Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 1

Friday. June 18th. V.

Sunday June 20th. IX.

Saturday June 19th. VII. CFA


Saturday June 19th. VII. CFA
Saturday June 19th. VII.

I missed Prayers and recitations this morning unintentionally how-195ever as I had intended to have been up at all events, my number of misses not being small already. I have failed egregiously in my intention not to miss another recitation until Quarter day.1 I received a letter this morning from my father on the subject which I have written so peremptorily to him. I felt rather fearful before opening it and let it remain on my table until my last morning duty was performed before opening. It was very mild, but at the same time informing me gently that he had a smaller opinion of my prudence than I held, that he had considered my proposition and had some inclination to agree to it but that he wished me to transmit an account of my debts to him in the first place that he might arrange them before he began upon a thorough agreement. I have the satisfaction now to announce to him my freedom except from that at Hilliard’s which I have no reason to be ashamed. I will pursue this new system if he gives me an opportunity although I shall be compelled to retrench my style of living considerably. The change will be a beneficial one to me as it will teach economy, a quality which I only want because I am allowed to run on. I take no care of the matter for whatever I do creates no responsibility on my part whatever. I read over the letter attentively twice, it was short and simple, and determined to answer it fully tomorrow.2

In the mean time I read Cowper’s Poem on Conversation and two or three occasional ones. I might by him be styled one of the impious but I cannot help thinking that few minds have that happy medium which he speaks of, and that it is but too natural for the world to degenerate into bigotry and fanaticism when once their minds have been acted upon by religion, with most people I might call it superstition. I have had but little experience in religious matters, but I do think that I have seen certainly as bad if not worse feelings cherished under the cloak of sanctity than in the reckless character of vice. Not that I would support either but the base hypocrite is far more disgusting to a young man than the criminal. Herein, old people say, lies the danger but for my part I hope I know it well on both sides.

I engaged some days since to go over with Tudor and spend the day at Savin Hill3 which I accordingly did, we went from here at about half past ten and arrived there in a little less than an hour, the day was exceedingly warm and the billiard room to which we immediately repaired was a perfect oven being built of thin wood without plastering, the sun came directly through and made it quite unpleasant. I have not touched a cue before for a year and a half with the exception of a few moments at Nahant, last fall vacation, so that it was not surprising that I played very poorly before dinner while Tudor played 196as well, after dinner I improved and reduced his difference to me materially. It is a very amusing and fascinating game, when one just commences playing well but perfection in it I should think would soon generate dislike. I felt but little interested today for the cues were very poor and the table is hardly worth much, so little care has been taken of it. It used to be quite good when at Neponset4 where I have often played on it with my brother. We dined here and smoked, drank and played all the afternoon. As I improved I took more interest in the game but I was not on the whole very sorry when it became time to return. I was surprised to see the quantity of company here this afternoon all the bowling allies being full, nobody disturbed us however. As “we had only come for a week” to use Tudor’s expression, we paid no immoderate bill although not a small one and at half past seven o’clock we returned home.

I seldom have felt more fatigued than this evening from the continued and unusual exercise of walking round the table. Although this was the case, at ten o’clock Tudor and I went and took Supper at Mr. Willard’s establishment. I was hungry and partook considerably although I was headachish, dreadfully tired and indeed never felt more generally distressed than to night. Returning home, I read my Chapters and sat down a few moments cogitating upon my father’s letter. I found myself nodding so often however that I determined upon going to bed directly. I paid for this however as I had two hours of feverish dozing and was troubled in the night with a horrible dream. XI.


The last Friday in June, the day Harvard students’ bills were due ( Harvard Annual Cat., 1823, p. 16).


CFA had repeatedly asked his father for a monthly allowance, to be paid to him directly and not through his uncle, TBA. JQA thought the sum he requested was more than he could afford or CFA should require. The proposed allowance was, he said, at least double JQA’s own college expenses and half again as much as GWA or JA2 had been given. But before making a final decision, he asked CFA for an account of his expenses, particularly of his debts (JQA to CFA, 12 June 1824, Adams Papers).


In Dorchester, three miles from Boston City Hall ( Bacon’s Dict. of Boston , p. 132–133). Savin Hill is still a stop on the Dorchester-Cambridge subway.


Present Neponset Circle, near the Boston-Quincy boundary line.