Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 8

Descriptive List of Illustrations Descriptive List of Illustrations

[Note: for permissions reasons, not all illustrations from the letterpress volumes are available in this digital edition.]

Descriptive List of Illustrations
Louisa Catherine Adams, Engraved by G. F. Storm, 1837 20 [page] [image]

Storm’s engraving, commissioned by James Barton Longacre and James Herring for inclusion in their National Portrait Gallery of Distinguished Americans (4 vols., Phila. and N.Y., 1834–1839, 4:252) is after the portrait in oil by Charles R. Leslie done in Sept. 1816, one of the pair of Louisa Catherine and John Quincy Adams that her brother Thomas Baker Johnson had commissioned (see Andrew Oliver, Portraits of JQA and his Wife , p. 57–64). The originals had been in the possession of Charles Francis Adams since 1836, and it was to his home in Boston that Storm, an English artist lately settled in Philadelphia, came to work upon the engraving of Louisa Catherine Adams (vol. 6:372–373, 386; entry for 2 June 1837).

The engraving, when published in Longacre and Herring, was accompanied (4:253–262) by the carefully wrought and sensitive biographical sketch of his mother that Adams had written (entries of 11 Nov. 1837 – 2 Feb. 1838 passim). In it he provides us with something of her state of being when she sat for Leslie during the family’s residence in England, she then at the age of forty-one: “There were ties in Great Britain to Mrs. Adams, where her husband’s new duty as the Minister from the United States called him.... These ties were her children, who had come out from America to join her, and whose arrival afforded her a joy, for the absence of which no brilliant scenes could compensate. In itself, a residence in England so immediately after a war between the two countries, which had terminated not quite to the satisfaction of her pride, was not calculated to be productive of much pleasure; yet it may fairly be questioned whether, in the bosom of her reunited family, and in the sweet but modest country-seat in the vicinity of London selected for their habitation, Mrs. Adams did not draw as much enjoyment from her domestic feelings, as she ever did from witnessing any of the more busy and exciting scenes in which she has been called to participate” (Longacre and Herring, 4:259–260).

Charles Francis Adams’ Summer House in Quincy, 1838–1849 63 [page] [image]

After the death of John Quincy Adams and the installation of Louisa Catherine Adams in her Washington home, Charles Francis Adams in the summer of 1849 moved his family “as a matter of duty” into the newly renovated Old House from the house he had built twelve years earlier. The house he had constructed on a hillside an eighth of a mile from his par-viiients’ was on President’s Lane, formerly called Stonyfield Hill, on an ample tract given to him by his father. The white clapboard two-story house “thirty-eight feet square without an ornament excepting a simple portico supported by four ionic columns on the first story” had been completely to his taste. “I built the house ... from a plan furnished by an architect in the city William Sparrell, who did little more than reduce my directions to paper.... I do not know that if I were to build again with the same dimensions, I should make a single alteration in the internal arrangement.” (CFA, Diary, 16 May 1849; CFA to A. J. Davis, 16 Aug. 1844, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel 158.)

The pleasure Adams took in his house persisted from the moment he occupied it to the day he gave it up, and in the years beyond: “My home repays me at every look for the quantity of labour which it has cost me”; “My house is a creation of my own.... I shall never occupy it again and it may be that none who come after will look upon it with the same interest”; “Went up to my house on the hill, which made me feel exceedingly sad as reminding me of the best hours of my life. I shall never again enjoy any thing as I enjoyed that.” (Entries of 14 June 1838, below; Diary, 22 May 1849; 30 April 1850.)

The idea of building a house for his growing family had formed itself in his mind in early 1836. For some time he studied volumes on domestic architecture by John Charles Loudon, Sir John Soanes, and others, but was not satisfied by them. He then consulted the developer Cornelius Coolidge who directed him to numerous projects without profit. With his ideas already well defined, he chose William Sparrell to carry them out. When the architect, after several tries, met his client’s wishes, Adams was ready to proceed on the site his father had deeded to him (vol. 6:358, 361, 372, 379, 401; entries for 14 June – 20 Oct. 1836passim).

During the winter months of 1836–1837, he accumulated building supplies, had the lot prepared, the foundations forwarded. In April 1837, construction began. Adams participated physically in the building process at almost every stage, at the same time becoming increasingly aware that the expenses incurred almost always exceeded the anticipated costs. In November, as completion neared, he found that the house “will have cost me about $8,000 dollars or about double my estimate.” But, “having done it with all the caution possible, having committed no extravagance,” there was no regret then or during the years of occupancy. (Entries of 16 March, 31 May, 26, 31 Oct., 7 Nov. 1837, above below .)

