Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 1

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.

Wednesday. September 22d. VII:30. CFA Wednesday. September 22d. VII:30. CFA
Wednesday. September 22d. VII:30.

Arose and after breakfast read twenty five pages farther in Paley as a sort of preparative to the commencing lessons next term. I then went upstairs and continued reading the Numbers of the Crises but I do not find them interesting. Mr. Stuart the painter came out here this morning for a final sitting for my Grandfather. I saw the portrait which is a remarkably fine one.1 Stuart is a singular man, a wag, but rather a disgusting object than otherwise. He is said to be habitually intemperate and his appearance confirms it. My mother returned this morning from Dr. Eustis’s where she had been all night exceedingly ill and went to bed immediately with a high fever. I know not how it was but I have seldom felt a more deep and bitter feeling of melancholy than I did today.

After dinner I sat in the Office and mused. Deeply dejected I can’t tell on what account. My mother’s sickness was the principal cause of the effect on my spirits, and my loneliness and the unsettled state of the Presidential election which so bewilders my future views. I think I could be content at the result were it either way but this doubt is torturing. I am anxiously wishing to get back to Cambridge because there I am more removed from the contagion of politics and have much of other and truly much more interesting business to me personally. I mourn when I am at Cambridge but I think there are few places 332where I could be happier. It is employment which is my great delight and the contrast between this place and that is striking.

After writing my Journal I went to my Mother’s room: the rest of the afternoon was spent there. She appeared to be exceedingly unwell, with much fever and complaining of pain in her head. I could do nothing but try and amuse her and divert her attention from her pain but it is more pain to me to see her. I tried my best however and she talked with a little life though not in her common style. I spent the Evening here also doing my best to amuse her. I left her hoping Heaven would restore her for her Journey. I spent a dull half hour with my Grandfather and then came down stairs where I had another dull half hour with my Uncle. This is the worst of all, he has taken a fit and the house now seems scarcely the residence of a family but of many cold hearted individuals. I could not bear his nonsense tonight so retired. IX:20.


See entry for 9 Sept., and note, above.