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Browsing: Diary of Charles Francis Adams, Volume 2

Docno: ADMS-13-02-02-0002-0009-0008

Author: CFA
Date: 1826-07-08

[8 July.]

I took the earliest Washington Stage and got in feeling somewhat { 65 } rusty, at about three o’clock. The family were pretty well. News arrived however of the illness of my Grandfather and orders were given to prepare for my father’s immediate departure for the North.
Thus ended my short trip.1 To say that I was pleased with it would express but little of my feelings. There were so many considerations which conduced to make the residence happy, independent of the mere pleasure which external objects conveyed to me, that it would have been astonishing had it not been pleasant. For the very enjoyment brought reflections to my mind which proved to me that they were among the last I was destined to share. This is the melancholy thought which always obtrudes itself in my present pleasures, and perhaps renders the enjoyment of them more delightful even by the slight tinge which it throws over them. I have been accustomed almost involuntarily to cry out to myself constantly during many years back, “These are the times of ease, freedom, happiness and enjoyment, enjoy them while you may.” I have acted up to the principle, but as the close of these days hastens I am reminded that more troublous times are coming, and that the world and female ties will soon loosen the earliest and the dearest bonds of social friendship.
With these opinions acting upon me at the moment, I was enjoying the society of these young men, considering this as very probably the last time that we should see each other in the enjoyment of all that renders life happy not excepting liberty. I made merry therefore, and when we did finally part I was somewhat disposed to think as I thought when I parted before from Sheafe and Richardson a year ago—but I would not forebode.2 God grant, that no such change as that may again happen very soon to our little society.
1. CFA went home with “money exhausted” (D/CFA/1).
2. Sheafe had died during the previous winter. See entry for 3 Dec. 1825, above.

Docno: ADMS-13-02-02-0002-0009-0009

Author: CFA
Date: 1826-07-09

[9 July.]

On Sunday, the 9th of July, my father and John left us for Boston. Not six hours after their departure news arrived of the death of my Grandfather John Adams, on the 4th of July. He and Jefferson died on the fourth of July, 1826.
There is nothing more to be said. With all the volumes of Eulogies that have been published on these men, and the remarks that have been studied upon this coincidence, nothing has been produced so eloquent as the simple fact. There are occurrences sometimes in the course of Human affairs, too great for words. The mind is already so exalted that any attempt to shackle it by expression destroys the flight, { 66 } and lets it down again to common place. The wonder, the awe, the feeling of undefinable grandeur which comes over one though they might earnestly seek an outlet in language, would vanish in the attempt. The greatest of all eloquence in the known world is the eloquence of facts.
My grandfather was always personally kind to me. I revered his character. There was something in it calculated to strike a youthful mind. Bold, energetic, ardent, he was ignorant of the power of self restraint. This worked him evil for it made him sincere. Falling into the hands of artful adversaries and ambitious friends, he has been a martyr to their intrigues and this character, the boldest, the most enthusiastic, the most passionate in it’s support of liberty, of all those who figured in the history of the American revolution, has been handed to us with more of odium attached to it than any other. But the country will still do him justice, she has begun and I trust in God she will continue so to do. His posterity will only demand a hearing, his Son will redeem his fame. But should it so happen by the will of the Deity, that he should call to him this Son before he shall have fully prepared his vindication, the duty will fall on us, his grandchildren, those whom he looked upon with combined feelings of pride and high expectation. Should it so happen then, I trust that we shall not come unwillingly to the task and I hope at least so far as it lies with me, that not an act shall be done, not a sacrifice shall be avoided, till my utmost efforts have been made to restore him to the place which is his justly due.1
1. Despite several abortive beginnings, JQA never prepared a biography of his famous father. CFA, however, began copying the letters of his grandparents, fearing their loss, as early as the 1830’s and edited an interesting sampling of them in two separate volumes: AA, Letters, ed. CFA, 1840, and JA, Letters, ed. CFA. Later CFA prepared a ten-volume edition of the second President’s papers, prefacing it with a biography. See JA, Works; Adams Family Correspondence, 1:xxxii–xxxviii; Duberman, CFA, p. 25, 40, 65–66, 205, 431, note.
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2018.