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Browsing: Diary of Charles Francis Adams, Volume 1


Docno: ADMS-13-01-02-0003-0008-0031

Author: CFA
Date: 1824-07-31

Saturday. July 31st. VII:45.

Missed Prayers and recitation this morning for the first time for almost three weeks. This was in a sort of dependence upon a report that had gone about that Mr. Heyward was going to give a miss this morning. A report which proved to be incorrect. The larger part of the class trusted to it, I believe. I breakfasted, went to the Reading room and read the Newspapers. George has some handsome compliments passed upon his Oration (which has been printed) in the National Gazette of Philadelphia and the Boston Centinel.1 Nothing else worth observing. I then went to Dwights and spent an hour with him talking and laughing about the Lord knows what. But principally upon College affairs. I cannot lead him to one subject however, that of an alteration of the laws of the Knights. I want to know his mind upon the subject because since this has become the first Northern Club in College, it ought to be something a little more dignified. I then went into a warm bath to refresh myself from the labours of the week, and as yesterday was a most amazingly warm day, it was really necessary. This over, I was all prepared to go to Boston with Sheafe. We went.
I first made a call at the hatter’s to have my cap altered according to a vote of the Officers last Evening. The visors are to be made similar to those of the Rangers. I then went to Mr. Worsley’s2 for a military Coat and finally went to see my brother George. He had not got home so I sat down and talked with Miss Harriet Welsh. She is a singular woman for fluency of tongue, on any subject. She first talked of the probability of my father’s coming and then talked of Johnson, then of George, then of the fire in Boston and lastly fixed upon politics, a { 268 } vehement discussion upon which was commencing when Miss Mary Otis3 came into the room and stopped it. She is staying here while the house is again fitting up, which was damaged by the late fire. I had an opportunity of seeing the ruins today and they looked really melancholy. I also was able to see the other house, that of Dr. Jeffery4 which was burnt first of all, at least the shell of it. This is not so injurious to the effect of the street as that upon the Mall however, which is lugubrious as Otis calls it. Miss Otis is a young lady somewhat over thirty, I imagine who has been pretty but from some reason or other never was married. She is also rather amusing than otherwise. George came in at last but he was amazingly important on account of some flattering letters to him from distinguished individuals.
Two things, I observed in George today which I did not like, an increase of his already inordinate vanity, and a decrease of his never extraordinary manners. I am sorry for this but shall say nothing. I am afraid that my conduct already has excited remark. I will probe my own feelings concerning him to the very core. Am I envious of him? Sincerely, No. I have no wish that he should be less than he is but sincerely wish he may be greater. Otherwise I should not notice so deeply his faults. Am I thoroughly sincere with him? I answer No, because his conduct while at Washington ruined him as to my respect and I cannot entirely forget it. I see his faults, I wish him to correct them but I have no opinion of the man. A thousand little things, when I am with him, make me believe him wanting in common sense and prudence even with all his talents. I cannot think as highly of him as I do of John. I cannot but despise the weak points in his character, to myself why should I hesitate in saying so. I wish him a happy life and a distinguished course but I fear for him. He is not swayed by that high and immutable sense of pride and honour which ought to be the first characteristic of a great man. I had but little conversation with him as he went to Quincy early.
I then went to the Marlborough where I met Ward Marston and had a little conversation with him. Afterwards Sheafe came along and we set off directly for Cambridge, not the shortest way though for we went over the Mill Dam and stopped at the Franklin Hotel5 where we played Billiards the rest of the Afternoon. The table is a pretty good one and very easy to play at. I succeeded in beating Sheafe with some ease. We returned to Cambridge at a little past seven, and took tea after we paid visits to Brenan and to Dwight whom we found reading the new Novel Red Gauntlett by Scott.6 I spent the time until after ten when I returned home and went to bed.
{ 269 }
1. No reference to GWA’s oration has been found in the National Gazette. The Columbian Centinel (31 July 1824) praised the “style, energy, and spirit” of this “literary banquet.”
2. John S. Worsley, of Hobart and Worsley, Tailor, at 1 State Street ( Boston Directory, 1823).
3. Mary Ann Otis, daughter of Samuel Allyne Otis and Mary (Smith) Gray Otis (Columbian Centinel, 22 January 1831); see Adams Genealogy.
4. Presumably Dr. John Jeffries (1796–1876).
5. Located on the corner of Congress Square and Devonshire Street ( Boston Directory, 1825).
6. Sir Walter Scott, Redgauntlet, 3 vols., Edinburgh, 1824.

Docno: ADMS-13-01-02-0003-0009-0001

Author: CFA
Date: 1824-08-01

Sunday. August 1st. VIII.

Missed Prayers this morning as usual and from a slight indisposition sent Sheafe to state it to Mr. Hayward. I employed the Morning in writing answers to my letters received on Thursday.1 I always feel contented when writing home as my thoughts revert there with a sort of calm pleasure as a residence of happiness. I did not write so long a letter as usual today to John, because there was but little material in his own letter to afford me any subject. It was too much on a single subject which is the general fault of his letters. And although Thyrsa is amusing upon the second page, she becomes marvellously flat upon the third. I could say nothing to it all. I wrote to my Mother upon a subject which I have long had in mind, and which it was my intention to dismiss had not she invited me to it in her last. It was upon the state of affairs at Quincy and Abby’s Washington visit. I think I gave my opinion on this subject here long since.
When Sheafe returned, he informed me that Mr. Hayward was unwilling to excuse me unless I felt myself sufficiently unwell to stay away tomorrow from the exercises. This is a singular decision of that gentleman’s. But I took no notice of it, for I felt too slightly unwell to do more than remain in the house all day. I had a little inclination to a nervous head ache which I did not wish to agitate or increase. I remained at home exactly as usual, and spent the afternoon writing up part of my Journal which has fallen somewhat behind hand. I had a singular visit from Mr. Otis2 who had come out to see his son. He not being at home, he came to my room for a pair of spectacles. He looks ill and appears to be breaking down very fast. I have not seen him so near for some length of time, and was surprised at the change. My Journal employed all the time I was not asleep or reading over my lesson in Paley for tomorrow.
After tea I took a walk with Richardson and Sheafe and we collected a number of specimens of flowers. As Nuttall has now finished his course and I have gained all the information I am about to, I intend { 270 } to examine a few examples now and then without any view to forming a collection, but merely to keep my memory fresh as to the general terms and flowers. I found two or three correctly this Evening then read my Bible and went to bed. X:15.
1. These “answers” are missing.
2. Harrison Gray Otis (1765–1848), wealthy Boston lawyer, chiefly remembered as an eminent Federalist and as a participant in the Hartford Convention. For his long and distinguished career, during which he usually supported JA but disagreed with JQA, see Samuel Eliot Morison, The Life and Letters of Harrison Gray Otis, Federalist, Boston, 1913. Otis had a tenuous family relationship with the Adamses. His stepmother, Mary (Smith) Gray Otis (see Adams Genealogy), was first cousin to AA.