Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

Friday. 21st. CFA Friday. 21st. CFA
Friday. 21st.

Fine day. I went to the Office, but did not spend my time as profitably as I might have done. Received a letter from my Mother not in very good spirits and describing a very heated state of things at Washington.1 Our Country is doomed to go through a perpetual agitation 267under the influence of individual passions. Ambition when beyond a certain limit is a terrible scourge.

I took a walk to the North part of the City to see the changes and improvements going on there which are certainly very great. But a check must now come upon the prosperity of our people.

After dinner, read Dubos, and Terence. In the evening I went to Mr. J. Sumner’s in Chesnut Street—A family party, Mrs. Gray and her Daughters, Mrs. Story and Miss Henrietta, Mr. Brooks and his three daughters, Mr. F. Coffin. We played one game of Whist. Returned at ten more amused than I expected to have been.


17 Feb., Adams Papers.

Saturday. 22d. CFA Saturday. 22d. CFA
Saturday. 22d.

Fine day. Office. I had two or three persons made application to me upon various subjects. Mr. E. Fuller came in upon the subject of the Lease of the House; I preferred drawing new ones to renewing the old. Accordingly I filled up a blank and executed it upon the spot. Mr. W. Spear from Quincy came in to pay me a short balance of money. Mr. Harrington with a recommendation of W. Spear for Coroner at Quincy which I signed although with some doubt of the propriety of my doing so, being a resident and citizen of another County. I took a walk.

Regretted to hear of the death of Mr. Wirt at Washington.1 He has been much of a sufferer all his life and my wonder is he should have gone on so long.

Afternoon read Dubos and continued Terence. In the evening, finished Miss Edgeworth’s Emilie de Coulanges and began Vivian. Judge Hall came in and spent half an hour. Nothing material took place. German Fables of Lessing.


William Wirt died on the 18th. JQA’s sentiments on Wirt and the means he took to have them incorporated in the House Journal are reported in the Columbian Centinel for 26 Feb. (p. 2, col. 1).

Sunday. 23d. CFA Sunday. 23d. CFA
Sunday. 23d.

Dull rainy day. I arose late from the disturbed night caused by the child. Attended divine service all day and heard Mr. Frothingham preach. Ephesians 2. 12. “Having no hope and without God in the world.” The discourse seemed directed at the present inclination towards the infidel principle. It touched upon the distressing nature of a state without hope, and the absence of support in a God. My 268thoughts wandered in spite of me. Proverbs 16. 25 and 14. 12 the same words being contained in both. “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man but the end thereof are the ways of death.” A startling text, but a true one. It may seem curious that what a man does from the belief that he is right is not innocent, but as in this world’s affairs a person fails of success for want of judgment to conduct prudently, so in those of the other, one can err from neglect of or opposition to that knowledge which guides to safety.

Read a sermon of Atterbury. Romans 11. 16. “If the first fruit be holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root be holy, so are the branches.” This was a discourse delivered to the sons of the Clergy upon a day of commemoration. It touched upon the advantages and corresponding obligations of their condition. But it touched lightly upon the disadvantages of the English Church system which makes the toil and the pecuniary benefit and honor fall to different persons, and frequently gives the latter to the least worthy. Quiet evening at home.