Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 1

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).

Monday. September 20th. VIII:55. CFA Monday. September 20th. VIII:55. CFA
Monday. September 20th. VIII:55.

Arose and after breakfast reviewed a part of Paley as usual. It was a part which is the driest and least interesting of all we have studied. After this was over I went up to see my mother. She was exceedingly unwell today and I was really terribly apprehensive for her. She appeared so dreadfully affected by chills. I finished Junius in her room and on the whole conclude that I have never seen a more powerful display of eloquence in any work which I have ever seen. So much force of the language, such a happy distinction in terms and such a peculiar application of ideas, if I might so express it, as I never saw before. I wish to see one or two of Johnson’s Pamphlets and shall then compare them. Thus my time went and writing up one day of my Journal which I unaccountably neglected heretofore.

I then dined and in the afternoon continued my duty to my Journal after which I wrote to John.1 I concluded not to send my former letter as at this time almost every thing is dangerous and as I have understood that it has been the practice at least at one office to read all 330letters. This Country though the purest under the Sun is going to ruin. I am in perfect despair for republics and can only abuse human nature. I am growing more and more attached to the idea of private life and can only lament the necessity of the name of which I am so proud. My letter to John was very melancholy as indeed I felt so, for my Mother’s sickness has made me thoroughly unhappy. I never felt more like cursing the world and all that is in it. I was inclined to repine bitterly. I went in and found my Mother in extreme pain, and did not dare leave her for a moment lest she should faint away. It was as bitter a time to my feelings as I ever had in my life. The house was lonely, every body out in the Evening at a party, and my Mother usually attended with so much care was now without a person almost to assist her. I felt her state. I remained with her all the Evening until she retired when I went to my Grandfather’s and sat with him. No conversation, for I was in no humour to keep one up, he retired. Soon after the family came in, My Uncle a little elevated. I sat talking with him and George much longer than I wished but his perpetual conversation delayed me. XI:5.


Letter missing.