Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 6

Sunday. 24th. CFA Sunday. 24th. CFA
Sunday. 24th.

Cold but a very fine day. Spent an hour in looking over the Memoirs of the Princess de Lamballe, that ill fated woman who perished so horribly in the massacre of the French Revolution.1 This subject hardly ever tires, but I have seen most of these stories already in some other shape.

Attended divine service all day and heard Mr. Putnam of Roxbury. Luke. 11. 34–5–6. “The light of the body is the eye, therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body is full of light &ca.” A healthy state of mind which through the influence of religion regards even the evils of this world as benefits and designed for the exercise of virtues which fit us for the next. 12 Romans 11. “Not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.” The occupations of man lead him very properly to feel an intense interest in his worldly affairs, but the excess is to be regulated by the check of religious feeling. This is one of the best topics for a money getting, money loving community like our’s. They have perpetual need of some weekly voice which shall say to them, “hoard not too much” and yet how many there are under my eye who will not heed the voice of that charmer charm he never 316so wisely. Hence the holy horrors of war which put a stop to the profits of trade.

Home, read a discourse of Barrow, a continuation of the same subject of obedience to spiritual authority. Having defined the nature of obedience, he goes on to reply to what may be urged as hindrances to it in the nature of the punishment and extent of the compulsion with some general views at the close. These discourses are not of particular interest. Evening, I went out and called upon Mrs. Dexter with my Wife, but she not being at home we went to see Edward Brooks. His Wife was upstairs. Home at ten.


CFA had borrowed the Princesse de Lamballe’s Mémoires relatifs à la famille royale de France, pendant la Révolution, 2 vols., Paris, 1826, from the Athenaeum.

Monday. 25th. CFA Monday. 25th. CFA
Monday. 25th.

It stormed violently during the night and snowed the greater part of the day. My Wife and Louisa got up quite unwell, and I myself had a dull head ach. Went out late and at the Athenaeum, the disturbance about the special Message appears to be going over and we have for the present smooth water. I wrote my Diary and went to the Athenaeum. Called to deliver at the several printing offices the notices for the annual meeting of the Boylston Market. I hope this will be the end of my works in this direction. Home, read Livy, a most instructive history. How much of our history does one see in these pages, how much of the great drama of man in every age. I much doubt whether republics are the happiest governments.

Afternoon. Voltaire’s Letters until the death of Madame du Chastelet. A striking moral in those respecting that event—A confinement of which she made light and directed Voltaire to write to all her friends in the gayest mood as of an ordinary event, but she died nevertheless.

Again at work upon the papers, taking up those of Dr. Franklin. Evening at home. Gil Blas and German. My head ached a good deal.

Tuesday. 26th. CFA Tuesday. 26th. CFA
Tuesday. 26th.

A fine and pleasant day. I went to the Office as usual. Accounts from Washington of a Speech of my father’s which is likely to make a great deal of noise. The substance of it relates to the loss of the fortification bill of last year and to Mr. Webster’s late justification of himself respecting it.1 My father’s feelings against Mr. Webster are now so strong as very much to take the place of those he has heretofore 317held against Mr. Otis and the Administration. I regret them because I regret all personal collision, and still more the relations in which these things place me here in Boston. It is plain to me that after the session of Congress is over, it will be better for me to reside out of the town for a year or more. The canvass for the Presidency will disturb private feeling very much.

I wrote Diary and so forth, called in to see if I could find Mr. Hallett and had some conversation with Mr. B. V. French. The Antimasons are going on very extravagantly at Harrisburgh.

Walk so that I did not get home in time for Livy. Dined at Mr. Brooks’ with my Wife and Edward. Pleasant enough. Nothing new. Evening at home, read Gil Blas. My little girl is still drooping. German.


On 22 Jan. in the House, JQA had spoken for three hours in support of the Resolution he offered to appoint a select Committee “to enquire and report the causes of the failure” of the Fortification Bill to pass the Congress in the preceding session (JQA, Diary, 22 Jan.; National Intelligencer, 23 Jan., p. 3, col, 5; Jan., p. 3, col, 2; 1 Feb. [the text], p. 2, col. 5 — p. 3, col. 4). The text of Webster’s speech in the Senate justifying his course on the Fortification Bill was printed in the Columbian Centinel, 23 Jan., p. 2, cols. 1—3; 25 Jan., p. 1, col. 5 – p. 2, col. 2.