Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

Sunday. 17th. CFA Sunday. 17th. CFA
Sunday. 17th.

Fine day but quite warm. I was occupied at home in beginning a draught of something upon Mr. Vaughan’s book, and in reading further Hume and Brodie1 in comparison. Perhaps this will only be another attempt added to a considerable list of things of that kind. But nil desperandum. It is better to give occupation to the mind and exercise to the pen.

I attended divine service all day and heard Mr. Kimball preach. He was formerly teacher of a school in Hingham which my brothers attended but has since moved elsewhere.2 His morning discourse was upon the character of Martha in the Scriptures as understood from the correction applied to her by the Saviour—her over attention to the 316things of this world. The subject was odd enough, but the Sermon was what struck me as very commonplace. That in the afternoon was better so far as the nature of the subject and the manner of treating it. It was upon mental independence. Yet on the whole I could not help reflecting how low the standard of teaching must have been in this Country twenty years ago. I do not know how far it is better even now. But I hope something has been gained.

Evening. Took a ride alone to Mount Wollaston, returning not till after sunset.


George Brodie, History of the British Empire from the Accession of Charles I to the Restoration, 4 vols., Edinburgh, 1822.


Daniel Kimball, Harvard 1800 and tutor 1803–1805, preceptor of the Derby Academy in Hingham, 1808–1826, was ordained an evangelist in 1817. GWA and JA2 had lived at his house while they were students at the Academy. ( Harvard Quinquennial Cat. ; JQA, Diary, 25 Sept. 1818; [Thomas T. Bouvé and others], History of the Town of Hingham, 3 vols. in 4 [Cambridge], 1893, vol. 1, pt. 2, p. 139, 141, 202, 212.)

In addition to the two Adamses who were students at the Derby Academy other Adamses and their relatives were associated with the Academy from its founding in 1784. Richard Cranch, John Thaxter Sr., and Cotton Tufts were among the original trustees; and Cotton Tufts was president of the Board 1804–1815. TBA was a member of the Board 1804–1818. The Adams connection with the Academy was resumed when CFA became a trustee in 1850; he served as president of the Board 1856–1859; on resigning as trustee in 1861 he was succeeded by JQA2 (History of ... Hingham, vol. 1, pt. 2, p. 123, 135, 139, 140).

Monday. 18th. CFA Monday. 18th. CFA
Monday. 18th.

Pleasant morning and not too warm. I went to town and occupied myself at my Office as usual. The announcement of the arrival of the Asiatic Cholera on this side of the Atlantic at Quebec, seems to have excited great uneasiness and alarm.1 For my part if it did any good to worry one’s self at an irremediable evil, I certainly would do so, but as it does not, I hold the proper course to be to submit without any murmur to the dispensations of Providence. Called to see Mr. Brooks and performed some Commissions. A loose hour was devoted to reading Gibbon superficially. Returned to Quincy. Afternoon reading Hume whose history is nothing more than an Apology. Quiet evening. A thunder shower.


Reports relating to the cholera occupied the major part of the news columns (p. 1–2) of the Boston Daily Advertiser & Patriot on 18 June.

Tuesday. 19th. CFA Tuesday. 19th. CFA
Tuesday. 19th.

Morning cloudy with wind from the North and occasionally rain. I concluded to stay at home. Occupied all my morning in reading and beginning another and a more Review like Article. Whether I shall be 317able to persevere remains yet a mystery. But the subject is a good one, and I every day reflect that I ought to be doing something. There is a pleasure in definite occupation which pays one independently of profit. The action of the mind is nourished and that of the pen improved, while the passage of time is hardly felt.

In the afternoon I began to read over Mr. Vaughan in connection with the other writers. I believe I shall attempt to make a plan something like this. In the morning to put to paper the reflection of the preceding day. And thus go on until I have finished the volumes, after which I may cut down or enlarge and arrange as I may see fit. The evening was uncommonly cold. I was at home as usual.