Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

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.

Monday. 17th. CFA Monday. 17th. CFA
Monday. 17th.

The vegetation of the year which had promised so fairly begins to suffer from the want of moisture. We have not for two months had one day’s settled rain. I remained at home and read Horace, Neale and Hutchinson, devoting nearly equal portions of my time to each. The latter becomes more interesting as he proceeds to give accounts of his own experience as Governor. He was a man with a good deal of selfishness of character himself and therefore willing to attribute the same to others. There is an affectation of candour which makes rather against him than for him.

In the afternoon, I read a work of Mirabeau’s which has been hid until lately. It consists of a collection of Letters to many individuals unknown.1 They are many of them very characteristic and amusing. Mirabeau was one of the most extraordinary men of the last age. A monster of iniquity with a brilliancy of talent which smoothed all things to the outward eye in such a manner as to fascinate. Evening quiet at home.


Mirabeau’s Letters during his Residence in England, 2 vols., London, 1832, had been borrowed from the Athenaeum.

Tuesday. 18th. CFA Tuesday. 18th. CFA
Tuesday. 18th.

Fine day though exceedingly cold. I went to Boston. Finding that my time was much wasted by my way of life, I went to the Athenaeum and got the second Volume of Marshall,1 which I propose to look over for the political events of the period after the close of the war. The History of the course of Washington is among the astonishing Romances of life. There never was a man before in such a situation to do good to the world and never one before so much disposed to improve it. Patriotism may derive a shining and a warming light from his example. It teaches that all is not hollow pretence, that there can be public virtue and that the world will appreciate it. I was very much struck with his address to the army officers, notwithstanding the very dry style of the biographer. Mr. Curtis called on me for a moment, about a paper to be drawn up for Mr. Boylston’s Estate.

I returned to Quincy, and passed my Afternoon reading Mirabeau’s 109Letters. A singular genius of whom I must learn something more. What a diversity of human character is to be found in this world. No two persons are alike when you see them in history, and although the common mass of mankind resemble each other sufficiently to pass together in a general view, yet a careless observer will note the differences between the individuals who compose it. Mirabeau was a genius and a rascal, an active and an indolent man, quick to see beauty and fitness, dull to practise it. Unprincipled and yet full of sentiments the most exalted. What a contrast to Washington. Passed the evening at home. Read a few of Madame de Sevigné’s letters and the Observer.


John Marshall’s Life of George Washington, probably in the revised edition, 2 vols., Phila., 1832.