Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

Saturday. 2d. CFA Saturday. 2d. CFA
Saturday. 2d.

Went to Boston this morning. Time engrossed in Commissions of various kinds and in copying the letter written the other day to my 308Father. I was at the House where I executed all my final purposes. Perhaps this is one of the pleasures of being out of town, that when I come in, my time is so much taken up. It gives me occupation of an agreeable kind. But the mind runs to waste.

Returned to dinner. Passed the afternoon in the Library reading. Made some progress in Seneca whom I have taken up as a kind of relaxation.1 His Essay upon Anger has some good ideas in it. The leading and best one is that anger is of no service. It denies the utility of it to the performance of great actions. It is undoubtedly true, but the occasional success which it gives blinds many to the fact. The real secret is that all such success is accidental and can never be counted upon. He who desires to make himself Master of Fortune must always be cool. Quiet Evening at home. I. Hull spent an hour with us.


Seneca’s philosophic works in the original Latin are well represented at MQA. Now there are editions published at Geneva, 1620, in 2 vols.; at Amsterdam, 1659, in 3 vols.; also an edition, Philosophi ... opera, 4 vols., Biponti, 1782, with JQA’s bookplate, a quotation from Dibdin on the flyleaf of vol. 1 in CFA’s hand, and underlining characteristic of CFA in the essays “De irae” and “De consolatione ad Helviam.”

Sunday. 3d. CFA Sunday. 3d. CFA
Sunday. 3d.

The Weather continues chilly and unseasonable. The Wind blowing pretty steadily from the Westward though without any rain. I attended Divine Service, and heard Mr. Whitney preach all day. But I have concluded not to give myself while in the Country the trouble of analyzing Sermons which often are not worth the trouble. Mr. Whitney is among the most commonplace of our Clergymen. He has grown old, and the Country is very fast outrunning him. I presume this will some time end in a separation. For my own comfort, I must say, I should admire it very much, but considering the Justice of the case I should be against it. The connexion is one where the single individual and the body are not fairly matched. The one grows old and helpless, the other remains the same. The one spends his best years in exertion, and his age deserves better treatment than to be turned off to want.

I read in the Afternoon, a part of Massillon’s Sermon upon the death of Louis the 14th. It was only the first division relating to his careful management of power. The preacher says full enough in his praise, yet he does not conceal though he palliates the faults of his hero. Posterity can trace the Revolution of 1789 to them in part, but of course Massillon could do no such thing. In the evening, I went down to pay some visits, but stopped at Mr. Danl. Greenleaf’s. She is an 309old lady full of her own consequence. He is a worthy man. I remained until nine.