Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

Thursday. 4th. CFA Thursday. 4th. CFA
Thursday. 4th.

It is now so many years since the Declaration of Independence that the vigour of its celebration is rather slackened. The City of Boston still holds on to its accustomed forms and here and there is to be found some place where the festival is held, but noise is not to me a necessary 121concomitant of rejoicing. I hope I felt duly grateful for the enjoyments of the day which were to be found in a profound quiet.

My time was taken up in writing, and reading Horace, Neal and the Life of James Otis. I compared the latter with Hutchinson and detected him in some want of candor. If I should again review anything I think it would be this book.

Quiet dinner at home. My father seemed unwell from a sever cold. In the Afternoon I rambled down to the Orchard at Mount Wollaston and spent an hour gazing at the view which was in great beauty today. The men were mowing exactly as if it was not a bit of a holiday. The trees of the Orchard look very stationary although they have gained this Season considerably. Returned home. Mr. Jo. Angier of Medford made a visit and took tea. He came over with his Mother and Mrs. Angier Jr. After tea we went up, and found Mr. Beale, Miss Louisa Smith and a whole room full. Returned and read some of Mr. Rush’s late publication upon England.1


Probably Memoranda of a Residence at the Court of London by Richard Rush, Phila., 1833.

Friday. 5th. CFA Friday. 5th. CFA
Friday. 5th.

I went to town this morning and was engaged at my Office in my usual way. Read some portions of the North American Review as well as a little of Marshall’s Life of Washington. In the first I was much pleased with the article upon Phrenology.1 Without being very sound it is yet amusing and pointedly written. The science, like many others which have been struck out bears witness to Man’s ingenuity, and to his passion for novelty. It is in some respects very dangerous, as it gives room for materialism as well as for the belief of the fatalist.

I went to Medford and found the child and my Wife pretty well. After dinner I amused myself as well as I could with one or two of the late periodical publications. But my principal difficulty in passing time here is the not feeling capable of devoting it to useful purpose. Books are wanting, place is wanting, and above all the spirit that presides over literature.

I walked down to the Grove and sat there in a kind of a reverie made up too much of views of perhaps too personal a nature. But these have a moral with them, to an understanding mind. They are empty, vain dreams, exposing our weakness to ourselves. I thought of writing again, selecting Hutchinson as the subject. Evening, quietly at home, reading 122and Conversation. I think Mr. Brooks seems very much depressed with his leg.


Considerable interest in phrenology had been generated in Boston during the preceding year, largely through the presence of Dr. Johann Gaspar Spurzheim, whose death in November had been widely lamented (vol. 4:397, 401). The article in the North Amer. Rev. (37:59–83 [July 1833]) by Gamaliel Bradford was essentially a review of three of Dr. Spurzheim’s books.