Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

Sunday. 26th. CFA Sunday. 26th. CFA
Sunday. 26th.

Rainy, cold, disagreeable day. I attended Divine Service in the morning but missed in the Afternoon from the drowsiness which has of late overcome me so much. Mr. Whitney preached, and really if I did not make it a point to pay a little attention to the Minister I do not think I should ever gain any thing from him. As it is, today, I must confess myself exceedingly deficient.

Read a Sermon of Massillon’s upon the spirit in which works of 95charity ought to be performed. Galatians 5. 25. “If we live in the spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” He prescribes three rules by which it will be possible to judge 1. first, that they should be considered as belonging to the duties rather than the merits of men, 2. second, they should be performed as a counterbalance to the sin committed, 3 thirdly, they should have no mixture of human views. A tolerably good practical Sermon.

The remainder of my time was passed either in reading Horace or some of Madame de Sevigné. Evening at home. Mr. Beale and his Son George came in. The former leaves tomorrow on a trip to Niagara Falls and quits his house to take up his abode when he returns home at Mrs. Adams’s.

Monday. 27th. CFA Monday. 27th. CFA
Monday. 27th.

Morning clouds with rain and occasionally openings of dry, clear weather. I remained at home all day. Read part of the first and second Epistles of the second book of Horace and worked quite hard morning and afternoon upon some improvements in the garden. I am not accustomed to handle the spade and hoe. It blisters my fingers, yet the exercise is very good. Indeed it is here that I feel the principal benefit of my present way of life. Intellectually it does me very little service. Physically it aids me. I was so fatigued in the evening that I could attend to nothing.

Tuesday. 28th. CFA Tuesday. 28th. CFA
Tuesday. 28th.

Rode to town. Went to the Gallery for an hour and to the Athenaeum. I sat for an extremely large proportion of the time looking at the picture said to be by Guido of Judith with the head of Holofernes. The expression of her face is admirable, decision, religious heroism, masculine daring in her attitude. Such a picture as that gives me some idea of the excellence of the Ancient Painters. I also greatly admired a warm landscape of Gaspar Poussin.

At the Office, I did little or nothing but prepare a draught of a letter to Mr. J. Angier. He does not keep his books precisely.1 Returned home. Afternoon read M. de Burtin. A mere Hollander who talks about his Collection, and looks down upon the far nobler efforts of the Italian Schools.

In the evening, read Madame de Sevigné. Her letter are the merest whip syllabub2 that ever was frothed, and yet they are pretty. Their 96little apt phrases and gentle expressions give them to readers a charm, far more substantial books never possess. I find a good deal of satisfaction in Cumberland’s Observer.

1.

The letter to John Angier, husband of TBA’s daughter, Abigail, and Medford schoolmaster with whom TBA’s son, John Quincy, was enrolled, was finally written and sent on 3 June (LbC, Adams Papers). Angier’s bills for schooling, for which JQA had assumed the payment, were a recurring source of irritation to CFA (vol. 4:170).

2.

Ordinarily written as “whipped” or “whipt” syllabub. See JA, Diary and Autobiography , 2:127: “whippd Sillabubs.”