Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

Saturday. 26th.

Monday. 28th.

202 Sunday. 27th. CFA Sunday. 27th. CFA
Sunday. 27th.

I was gratified to find it a fair day and that nothing would prevent the taking place of the ceremony of my child’s baptism. My father and Mother arrived at about half past 9 o’clock. And my Wife being well enough proceeded at the proper time to the Meeting House. Dr. Stevenson’s child and mine were christened at the same time—The latter receiving the name of his Grandfather John Quincy. I hope in the support of the Deity for him throughout his life, without attempting to divine any modes in which it may externally be manifested. My wishes or my fears weigh for little, but my acts so far as they may influence his destiny are proper subjects for care and consideration.

My father, mother and Miss Smith dined with me. The former addressed a letter to me, with the seal used by his father on the occasion of the signature of the Treaty which established our Independence.1 This is only given to me in trust with a successorship in this child or any other I may have at my election. Of course I feel without exulting in it the responsibility these things impose upon me. My trust can be only in a divine providence that has never yet deserted me, nor will while I strive to deserve it’s support.

I did not attend divine service in the afternoon as I had engaged to take Mrs. Reed the Nurse home to Medford. As we rode along I could not help feeling how much my heart was relieved since I passed the same way with her exactly five weeks ago. My Wife was then about to go through a trial the severity of which I then feared but hardly anticipated, and my Mother was just recovering from a fearful convulsion of nature. She is now, I thank God, better, and my Wife bids fair to regain her usual health. How much have I to be thankful for. We sat together in the Evening and conversed as I trust in no unprofitable manner. Afterwards, I wrote the rest of a paper upon proscription and copied for my father.

Of Mr. Frothingham’s Sermon in the morning I have as yet said nothing. It was from 1. Corinthians 1. 27. “God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.” He instanced the truth of this in the choice of David, in the rise of the gospel, in the dispersion of many of the greatest historical enterprises, in the ascendency of the mind over brute force, in the disposition by which meekness gains over violence. Some portions of the discourse were very eloquent.

Having finished Massillon after a persevering perusal of years, I 203began this day the Sermons of Atterbury.2 The first was from the 50th Psalm 14. “Offer unto God thanksgiving.” It began with some Account of the Psalms and proceeded to consider the general duty of man to praise God, 1. as an absolute 2. as a relative duty, then he went over the advantages of doing so. It is quite striking to perceive how different a course is taken by a French and English divine. The one is brilliant, the other plain. The one seeks to operate upon the feelings, the other upon the reason. The one is elaborate, the other simple.


“The Treaty Seal” used by JA in signing the treaties with Great Britain on 30 Nov. 1782 and 3 Sept. 1783 was the Boylston family seal and was inherited by JA from his mother Susanna Boylston. It is now at the Old House in Quincy. In the letter to CFA which accompanied it (27 Oct., Adams Papers), JQA wrote “It is my desire that ... [it is] to be transmitted down ... so long as it shall please Heaven to continue the family, and the name, as an admonitory Memorial of John Adams, one of the Chief founders of American Independence.” On the seal, see also Adams Family Correspondence , 4:xv–xvi, 202.


The Sunday reading of sermons by Bishop Francis Atterbury would continue until the end of August 1834. A copy in 2 vols., London, 1820, is in MQA with CFA’s notations dating his reading of each sermon.