Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

Sunday. June 1st. CFA Sunday. June 1st. CFA
Sunday. June 1st.

Warmer but still cloudy and with occasional showers of rain. I passed much of my day in reading Horace Walpole with whose book I 321was much amused. He certainly writes with very great ease and not with the formality which is so clearly perceptible in the Correspondence of many great men. A formality which announces that the public and not any individual are addressed.

Attended Divine Service all day. Heard Mr. Stetson, all on a single Text. Acts 26. 9. “I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.” Conscience, discussed as being the test of moral sensibility and the rule of judgment. He considers it as defective, brings instances in which the dictate of Conscience is not at all in proportion with the magnitude of the offence, considers it deficient as a rule of retribution in this world and thereby argues for a future state. The discussion involves the deeply metaphysical question whether there is any moral sense, or mode of distinguishing right and wrong which is not arbitrary. I do not reason upon it. I feel that there is.

Sermon of Atterbury upon the Martyrdom of Charles I. Luke 23. 28. “Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.” That is, regret not his death for his sake but for the everlasting disgrace and judgments your posterity must endure. To all this, I have not a syllable to add. I do not admire Charles nor do I approve his execution. But there was no murder about it. Evening. Finished Walpole and began Brewster on Natural Magic.1


CFA had borrowed from the Athenaeum vol. 40 of Harper’s Family Library containing Sir David Brewster’s Letters on Natural Magic, London, 1832.

Monday. 2d. CFA Monday. 2d. CFA
Monday. 2d.

Rode to town accompanied by Mr. Brooks. It cleared off and became a fine day. The sight of sunshine was quite a novelty. Office. Letters from Washington.1 Congress appear likely to adjourn about the 1st of July. I wrote my Diary which had been by my absence falling into arrears a little. Artillery Election day, a holiday still kept up although deprived of many of its supports.2 Home to dine in a high wind. Afternoon, Mandeville whose second volume appears to me to want genius and Ovid, Love Elegies—Free enough. Evening, Finished Brewster on Natural Magic. A curious work the beginning of which is better than the end.


One of these was JQA to CFA, 28 May (Adams Papers).


The 196th anniversary (Columbian Centinel, 2 June, p. 2, cols. 2, 4). For an account of the annual ceremonies held by the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company, see vol. 3:255.