Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

Sunday. 17th. CFA Sunday. 17th. CFA
Sunday. 17th.

Fine morning and the weather far more in character with the Season. I passed an hour in reading Chalmers on the adaptation of the mind to external nature, being the first of the Bridgewater treatises.1 A book written with too much of a flourish of trumpets constantly going beforehand but still not without it’s value. There is an affectation of a dignified, antique style about it which I do not admire, and a use of words and phrases which appear in these days quaint.

I attended divine service this morning and heard Mr. Barrett2 preach from 1. John 4–5. “They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world and the world heareth them.” An attempt to distinguish the worldly man from the man of the world, him, who makes it his object from him who keeps it in subjection to higher duties and purposes. There was nothing remarkable in it.

I did not attend in the Afternoon as my Wife went to ride with me. There is a difficulty now that Mr. Brooks comes into town about a Pew. I must get one at all hazards. Read a Sermon of Atterbury’s finishing the subject discussed last Sunday. The fourth point of which was to 215show the advantage of the miraculous spread of the Gospel, and the last, when and how and why it stopped—As sensible as usual.

I finished in the Evening the Fair Maid of Perth and also began reading one course after closing another—I closed the last number of the Lounger. This is also the last of the periodical Essayists included in my course began not less than three years since. With little intermission I have in that time regularly read two papers daily and each twice over, and in this manner have accomplished the Tatler, Spectator, Guardian, Adventurer, Rambler, Idler, World, Observer, Connoisseur, Mirror and Lounger. I now undertake a far more necessary study, that of the Bible in the same manner. I begin with Genesis and propose to take Hewlett’s Commentary to aid me,3 two Chapters nightly to be read once with the Notes and once without. May God prosper the undertaking.


Thomas Chalmers, Power, Wisdom, and Goodness of God, in the Adaptation of External Nature to the Moral and Intellectual constitution of man, 2 vols., London, 1833, was borrowed from the Athenaeum.


On Rev. Samuel Barrett, see vol. 4:297.


A copy of Commentaries and Annotations on the Holy Scriptures by John Hewlett, 5 vols., London, 1816, is in MQA.

Monday. 18th. CFA Monday. 18th. CFA
Monday. 18th.

Cool and clear. At the Office, studying out Accounts, and with two or three Country visitors. Mr. Adams from Quincy with a bill, and Col. Jones from Weston with an advertisement for a Wood sale. After accomplishing matters with them, I took a walk, calling upon Mr. Jas. H. Foster about the matter of the Pew.1 There is difficulty about it.

Afternoon, reading Bacon and Virgil’s fifth book. I accomplish very little. Since the election which is now very calm, I have little to put me out of the even tenor of my way. I go on even more secluded than ever from society and contented in the belief of the general innocence of my course and the hope that I may improve my time and myself to the utmost without the injury which must result to me, if I give way to the paths of stronger temptation.


J. H. Foster, in addition to his mercantile activities, was deacon in the First Church and had in his charge the church’s management; see vol. 3:92.

Tuesday. 19th. CFA Tuesday. 19th. CFA
Tuesday. 19th.

The cold now begins to make us sensible of the approach of Winter. I went to the Office and passed my time in reading the remainder of 216 image Milton’s answer to the publication made under the name of the King called Eikōn Basilikē, in modern character. There is roughness and yet vigor in his manner of controversy. I should prefer some more polished weapons. There is one merit however in his style worthy of imitation. There is no surplusage in his style. No superabundance of words to represent ideas.

Took a walk as usual and in the afternoon, read Bacon’s Novum Organum which I find I have mastered pretty well. Here is an author who has more ideas than words, whose style becomes involved because he is so cumbered with them. Yet his page is one a man will return to again and again, while the mass of works of the present day pass to be forever forgotten. I read my usual portion of the fifth book of Virgil.

In the evening, read to my Wife from Tom Jones1 —A mine of sense and feeling but unfortunately alloyed with immorality and with disgusting ideas. Delicacy seems to be unnatural to the native English mind. All its vigorous productions of an original character are coarse.


Broken sets of the, London, 1789 and 1795 editions of Tom Jones are in MQA, along with JQA’s set of Fielding’s Works, 12 vols., London, 1766.