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Browsing: Diary of Charles Francis Adams, Volume 1


Docno: ADMS-13-01-02-0003-0011-0031

Author: CFA
Date: 1824-10-31

Sunday. October 31st. IX.

Arose and sat myself down to spend the day comfortably at home. I had the good fortune to discover yesterday that Mr. Flagg, a well known resident graduate at our good University of Cambridge.1 I therefore immediately made up my mind. It is rather a poor view of life, if we look at the number who have and others who are now toiling through an education at Cambridge, labouring like moles without talent enough to carry them to any distinction, and devoured after remaining here the better part of their lives, consuming their lives in study or in sleep, to obtain at best a miserable parish with perhaps one hundred and fifty dollars a year. Many such exist here { 435 } and many such are toiling through College at the present day to obtain this enviable situation. They are all for the most part able bodied and might have profited society in active labours where mind was not so much in question. I amused myself reading over a variety of numbers of the Adventurer and the Guardian.2 These books were intended to assist the morals of the age and to correct folly and vice. But in my opinion their tendency is bad, at least in some particulars. A large number turn on the seduction and ruin of young women. I think there is much danger in the description and in their effect upon the imagination. I think that it is exposing to young men a view of the weakness of the female sex such as few of them come to the knowledge of until long after they are young. And as to the ill consequences threatened, one misfortune attends them, they are not invariable, hope is left, and hope is the most deceptive phantom in the human heart. [Here follow in the MS more than four lines very heavily inked out, presumably by the diarist.] The fact is, consequences occur very seldom in comparison with the commission of the deed, and it does appear to me according to our existing laws of society that this commission is no crime. I believe God intended the union of the sexes as soon as they became of age to know the passion, our society forbids it until we can support the consequences. This may be singular doctrine and I may hereafter find it false, but I do now firmly believe. I think the present institutions of society are detestable for a young man, but I must confess I see no way of altering them for the better. I think them a perversion of the natural order of things but I cannot discover what the natural order is.
In the afternoon I went and slept for a considerable time. I spent part of the Evening with my Grandfather and heard him for once tell me of some of his cares. My Uncle and Aunt have so little prospect before them after his death, he spoke feelingly, the children also, if he could have done anything for them but it was entirely impossible.3 I tried to console him as much as possible but I think the thing preys upon his mind very much. He is a remarkable man, he has done much for that family, but I am afraid all the assistance he can give will avail little. He has improved this farm very much and I think I can discover a general plan upon which he has gone of late years to assist that family. I am sorry for them and wish a part well. I got into conversation again downstairs upon the Presidential election and other matters with Miss Harriet which did not break up until my Uncle entered and we had varied our topics so much as to fall upon him so that we could say no more. I afterwards had some political { 436 } conversation with him and some on the Medical Faculty with George by which I made him laugh very much. I was surprised tonight to hear my Grandfather speak so severely of Mrs. Clarke. He spoke of her levity in a tone which might even chill her; she certainly is an amazingly unthinking, inconsistent woman. Religious with asperity, virtuous with repulsion and smooth with insincerity. She is a match for Mrs. Adams and had that poor man, her husband, lived, would have made a vixen of a wife. He did not get out of the honey moon however and as it is, poor dear Mr. Clarke and her delightful husband are good terms for her to indulge in. She can love no one hereafter and it is a good way to prove she has loved somebody once. I went to bed pretty early although my afternoon’s nap took away part of my rest. XI.
1. CFA’s sentence is incomplete; doubtless his discovery was that John Flagg, graduate resident in the theological school ( Harvard Annual Cat., 1824), was going to preach in Quincy.
2. The Adventurer, 2 vols., London, 1753–1754, by J. Hawkesworth, Samuel Johnson, and others. JQA’s set of The Guardian, 2 vols., London, 1745, is in the Stone Library.
3. Punctuated thus in MS .
{ 436 }