Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 7

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

My morning fled from me very rapidly, partly perhaps because I got up late, and partly from the routine I commonly pursue with the children now. Attended divine service and heard Mr. Lunt from Hebrews 12. 11. “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” A series of reflections very well adapted to the consolation of the mourners of yesterday, and clothed in the beautiful style characteristic of the preacher.

Afternoon, a very curious dissertation upon the mechanic arts which must as I suspect have been written for some other occasion. Exodus 35. 35. “Them hath he filled with wisdom of heart, to work all manner of work, of the engraver, and of the cunning workman, and of the embroiderer in blue and in purple, in scarlet and in fine linen, and of the weaver, even of them that do any work, and of those that devise cunning work.” He maintained that the passage from which this text was taken shewed the estimation in which among the Hebrews mechanics were held, and that the subsequent distinctions which had depressed them were a departure from the true mode of thinking. Bezaleel the son of Uri is called by Moses one filled “with the spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding and in knowledge and in all manner of workmanship” and appears to have held the first rank among his brethren. This should be the case now. The labour of the hands was a necessity in America and should not be neglected even by the more favoured in wealth. He alluded to the Fair now held in Boston, or the display of the mechanic arts and recommended every body to visit it. Mr. Lunt’s discourse was adapted to a popular audience and contains much sense and just reflection. But when he equalizes mechanics with orators, statesmen or legislators, it would have been fair to draw a line between the inventors and the mere executors. The one class undoubtedly deserve a high place in intellectual rank, but the others rank but one degree over animals—at least when considered only in reference to results. On the whole, the spirit of the discourse was essentially democratic, which is fast becoming the tone of our clergy, a strange revolution.

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Read a discourse of Sterne. Proverbs 3. 17. “Her ways are ways of pleasantness and all her paths are peace.” An argument upon the beaten topic of Virtue its own reward, by proving a vicious life not happy and a religious one not gloomy. The force of it is weakened by a concluding doubt and reference of religious conduct to the future state. This makes an anti-climax which injures the effect. Took up a volume of my father’s collection of voyages which I looked into for the purpose of gathering ideas. Evening Lady Montague.

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

Singularly clear the sky remains. No sign of moisture to revive the earth. On some accounts this is very well for my digging a drain, and on others not so well. I must balance the one against the other. I spent not much time upon the hill, but devoted myself somewhat to reading the account of the voyages to the North west and north east. They show a great deal of matter which may be used and some of it with great effect, but they also extend the field somewhat beyond my original intention. If I go on, I must be very industrious.

Afternoon, I find not very useful. My boy John took some of my time, he being at home alone, the Nursery woman having left us today. Mr. Hardwick called in the evening, said he had seen Governor Everett who had declined delivering a Lecture on the ground of the multiplicity of such applications. He again applied to me and asked for the selection of a time. He said the people here would be as glad to hear me at first, as any one. I told him that I would see about it, that it must depend upon the collection of my materials, if I could get them ready early enough it would perhaps suit me better to give them soon. To do a thing of this kind as well as I wish, is no mean undertaking. Evening at home. Lady Montague, whose letters are characteristic enough.

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

I went into town this morning. My time much taken up, first in a visit to the Athenaeum where I found several of the works of which I was in quest, and then to my house. At this place was a lady waiting to see me about the House in Hancock Street, whom I accompanied there, and we spent some time discussing the repairs. She left without positively engaging and at the same time imposed upon me all the risk and responsibility of the repairs. This is the usual way. I returned to 322the office and from thence to see Mr. Brooks who told me Stanwood’s affair was in process of settlement.

I returned to Quincy only satisfied that I must go in again tomorrow. Afternoon at my house where they have at last set to work upon the drain in earnest. The extent of the labour however dispirits me. And now I seem to have a good deal of work in these Lectures. Evening, after playing with the children I read some of the Maritime discovery in the North of Lardner1 and commenced a Draft.

1.

Rev. Dionysius Lardner, popularizer of science, and editor of the Cabinet Cyclopaedia, 133 vols., London, 1830–1849.