Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

Sunday. 21st. CFA Sunday. 21st. CFA
Sunday. 21st.

This day was a continuation of the hot weather we have already experienced for such a length of time. My Wife and Child seem to be doing prodigiously well considering the exhausting character of the Air. In looking over some old matter I found a part of an examination of Demosthenes’ Oration, which I had done some time ago. Upon reading it over, I found that it was too good to throw away and therefore began to reflect upon the possibility of working it over into something. The undertaking is not trifling, but should I be discouraged from things merely because they are great, it is clear I shall always be dabbling in small.

Attended divine Service all day and heard Mr. Frothingham. The heat was so great however that I could do little in the way of attention, particularly in the Afternoon. The Text in the morning was from 2d Samuel 24th Chapter, 14 verse. “And David said unto God, I am in a great strait: let us fall now into the hand of the Lord, (for his mercies are great) and let me not fall into the hand of man.” The Chapter is a singular one. David decides upon taking an account of the People of Israel against the advice of his Officers. He repents of the Action immediately after it is committed, and deprecated the punishment which God was to inflict upon him. He has a choice of three evils, Famine, War, or Pestilence. He selects the latter. Mr. F. thought the whole allegorical, excepting the Census, David’s repentance and the Plague. He conjectured that the Sin probably consisted in some scheme of aggrandisement which David meditated. And the conclusion which he draws from the whole subject was the blessing that we were not allowed to chuse our future fate, and the advantage of confiding in God in preference to Man. On the first branch he introduced a very pretty illustration from Southey’s Thalaba. I called for a minute to see Mrs. Frothingham, met Sidney Brooks who has just returned from New York.

The afternoon’s Sermon was from the 119th Psalm 105 verse. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” An examination of the practical benefits of the Christian religion as a guide to human conduct. The heat was excessively oppressive in the Meeting House. Returned home and cooled myself reading Massillon. His next Sermon in order was upon the duty of Humanity in the great. Text. 6. John 5. “When Jesus then lifted up his eyes and saw a great Company come unto him.” One would think he might have found a more pertinent extract and more directly to his point. The Chapter would have done better,1 for it is the Story of the Loaves and Fishes. 118He inculcates Humanity first as a duty. By Humanity he means the three virtues of affability, protection and charity to the poor. In the second place he considers it as a pleasure and an advantage to the giver. The whole concludes with an application to the King, and an exhortation. Evening with my Wife. Afterwards, Grahame and the Spectator.


That is, would have provided a more suitable one.

Monday. 22d. CFA Monday. 22d. CFA
Monday. 22d.

The weather continued as oppressively warm as heretofore. I occupied myself in an examination of the matter of the Essay I propose to write. It must take much time and after all may be beyond my ability. Went to the Office, and finished the correction of the Bible Letters. Some of them have evident errors in the Text, there are also injuries done to the Manuscript, both of which render a revision by the Author desirable.

I went down to the Athenaeum to look at the Pictures, but it was so very warm I felt as if I could not stay. Returning home I found my Mother preparing to go home to Quincy as the Carriage had come, bringing in Mrs. Nowlan and the Child.1 My father though he had intended it,2 was dissuaded by the severity of the day. I thought I had repaired the breach in my Household but found I had not as the Man I had engaged disappointed me. This is troublesome. Afternoon, accomplished a very large portion of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Books of the Letters, being those to his Wife Terentia and to Cassius and others. The single letter of Cato is a Jewel.

Mrs. Nowlan remained in town today. My Wife and Child are doing as well as the heat of the Weather will permit. In some things this is advantageous, for it prevents taking cold.3 Evening, continued Grahame, whose book I admire more and more. It is worth putting forward as a Text book of our early History.


Mary Louisa Adams. LCA relates with some amusement Louisa’s account to her grandfather of the visit. See LCA to Mrs. JA2, 23 Aug. (Adams Papers).


That is, to come in to Boston in the carriage.


“Charles is a delighted but very nervous father and his face changes to every colour when his child cries.” LCA to Mrs. JA2, 27 Aug. (Adams Papers).

Tuesday. 23d. CFA Tuesday. 23d. CFA
Tuesday. 23d.

The morning oppressively warm, but friendly Clouds were gathering rapidly all day, and finally cooled the heated earth with heavy and refreshing showers. For the past week, my system has been entirely open, and I have thrown out a most extraordinary abundance of per-119spiration. So exhausting was it, that had the weather continued the same for a much longer period, I believe I could have done nothing at all.

Read a part of the Defence, lounged with Mr. Peabody, carried up some fruit to Abby sent by her father, and did nothing. The last more than all the rest. Dined at the Tremont House to spare trouble at home. The dinner was good but I was more solitary in the midst of the crowd than if I had been sitting at home. Returned home and got into the Sixteenth and last book of letters to Tiro. I had unaccountably deceived myself as to the length of the Books and was surprised to find myself so near the close.

Evening, with my Wife. She now encourages me. I also read Grahame and finished the first Volume. An excellent work. Read an Essay of Bacon of great profoundness on simulation and dissimulation. Spectator as usual.