Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 1

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).

Tuesday. May 25th. VIII:30. CFA Tuesday. May 25th. VIII:30. CFA
Tuesday. May 25th. VIII:30.

Employed this morning as usual. We are so monotonous here at present that it is hardly possible to obtain material enough for amusement, in my journal. I finished the Pleasures of Imagination and wrote my Journal as usual. The family moved into the large room today as the rest of the house is entirely unoccupied. It is the Pleasantest part of the house so I rejoice at the circumstance. But my day was not spent in the most agreable manner so I sat down and amused myself as well as I could for want of my usual society in reading one of Mrs. Opie’s New Tales.1 It was the first called Mrs. Arlington’s. These are written very pleasantly, containing a great deal of vivacity, some nature and some good observation. Still they hold considerably to the romance of life and are too apt to take hold foolishly of the wild ideas of youth. Novels I think are generally injurious as they serve to increase the tendency to build castles in the air, which is naturally strong enough. The sudden blight of these prospects is frequently the cause of the destruction of their holders. Sheer elegance and magnificence however wished for, it is the lot of but few to possess.

In the afternoon I wrote a letter to my mother2—it was a wretched scrawl and I was much ashamed of it but as this is no place to do any thing either elegantly or methodically I determined to let it go as I had made it. I am afraid my Journal will not appear to the best advantage when I look over it at Cambridge but rather than let it run down to wind up at Cambridge which would be difficult, I continue it badly. After tea I took a long walk to Milton with Thomas in which we had 158some interesting conversation concerning the family about which I have not been able to sound his knowledge hitherto. We returned and remained until nine o’clock in my Grandfather’s, reading the newspapers to him which my Uncle had brought out for he had been there, and brought out with him, a young man or boy rather a nephew of his by the name of Foster,3 a sufficiently modest young man.

I was at the table with the ladies until eleven when they retired when I had the comfortable task of sitting up with my Uncle when he was in one of his usual situations. It has often made me grieve to think this man should make himself a ruin to others and to himself, possessing as he does all those qualities requisite to make an excellent member of Society. But I fear the evil is irremediable for his own efforts to break the vice have not been successful and consequently no one else’s will be. XII:15.


Mrs. Amelia Opie, New Tales, 4 vols., London, 1818.




Charles Phineas Foster (1806–1879), of Boston, son of Phineas and Frances (Harrod) Foster and a member of CFA’s class at Harvard (Harvard Archives).