Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

Saturday. 3d. CFA Saturday. 3d. CFA
Saturday. 3d.

Fine day. Morning to the Office. Occupied in business. Mr. Spear came in from Quincy and paid me the balance of his Note together with some other small sums. Conversation upon matters relating to Quincy affairs. Mr. Degrand came in about a transaction with the Market Bank, and I went with him afterwards to arrange it. This with my Diary completed my morning and I went to walk.

Edmund Quincy asked me to dine with him at Mr. Parker’s, where he lives.1 Nobody there but T. Davis. The wine was good. Mr. Parker was not present. He has gone to New York. There is a stiffness about a situation like Quincy’s which is painful enough. He must have to put up with many things.

We left him before five and as there was only a remnant of an afternoon I proposed to Davis to take a ride. We accordingly went to 306the Nursery of the Winships in Brighton a place I have passed without ever visiting before. The two persons at the head of the Establishment received us very cordially and showed us the Greenhouse Mr. Cushing has been constructing for them. It is very pretty and quite expensive. We returned home by sunset. In conversation with Davis, I regretted to perceive a tendency as I thought to free opinions in matters of religion. He has been dipping into the free thinking works of the present day. This will not last long, and it is to be hoped that it should not. Young men generally have one moment of such trial. Quiet at home.


Daniel P. Parker was Edmund Quincy’s father-in-law.

Sunday. 4th. CFA Sunday. 4th. CFA
Sunday. 4th.

A fine day. I went to walk with my Wife and child before Meeting. Attended divine service and heard Mr. Frothingham from Job 29. 2. “Oh! that I were as in months past as in the days when God preserved us.” The wish to go back as contrasted with that of future improvement. Psalms 92. 14. “They shall still bring forth fruit as in old age.” My mind is not so settled as it was. I feel the difference more especially in the difficulty of catching the substance of these sermons. Mr. Frothingham is always refined in his speculations. He rarely writes the strait forward every day common sense which is more easily remembered from the fact of its being commonplace.

Sermon of Atterbury in vindication of the difficult passages of Scriptures. 2 Peter 3. 16. “In which some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable, wrest as they do also the other Scriptures, unto their own destruction.” He first explains the text, next accounts for the obscurity of the passages and finally justifies the course of the Deity in allowing them. This is one of three Sermons from which I hope to get something valuable upon this interesting point. Evening quietly at home.

Monday. 5th. CFA Monday. 5th. CFA
Monday. 5th.

Morning pleasant. I was engaged for some time in disposing of the various little matters that have accumulated upon my table during the past winter. Office, where I finished the Leases which I had engaged to draw out for a new Tenant at Quincy, and read a little of Mr. Jefferson’s second volume. Walk.


Afternoon. Began Mandeville’s Fable of the Bees. A curious production which manifests the curious mechanism of the human mind, working to paradox as well as truth. The argument is ingenious though every thread of the web is rotten. Ovid, Dido to Aeneas, not so much to my fancy. Ovid has a style which requires familiarity with it to be easy.

Evening. Theatre. A new opera, by Auber. Fra Diavolo.1 An Italian Bandit disguised as a nobleman pursuing an English Milord with his Wife and plenty of Money and Jewels, travelling for pleasure. He is finally caught by stratagem. Mr. Wood was the robber. Mrs. Wood, the Innkeeper’s daughter through whom the discovery takes place. The Music is lively, a little in the ballad way with occasional bursts of harmony. The Woods sing and perform almost equally well. His soft notes are perfectly enchanting, while her complete management of her voice and powerful compass give the requisite brilliancy of execution. We retired much gratified. It rained hard and we were caught. Luckily I could procure a Carriage. Home not very late.


Not strictly a “new” opera, Fra Diavolo had been introduced in New York by Mrs. Austin in June 1833; its first appearance in the Woods’ repertory was in November of that year (Odell, Annals N. Y. Stage , 3:624, 661). The present production promised for the first time all the original music without abridgment or mutilation (Columbian Centinel, 26 April, p. 2, col. 6).