Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

Saturday. 2nd. CFA Saturday. 2nd. CFA
Saturday. 2nd.

Snow and a feeble Shine alternated, but towards evening the wind rose and produced a degree of cold greater than any thing we have had 41this winter. I went to the Office and was engaged most of my time in bringing up all my Accounts for Agency as well as on private matters for the last month. This is a business necessary but hardly agreeable.

Attempted a walk with Mr. Peabody, but it was so unpleasant we shortened it considerably. Political affairs at Washington look gloomy. There is very little confidence to be put in any body or in the permanence of any thing. The wild anarchical principle is a little too powerful by this system of our’s.

Afternoon, copied my letter to my father and read more of Anquetil. His book is a history of the passions of the human race. By a process of induction gained from such experiences as those and which are to be found in almost every Country, you could almost make up a book of formulas, representing the course of men upon certain contingencies. Patriotism in its noblest and purest form is a very scarce plant. Our world is too cold for it.

Evening quietly at home. Read Madame de Genlis, and Mrs. Child’s book after which I made progress in Alison’s book. I subdivide my occupations a little too much for my own advantage.

Sunday. 3d. CFA Sunday. 3d. CFA
Sunday. 3d.

Excessively cold, with a sharp wind which makes it intrude into houses through every crevice. The suffering of cold is much increased by wind.

I finished Alison on Taste, this morning. There is a good deal of ground for his principal position that objects are only the signs by which we express certain qualities or affections of the mind, but I cannot assent to it entirely. Because we must say that the beauty of the Created Universe is a mistake, there is no beauty in it any farther than the idea of fitness to arouse certain emotions of men. I must still believe that there is beauty in itself—That the Divinity created the Universe not for man’s faculties, any more than he created Man for the Universe. The whole was framed upon one great plan which could have been regulated on no plan but one that embraced sublimity and beauty. I mean if we admit a Deity at all.

Attended divine service and heard Mr. Frothingham from Romans. 6. 5. “If we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.” A Sermon in some sort preparatory to Communion. In the afternoon, Mr. J. O. Sargent, a young man1 discoursed from 1. Kings 19. 12. “After the fire, a still small voice.” It was a young man’s production, upon a text he justly 42called sublime. It considered the account as representing the modesty of power, it’s unostentatiousness. True enough. But without the knowledge of the power that existed, the voice would strike one but little. The voice was accompanied by all the signs of the most exalted strength, and it is the contrast which makes the sublimity.

At home in the Afternoon. Read Massillon. Luke 3.4. “Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” Subject, the disposition suitable for Communion, requiring faith, 1. of respect which distinguishes good from evil. 2. of prudence which submits to trial 3. of love which inspires ardor 4. of generosity which meets sacrifices. Evening passed quietly at home. Conversation, not of a very profitable kind. Afterwards, began Burke on the Sublime over again.


John Osborne Sargent, Harvard 1830.