Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

Sunday. 28th. CFA Sunday. 28th. CFA
Sunday. 28th.

Morning warm, although a high wind dispelled all the inconvenience one might otherwise have experienced from it. I attended divine service all day and heard Mr. Whitney preach but without much benefit to me as one of his hearers. I rarely find any thing in his Sermons which is not a repetition of the most commonplace popular notions. Mr. Whitney is a worthy man in his life and conversation I believe, but it is difficult to pay him that degree of respect which he perhaps deserves.


Read a Sermon of Massillon’s upon St. Stephen. Acts 6. 10. “And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.” His uniform mode of treating these subjects is by urging the example. To be a defender of the truth requires that a man should be enlightened, intrepid, and full of the spirit of charity. St. Stephen became so from the possession of such qualities. This is cause to exhort others. I think Massillon understands reason far more than most panegyrists.

A considerable period of time was passed in reading some of the letters of J. Adams to his Wife 1774–6. Many of them are admirable and richly merit publication. I have a great mind to make a collection. At any rate, the more valuable ones I must copy. Evening at home. I read a little of Captain Hall’s book of travels,1 and a couple of Observers which I did not like.


Probably Basil Hall’s Travels in North America or his Fragments of Voyages and Travels, in both of which CFA had read earlier; see vol. 3:116; 4:355.

Monday. 29th. CFA Monday. 29th. CFA
Monday. 29th.

Cool morning with a gradual clouding up as if at last it was likely to produce Rain. I went into town and was busy most of my time in a variety of Commissions which my Wife wanted performed. Went to the House and from thence to Mrs. Frothingham’s. After that I stepped into a grate factory and was so much pleased with one or two patterns that I ordered one to supersede mine in my sitting parlor. This is perhaps an extravagance, but I have deluded myself into the notion of it’s being economy, first, by preventing the necessity of such frequent repairs, second, by the lower price of Anthracite fuel.

At the Office, I read a little of Marshall. Returned home and passed the Afternoon quietly in my usual way, first, writing my Diary, second, reading Horace, third, looking over old Letters. This last was not so interesting today.

Evening at home. It began to rain. I read a little of Basil Hall’s travels, copied part of a letter of my father’s to Mr. Rush, and read the Observer. Cumberland has done something for literature in his account of the writers of the old Comedy in Greece. But he has done injury by depreciating the character of Socrates. No satisfactory evidence of his bad character exists while much of a noble philosophy remains under his name. This makes one point. Another is, that his personal character should not be traduced from the abuse of malicious enemies even though it might not have been perfect, at this time of day. The in-137fluence of that was upon his own age, that of his doctrines has been eminently beneficial upon every subsequent one.