Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

Tuesday. 15th. CFA Tuesday. 15th. CFA
Tuesday. 15th.

Morning to the Office after some Conversation with Abby upon the circumstances of my previous history. I talked with her in kindness and in confidence and she seemed fully to meet it although much which I said could not have been welcome. Mine is not a first though a young love and I am not fully subject to the impulse of the freshness of feeling which makes the first moments of marriage sometimes so intoxicating. But in recompense, my engagement has been a constantly increasing matter of happiness and my marriage has crowned and hitherto more than crowned my hopes. If I loved Abby before, it has been with reserve, which the peculiar sensitiveness of her character 16forced upon me, as I never felt as if I could speak frankly to her of every thing. The thing is now altogether different. We are now intimately and closely tied and our thoughts and feelings are entirely united. May they continue to be so is my constant prayer.

Mr. Hollis called at my Office. He is a Carpenter whom it has been the practice to employ upon the Houses belonging to the Agency and take it from his rent.1 I directed him to look at Mrs. Longhurst’s roof and Pump, to form some estimate of the cost to repair it and report to me. Mr. Conant is one of my father’s Tenants at Weston, he brought with him a Letter from his Brother Amory Conant, the Lessee of the Farm, giving notice that he intends quitting the place in April, having lost money by his experiment this year. I conversed with him upon the subject and tried to encourage him, but it seemed to me that he was resolved to go unless I granted him some allowances out of his rent. I was disposed to think of it if he would consent to destroy the clause in the Lease allowing either party six months notice. He said he might agree to it on consideration and so we parted, I first agreeing to go to see him on Friday.2 Mr. Curtis called to leave the Petition with me to go to Quincy for my Father’s signature. I obtained powers also from the State Bank and wrote one for the Boylston Market in order to obtain his signature also for them in order to draw the October Dividends.

This being accomplished I returned to dinner. Abby received from my brother John’s wife a congratulatory Letter,3 in which she mentioned my Mother’s being sick, which was not agreeable news. After dinner and accompanying Abby to make a few purchases, she and I started for Quincy in my father’s little Carriage which came in for us. We found my father and Abby Adams, General Dearborn and his daughter, Thomas B. Adams Jr. and Louisa C. Smith.4 The evening was a little stupid, the weather being cold and raw. I felt dull and melancholy upon many accounts too numerous for me to mention, as my associations with the house and it’s present condition seemed to bring my thoughts in unison with the autumnal character of the season. General Dearborn left some handsome Manuscripts for my father’s perusal. He is an author, but how good cannot be judged from the very elegant binding and manuscript which make the visible shape.5 Conversation in the evening about them, and subsequently with my father upon subjects more interesting. He is a little dull, at being alone, and at the news from Washington, and I do not wonder at it, but he persists in his intention of remaining here until the season is far advanced.6


Daniel Hollis, a Quincy man, had occupied tenement No. 2 at 101 Tremont (earlier Nassau, then Common) Street for nearly sixteen years under an arrangement by which the yearly rental (from 1824, $125) would be offset against work performed, chiefly carpentering, on the houses and stores in the Agency. GWA, during the period of his management, had also accepted notes from Hollis. CFA came to look upon the whole arrangement with less and less favor. He attributed the wretched condition in which he found much of the property, in some measure at least, to Hollis’ inadequacies as a craftsman and to slovenliness induced by age and indulgence. Repeated annoyances led CFA, reluctantly and after numerous reprieves, to end the arrangement in Aug. 1830. See vol. 2:406; CFA to JQA, 31 Dec. 1829 (LbC, Adams Papers); M/CFA/3.


CFA was successful in his efforts to keep Silas and Amory Conant as lessees of the somewhat run-down Weston farm bequeathed to JQA by W. N. Boylston (vol. 2:228, 244, 409). JQA agreed to CFA’s plan by which half the rent would be expended on improvements. They remained at least through 1832, paying $125 annually (JQA, Diary, 17 Sept. 1829; M/CFA/3).




Abigail Smith Adams (“Abby”) (1806–1845), later Mrs. John Angier, was a daughter of TBA; see vol. 1:20 and Adams Genealogy. On Gen. Henry Alexander Scammell Dearborn of Roxbury, see vol. 1:327 and DAB . Accompanying him was Miss Julia Dearborn (JQA, Diary, 15 Sept. 1829). Louisa Catherine Catharine Smith (1773–1857) was a niece of AA, a sister of Mrs. J. H. Foster; see vol. 1:99 and Adams Genealogy.


The works in manuscript by Gen. H. A. S. Dearborn which he left with JQA consisted of two volumes upon the Grecian orders of architecture and two volumes of a Life of Christ (JQA, Diary, 15 Sept.). Neither is among the subsequently published works of Dearborn. The “splendid manuscript work” on Greek architecture was on the President’s table, 28 Oct. 1829 (Everett, Diary).


JQA had written that he would return at once to Washington to attend his wife in her illness if he could in that way contribute anything to her return to health. However, LCA was in agreement with him that he should remain at Quincy until late November when the plan to bring GWA’s remains there for reburial could be carried out. As the season progressed, he wrote that it “has never been out of my thoughts” and that he was determined to see the remains “under my own care deposited by the side of my beloved Sister, in the Tomb.” (JQA to LCA, 8 Nov.; also JQA to JA2, 16 Sept.; JQA to LCA, 17, 26 Sept.; LCA to JQA, 17 Sept., Adams Papers.) The rites were performed on 24 Nov.; see entries for 23, 24 Nov., below.

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.).