Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

Sunday. 3d. CFA Sunday. 3d. CFA
Sunday. 3d.

Clear and cold morning. Passed an hour in copying, after which I attended Divine Service at Mr. Frothingham’s and heard him from John 6. 27. “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth to everlasting life.” I was not quite so attentive as usual from the fact of my being drowsy in consequence of broken rest. The subject seemed to me to distinguish the exertion described in the latter portion of the text, and the necessity not to forget the former but to make it secondary.

Mr. Ripley preached in the afternoon from John 17. 17. “Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth.” An endeavour to prove that all sin is falsehood, or in other words that sinners in pursuing vicious indulgences put themselves in a false position both as to this world and the next. Mr. Ripley was a College Scholar. There was hope and promise in his University success. He is a respectable though quite a dull preacher.1 Such are the changes of this life.

I went home and read the second Sermon in the Collection of Atterbury, preached upon the occasion of some meeting of a Charitable Institution in London. 1. Peter 4. 8. “Charity shall cover the multitude of sins.” There is a great deal of admirable sense in it—Strong practi-207cal merit which after all is better than flash. He first discusses the meaning of the words, maintains his own construction, justifies it from objection and draws his inferences from it. He in fact maintains the doctrine of works which was then unpopular in England against the Presbyterian idea of grace. And I confess I agree with him. Evening, conversation and copying the Letter to Govr. Lincoln.


On Rev. George Ripley, later prominent in Transcendentalism, see vol. 3:149.

Monday. 4th. CFA Monday. 4th. CFA
Monday. 4th.

Fine clear day. I went to the Office and passed my time very quietly reading the small talk of Mr. Taylor’s book. There is something amusing in it, just as there is in a panorama of moving figures. The motion and variety pleases even where we take no interest whatever in the individuals. What a view of human nature. He praises few and censures many yet without any malice, for he is evidently a Courtier and has been a Legacy hunter.

Walk and home. I finished the copy of Lincoln’s letter this afternoon, but I mean to try after an alteration before it finally goes. Read part of the profound work of Lord Bacon, the Novum Organum. A wonderful mind. My Wife now sits for two hours of the evening with me, but retires early on account of the fatigue of the child. The election rages.

Tuesday. 5th. CFA Tuesday. 5th. CFA
Tuesday. 5th.

Fine morning but quite cold. I went to the Office. Time taken up in Accounts as usual and in writing Diary. Instead of employing my time as I ought to have done, I amused myself with Taylor’s trashy miscellany. He is one of those numerous writers of the present day who do little or nothing for the literary world and yet who deal in chat that is quite amusing for literary loungers.

Went to the Athenaeum, thence to walk. Afternoon occupied in copying a letter to Mr. Otis for my father, then Bacon’s Novum Organum, and I tried to write in the evening but without success. I am reading aloud to my Wife in the evening Scott’s Fair Maid of Perth. He has great powers of description, and a charming flow of style.

Wednesday. 6th. CFA Wednesday. 6th. CFA
Wednesday. 6th.

Pleasant morning. My father came in to town this morning preparatory to his going away. As Mr. Everett wished to see him I invited him 208to dine with him, and after a battle with Judge Hall who had accidentally caught him up in the Street, I secured my point. The remainder of my morning was passed at the office.

My father came in and we had much miscellaneous Conversation—Principally political—At times touching upon Lincoln’s letter,1 at times upon the elections now pending, and afterwards upon affairs of money. I was thus disabled from doing any thing and shall be obliged to give up writing my No. 5 upon Proscription. I do not know that this will be any great loss.

My dinner was a tolerably pleasant one, but Alex. H. Everett seemed to be awkward and not able to reconcile himself to his situation. He has been trimming, and is ashamed of it.2 Judge Hall came in afterwards, and in the evening Degrand. They none of them seem able to foresee the event of the election but as I think incline to the belief that Davis will be elected. It may be so, but the dullness of my optics is such that I am unable to discover the place to show it. Should this happen, however, it will make some difference in the general course of events. My father retired early in order to be ready for the morning’s departure.


CFA took the occasion to urge upon JQA the omission of parts of his letter to Gov. Lincoln, which he “readily promised to do.” JQA packed the letter in his trunk to take with him to Washington for revision (JQA, Diary, 6 Nov.).


“Alexander H. Everett ... assured me that he did not write the part of the National Republican Convention Committee’s Address which concerned me. He said it was very much debated and he disapproved it. But he thought it would bear a different construction from that which I applied to it. There has been a great struggle to strike off Everett from the state Senatorial ticket this year” (JQA, Diary, 6 Nov.). Whatever were JQA’s feelings about Everett after the meeting, LCA continued to share with CFA, at least for a time, a bitterness toward him derived from the feeling that he owed his whole career to JQA: “I have known the Gentleman ... ever since he was 19 years old and from that time I have never yet had reason to believe that he knew what a fixed principle was.... He is one of the ephemeral class whom your Grandfather thoroughly read and despised and who owes all the standing he had attained to by basking in the smiles of your Fathers early partiality which had set his judgment in this as many other instances to sleep.” (LCA to CFA, 17 Nov., Adams Papers.) CFA’s attitude toward and relations with A. H. Everett during the next few years would undergo substantial changes, which can be traced through the Index in vol. 6. A likeness of Everett appears in the present volume; see also p. xv–xvi, above.