Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

Sunday. 25th. CFA Sunday. 25th. CFA
Sunday. 25th.

The day was very fine. As usual I attended Divine Service all day. Mr. Lamson of Dedham preached.1 Texts. Matthew 6. 34. “Take 145therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” I. Thessalonians 4. II. “That you study to be quiet and to do your own business.” The first Sermon was an examination of the doctrine of the Text, which does in fact require explaining—The Epicurean system being based upon very much the same words. Mr. Lamson thinks the intention was to deprecate over-anxiety to the obtaining of the things of this world. This takes off the attention of man from higher objects and worthier feelings, and so indeed it is. The passion for wealth is perhaps the most universal on the Globe. Its operation is to narrow the liberal feelings, to check nobility of soul. If there is any reproach to be made to people in this Quarter it is this. The Afternoon Sermon was upon the Meddler, the busy body and his unfavourable influence upon Society. Both discourses were sensible and adapted to the practical course of life. This is the use of a Clergyman. Mr. Lamson and Miss Smith dined with us.

I read in the Afternoon a Sermon of Massillon’s, making the last of the Petit Carême. It was upon the triumph of Religion. Colossians. 2. 15. “And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” He shews that the glory of the world has three great obstacles in it’s way. The Envy of greatness, the influence of the Passions, and the decay of all things. Religion is the only basis upon which stability is marked. This addressed to a King was undoubtedly sound advice. But this and all the rest might as well have been pronounced to a Stone. Louis 15 was corrupt, and his Court profligate beyond most of his predecessors. And Massillon’s Oratory remains to explain another moral lesson of the weakness of human nature.

Evening, the Misses Greenleaf2 and Mr. and Mrs. J. Quincy Jr. Some Music. I read afterwards a part of Gillies Greece3 and the Spectator.

1.

Alvan Lamson was the Congregational minister at Dedham ( Mass. Register, 1831).

2.

The daughters of Thomas Greenleaf, Eliza and Mary Ann; see vol. 2:153.

3.

John Gillies, The History of Ancient Greece, Its Colonies, and Conquests, was first published in 2 vols. at London in 1786. A copy of this edition is among JA’s books at the Boston Public Library ( Catalogue of JA’s Library , p. 102) and of another among JQA’s at the Boston Athenaeum ( Catalogue of JQA’s Books , p. 97).

Monday. 26th. CFA Monday. 26th. CFA
Monday. 26th.

The day was cloudy and dark with occasional heavy rain though not cold. I occupied myself as usual. Finished the third Olynthiac of 146Demosthenes. I propose now to devote some time to a careful review of them—So that I may know them at any time at sight, without difficulty in construction. They are all specimens of a style but very little known in our day. The concise, persuasive, popular style. I wonder that somebody or other has not studied this manner for use in the present day. Our haranguing style is very indifferent. Read some numbers of the Federalist upon the arrangement of the Senate, and then examined an old volume of Debates in the Convention of Massachusetts that diverted me.1

Afternoon, read the eleventh Book of the letters to Atticus, which is another scene of trepidation after the defeat of the Pompeian party. Who would have been Cicero with all his glory and all his weaknesses? For my part I should prefer to remain what I am, a quiet, inoffensive mortal. Read Bacon’s Essay on Masques and Shows.

Evening with the ladies, after which I continued Gillies, and read two of Addison’s Essays upon the Imagination.

1.

This was presumably Debates, Resolutions and Other Proceedings, of the Convention ... of Massachusetts, Convened, on the 9th of January, 1788, ... for the Purpose of ... Ratifying the Constitution Recommended by the Grand Federal Convention, Boston, 1788. A copy is among JA’s books in the Boston Public Library ( Catalogue of JA’s Library , p. 161).