Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

Sunday. 19th. CFA Sunday. 19th. CFA
Sunday. 19th.

An exceedingly warm morning, but in the Afternoon we had light showers and before night the wind changed until it became really 91cold—One of the extraordinary variations of our Climate. I read a good deal of the Letters of Madame de Sevignè.1 A brisk letter writer, but rather coarse. This was the fashion of the age. We have changed all that. Our day is a pure par excellence.2 We admit no bad words, or ideas.

Attended divine Service. Two Sermons from Mr. Whitney, I. John 1.46. and I Corinthians 14.40—The last upon propriety of behaviour and the decencies of life.

Read a Sermon of Massillon’s being the last of the Mysteries, upon the visitation of Mary. Text. Luke 1.39. “And Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste into a city of Judea.” He considers this conduct of Mary as furnishing an excellent moral for our day. 1. In her Superiority to worldly proprieties and judgments 2. in her contempt of hardship and difficulty 3. in her thoroughness. These he considers as the obstacles which self love most successfully raises against man’s progress in grace. The last he treats by considering that class of persons who wish to unite their duties to God and to the world. I confess I do not see the strength of his reasoning. I am of the latter class, so far as to say that God made us mortals to perform duties in this world and duties which require time and attention.

Mr. and Miss Beale passed an hour. Read Sevigné. I have done the Connoisseur, and from my engagements was unable to get at my house the Observer.3 As a consequence I intermit two days. The Connoisseur is decidedly at the bottom of the Essayists, I have yet read.


Among JQA’s books in MQA are two sets: Letters de Madame de Sévigné à sa fille et à ses amis, 12 vols., Paris, 1812, and Recueil des lettres de Madame la Marquise de Sévigné, 4 vols., Leyden, 1736. Perhaps because of CFA’s interest, JQA also shortly took to reading the letters. His comments are somewhat more incisive than CFA’s (JQA, Diary, 24, 25, 27 July 1833).


Thus in MS.


CFA’s copy of Richard Cumberland’s The Observer, 3 vols., London, 1822, is at MQA.

Monday. 20th. CFA Monday. 20th. CFA
Monday. 20th.

The weather was misty and cold today. I went to town accompanied by my Mother’s woman Mrs. Kirk.1 Went to the Office and from thence to the House in quest of some books and papers. Did some business also and made up Accounts. A person called upon me respecting the building of a Carriage for my father. I went up to see one of his patterns, which I was not altogether pleased with. It was too showy, and not in the very best of taste. I had not time nor inclination to come to a decision about it before leaving town.


In the Afternoon, I read a little of Horace, and worked for some time in the Garden setting out the remainder of the Trees obtained the other day. Several of them begin to give significant indications of death. I doubt whether I save many.

Read Madame de Sevigné. She gives all the interest of her letters by lively phrases and happy turns of expression. Such things cannot be translated, nor are they in themselves of value. Such a book is rather a mode of lounging away time. Began this evening Cumberland’s Observer.


Elizabeth Kirk (vol. 3:253) was the wife of JQA’s servant and coachman, John.