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Browsing: Diary of Charles Francis Adams, Volume 1


Docno: ADMS-13-01-02-0003-0006-0030

Author: CFA
Date: 1824-05-30

Sunday. May. 30th. IX:15.

Owing to the heat of the night, the jarring of the [ . . . ] 1 last evening it was long before I became sufficiently composed to sleep and when I did nothing could rouse me until very late. I determined to go to Meeting this Morning where I heard Mr. Gray deliver a sensible sermon as far as I could judge, for I was still very sleepy. He also dined here. I am quite inclined to like him although I disapproved of his conduct in the old rebellion as I thought he meddled very much in matters which concerned him little. I nonetheless am pleased with his manners and conversation. He was a classmate of my Uncle’s at College.2 I made some inquiries concerning the new system to be introduced at Cambridge.3 It appears pretty evidently that my own class will not be materially affected by this change. In the afternoon, I did not attend but after writing my Journal I laid down on the Sofa and slept until nearly tea time. I do not know what was the reason but I presume these late nights have caused my weariness.
After tea I took exercise in the garden for two hours and had a great deal of conversation with George on the subject of Mary and Uncle and our family. I foresee a good deal of trouble to himself from this intended match and he poor fellow has some bitter moments of thought on the subject. It is an affair which will cause me some trouble as I am in a situation to give him under the slightest pretexts, { 164 } ideas which he too freely indulges even now—but involuntarily. We talked of the affairs of my Uncle and I tried to sound him on the subject of a change but he has heard nothing on the matter from my Father.4 It is singular since my urgent representations that nothing has been done by him.
It was not till quite late that we returned to the house and when we did, we found a large collection of company. The Marston family, a Mr. and Mrs. D’Wolf, Miss Caroline and George Whitney. I addressed myself to none except the last, with whom I had a few minutes nonsensical conversation. He has turned quite a fop of late as he is about to pur[sue] his studies in the ministry immediately after graduating. I teaze Miss Elizabeth somewhat concerning him. They went off at nine o’clock. Afterwards we were gratified by a little public singing. For my part I was more amused. My Uncle was in his usual way and got into a course of conversation which illustrated his private feelings. His wife writhed under the lash to my satisfaction. We soon retired however and before I slept I had some further discourse with George. XI:15.
1. One word overwritten and illegible; perhaps “veins.”
2. Rev. Thomas Gray, Harvard 1790, was an Overseer at the time of the 1823 Harvard rebellion ( Harvard Annual Cat., 1822).
3. See entries for 17 and 28 May, and notes, above.
4. JQA had authorized TBA to control and to pay out CFA’s college allowance, and CFA wanted to manage the money himself. See entries for 4 June and 24 Sept., below.

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.