Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 1

Saturday. September 18th. VIII. CFA Saturday. September 18th. VIII. CFA
Saturday. September 18th. VIII.

Arose considerably better than I was before and with spirits considerably revived. I first reviewed some portion of Paley and then went upstairs to see my mother. The weather had changed and had become exceedingly cold. This is the curse of this climate, that there are so many rapid and entire changes. They solely can make a person sick. I then went to the Office, wrote my Journal and amused myself the rest of the morning copying Governor Bradford’s will for my father. An ancient manuscript about as amusing as that of Captain Standish. I have not much relish at this age for antiquities of this sort, I suppose it will come upon me in time however. I just finished it in time for dinner. My father and mother were gone to Boston in the morning to stay all day as usual. My uncle gone to town and I was quite alone in the house. Mr. Marston dined here as usual. I regretted exceedingly 328that I could not enjoy an enormously fine salt fish dinner to day, I did not feel my health sufficiently established to venture upon vegetables.

In the afternoon I spent some time looking over more tracts and documents of my Uncle’s and then sat down to write a letter to John.1 I got through the first page and part of the second when I happened to stumble upon politics and say something which was not altogether consistent with prudential maxims. I on the whole determined to scratch it out and this created such an ugly place that I left the paper to another time. I then went into the house and amused myself with Junius which I read again with avidity. The commentaries are generally correct but sometimes have a little too much partiality for the crown side of a case. I was much interested by a biographical sketch of Charles Fox and could not help thinking that there were many points of similarity between him and the present Henry Clay. The same powers and the same vices. I continued reading this author until I was called in to keep company with Grandfather who was alone. I sat with him reading scraps from newspapers &c. until his time of going to rest. My father and mother returned at this time with George. I had some political conversation with the two latter in which it was intimated that the horizon was darkening. I afterwards had conversation with George upon many subjects, but none of any interest which I have not often mentioned. XI.


This letter was never sent; see entry for 20 Sept., below.

Sunday. September 19th. VII:45. CFA Sunday. September 19th. VII:45. CFA
Sunday. September 19th. VII:45.

Up early this morning and for once breakfasted with the family. The weather misty, rainy and exceeding disagreable. I did not attend Meeting all day but spent the morning with great idleness talking in a cold chilly room with my Mother and George, talking about Father’s plans for the future, which—at least one of them—was undergoing the of her criticism and ridicule. I was perfectly agreed with her and on the whole was much amused. We afterwards fell into an argument occasioned by some of his boastful speeches concerning the superiority of this part of the country, in which I took up the other side of the question, and we digressed from this into an argument as to the puritan settlement, in which he as usual talked extravagantly and I did not deliver my true sentiments because I wished to put a stop to his rant, I call it nothing else. He has this intolerable habit of speaking in superlatives which always provokes me and there are times when I cannot but come out sharply and he does not proceed.


In the afternoon we entered into conversation again and talked of much which I did not dare to put into my Journal at present. It was upon old times, and was merely an explanation of much which would excite the blood of a Pagan. I am sorry but I cannot agree in some points with the opinions of the family. There is much unaccounted for in the history of my earliest years not affecting me but my mother. George and I had a little warm talk here. I then sat down and read the second Part of Irving’s Tales of a Traveller. I must confess I do not think so well of this as I did of the first. It has but little to recollect with pleasure. Every thing in it is commonplace and an attempt to make something out of common nature without colouring highly which in my opinion is impossible. Indeed I think Mr. Irving must change his manner or he will lose his reputation.

Mr. Degrand and Mr. Sprague were here this evening and spent the Evening here. They are both political men, the latter in the legislature of the State, and Editor of a Newspaper in Salem.1 He is rather a pleasant man and he conversed upon the subject which is most his own, politics, and as he appeared to have pretty correct views of things, he was not tedious although Mr. Degrand compelled him to remain to his usual hour. I then talked a little with Uncle and George soon after which I retired. XI:30.


Joseph E. Sprague, with whom JQA had “a long conversation ... on the subject of the Vice-Presidency” (JQA, Diary, under this date).