Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

Friday. 23d. CFA Friday. 23d. CFA
Friday. 23d.

Morning fine, with the ground covered with a brilliant white frost, which in it’s appearance resembled snow. At the Office, Mr. Orcutt called to ask me about the applications for his house and to remonstrate against the admission of a certain Mrs. Wells one of the applicants.1 I cut him short being obliged to go according to appointment to see Mrs. Lewis. She commenced as all Tenants do by abusing the House and finished by requiring repairs and a diminution of rent. The lease of this House by Dr. Lewis expires on the 13th of December, and the rent has hitherto been punctually and fully paid. Rents have fallen and I think it myself very doubtful whether this House could 54longer be let at it’s present rate.2 I promised however to refer the matter to my father. On returning to my Office, I found two applicants for the Tenement, both anxious to take it, and having heard a very good character of Mrs. Wells from Dr. Lewis who offered to be bound for her rent, I thought this better evidence than Orcutt’s and so admitted her, so that this Tenement has not been a moment on my hands. Should I make arrangements with Mrs. Lewis, the House and Store in Court Street will be the only things left 3 of my anticipated trouble. I had time also to read a portion of Marshall, but not with steady or fixed attention. Afternoon at home, reading La Harpe on the Writings of Demosthenes and Cicero, subject of eloquence. I attempted a commencement of my project but was dissatisfied with the result. Continued my Catalogue. Miss Julia Gorham took tea here after which I read the account of the Cat tribe in the Library of Entertaining Knowledge.

1.

Mrs. M. Wells did become the occupant of Tenement No. 3 at 101 Tremont Street, remaining until 13 Aug. 1830. Her monthly rent of $12.50 was, in general, paid promptly (M/CFA/3).

2.

Dr. Winslow Lewis, the husband or son of Mrs. Harriet Lewis, was unsuccessful in securing a reduction in the annual rental of $450 for the house at 105 Tremont Street. When the house became vacant, CFA was able on 1 April 1830 to obtain a rental of only $375 (M/CFA/3).

3.

Word omitted in MS.

Saturday 24th. CFA Saturday 24th. CFA
Saturday 24th.

Morning at the Office as usual. Occupied myself in reading Marshall as much as I could, but owing to frequent interruptions was impeded somewhat in my progress as well as understanding of it. My father came in to talk of a variety of things and to ask me to go to Quincy with him which was arranged. I then seized the opportunity to consult him about his property here and the disposition of it and he gave me Carte blanche with it as he always does with his Agents. No wonder that they have cheated him. But as it is my intention to do by him as faithfully as I should were the case my own, I feel rather heavily the weight of the responsibility. Mr. Orcutt again called to intimate to me that I had admitted a bad tenant and to tell me he had not yet succeeded in raising any Money, a much more important and less agreeable piece of information. I told him to make another effort and if that did not succeed I would then myself take the Mortgage he offered as his Security. This with the payment of one or two small demands against my Father which were presented and one Post Office Account rather larger than I could quite comprehend, passed the morning.

My father dined with me as did John Gorham, brother of Miss 55Julia.1 Dinner much as usual excepting that I thought Abby made a little too much display, for the occasion and for my economical feelings. The weather was mild so that we rode to Quincy with my father after sunset without being uncomfortable, and that too by the way of Milton as we did before when I confess I suffered a little. We reached my father’s to take tea, found Miss Smith as usual, and Mr. William Greenleaf who is now occupied as secretary to my father, in copying the papers which Thomas left.2 He is not uninteresting. We snatched a moment to look at my father’s library which is gradually developing itself.3

1.

John Warren Gorham was a student at Harvard, class of 1832. In addition to the intimacy of ABA and Julia Gorham, the families were close. Mrs. Brooks (Ann Gorham) was a cousin of Dr. John Gorham, Julia’s father. The Brookses’ son, Ward Chipman, between 1822 and 1826 studied medicine in Dr. Gorham’s office. Following the death of Dr. Gorham in March 1829, Peter C. Brooks contributed toward John’s schooling for several years. See Brooks, Waste Book, 8 Aug. 1822, 26 May 1826, 27 March 1829.

2.

William Cranch Greenleaf (1801–1868), grandnephew of AA, succeeded his cousin, Thomas Boylston Adams Jr., as amanuensis. See vol. 1:434 and Adams Genealogy.

3.

JQA’s diary entries reveal that since the arrival of his books he had been engaged assiduously in unpacking the trunks and boxes and shelving the volumes. According to Bemis, there were 5,000 to 6,000 books in the collection ( JQA , 2:188). The want of space to house it properly caused JQA to call it “l’embarras des Richesses; I have been half a century, as greedy of books as Helluo was of the Salmon’s belly. No such Library exists in the hands of any other individual in the United States; but I have never had the enjoyment of it; nor can I expect to have it now or hereafter for the remnant of my days.... The want of a place in which a Library can be stowed is an inconvenience which nothing but wealth can escape. A large house; and a very large Apartment are indispensable. These I shall probably never possess, and must make up my mind to finish my days without them” (Diary, 17 Oct. 1829).