Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 1

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.

Monday. May. 24th. VIII. CFA Monday. May. 24th. VIII. CFA
Monday. May. 24th. VIII.

This Morning was employed as usual, I doing nothing except reading the second part of Akenside’s Pleasures of the Imagination. My judgment upon the beauties of this Poem is not yet made up, as a first reading will not suffice to discover them. My thoughts here also are not under sufficient command. The rest of the morning was spent in taking a walk with Thomas round Quincy near Mr. Miller’s1 new house. The day was warm and I felt quite tired consequently took some luncheon for refreshment which I seldom otherwise do. In the afternoon I wrote my Journal and accompanied my Grandfather in a short walk round his garden which appeared to fatigue him very much indeed. He was still in good spirits and gave me two new stories. He is less inclined to talk on serious subjects than he used to be and more on trivial ones. I cannot strike his chord right at all. So fatigued he was that he could hardly reach a chair.

I then wrote my Journal, and laughed heartily all the rest of the day. I was in remarkably high spirits and made the girls laugh at my nonsense all the time. The stage arrived and dropped an expected person—Mr. Thomas B. Adams junior. He has just arrived from Norwich having taken up his connections from there, he now goes to West Point where I am in hopes he will do well. It is now almost eighteen months since I have seen him in which time he has grown considerably and is now to all appearance becoming a young man. I have been much struck of late with the progress of time which makes me think that in no long time I shall myself become one of the world, when I see my youngers coming on so. He brought out a letter from Miss Foster2 to the girls in the reading of which consisted the rest of our amusement, it being one of the most ridiculous things I have yet seen. Thomas purloined it and I edified the company by reading it. The correspondence of girls, if it is of this kind, is not to be considered of such amazing importance as young ladies make it, for more ridiculous trash is nowhere to be found. Elizabeth became quite hysterical in hearing it. 157I intended by ridiculing this to the utmost to correct this in these girls as I could conceive no better opportunity of lashing what they themselves are prone to. I think it will serve my purpose.

After tea we walked into town in cavalcade and made a formal visit at Parson Whitney’s.3 The first one I almost ever made voluntarily in Quincy. After sitting ten minutes we returned in the same order. Mr. Marston being at home saved me the usual task of reading to Grandfather and I was downstairs all the evening, although my exhilaration had passed and I was rather in the dumps as well as sick. XI:15.


Presumably Edward Miller, Harvard 1813, a member of one of Quincy’s most distinguished families (Pattee, Old Braintree and Quincy , p. 106, 249–252).


Presumably Elizabeth Anne Foster (d. 1875), daughter of James H. Foster and a grandniece of AA. See Adams Genealogy.


Peter Whitney (1770–1843), Harvard 1791, minister of the First Church in Quincy from 1800 to 1843 (Pattee, Old Braintree and Quincy , p. 594–595).