Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 6

Friday. 8th. CFA Friday. 8th. CFA
Friday. 8th.

House, thence to the Office. Found John Kirk there and as he has not favoured me with many visits I suspected his errand directly. He has been but a short time established and he wants money already. I lent him a sum which I intend to be final, so far as applications are concerned and which I can not lose as I have the means of payment in my hands. After him came Mr. Walsh and exhausted the rest of the morning so that I could do nothing in the way of work on the Leases.


Short walk but it began to rain and I took refuge in Mr. Doughty’s Painting room where he is exhibiting some Pictures to be sold at Auction next week. His style is peculiar, some of it beautiful but not at all equal. Home. Afternoon M. Thiers—The execution of Danton and his set of the French Revolution. Extraordinary Spectacle this of moving the waves, breaking one after another upon the rocks of human passion.

Evening, at Mr. Frothingham’s—P. C. Brooks, Jr., W. G. Brooks and sister, his Wife and her sister, Mr. Brooks and ourselves. Tolerably pleasant. Returned home at ten—The last social evening we have previous to our dispersion for the Summer.

Saturday. 9th. CFA Saturday. 9th. CFA
Saturday. 9th.

Morning cool but clear. I went out directly for the purpose of gaining time enough to go to the House and arrange matters there before going down to meet any of my Saturday visitors from the Country who might chance to come in. I was late notwithstanding but had few interruptions so that when I got to work I was able at the Office to accomplish the draughts of my two Leases. Mr. Dudley came in and urged me so much to get his ready that I decided upon going through with them at once. I did not finish the fair copies however, not being able to decide some trifling points of detail which occurred to me.

Returned to the House to give some further directions and then home. Afternoon, Thiers, with whom I proceeded almost to the fearful close of the reign of terror. Was there ever any thing like it among civilized nations. Massacres there have been and butchery of all sorts but such systematized destruction I have never seen any record of before. Evening, quiet and alone. Read Cumberland’s Autobiography.1 Received a letter from my Mother presenting a very indefinite prospect of return.2


Memoirs, by Himself, N.Y., 1806, borrowed from the Athenaeum.


Letter missing.

Sunday. 10th. CFA Sunday. 10th. CFA
Sunday. 10th.

Cold and calm. The Clouds were dispersed in the course of the day. My Wife has been suffering considerably for some days and presented so much the appearance of immediate confinement that I have been in great agitation of mind. In the first place her being out of her own 135house only to return tomorrow, and the danger of great inconvenience from a detention, but far more the apprehension of the thing itself owing to the great hazard she ran the last time and to the fact of the absence of the physician she has had and trusts the most, altogether makes my state of mind not enviable. I know my foible is to look forward a little too mournfully. I will try to dispel the gloominess and put my entire trust in a Deity who has never been otherwise than merciful to me.

Read Cumberland whose life is amusing although he is vain and a little lachrymose. Some people have a great dislike to the egoistical style. I am not one of them, for human nature is human nature. To ourselves I is the most important character. All we require is not to be shocked by grossness or insulted by arrogance. Vanity is pardonable.

Attended divine service and heard Mr. Frothingham all day. Morning, Matthew 11.7. “What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind.” Afternoon Acts 17. 22 “Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.” The first discourse was upon the character of John the Baptist as the precursor of the Christian dispensation. The other was a very good discourse upon the nature of superstition as contrasted with it’s opposite scepticism, and a verbal criticism of the word superstition in that connexion. I have heard this last discourse before and remember it distinctly. It is probably on record somewhere in the pages of my Journal, but I was glad to hear it again.

Read a Sermon of Barrow upon the Love of God. Matthew 22. 37. “Jesus said unto him. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart.” He explains first his definition of the love of God, then he shows the means of cultivating it and finishes with some inducements to it. This never appeared to me a happy subject. The Deity must always be considered by man in the light of a Protector. As such love is to a certain degree essential and may be considered as implied. But no dilating will carry any more force to the injunction in the Text than it’s meaning already implies. The Author insists upon the sacrifice of all worldly affections that take off from this one to the Deity. But is this the right course. The faculty of loving like all other faculties is increased by exercise. And it is the dictate of nature to love those connected with us as well as the blessings of this world. If the Deity requires us to crush this disposition, are we likely to regard him with the views which prompt affection? No, I do not so read Christianity nor the second law which is like unto the first. The things of 136this world are not to be exclusively prized nor unduly, but the bosom is not too narrow for all good feeling. Evening at home. Finished the sixth volume of Thiers with the death of Robespierre.