Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

Friday. 16th. CFA Friday. 16th. CFA
Friday. 16th.

Clear and cold. I went to the Office and was tolerably industrious the whole morning reading Lingard. He does not please me quite so much in his history of the Reformation. The reign of Edward 6. is one in which he has full scope. The difficulty I now find in him is that he attributes too much weight to the influence of the Crown. He makes 400Henry and after him the Protector Somerset do pretty much what they have a mind to from motives the most equivocal, and insists upon it eleven twelfths of the People were against all change. This cannot be true. If it had been, the insurrections that took place could not have been quelled by the Protector so easily. The fact is that the reforming doctrines had taken deep root in the Country, and there was a general indifference to the Catholic Religion which paralized every exertion to counteract them. Even the Rioters claimed the ancient rites rather as matter of discontent with the Government, just as they did Agrarian laws, than from any fanatical enthusiasm. Had this existed in truth, Henry would have found himself at his wits end.

A walk, felt better today. Miss Carter and Miss Gorham, Abby’s friends dined and spent the day here. I worked upon Antimasonry and upon Marmontel. My time has not for a long while been so faithfully spent.

Saturday. 17th. CFA Saturday. 17th. CFA
Saturday. 17th.

Cloudy and dull. At the Office, read a little of Lingard, but far the greater part of my morning was taken up in business. Deacon Spear called and made settlement for the wood sold at Quincy, and he is a slow moving body. I then was engaged in drawing up an Account for Thomas B. Adams as I received this morning his last Dividend for the year. I did not finish it before Mr. Ladd, a Tenant, came in and kept me settling with him until after my hour for dinner, not merely that for my walk. The consequence was that I encroached upon the afternoon to accomplish my work and take exercise, without which I cannot now get along.

The funeral ceremonies for Dr. Spurzheim took place this afternoon, but owing to my engagements I did not attend them. Quiet afternoon working upon German Catalogue. I find my ignorance of the language a very serious obstacle. After next month, one of my first labours must be to settle a system of study to acquire this language.

Evening at home. Read to my Wife the rest of Romney’s life and the whole of Owen’s—A coat and waistcoat painter. It is strange how little I know of the English school of Artists. Worked upon le Trepied d’Helene.

Sunday. 18th. CFA Sunday. 18th. CFA
Sunday. 18th.

The day was wet but warm. I was occupied in reading a little but principally in writing letters upon the matters I could not finish with 401yesterday. One to my father upon business in general,1 one to T. B. Adams forwarding his semiannual Account.2

Attended divine service all day and heard Mr. Frothingham preach, in the morning from Numbers 20. 10. “Hear now, ye rebels, must we fetch you water out of this rock?” He briefly ran over the condition and prospects of the Hebrews in the desert and alluded to their distrust and the error of Moses. He applied the moral to present times, but as usual, the manner in which it was done has escaped me. The afternoon’s discourse was from Genesis 1. 16 “he made the stars also.” Upon the character of the account of the creation, the absence of all the superstition of ignorance without the knowledge which subsequent times have unfolded. Incidentally he alluded to the prevailing notion during the last year that a Comet would strike the world, but he did not follow out the idea, nor was there any of that forcible eloquence which came immediately to my mind in connection with the same subject as explained by my father a few weeks since before Mr. Degrand and Mr. Clapp.3

Read a Sermon of Massillon upon the employment of time. Text John 7. 33 “Yet a little while am I with you, and then I go unto him that sent me.” His division was two fold. First upon the abuse or waste of time which is criminal, because it is the price of eternity, because it is short, and because it is irrecoverable; next upon the use of time, not in worldly occupations which engross the mind, nor even exclusively in duties which are useful or honourable to the world, but in the cultivation of the virtues which Christianity inculcates as preparation for a holier state. This is exactly in accordance with my own sentiments and therefore appears to me the soundest of all his Sermons. The illusion that men make to themselves on this subject is worthy of deep reflection.

Evening, quiet at home, reading with my Wife as a lesson of French to her, Marmontel’s Tales. I afterwards continued working upon le Trepied d’Helene.

1.

(LbC, Adams Papers.) For this letter see above, entry for 15 Nov., note.

2.

To Thomas B. Adams Jr. (LbC, Adams Papers).

3.

Before the conversation with Messrs. Clapp and Degrand on 4 Nov., JQA had been “poring in the Astronomics of Manilius” and had been led by the current interest in phrenology to speculate that the “parallel between judicial astrology and phrenology might if well treated be presented in a very striking light” (JQA, Diary, 1 and 2 Nov.).