Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

18 Sunday. 27th. CFA Sunday. 27th. CFA
Sunday. 27th.

Clear and wintry. Read Smollett’s Independence, an ode the first Stanza of which is superior to the rest. I do not admire the genealogy he traces, as if Independence was a bastard, but many of the lines are noble, and there is vigour throughout.1

Attended divine service all day. Mr. Frothingham preached. Matthew 8. 29. “What have we to do with thee? Art thou come hither to torment us before the time?” The demoniacs and the swine, an allusion to the various explanations of the text and an examination of the idea prevailing among men that they were to be called before the time. I was inattentive and this explanation is lame. Habakkuk. 2. 2. “And the Lord answered me and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon the tables that he may run that readeth it.” The necessity of simplicity in matters of concernment to men. The doctrines taught by the Bible are all simple, but the ingenuity of man has perpetually attached theories to them which obscure and mystify and do injury. Theology has sprung from these theories. Theology is not Religion—As an instance the doctrine of the Atonement from the simple story of the passion of Christ.

I afterwards read Massillon. Revelations 14. 13. “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord.” The death of the Sinner and that of the just man. Contrast forcibly made. And some fine points. But the thing is rather too much laboured. And after all, the one idea is a simple one. I did little besides. Judge Hall dropped in for half an hour in the evening.2 Political news not very important. Finished the extracts from Wieland and wrote a letter to my Mother.

1.

An earlier reading was recorded with similar pleasure (vol. 1:160–161).

2.

Judge Joseph Hall was a friend of JQA and an Antimason (vol. 2:154). Of his visit CFA wrote to his mother, “Judge Hall has been putting Abby to sleep until she feels totally unable to do any thing but lounge on the Sofa” (27 Jan., Adams Papers).

Monday. 28th. CFA Monday. 28th. CFA
Monday. 28th.

My health is not really good this winter, I am sure. Went to the Office, but a Meeting of the Directors of Middlesex Canal having been called I attended it at Mr. Chadwick’s Office in Court Street. The attendance was very scanty. Yet the Report of the Agent was very favourable. A dividend of twenty dollars was declared and a balance of eight thousand more, equivalent to half as much on each share, 19reserved for next year. This besides an expenditure of eight thousand and more upon new works. Two years more of success would place this property on a most durable footing. It will in all probability meet with one or two drawbacks in a few years but on the whole with the present Agent, the prospect is encouraging.

My time at the Office was short, looked over Accounts &c. Walk shortened by calling at the Athenaeum. Afternoon, taken up in reading Anquetil whose Catholic notions are curious. Evening, went to the public Meeting at Faneuil Hall. Speakers ordinary. J. T. Austin engrossed most of the time. On the whole a failure. Our people do not care much about the Tariff.1 It is not true that it would ruin them. Called in for my Wife at Mrs. Frothingham’s afterwards, took a little Supper and went home.

1.

At the meeting held to encourage “American industry in preference to foreign,” resolutions in support of a tariff of protection were passed and forwarded to Washington (Columbian Centinel, 29 Jan., p. 2, col. 5).