Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

Sunday 9th. CFA Sunday 9th. CFA
Sunday 9th.

Winter having kept off so long again comes down upon us with great force. The earth was covered with snow upon our rising in the morning, and it continued to fall the greater part of the day. I attended Divine Service this morning and heard a Mr. Malcolm, a Baptist Clergyman,1 preach at Mr. Frothingham’s. This rather surprised me, for such a degree of liberality is not usual, but upon hearing his Sermon against spiritual pride, or the pride of virtue, I was very much pleased. His manner strikes me as in many respects superior to any Clergyman’s I have heard in Boston, and had it a little more impressiveness and grace would be calculated to strike very much generally. Any thing is better than tameness and his manner at times is decidedly eloquent.

It was so inclement, that I did not venture out in the afternoon, so that I employed my time in finishing and copying my letter to my Father,2 which engrossed the whole time. This business takes up a good deal of valuable time and perhaps not so usefully as could be, for my letters do not improve.

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Evening at home very quietly reading Evelina to my Wife, which I finished. This reading hardly pays one for the time. Continued my Catalogue afterwards which is now drawing to a close and read two Numbers of the Tatler.

1.

Howard Malcom, minister of the Federal Street Baptist Church, Boston ( Mass. Register, 1831).

2.

CFA to JQA, 9 Jan., LbC, Adams Papers. For this letter, see above, entry for 28 Dec. 1830, note, and below, entry for 25 Jan., note.

Monday. 10th. CFA Monday. 10th. CFA
Monday. 10th.

This Snow makes every thing cheerless, and my walk to the Office very disagreeable. I went however and was busy in making up my Accounts at the Probate Office on Mr. News Estate. This took much time in waiting, and the business was not settled after all. But it is off my thoughts for the present. Mr. Champney called in to bargain about a House, but I could not come to any decision. On the whole my morning as usual is not to be accounted for and yet I feel as if I had done my best. But so it is, and I almost despair of any decided improvement.

Returned home and spent the afternoon in reading the Orator in which I now made great progress. Having cut the road, it is very easy now to smooth it. But the doctrine it contains is as useless now as it was before. Because we have lost the Art upon which it is based, and do not even know the pronunciation of the ancient Romans.

Evening at home quietly. Read French with my Wife and then read to her during the Evening from Camilla, another of Miss Burney’s books.1 Progressed with my Catalogue and read the Tatler.

1.

Published in 1796.

Tuesday. 11th. CFA Tuesday. 11th. CFA
Tuesday. 11th.

The Snow was thick enough to make very good sleighing, and the Streets looked very lively. I went to the Office as usual, and passed my time in writing my Journal and reading Enfield’s Philosophy, in which I made progress as far as the Cynic Philosophy. This is a very useful book and I am a little surprised I never took hold of it sooner. It has given me a better insight into the doctrines of the different Masters whose names we see perpetually in the Classics, than I ever possessed before. How much knowledge we ought to possess before even starting to read the older Authors, and yet we touch them first in boyhood when we do not even understand the Language, much less the multiplicity of allusions to mythology, philosophy, religion, habits 400and manners. No wonder there is so little taste for the Dead Languages.

My time was cut in halves by being obliged to go and see my Cousin Miss A. S. Adams who was in town, expecting to receive her Quarterly Interest. This however saved my going out of town as I had intended. After dinner I finished the Orator with which I have been on the whole edified. Though part of it is mysterious, yet it contains a vast deal of excellent matter to be practically exercised. The whole business of the choice of words, how vastly different from our Teachers. Yet who compares with Cicero in the most unerring test, success.

Evening. Began A Year in Spain, a new book by a young New York man.1 Quite lively. Continued my Catalogue and read the Tatler.

1.

Alexander Slidell Mackenzie, A Year in Spain, Boston, 1829.