Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

Friday. Feby. 1st. CFA Friday. Feby. 1st. CFA
Friday. Feby. 1st.

The cold was severe this morning. And the presence of the snow added much to the reality of the Season. It was however very clear, and being now so late, we cannot have a long continuance of cold. I went to the Office. Engaged upon business matters. Then wrote a letter to my father1 which was not exactly what I wanted to write but as I had tried twice before without success, I was resolved it should go. This consumed my time until one o’clock. I then foolishly went to the Athenaeum and thereby lost my walk. My health is now in so doubtful a state that I ought to have avoided this.

Afternoon, copied my letter and read Anquetil. The famous day of the barricades. Civil commotion. Men must fight about something. If one thing will not answer another does. Here in the midst of prosperity, we are getting by the ears. I am glad to see by the morning’s Newspapers some symptoms of retracting in Carolina.2

Read a Satire of Horace. I wonder I never read them attentively before. How admirable. Every sentiment so just in itself, so gracefully put in. I will read Horace perpetually, Make him familiar.3

Evening, a family party at Gorham’s where my Wife went to tea. Edward Brooks, P. C. Jr. and Wife, Mr. Frothingham and do., Mr. Franklin Story and do., Mr. F. Gray and sister.4 Not so pleasant as usual. More stiffness owing to the presence of the Grays who have little or no conversation. The Supper was one of far more form. I indulged more than usual and was apprehensive that my head would suffer for it. Home later than usual.

1.

LbC in Adams Papers.

2.

The Columbian Centinel carried reports from Charleston, S.C., of new indications of moderation from the nullification forces. A public meeting on 21 Jan. had passed a resolution of conciliatory tone, and an editorial in a leading organ of nullification declared 22that “South Carolina does not design ... either to use force, make war, or dissolve the union” (1 Feb., p. 2, col. 6, p. 3, col. 2).

3.

CFA entered in his copy of the Opera by Horatius Flaccus (London, 1824), now at MQA, copious annotations, some of which are illustrated in the present volume; see also p. xiii, above.

These annotations were generally made after consultation with the scholarly edition of Dacier and Sanadon, 8 vols., Amsterdam, 1835, which was among JA’s books and is now at MB ( Catalogue of JA’s Library ); see below, entry for 12 June. Later, CFA acquired for himself another copy also with J. M. Gesner’s text but with notes by Zeunius (Horatius Flaccus, Eclogae i.e. Opera, Leipzig, 1802), which is at MQA; see below, entries for 18, 19 July.

4.

Mrs. Franklin Story (Elizabeth), Francis A. Gray, and Henrietta Gray, were the children of Peter C. Brooks’ sister, Mary Brooks (Mrs. Samuel) Gray (vol. 3:8, 107, 237).

Saturday. 2d. CFA Saturday. 2d. CFA
Saturday. 2d.

Cold morning. I went to the Office and was occupied in writing much of my time. I also read the debate which has lately taken place in the Senate between Mr. Calhoun and Mr. Webster upon the measures necessary to be taken by the Government in the contest with South Carolina.1 The latter seems to be assuming a very commanding position in the Nation. He now again comes forward as the supporter of the Administration, and a popular Administration I would also add. The result remains to be seen.

Took a walk. Afternoon, after dining with my Wife at Mr. Frothingham’s and drinking health to his eldest son on his birth day, I returned to my room and read Anquetil.

At six, as my Wife remained at her sister’s, I thought I would drop in to hear the Concert.2 On the whole, effect of it not agreeable. Mrs. Austin however sang effectively—Especially a fine air from Masaniello, which we did not hear in the piece. Did not like Miss Hughes nor Sinclair. Horne did pretty well, but his voice fails often. Out at nine. Called for Abby and returned home.

1.

The debate took place on 28 January.

2.

At the Masonic Temple (Columbian Centinel, 2 Feb., p. 2, col. 3).

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

Cold weather all comes together. I hope the first and the last attack. Read the second Satire of Horace which is obscene, and upon a subject hardly fit to be treated in so light a manner.

Attended divine Service, Mr. Frothingham in the morning. Text. Luke 15. 14. “And he began to be in want.” The parable of the Prodigal Son. Allusion to the explanations of it. Considered as the 23gentile world. This rather far strained, may be considered more generally to be the spendthrift soul which after exhausting itself in vain efforts after happiness, begins to turn itself in a direction towards purer sources. Upon this the Sermon rested. Afternoon, Mr. Gannett. Matthew 12. 37. “By thy words thou shalt be justified and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” A discourse upon Conversation. The sin of impure, frivolous and idle conversation. The necessity of mixing a proportion of religion and morality in the intercourse of life. I thought the Sermon a good one, directed to a good end however far short it may be of it. Mr. Gannett gives no pleasure in his delivery. But he is a worthy, zealous man and goes to his point without circumlocution. I think he touches, because he produces the most perfect silence, an infallible test as it appears to me.1

Returned home and read a Sermon of Massillon upon the day of Judgment. Luke 21. 27. “And then shall they see the son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” Division very simple—The fearfulness of this day to Sinners because they will be exposed 1. to themselves. 2. to others. The choice of the subject is not happy inasmuch as Man’s mind cannot form any idea of the nature of the trial he is to undergo. The very vagueness forms its most fearful quality. The Deity will judge, that is enough. Evening, read Ruffhead. Afterwards, Mr. Degrand passed an hour.2

1.

For an earlier response to the preaching of Rev. Ezra Stiles Gannett of the Federal Street Church, see vol. 3:421.

2.

On P. P. F. Degrand, a Boston stockbroker who was a long-time political supporter of JQA and sometimes an embarrassing one through his habit of purveying political gossip, see vol. 1:155–156; 3:33, 90–91.