Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 6

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

Cloudy and windy. Our Season is certainly none of the pleasantest. I passed the morning in reading the Thirty Years War. I think when I return to my House I shall pursue the subject farther. The Incidents and characters involved partake of romance. And the peculiar brilliancy of the Swedish name is among the most remarkable topics for philosophical speculation.

I attended Divine Service all day. Mr. Frothingham preached a Sermon commemorative of Easter Sunday. Revelation I. 10,18. “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice say-120ing I am he that liveth and was dead, and behold I am alive for evermore, Amen, and have the keys of hell and death.” The afternoon Mark 8. 5.6. or rather the Miracle of the seven loaves.

Besides my usual walk I also read a discourse of Dr. Barrow. Matthew 7. 1. “Judge not.” A very good discussion of the question how far the right of private judgment should be exercised in the relations with other men. Perhaps there is nothing to which the mind is more involuntarily led than to this habit. I must confess I have it myself. Sternness is perhaps my extreme. I will therefore yield this Sermon due consideration and endeavour to introduce the effects of it into my life and conversation.

Evening at home. Continued the Quarterly Review which is interesting. Perhaps there is nothing in it more striking than the remarkable change of tone in treating of Political questions. The Whig party is now quite reasonable in it’s demand for reform provided it will not patronize the Radicals. In truth the famous Constitution of Great Britain is now in imminent danger. The Country seems on the eve of Revolution.

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

The day was cloudy and warm, with occasional showers. I continued Schiller until I went to the Office. Received a long letter from my father in answer to mine. He writes without much spirits, and endeavors to show wherein he has done better by choosing his course of life as a Politician. For him it may be better, but I cannot agree with him as to the positive quantity of happiness that exists in his “better.” He asks me if I think it is more advisable to accumulate riches which is a sly point at me and which I will fully answer.1

Wrote my Diary and felt so uncontrollably lazy that I lounged over some pages of the North American without any profit. Walk, after which I went into the Athenaeum for the purpose of looking into some English publications lately arrived. Having become interested in the politics of the moment by the Quarterly Review.

Afternoon, finished Mr. de Grimm and continued Thiers. The first is the best chronicler of the passing literature that I have known for his judgments are impartial and his criticism just. Most writers for the press are influenced either by views of personal popularity, or individual friendship. They are afraid to hurt themselves by a bold opinion or their acquaintance by a harsh one. Grimm was writing privately, and although he is it must be admitted biassed by private friendship 121yet it looks amiable and does not carry him far enough to praise bad things. Evening, Autobiography of Sir Egerton Brydges of which I mean to speak hereafter.


In CFA’s letter to JQA of 7 April (see entry of that date and note to entry of 11 Feb., above), to which JQA’s of the 16th (Adams Papers) was a reply, CFA, in providing a Boston addendum to JQA’s recitation of the political developments of the preceding months, included indirectly an allusion to the impact of the political warfare upon himself: “It is a matter of regret to me here to see the extent of the prejudices existing against you — prejudices inherited from father to son and appearing to strike root in the very constitution of society.... [T]hose prejudices exist and strike root against others who are succeeding you in the same career with equal if not greater force.” To this JQA responded: “That you and your interests should be in some degree affected by my unpopularity in your immediate neighbourhood gives me more concern than any thing that has happened or can happen to myself, but you like others must be the maker of your own fortunes, and if you are frightened or disheartened by the turbulence, and dangers and disasters of all political adventure, learn to number your days so as to apply your heart unto wisdom. Turn your attention to making money. Get rich, apply all the faculties that God has given you to hoarding up treasures, and see if that will secure to you a happier state of existence than that which has been the lot of your father and grandfather.” For CFA’s answer, see below, 23 April and note.