Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 1

Wednesday. September 8th. IX. CFA Wednesday. September 8th. IX. CFA
Wednesday. September 8th. IX.

Arose and breakfasted, the day bleak and rainy. I consequently remained at home throughout. I spent the morning in reading the novel of the Inheritance and finished it, having been pretty assiduous, since my commencement. It is an amusing book, abounding in light touches of nature but too prosing. Much of the dialogue might be condensed without trouble and less of Miss Waddel, Miss Larkinses and Miss Pratt would be agreable. The close also is too abrupt. We are not made to partake enough of Gertrude’s feelings, and poor Lyndsay appears to be rather rewarded as a faithful servant than an affectionate lover. She is the most natural character for a woman in the book and has but little to recommend her in the mean time. The fact is, women as they are, are generally commonplace. Virtue is not a subject to write novels with, as it must be confessed, virtuous women are insipid and vicious ones disgusting. The style of fashion which surrounds her reminds me of the only fashionable woman I know, which is my mother. The most pleasing woman without hesitation, I will say it, that in this country I have ever met with. Could I meet with such a woman in future life, I think I might be tempted to depart from my rule of life. It appears to me I see others so foolish in their choice, it would be better for me to leave a choice in the hands of my parents, who would judge better for me than I could. I have been exceedingly addicted to castle building of late, the worst thing that can possibly befal a young man. Much company here this morning to see my father, in spite of all the rain.

In the afternoon, I wrote my Journal and the rest of the time was spent in the delightful company of my mother. She is not well today, but as lively as possible. My Grandfather uncommonly strong. I also finished my letter to John,1 making about six pages in all and I hope he will be satisfied. If he reads it all, I shall think him more patient 318than I now believe him to be. We were all engaged to go to Mrs. Quincy’s this Evening but the rain was so exceedingly heavy that we all determined not to go. Monsieur Degrand came out in the middle and had as usual a talk with my Father. I spent the Evening upstairs with my Grandfather and my Mother, as usual, and had a pleasant time. I am sometimes in a very cheerful state when I hear the Storm, particularly when I have a pleasant family circle, but although this is just passable, I was satisfied and retired early. X:20.



Thursday September 9th. VIII:35. CFA Thursday September 9th. VIII:35. CFA
Thursday September 9th. VIII:35.

Arose and breakfasted, the day fair but exceedingly cold. I was shivering the greater part of the day. I spent the morning, with my mother, in light conversation. I then went and wrote my Journal. My Uncle and George went into town in the morning and my father and mother at noon, so that I was again left at home alone. I did not employ myself very usefully as I was merely engaged in reading the newspapers and studying the Presidential election. I have been habituating my mind to floating visions of comfort and grandeur. This I regret most exceedingly, but who can govern the wayward turns of the mind. I am so much more attached to the climate and manners of the South, that I have a wish to stay there which can only be gratified by his continuation in office. I will be patient and see the result. I am not very sanguine in the belief of his success. He has so much malignant opposition, so much party spirit arrayed against him that it appears to me almost impossible that he should succeed. His friends also are not as adroit as those of the other candidates.

After reading a number of newspapers, I was reading Mr. Noah’s pamphlet1 when I was suddenly interrupted by Mrs. Winthrop2 and others who came in, to look at the portraits of my Grandfather and my father.3 She is one of the Boston great ladies.

In the afternoon I spent my time principally in reading Junius. I went through the first controversy with Sir William Draper.4 As a writer, he had extraordinary power. His words are all so aptly placed and conveyed such an amazing force, his power of distinguishing the points of attack and his force in pressing conclusions drawn from his opponent’s grounds are models for controversial argument. It is my purpose this next year to pay particular attention to style. I have generally written more by the impulse of the moment and without revising any part, but as I have now by this Journal, obtained one habit, that of writing without difficulty upon almost any subject, I shall try 319the hardest part of my task, that of cutting out what I have written. In this country, to a political man, a powerful controversial style is worth it’s weight in gold and to any other sort of man.

After tea as Mrs. Quincy had resumed her invitation for tonight, I went with the two girls. We met a few of the Quincy magnates and spent the Evening in the usual way at Quincy. It was not an unpleasant Evening on the whole. I talked much with Miss Sophia. Miss Meg looked shy. We came off the last, walk’d, returning, took Supper and retired. XI:30.


Mordecai Manuel Noah (1785–1851), editor of the National Advocate, the organ of Tammany Hall in New York City ( DAB ). The pamphlet was probably the Report of a Trial of an Action on the Case, Brought by Sylvanus Miller, Esq., Late Surrogate of the City and County of New-York, against Mordecai M. Noah, Esq., Editor of the National Advocate, for an Alleged Libel, N.Y., 1823.


Mrs. Thomas Lindall Winthrop (1769–1825), the former Elizabeth Bowdoin Temple. Both the Winthrops came from distinguished families, and one of their children was Robert Charles Winthrop. See Crawford, Mass. Families , 1:62–63.


Presumably one of the paintings was Gilbert Stuart’s portrait of JA, finished at this time (see entry for 22 Sept., below) and now owned by Mr. Charles Francis Adams of Dover, Mass. The portrait of JQA may have been one of several painted during the last few years.


Sir William Draper (1721–1787), who defended the Marquis of Granby against Junius in 1769 ( DNB ).