Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

183 Wednesday. 10th. CFA Wednesday. 10th. CFA
Wednesday. 10th.

Morning dark and cloudy. Went to the Office as usual. But felt exceedingly dull and depressed all day. My father’s business weighs upon my mind and in addition to this more troubles come upon me every day. Dr. Storer called upon me today about that old affair of Farmer’s. It seems this man has sued him for defamation of character, as some time in the Spring he wrote a letter, imprudent and silly enough to be sure.1 He came to me to inquire of me whether I would see his Counsel, Mr. Fletcher. I am glad this gentleman has been selected for the purpose,2 though I am deeply grieved that the whole affair has happened. What the development may be is impossible to say, and all of it through the folly of this young man. His imprudence always precipitates him into scrapes.

My Uncle Judge Adams called in to see me and interrupted us. He came to inquire about money and I was obliged to tell him I was as poor as a rat. This is true now and likely to be true hereafter. I do not admire present appearances. After seeing Mr. Brooks as usual, and going to make a purchase of some Coal, I had time to sit down and read one or two of Williston’s Selections in his fifth volume. They were Orations on the famous Boston Massacre by Warren and Hancock,3 and I cannot say that they were great models for imitation, being extremely turgid and in false taste. There certainly has been an improvement in our productions in this Country. More solid matter and less wind, though even now there is enough.

Dined at Chardon Brooks’ with my wife. Time pleasant. Afternoon at home, reading Demosthenes in which I made good progress. But how superficial is merely a single examination of such an author. In the evening I read to my Wife the first half of Sheridan’s Comedy of the School for Scandal and was amused as usual with it’s wit. If any thing the replies have too much point to be natural. Walker’s Rhetorical Grammar.

1.

The letter of Dr. D. H. Storer to Miles Farmer on which Farmer was to base his suit for libel was written on 31 July 1829 ( Farmer-Storer Trial , p. 6, 16–17).

2.

Richard Fletcher’s law office was at 10 State Street ( Boston Directory, 1830–1831). CFA’s acquaintance with him began when they both boarded at Thomas Tarbell’s, 11 Avon Place; a mutual respect soon developed; see vol. 2:264, 348, 371, 400.

3.

The orations of Joseph Warren (1772 and 1775) and John Hancock (1774) are at p. 5–42.

Thursday. 11th. CFA Thursday. 11th. CFA
Thursday. 11th.

Morning cloudy, but mild. Went to the Office as usual, and passed my time in writing my Journal. Mr. Hurlbert is a man who was burnt 184out of his premises last Fall and now applies for this Store beneath. After a little conversation and some provisions on both sides, I let him have the Store and two rooms overhead for the sum of three hundred dollars, an arrangement which suits me very well, for the rooms above I cannot let for any other purpose, and now are better disposed of than lying waste.1 I immediately went to give directions to Hollis and the others for the purpose of beginning. This relieves my mind a little. If I could now only get rid of the other two houses. This arrangement compelled me to be very active and brisk in trying to get rid of the dust and rubbish which has accumulated in the garret above. I have been anxious ever since I was in the Agency to do it. I read consequently but very little of Mr. Williston.

Returning home, I found Miss Elizabeth Phillips passing the day with Abby. I forgot to mention the fact of the decease of Winthrop Gray this morning. He has lived a worthless life and leaves little regret behind him. The great misfortune of his life was the possessing too much property too early.2 I passed the afternoon in reading Demosthenes quietly and pleasantly at my Study. The progress I am now making is considerable. My spirits were a little improved today though still not excessively bright. I passed the remainder of the evening in finishing for my Wife the School for Scandal. The latter scenes of the Play delighted me as much as ever. The brilliant wit of them is astonishing. But after all there is more point than nature, though nature not exaggerated would probably on a representation prove very flat. After Abby retired, I sat up and read further Walker’s Rhetorical Grammar though I found nothing in it extremely remarkable.

1.

Jesse P. Hurlbert dealt in paper hangings ( Boston Directory, 1830–1831). His long tenancy in the Court Street building here begun, ultimately included the house in the rear and office space as well (M/CFA/3). For the two rooms, seemingly on the fourth floor, which he was allowed to use, for storage perhaps, he paid the increased cost of the insurance on the building.

2.

Winthrop Gray (1804–1830), a first cousin of ABA, was the oldest son of Mary (Brooks) and Samuel Gray. Having squandered “a considerable fortune” by “every species of dissoluteness” and contracting diseases brought on by dissipation, he died at “Tremont House” after surgery following convulsions. (CFA to LCA, 13 March, Adams Papers; Charlotte Everett to Edward Everett, 10, 12 March; Peter C. Brooks to same, 22 March; both in Everett MSS, MHi.)