Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

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.

Saturday. 6th. CFA Saturday. 6th. CFA
Saturday. 6th.

Fine day. I accompanied Mr. Brooks to town. At the Office, then the House and a call at Miss Oliver’s, which was returned by her soon afterwards with the amount of her Rent. Mr. Lovering also called in and after a little conversation, I concluded the bargain with him in regard to the Property in High Street.1 This is advantageous to both parties. My father could do nothing with the small share he had in the Estate, and Mr. Lovering pays for the Piece only what would induce him to take the trouble of acquiring it in the little divisions which are made of it.

Returned with Mr. Brooks to Medford. Mr. Shepherd came out and dined. We had a pretty dinner, and I lazed away the whole of the remainder of the Afternoon. Such is life at Medford. Mr. Shepherd was less noisy than usual. He is a self made man, with some vanity about wealth and a little fondness for the things of this life—Not perhaps more, however, than have we all.

We went to Mrs. N. Hall’s to take tea. Mr. B., Mrs. Gorham Brooks, Wife and myself. Mr. and Mrs. Nat. Hall, daughter, niece, Miss Gray and a certain Mrs. Amory whom I did not know.2 Talked miscellaneously with Mr. Hall.


William Lovering, whose home was on High Street ( Boston Directory ).


Peter C. Brooks’ sister, Joanna, was the wife of Nathanial Hall of Medford. Their daughter was Mary Brooks Hall. Henrietta Gray was the remaining unmarried daughter of another sister (see vol. 2:155; 3:70, 107, 123).

Sunday. 7th. CFA Sunday. 7th. CFA
Sunday. 7th.

The Morning was drizzly but it became clear and warmer as the day advanced. I attended Divine Service all day, and heard Mr. Stetson. The morning’s was a Communion Sermon in which he did not hesitate to introduce the powerful rhetorical figure of the supposed presence of the Saviour and this in a voice and manner just a cold as if he was saying that the weather was fine. In the Afternoon he endeavoured to discuss the doctrine of final retribution as the support of Christianity. This is an important subject in this day. Mr. Stetson is on the whole 123somewhat above the ordinary run of Clergymen, although his delivery is as usual very indifferent and subtracts from his influence.

Read a Sermon of Massillon’s though not so thoroughly as I could wish. It was upon the Anniversary of St. Magdalen. Luke 7. 47. “Her sins which are many are forgiven for she loved much.” Magdalen had loved the world, the same love when penitent she directed to the Saviour, a love which softened the bitterness of all her undertakings, a love which knew no limits in the extent of its sacrifices. That love which had been misdirected, when it took its proper course, was the means of her salvation.

I was quite unwell all day, from having indulged somewhat too much in fruits yesterday. A rigorous system of starvation for the greater portion of the day, effected the restoration of my comfort. Quiet evening.