Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

Wednesday 9th. CFA Wednesday 9th. CFA
Wednesday 9th.

Morning passed very happily. To the Office but there had for the first time a little fit of dullness occasioned by old reflections which I dreaded, and which I had heretofore escaped. Engaged at the Office in writing out the Deed for Mr. Curtis which I completed, also in my Journal and in performing sundry Commissions. Paid Mr. Forbes part of my debt to him it being so large that at this time I was unable to settle the whole.1 Indeed my father having given me no assistance at all on my Wedding, I am a little pressed for the amount to pay my furniture with.2 I then went home and found much Company had been with Abby and that Edmund Quincy and Henrietta Gray were still there.3 They were making so much noise and disturbance that it did not please me. I detest boisterous people—and boisterous fun. Abby is now and then impelled into it by others, for she has herself little fondness for it and is displeased when she sees it elsewhere. I love her most dearly in her quiet moments when affection is her principal feeling. Then she is invaluable.

She has lost some rings and several other things since her being here which renders it doubtful whether we have not a thief in the House. A circumstance as unpleasant as it was unexpected. I do not know what to think and to do about it. Afternoon at the Office—read more of George’s Journal and was led to reflect upon the waste of my 8own time which must not be much longer. He always had some method in his head of a useful kind even to the last when his power to execute them was totally extinct. I am allowing all my days to run to waste unless I start to make a barrier early. I must soon reflect upon a division of time and a concentration of purpose. For if God gives me life to act, I feel as if I was not made to suffer my powers “to rust in me unus’d.” This will do to think of. On my way to inquire for Miss Carter who has been sick since Monday, I met Miss Gorham who had come from there and walked home from there with her.

Evening, a party and Supper to my wife at Mrs. P. C. Brooks. Not a great many, principally Strangers—Mrs. Otis, Mrs. Ritchie, Mrs. Gilman and others.4 I felt a little dull, and not very talkative but I got through the evening, more rapidly than I had anticipated. Returned home, tired and sleepy at twelve. I did propose declining as much as possible every civility as I feel a little anxious about my means and am desirous that they should rather be over my wants than that I should have to beg for more of either of my Fathers.

1.

These payments to William Forbes of $60.45 for “horse hire on account” and of $67.50 on 1 Dec. 1829 for “horse hire in full” are recorded in CFA’s account book (M/CFA/9). CFA continued to manifest concern about the cost of horse hire: “as we are very economical we make our respective parents send in their carriages for us when they wish to be favoured with our agreeable company” (CFA to JA2, 21 Sept. 1829, Adams Papers).

2.

JQA’s wedding gifts were “a Cameo ring with two hands joined” to ABA (JQA, Diary, 4 Sept.), three Stuart portraits of JA, JQA, and LCA (vol. 2:426–429) along with “the lion’s share” of three dozen small bottles and a dozen and a half magnum bottles of wine to CFA (CFA to JA2, 21 Sept., Adams Papers).

Although CFA had had James Sharp make him some furniture for the new house, the bill for which did remain unpaid for several months (vol. 2:428 and below, entry for 21 Jan. 1830), ABA’s father made her a wedding gift of most of the furniture and house furnishings, as he had done for his other daughters. These purchases for her included linens, &c. from John Fox—$142.96; china, glass, &c., from Joseph S. Hasting:—$219.82; silver, furniture, &c., from J. B. Jones—$711.41; mahogany furniture from George Archibald—$1,071.13; carpeting, mirrors, &c., from John Doggett—$700; bedding, &c., from James H. Foster—$196; and miscellaneous items to a total expenditure of $3, 798.91. In addition he made the couple a gift of $300 (Brooks, Waste Book, 6 July, 7, 14 Aug., 4, 11, 22 Sept., 17 Nov., 1 Dec. 1829).

3.

Henrietta Gray (1811–1891) was a first cousin of ABA; see vol. 2:155, 433.

4.

Mrs. Ritchie was accompanied by her husband. Perhaps he was William Ritchie, Boston merchant, who lived at 3 Cambridge Street (vol. 2:272), where CFA had had lodgings for a time (vol. 2:150). Mr. and Mrs. James Otis were of New York. Mr. and Mrs. Edward Everett were among the other guests (Everett, Diary, 9 Sept. 1829).

Thursday. 10th. CFA Thursday. 10th. CFA
Thursday. 10th.

Morning to the Office as usual but I was able to do little or nothing as I had hardly seated myself before my old friend Richardson 9dropped in.1 I was very glad to see him and we talked pleasantly for a considerable time. He has not seen me since my marriage and at first he seemed to feel a little awkward, but he soon got over it and we then chatted very pleasantly an hour or two. He is one of the only men with whom I can say I have been exceedingly intimate, and although our present circumstances are such as to separate us considerably from each other, yet I like to see him to remind me of old times. We were interrupted by Thomas B. Adams who brought me a Note from my father with some Commissions to execute.2 I performed some and postponed others—for consideration and conversation with him. Mr. Curtis also called, and asked as to the Deed which I had prepared and which he requested me to send to my father to be executed, which I accordingly did.

