Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

Sunday. 28th. CFA Sunday. 28th. CFA
Sunday. 28th.

Morning clear with a decided change in the Weather to cool. So that attendance at Church was much more agreeable. Read and composed in the Morning but never in writing have I met with so much difficulty as in this instance. Have not I studied the subject enough? If so let me set about a re-perusal of the Orations and all the Commentary. Perhaps the real secret remains behind.

Attended divine service and heard Mr. Ripley preach. Text Revelation. 11. 15. “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.” He entered into an explanation of the purpose of Christianity, the tendency of its doctrines to establish social equality, its inconsistency with the monarchical system with which it was so long connected and its increasing power with the increase of civil liberty in the world. Thus it is that the kingdoms of this world are becoming the kingdoms of our Lord. The whole made however so faint an impression that I may give a wrong idea. The Book of Revelation is a mystery. The Chapter from which the text was taken is to me incomprehensible and I can not see the application either for illustration or practice to be made by the text. He might as well have taken the first verse in Genesis, or any other. Mr. W. P. Lunt preached in the afternoon, from 1. Corinthians 7. 31. “And they that use this world, as not abusing it.” The subject is old but of a plain practical nature. The Speaker entered into an examination of the true use of the world, of the folly of abandoning it entirely, and of the moderation necessary in its enjoyment. After all the Greek Sage gave the substance of all this reasoning in two words, μηδὲν ἄγαν.1 Excess as much to be avoided in the privation as in the enjoyment of human blessings. A volume would not teach a clearer lesson. Mr. Lunt has cultivated manner with some success.

Afternoon read a Sermon of Massillon. Text from Luke 1. 32. “He shall be great.” The subject, the character of Christ’s greatness as 123explained in the Bible. Of this he made three divisions—first, because he is the Son of God, second, because he is the Saviour of the world, third, because his kingdom endureth forever. He made the application practical as far as it was possible from a spiritual to an earthly kingdom. Certainly the eloquence of this Writer is great. But his manner is too full of point. The mind gets tired and requires relaxation by variety. Evening passed altogether with my Wife. Read the Spectator as usual.

1.

Nothing in excess. The words are Solon’s.

Monday. 29th. CFA Monday. 29th. CFA
Monday. 29th.

Morning fine but cool. The change in the weather for the last two or three days has been very decided. I spent the hour of my morning in a quiet way upon my Work which is in its first sketch drawing towards a close. I am resolved to persevere in my labour, and if I do not make it worth offering for publication at least I shall make something that may be profitable to me as an exercise.

Went to the Office and was occupied there as usual, in writing my Journal and Accounts. I read a part of Fenelon’s Dialogue on Eloquence,1 many of the remarks in which bring up ideas frequently expressed by me in the course of my Sunday comments upon our Clergy. I talked with Mr. Peabody and on the whole was not satisfied with my occupation of time. Dined as usual at the Tremont House.

Afternoon, I accomplished the Draught and read it over. Many of the ideas are good but not quite developed enough. Evening, passed very quietly with my Wife. Read an Essay of Bacon upon great place, the doctrine of which may be practically sound, but it is worldly. The Spectator as usual.

1.

In Nouveaux dialogues des morts ... by F. S. de la Motte Fénelon, dialogue 29 is “Démosthène & Ciceron. Parallèle de ces deux orateurs, ou l’on donne le caractère de la véritable éloquence.” The edition at MQA, 3 vols. in 1, was published at Amsterdam in 1727.

Tuesday. 30th. CFA Tuesday. 30th. CFA
Tuesday. 30th.

Morning cool and pleasant. I wasted my hour this day in lounging and Conversation with my Wife. Then to the Office where I did not stay long. Having seen Col. White at the Tremont House and he having invited me to call on him there, I felt it incumbent upon me to go and pay my Devoirs. He not being at home, I thought I would leave Cards both for him and his Wife.1 Thence I went to the Athe-124naeum and lounged an Hour in the Gallery with some acquaintances I had picked up. The time went beyond calculation, so that I found it the proper Hour for Tremont House.

Returned home as usual and sat down to a review of the Orations to see if I have omitted any thing. I find I have studied them so thoroughly as to go on quite fast, reading thirty pages today. But my time is on the whole not so thoroughly employed. Evening with my Wife very quiet. Read an Essay of Bacon’s on Boldness and the Spectator.

1.

Joseph M. White, delegate from Florida Territory, with his wife was staying at the Tremont House and attended the Harvard commencement (JQA, Diary, 31 Aug., 2 Sept.).