Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 6

Friday. 21st. CFA Friday. 21st. CFA
Friday. 21st.

Morning cloudy with rain but it afterwards cleared away. I spent the day at home for the most part looking over my numbers and writing such parts as I wish to make more perfect. This is rather laborious. I also read more than a hundred lines of Juvenal’s sixth satire, and this besides assorting a large number of my Grandfather’s letters. The afternoon was passed in a very similar manner—On the whole moderately to advantage.

But my spirits are not so good. The ungenerous course of both the political parties of the Country leaves my Essay totally unnoticed, and I must go on working harder than ever. Shall I be discouraged? No, I will work harder than ever. I will establish my reputation if human effort can do it. The Deity gives me this as a trial and I hope I shall learn to benefit by it.

Evening at home. My father attended the town meeting upon the excitement which has been gotten up here about a libel of Mr. Cornell an orthodox Clergyman who is righteous overmuch.1 Nothing new.


On 1 Aug. the Trumpet, organ of the Massachusetts Missionary Society, had published a report in which the “moral and religious character of the inhabitants of Quincy” was attacked with severity. It had been written by Rev. William Mason Cornell, who had within the year come to the town as pastor of the Evangelical Congregational Church there. His denunciation was thought “slanderous,” town meetings were held, a committee that included JQA was appointed to deal with the issue, and the libel answered (JQA, Diary, 3, 5, 15–20121 Aug., passim; Columbian Centinel, 26 Aug., p. 2, cols. 6–7; p. 3, col. 1).

Cornell remained in Quincy; gave up the ministry to open The Quincy Family School there in 1839; became a principal figure in the establishment of the Quincy Lyceum and as a lecturer for it; and assumed local leadership in abolitionism. Still later he shifted his interests to medicine and health. He became professor of physiology, hygiene, and medical jurisprudence in the Female College of Pennsylvania at Philadelphia in 1851 and served in Philadelphia hospitals during the Civil War. He afterward returned to Boston where he opened a school for the advanced education of women. Throughout a long career of lecturing and writing on a variety of topics he maintained his ties in Quincy and was a steady contributor to the Quincy Patriot, from the files of which this sketch has been constructed.

Late in his life Cornell wrote an autobiographical work: Recollections of “Ye Olden Time,” Boston, 1878, the firs 213 pages of which relate to Quincy and include much on the Adamses. CFA found the Recollections “a thoroughly made up affair” (Diary, 18 June 1878).

Saturday. 22d. CFA Saturday. 22d. CFA
Saturday. 22d.

Fine clear and cool morning. I went to town with my child Louisa who is to stay a few days at the house in Boston. Very busy in various occupations. Diary and business. Called at Mr. Russell’s and learnt the cost of printing. It is too much and I am discouraged.

Met Mr. Degrand on change and he has just come from Philadelphia and brought with him some U.S. Bank Stock. I was tempted and made him an offer which he took up so that I was obliged to run round to borrow the money. This is an unusual business with me and I met with a refusal at the Savings’ Bank and State Bank which discouraged me. There is a pressure beginning as has been expected. The President of the latter Institution promised me however that if the State of the Institution would admit of it on Monday I should have the loan. I was obliged to be content but think I shall not borrow often.

Home at noon. After dinner, assorting papers as usual, and read a little, but my spirits were low. Why I should be such a fool, my property being already large enough, to borrow money for the purpose of making it larger puzzles me, but so it is. My mind could easily be upset by getting engaged in such things. It is gambling of which I have always been in such dread. Evening quiet at home.

Sunday. 23d. CFA Sunday. 23d. CFA
Sunday. 23d.

Fine, clear and cool morning. I read in the intervals some of Theodore a German story of Lafontaine full of the touches of natural life which distinguish all that come from him. I admire this writer much.

Attended divine service and heard Mr. Greenwood of Boston from 202Psalm 139. 1. “O Lord, thou hast searched me and known me.” An argument in favour of a divine creator from his work, the plan itself implies a Creator therefore he is the superintending being to whom man is to be submissive. Psalm 4. 6. “There be many that say, Who will show us any good? Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us.” The tendency to despondency, answered by trust in the Deity and shown even in the evils of life. I did not master the whole of these discourses but they were very good.

Read a discourse of Barrow. “I have learned in whatever state I am, therewith to be content.” Phil. 4. 11. On Contentment, this the first discourse upon the subject was upon the nature of the virtue, founded upon humility and submission, and was full of the deep strong sense which characterizes the Author. On the whole the day was pretty advantageously passed. Evening quietly at home.