Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

Sunday. 15th. CFA Sunday. 15th. CFA
Sunday. 15th.

Raw and cloudy with Wind still East. Passed the morning in finishing the Aeneid with which I have been very much pleased. The thing seems to me to be an honour to the human intellect for imagination, for pathos, for perfect harmony, for beauty. And there is moral in it so far as the Ancients allowed themselves to have moral.


I attended Divine Service all day. Heard Mr. Frothingham preach. His Text, “Isaiah 21. 11–12. “He calleth to me out of Seir. Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night? The watchman saith, the morning cometh, and also the night: if ye will inquire, inquire ye: return, come.” He explained in the first place the literal meaning of the Text. And then applied the words to the present state of things, to the future, and to the chance of death. The Sermon was admired but it did not strike me. His afternoon’s discourse was much more simple, Nehemiah 9. 6. “Thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens with all their hosts, the earth and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all.” It turned upon the attribute of God as a Creator, the doubt that had been early expressed by a particular sect of his having to do with so corrupt a thing as matter, and the belief drawn from phrases of the New Testament that the Saviour was the Creator of all things. He inclined to the construction of the spiritual creation of all things. It was useful but dry.

Read a Sermon of Massillon upon Scepticism, John 7. 27. “Howbeit we know this man whence he is: but when Christ cometh, no man knoweth, whence he is.” Turning off from the discussion of the main question as to the truth of the religion, he considered only the motives for doubt of it in many cases. 1. Dissoluteness which resorts to disbelief as a protection. 2. Ignorance of a wilful kind. 3. Vanity of knowledge. He treats of them successively with great power. Evening quiet at home.

Monday 16th. CFA Monday 16th. CFA
Monday 16th.

Very cold disagreeable morning. Transferred for the present the Italian to be my morning study. Read a little of the Peruvian Letters which are very easy. Time at the Office variously spent. I was busy in collecting seeds for the Garden at Quincy, and other purchases which with the never failing business of accounts consumed the time. Found Joseph H. Adams had been at my House. He is ordered off and is preparing to start. I intended to have gone to Quincy but the setting in of the rain just as I was about to start prevented me.

Passed my Afternoon in reading the Moorish Letters. They contain a great deal of good sense. I know nothing of their Author however. The dearth of books relating to Spanish literature, speaking historically, is great with me, and I may also add with my father.

Quiet Evening at home. Did nothing—on the whole what a mass of 281my time is profitless. Read an excellent number of the Rambler on that point, this evening.