Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 7

Thursday. 7th.

Saturday. 9th.

Friday. 8th. CFA Friday. 8th. CFA
Friday. 8th.

Montreal is rather prettily situated at the foot of a high hill which by its shape has the appearance of three joining each other. It contains 37more inhabitants than any other place, in Canada, numbering over thirty thousand and is built entirely of stone. And yet the land upon which it stands is a seignory of the Catholic Seminary of that place. The morning was exceedingly hot and yet we determined to go out and take a look at what was to be seen. The streets are very narrow and irregular but the place looks rather flourishing, a good many houses building and the old ones in good condition.

In consequence of some representations that were made to us respecting the importance of being at Quebec on Sunday to see the military parade, we decided to go tonight so that it was important to make the best of our time today. Accordingly, we visited the Cathedral, which is the largest building of the kind probably in North America. The exterior is in the Gothic style and very handsome although the two steeples upon the front are not yet erected, which takes off all the effect. The interior is also unfinished and presents a very indifferent appearance. We went in although there was no service. A single Priest at the altar apparently engaged in deep meditation, and here and there a person who came in to say his prayers.

From the Cathedral we went to the Convent of Grey Nuns, a large building which has enjoyed some notoriety of late from being the spot selected for the stories of Maria Monk a woman who is making money out of the public credulity.1 We visited many of the rooms and the chapel. In one of them were the old and infirm. In another foundling girls of two or three years, in a third, the boys, and in a fourth, the infants and so forth. It seems to be a Charity foundation of no very agreeable class of occupations and I confess I was puzzled to perceive the wickedness. The women were only busy in bringing out their little boxes to make us buy their trifling bits of work and thus pay for our intrusion. The Chapel was very clean and was ornamented with pictures and figures according to the Catholic fancy. How they can admire such personations of their objects of worship I do not understand. The religion is a species of idolatry which requires the interference of the senses, it is made for an ordinary class of minds.

We returned home to dine, it being then five o’clock, after which we had not much time to get ready our things for the next move to Quebec. At eight o’clock we went down to the Steamer Canada and found ourselves again in a crowd going from Montreal.


On the fanciful “autobiography” of Maria Monk, written by anti-Catholic agitators and published as Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk, N.Y., 1836, see Notable American Women , 2:560.