Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

Saturday 19th. CFA Saturday 19th. CFA
Saturday 19th.

Morning to the Office. Finding myself in want of occupation I commenced Marshall’s Book on Insurance in order to make myself more familiarly acquainted with that subject.1 I read a little but was interrupted by visitors. D. Orcutt, one of my father’s tenants came to tell me he could pay me no rent and he quits the house in consequence.2 He is an everlasting talker and detained me discussing all his prospects until I became so tired as to manoeuvre him away. He offers security however so that the rent is not absolutely lost. My father also came in and sat some time talking of his necessities, which at this time are many. I therefore walked down to the New England Soap Stone Factory in order to send for one thing most needed, a close fireplace for his large room. The remainder of the things required I must defer attending to until next week.

My father dined with us and as I had in the morning attended to the receiving some wine which he has been so kind as to give me, which had just arrived from Washington, I thought I would open a bottle for him—but it disappointed us, for it felt the effects of transportation very much.3 Our dinner was however an exceedingly pleasant one, as my father was in a mood for Conversation and we talked of Shakespear with great vivacity. He disclosed then his singular views of the plays of Othello, and Macbeth, which rather amuse than convince me though they are undoubtedly worthy of consideration. We sat some 21time and afterwards I had only time to write a little during the absence of both my father and my wife upon separate errands. He returned only for a moment previous to departing for Quincy and it was not long afterwards that we found Mr. Brooks had sent his little Carriage for us, to go to Medford. I had expected this would be the case though I confess I did not wish it. My own happiness hitherto has been unalloyed, but there is danger that the feelings which Medford engenders divide and separate us and bring on difficulty. I had hoped that we should have gone tomorrow in order to return on the day succeeding without difficulty but now I feared that the result would not be so promising. This brought an unwelcome cloud upon my spirits, which every thing that followed in the course of the evening was calculated to increase. For it made me uncomfortable in spite of myself to think that Abby should prefer her home to me—and I am peculiarly sensitive to the very looks of Mr. and Mrs. Brooks because I feel that they are a little displeased with me for doing what I could not in justice to myself avoid. Sidney Brooks and his Wife, and Mrs. Frothingham were there making a pretty large party, and for the whole of the evening I felt as restless, and uncomfortable as I did at any time during my engagement.

1.

Samuel Marshall, Treatise on the Law of Insurance ..., 2 vols., London, 1802.

2.

David Orcutt, a cabinetmaker, rented tenement No. 3 of 101 Tremont Street at $150 per year. When he left the premises on 23 Oct., he was $112 in arrears (vol. 2:417; M/CFA/3; and Boston Directory, 1829–1830).

3.

See entry for 9 Sept., above.

Sunday. 20th. CFA Sunday. 20th. CFA
Sunday. 20th.

I did not arise in better humour than when I retired the evening past. And I continued feeling quite low spirited throughout the day. I attended Divine Service with Abby in the morning and heard Dr. Follen preach a Sermon without a Text. This is strange and I do not know how to like it; old prejudices are strong against the innovation and even without them, I think the evident object of the institution is to illustrate and explain passages of the Scriptures, and that it is therefore much more clearly effected by setting before one the end to which all conclusions must be directed. In modern times, texts have been falling into unpopularity but as I think very unreasonably, and I believe it would be found that much less will be found to remain in the memory of the common classes of people who are most benefitted by these Addresses, through the medium of a process of Orationizing, than by the old practise of familiar texts. Dr. Follen is a German who 22is attached to Harvard College and since his residence in this Country has taken to Divinity.1 He reads English well for a foreigner. He dined with us. After dinner I went to walk and not to Church for he was rather too dry.

On my return, found Mr. Shepherd who was soon after followed by Edward Brooks and his Wife.2 These are the most agreeable part of the family to me, though I have seen much least of them.3 They are tolerably merry people, and so they enlivened us much at tea. Mrs. Brooks looked and appeared fatigued and sick. The evening passed in conversation with Mr. Brooks upon fruits and then old Boston history—rather dry—but I try to interest myself in these things. Afterwards, a Conversation with Abby, which it will do well to remember, though I should be foolish to detail it here.

1.

Charles Theodore Christian Follen (1796–1840), Unitarian clergyman and first professor of German literature at Harvard, had come to the United States in 1824 ( DAB ).

2.

Resin D. Shepherd, father of Ellen Shepherd who had married ABA’s brother Gorham Brooks earlier in the year, was a Boston merchant living in Watertown; see vol. 2:165 and Brooks, Farm Journal, 20 April 1829.

3.

Although the Edward Brookses maintained a house in Boston at 4 Bulfinch Place ( Boston Directory, 1829–1830), apparently they preferred to remain aloof from society and family at their well-situated place in Watertown; see vol. 2:249. CFA’s expressed liking for Edward continued. A Harvard graduate (1812) and a lawyer, increasingly he assumed the management of his father’s extensive business interests, having “the whole care” from 1833 onward and earning his father’s entire approbation (Brooks, Waste Book, 26 April 1848). His concerns extended to public matters as well. In 1828, he had written a series of articles, appearing in the Courier signed “Brougham,” proposing the establishment of a university in Boston (Edward Everett to Alexander H. Everett, 19 Nov. 1829, Everett MSS, MHi). See also Brooks, Medford , p. 530–531.