I then returned home and having agreed to dine with Mr. Brooks at Medford,3 I drove out there with Abby. Found there Mr. and Mrs. Everett, Mr. and Mrs. Frothingham, Mr. and Mrs. Brooks, Miss Gorham her sister,4 and ourselves. The dinner was pleasant enough and the time passed rapidly. Abby was not so much affected as I had expected, and luckily a visitor happened to come in who was not pleasant and broke up any feeling the parting might have otherwise created. We started early, in order to take tea at Mrs. Everett’s. He is a singular man and puzzles me exceedingly. But sincerity is not his forte.5 I like her although she has many decided faults.

We left early and returned to town with a fine Moon and a cold night. But the ride was pleasant. After stopping to inquire how Miss Carter was, we returned home, and from thence went to spend the Evening at P. C. Brooks’s.6 They are pleasant, agreeable and kind hearted people and I ought to like them very much, but now and then a little vulgarity escapes them which annoys me exceedingly. I am always anxious to do my best, but I cannot copy the same style and this makes me appear a little like a silent censor, and as if I was making myself a little high about it. But this must be for I will not do what I think degrades me, and though they may dislike my notions, yet I trust to the rest of my manner to show that I wish to make no offence. P. Chardon is a clever fellow, exceeding good natured, but very brusque, with whom I have always endeavoured to keep on the best terms, and whose attentions are exceedingly obliging.

1.

John Hancock Richardson, CFA’s Harvard classmate, long-time friend, and correspondent, was an attorney with an office in Newton, Mass. (vol. 1:12 and passim).

2.

9 Sept. (Adams Papers). The commissions included the acquisition of three pair of blankets, the purchase and installation of a Rumford stove for his kitchen and of sundry Franklin fire-10places, the exchange of a $50 bill for smaller ones, requests for several books, and conveying his “paternal love” to ABA with an invitation to visit at Quincy to “come and stay and go” as at “a second father’s house.”

3.

Peter Chardon Brooks (1767–1849) and his wife Ann Gorham (1771–1830), ABA’s parents, had their home in Medford (vol. 2:ix–x, 105; DAB ; Adams Genealogy), living in a mansion built by Brooks in 1805 on ancestral land (vol. 2:xi, illustration facing 305). The house, situated on splendidly landscaped grounds and with farm lands adjacent, though generally known as “Elms Farm,” within the family was called “Mystic Grove” (letters of Charlotte Everett to Edward Everett, Everett MSS, MHi). Entertainment in the household in 1829 was restricted partly because of the death of Ward C. Brooks the year before, but more especially because of the poor health of Mrs. Brooks during the whole year (vol. 2:359–429passim; Brooks, Waste Book, 31 Dec. 1829; Charlotte Everett to Edward Everett, 12 April 1829, Everett MSS, MHi).

Brooks took great pride in the estate, reacquiring all the lands held by his grandfather before division between heirs and purchasing additional parcels. On the location and bounds of the lands, see p. xviii and the map of Medford in this volume. In his “Book of Possessions” (Brooks MSS, MHi) are the deeds and papers relating to the property beginning in 1709 and a record of his own improvements. He several times gave a history of the holdings in his Waste Book, and in his Farm Journal he recorded from 1808 to 1848 production figures, daily activities, the weather, &c.

4.

Elizabeth Gorham (1769–1845), Mrs. Peter C. Brooks’ only unmarried sister, continued to live in Charlestown, the Gorham family home, until sometime after 1823, when she moved to Cambridge (T. B. Wyman, The Genealogies and Estates of Charlestown, Boston, 1879, 1:424; History of the Harvard Church in Charlestown, Boston, 1879, p. 105). She had been visiting her sister since 5 Sept. (Brooks, Farm Journal).

5.

CFA’s reservations on this aspect of the character of Edward Everett, which find some corroboration from the judgment of others and from events (see vol. 2:418; Frothingham, Everett , p. 272–273, 354, 428–429; CFA2, R. H. Dana , 2:279), persisted almost to the end of Everett’s career. Only in the last four years of Everett’s life (1861–1865) did CFA find a change in him:

“In his last days he reappeared in another and better character. The progress of events had brought him to a point where his fears no longer checked him, for his interests, such as might at his age be supposed to survive, ran on all fours with his convictions. As a consequence he spoke forth at last with all his power what he really felt. The change was wonderful. From that time I felt myself drawn to him as never before .... To me his four last years appear worth more than all the rest of his life, including the whole series of his rhetorical triumphs.”

(CFA to Richard Henry Dana, 8 June 1865, Dana Papers, MHi, printed in CFA2, R. H. Dana , 2:280)

6.

Mr. and Mrs. P. C. Brooks Jr. lived at 3 Chesnut Street ( Boston Directory, 1829–1830).