Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 8

Friday. 18th. CFA Friday. 18th. CFA
Friday. 18th.

Day pleasant. Quietly divided. Evening at home. E. C. Adams here.

Otis’s wine was a little too strong for my head, I think, for I suffered a little from head ach this morning for the first time this winter. But it did not turn out very severe as with fasting I got over it before night.

I made little head way in my Office matters notwithstanding my leisure and as to my bill department it is very far behindhand. Home where I went on with Electra.


Mrs. Angier dined here with Elisabeth C. Adams who passed the day. I continued upon the coins finishing the reign of Constantine the great with which the heaviest part of the labour finishes. I shall not be sorry to have it completed for it takes all of my disposable time, and I am to consider the winter as in other regards profitless.

Saturday 19th. CFA Saturday 19th. CFA
Saturday 19th.

Day clear. Distribution as usual. Evening uninterrupted at home.

My morning was taken up very much by my country business. Received a letter from the Cashier of the Bank at Quincy offering a purchaser for my Shares and answered it immediately accepting. This will I hope facilitate my efforts to put my business affairs upon a different footing. I have made myself a new rule to avoid holding in joint stock and to throw my property as much as I can into real estate. The sale of these shares and the winding up of the Suffolk Insurance Company will thus furnish me a sum to redeem my mortgaged South Cove Investment in part. This will be converting productive into dead property but as I do not absolutely need the income, perhaps the operation may be one of accumulation. At any rate, it will simplify matters much. And I feel anxious whenever I am in debt. Deacon Spear came in and I gave him the necessary orders and papers.

Finished Electra today and committed an extravagance in purchasing a new copy of Sophocles with which to review.1 My father’s library is deficient in this book. Coins and quiet evening at home reading Miss Martineau, French and Crevier.


See above, entry for 22 Jan. 1838.

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

Cold day. Services and studies as usual. Evening at home. H. G. Gorham.

I read much of Milman’s History of the Jews, in the latter part of which I find some confusion. Perhaps this arises from the great difficulty of the subject. When the Jews ceased to be a united people and to have as such a local habitation, they could of course have no unity in historical treatment. This dispersion of a people, and yet its preservation of its distinctive character in the midst of others are curious facts, and well worthy of meditation.

Attended divine service as usual and heard Dr. Frothingham from 16 Psalm 11. “Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is 176fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” My attention was so little fixed that I can give no great account of this discourse. That of the afternoon attracted me more. Matthew 7. 1. “Judge not that ye be not judged.” A very accurate delineation of the proper rules of judgment of the conduct of others. The objections to hasty to censorious and to envious judgment, while the construction of motives should always be made to depend upon the strict application of the rule of right. Perhaps there is no subject upon which the mind requires to be trained in the true principles so much as in moral judgments.

Read a good Sermon of Dr. Atterbury from Matthew 14. 23. “When he had sent the multitude away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray.” Upon solitary religious meditation as an improvement of the character. How much the world has changed within a thousand years as to this subject.

Evening H. G. Gorham came in, the first time since his Mother’s death. By an oversight consequent upon suffering my Diary to run into arrear, I omitted a notice of my attendance last Monday afternoon at her funeral. By a curious coincidence I have followed to the tomb three members of this same family since I came to Boston to settle. And in all my experience of life I have known nothing to compare with the rapid decline of perhaps as prosperous a family as existed at that time. The death of Dr. Gorham exactly at the summit of his medical reputation, threw his children out of the expectations they might reasonably have formed. The death of his only daughter in childbed broke the heart of her mother, and now three sons are left to make their own way in the world. And this is real life and no romance. Contrast the scene with the late wedding visit and what a fund for moral and religious meditation.1


Dr. John Gorham, Erving professor of chemistry at Harvard, had died in 1829. He was a cousin of ABA’s mother, and the families were close. Among the Brooks and Gorham children, ABA and Julia Gorham were intimates. Julia had married Richard Robins in Oct. 1835 but had died at the birth of her first child in Nov. 1836. With Mrs. Gorham’s death, three sons, Gardner, Warren, and H. G., remained. See vols. 2:167, 195, 360–361; 3:55; 6:254–255; and above, entries for 20 and 22 Nov. 1836.