Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 1

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.

Tuesday. September 21st. IX. CFA Tuesday. September 21st. IX. CFA
Tuesday. September 21st. IX.

Arose and was greeted in the first place by a letter from John.1 It was a long one but not very satisfactory. On the subject on which I had particularly written he is silent or, rather, evades it by complaining of my handwriting which he seems to have been able to read in every place except in that one. I am sorry for the result as I understand precisely how to take this way of his. I shall therefore close the subject. After breakfast I read my usual quantity of Paley which closes what we studied during the last term.

I then went to my Mother’s room and found her much better. She was preparing to go to town and to go through much labour in the day. She has invited Miss Elizabeth to go to Washington this Winter. After she had gone I went and wrote my Journal, in the middle of it I was surprised by a visit from my classmate, Charles Foster. He had brought a Miss Garland here to see Abby. He is an exceeding good natured, pleasant sort of a young man, although not one of my intimates. I like his manners which are very unassuming but he has too little energy or character of any kind to please me. He dined and spent part of the afternoon here and I was quite rejoiced to have such a windfall for company. She is an exceeding forward, pert young miss who has an idea that every body admires her. She might do as a little 331“piquante sauce” for a half an hour’s amusement but I should enter a vehement protest against her manners. They went away at four and I spent the rest of the afternoon reading more of the famous Essays called the Crisis written by Thomas Paine2 which are said to have had such powerful effect in the time of our revolution. They are an imitation of Junius in coarser style and although evidently well adapted to excite a people are not to be recommended for imitation. I was struck at his frequent calls upon God, that God whom he afterwards forsook.

After tea I went in and sat with my Grandfather. I was not in a talking mood and he is so but seldom now so that I spent, I might almost say, two silent hours. Suffice it, they hung like lead upon me. I afterwards had some conversation with my Uncle about the election and then retired. George disturbed me unexpectedly late in the night. X.




Thomas Paine, The Crisis, originally published in thirteen numbers, some separately and some in newspapers, 1776–1780, and afterwards issued collectively.