. Vaughan. My father wrote me a letter upon the subject,1 but we decided upon nothing. He advises Mr. Curtis to go to England in person, but he seems rather doubtful upon it. Returned home. After dinner read the remarks by various Authors upon the Oedipus of Sophocles, La Harpe and Brumoy, who agree in their praises. It is a good tragedy but not so much to my taste as the wilder ones of Aeschylus. I also finished my Dissertation which upon reading over I did not admire. It did not appear to me as well as I expected. Evening at home reading Clarissa, until Mr. William Brooks came in who sat with us for a very considerable time.2 He is a cousin of Abby’s, and was tolerably agreeable.


8 Jan. (Adams Papers). Following the dispatch to Petty Vaughan, the English agent of Thomas Boylston, of papers designed to effect the transfer of funds collected by Vaughan from the French Government and due the Boylston estate (see above, entries for 12 Sept., note, and 2 Nov. 1829, note. 2 Nov. 1829, notes ), Vaughan acknowledged their receipt but delayed proceeding because he was “sick in bed.” A second letter from him to JQA, enclosed by CFA in his letter of 31 Dec., brought information that Vaughan had, at some point after collecting the funds, placed them in the hands of his uncle, William Vaughan, whose failure Petty Vaughan 132had now to report. Though JQA had known and respected William Vaughan for nearly fifty years, he suspected that Petty Vaughan, knowing of his uncle’s financial straits, had placed the money with him, hoping thereby to provide him temporary relief, JQA’s proposal that Nathaniel Curtis, his coexecutor, go to England, like other efforts initiated to recover the funds, came to nothing. CFA seems to have been involved in this phase only as a conveyor of messages and correspondence. See JQA, Diary, 8, 13, 23, 28 Jan.; JQA to Nathaniel Curtis, 8 Jan., to Nathaniel Curtis and Mrs. W. N. Boylston, 13, 23 Jan., 4 Feb. (all LbCs and in Adams Papers).


William Gray Brooks, a son of Peter C. Brooks’ brother Cotton Brown Brooks of Portland (1765–1834), in 1833 married another cousin of ABA’s, Mary Ann Phillips (b. 1808), daughter of Lydia (Gorham) and John Phillips of Andover. Their sons included Phillips Brooks ( DAB ). William Gray Brooks’ Diary in 9 vols. (1838–1877, with breaks) is among the Brooks MSS, MHi.

Thursday. 14th. CFA Thursday. 14th. CFA
Thursday. 14th.

Morning misty but cold. The fog seemed to attach itself to every thing and freeze as it came, so that every thing presented a white and glossy appearance in the Streets. The grass had the white frost on it which we so often see in the Autumn and the Trees were clothed with uncommon beauty. I went to the Office and was engaged in overlooking my Workmen in the business they were about. They go on pretty briskly. But I heard something so much against the character of my Tenant that I felt very much depressed about it, and to counteract any danger of the kind drew up a Lease which will bind him. My satisfaction is that my repairs must sooner or later have been done, and so I shall not have been hasty. But my prospect of letting it will not be very good if I cannot get the present applicant to take it.

My morning was pretty much taken up in bustling without coming to any precise result. I went upon change, resolved to finish the affair of my father’s Investment and purchased five shares of the State Bank of Mr. Degrand at 59 1/2. This is reinvesting the money I paid for my Shares with one hundred and twenty dollars beside—All I can do.1 I then calculated my power of meeting the Note on the 29th and concluded to send to Mrs. Longhurst and try her as a resource.2 Returned home and passed the afternoon in reading, and correcting my Essay which I like less and less. When shall I ever be satisfied? But I corrected freely, and thought it was improved. I then read the first part of the Oedipe of Corneille which I thought tolerably poor.3 It is a Frenchified Drama, in the strictly ludicrous sense. The evening was passed at home quietly reading Clarissa without interruption, after which I had time to finish an article in the North American Review upon the American System.4


In GWA’s estate were nine shares of State Bank stock which upon settlement of the estate would become the property of JQA. CFA had purchased 133three of these shares from the estate at par in December mainly to provide cash needed in the Agency account at that time. Adhering to his policy of keeping Agency funds fully invested and taking advantage of the decline in the market, CFA used the cash which had accumulated in the interim to restore the three shares to JQA’s holdings and to add two more. The transaction was completed in the following week with the transfer of the remaining six shares in GWA’s name to JQA. (M/CFA/3)


Despite his failure to collect any part of the $405.49 by which Mrs. Longhurst was in arrears (CFA to JQA, 2 Feb., LbC, Adams Papers; M/CFA/3), CFA was able, on 28 Jan., to meet the due date of JQA’s sixty-day note to the executors of JA’s will.


CFA owned an edition of Oeuvres de P. Corneille published at Paris in 12 vols., 1824, now in MQA; “Oedipe” is in vol. 7 of this edition.


The (unsigned) article relating to British opinions on the American tariff system was by Alexander H. Everett, North Amer. Rev. , 30:161–216 (Jan. 1830).