Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

Sunday. 23d. CFA Sunday. 23d. CFA
Sunday. 23d.

The remedies taken by my Wife for the tooth ach, were so powerful as to produce intense suffering in the head all day. She did not rise and as I began to apprehend nervous fever towards evening I sent for Dr. Stevenson who administered a sedative that composed her. Most of her complaints affect her nervous system. I believe this is customary with all women. To me, it is exquisitely distressing.

I read some of Villemain, and attended Divine Service all day. The weather still exceedingly cold. Mr. Frothingham preached. Morning, a continuation of the subject of the other day. Text, the same as on the 9th, 1 Peter 2. 16. The effect of the light and liberty of the age upon the religious condition. He follows up by a consideration also of the moral and social state of the world. His arguments today directed against the idea of neglecting the outward duties of religion. I wonder if I should not do well to take a blank card and make an abstract on the spot. This was too good a Sermon to lose. Afternoon, Matthew 12. 42. An application of the character of Solomon by the Saviour. Took a walk.

Afternoon, read a fragment of a Sermon by Massillon upon the Communion, apparently intended in the first instance for an Introduction to that I read last Sunday. It considers the crime of partaking it unworthily as greater than that of the Jews in rejecting the Saviour. Of course, this implies the doctrine of transubstantiation. My atten-427tion was not complete. Henry Brooks was here and took Tea. He goes to New York tomorrow. Evening I wrote a wild kind of letter to my Mother,1 and read German.

1.

Letter in Adams Papers. Written, because of ABA’s indisposition, to acknowledge LCA’s most recent letter to her (18 Dec., Adams Papers) and to provide a substitute for ABA’s weekly “Gazette of our proceedings.” More discursive than was his habit, CFA included observations on matters of family interest:

“The most remarkable incident of the last week is the arrival of Mr. Brooks at home [after a visit to Washington].... He has seen abundance of new things and new people and his is a mind that interests itself so much in details that I wonder he has not travelled a great deal more. A traveller is a person who notices all things, who returns home with new ideas of the shape and size and position of every article under the sun. There are not many such. I am not such a one. My Journeyings have been for the most part of that character which Sterne describes as often occurring between Dan and Beersheba — I have found all barren. I know little of New York, less of Philadelphia, less still of Baltimore. My Journies to the tops of hills for ‘voos’ have rarely occurred when possible to avoid them, and I remember but one cascade. A shabby result from all my wanderings. Now Mr. Brooks has settled these matters far more effectually.”

After other comments on health, the weather, politics, &c. he concluded, “baby walks and talks after a fashion.”

Monday. 24th. CFA Monday. 24th. CFA
Monday. 24th.

Morning cloudy, but it cleared up and gave us one of the purest skies of our Winter Season—Objects at a distance being perfectly defined and the smoke rising to a great distance without mixing with the air. I was at the Office. My Wife much better, though weak in her nerves, from the effect of her remedies. Occupied in writing and reading Lingard. His Account of the Revolution still pleases me. Took a long walk. Met two Messrs. Dixwell and accompanied them.1

Afternoon at home. Could not write so I read Villemain. I am afraid the interruption has dished the remainder of my series. It is so much more easy to read, and comparatively so very indolent a business that I fall into it very naturally when I make no effort to the contrary.

Quiet evening at home. My Wife sat with me downstairs. Read Malvina and Lockhart’s Burns. Afterwards German. Finished the first extract from the Works of Wieland. I think it comes easier. Going on regularly with the World.

1.

Epes Sargent Dixwell, Harvard 1827, and John J. Dixwell resided at 5 Somerset Place ( Boston Directory, 1832–1833).

Tuesday. 25th. CFA Tuesday. 25th. CFA
Tuesday. 25th.

Christmas and a beautiful day. I went to the Office. Occupied in writing, and read a portion of Lingard. In the account of the troubles, 428he writes with ease and fluency. And on the whole he does not attack the liberty of the subject. Yet where so much of public affairs was influenced by religious feeling, such an author is rather a dangerous guide. Took a walk with Mr. Peabody, and finding that I had some surplus time I went to the Athenaeum but found nothing.

Afternoon, made considerable progress in the book of M. Villemain. The summary of Cromwell’s character is most incorrectly drawn. He has just enough of the true qualities to puzzle himself and to be astonished by his far strained explanations. I do not know a historical character who has been less correctly drawn. It would be very well worth while to make an estimate of it. I will think of it perhaps if I ever feel encouraged to write again. But my hopes are low. I find my article written for the North American Review so long ago is put off for another three months and perhaps more.1 No success. Well, I will give up and take my ease.

Evening quiet. My Wife still in torture with her teeth. Read German.

1.

CFA’s renewed defense of the Puritans in the form of an essay-review of Robert Vaughan’s Memorials of the Stuart Dynasty had been sent to the North American Review on 7 July. On 4 Jan. 1833 he asked for its return; on the 8th he began rewriting it, on the 15th completed it, and on the 26th dispatched it again. After further threatened postponements it was published in the issue for July 1833 ( North Amer. Rev. , 37:164–189).