Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 1

Friday. May. 21st. VIII:45. CFA Friday. May. 21st. VIII:45. CFA
Friday. May. 21st. VIII:45.

Very late this Morning, Every body having done breakfast some time since. Although the weather in the morning was very disagreable, I determined to go to Cambridge and accordingly went, carrying Thomas in a Chaise. We went the longest road, through Dorchester, Roxbury and Brookline in order to show him the country. The weather cleared off and became fine. Arriving we went to my room and found it in great disorder, as they had just taken up the carpet and had carried away all the materials for making a good fire which as the wind had chilled us, we very much desired. College looks very barren indeed. No students to be seen, some of the dismissed Sophomores together with one or two others of the same class made up all. I walked all over Cambridge with Thomas, talking of the different places and showing him the professors houses. Met Morgan,1 who has come back here to enter the Sophomore Class after having belonged to the Senior and then came back last Summer to enter a Junior. I did not envy him at all as now the sooner out I say, the better.

Thus I spent the time until dinner time when we went to Willard’s2 and ate a good dinner in a very comfortable room which I had never seen before. Thomas is the most singular character I have yet met with and I can make less and less of him every day. A little while more being spent in my room we again sat forward for Quincy, I having obtained all the clothes I wished. We went to Boston over the Mill Dam3 and just cutting one corner of the city we rode back making the ride as long as possible by the turnings and variety of windings to different places.

At length we arrived and I finished the afternoon’s employment by reading four Satires of Young.4 I have got a prejudice against this author which will not allow me to give a fair criticism of his works. I therefore shall only say that he is in all things too elaborate for me. He stings too much as if he intended to sting at first with all the fury imaginable. My meaning is that he appears as if he was cool when he sat down to write violently. I have seen John do it and have disliked it in him. Mr. Edmund and Miss Susan Quincy5 stepped in for one 153minute and then departed, much to my joy. They are amazingly unpleasant people to me.

The evening was spent much in the usual way, except that I finished Mr. Cartwrights book to my Grandfather and read some of Mr. Quincy’s message6 which I thought was very bombastical—this is my own opinion however and much in opposition to that of the family. The ladies had been at Mr. Beal’s7 but returned early and we were all very much as usual. XI:35.


Possibly William H. Morgan, of New Orleans, who became a junior at Harvard next year, but never seems to have graduated ( Harvard Annual Cat., 1824).


Willard’s Tavern, in Harvard Square on the corner of what is now Dunster Street.


The Mill Dam or causeway, opened in 1821, ran along the line of the present Beacon Street from Charles Street to Sewall’s Point in Brookline. Fifty feet wide, one and a half miles long, and carrying a toll road, the Dam was to provide water power for mill sites. Yet, by enclosing (and creating) about six hundred acres of land, the Dam “was to change the shape of Boston more completely than any other single undertaking in its history.” See Whitehill, Boston: A Topographical History , p. 88, 90, 92–94, 141.


From Edward Young, “Seven Characteristical Satires,” in Aikin’s British Poets .


Edmund Quincy (1808–1877), the future abolitionist, was the son of Josiah Quincy (currently Mayor of Boston and later President of Harvard) and a freshman at Harvard. Eliza Susan Quincy (1798–1884), artist, diarist, and family annalist, was Edmund’s sister. See Adams Genealogy.


Josiah Quincy’s inaugural address to the City Council of Boston on entering his second term as mayor, 1 May. It was published in pamphlet form and was reprinted in Quincy’s Municipal History of the Town and City of Boston, Boston, 1852, p. 379–388.


The Beale family lived next door to the Old House, beyond the Adamses’ garden, on present Adams Street in Quincy.

Saturday. May 22d. VIII:30. CFA Saturday. May 22d. VIII:30. CFA
Saturday. May 22d. VIII:30.

The ladies having become exceedingly scandalized at our late hours of rising sent up breakfast to us before we were up, thinking probably this might be a punishment whereas it was a great convenience. We were up nevertheless in very good season, and spent the morning as usual, I doing nothing but writing my Journal and reading Mr. Young. The former of which was not completed however until late as I had two days to write up. Much of my time was spent where I presume it will be generally, in the ladies parlour. Quincy to me is generally a very disgusting place until I get domesticated to it when it becomes sufficiently pleasant. Thomas being here is some assistance also. My Journal however will go on but slowly as my indolence is all which I can record.

This being Saturday was the proper time for Mr. Marston’s visit which was accordingly paid. He dines here regularly on this day in the 154week. Such a pompous, trifling, little-minded man I have seldom had the honor to meet. Winding himself into the graces of the old gentleman he has the power of twisting him round his finger by his opportunities of obtaining disclosures without (thank God) the ability to make use of them. As it is, he only swells himself into an idea of great importance and although by his nonsensical loquacity he has at times made a little mischief, I am satisfied with the idea that he has not made any more. There are a number of these men, the hangers on of our family as I call them who are exceedingly disagreable to me and who consequently do not get very good treatment from me. I am compelled to be amazingly cold to them for I cannot be otherwise or if I can, I will not. He is the pink of courtesy and most amazingly disagreable polite man I ever met with. Withal I pity him for he has seen far better days and bears his adversity quite well. Perhaps had I known him wealthy I should have observed his faults less.

I walked with the ladies to Mount Ararat alias Rock Common formerly my Grandfather’s, now belonging to the town.1 The view from it is beautiful. Extending to a distance of twelve or fifteen miles on all sides. The walk is a pretty one also, though rough and wild. On our return I closed my Journal and received a letter by my Uncle (who had been to town and brought George out) from my Mother. She speaks of nothing but the book.2 Mr. Quincy was here also with Josiah,3 who went soon after tea. George in the dumps this evening, which was passed as usual except that immediately after Supper I retired. Not from fatigue but peculiar causes which at some future time I shall describe. X:15.


Mount Ararat was part of the Old Braintree North Common (now West Quincy), which was divided and sold as lots after 1765. JA bought at least forty acres of the tract, which, along with certain other lands that proved profitable as granite quarries, he deeded to the town in 1822 for the purpose of founding a classical school of high quality. See JA, Diary and Autobiography , 1:xxxvii; 3:247; Pattee, Old Braintree and Quincy , p. 341–343; George Whitney, Some Account of the Early History and Present State of the Town of Quincy, Quincy, 1827?, p. 44.


The “book” discussed in LCA’s missing letter was presumably Pickering’s pamphlet. See entry for 17 May, and note, above.


Josiah Quincy (1802–1882), son of Mayor Josiah Quincy, had graduated from Harvard in 1821 and was now an attorney in Boston. Later (1845–1849) he became Mayor of Boston. See Adams Genealogy.