Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 6

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.

Monday. 11th. CFA Monday. 11th. CFA
Monday. 11th.

I was very much occupied all day in superintending the process of moving the considerable collection of things we have made this winter, and in arranging them all suitably at home. It is now more than a year that I have been living out of my own house. A year in which I have lived agreeably and have received nothing but kindness and attention from my father in law Mr. Brooks. Could it be possible for me to enjoy myself in a home not my own, it would be in his where we have agreed wonderfully well together. But my privations are too great. I feel like a boy who has no right to utter an opinion or exercise control.

I was very anxious about my Wife for whom the process was a tolerably fatiguing one. The day happened however to be a very fine one and the whole thing was done by one o’clock so that we dined very quietly and comfortably. Afternoon I wrote a letter to my father1 and for the rest of my time passed it desultorily, in the luxury of dipping into books here and there without any object other than sipping the cream of literature.

1.

11 May (Adams Papers); a reply to JQA’s letter of 29 April, on which see note to entry for 3 May, above:

“There are many who make it their business to flatter,... others who falsify by a spirit of enmity. Their words are all equally destitute of authority with you who are accustomed to unequivocal reliance upon the dictates of your own judgment. The habit of disregarding the opinions of others is not altogether safe because sometimes the Majority may be right. I trust I have shown no slavery to those opinions even where I have agreed with them. And where I have dissented both from them and from you the independence of judgment which the fact manifests may at least show that you have a calm as well as a disinterested adviser.

“It is true that I have it not in my power to attach myself to any engrossing pursuit.... Misanthropy may be the consequence, I hope not. For man in the individual I have no dislike.”

Tuesday. 12th. CFA Tuesday. 12th. CFA
Tuesday. 12th.

The sun broke cheerfully into our new Quarters this morning and gave us the promise of a lovely day. I took up Spenser’s Fairy Queen and read the sixth canto of the second book before going out.1 Then to the Office where I was engaged in my usual routine. Thence a walk. 137At home, began Juvenal and read seventy lines but with great difficulty and not with a full understanding of the Text.2

Afternoon as the weather was fine and I felt indolent, I thought I would take a drive round the Country. The trees are not yet out and the vegetation is barely lively enough to relieve the eye. I went through the cultivated parts of Brookline and Roxbury, a very pretty but rather too densely settled tract for Country. Home to tea.

Somewhat alarmed by the information that the houses at the end of our Avenue had been entered by thieves last night and all the silver stolen. This is coming rather near home and I have no small stake in the silver way. It is somewhat singular that in this good city of steady habits, these things should be suffered to go on with impunity now for the greater part of a year. The Watch are as certain to be as out of the way as possible. I took all the precautions I could think of before going to bed but felt strongly the difference of care that my new situation involves me in. I resumed an old and long discontinued plan of copying important papers which I find among my Grandfather’s.

1.

An earlier reading is recorded above, vol. 2:91–102.

2.

There are six editions of the satires of Juvenal in the original Latin at MQA, of which two (London, 1819, and 2 vols., London, 1824) bear CFA’s bookplate. Nevertheless, while CFA was reading Juvenal he borrowed from the Athenaeum an additional one, as well as a verse translation by W. H. Marsh.