Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 6

Sunday. 20th. CFA Sunday. 20th. CFA
Sunday. 20th.

Clear and cold. I read the life of Swift. Walter Scott is a pleasant chit-chat biographer gathering carefully from preceding authors but it may much be questioned if he is profound. The character of Swift was so very peculiar, as to require a deep analyst of human passions to lay open all the springs of his eccentric motions.

Attended divine service and heard Mr. Frothingham Luke 5. 5. “Nevertheless at thy word, I will let down the net.” This text he cited to found upon it an exhortation to perseverance under discouragements. How often I require such welcome words to brace me up to exertion of any kind. How little all my exertion has brought about. And even if they produce the utmost I could expect from them of how little service would it be to the Country or to myself. Mr. Walsh walked and dined with me.

Afternoon Mr. Robbins. Ephesians 6. 2. “Honour thy father and mother.” An allusion to the levelling character of the present age and the declining reverence for parents but nothing either forcible or new. That respect for parents is the secret of all government among men was known before today, and has been explained in too profound a manner to make the assertion interesting. Mr. Robbins must think more, he ought not to rest content with writing.


I afterwards read a Sermon of Dr. Barrow’s from 2. Corinthians 8. 21. “Providing for honest things not only in the sight of the Lord but also in the sight of men.” A difference of text without discontinuing the subject of the last two discourses. He discussed today the principles upon which neglect of the external observances of religion were justified—Modesty, fear in two or three shapes and so forth. A good discourse. Evening, Madame Junot and Swifts Life. T. B. Frothingham passed an hour here.

Monday. 21st. CFA Monday. 21st. CFA
Monday. 21st.

Here we are again at the equal days and nights. How time passes and how we all pass with it—A remark of no great novelty but which will never cease to be interesting to the maker at every repetition. I went to the Office and was engaged in writing Accounts and so forth. Read part of Rousseau’s Inequality of man over again1 for the purpose of mastering his theory. In these days, there is so much of wild doctrine afloat, it is well to be acquainted with the principal sources of it.

Walk. The Accounts from Florida are so alarming this morning that I do not like much to dwell upon them. Home, Livy. Afternoon, Niebuhr with whom I became so tired as to give him up, d’Israeli’s Literary Character which I finished at severe cost to my eyes, and de la Motte Fouqué. Evening, Madame Junot and Swift. I mean now for a few weeks to luxuriate in literary idleness.


See above, entry for 9 Dec. 1835.

Tuesday. 22d. CFA Tuesday. 22d. CFA
Tuesday. 22d.

Morning pleasant but the Easterly winds are beginning to remind us that Spring with us is nought but hope deferred. I went to the Office. Mr. Spear called from Quincy and discussed matters a little. The remainder of the time spent in a reading of a new publication by the Society for entertaining knowledge, entitled the Backwoods of Canada,1 being written by the Wife of an English Officer who took a grant of land in commutation of his place. I pitied the poor woman at every step. She is an exile for life from home, expecting nothing and anticipating no change sufficient in her life time to restore her to the society of her youth. Poverty in the old Countries is as great a misfortune as great wealth appears to be in this. The children of this marriage were not likely to have any chance in England so on their account the parents come here. Walk and home where I read Livy my full 357hour, for once. Afternoon, a snow storm set in. I luxuriated upon Sismondi,2 and de la Motte Fouqué. Evening Madame Junot and Swift.


Vol. 33 of the Library of Entertaining Knowledge.


Jean Charles Léonard Simonde de Sismondi, Historical View of the Literature of the South of Europe, 4 vols., London, 1823.