Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 6

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

Day cold and cloudy. I went to the Church in Chauncy place as usual after reading a part of Goethe’s Tasso. This is a curious production from the simplest of materials. The passions of a wilful Poet who has all the irritability of the tribe, acted upon by the various characters of those about him. At Church heard Mr. Frothingham from Jeremiah 23. 23.24. “Am I a God at hand saith the Lord and not a God afar off? Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord.” I did not fix myself enough which I regret for this subject is one upon which I have thought not a little. Afternoon John 18. 36. “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world then would my servants fight.” Mr. Parkman is a very worthy man but there are few I should not rather hear preach. He has the twang of the profession upon him about as much as any man I have ever seen. Read an excellent Sermon of Dr. Barrow from 1 Thess. 4. 11. “And that ye study to be quiet and to do your own business.” Perhaps no practical subject in the Bible is more full of difficulty than this. The exactly dividing line between interest in the actions of others and meddlesomeness, between a wish to do good and a mere desire to gratify curiosity is hard to perceive. Dr. Barrow defines the justifiable objects and examines those which are not so, closing with certain exhortations to practical conduct which are admirable. On the whole I like this Sermon best of all I read.

Read Grimm and finished the second part of Philip van Artevelde. 126This is a dramatic Poem written in a taste far more correct than that which has been predominant for some time. It has many beauties of detail in thought and expression but it appears to me to want that which can only create great poets, genius. The conversation is philosophical and speculative not active, built upon the German and the Lake School rather than the old british drama. The delineation of character is not vivid. The Nobles are all alike and the revolted are all of one mould excepting the hero who thinks, feels and acts neither like a virtuous nor a vicious man. He speaks good sense, poetically arranged, but he is neither Richard nor Jack Cade, Macbeth nor Mark Antony. He wants identity, idiosyncrasy the learned would have it. Evening quietly at home. Mrs. Everett remained much the same.

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

The day was clear and calm. According to my promise I started early and rode to Quincy. Arrived there in good season notwithstanding the badness of the roads which the late rains have caused. The Country scarcely bears any appearance of the advance of spring. I happened to be favored in my weather and saw it far more cheerful than it generally looks. But notwithstanding great beauty in natural undulations there is want of richness in all the natural scenery about us.

I found Mr. Spear at the House, whom taking with me, I reached the Railway House and we proceeded with Mr. Winkley to the spot. We passed up the Railway which has been newly laid in a very durable manner and observed some beautiful specimens which are in process of sculpture for the new Hotel of Mr. Astor in New York. The perfection to which this process is now carried here is wonderful.1 We saw two columns which are almost ready for the front of the same building and the blocks for those at our Court House.

We came to the spot in question between Mr. Winkley and ourselves and examined it fully, after which we went up to see the spot applied for by Mr. Dudley and Knox. By accident we collected all the applicants on the premises and thus procured all their views. The quarries are manifestly exceedingly valuable. The Stone is in great abundance and promises richly but will require some outlay to open, and communicate with the road. I found my visit by no means useless although we decided upon nothing. I returned to town before dinner, having agreed to be prepared with an answer by Tuesday May 5. After dinner, I was occupied in writing another letter modifying very 127considerably my views as expressed last Saturday,2 which I put in the Post Office myself. Evening at home. Mrs. Everett was better today. Thiers a little while.

1.

On the Granite Railway and the newly developed techniques for transporting the stone from the quarries, see vol. 3:xiv, facing 219, 275, 307.

2.

Letter missing; JQA’s reply to it, 1 May, is in the Adams Papers.