Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 1

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.

Sunday. May. 23d. VIII. CFA Sunday. May. 23d. VIII. CFA
Sunday. May. 23d. VIII.

Arose early, comparatively speaking with yesterday. Owing to the state of my dress, I did not choose to attend Meeting today, so that instead of it, I accompanied my Grandfather in his morning ride. It 155was rather long than otherwise, exhausting him more than I should have supposed fit. He has become exceedingly infirm of late and makes me suppose that he is not one much longer for this world. It consequently affects me considerably to be with him. Our company at dinner today was quite large consisting of Mr. Deane1 who according to ancient custom was invited, being the Minister for the day, and of Monsieur Degrand who came out on a visit. Two Fosters2 were here, but only one dined here. The old gentleman was somewhat excited and told over some stories with life. They are all the same with those I have often heard. Mr. Degrand is one of those same gentlemen mentioned yesterday whom I cannot notice even with common politeness, but wear a tremendously stiff neck. I believe him to be a well meaning man but I cannot relish his manners or his mind. Doing all he could do for my Father, he has injured him materially.3 Mr. Deane is a pleasant man for a Country Parson without much of the civility of the refined world but with good intentions and some mind.

In the afternoon I finished Young’s Universal Passion and read one part of Akenside’s Pleasures of Imagination.4 It is very pretty, flowing smoothly and illustrating very beautifully an untried subject hitherto. I also wrote my Journal. Mr. D.G. went before tea, the Fosters immediately after. We walked in the garden where I quizzed Elizabeth concerning George Whitney5 till the poor girl could bear it no longer. It is some amusement to me to press this as I do suspect attachment here at least on one side. She perhaps does not look that way. But I am sorry to say that I can see no better prospects. These girls appear to me to have improved astonishingly of late, Abby by her residence at Washington and Elizabeth by emulation. They are sufficiently pleasant, and serve to pass away our time very well.

After an hour’s sitting with Grandfather until he went to bed, we went down to supper which we enjoyed “en famille” more than any I have had in the house. Uncle and George in good spirits, myself so-so, and the ladies inclined to be agreable. Some thoughts sometimes mix into these scenes. The future is ominous here, for this house will soon see us no more. The flock which have nestled here for so long will be spread to the four winds of Heaven, and we shall never look upon each other with the same eyes. This evening however was spent as if nothing was in my mind but pleasure. XII:10.


Presumably Samuel Deane, Congregational minister in Scituate ( Mass. Register, 1824, p. 87).


Mrs. James H. Foster, the former Elizabeth Smith, the wife of a Boston merchant, was a niece of AA’s. See Adams Genealogy.


Degrand, a republican émigré from the French Revolution, who was serving in the Massachusetts legislature, zeal-156ously worked with a few others to promote JQA’s political prospects. In February he had helped organize a mass meeting in Faneuil Hall to nominate JQA for the Presidency, and the Republicans in the legislature confirmed the choice on 10 June. On the national scene, however, Degrand was less deft, for he proposed offering Calhoun the Vice-Presidency on the Adams ticket. JQA demurred, preferring Jackson, but his friends reminded him that the General had threatened to hang the leaders of the Hartford Convention and was consequently unpopular with the old Federalists. See Bemis, JQA , 2:27–28.


Edward Young’s “Love of Fame, the Universal Passion,” and Mark Akenside, “The Pleasures of Imagination,” both in Aikin’s British Poets .


Harvard 1824. ECA never did marry.