Satisfied as the Adamses were with their house, as the years passed they recognized two unmet needs. Increases in the size of the family brought them to feel “cramped for room.” Further, the obligation to satisfy his father’s long-held desire that a fireproof building of stone be constructed to house his library became a present need. Adams, seeking a response that would meet both needs, proposed the addition of two wings to the house. In 1844 he had the New York architect Alexander Jackson Davis draw a succession of plans; but when the difficulties of combining the several purposes appeared insurmountable, Adams, influenced by the proximity of the railroad to his property and by the feeling that he might find himself “in the center of town in a few years,” abandoned the idea of adding to the house. Instead, he asked Davis to turn to plans for a home on Mt. Wollaston, a dream Adams had entertained from the beginning of his marriage. ixRepeating his wishes for a simple edifice of stone that avoided “the modern fopperies of Grecian or Gothic,” he expressed a preference for one “after the Italian manner of Palladio in rusticated work.” But this too was not prosecuted. (CFA to A. J. Davis, 16 Aug., 22 Nov. 1844, reel 158; 17 June 1845, real 159, Adams Papers Microfilms; vols. 3:268, 309–310; 4:362–363; 5:82–83, 362.)

After the house on the hill became vacant in 1849, it was rented to a Mr. and Mrs. Lyman. It became Adams-occupied again only in 1870, when Charles Francis Adams 2d was building his own house on the summit of the hill, and from 1871–1893 when he resided in that house and used the house that had been his father’s as a place in which to carry on his literary work, calling it “The Annex.” The house still stands, though much altered.

Courtesy of the U.S. Department of the Interior—National Park Service, Adams National Historic Site, Quincy, Massachusetts.

The First Page of the Lecture “Materials for History” 141 [page] [image]

In Dec. 1837, when Charles Francis Adams was invited by I. P. Davis to deliver a lecture in the Masonic Temple before the Massachusetts Historical Society, he responded with a suggestion that he could “make something out of my grandmother’s papers,” subsequently attaching the condition, “if I can obtain the use of the papers in my possession ... such ... as would illustrate the female character of the age of the Revolution.” In due course, John Quincy Adams authorized him to use “any papers I like” (entries of 14, 18, and 26 Dec. 1837, above below ).

Charles Francis Adams, though probably unaware of it, had been anticipated by John Adams in seeing Abigail Adams’ letters as literarily and historically significant beyond their original intent. He had written to his friend Francis Adrian Van der Kemp in 1809 that “A Collection of her Letters for the forty-five Years that We have been married would be worth TEN times more than Madame Sevignés, though not so perfectly measured in Syllables and Letters; and would or at least ought to put to the blush Lady Mary Wortley Montague and her Admirers.” But while conceding that two or three of her letters to Thomas Brand Hollis and one to John Quincy Adams had been printed [copies not located], he resisted Van der Kemp’s plea to make her letters available. This had remained the family’s position about correspondence relating solely or primarily to domestic matters. Numerous letters of John Quincy Adams had been put in print by him and by others in the intervening years, but they had been written with publication in mind. Mostly they dealt with political issues, although his two series written to Thomas Boylston Adams in 1800 and 1801 for publication in The Port Folio (Phila., 1801) on “various topics of foreign literature” and on “a Tour through Silesia” verged on the personal.

When Charles Francis Adams on 23 Jan. 1838 delivered a lecture that consisted almost entirely of letters exchanged in 1774 and 1775 between John and Abigail Adams to an audience of two hundred that listened in “silence and with profound attention,” it was the first occasion on which any considerable number of letters from the Adams family archives were communicated publicly. Its success caused him to accept invitations to repeat the lecture for eight other audiences during the next two years. Favor-xable notices appeared in newspapers as far away as Baltimore. The response must be accorded an influence upon Adams’ reversal in 1840 of his earlier decision that “there would be no publication.” His edition of Letters of Mrs. Adams, the Wife of John Adams, appearing in September of that year, reached a fourth edition by 1848. Meanwhile, in 1841, it was joined by his edition of Letters of John Adams, Addressed to His Wife (entries of 23 Jan., 10 Feb. 1838, below; Adams Family Correspondence , 1:xxxii; Adams Papers Editorial Files).

The holograph text of the lecture is in the Adams Papers shelved as M/CFA/23.3, not microfilmed.

From the original in the Adams Papers.

Beatrice, by Washington Allston 232 [page] [image]

The Beatrice by Washington Allston exhibited at the Harding Gallery in Boston in 1839 was completed in 1819. In 1816 in London, however, John Quincy Adams saw a different version of the subject or this picture in an earlier state and recorded in his diary that the “ideal Portrait of Dante’s Beatrix is a beautiful face” (entry for 24 Sept. 1816). Although the artist in giving it the title he did, provided it with the literary association he sought in most of his paintings, the facial features seem clearly those of his first wife, Ann Channing, sister of William Ellery Channing. He recorded her face in a number of drawings before her death in 1815 and carried her image in his memory thereafter.

