Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 2

Tuesday April 24th. CFA Tuesday April 24th. CFA
Tuesday April 24th.

Morning exercises performed as usual. I took my last sitting at Mr. King’s today, and am not well satisfied with the result. But as it is not for me, I have felt less interest in it although I would wish word or words missing for the sake of the family, at least those of it who wish me well. My day was broken, I could not go through my prescribed duties, indeed there has been no day yet in which I have thoroughly adhered to them. But they will do, if only partially pursued, and in future I have less impediment. I wrote to Abby the 124answer to her’s of yesterday. And in the evening I went through one of those disagreeable scenes which occur sometimes in life. No man of sense will ever keep a Mistress. For if she is valuable, the separation when it comes is terrible, and if she is not, she is more plague than profit. Ever since my engagement, I have been preparing for a close of my licentious intrigues, and this evening I cut the last cord which bound me.1 What a pity that experience is always to be learnt over and over by each succeeding generation.


Since there is no other evidence, aside from this diary entry, to indicate that CFA had a mistress, his recent biographer thinks this passage a “youthful exaggeration” (Duberman, CFA , p. 429, note). There could, however, have been further mention of the liaison in the journals which CFA epitomized in 1829 because they contained “follies” (see entry for 26 May 1829, below). The shocked tone of CFA’s comment upon Johnson Hellen’s marriage to LCA’s servant, Jane Winnull (d. 1875), is possibly a clue that his own affair was with a person of the same low social standing. See entries for 20 and 25 April 1829, below, and Adams Genealogy.

Wednesday April 25th. CFA Wednesday April 25th. CFA
Wednesday April 25th.

Morning exercises as usual. But I was very negligent in the remaining duties. Having succeeded only in reading a little of Mr. Burke and of Tacitus. The day was distinguished by nothing remarkable excepting perhaps a dull head ach and a slight return of the pain in my side which I had in the Winter. The former went off however in the course of the evening.

Thursday. April 26th. CFA Thursday. April 26th. CFA
Thursday. April 26th.

I did this day for the first time perform all my required duties, and the satisfaction it produces is worth the labour it cost me. And after all the employment kept me from low spirits. In the evening, took a ride with John.

Friday. April 27th. CFA Friday. April 27th. CFA
Friday. April 27th.

I wrote my Record and performed my duty in Geography exceedingly well. But after Breakfast, instead of studying, I wasted the day in fishing and came home in bad humour. This was much increased by a mistake in not receiving a letter from Abby immediately and thereby concluding that there was none. I afterwards got it, but it produced very little gratification, why or wherefore I could not myself divine. I had a nervous head ach for the remainder of the day and cursed my fishing excursion. I rode with Madame, and answered Abby’s letter in the evening but in less spirit than usual. I am afraid 125I am growing a little jealous. Her last seems written with more effort than the others.