Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 7

Sunday. 4th. CFA Sunday. 4th. CFA
Sunday. 4th.

A clear day but cold, the wind from the north and cutting. I continued reading Brumoy’s Preface giving his view of the origin of the drama of which I think not much.

Attended divine service. Mr. Frothingham from 12 Hebrews. 17. “He found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears,” the subject of repentance, it’s nature, its effect and its uses, very good. Afternoon from John 19. 10.11. “Knowst thou not that I have power to crucify thee and have power to release thee? Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above.” The conception of power contrasted in the worldly view given of it by Pilate by his question, and the more exalted and correct one of the Saviour.

Walk with John. Afternoon reading the second of Buckminster’s Sermons upon the character of Christ. John 7. 46. “Never man spake like this man.” An exceedingly ingenious discourse in support of the evidences of Christs mission, from his situation in life, the unexpec-393tedness, the originality, the sublimity and the consistency of his character. All these points are reasoned out with great simplicity and force. I was so much pleased with the sermon as to be led to read the Memoir of the Author at the head of the book and an Oration delivered by him at Cambridge. He certainly was a gifted man and had he lived would have probably made a useful one. At twenty eight he had made himself a reputation other men hardly reach at fifty.

Evening at home. A visit from H. Chapman of Greenfield who chatters a mixture of sense and nonsense. Reading Miss Baillie.

Monday. 5th. CFA Monday. 5th. CFA
Monday. 5th.

A fine clear morning and cold. I went to the Office and from thence attended a Meeting of the Proprietors of the Middlesex Canal. Directors principally attend. Election of Officers. Motion made by George Hallett that the number of Directors be cut down, and fuller powers conferred upon them. Question how far this was practicable without certain forms—committed to a Committee Mr. Hallett and myself chosen—and adjourned to next Monday.

Back to Office. N. Curtis there about the Mortgages which I have not done yet. The Mortgagor himself not quite prepared. Wrote an application to the Trustees of the Athenaeum for their coins for the use of which I am to make them a Catalogue,1 and took it down, then home. Sophocles.

Afternoon, read Miss Baillie’s tragedy of de Montfort. The comedy of the Trial is an utter failure. This is perhaps the most successful of her pieces and has been tried on the stage, but it shows most strikingly the error of her principle. For the one passion is thrown out so exclusively and so strongly that it becomes disagreeable as well in its excess as its want of relief. After all that play will be the best which strikes most home to the heart the truth of human life. Evening Lockhart, after which reading Potter’s Archaeology.

1.

The application to the Trustees of the Boston Athenaeum (LbC, Adams Papers) derives from the librarian’s denial of CFA’s request to consult the institution’s collection of Roman brass coins on the ground that the coins were “unassorted and undescribed.”

Tuesday. 6th. CFA Tuesday. 6th. CFA
Tuesday. 6th.

Cold morning. I went down to Market and from thence to the Office where I could not stay long but was obliged to go into the Office of the Register of Deeds and look up title for the Estate proposed to be mortgaged. I looked back for seventy years and could find nothing to 394conflict with the title although I could not trace where it vested. There is a great difficulty in our system of recording, through the want of some evidence of divisions of property by inheritance. This can now be found only by examining a mass of papers of another Office.

Home to read Oedipus which strikes me now more than it ever did before. Afternoon, obliged to go down to Charlestown bridge to the Canal Office to discuss that affair. On examination of the records we found that there was no rule about it, but a simple vote of the Proprietors decided the number. This little discovery cost the Afternoon. Evening, Lockhart and after it Miss Baillie’s comedy upon Hatred, of “the Election.” Hatred can hardly be made a comical passion.