Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

Sunday. 30th. CFA Sunday. 30th. CFA
Sunday. 30th.

Fine day although rather cold. I passed an hour of my morning in reading Montaigne’s Essays and this time I did succeed in finding a good deal that was original and striking. His ideas upon the subject of place and occupation and the agitation of human affairs are worth considering. A man most certainly may make himself very unnecessarily uncomfortable by meddling in matters where he has no occasion so to do. But then a man must not hide his talent in a Napkin. He ought not to go to sleep over his work.

Attended divine Service. Mr. Frothingham preached for the third 432time upon the danger of abusing the privileges of the age we live in. Text the same as last Sunday. He considered the three positions. Every man has a right to all the liberty he can acquire. Every man has a right to all the property and 3. to all the power and influence he can acquire. He defined and limited them. It was an excellent Sermon. A great deal of sense and spirit in the mode of treating the doctrines of the levellers of the present day. In the afternoon, we had Mr. Huntoon from Bangor, Maine—A man who was formerly settled at Canton and whom I have heard at Quincy.1 Text from Ephesians, 4. 1. “I therefore beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called.” Subject, the religious character. He urged the strictness of the injunctions of the New Testament, and condemned the Lukewarmness of nominal Christians. When a man talks after this fashion, it is just as well to call him to a strict, definite explanation of what he means. Does he mean to make a Monk of a Man at once, to spend all his time in devotion, or does he refer to the performance of all the moral, religious, social and political duties for which Man seems to be fitted by the Creator. If so, let him define how they can be best fulfilled. That is a practical end, and free from confusing generalities. Mr. Huntoon is nevertheless a strong thinker. Some of his views were clear and able.

Afterwards, I read a Sermon of Massillon’s upon the Passion of our Saviour. Text, John, 19. 30. “It is finished.” But it was a general view of the whole Chapter. Three points. The Passion of Christ was a consummation of Justice to the Deity, of Malice in Men, of love in the Saviour. The whole doctrine of the Saviour’s atonement was involved in the first point. The Sermon was consequently less taking to myself. I do not pretend to be quite equal to the comprehension of so remarkable a doctrine. Evening quiet at home. I read some of Ruffhead, and some of Montaigne.


When CFA more than six years earlier had heard Rev. Benjamin Huntoon preach, he had been impressed (vol. 1:321).

Monday. 31st. CFA Monday. 31st. CFA
Monday. 31st.

Morning damp and warm. I went to the Office. Received a pleasant Letter from my Father upon passing events. He does not seem much disturbed by the indications that are manifested in Carolina, but he dislikes very much those at Washington.1 Heaven only knows what the result may be. I was occupied in drawing up my Accounts. Finished my Quarterly Statement and forwarded it together with a short letter,2 which occupied me all the Afternoon to finish and copy. As punctuality 433is a thing I always feel much disposed to rest upon, it gives me pleasure when the whole of it is well over. Took my usual walk.

My Wife went, and I accompanied her, to take tea and spend the evening at her sister, Mrs. Gorham Brooks’. They live for the Winter at the Tremont House. Gorham Brooks is a humorist, but when he chooses, he can be quite agreeable, and on this evening, he could talk and make the evening pass almost imperceptibly. I never feel as if I could discuss subjects with much freedom, nor even touch upon others. But there are enough in common to be able to make an Evening. His Wife is a charming Woman. Her great simplicity of manner united with a good deal of vivacity make her very fascinating to people in general. Returned home, and Dipped without much satisfaction into Shakespear’s Comedy of Errors.

A strange thing to fall upon at the close of a Year.

I hope my life during the past twelve months has born no relation to Error. The Review of it is not an unpleasant thing to me. I have prospered in worldly affairs. I and mine have been most mercifully saved when others have suffered. A disease has passed over the land in the course of it and we have not fallen. My days have been pleasant and peaceful. And if I have not occupied them quite so fully as I ought, yet I have not been wholly idle. May the Lord who has showered blessings so bountifully upon me and those whom I love, continue his favours and at the same time make us worthy to receive them.


JQA to CFA, 25 Dec. (Adams Papers). For other matters adverted to in the letter, see above, 14 Dec., note, and 17 Dec., note notes to the entries for 14 and 17 December .


To JQA; LbC in Adams Papers.