Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

Saturday 12th.

Monday. 14th.

Sunday. 13th. CFA Sunday. 13th. CFA
Sunday. 13th.

The morning opened clear and cold—The weather of that bracing kind which promises health and not suffering. We went to Meeting all day and heard in the morning Mr. Walker of Charlestown,1 in the afternoon, Mr. Emerson.2 Their Sermons were neither of them first rate, not even so good as their’s are generally, but nevertheless there is a fine tone of masculine feeling in them which denotes a considerable advancement in the tone of the pulpit. It is that which I most complain of in Mr. Frothingham that he is deficient in this very tone. Mr. Walker leads too much the Church Militant, he is rather over disposed to talk at the powers of others, and their doctrines, and their authority, as if he was jealous of it, but he is still a strong powerful 103preacher and among the best with us. Mr. Emerson has talent and manner which with us is more rare, but his health is indifferent and he has none of the greater powers of the Orator.

I passed part of the day in reading a Discourse of Jeremy Taylor upon the nativity of Jesus Christ. There is wonderful vigour in the style of this man, and though he has faults arising from obscurity of expression and perhaps pedantic language, yet these are trifles compared to his force and the wonderful beauty of his ideas. I also wrote a letter to my Mother3 due long since, and on the whole did better than I expected. My ideas flow easily in letters, but they will not elsewhere. In the one, the careless writing is all natural, in the other it imposes restraint. The remainder of the evening was passed in reading the old Journal of my Grandfather when but a young man of twenty one or two years old.4 It seems to have been nothing but an exercise, to express ideas which in his mind were worthy of it, and on the whole it is admirable. His account of his Writ is also very good.5 How very similarly have I felt at times and particularly now when my trustee process plagues me. It took me all the evening.

1.

On Rev. James Walker (1794–1874), referred to at vol. 1:419, see below, entry for 23 Dec. and note.

2.

Ralph Waldo Emerson was minister of the Second Church, Middle Street, 1829–1832. His sermons are referred to at vol. 2:223, 338.

3.

Letter in Adams Papers. CFA had last written on 30 Oct., to which LCA had replied on 15 November.

4.

This passage marked the beginning of CFA’s study of JA’s papers—a task that was to occupy him at intervals for many years and that culminated in CFA’s edition of his grandfather’s Life and Works, 10 vols., 1850–1856.

JA’s “old Journal” was a volume of heterogeneous character into which inter alia JQA had earlier in 1829 had T. B. Adams Jr. and W. C. Greenleaf transcribe JA’s journal entries of 1755–1759 (D/JA/47, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 3). With these CFA had compared the two booklets in JA’s own hand from which the transcription had been made (CFA to JQA, 20 Dec. 1829, Adams Papers). Later, when he came to the arranging of JA’s papers, CFA numbered these booklets “Paper Book No. 1” and “Paper Book No. 2” (designated D/JA/1 and D/JA/2 in the Adams Papers). The entries which CFA had found admirable in reading are those printed in JA, Diary and Autobiography , 1:1–85.

5.

JA, Diary and Autobiography , 1:48–50, 62–65 62–63, 64–65 . JA recounts the doubt and uneasiness he experienced in drawing a writ in his first case as a practicing lawyer (Field v. Lambert) and his anguish when the writ proved defective. His notes written preparatory to drawing the writ and a draft of the writ itself, JA put into another booklet that became separated from his papers during his lifetime and was newly discovered in 1965 in VtHi (JA, Earliest Diary , p. 89–90, 93–95). A full editorial review of Field v. Lambert and the problems it presented the young JA appears there also (same, p. 13–14, 82–89).