Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 1

Thursday. September 16th. VII. CFA Thursday. September 16th. VII. CFA
Thursday. September 16th. VII.

Arose feeling quite unwell as I had no rest whatever during the night, and I found myself in a fair way to obtain the dysentery. I therefore took some medicine and determined to remain in the house all day. In the morning I reviewed the twenty five first pages of Paley’s Moral Philosophy, which we studied during the last term. I can merely at the present moment look over it to refresh my memory, at some time in future I shall look over it critically and make my own comments upon it in writing. I then went and wrote my Journal for the day before yesterday which I had not written on account of my indisposition. I could hardly do it today for I was in considerable pain 326all the morning. The heat of the weather which continued had made me extremely languid, and was not favourable to my health. After dinner, which to me was a mere form, I laid down in the hall and slept for three hours which refreshed me considerably. I then went and made my Journal as usual.

My father and mother went to Boston to dine with Mr. Winthrop, one of the Boston great men. They are perpetually engaged in Boston, so that though nominally a visit to my Grandfather, it is rather an engagement in Boston all the time. I did nothing else of importance today, after tea I went to sit with my Grandfather but found Mr. Beale and Mr. Marston in company. I could not help thinking how extremely flat, the life of the former gentleman would be to me and still I doubt not but he is much—much happier than it will ever be my fate to be. I have no doubt but the most contemptible plodder is the happiest man, speaking generally, but for my own part I had rather be what I am. Mr. Marston as prosy as usual. I then went down stairs and spent a little while in the parlour with Elizabeth, the rest of the ladies having gone out to the worthy Mr. Apthorps.1 They soon after arrived as did my father and mother, but there was no supper table set tonight. I wished to have some conversation with my mother but I felt so sick and out of spirits that I could not. Indeed I have seldom spent a more disagreable day. My sickness being of such nature as to pain me, weaken me, and reduce my spirits all at the same time. I retired early. X:10.


Possibly George H. Apthorp, of Quincy, whose surname suggests that he was a member of the wealthy Boston merchant family (Pattee, Old Braintree and Quincy , p. 238).

Friday September 17th. VIII. CFA Friday September 17th. VIII. CFA
Friday September 17th. VIII.

Arose though not feeling much better in health. What could have brought on my sickness, I am sure I cannot possibly tell, but I am sure it is a pretty heavy one. I reviewed twenty five pages of Paley, this morning, in the course of which much struck me as noticeable which I did not see before. I then went upstairs and sat with my mother and talked with her some time. I also took another dose of medicine. I read a little more of Junius but not much as reading affects me somewhat in my present state of weakness. My eyes also have suffered today. My father and mother went to town as usual or at least a little this side of town to General Dearborn’s.1 I had directions from my father to copy two ancient wills so that besides writing my Journal, I was employed all the afternoon at one of them. It was that of Captain 327Myles Standish, a famous military character among the first settlers of the country. It was not the most entertaining work I ever saw, or did. I only finished his before tea time.

After tea I again was very sick with pain in my bowels and felt most extremely unhappy and low spirited. This is no home for me. All the family are no friends of mine and I am reduced to a feeling of desolation when my father and mother are gone. I have never seen a family in my life in which there was so little feeling for each other as this in which I live. Compared to our own immediate one it seems exceedingly strange to me, but perhaps we may be blest. I am always inclined to become melancholy when not employed and then take dark views of human nature. Indeed my spirits for a long time have not been so depressed as they were this Evening. My patience was worn out and I really felt a wretchedness of the heart. I am a peculiar, a singular being, and under a cold exterior feel intensely, at times almost beyond endurance. I thought of death tonight as not an intolerable evil and rather to be desired than otherwise. I considered I never had moralized on it in my Journal, I thought of Young, and wondered why he should take so much pains to prove a simple proposition. How foolish, how vain all this, I ought to say how criminal. My mother this Evening gave me some laudanum which I had great aversion to taking and which finally I swallowed merely in filial obedience. Nothing else would have induced me at this time. X:10.


Henry Alexander Scammell Dearborn (1783–1851), brigadier general of militia, lawyer, writer, and collector of the Port of Boston ( DAB ); he lived in Roxbury (JQA, Diary, under this date).