Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

Friday 25th. CFA Friday 25th. CFA
Friday 25th.

Morning rainy and unpleasant. After lounging at home as usual considerably longer than I should have done properly, I went to the Office and passed some time quite uninterrupted in reading Marshall. I found little or nothing today however which struck me as new. Called upon Mr. Brooks for the sake of the visit, conversed upon his intentions for the Winter and regretted to find that he intends remaining there.1 This makes me feel thankful however that I had not another Winter to go through in my character of suitor. Mrs. Brooks is wrong in remaining there and it will much surprise me if she survives the season. Her spirits will not stand the still-dullness of her own condition.2 But I saw that the plan was approved and so I uttered not a syllable of opposition. Indeed from delicacy I would not wish to intrude my opinion.

Mr. Curtis called upon me for a few minutes in relation to Mr. Boylston’s affairs and to know when my Father would be in town. In regard to this, I had expected that he would come tomorrow, but the letter which I especially directed to be sent to Quincy, has been regularly found in my Box each Morning since Wednesday, so that in despair I called upon Abby Adams at Mr. P. Foster’s and gave it to her to take this afternoon.3 There was a thunder shower in the afternoon so that I remained at home and read a portion of a History of the United States by a certain Mr. Graham, which passes through my hands from Mr. Sparks to my Father.4 It is said to be the best extant. Abby went after the rain to see her friend Miss Carter. In the evening I read to her Mackenzie’s Man of Feeling or rather the first portion of it.5 But she did not appear so much interested as I expected. Afterwards a little of La Harpe.

1.

Until 1827, the Brooks family each year moved into Boston from Medford in November, remaining until May. However, in that year Mr. Brooks sold the house on Atkinson Street in which they had lived for 24 years, the neighborhood being no longer suitable (Waste Book, 16 July 1827). Thereafter they planned to remain at Mystic Grove the year round (same, 1 Jan. 1828). In 1829 Mr. and Mrs. Brooks were alone in the house for the first time, their children married or living in Europe. However, Ann Frothingham and her children spent the summer months with her parents, and Charlotte Everett and her children, the winter months.

2.

During her long illness Mrs. Brooks suffered periods of aberration and melancholia (Charlotte Everett to Edward Everett, Jan.–April, Nov.–Dec. 1829 passim, Everett MSS, MHi).

27 3.

Phineas Foster, a merchant, was married to Frances Harrod, a sister of Mrs. TBA. They lived at 5 Bulfinch Place (vol. 2:260; Boston Directory, 1829–1830).

4.

The 1827 edition of James Grahame’s The History of the Rise and Progress of the United States ..., 2 vols., London, in MQA has CFA’s autograph. It was a book which continued to interest CFA; see below, entries for 3 April–1 May 1830 passim; 13 April, note.

On Jared Sparks (1789–1866), currently the owner and editor of the North American Review , see vol. 1:79, 312; DAB ; and numerous entries below.

5.

The Man of Feeling is also included in Mackenzie’s Miscellaneous Works (3:1–147); see preceding entry.

Saturday 26th. CFA Saturday 26th. CFA
Saturday 26th.

Morning to the Office. Occupied in reading a little of Marshall but I did not progress much. I cannot very fully explain how the time was passed but it went and apparently not without its uses. My father came in as I had expected and sat with me an hour. He seemed in very good spirits and talked upon a multitude of things, more especially the inscription which he is making to my Grandfather’s memory, and also of my Mother from whom he receives good accounts this morning.1 I am very glad to hear of this as I had feared much for her. He talked also of business and gave me commissions as usual. Little or nothing occurred otherwise. I returned to dine.

My father and Mr. Brooks dined with me.2 I did not feel easy as is my custom. When is it that I do feel easy in presence of Mr. Brooks—and why do I not? These questions are to me inexplicable. Perhaps the sense of my being a little dependent upon him for a good opinion is the thing which works upon me as a check. I have always felt as if there was a doubt about me upon his mind and as long as this lasts it does not seem to me probable that I shall ever alter. The dinner was therefore not nearly so pleasant to me as that which we had on last Saturday, and I was very glad that it was done.

In the afternoon Mr. Curtis called to see my father and I went up with Mr. Brooks to have him examine the Bookcases as he proposes having some made at his own house. Thus the time passed until the Carriage called for us by agreement to go to Quincy. And we started at five. Upon leaving, I met my Classmate Cunningham who has just returned from Europe.3 He does not look so well as he did and I had no opportunity to do more than barely recognize him. Our ride was through Milton and we did not reach Quincy until quite late and I was very cold. Indeed I found today that I had in some manner caught a cold which was not a pleasant idea to me. For it always gives me an impression that I have contracted a habit of body a little unfavourable. After a good Supper and a little Fire which was not by any means un-28comfortable, we spent the evening very quietly in amusing Conversation until an early retirement.

1.

Mainly a report on her health: weak, but mending. Affectionate messages for CFA and ABA (to JQA, 21 Sept., Adams Papers).

2.

Relations between the Adams and Brooks families appear to have been generally cordial, particularly after the engagement of Charles and Abby in Feb. 1827. There were numerous visits of Mr. and Mrs. Brooks at Quincy and of JQA and LCA at Medford sometimes of several days’ duration (Brooks, Farm Journal, July–Oct. 1827, Aug. 1828, July–Aug. 1829 passim). On a number of occasions, the two men were invited to dine at the same table in Boston houses; they went together on a day’s excursion to Lowell, on an ocean fishing trip by steamboat (same, 5, 18 Sept. 1827), and, much later, on a trip to Niagara and Canada with ABA, 6 July–1 Aug. 1843 (Brooks, Farm Journal, and JQA, Diary, for that interval). From 1819 to 1827 Mr. Brooks owned a cast of the Binon bust of JA and in the latter year acquired a framed engraving of JQA (Waste Book, 1 May 1819, 6 July, 27 Aug. 1827). No serious political differences between the two men had developed. Earlier a Federalist, Brooks in those years was a contributor to Whig causes, deeply concerned in the career of his son-in-law Edward Everett whose entrance into politics JQA had fostered and who remained an Adams supporter through the Presidential term (Frothingham, Everett , p. 75–116 passim, 134, 295; Bemis, JQA , 2:74).

3.

On Francis Cunningham, with whom CFA had been on terms of some intimacy at Harvard but not since, see vol. 1:130, 232–302passim.