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Browsing: Diary of Charles Francis Adams, Volume 2


Docno: ADMS-13-02-02-0003-0002-0010

Author: CFA
Date: 1827-02-10

Saturday 10th.

I walked to the Capitol in the morning but finding that nothing interesting was going on I just marched down again. Political world somewhat interested by the Creek treaty.1 In the evening I went to Baron de Mareuil’s last party. As this evening was one of considerable interest to me, I shall write the occurrences of it as much in detail as possible in order to remember it in after times, if it shall please God to continue my life. I had not been more than ten minutes there before I found Miss Brooks. She looked remarkably well, and was dressed much better than usual. After dancing with her, she took my arm and we walked through the room in common conversation. I had determined on coming to an understanding with her however, as to whether she would permit my attentions in the future without any decisive answer. But in her want of certainty of my meaning, she did not take what I said in the way I intended, and as I thought I should be likely to lose the opportunity of ever disclosing my feelings, I turned round seriously with much meaning, and asked if she could possibly misunderstand me any farther. These words seemed suddenly to admit the light at once, and threw her into such a state of embarrassment, that it became too painful for both of us. She said in answer that she could not decide for herself, and that she would be glad to consult with her family before she went any farther, to which I immediately assented. And giving her an opportunity to join Mr. Van Buren, I took Mrs. Everett and walked off with her, to communicate the affair. She informed me that she thought all further proceedings should be stopped until the thing had been referred home. That she was appre• { 105 } hensive that her father2 would make some objection but she hoped it would not be such as to be decisive. Possibly my youth would be a consideration against his acting decisively in my favor. At any rate as this was rather a sudden thing and the place was a public one, she recommended to me to come up tomorrow and have some conversation at the house, which I agreed to do. I shall not pretend to describe my feelings. At my age and with my feelings the responsibility of such a step seems fearful, and although I am conscious that both her fortune and my own prospects are such as to prevent any uneasiness as to our condition in life, yet the circumstances of the case make it look like a very precipitate action, although really it has been weighed with more coolness than common in such concerns.
But this step has brought vividly to my recollection what my life here was fast destroying: the consciousness of the importance of time. When I consider the advantages and disadvantages of this connection so far as they may apply to me in a worldly point of view, I cannot but think that the former outweigh the latter in such a degree as to throw them out of sight. As a stimulus to my ambition, it will have very considerable effect, as a check upon my vagaries of independence it will be salutary. But more of this anon.
1. After spending the morning at home sorting newspapers, CFA walked with Robert T. Dunbar to the Capitol (D/CFA/1). The Senate was debating JQA’s message of 5 Feb. 1827, concerning the Creek Indians, who were appealing for federal protection against the encroachments of Georgia (Richardson, ed., Messages and Papers , 2:370–373).
2. Peter Chardon Brooks (1767–1849) of Medford, Mass., son of a minister, made his fortune as a merchant, insurance broker, and lender of money. Retiring early from his business enterprises, he served as a Federalist in the Massachusetts legislature for many years. He was married to Ann Gorham (1771–1830) and they had thirteen children. When P. C. Brooks died he was reputed to be the wealthiest man in New England. See Adams Genealogy and DAB .

Docno: ADMS-13-02-02-0003-0002-0011

Author: CFA
Date: 1827-02-11

Sunday. 11th.

What individual can describe the particular state of his feelings upon a case involving every thing of interest to him in the world? Upon a case where the whole of his future existence depends upon the exercise of his reasonable judgment? When all his passions are in array against him? I cannot reflect upon the subject without trepidation although I see no occasion for it. I found Miss B. alone. Mr. and Mrs. E. had gone to Church. In the course of about two hours that I remained with her, I received the decision of her feelings: subject however to the revising decision of her father. So far I am favoured enough. She did not conceal from me her opinion that her father { 106 } would make difficulties, an opinion which she said both Mr. and Mrs. E. concurred in. She requested me to see him as she looked upon him as her guardian in the absence of her natural parent.
They returned from Church, but as the Speaker of the House was with Mr. E. and John called for me to go and ride, I had no opportunity of seeing him, then. But as it was very desirable that I should see him before he wrote to Mr. B. I went after dinner and explained my views to him. He told me that Mr. B. was one of those gentlemen who imagine that their daughter’s fate is entirely in their own hands, and that her will is not to be a subject of much consideration. He said that probably he would make some objection upon the score of age but he did not know whether it would be final or only temporary. This was the substance of what he said, and after a few questions upon my father’s opinion etc. etc., I left him. My father knows nothing of this but I thought it unnecessary to make much of the affair to others until I was sure it would be really an affair. And as I know that his consent will not be withheld provided I am not unreasonable, I am not anxious about that. He has explained his principles very fully on that point. I never passed twenty four hours of equal mental excitement during the whole course of my life. I was entirely made sick by my feelings.