Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 6

Sunday. 16th.

Tuesday. 18th.

Monday. 17th. CFA Monday. 17th. CFA
Monday. 17th.

A very heavy North Easterly rain storm which kept me confined at home all day. I arose in the morning after a poor night’s rest, much tranquillized but not a whit less decided. I met my father as usual without making any attempt at conversation upon any topic between us. He seemed excessively depressed which I regretted. It is very melancholy to see an old man so bowed down, but I have contributed less to this than any member of the family. I have served him as well as I could although I had heretofore thought myself not cherished as I might have been. Now at the moment of trial to be called upon merely to render menial services at the expense of my own independent station in Society, at the expense of the society of my Wife and children, and to receive no thanks for it, nothing but a formal acknowledgment of duty performed, and at the moment of this rather unreasonable expectation to be told, that property had ceased to interest him, that nothing of his was of value to him to prevent his parting with it tomorrow, that the Estates at Quincy, his own residence and that of his father before him might as well go. If this is an expression of feeling for or interest in children and grandchildren, if this is even a sense of generous attention to the mere sensitive feelings of an only child, then has my understanding of terms and of conduct been grossly perverted in my education. But I will stop.

Some day or other, I may turn over this page and regret I had written it. Be it so, the faults of a Parent are holy even when they work aggressively. I will endeavour to be silent though I cannot forget. Not that I mean to say my father has been an unkind one in general. Far from it. His indulgence has if any thing been too great. But he has never taken any active interest in our success in life. His rules have been those of general application which rarely operate so forcibly upon the young mind as short maxims at the right moment. His course has been to leave them to themselves, a course under which nine out 15of ten youths in situations of the same kind would fail, a course which he would be probably able himself to stand under, but which judging from the letters of my grandfather and grandmother he luckily escaped the full effect of in his own person. I have felt the influence of this mode of treatment less than others, but I have had enough of it very much to discourage my exertions. But enough of this. I shall not recur to it.

Having nothing to do the day passed wearily. I read a considerable part of the letters of Espriella, a work of Southey’s written under the influence of far more liberal principles than he has acknowledged of late.1 There is much sense and justice in them. But they did not interest me much.

Conversation with my Mother. She talked a great deal of the last moments of my brother. He was not in possession of his senses mind but his visions were not painful. His mind did not recur to painful associations. His taking leave of his Wife previous to his loss of reason as well as the thorough possession of his faculties in the direction of matters after his death which he so clearly foresaw, are the consolations which she now derives from the fatal event. Her tears are plentiful, and they will relieve her. May her mind find more steady quiet now than it has had for years.

1.

Adopting the pseudonym, Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella, a Spaniard traveling in the country, Southey had published Letters from England in 1807.