Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 1

Saturday. August 28th. IX. CFA Saturday. August 28th. IX. CFA
Saturday. August 28th. IX.

Arose and after breakfast sat down to the important business of writing my Journal which has on account of my frequent change of residence lately, gone very much behind hand. I kept myself writing a considerable part of the morning. My account of this month will be rather short however in consequence of this. I am the more inclined to regret this as some scenes there are in the latter part of this month which deserve more full notice. I might have written much more fully even than is my common custom had I not thought I had better not discourage myself and rather keep the book up regularly than risk neglect. In a vacation, there are so many occasions which call a man’s attention off and he himself feels as if he was not to be under restraint, that it is my principal wish to have no more to do than one or at most two day’s, which were as many as ten at that time.

After dinner I determined to have some amusement and therefore walked down to Neponset where I practiced a little while at billiards. Mr. Miller of Quincy and a brother in law of his, a Mr. Nicholson, came in and I played with them. The former is a fat, prosy country gentleman, who could fill in England the place of a fox hunting Squire exceedingly well, but here, he has wealth, a little influence and pleases himself altogether. A little coarseness and much self importance but on the whole not an exceedingly disagreable man. The other appears to be a very gentlemanly man and quite intelligent. A judgment as to this latter character can hardly be made at a billiard table but I was certainly considerably pleased with his manner. He had not the vulgarity, though this is a little too harsh a name, of his companion. We played sometime and came off almost even all round, I believe. I walked home and felt myself somewhat fatigued as this was pretty active exercise. George came out in the stage this Evening and so did Miss Harriet Welsh but my Father did not make his appearance as was expected. I spent the Evening with my Grandfather, he is more fond of conversation now and less of reading than he used to be, and 304this difference is perceptible. After he had retired, I sat up and talked with George on College and all other interesting subjects until very late. XI:30.

Sunday. August 29th. VIII:30. CFA Sunday. August 29th. VIII:30. CFA
Sunday. August 29th. VIII:30.

Arose but cannot say I was quite lucky enough to word omitted breakfast, for somehow or other the family quite forgot me and I was obliged to go without. The house was in a terrible bustle as this was the day appointed to receive General La Fayette. For my own part, I endeavoured to keep myself as quiet as possible all the morning. I did not attend Meeting because I wished to continue the arduous task of writing up my Journal. On this I was employed pretty nearly all the time. I could not help strongly remarking the contrast between a dinner here and one at home, where it is not uncommon and it passes off without the difficulty of a day, but here it is so out of the usual routine that it makes quite a disturbance in the household.

The General arrived at about half past two, attended by his son,1 Mr. Le Vasseur, his secretary,2 Mr. Colden3 and Mr. Quincy. And Governor Eustis4 arrived soon after. The Marquis met my Grandfather with pleasure and I thought with some surprise, because really, I do not think he expected to see him quite so feeble as he is. It struck me that he was affected somewhat in that manner. Otherwise the meeting was a pleasant one. Grandfather exerted himself more than usual and, as to conversation, appeared exactly as he ever has. I think he is rather more striking now than ever, certainly more agreable, as his asperity of temper is worn away. I had the honour of an introduction to the Marquis and that was all. He is a mincing man in his manners, he has much ease and grace and knows the proper side of men. His lot is an enviable one, on the whole, as without being an extremely great man, he has received honors which are the lot of only a few. His son is a plain, simple man without assumption, his appearance is a little against him, but his manner is easy and agreable. I incline to think he is not a man of remarkable mind but will pass through this life with ease and rest without trouble when he dies. Le Vasseur is a genteel man, he is a Frenchman and a pleasant one. Colden is a New York man attached to his suite and is also a genteel man. Mr. Whitney came in pretty late but in a hurry from Cohasset. He had his usual air and placid countenance. This man might well rank as a philosopher if the regulation of his passions was the supreme object for no man was ever more of an automaton or an ass.

Governor Eustis is a man who appears to be very well satisfied with 305himself and with every thing about him. He has gained an elevation which he wished and I presume is content. He is a singular man in his manner but not altogether unpleasant when he makes any exertion. He is much like many other Americans and I may rank him among the number who are too indolent often to make an exertion to please, but when they do, are successful.

The dinner passed off without difficulty, I did not get seated to my taste, consequently spent my time rather stupidly. How many people in this country would have been delighted with my situation at this moment, to see three distinguished men dining at the same table, with the reflections all brought up concerning the old days of the revolution, in which they were conspicuous actors and for their exertions in which, the country is grateful! It is a subject which can excite much thought as it embraces the high feelings of human nature. The presence of my father would have been additional pleasure, but he did not arrive and it is probable now that he will not for some days. My grandfather appeared considerably affected and soon rose after dinner was over.

The Marquis had to pass through the ceremony of shaking hands with all the town of Quincy which had collected together to see him. He first stood on the piazza and the men went up one by one, then went into the inner room and there saluted all the ladies. Some company from Boston. I forgot to mention as one of our company at dinner, Miss Pierce from Northampton, a cousin of Miss Hinckleys and acquaintance of Miss Welsh’s. She is not pretty but she is pleasant and gentle, and very ladylike. The ceremony of taking leave was gone through and our company vanished very much to my satisfaction. George went to town with Miss Welsh and Miss Pierce. Elizabeth went also with James Foster who was here. So that the house was more lonely than usual. I would wish to recollect the scene of this day, as the actors will soon depart from this busy scene and memory only will bring to life their looks, their tones, their language. All these things in illustrious men are worth recollecting, and it is one of the most desirable things in great distinction, to be sat up in this way to the observation of the world. There being no body to converse with, I went to bed early. X.


George Washington Lafayette (Nolan, Lafayette in America Day by Day, p. 243).


Auguste Levasseur (same).


Presumably Cadwallader David Colden (1769–1834), a New York lawyer who had served as mayor of New York, state assemblyman, and Congressman ( Biog. Dir. Cong. ).


Dr. William Eustis (1753–1825), the first Republican governor of Massachusetts; he had served as a military physician in the Revolution ( DAB ).