Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 7

Sunday. 10th. CFA Sunday. 10th. CFA
Sunday. 10th.

A very fine day and growing warmer thus balancing the average of heat of Summer. I felt recovered this morning and occupied myself in reading Jeremy Bentham’s Defence of Usury. An essay having very considerable acuteness and although not uniformly sound yet with much of sound thinking.1

Attended divine service and heard Mr. Green from John 20. 29. “Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed.” Faith, and an argument upon evidences drawn from concurring testimony, or rather the negative argument of absence of contradiction pretty ingeniously applied. Afternoon I believe from John 2. 27. “And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath.” The use of divine worship upon a fixed day, and of forms of worship supported by a variety of the usual arguments. Mr. Green is neither original nor particularly forcible, and yet I thought both his discourses ingenious.2

Read a Sermon of Sterne upon the advantages of Christianity to the world. Romans I. 22. “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.” This is maintained rather from a comparative view of the attributes of the Deity according to the Christian idea and to that of the ancients, than from any argument of superior moral excellence in action. I read also some of Malthus3 as I have still clinging about me some favourite notion of writing on the present state of our affairs. Malthus writes well, but he mystifies.


CFA’s reaction was probably to the application of laissez-faire principles to the acquisition of money. His copy of the 3d edn., London, 1816, is in MQA.

313 2.

Rev. James D. Green of Cambridge Mass. Register, 1837).


Thomas Robert Malthus, Principles of Political Economy. At MQA is the Boston, 1821 edition.

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

A very sultry day with the wind at the South and altogether disagreeable. I remained at home and divided my time between the operations that were going on in sodding the banks about my house, and reading.

The accounts from Washington are that Messrs. Blair and Rives have lost the printing of the House, and that Mr. Allen has got it through the accession of the Whigs, despairing to carry the point for Gales and Seaton.1 This is a severe blow upon the Administration and the debate which incidentally arose manifests a good deal of temper on the part of the seceders. But we shall see. The report of Mr. Woodbury is like all his work.2

I read a hundred lines of Homer’s seventh book and a good deal of Malthus, so that on the whole I felt as if I had committed less waste of time than usual. Wrote to Mr. Johnson.3 Afternoon somewhat wasted. Read Humboldt a little. Miss Smith passed the day with us. There was high wind but little rain. In the evening Loto with the children, after which conversation, and a little reading but I was drowsy.


The choice by the House of Thomas Allen of the Madisonian over Gales & Seaton of the National Intelligencer to replace Blair & Rives of the Congressional Globe as printer of House debates represented a loss to the Democrats, but only a partial victory for the whigs (Daily Advertiser, 11 Sept., p. 2, col. 4; 12 Sept., p. 2, col. 1).


The Report on the Finances by Treasury Secretary Levi Woodbury was printed in the Daily Advertiser on 11 Sept., p. 2, cols. 1–3; 12 Sept., p. 1, cols. 3–6; 13 Sept., p. 2, cols. 1–4; 14 Sept., p. 1, cols. 5–6. The thrust of CFA’s comment is uncertain. He was in thorough disagreement with Woodbury on the Bank question, but his allusions to Woodbury elsewhere suggest that he was not without respect for Woodbury’s views and abilities.


Letter missing.

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

The day was bright but the wind had come round from the north and gave us a very different temperature. I was occupied during my morning rather more usefully than common. Read the remainder of the seventh book of the Iliad and a good deal of Malthus whose book does not appear to me nearly so good as his preface promised. I also superintended much of the labour upon the hill and went down to Mr. Greenleaf’s wharf and took a bath. The air was cold to be sure but I enjoyed it’s bracing freshness after the fatigue and heat of yesterday.


Afternoon, engaged principally upon the hill in hastening the work which lags. Evening, the ladies out to tea. I played Loto with the children until they went to bed, after which I walked to Mrs. Adams’. As usual, a large family. A round game1 and home.


“A card game in which the number of players is indefinite, and one may retire or enter at any time” ( Webster, 2d edn.).