The other paintings in the 1839 exhibition grouped by Charles Francis Adams with Beatrice and said by him to represent with it a deterioration or a “frittering of his power into miserable unmeaning pictures” with a deplorable lack of “significance,” however excellent their “manual execution,” are Lorenzo and Jessica, 1832, Young Troubadour, 1833, and Rosalie, 1835 (entry for 9 May 1839). Rosalie, like Beatrice, is a single half-length female figure described by later historians as “listening to music at evening time ‘that dreamy hour of the day.’” Again, Young Troubadour is “a dreamy figure playing his guitar beside a fountain and singing to his fair Isabel.” In Lorenzo and Jessica, derived from act 5 of Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, “a young woman and her male companion recline in a reverie in a moonlit landscape.” Rather than the “degeneration” in manner that Adams finds in Beatrice and the companion pictures, all of them are judged to reflect an elegaic or poetic mood that marks them “as precursors of late nineteenth-century expressive figure paintings and more particularly of the images of reverie that populate late nineteenth-century American iconography.” These, and most particularly Beatrice, were of the kind singled out by the romantically inclined reviewers of the exhibition such as Margaret Fuller, as among Allston’s greatest works. Adams’ view, however, is echoed by a later critic of note, James Jackson Jarves, who is quoted as finding Beatrice “weak and pale, a sentimental nothing.”

The 1839 exhibition, arranged by Allston’s nephew, the painter George Flagg, included much more than examples of Allston’s recent work. It was, in fact, a comprehensive retrospective exhibition of 47 of his works drawn from his entire career. It was also “of significance ... as a milestone in the history of American art exhibitions, displaying as it did the full range of the work of an eminent living artist” (William H. Gerdts and Theodore E. xiStebbins Jr., “A Man of Genius,” The Art of Washington Allston, Boston, 1979, p. 13, 130, 131, 134, 135, 139, 141, 142, 229; the works referred to above are illustrated at p. 117, 198, 199, 227).

Courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Georgeanna Frances Adams and Mary Louisa Adams in 1835, by Asher Brown Durand 331 [page] [image]

The two daughters of the recently deceased John Adams 2d and of his wife Mary sat for their portraits to Asher Brown Durand in Quincy and Boston in June 1835. The portraits had their inception from the commission given to Durand several months earlier by Luman Read, New York merchant and art patron, for examples in duplicates of portraits of each of the first seven Presidents. When Durand in consequence came to request sittings of John Quincy Adams, he bore also Read’s request for a likeness of little Georgeanna Frances, then aged four, which Read intended to present to her grandfather. Durand found Georgeanna Frances “a beautiful little girl” and John Quincy Adams a rewarding subject; Adams was so pleased with Durand’s early efforts that he asked the painter to undertake additionally a portrait for him of Mary Louisa, aged six, that he wished to give to her mother. Durand’s work so satisfied the Adams family and connections that before he moved to other subjects he had executed a commission for an additional likeness of John Quincy Adams from Charles Augustus Davis, partner of a brother of Abigail Brooks Adams, for presentation to her and a commission from Charles Francis Adams for a portrait of his father-in-law, Peter C. Brooks. The children’s portraits remained in the possession of Mrs. John Adams 2d during her lifetime, descending in Mary Louisa’s line to her granddaughter Mary Louisa Adams Clement, who presented them in 1950 to the Smithsonian Institution. (Oliver, Portraits of JQA and His Wife , p. 169, 174; vols. 2:ix–x, 6:vii–viii, 156, 160, 165.)

Georgeanna Frances’ death in 1839 gives to her portrait a special poignancy. Named for her uncles George Washington Adams and Charles Francis Adams, she had a delicacy and beauty that made her a favorite within the family, especially of her grandmother Louisa Catherine Adams. A number of earlier illnesses preceded the final painful onset which lasted a month and which John Quincy Adams had pronounced “remediless” almost from the beginning. Both children had had somewhat more illnesses during their early years than were ordinarily experienced. Mary Louisa, shortly after the death of her sister, was seriously ill with symptoms that seemed disturbingly like Georgeanna’s, but the fear for her proved unfounded and recovery followed. Mary Louisa’s health grew better; she became vigorous and lively, socially attractive; in 1853 she married her third cousin William Clarkson Johnson of Utica, N.Y., bore three children, and died in 1859, predeceasing her mother. (Vol. 3:330; entries for 5, 21 Nov. 1839; 13 Jan. 1840, below; Adams Papers Editorial Files.)

Courtesy of the National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Adams-Clement Collection, gift of Mary Louisa Adams Clement in memory of her mother, Louisa Catherine Adams Clement.