Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 8

Sunday 25th. CFA Sunday 25th. CFA
Sunday 25th.

Fine day. I passed an hour upon the coins which go on slowly, then to attend divine Service. Heard Dr. Frothingham who preached from 131. Corinthians 15. 26. “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.” Some fine reflections upon the moral preparation necessary to render death less painful ending with an eloquent application to the late instance of Dr. Bowditch.1

Walk with my daughter and call afterwards upon Dwight for the fifth or sixth time without success. Then met Davis and short walk with him. Abby came down to dinner today for the first time.

Afternoon, John “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the spirit.” I confess I did not pay the attention to this discourse which I ought to have done.

Afterwards, one of Buckminster’s Sermons upon the reasonableness of Faith in continuation of last Sunday’s discourse. The text the same. He considers faith to be nothing more than belief in evidence of testimony. This does not quite satisfy me. Nobody has seen God at any time. Nobody knows the sun will rise tomorrow. The idea of a future state of rewards and punishments rests in most minds not altogether upon testimony. Yet faith attaches to each from reasoning independently of testimony. A strong argument in favor of Christianity from the spread of the gospel as a matter of faith at the close. In the evening my Wife sat down stairs. Conversation after which I wrote a letter to my Mother.2


Nathaniel Bowditch, astronomer and mathematician, had died on 17 March ( DAB ).


Adams Papers.

Monday 26th. CFA Monday 26th. CFA
Monday 26th.

Morning fine. I went to the Office. Letters from Washington. One from my father apparently historical giving an account of the late duel. This is a sequel to a former one on the same subject.1 I read Sismondi, a Chapter upon Paper Money. The whole portion of the work which relates to Currency is exceedingly valuable and merits reading over very often. Home. Sophocles. I find the Lyric Poetry somewhat hard to manage but the dialogue quite easy. Afternoon, studied my coins which rather hang on now, and which ought to be finished. I must accellerate my pace about them.

Evening, T. K. Davis came in just as I had done tea. He seemed to have a desire to communicate the result of a conversation with Bancroft respecting the arrangements of party affairs here. Bancroft wishes 14to organize a more respectable one both in talent and character than has heretofore existed, and in pursuing that end is much harrassed and hampered by the materials which are provided for him. He has already more than half drawn in Davis who in his turn wishes to operate upon me. The object appears to be to make my father the “point d’appui”2 and round him form a body of talent for the support of the party in the New England States. I read to him my father’s letter to show the futility of that expectation and then my own to Mr. Everett to explain my feelings. I told him that I inclined to maintain my present position unless Mr. Van Buren was disposed to make sufficient concessions in principle to enable me conscientiously to support him. He was now standing upon such slippery ground that it would be no sinecure to any one to take a post in his defence. After a long discussion of whys and wherefores, Davis left with the understanding that he was to tell Bancroft we meant shortly to go to Washington and investigate matters for our own satisfaction. He stayed so long that I was unable to fulfil an engagement at W. G. Brooks’. Read Condillac’s Commerce and Government.3


The letter from JQA is that of 19 March (Adams Papers; printed in MHS, Procs. , 2d ser., 12 [1897–1899]:288–292). It provides a full account of the events occurring upon the day of the duel and afterward; the earlier letter (see entries for 28 Feb. and 15 March, above) dealt with the background of the duel.


That is, fulcrum.


The Abbé Etienne Bonnot de Condillac’s “Le commerce et le gouvernement,” 1776. Copies of the 3-vol., Paris, 1777, and of the 31-vol., Paris, 1803 edns. of the Oeuvres are in MQA.