Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

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.

1.

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.

2.

ABA’s letter is missing.

Monday. 23d. CFA Monday. 23d. CFA
Monday. 23d.

Morning quite cold again but it was a beautiful day. I went to the Office as usual and spent my time in looking over my Accounts, and indeed wasted a part of it, I must admit. Such is the case too often. Reading the Newspapers and writing my Diary engrosses a considerable share of the short mornings we have. And I go out at one o’clock to obtain the exercise I ought regularly to take. Today for once I enjoyed my walk.

Afternoon, read a part of the fourth book to Herennius containing a brief account of the various modes of adorning and enlivening a discourse which are curious rather than useful. Nature ought to be the prompter in these cases. The man who should use Rhetorical phrases merely secundum artem would prove but a poor Orator after all.

Evening quiet at home with my Wife. Read to her a part of the last Canterbury Tale as well as her usual Chapters in the Bible. Afterwards I read the twenty third book of the Iliad, looked over the paper upon Iron, and perused the two Guardians. This is an inferior work.

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