Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

Saturday 8th. CFA Saturday 8th. CFA
Saturday 8th.

Morning fine although the weather was very considerably cold. I went to the Office after receiving a visit from Miss Oliver my Tenant who paid me forty dollars of her rent on account and thus relieved me from much of my anxiety respecting that House. She has now materially diminished the weight of her debt, and having received a polite warning from me proves one of the most anxious to pay. My father’s real Estate is now in the best condition, all the Tenants being now about to manifest the result of my care, in their increased sensibility to the duty of punctuality which had become somewhat dulled. After balancing my books at the Bank, and inquiring for the condition of the Horse which this morning was a little encouraging, I spent the rest of the time at the Office in translating more of Mr. Negris, and felt as if I had succeeded better today.

After dinner I went to see the furniture of Madame de Walewsky formerly Mrs. Humphreys who made a silly match, and now leaves 231Boston to follow her husband, probably an impostor wherever he chooses to say. I know of no instance of greater folly in a woman, likely to be attended with more unfortunate circumstances to herself. Her large fortune will probably vanish under his hands, and then she is an old woman tied to a young and unprincipled spendthrift.1 I could not help thinking of this when looking at her house, which was all comfortably and some of it splendidly fitted up. Returned home and read Aeschines for two hours, after which I had agreed to go to Medford. Owing to the confinement of Mrs. Everett Mr. Brooks is left quite alone down there, and I therefore thought it would answer to go and spend two evenings instead of one. The evening was fine but cold and I thought I would vary our ride by going through Milk Row and the Old road near West Cambridge. We were paid for it in the beauty of the scenery which now shows the luxuriant freshness of the Season. I know nothing finer than the appearance of the Apple Orchards here in the month of May. Our ride was agreeable and we reached Medford directly after Sunset. The evening passed in conversation with Mr. Brooks.

1.

Mrs. Ann F. Humphreys was the wealthy widow of Gen. [properly, Col.] David Humphreys. Her property had been further enhanced by a bequest of $150,000 from her sister. On 31 Dec. 1829 she had married Col. de Walewsky, a Polish gentleman who was said to have served in Napoleon’s army. She was 51, he 41. At his insistence that any other arrangement would be an offense to his honor, she allowed all her property to pass to his control. In the months after marriage the house became “a resort for the young rakes of the town who have been treated by the Col. with fine dinners and choice wines.” The marriage, the ménage, and the reasons animating their removal from Boston evoked interest and gossip. The furniture, wines, &c. were on display at the residence, corner of Sumner and Mt. Vernon streets, and were to be sold there at auction on 10 May at 9 o’clock. (CFA to LCA, 17 Jan., Adams Papers; Charlotte Everett to Edward Everett, 4, 10, 24 Jan., 2 May, Everett MSS, MHi; Columbian Centinel, 5 May, p. 3, col. 6.)

Sunday 9th. CFA Sunday 9th. CFA
Sunday 9th.

The morning was fine but cold, and there had been a slight frost which tinged the leaves of the Clover, but Mr. Brooks thought not enough yet to injure the buds. The air continued so cold however throughout the day as to make me think that it would not pass off without nipping the fine promise of fruit. We attended divine service and heard Mr. Newell the Clergyman of Cambridge who graduated there the year before me.1 He has been much praised for his ability and at College he stood high, but I confess that he very much disappointed me. It was artificial, laboured, and not striking. His thoughts were old and common place dressed very gaudily. Thus it is with many who are 232highly praised at Cambridge. They enter the world on too high a scale, and therefore run the chance of falling much more than rising. It is true that this is not always the case for great talent will force it’s way through every obstacle, but I cannot help thinking now as I did when at College that the safest way for a man distrusting his abilities was to begin small and attempt things gradually.

I passed my loose time in reading a review of Mr. Cambreleng’s report written at Baltimore, a pretty good thing and very thoroughly destroying all his sophistry. But Mr. Cambreleng is a thorough paced Englishman, turned New Yorker.2 Evening, Messrs. J. Brooks and Furness, neighbours of Mr. Brooks came in, and the former entertained me with his conversation as usual. I think he is one of the few men you can properly style original.

1.

Rev. William Newell, Harvard 1824.

2.

On C. C. Cambreleng, a spokesman for the Jackson administration in the House, see vol. 2:35, 74, 151. His anti-protectionist Report on the Commercial Intercourse with Foreign Nations delivered 8 Feb. as chairman of the House Committee on Commerce and Navigation was ordered printed at government expense ( Niles’ Register , 37:422 [13 Feb. 1830]. In early April in Baltimore had appeared a pamphlet, A Review of Mr. Cambreleng’s Late Report from the Committee on Commerce, by “Mephistopheles,” i.e. Hezekiah Niles or someone closely associated with him in the cause of “the American system” (same, 38: 121, 137–138 [10, 17 April]). The charge that Cambreleng’s position was to the benefit of Great Britain rather than of the United States was included (same, 38:156 [24 April]).