Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 7

Tuesday. 14th. CFA Tuesday. 14th. CFA
Tuesday. 14th.

Clear. My time exceedingly taken up in a variety of final occupations. I have got fastened down so in Boston that it seems as if I should never be able to get rid of all the threads. As a last trouble, one of my houses is empty by the fickle disposition of the tenant who took it. I am resolved however not to let this or any other inconvenience of a similar sort detain me. I this morning finished Mr. Johnson’s business, closed his Account, and wrote him a letter to accompany it, which I take with me to New York to send from there. I also drew some Dividends and made a final deposite, so as to know what funds I may depend upon. The unexpected call the other day at Quincy cramped me in this respect.

I called upon Mr. Sparrel the Architect and requested him to think of a plan for such a house as I wished, while I should be absent. I sent him the Encyclopedia from which to gather hints.1 Notwithstanding my various duties I succeeded in finishing the 24th book of Livy, which will be a good resting place for the present. The remainder of the day was passed in clearing away papers and collecting and packing.


My Wife and I went out to take a short walk upon our return from which we found T. K. Davis who staid here conversing until a late hour. He has a great deal of foundation in him, more perhaps than most men and I like much to converse with him. We discussed tonight that old and familiar subject, Oratory and style.


CFA had nurtured for some time the hope of building a house for his family in Quincy. He had revealed that hope to his father in objecting to JQA’s idea for a building to house his own and John Adams’ books and papers. Upon further conversation, however, JQA’s plan was pursued to the point of consulting William Sparrell, Boston architect. That project was put aside, however; see vol. 6:170. Early in 1836, CFA resolved to move forward on his own plan, consulted Cornelius Coolidge, architect of numerous houses on Beacon Hill in Boston, and chose a site on land JQA offered him on the upper part of the hill across the road from the Old House. Coolidge’s plans not satisfying him, CFA examined numerous books on architecture including J. C. Loudon’s Encyclopaedia of ... Architecture, London, 1836, and turned again to Sparrell, this time to draw plans for his house. See vol. 6:358, 379, 400, 408.

Wednesday. 15th. CFA Wednesday. 15th. CFA
Wednesday. 15th.

The day was fine but rather windy. I was exceedingly occupied all my morning in last things to be done, and in packing. The various commissions took me forward and backward between the House and Office several times,1 prior to going up to an early dinner, so that I was tolerably well fatigued before it became time to start. Mr. Brooks2 and several other members of my Wife’s family came to bid her Goodbye. They have none of them been able to summon resolution enough to accompany us, although many of them have desired to do so. We start alone which is not so pleasant as to go with several. But my principle always has been to act with energy and without reference to the action of others. We got to the Depot of the Providence Railway3 in time and at one o’clock took our departure. My Wife who never had been in the Cars before found them so unpleasant that they brought on a headach. This was hastened by an accident which happened almost immediately after we started. The tender which goes directly behind the Engine and carries the supply of wood and water for it, broke down and thus obstructed the course of the Cars. Luckily for us, we were just starting and there was not speed enough to throw us out of the track. But we were detained an hour on a bleak plain just out of the City while the injured article was removing and the locomotive went for a substitute. This gave us a sort of ominous outset which was by no means to be admired. We were not however materially delayed as the train was made to accomplish in two hours the work usually allotted to three 5and thus reached the Steamer Massachusetts which was lying at the Wharf waiting for us at 4 o’clock the regular hour. There is not much to be said of the sail down the bay and through the Sound. The weather was fine and it would have been altogether agreeable, had it not been for the multitude of passengers and for my Wife’s suffering. Many Boston people on board—Mr. Stephen White with two of his daughters, Mrs. Paige, and Miss White, and his sister in law Miss Story; Mr. Israel Thorndike and his daughter Miss Sarah. Of these I found Mrs. Paige by far the most agreeable. Some conversation also with Mr. Alfred Greenough and George Gardner who together with his father were also on board.


CFA and ABA had been living, since their marriage in 1829, at 3 Hancock Avenue on Beacon Hill in Boston; CFA’s office was within easy walking distance in the building owned by his father at 23 Court Street; see vol. 3:2.


Peter Chardon Brooks was ABA’s father; on him see vol. 2:ix–x.


The depot of the Boston and Providence R.R. was located at “the bottom of the Common” on Pleasant Street, just off Boylston Street at Charles Street ( Boston Directory ).