Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

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

Another fine day. Attended Divine Service and heard Mr. Bulfinch1 preach Sermon taken from 2. Timothy 4. 6, 7, 8. “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness.” It was upon the truth of the Christian Religion, drawn from the character of Paul. The substance of the whole, a repetition of the old argument, that it was more difficult to disbelieve the evidence of his disinterestedness, than to assume it. A pretty ordinary production, I thought.

Mr. Frothingham’s Sermon in the Afternoon was from 2. Timothy 3. 15. “That from a child thou hast known the Scriptures which are able to make thee wise unto salvation.” This of course he said referred to the Old Testament. He proceeded to illustrate the value of the read-268ing the Bible as a whole. He considered it beneficial in three points of view. 1. As it expresses more forcibly the divine Commandments 2. As it proposes bright examples for imitation 3. As it sets forth a clear promise of reward in a future state. A sensible Sermon.

I read Massillon in the Afternoon. The Text cited was from 4 John 5 “Then cometh he to a City of Samaria which is called Sychar,” but the subject in fact extended to the whole story of the Samaritan Woman. From her replies to the various inquiries of Jesus, the Preacher draws several moral reflections. He considers the obstacles to the operation of divine grace to be fairly represented by them. They form excuses of these kinds. 1. Excuses of condition. That is that Persons are not in a state fit for grace, as the Samaritan Woman pleaded her being of a different Community. 2. Excuses of difficulty or want of means as she objected the depth of the well. 3. Excuses of confusion, in other words, that from the endless jarrings of sects and doctrines it was not of any use to attempt to follow the subject. This gives a singular view of that passage in the Bible, and as I said of that last Sunday, to me not a natural one. The Woman appears to have been ignorant and sinful, but there is no evidence that she intended to resist the effort of divine grace to save her. She meets an unknown person at a well. That person is of a Sect who refuse all connection with her own, and she naturally wonders at the unusual advance. It is not until the third question is put and he tells her of what was known only to herself, that she can form any idea of the character of the person addressing her. And she then declares it. All this is simple enough. It is just the natural working of a common mind. There seems no intentional resistance of grace about it. And the whole of the preacher’s ingenious edifice falls to the ground. Apart from the Text and its application however, the moral of the Sermon is very well. Quiet evening at home.


Perhaps Stephen Greenleaf Bulfinch, who had graduated in divinity in 1830 ( Harvard Quinquennial Cat. ).

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

I received this morning upon reaching the Office, definitive letters as to the settlement of my Uncle’s landed property, and the other business relating to the Will of John Adams.1 I called upon Judge Leland and conversed with him upon the subject. After obtaining his ideas about it, I returned and wrote the necessary Papers.2 My principal anxiety is to release my father from the great burden of debt he has laid upon himself, as soon as possible. I talked with Mr. Brooks about the propriety of taking legal possession, but he seemed to think 269peaceable possession would do as well. I was engaged most of the Afternoon in writing and copying Letters to Mrs. Angier3 and to J. M. Gourgas.4 This with a little Spanish took my whole time.

Evening. Began reading aloud to my Wife Bulwer’s last Novel of Eugene Aram.5 A wild thing taken from the shocking story which cuts such a figure in the Newgate Calendar. I do not admire these kind of things. Afterwards, I finished Bell’s Account of the French Revolution which is a mere compilation.6


JQA to CFA, 21 March (Adams Papers). In this JQA essentially confirmed his earlier instructions given in his letters of 5 and 17 March, on which see entry for 13 March, above.


CFA consulted the judge of probate in Norfolk co., Sherman Leland of Roxbury, primarily on the question of guardianship for the minor children. Judge Leland, though inclined not to favor the appointment of widows as guardians, agreed to appoint Mrs. Adams if she should wish it. It was also his opinion that the portions of the minor children, now vested in them, should be paid to their guardian at once or that notes should be executed in their favor with interest paid to the guardian. CFA to JQA, 27 March (LbC, Adams Papers); Mass. Register, 1832.


In his note to his cousin, Abigail Angier, CFA wrote that her portion of TBA’s devise from JA, with interest from the date of TBA’s death, was ready to be paid upon demand. In the course of the next several days she and Thomas B. Adams Jr. were paid the sums due them. CFA to Abigail A. Angier, 26 March; CFA to JQA, 31 March (both LbC’s, Adams Papers); M/CFA/3.


CFA notified Gourgas, who had qualified as administrator of TBA’s estate, that it was JQA’s intent to take possession of the real property under his mortgages “by regular legal process if necessary, or by a mere notice to the Tenants and pacific entry with your Consent as Administrator”; further that JQA proposed to pay all rents derived from the properties to Mrs. Adams during her lifetime, deducting only the expenses incurred. The letter also carried notice of the necessity for Mrs. Adams to become guardian for her minor children or to nominate someone to serve. CFA to J. M. Gourgas, 26 March (LbC, Adams Papers).

When Mrs. Adams’ decision was reached it was that Phineas Foster, her brother-in-law, should become guardian for the children, provided JQA did not wish to serve. Foster’s appointment was subsequently confirmed. CFA to JQA, 31 March (LbC, Adams Papers); M/CFA/3.


Published in 3 vols., London, 1832.


John Bell, History of the First Revolution in France, London, 1831.