Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 1

Sunday. August 1st. VIII. CFA Sunday. August 1st. VIII. CFA
Sunday. August 1st. VIII.

Missed Prayers this morning as usual and from a slight indisposition sent Sheafe to state it to Mr. Hayward. I employed the Morning in writing answers to my letters received on Thursday.1 I always feel contented when writing home as my thoughts revert there with a sort of calm pleasure as a residence of happiness. I did not write so long a letter as usual today to John, because there was but little material in his own letter to afford me any subject. It was too much on a single subject which is the general fault of his letters. And although Thyrsa is amusing upon the second page, she becomes marvellously flat upon the third. I could say nothing to it all. I wrote to my Mother upon a subject which I have long had in mind, and which it was my intention to dismiss had not she invited me to it in her last. It was upon the state of affairs at Quincy and Abby’s Washington visit. I think I gave my opinion on this subject here long since.

When Sheafe returned, he informed me that Mr. Hayward was unwilling to excuse me unless I felt myself sufficiently unwell to stay away tomorrow from the exercises. This is a singular decision of that gentleman’s. But I took no notice of it, for I felt too slightly unwell to do more than remain in the house all day. I had a little inclination to a nervous head ache which I did not wish to agitate or increase. I remained at home exactly as usual, and spent the afternoon writing up part of my Journal which has fallen somewhat behind hand. I had a singular visit from Mr. Otis2 who had come out to see his son. He not being at home, he came to my room for a pair of spectacles. He looks ill and appears to be breaking down very fast. I have not seen him so near for some length of time, and was surprised at the change. My Journal employed all the time I was not asleep or reading over my lesson in Paley for tomorrow.

After tea I took a walk with Richardson and Sheafe and we collected a number of specimens of flowers. As Nuttall has now finished his course and I have gained all the information I am about to, I intend 270to examine a few examples now and then without any view to forming a collection, but merely to keep my memory fresh as to the general terms and flowers. I found two or three correctly this Evening then read my Bible and went to bed. X:15.


These “answers” are missing.


Harrison Gray Otis (1765–1848), wealthy Boston lawyer, chiefly remembered as an eminent Federalist and as a participant in the Hartford Convention. For his long and distinguished career, during which he usually supported JA but disagreed with JQA, see Samuel Eliot Morison, The Life and Letters of Harrison Gray Otis, Federalist, Boston, 1913. Otis had a tenuous family relationship with the Adamses. His stepmother, Mary (Smith) Gray Otis (see Adams Genealogy), was first cousin to AA.

Monday. August 2d. V:40. CFA Monday. August 2d. V:40. CFA
Monday. August 2d. V:40.

Attended Prayers and recitation this Morning in Topography. I was taken up first but did not manage well at all. The subject of Projections is an exceedingly dry one, and without much amusement even when we study it, which is not the case with Mathematics in general. After breakfast, we attended a Lecture of Mr. Channing’s in which he continued and closed the discussion commenced last time. But there was not much which could be called new. He talked about the right use of figures and went over the very same ideas over again which we have so often heard. He talked to us about originality and weakness on this point and said as usual. I am glad his lectures are drawing to a close. He has said so little to us of late which is of any importance that really I think it is wasting time. I recollect very little remarkable from all he says. After it was over I returned to my room and read over the lesson in Paley until ten o’clock. It was a discussion of the origin of landed property and the commencement of a chapter upon promises which was our day’s lesson. Mr. Hedge in his observations today upon the fallacy of one of Dr. Paley’s propositions referred us to a work by a Mr. Gisborne1 which he says is a good refutation of his opinions. A book which I shall take the first opportunity to read. The hour after recitation was spent as usual in reading tomorrow’s lesson, and the remaining half hour was spent in a nap.

After dinner I wrote my Journal all the time which I had to spare from Mr. Farrar’s lesson, which did not take me long. We attended his recitation, but did very little this afternoon. In the Evening the Company paraded as usual. Cunningham was bent upon doing one manoeuvre which in my mind, we cannot perform. Be that as it will we did not succeed once tonight. On the contrary, we brought the company into terrible disorder—and I became as usual exceedingly 271irritated. The fact is, I was in bad humour when I came out, as I found we were about to waste the Evening in many useless manoeuvres, and as we have no time to lose, I thought it was shameful. The soldiers were never better inclined, and never were more fooled with. After it was over, there was no Meeting of Officers tonight, luckily for our peace. I went down however with Rundlet and Chapman and we sat there until pretty late. I then returned and went to bed. X:30.


CFA’s copy of Thomas Gisborne, An Enquiry into the Duties of Men in the Higher and Middle Classes of Society in Great Britain, 2 vols., London, 1825, is in the Stone Library, along with another two-volume edition published in London in 1797.