Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 1

Tuesday. May 18th. VIII:30.

Thursday. May. 20th. VII:30.

Wednesday. May. 19th. VII:30. CFA


Wednesday. May. 19th. VII:30. CFA
Wednesday. May. 19th. VII:30.

I this Morning changed the time of rising according to admonition, and appeared downstairs before breakfast was over. The day was so disagreable that it would not allow of any body’s going out. So I spent the morning partly in reading the remainder of Young’s ninth Night and partly in writing my Journal. I am exceedingly glad that I have at last got through these Thoughts, as it is well to say that I have read them, but I doubt very much whether I shall be tempted to take them up in any great hurry, again. Parts I have been pleased with, parts I have considered sublime although I could not relish their sentiments or tendency and parts I have thought rather dull. The tendency of this book is much more dangerous than that of lighter books as it gives us too gloomy notions of our existence and of our Creator. Man was 149not made to mourn unless he chose to do it himself. And it is too bad that any one should pretend to cry before they are hurt. I spent an hour in writing a letter to John1 also, the most quizzical affair, that I have seen for some time. Being in a state of terrible ennui I determined to dispense some of it upon him and therefore wrote upon nothing. Having made three pages out of this, I became perfectly satisfied and in the afternoon employed myself in translating five sections of the life of Agricola and in reading the sixth volume of Mosheim which I did not finish last term. There were but about forty pages which contained a short sketch of the Church during the eighteenth century. It is short and unsatisfactory and merely connected as an Appendix to the rest of the History. There are some Appendixes to the book which I did not read, as they treated more of theological than historical points and were written not by Dr. Mosheim but by his translator, Dr. Maclaine,2 on disputed tracts.

Mr. Quincy3 was here this afternoon from Boston and amused my Grandfather for some time, with a story of somebody in Boston and Mr. Pickering’s book. I think people tell him too plainly for his spirit that he is dying for however philosophically he may bear it, it is not possible for human nature to think upon such a subject and not feel depressed. Anxious as he is also, concerning the result of these attacks upon his reputation. He did not take his ride today. So I entertained him with a little more of Major Cartwright’s prospects of the English Constitution. As I am not over anxious to learn such a piece of nonsense I skip over much which he knows nothing about. For he does not appear to miss any connection in the sense. I had just finished a dialogue when I was luckily interrupted.

This was occasioned by the announcement of the arrival of Thomas Hellen from Portsmouth through Boston. He has been at School at Exeter for some time past, fitting for admission to College. He has grown considerably and begins to acquire the appearance of a man. I was glad to see him as I had just begun to feel the want of Society. He is the most agreable fellow that I could have of all I know. There is something remarkable in all these Hellens that I never could understand, particularly their views towards each other and their peculiarities for all have them. I never could account for it. They suspect or disagree with each other and still have considerable word omitted. I had reason to know Mary well, I have been intimate with Johnson, and I have seen this one from a boy of ten years, still there is something in them which puzzles me. Accordingly my address is not the most cordial and Thomas made something of a complaint of it at first. 150I like the young men and have too deeply loved the woman but this has been their reward. I am determined to break myself of this and, conscious that this is a good time, I will endeavour. At Quincy, surrounded by people whom I am obliged to consider hypocrites towards me, my conduct cannot be such as elsewhere, but this must be got over. I have lost the good will of this people because I made no exertion to gain it but have on the contrary expressed my disgust pretty freely. They are too unpleasant to me, being all hypocrites themselves and I not swallowing it down quite as well. Mrs. Clark with her piety puts me in a passion, knowing that had her husband lived, she would have had other fish to fry. Her playing the doll with her child4 and her terrible habits of affectation have displeased me while what she is pleased to call my impiety has disgusted her. Of the rest I will speak at another time.

After tea I made an exertion to be lively and succeeded for the evening amusing the ladies with nothing at all until late. Thomas and I were the last to go to bed as we talked of Washington, my father, the election which he appears as all the Hellens do, to be very deeply interested in, and his prospects. He has better views of nature and the world than I expected, on the whole was much pleased. We staid up in this way, talking and smoking until I found that we were encroaching upon the family rest and the morning. XII.




Archibald Maclaine.


Josiah Quincy (1772–1864), Harvard 1790, whose life encompassed several distinguished careers: Federalist Congressman, 1804–1813; Mayor of Boston, 1823–1828; and President of Harvard, 1829–1845. His wife was the former Eliza Susan Morton. See DAB and Adams Genealogy.


Susan Maria Clark (1818–1853). See Adams Genealogy.