Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

Friday 16th. CFA Friday 16th. CFA
Friday 16th.

Morning to the Office, occupied in re-examining for a final disposition the old papers and accounts of my brother. I found two or three which might be of some use and one or two more which I ought to 47have had before. How much money has been lost by my father through his negligence and how badly the Houses look which have been under his care. Poor George. Much merit as he had for his spirit of literature and his generosity of heart, he was eminently unfitted for the duties and common occurrences of life. His mind was thoroughly speculative, at times philosophical, but always unequal to what the world terms common sense. With a keen sense of right, he was unable to resist wrong in an alluring shape, and with a bitter recollection of the past, he could not turn to improvement for the future. Thus his life was a continued scene of virtuous resolutions, and vicious transgressions, of violent repentance and passionate repetition.

Thomas B. Adams called in and I asked him to dine with me. He came to make a settlement with respect to the purchase of some of my brother George’s Clothes, upon which we agreed very shortly. He goes on Monday for Charleston.1 Miss Mary B. Hall from Medford also dined with us making in this manner quite an enlargement of our family circle.2 The afternoon was elegantly spent in the household occupation of bottling my Whiskey and in continuation of La Harpe’s criticism of the sacred writings which is very interesting although from my losing the habit of reading I am obliged to make more effort to condense my attention. Evening at home reading Scott’s Life of Cumberland which my Wife did not relish. I am afraid I must give up the point of creating any thing like a decided interest in literature and this grieves me for I cannot waste my time in worthless and trifling conversation. I read afterwards more of La Harpe and five Chapters of Mathew before retiring.

1.

Lt. Adams was stationed at Fort Pickens, S.C.

2.

Mary Brooks Hall was a first cousin of ABA; see vol. 2:155.

Saturday 17th. CFA Saturday 17th. CFA
Saturday 17th.

My morning at the Office was considerably interrupted by visitors who came for different purposes of business so that although I attempted something in the way of reading, my success was not greater than a Chapter or two of Marshall. Dr. Storer called upon me further upon the business relative to the affairs of my brother, with a claim which I could not at least at present admit. I conversed with him and found that he had involved himself by his hasty character in a scrape which he was anxious to have me help him out in, but I told him I could not, and he left me to arrange as well as he could upon my promise that I would attend to it not as a legal but an equitable claim upon any balance which might exist after the settlement of the Estate. 48I fear it will be but small. But on the whole I have done better than I had expected.

Mr. Conant, my father’s Tenant at Weston called merely to tell me that he thought he should remain on the Farm for the five Years under the new conditions which we made at our last meeting, which makes another disagreeable business off my hands. This Farm is a plague and no profit. Mr. Orcutt came to tell me that he should not move until next Week and that he should try to raise some Money upon Mortgage to settle with me before going to Connecticut. He like many others is driven out of Boston by the pressure of the times. This is the first time that he has been to my Office perfectly sober, and I thought much better of him. His rectitude of principle however still remains. Mr. Payson is the Tenant of the Store below my Office and came to tell me he was ready to move whenever I found another Tenant.1 I must therefore advertise directly. This makes the fourth of my Father’s places of occupation becoming vacant on or before the first of January and I foresee trouble enough with them, and some diminution of revenue. Thus my morning passed and I returned home in order to go with Abby and dine with Chardon. Mr. Heard and his daughter Mary were there.2 Our dinner was good and nothing remarkable passed. I have always the same series of feelings when there, and have already described them so repetition is absurd.

Returned home to read La Harpe upon eloquence and became somewhat interested in his Analysis of Quinctilian. This put me in mind of the Meeting of the Debating Society which I attended. The number was but slender and gave but poor encouragement for the support of the Club, but we notwithstanding had a debate and I made an effort. It was not as happy as those last Winter, and reminded me of the defects of my conversation. But I feel as if practice and a little attention previously, which I could not give tonight, would cure it. Finished the evening at Chardon’s, returning with my Wife at ten, and omitting my reading by forgetfulness.

1.

The firm of (Henry) Payson & (Jacob) Gutterson, dry goods, which had a store in Court Street, was apparently dissolved ( Boston Directory, 1829–1830, 1830–1831). Payson does not appear in CFA’s account books.

2.

John Heard Jr., attorney, and the father of Mrs. Chardon Brooks, lived at 6 Walnut Street ( Boston Directory, 1829–1830).