Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

Friday. 2d. CFA Friday. 2d. CFA
Friday. 2d.

Morning fine, but did not continue warm, the Wind coming round to the Eastward. I wasted my time as usual. My mind and body are both unwell from the distracted life I am leading, and yet I have kept as much as possible out of the places of excitement. My father spoke to me at breakfast of the libels published about him and of my notice of them. He begged me not to mind them and by no means to answer them. I told him exactly how I felt on the subject. That I had no disposition to notice these things in general but that I thought this particular individual rioted in indulgence. That he never treated persons so here who were able to defend themselves, and that the mere absence of this was the cause of his perpetual violence against him. If a notice now and then of him could be serviceable, I was perfectly willing to undertake it.

My time was occupied all day in running about town. Called to see Dr. John Hopkinson who is in town,1 and invited him to dine with me. I then went to see Mr. Blunt2 and invite him and then to T. Davis. This with Marketing and sending Notices and fifty other things again distracted my whole time. I talked a little with Mr. Peabody and wrote my Diary. Returned home early. Our dinner was a little parti quarré3 and was pleasant enough.

Afternoon, my father went to Cambridge and I did absolutely nothing. “Waste of hours unemployed.”4 I retired having read Bacon’s Essay upon Nobility and The Spectator.

1.

On Dr. John P. Hopkinson of Philadelphia, see vol. 2:44. His father, Judge Joseph Hopkinson, had received an honorary degree at the Harvard commencement the day before ( Harvard Quinquennial Cat. ).

2.

Joseph Blunt of New York City, a political supporter of JQA and publisher of the American Annual Register (see above, vols. 1 and 2 passim), who currently entertained the idea of writing a life of JA for Harper’s Family Library. When Blunt inquired whether this would interfere with JQA’s announced plan to write the life of his father, JQA replied that he would offer no objection to Blunt’s undertaking but renewed the pledge he had made to himself to devote 127his energies to the completion of his own biography. JQA, Diary, 19 Oct.; JQA to Blunt, 19 Oct. (LbC, Adams Papers).

3.

That is, partie carée, imprecisely or ironically applied to a party of four gentlemen. ABA still kept to her room. Those at dinner were Dr. Hopkinson, Thomas K. Davis, JQA, and CFA (JQA, Diary, 2 Sept.).

4.

CFA evidently was here adapting from Byron’s The Giaour: “The waste of feelings unemployed.”

Saturday. 3d. CFA Saturday. 3d. CFA
Saturday. 3d.

Morning Cloudy but it did not rain until Night, and then a mere Shower. I did very little. Went to the Office after leaving my Father to go and complete his arrangements at Cambridge in relation to the admission of Ward N. Boylston.1 My time was not well employed. I did however succeed in reading some of Longinus. I found many views of the sublime which pleased me though I cannot say I was equally gratified by the lengthy remarks of the Commentators.2 What a disposition there is in the human mind to be prolix; to run out ideas as far as you can drive them.

Returned home and after dressing started for Medford where my father and I found Messrs. A. H. and E. Everett, Capt. Morris, Mr. Bigelow, Mr. Gorham, Sidney Brooks and his Wife, Chardon and Edward and the usual family. The dinner was pleasant enough though I am tired of precisely the Company. Mr. E. Everett is a man of rather pleasing general manners at table, but his talk is all for effect. He aspires to shine by brilliancy till he satiates. So it is at least with me.

We returned home in the shower, and my father proceeded directly to Quincy. I am glad the week is over, a week of excitement as unusual as it was unwelcome to me. Read Bacon’s fine Essay on Sedition and the Spectator.

1.

As one of the executors of the estate of Ward N. Boylston, JQA had assumed the task of arranging for the admission of Ward N. Boylston 2d to Harvard. Having been notified on the day before that the entrance examinations which had begun at 6 a.m. had been satisfactorily met and having taken Ward to the president’s house to meet Mrs. Quincy and the young ladies, JQA this day completed the procedure for admission by executing a bond with John Lane Boylston, Ward’s father, in the president’s office (JQA, Diary, 1–3 Sept.).

2.

Of the numerous English translations of Longinus, On the Sublime, with notes and commentary, the most recent was that published at London in 1830. However, the likelihood is that CFA was referring to the translation from Boileau’s French version and commentary which was published in vol. 2 of the English edition of Boileau’s Works, London, 1711; see entry for 6 Sept., below.

Sunday. 4th. CFA Sunday. 4th. CFA
Sunday. 4th.

Yesterday closed another Year since the day of my Marriage. And I have the pleasure of looking back upon it with unmingled satisfaction. 128I have never had occasion to regret the occasion of which it was the Anniversary, though not a few had doubts about my judgment in precipitating it.1 My affairs so far turn out as favourably as I could expect, and I have during the last revolution been blessed with a Child to make my happiness complete. May my humility keep up with the degree of my prosperity, and may I never be led to forget, that all things that I enjoy are the gifts of a beneficent Deity.

My day was a quiet and a pleasant one today. I attended Divine Service all day. Heard Mr. Frothingham in the Morning from Ezekiel 37. 3. “And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? and I answered, O, Lord God, thou knowest.” But what the purpose or what the connection of the discourse with the Text I must candidly confess I do not know. I heard an Allusion to the present Polish struggle and to Lord Byron’s effort for the Greeks but nothing farther. Mr. Palfrey of Washington2 preached in the Afternoon from 1 Corinthians 15. 53. “And this mortal must put on immortality.” Of course the discourse was upon the immortality of the Soul, with the usual arguments upon it. The Chapter from which it is taken is a very remarkable one being a reason throughout for well doing on account of the promised future life.

Returned home and read Massillon’s Sermon upon worldly glory. Text from John 8. 54. “If I honour myself, my honour is nothing.” In my humble opinion the best of all I have read. The position assumed is that no glory is true unless combined with the fear of God. The division of worldly glory is into three points—the first, Worldly honour, which he asserted had no foundation to rest upon in matters pertaining to our present condition, whether wealth, rank or the rest of the factitious advantages, the second, brilliant talents which are often but a false light to their possessor, the third, distinguished successes, the offspring of fortune and without security. All this will never support a man. It is the fear of God which will carry him through the trials of life with confidence and with honour. The close is brilliant.

Evening. Tired of writing. Can do nothing with my review and begin to give up. The Spectator as usual.

1.

See vol. 1:xxxii–xxxiii; also vol. 2:363, and above, vol. 3:167.

2.

Cazneau Palfrey, Harvard 1826, was the minister of the Unitarian church in Washington; see Harvard Quinquennial Cat. ; General Catalogue of Bowdoin College, 1794–1950, Brunswick, Maine, 1950.