Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

Sunday. 17th. CFA Sunday. 17th. CFA
Sunday. 17th.

Pleasant day. I read a good deal of German. La Fontaine’s style is so easy and his stories are so interesting that I make great progress. Attended divine service all day and heard Mr. Eliot of Washington preach two sensible Sermons. The one from 1 Romans 7 “called to be Saints,” the other from 2 Corinthians 4. 4 “the glorious gospel of Christ,” the subject the nature and perfection of Christianity as 363evinced in its principal doctrines of atonement or reconciliation, regeneration and eternal life. He is a young man, just out of Cambridge and to be a Missionary.1

Having accidentally left Atterbury at Medford of whom but a single Sermon remains unread, I was obliged to look elsewhere and pitched upon a discourse of Warburton.2 John 18. 38. “Pilate saith unto him What is Truth? And when he had said this, he went out again.” He considers men’s prejudices against general truth, and their objections in particular to religious truth. His style is nervous and reflections sound. The remainder of the day passed in reading Jefferson and conversation.


On Rev. William Greenleaf Eliot, see below, entry for 7 June 1835.


See vol. 4:363.

Monday. 18th. CFA Monday. 18th. CFA
Monday. 18th.

I am this day twenty seven years old. My youth may now be said to be complete. I have observed that this has frequently been the particular age at which men famous for talent have begun to develope it to the world. This was the age at which my father began his public career, and at which Cicero made his defence of Roscius of Ameria. This was the age at which Demosthenes entered upon the public business. I mean to compare myself with none of these but I have long been impressed with the idea that if I made no reputation at all at this age, I should never make any. My hopes have sustained themselves until now, and this will be the date of their decline.1 In other respects I have to thank God for all his mercies. Health for myself and mine, prosperity far beyond my deserts, and the most encouraging of all, a pretty good conscience. If it is his will, I remain in obscurity, I shall regret it only on account of my family whose previous reputation will in the world’s eye contrast with my “fainéantise,” deeming it far more for my own happiness to keep myself in quiet. Such is the fallibility of man, such is my own weakness that an exposure to the public will diminish my claims to my own esteem.

I remained at Quincy all day. Morning taken up in arranging my thoughts upon Antimasonry. I am quite doubtful whether my frank exposition of my thoughts to Mr. Odiorne may not have the effect of depriving me of a seat at the Convention. Considering the difficulties that surround me, I should prefer this to any other result, as the one which would save me most clearly from harm. But if it should turn out that wanting names they still cling to mine, and that nevertheless 364the leaders adhere to the determination to amalgamate with Jacksonism, it becomes me thoroughly to reflect upon that course which shall redeem me from any similar servitude. The Advocate throws off Mr. Davis, and the course seems to be to nominate Judge Morton as the Antimasonic Candidate, the Jackson party to fall in without making a distinct nomination. The consequences of this course are manifest. At all hazards, I will avoid them.

In the Afternoon, I went with my father to see Mr. Price Greenleaf’s nursery which he has made out of a rocky and marshy swamp. His labour has been prodigious and he is only beginning after the lapse of two years to perceive results. This is better than idleness or vice, but at this work a wild Irishman would do as well as Newton or Bacon. Home. Ovid. Evening quiet. Conversation.


JQA in noting in his Diary CFA’s arrival at the age of twenty-seven called it “A short time to look back.” The substantial amount of writing on political subjects that CFA completed over the next several years is probably to be related to the resolve here made. See, for example, the entry for 18 Aug. 1835, below.