Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

Saturday. 15th. CFA Saturday. 15th. CFA
Saturday. 15th.

Fine morning. I went to town. My time divided between my house which I visited to get a book, my Office and the Athenaeum To read seems to be a thing out of the reach of common probabilities in a morning, and the consequence is a considerable waste of time. But I find myself far more callous to the neglect than I ever was before. My exertions have resulted so very little to my satisfaction, that I am now content to swim with the stream.

Returned home to dinner. Afternoon rather wasted. I read an Account of the state of Knowledge in England in the earliest times, being the preface to the New Annual Register in one of its early volumes. This is not doing much.

The ladies went out to tea, and in the evening my father and I called at Mr. John Greenleaf’s to see Judge Cranch who has just arrived from Washington. He was out. We saw Mr. Greenleaf and Mrs. Dawes, 107This house is just as it was. Not a sign of improvement. Every thing going to ruin. The family lift up their hands, helpless and submissive. Energy is a plant of tender growth, but for success in life it is absolutely indispensable.1

We went from here to Mrs. Adams’ where we found Judge Cranch and his Wife, Mrs. Greenleaf, Mrs. Angier and Joseph, her brother, Miss Miller and Miss Beale. Passed an hour, and return. Began the second volume of the Observer.


Judge William Cranch of the federal Circuit Court of the District of Columbia (vol. 1:24, 39), a son of AA’s sister, Mary (Smith) Cranch and Richard Cranch, JA’s gifted friend, was expceptional among the current members of that family line in attaining any distinction of place. His wife was the former Anna Greenleaf. Judge Cranch’s sister Lucy had married his wife’s brother, John Greenleaf (vol. 1:434), and they apparently shared with other Greenleafs a want of industry (above, entry for 26 April). Moreover, the Judge’s daughter Elizabeth in marrying Rufus Dawes (vol. 1:36–37, 39) had allied herself to a family which offered still another example for CFA of the ease with which families that had had position could suffer deterioration (see vol. 4:91). He adverts once more to the theme of decay in connection with the Smith family of Weymouth in the entry for 9 Aug. 1833, below. For most of the persons mentioned in the present note, see also Adams Genealogy.

Sunday. 16th. CFA Sunday. 16th. CFA
Sunday. 16th.

Fine day after a brisk shower in the morning. I attended Divine Service all day. Heard Mr. Jos. Angier preach.1 Texts from Philippians 2. 12–13. and Psalms. 2. II. The subject, man’s free Agency under the impulse and guidance of the divine being, and the reasons why we are directed to serve the Lord with fear. He accounts for it from the very fact of free agency which leaves man the choice and the risk between good and evil. Mr. Angier writes with some beauty and he has a considerable fund of thought to begin upon. His manner was very considerably embarrassed and he did not give to his delivery all the impulse of enthusiasm which might have fully developed the powers of his style.

Mr. Degrand was here all day but without bringing from Boston any thing particularly new. The fact is that we are now in a state of profound quiet in this Country. Whether this is the fore runner of a storm of no trifling fury remains to be seen.

I read a Sermon of Massillon’s in honour of St. Francis, 2. Corinthians 12. 10. “When I am weak, then I am strong.” He draws from this matter the following moral. 1. The apparent weakness of the instrument by worldly aid. 2. The great strength of the same through faith in God, all to exemplify the supernatural aid which God has 108always given to the spread of the Christian faith. The Sermon is feeble. Mr. Jo. Angier and Mrs. John A. called.


Rev. Joseph Angier (Harvard 1829) had graduated from the Divinity School in 1832.