Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

Sunday. 4th. CFA Sunday. 4th. CFA
Sunday. 4th.

Morning hazy with clouds of vapor, and excessive heat—All which terminated in the sharpest thunder shower we have had during the Season. I was occupied in the morning with my Diary and an Ode or 140two of Horace. Attended Divine Service and heard Mr. Whitney, first upon the Communion and in the Afternoon upon Death. My attention wandered very much in spite of myself.

Read a Sermon of Massillon upon St. Thomas Aquinas, 1. Esdras 8. 7. “He omitted nothing of the law and commandments of the Lord, but taught all Israel the ordinances and judgments.” His division is simple, first, respecting the desire of acquiring knowledge, second, the right mode of using it. There is a good deal of sensible matter in his discussion of both sides of the subject. But Thomas Aquinas in another Century will be totally forgotten. And his innumerable productions rather argue at the present day against the imitation of his example. Who reads them excepting here and there a book-worm or a metaphysician.

Evening, Humphry Clinker aloud, after which I began the Mirror.1 We have been for a week past expecting the arrival of my brother John and his family from Washington.


CFA’s copy of The Mirror, 2 vols., London, 1822, is at MQA.

Monday. 5th. CFA Monday. 5th. CFA
Monday. 5th.

Foggy with an occasional Easterly puff of wind which kept us quite cool. I remained very quietly at home pursuing my usual studies and reading more letters. The number of separations which took place in the lives of the pair was considerable—As many as six or eight, and each interval is filled up with letters twice, thrice and oftener per week. The collection is consequently very considerable. And although I have been industrious and picked up a great many it is very clear to me that more remain behind. The whole, if ever I can get them together will form a very valuable mass of history, and parts of it might be published to great advantage. Other parts will tell truth not to be spoken at all times.

Read an Ode or two of Horace whose powers until now I never appreciated. A student at Cambridge forms no valuable idea of any thing in the way of literature. He gets crude notions of a Classic, is discouraged with the difficulties and want of helps he experiences in reading the mere sense, and leaves off disgusted with learning. That is to say, if he is ambitious of rank as a Scholar, he will delve through, but the moment the incitement is taken off, he flies to other and more congenial pursuits. How many of my class are precisely in this predicament.

Evening, Humphry Clinker, and the Mirror.