Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 6

Sunday. 13th. CFA Sunday. 13th. CFA
Sunday. 13th.

The daily course of my record brings me now and then to a new Volume, and upon such occasions it has been my habit to speculate and look forward as well as backward. I am little disposed now to do so. My prospects change but little from year to year and they have been so uniformly favorable that I have but one tone in which to consider them, that of continued gratitude to God, for such bounty. Of all things that which I most fear is the loss of the humble spirit which takes no undue advantage of it’s blessings to press upon others. Arrogance is part of my nature. I have seen it in all of the members of my own family from my Grandfather down, and I am aware of it’s existence in myself. Prosperity is the hotbed which forces the plant into it’s greatest luxuriance. I hope I shall ever retain good sense sufficient to keep it tolerably pruned down. This daily Diary is perhaps as effective an instrument for this purpose as any I possess. It reminds me of my duties. It warns me of my sins as well of omission as of commission. It calls to mind the times when I have failed as well as those when I succeed. May God prosper my efforts to improve.

I attended divine Service today. Heard Mr. Frothingham from Matthew. 21. 12 and 13. “And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money changers, and the seats of them that sold doves, and said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.” He took occasion from this text to descant upon the necessity of forms of some kind to religious worship, and to refute the argument so often rested upon the mere state of casual feeling. He also distinguished the nature 282of the feeling which prompted the Saviour to such an act, contrasted it with the usual character which is ascribed to him, and drew the conclusion that a certain degree of indignation at acts of an injurious tendency whether to morals or valuable forms was allowable and even proper.

Dr. F. Parkman in the Afternoon. Psalm 71. 17 and part of 18th verses. “O God, thou hast taught me from my youth: and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works. Now also when I am old and greyheaded, O God forsake me not.” Upon old age, its sufferings and privations, with some remarks upon the prevailing tendencies of the day to slight the distinction. This gentleman is commonly quite sensible.

At home I read a Discourse of Dr. Barrow upon Industry, in our general calling as Christians, being the third part of the entire subject. The text from Romans. 12. 11. “Not slothful in business.” He begins by showing the value of industry, then defines what he means by business, excluding all vicious or unworthy activity, and dividing it into that springing from the general obligations of Christianity and from the special ones of life. But he does not finish. These discourses are all of them valuable. Evening, I generally devote to conversation with my Wife after which I finished Adam Smith’s1 Dissertation upon Banking.

1.

Albert Gallatin would seem to be intended.

Monday. 14th. CFA Monday. 14th. CFA
Monday. 14th.

Mild day and cloudy with occasional snow. I went to the Office. Continued and finished Rousseau’s Essay upon the Inequality of Man. A singular and dazzling theory which makes civilization the root of all evil, which considers ignorance as bliss and man naked, in the woods, living upon Acorns as in his best condition. This whole structure is a mass of ice, brilliant while it lasts but utterly unsafe to stand upon. Man in his wildest state is not an isolated being. The experience of all Countries shows him a gregarious animal, which fact alone destroys the theory.

Short walk. Then home to read Persius. I have two translations, Gifford’s and Drummond’s1 and the Dolphin edition so that I wade through the obscurity rapidly. There is much good sentiment in this Author and a high standard of thought. Afternoon, finished Levesque’s sketch of the reign of Peter the first. A singular man of whose charac-283ter it is difficult at once to judge. He was a tyrant and yet a useful monarch. He built up a Nation without apparently understanding the real principles which are at the bottom of it’s greatness, attaching as much consequence to the shaving of a beard and a particular dress as to the forming a marine and extending the communications of his Empire.

Evening, went to the Theatre. At this time alone as my Wife did not take to this opera. T. K. Davis and T. Dwight happened to be in the box with me. The Sears and Otis troop in the next one making a great noise in loud conversation. How very European and rude. Robert the Devil was better performed, particularly the duett “Base fears” and the song at the gaming table. Indeed all the music in this as in every other Opera in my experience gains upon acquaintance. Home early and wrote Diary. Wind high and stormy.

1.

Sir William Drummond’s translation of the Satires, London, 1803, was borrowed from the Athenaeum. A translation by William Gifford is not recorded; perhaps CFA is absentmindedly referring to Gifford’s well-known translation of the Satires of Juvenal, a copy of which is at MQA.