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Browsing: Diary of Charles Francis Adams, Volume 1


Docno: ADMS-13-01-02-0003-0006-0031

Author: CFA
Date: 1824-05-31

Monday. May 31st. IX.

George went this morning before I was up and Mrs. Harrod still remained one day more with us. It is somewhat to my surprise as it must be as uncomfortable to strangers to be here as it is to the family. I am most surprised by the willingness with which invitations are given. My Uncle did not appear until very late at dinner and when he did, in such a humour that he made himself extremely disgusting. He is one of the most unpleasant characters in this world, in his present degradation, being a brute in his manners and a bully in his family. No one addressed a syllable to him and he went off in a rage. The younger part of the family appear considerably affected by it. His wife suffers also and could one think of her with good feelings it would be well. But her temper in my opinion has been his ruin.
I read some of Percival’s poems,1 two or three of which were very pretty. I do not generally speaking admire them as they are imitations of powerful poets such as Byron with but half his force and withal { 165 } they are too dreadfully lovesick. Poor Elizabeth indulges deeply in day dreams and will before long suffer all the disappointments attending their results. I found in examining the book which was here, many of the most romantic passages marked. I pity her. I also finished Lyttelton’s Poems today and the eighth volume of Aikin’s Poets. I found on reading that addressed to Dr. Ayscough, the lines which my Grandfather supposed his own and which he had written of himself in a letter to Cunningham.2 They were originally of the Conde. I read them to him and he appeared pleased at my having found them. They are very good lines. I have not examined critically this poetry—there are a few songs but none of them very pretty.
In the evening I took a long walk with Thomas and had some conversation with him but all of a frivolous kind. I am afraid he is destined to make one more of the Army Fops and not be an honourable exception to the rule. I do not find much thought in his conversation but all that family have learned to be such accomplished dissemblers, that I will not make an immediate decision.
After this I spent half an hour with my Grandfather reading to him part of a Review in the North American besides a little conversation. I then came to Supper, the Family retired instantly and I was left as usual with my Uncle. He was however in very good humour and amused me as much as I ever am amused by a scene in which I am forced to feel so much sorrow and to make such painful reflections. XI.
1. A selection of the four volumes that James Gates Percival had so far published appeared as Poems, N.Y., 1823; reprinted London, 1824 ( DAB ).
2. Lyttelton’s lines read:

“With more delight those pleasing shades I view,

Where Condé from an envious court withdrew;

Where, sick of glory, faction, power, and pride,

(Sure judge how empty all, who all had tried!)

Beneath his palms the weary chief repos’d,

And life’s great scene in quiet virtue clos’d.”

In his letter to William Cunningham Jr., dated 25 November 1808, JA quoted the lines, substituting “Adams” for “Condé.” See Correspondence between the Hon. John Adams . . . and the Late William Cunningham, Esq., p. 55. For a discussion of these letters, see entry for 17 May, and note, above.