Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

Saturday. 20th [i.e. 21st]. CFA Saturday. 20th [i.e. 21st]. CFA
Saturday. 20th i.e. 21st.

Morning at the Office. At ten o’clock I attended a Meeting of the Board of Directors of the Middlesex Canal to examine the state of 225affairs for the year. We had an uncommonly favourable Account, and declared a Dividend of Twenty two dollars upon a share, being by far the largest ever made. This gives my father quite a large sum for his share. And I do not know what to do with it, but my present mind is to invest it if possible.1 Took a short walk to the Athenaeum and home.

My Afternoon was consumed partly in bottling Wine, partly in attending upon a Committee to examine the Agent’s books and certify to the Proprietors of the Canal that they are correct. This is a tedious affair. It took up about two hours. The encouragement this will give to the holders of Canal Stock will probably raise the price of their Shares and bring on some speculation. Would it not be wise for some large Proprietors like my father to take advantage of it? I will consult him upon it. Returned home and passed the rest of the evening in reading to my Wife. Afterwards I read Fuseli’s life which is a poor thing, and the usual numbers of the Guardian.


CFA invested the proceeds of the Middlesex Canal Co.’s dividend by negotiating a loan of $1,200 to Henshaw & Co. for 6 months—$1,000 from JQA’s funds, $200 from his own. CFA to JQA, 31 March (LbC, Adams Papers).

Sunday. 22d. CFA Sunday. 22d. CFA
Sunday. 22d.

Morning more like Winter but still pleasant. I attended Divine Service all day and heard Mr. Frothingham preach in the morning from Mark. 10. 13, 14. “And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of God.” The sermon was upon the necessity of purity, upon the consequent duty of education to bring the young to a state of excellence. One of the peculiarities of the doctrine of Christ was the attention enjoined by him to be paid to youth. Their improvement has however been rather a chance matter in most ages. It may well be doubted whether the proper cultivation of even a very ordinary natural intellect would not produce results far superior to those which we derive from the most highly favoured. Afternoon, Mr. Greenwood from Psalms 42. 1. “As the hart panteth after the Waterbrooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.” A very good Sermon it was, no doubt, though not sufficiently stirring to excite my attention. I am afraid I am almost incorrigible on this head.

Upon my return home I sat down and copied a letter to my Father written yesterday,1 after which I read a Sermon of Massillon’s twice over. It was from 20. Matthew 20, 21. “Then came to him the mother 226of Zebedee’s children with her sons, worshipping him and desiring a certain thing of him. And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, the other on the left, in thy kingdom.” The subject was upon the vocation or calling of men. This he said was regulated by so many extraneous incidents that nothing was more common than mistakes. 2d. Nothing was more dangerous. There was a good deal of sense in his reasons, but many of them apply so particularly to the meridian of France as it was in his day, that the general force of the Sermon is weakened.

As my Wife was writing to Washington,2 I did not read to her, but finished the remainder of the Life of Fuseli. His Lectures have a good deal of substance in them but the style is singularly inverted. Half the time it is necessary to trace out the connection by an effort. Afterwards I read the twenty second book of the Iliad over again containing the death of Hector, and the principal interest of the Poem. After it, a paper upon the Iron Manufacture in England and two Guardians. Thus mixed are my studies.


CFA to JQA, 21 Jan. (Adams Papers). Despite the intent expressed in the preceding entry, the letter, largely on the tariff and related national affairs, made no mention of the desirability of JQA’s taking advantage of the rising market that CFA foresaw in the immediate future for Middlesex Canal shares.


ABA’s letter is missing.