Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 1

Wednesday. May 26th. IX.

Friday May 28th. IX:10.

Thursday. May. 27th. VIII:30. CFA


Thursday. May. 27th. VIII:30. CFA
Thursday. May. 27th. VIII:30.

Thomas Hellen took his leave this morning for Exeter, evidently much against his will. He is quite agreable and when he shall have lost a little of his confidence, obtained I know not how, he will do very well. Great assurance in a young man is very disagreable and I would rather see him err on the side of modesty or timidity. The latter is by far the most easily corrected.

After breakfast I took a walk to see the canal which is digging, by whom no person knows.1 I also read all the poems of Gray, which are in this collection.2 This is an author who has always been a great favourite of mine although so severely lashed by Dr. Johnson. His elegy and Bard are very beautiful specimens of the pathetic and sublime. His other odes are sweet but require keener observation than I can at present afford. His poems, I have reserved for frequent examination. I employed the rest of the day in reading Mrs. Opie’s second volume of the New Tales. They are extremely interesting but still more subject to the observation made yesterday. In the “Confes-160sions of an Odd tempered Man” I find a character very much resembling my own although rather strained, for dramatic effect.3 Caprice is a prevailing passion with me in the light world, and I am very unconscionable in my dislikes of women and take prejudices immediately. My own character has been matter of some contemplation to myself and although I will not pretend to come to any decision concerning it, I think that I have some hints. At any rate, I know that by some singular idea, I am ever desirous to conceal the best traits of my character.

In the evening a young lady by the name of Cooper came out to pay a visit to the girls. Who she is, I know not. She is not pretty nor interesting. My Uncle also returned from Boston where he went in the morning. I spent an hour in the evening with my Grandfather in conversation concerning books and some time in the parlour although I see no family group half so pleasing now and I have again retired within my shell, after an uncommon exertion and satisfactory proof to the women that “I can be agreable when I am inclined to be so.” Now this is not much matter of importance to me. I had this evening the pleasure of sitting with my Uncle alone, in one of his usual fits, and I thought it somewhat singular that young girls should be invited by our ladies to this house only to see the disgrace of their father and to feel—if they at all in the proportion as I do, I pity them.4 I pleaded being very sleepy owing to my last night’s vigil and got away early. XI:25.


A private citizen of Quincy, Joshua Torrey, projected a canal in 1824 that would run from the head of the creek, east of the old almshouse, almost to the meeting house. The town was unable to assist him, and he discontinued the work. A year later other Quincy residents began a new canal, which was to follow a stream called Town River from the Tidemill up as far as the Stone Bridge on the Hingham and Quincy turnpike. The work was completed in 1826, but the canal proved unprofitable and was finally abandoned. See Pattee, Old Braintree and Quincy , p. 104–105.


Thomas Gray’s “Elegy Written in a Country Church-Yard” and “The Bard” are included in Aikin’s British Poets .


CFA identified himself with the narrator of the story, Henry Aubrey, a man of affections and sensibility who consciously retreated behind an “impenetrable coldness” in order to protect his independence and ego. Aubrey’s unnatural behavior cost him his wife, child, and future happiness.


Thus in MS.