Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 1

Wednesday. May. 19th. VII:30.

Friday. May. 21st. VIII:45.

Thursday. May. 20th. VII:30. CFA


Thursday. May. 20th. VII:30. CFA
Thursday. May. 20th. VII:30.

Arose this Morning and immediately after breakfast took a long walk with Thomas Hellen to my father’s Estate at Mount Wollaston1 as well to see it myself as to show it to him. It is a pretty place and desirable enough in Summer, but a Winter’s residence would be very disagreable. I was led into a train of thought remarkable enough concerning our future destinies. This is the spot which George has fixed upon for a residence and here he is to exist with Mary Hellen, one of the most capricious women that were ever formed in a capricious race. He is to live as long as possible here and then which will not be a great while, go to Boston. Thinking of this, I have been wishing to obtain some knowledge concerning my own future probabilities but it is impossible. My next years will depend very much on my father’s and his, 151Heaven knows, are doubtful enough. Thomas has been thrown so many years further back in life that when he talks of prospects, I begin to think mine pressing. The estate is a remarkably fine one for it’s situation is directly on one of the most beautiful spots in the bay. For me it would be a beautiful retreat where I should not be plagued by the disgust of company and where I might with more ease pursue those studies which would profit me. All this however is but the effect of imagination and I will leave the train of circumstances to themselves, conscious that neither wishes nor prayers can change them. We returned home somewhat fatigued.

Owing to the presence of this young man I shall not be able to continue my Tacitus. I therefore shall labour on the five sections already translated to give them an elegant translation. I read none of Young today either.

The Evening was in the Parlour with the ladies. There is magic in a Petticoat to a young man. I cannot tell, but my passions and feelings are all so affected that I want their society. Of the tendency of this passion I am so well aware, that I make great attempts to keep it on guard. I have been hitherto successful and hope to be. With the exception of one difficulty which perhaps was the very thing which gave me prudence, I have felt no attachment and intend to feel none until it is as consistent with interest as with desire.2 A man can soon make himself love any woman, in the proper sense of the term, for in my opinion there is no Platonism in it. At least there never has been with me. I know the acting force and as I know it is impossible to gratify it without ruin, I know how to prevent it.

My Evening was pleasantly spent. They are the most agreable parts of the time here. The girls are agreable enough, not at all pretty. Indeed it is not the forte of our family to talk of handsome persons of either sex. For my own part, I see3 none of the present generation except Thomas Adams. XII:15.


Mount Wollaston farm, on that part of Quincy Bay still known as Adams Shore, was the estate of AA’s maternal grandfather, Col. John Quincy. In 1767 it passed into the hands of Norton Quincy, the Colonel’s son, and, after Norton’s death in 1801, the property was acquired by the Adamses partly by bequest and partly by purchase. At various times later on, CFA planned to build a home here, but it was his eldest son, John Quincy Adams 2d (1833–1894), designated as JQA2 in the present edition (see Adams Genealogy), who eventually did so, soon after the Civil War, and gave it the name “Merrymount” because the property included the site of the maypole erected at “Mare Mount” on Mount Wollaston by the 17th-century adventurer Thomas Morton. See JA, Diary and Autobiography , 1:x, 141, and an illustration of Mount Wollaston about the time of the present diary entry, same, facing p. 256; also Adams Family Correspondence , 2:388–389.


CFA’s manuscript at this point con-152tains a heavily penciled marginal line, with the number “174” (possibly “175”) beside it in an unidentified hand, presumably a page reference. Neither page 174 nor page 175 of the present MS Diary (D/CFA/4), containing part of the entry for 6 August and all of the entry for 7 August, below, throws any light on this passage.


Using a colloquialism ( Dict. of Americanisms ), CFA means that he recognizes none of the generation as handsome except Thomas B. Adams Jr.