Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

Friday. 8th. CFA Friday. 8th. CFA
Friday. 8th.

The weather changed from warm to cool in the course of the night. I went to town accompanied by Mr. Brooks. My time was pretty much taken up in attending to my Mother and Walter Hellen who came in to meet my Wife and her children. I took him as a young Stranger about the Streets showing him the principal objects of attention. This was fatiguing, and killed all my morning. Returned to Medford with 357Mr. Brooks. We dined alone and very quietly—My Wife having remained in town until evening.

I read a good deal uninterruptedly, Madame de Maintenon’s Letters. These were collected and published by a French writer, La Beaumelle, who is thought to have introduced a good deal of his own to animate the style.1 Nevertheless there is much that is interesting and valuable in the work. She rose from extreme wretchedness. Born in a prison, the sport of adversity in her younger life, married for a home to a wretched piece of deformity, she became the wife of the first monarch of Europe and the ruler of many events. Yet she was scarcely happier in her later than in her early days. Ovid also. I read German in my spare moments, especially in the Evening.

1.

L. A. de La Beaumelle, Mémories pour servir à l’histoire de Mme. de Maintenon, 6 vol., Amsterdam, 1755–1756.

Saturday. 9th. CFA Saturday. 9th. CFA
Saturday. 9th.

Cool morning. I went to town in my own way, Mr. Brooks being about to dine abroad to day. Went to the House to obtain the Keys and some books. Also on several Commissions. Conversation with Mr. Walsh and Mr. Odiorne.1 The latter called upon me to inquire if I would accept the nomination as one of the delegates to the Antimasonic Convention on the 10th of September. I asked him what the probable course of the party would be. He said to nominate my father, but in case of his refusal, Mr. Everett and should he decline, then to join in the nomination of Judge Morton. This at least seemed to be the feeling of the State Committee. I told him that my opposition to Judge Morton was so determined, it ought to be known before I was chosen a Delegate. I should go there mainly to oppose a nomination. If it was thought fit to select me as one with that understanding I should accept the appointment. We then went into an examination of the difficulties of the case and it’s probable effect upon general affairs. He left me, intimating that he should report my acceptance with the condition to the contrary nevertheless. Returned home to dine. Afternoon the reading of German and of Ovid. Evening, a visit with my Wife at Mrs. Hall’s and Mrs. Angier’s.

1.

On George Odiorne, see Darling, Political Changes in Mass. , p. 87.

Sunday. 10th. CFA Sunday. 10th. CFA
Sunday. 10th.

Pleasant morning. I went to Meeting all day and during the remainder of it occupied myself with German. Mr. Burnap of Balti-358more preached.1 Matthew 5. 3. “Blessed are the poor in spirit; for their’s is the kingdom of heaven.” And 1. Peter 5. 5 “Be clothed with humility.” The same general subject. He managed it tolerably but gave nothing new or particularly striking. His own manner and his general character are somewhat at variance, in appearance at least with his general character.

Read a Sermon of Atterbury upon that remarkable text Genesis 49. 4 in which the patriarch addressing his eldest son prophecies of him “Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel.” No language can express more distinctly the character of a wavering mind and it’s fatal consequences. The Preacher considers it in two lights as losing all probability of advantage in this life, and forfeiting every pretence to happiness in the next. True indeed, instability of mind is perhaps the greatest punishment which can be inflicted upon man. It ruins his best laid plans, it vitiates his morality, it destroys his reliance upon himself. Perhaps Miss Edgeworth has embodied the effects of it as powerfully as any one in her little story of Vivian. I met with a living instance of it in the character of my poor brother. Quiet evening. Continued August Lafontaine’s German story.

1.

On Rev. George Washington Burnap, see vol. 3:53.