Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

Saturday. 9th. CFA Saturday. 9th. CFA
Saturday. 9th.

Fine morning, but it afterwards clouded over and by night was very gusty with rain. I went to the Office and passed my time in read-210ing Milton, but his work is so coarse and so little English that I skipped to some treatises as they originally came from his pen. Several small papers upon the best mode of a Commonwealth interested me much and were in far more English taste. As I was threatened with a recurrence of head ach, I took a long walk and only with partial benefit.

I this day sent to Mr. Everett my Article upon Hutchinson. I cast it upon the waters—Hoping and believing that it contains principles of which I ought not to be ashamed. My afternoon was passed in writing and copying a letter from me to my father about the Lincoln letter,1 which together with the copies made yesterday, I sent away by the Mail. Evening, reading the Fair Maid of Perth, Virgil and Lord Bacon.


CFA to JQA, 9 Nov., LbC, Adams Papers. Pursuing their conversation on revising JQA’s reply to Gov. Lincoln, CFA recommends modification in these particulars: (1) by eliminating such phrases as “carotid artery cutting” and “brotherhood of butchery” so as not to “startle the weak brethren” among the antimasons; (2) by curbing the attack on Gales and Seaton of the National Intelligencer on the ground that despite their weakness on the Bank and on Masonry, “upon matters of general politics their principles are correct,” and “they do not truckle to Jackson and do resist Nullification”; (3) by omitting the attack on Jackson and the kitchen cabinet as having a divisive effect on the antimasonic forces.

Sunday. 10th. CFA Sunday. 10th. CFA
Sunday. 10th.

Fine day. I attended divine service and heard Mr. Frothingham preach an excellent Sermon from Malachi 3. 14. “Ye have said, what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of Hosts.” It was upon the doctrine of utility, as at present advanced in politics, the greatest happiness of the greatest number and, showing it’s selfishness, its utter inconsistency with true principles and its folly. I was much struck with the decided character of the Sermon and it’s aptness to the present state of the political world. To be sure, nothing ever was more contemptible than the doctrine advanced in these times, but it is the march of the democratic principle which in this Country is sweeping every thing before it. I am always glad to hear a Clergyman like Mr. Frothingham proclaim aloud his principles.

I did not attend divine Service in the afternoon, but as the weather was fine thought it better to take my Wife to ride for her health which is yet very delicate. We went along that pretty road by Jamaica pond and Brooklyn. I got home in time to read a Sermon of Atterbury upon the miraculous progress of the Gospel. Isaiah 60. 22. “A little one 211shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation: I, the Lord will hasten it, in his time.” He considered first the fact of the progress of the Gospel, next that it must have been miraculous, he then refutes those who attempt to explain it upon ordinary grounds and refers the remainder of the subject to another discourse. This is characterised by the same qualities which belong to the others which I have read, good sense, simplicity, and practical views.

In the evening, I read to my Wife, but Edward Brooks came in and passed some time. I this day heard through Mr. Peabody of an accident which happened on the Railroad between New York and Philadelphia by which my father was brought into very great danger. The Car in which he was broke an axle tree, and the one next in order coming up struck and overturned. My father was in the first and escaped unhurt.1 We have great cause to thank the Deity that he has preserved to us a life valuable on more than private accounts. The tempests of politics are nothing to the manifestation of the Divine will, and the nothingness of human power before it.


In a brief note on the day of the accident JQA announced his escape unhurt. He followed this with a detailed description (to CFA, 8, 10 Nov., both in Adams Papers) and also recorded the circumstances fully in his Diary (8 Nov.). In reporting the accident on the day of the Election, the Centinel used as headline: “OMINOUS. John Q. Adams upset” (11 Nov., p. 2, col. 2).