Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

Saturday. September 1st. CFA Saturday. September 1st. CFA
Saturday. September 1st.

Cold morning but clear. I went to town. Time taken up partly in going to my House for Papers, partly in business transactions, and partly in a nameless kind of way which is fairly to be set down to waste. It is somewhat severe to be obliged to put down so large a quantity of precious time to no definite account. Some things however ought not to be done, some things it is more prudent not to do, and the rest as mere action is trifling. My only proper deportment is hard study and that I am sorry to say, I do not go through with. My spirits sink whenever I reflect upon what a useless life I lead. It is the only thing that annoys me in my present condition. I must go on trusting in my good 356conduct and in a higher Power who works my benefit even when I do not know it and imagine the reverse.

Returned to Quincy to dinner. Afternoon consumed in attending the public funeral of Dr. Phipps of this town. A worthy man who expired a day or two since without the least warning, and has left a large circle of mourners.1 The Prayer by Mr. Whitney and the Sermon by his son were appropriate and impressive. I thought it a fine spectacle to see the voluntary homage paid by a Community to an Individual sustained by no recommendation beyond his own private character. It was not so affecting as Dr. Gorham’s death, though that ceremony was marred by the want of genius in it’s Orator.2 Evening quietly at home.


Dr. Thomas Phipps, who had succeeded his father Thomas Phipps in the practice of medicine at Quincy, died at forty-six of a heart ailment while on his rounds (George Whitney, Some Account of the Early History and Present State of the Town of Quincy [Boston, 1827], p. 58; Boston Daily Advertiser & Patriot, 1 Sept., p. 2, col. 6).


On the funeral of Dr. John Gorham and the address on that occasion by Dr. James Jackson, see vol. 2:361.

Sunday. 2d. CFA Sunday. 2d. CFA
Sunday. 2d.

Fine day although the Wind was Easterly. Attended Divine Service all day at the Meeting house and heard Mr. Whitney. We were quiet at home having only Miss Smith and John Q. Adams Jr. to dine.

I did not accomplish a great deal during the day. I finished however, the last Chapter of the Sermon on the Mount. I am sensible that this is very poorly done. But it may serve as an exercise and an improvement. It may teach me more complete familiarity with the sublime rules of Christian morality, and in this way may operate some good in my practice in life.1 Evening, I walked with my father to Mr. Quincy’s. Found there Mrs. Miller2—Mr. and Mrs. Quincy being absent, though they returned before we left—and Messrs. Miller and Beale. Conversation rather dull. Returned early walking, although the Ladies went in the Carriage. Roads unpleasantly dusty.


Beginning on the Fast Day, 9 Aug., and continuing on the next four Sundays, CFA wrote an analysis and exegesis of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew, 5–7), now in the Adams Papers (Microfilms, Reel No. 318), “rather as an exercise to help me to master the great truths which it teaches, than from any hope of further elucidating its sterling value.”


That is, Col. Josiah Quincy’s mother-in-law, Mrs. Samuel R. Miller.

Monday. 3d. CFA Monday. 3d. CFA
Monday. 3d.

Three years ago on this day, I was married. So far, I have never had occasion to repent it. Much has been said upon the danger of marrying 357early, but for a man constituted like me I believe it to be something of a safeguard.

Went to town with the expectation of remaining all day, but as the Boylston Market Directors did not meet I returned at the usual time. J. Q. Adams Jr. went in with me. I was engaged morning round in various errands, and doing little or nothing serious.

On my return, found my Mother had gone to town and was not yet returned. Afternoon, I read some of Seneca though not much from it’s being shorter than usual from delay of dinner. Evening quiet at home.