Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 1

Wednesday. September 1st. VIII. CFA Wednesday. September 1st. VIII. CFA
Wednesday. September 1st. VIII.

Arose, weather still rainy. I spent the morning in writing my 308Journal comfortably in the house. The weather improved a little in the course of the morning and I accepted an invitation of George’s to go as far as Neponset Hotel with him on his road to Boston, and went. It was late before we got there and time past as rapidly as usual while I was playing billiards. I was not so successful as usual and, being considerably nettled, I do not know how long I should have stayed had not the boy been obliged to go.

I returned home at about half past six o’clock without having had any dinner. The family appeared in some surprise about me, and I was obliged to tell them that in future they need not be astonished when I do not attend meals. They were almost all going out when I arrived, to Mr. Whitney’s to a Quincy party and I was pressed to go but refused. These Quincy parties are the dullest, the most disagreable and the most unprofitable it ever has been my lot to meet with. You do not enjoy yourself while at them nor look back upon them with satisfaction. Mrs. Clark appears amazingly offended with young Whitney for some cause or other and takes occasion to abuse him most exceedingly. She is a singular woman. I am at times exceedingly in doubt whether she has any heart or not. She is a most profound devote but I have always thought her a complete hypocrite attempting to be pious. Her chief motive of action is an ostentation, a wish to throw herself forward into the notice of other people and a desire to be admired by them. She has a deep spirit of malignity and, as an old woman, will be a most exquisitely unpleasant one. My judgment of real piety is always fixed upon a person who says nothing of it, who does not obtrude it upon other people and who governs her conduct by the principles which her bible lays down for her. Who represses malignity, slander, scandal and all the little sins which are incidental to women.

In the Evening I went and sat with my Grandfather and conversed with him as usual upon indifferent subjects. He went to bed earlier than usual tonight and I, after spending a little while in my Uncle’s room, an uncommon thing for me, went down to Supper, where we had a warm argument on the subject of the conduct of the Quincy family which did not end until late. XI:15.

Thursday. September 2d. VIII:15. CFA Thursday. September 2d. VIII:15. CFA
Thursday. September 2d. VIII:15.

Arose and after breakfast as my Uncle wished to write this morning which deprives me of the power of doing so, I took my gun and ranged the woods, with but little success, as I only obtained one bird. 309I found so little prospect that I did not go very far, and returned soon. The remainder of the morning I positively lazed away, doing nothing but looking over the titles of some old books in the library of Grandfather, alias that of Quincy.1 Some of them were exceedingly amusing and, as I was in a laughing mood, I attempted to turn them into ridicule with some little success, if I may judge from the way it entertained him. One book I observed with a singular publisher. It ran thus, “Printed for Thomas Cockwill at the sign of the three legs and Bible in the Poultry!” There are a remarkable number of old Books in this Library and many extremely rare and valuable. It is a matter of extreme regret to me that it has been so disposed of. It can not now be helped however.

In the afternoon, I wrote my Journal as usual and came within one day of making it up to it’s regular time. It has been a very great task. My days have not been as long as formerly but it is now principally because there is a deficiency of material to write about. We had rain and thunder and I do not know really what I managed to do, but I came to this determination, to take up some book to read as it was too abominable to spend valuable time with such perfect waste. I am angry and ashamed of myself for my course this last three months but I can hardly perceive how I could have done differently. My time was so taken up by my military service and by my Journal that I could have no time to do any thing else. Indeed when I have finished this book, I shall lay down to myself another system which I expect will be a little more advantageous.2 Experience is the best teacher and, as I find my time too much called upon by this, I shall endeavour as far as is in my power to save it. In this last year it will be of peculiar importance to study and attend to the parts of instruction which are laid down in the College course. They are some of them of exceeding importance to me. In the Evening, I did not sit with my grandfather as George read to him. I wrote to Tudor3 and had the usual talk after supper. XI.


To promote education in Quincy, JA not merely gave the town some land (see entry for 22 May, and note, above) but, in 1822, the approximately 3,000 volumes in his personal library. They were to “be deposited in an apartment of the building to be hereafter erected for a Greek and Latin School or Academy,” for the establishment of which part of the income from the lands was to be devoted (Deeds and Other Documents Relating to the Several Pieces of Land, and the Library Presented to the Town of Quincy, by President Adams, Together with a Catalogue of the Books, Cambridge, 1823, p. 12 and passim). As CFA opined, the books were ill-adapted to JA’s benevolent purpose; although an Adams Academy was founded after the Civil War and survived into the early years of this century, the books suffered loss and deterioration through years of neglect, and were in 1893 transferred to the Boston Public Library, where they remain as a special collection in the care of the Rare Book Department. See Cata-310logue of the John Adams Library in the Public Library of the City of Boston, Boston, 1917.


For the plan of CFA’s next extant diary (D/CFA/5), see entry for 26 Nov. 1826, below. The continuation of his present “book” (D/CFA/4) beyond 31 Oct. 1824 has been lost, and only an “Index” of some portions remains to be printed, beginning at 1 Nov., below. See the description of CFA’s MS diaries in the Introduction.


Letter missing.