Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 1

Tuesday. August 17th. VIII. CFA Tuesday. August 17th. VIII. CFA
Tuesday. August 17th. VIII.

Arose but late for this house as they breakfast earlier here than at Cambridge. The day an exceedingly pleasant one and I was left alone here to enjoy it, for George went to town this morning, although I pressed him very much to stay and return with me. Breakfast over, I ordered my horse and took Mrs. Clark to ride. We went through Milton, returned and went through Quincy. She thus obtained an exceedingly good opportunity of showing off, a thing which she delights in. I had some conversation with her on family topics. She is pretty shrewd and fair when her prejudices do not make her extend her stories, and gave me a very good account of the history of the house since I have been away. We must always go to Women for these sort of things for it is never man’s province. Indeed it appears to me wonderful when I see the little things women are always engaged about, and how attracting they make themselves to men in these very pursuits, as it is always a gratification of man’s vanity when he finds his own superiority so evidently allowed. I believe that vanity is much more of an acting principle than it is generally thought and that Flattery is the most powerful engine which can be used to act upon men. It is exceedingly word omitted to have a man praise you even though you know you deserve it. This is called by a different name but it is of the same origin. Susan1 was very communicative with respect to Abby, her temper &c. I believe she wished to sound me and see how it went, but I was very open, not caring much how she might make her conclusions. We returned home in time for dinner.

In the afternoon I commenced this new novel of Redgauntlet and progressed somewhat in the first volume. I ordered my Chaise out again however at four and went to Neponset Hotel to play Billiards. 293I met a young man there who did not know how to play and beat him very handsomely. I was considerably amused at his style of playing and recollect when I used to do exactly so myself. This is a very attractive game and I hardly could tear myself away from it. I arrived just in time to save myself from the disagreable obligation of being waited for at tea. In the Evening I amused myself by talking a little to Grandfather who appears to be most melancholy for want of company now. I also read a little of one of Mrs. Radcliffes horrible novels, The Italian.2 I think she is the author, and went to bed very early, IX:10.


Possibly Eliza Susan Quincy.


A copy of Mrs. Ann Radcliffe, The Italian, or the Confessional of the Black Penitents, which was first published in London in 1797, is in the Stone Library.

Wednesday. August 18th. VII:30. CFA Wednesday. August 18th. VII:30. CFA
Wednesday. August 18th. VII:30.

On this day I am seventeen years old. Early in life and full of hopes, entering into the world at an earlier age than usual, I can look back and say to myself, this has been spent, how? I have had some variety in my course, part of it laziness, part of it study, part of it folly and part of it dissipation. I have thought much for a young man and had some experience and am become somewhat vain. I now am gradually advancing to the time when either my visions will either be realized or else I shall be a—I will not, I cannot predict what. I am thinking sufficiently often on this subject.

I spent the morning in reading the remainder of the first volume of Redgauntlet. I have been considerably interested in the last part of this book although I do not think he has kept the same standing in this. His scenes appear to be made up in the same style but joined together without care. Indeed this author has made one dangerous innovation in letters and that is he writes with so much rapidity that he astonishes his inferiors who endeavour to imitate him. Hence we have such a crowd of novels in our day. Every one writes fast, thinking that he cannot get hold of the public without it. Scotch novels are all the rage and every body who can write brogue writes well. It is a thing to tickle the world because it is so natural. I was thus employed all the Morning and in the afternoon continued select parts of the Italian. This is one of the fashionable stories of the last age when horror presided and the school of mysteries was so much supported. The inquisition in this novel is made quite a good sort of a place, with more justice than I had any idea was attributed to it before.

I could not stay any longer here and therefore ordered my horse and returned to Cambridge in order to be there for drill this Evening. 294I got there to Prayers which however I did not attend. The Cambridge light Infantry returned this Evening. After Prayers we had a drill which I performed with unusual correctness because I was less interested in it than I ever was before. My being absent for some time has affected me strangely and made me enormously indifferent. After drill we invited the Guides and Markers to our usual Evening’s entertainment as a treat or, in other words, a fish for them. They were all there but one and we spent a pretty agreable evening making speculations about the weather, our dresses for tomorrow &c. &c. I returned home, spent an hour at Sheafe’s and then went to bed. X:30.