Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

Thursday. 8th.

Saturday. 10th.

Friday. 9th. CFA Friday. 9th. CFA
Friday. 9th.

I had intended to go to town today but it was a cold day with an Easterly wind and heavy rain. The consequence was that I remained very quietly at home pursuing my regular and usual occupation.

Read over a large file of my Grandmother’s letters which I discovered today. She has more of grief than of Joy in her correspondence, and yet she was a cheerful woman. But one remarkable feature in her grief is to be found in the occasions of it. I do not know whether vices are hereditary in families, but it would almost seem so from the number of examples which one meets with. The Smith blood seems to have had the scourge of intemperance dreadfully applied to it. Yet the first example of the race whom I know of, was an exemplary clergyman. A Son, Grandchildren in two branches, and great grandchildren have defied all the efforts of the most careful education.1 Here have been the causes of the bitterest sorrows of our family. Public misfortune and pecuniary losses have been nothing to the wearing sorrow occasioned by deep mortification from personal misconduct. My father was telling me of the family of the Warrens of Plymouth, and we have before us the case of the Everetts. It is not without cause that every member of such families should feel in constant alarm lest an unwary moment plunge him into the vortex which he sees so ready to engulph all about him. This is not out of my mind.

The family here is now quite large. John was not well all day and appeared to be suffering from the weather. I felt cold but otherwise in unusual health. Evening, reading Humphry Clinker to the ladies. It is not without occasional embarrassment, for the style of writing in that day was a little of the coarsest.


CFA elsewhere says in even stronger terms, “Our family has been so severely scourged by this vice that every member of it is constantly on his trial,” below, entry for 2 Sept. 1834. In referring to those in the Smith of Weymouth line so afflicted, CFA doubtless had in mind, among others: William Smith Jr., son of Rev. William Smith and brother of AA, and presumably one or more of his sons; CA and TBA, grandchildren; JA2 and GWA, great-grandchildren 144(Mary Smith Cranch to AA, 25 April 1785; Mrs. William Smith Jr. to AA, 26 Oct. 1785, both in Adams Papers; AA to Mary Cranch, 10 Feb. 1788, MWA; AA to JQA, 1 Sept. 1800, Adams Papers; to Mary Cranch, 10 Nov. 1800, AA, New Letters , p. 255; JA, Diary and Autobiography , 3:234; CFA, Diary , 1:xxiv, 158, 161, 164, 169; below, entries for 28 Oct., 18 Nov., 31 Dec. 1834; on all those mentioned, see also Adams Genealogy).