Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

Tuesday. 20th. CFA Tuesday. 20th. CFA
Tuesday. 20th.

Morning at the Office. A man named Brown called upon me about this eternal business of George’s, and I was obliged to go over the same business with him that I did with Dr. Storer and satisfied him as little. I then went down to the State Bank and found that all the Directors had been elected yesterday with the exception of Mr. Henshaw,1 who upon hearing it had withdrawn. I do not know but this may be on the whole the most desirable result. There is no fault attaching to the 51Directors and they have had warning enough to prevent their negligence, hereafter. The trial today was between Mr. David Ellis and Mr. John Henshaw brother of the late Director.2 I knew nothing of either, but as the Bank had lost by the Jackson partiality of the former director I thought the best course was to prevent any political bias influencing a man’s mercantile transactions, Mr. Ellis as I presume, not being partial on any side. As the meeting was small and nothing likely to be done on the subject of the application for a renewal of the Charter, I returned to the Office and busied myself arranging my papers which have fallen into great confusion. My Office is now cleared of the rubbish which was to go to Quincy and I shall now feel as if I could sit down and pursue my regular occupations more methodically. I called in and paid a short visit to Mr. Brooks. These calls are a little irksome for they are always interrupting the busy time of a person always busy. I do not think myself ever at liberty to say more than a brief inquiry after Mrs. Brooks, and often feel as if I was intruding to do that.

Afternoon at home. Tried to divide my time so as to read a little, write a little, and arrange a little. Commenced making a Catalogue of my Books, which will be a considerable labour. Read some of the Commencement of the Book on Animals published by the Society for Useful and Entertaining Knowledge in England and was interested by it.3 The account is simple and pleasing. The evening was however passed in visiting Mrs. E. Brooks and Mrs. F. Parkman, the latter is a Cousin of Abby’s, sister to Miss Hall.4 Her husband is a singular man, quite in character with the rest of the family in eccentricity, but withal a man of good and charitable feelings. Returned home to read my Chapters in the new Testament before retiring.

1.

David Henshaw, collector of customs at Boston ( Boston Directory, 1829–1830).

2.

David Ellis, merchant, and John Henshaw of Henshaw & Co., druggists, of 21 and 33 India Wharf, respectively ( Boston Directory, 1829–1830).

3.

In 1829 the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, London, began publication of The Library of Entertaining Knowledge with a volume on quadrupeds entitled The Menageries. CFA’s set, 51 vols., London, 1829–1838, is in MQA.

4.

Mrs. Francis Parkman, formerly Caroline Hall (b. 1794), was the daughter of Nathaniel Hall and Joanna Cotton (Brooks) Hall, and a sister of Mary Brooks Hall. Her husband was minister of the New North Church, Hanover Street (Congregational); their son, Francis Parkman, was the future historian ( DAB ). They lived on Somerset Place ( Boston Directory, 1829–1830).

Wednesday. 21st. CFA Wednesday. 21st. CFA
Wednesday. 21st.

Morning clear but cold. The weather being of that fine Autumnal kind of which we have now so much. To a man in the vigour of health, 52no climate is more agreeable than this at the present season, though when any thing like debility exists the keen air becomes too searching. A great change has taken place in my frame in this regard, for I now relish with much satisfaction the air which two years since cut through me. At the Office, where I wrote a Letter to my Father upon the subjects on which I required information, the rumford and the Boston property,1 at the same time intimating an intention of going to Quincy this week which I upon seeing Mr. Brooks afterwards, regretted as I decided upon going to Medford.

I then walked to the South End of Boston in order to inquire about Mrs. Bittner whom I had long since sued and had execution against her.2 She pleads poverty and I have too much heart to make a lawyer. I must give her time. From thence I went to the Store of Messrs. John D. and Moses Williams3 to make an inquiry about some Wine for ordinary use. I tasted some which I thought quite good, but deferred a decision until I should be able to see one of the gentlemen themselves. My walk did me a great deal of good, and I returned home to dine with a good appetite.

The afternoon was occupied in reading La Harpe and forming Castles in the Air about a review on the subject of eloquence, which I am resolved to attempt even if I never show it. To this effect I have laid down a course of some length for myself. Continued my Catalogue. In the evening I read to Abby the lives of Goldsmith and Johnson in Scott’s Biography of the Novelists. She took much interest in them and I was paid for my labour. She is capable of being made an exceedingly fine and sensible girl, but her powers have been suffered to run to waste in the endeavour to support her natural disposition. My affection for her increases. Finished the Gospel of St. Mark and began that of Luke this evening.

1.

Letter missing. JQA, in acknowledging its receipt, indicates that CFA asked JQA’s wishes on further expenditure for the installation of the Rumford stove in his kitchen and on the policy to be followed in dealing with tenants in view of the likelihood of numerous vacancies (22 Oct., Adams Papers).

2.

Probably Elizabeth Bittner, dyer, of 560 Washington Street ( Boston Directory, 1829–1830). CFA had sued Mrs. Bittner on behalf of his tenant, Daniel Hollis. Efforts to collect the judgment were protracted; see numerous entries, below.

3.

Wine merchants, they were at 757 Washington Street ( Boston Directory, 1829–1830).