Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 8

Friday 27th. CFA Friday 27th. CFA
Friday 27th.

Fine morning but heavy wind and rain in the Evening. Boston and Hingham.

I went to town this morning and was much occupied with calls at my house to watch the progress of the painters and thence to see some of the Tenants about repairs. After the period of business was over, I called in to see the Mechanic’s fair which was held in Quincy Hall over the market. There were many curious things exhibited, and many useful ones. I was most pleased with the agricultural machinery and the cutlery and some pieces of furniture. But I had not time to examine with minuteness as I had engaged to dine with Mrs. Frothingham at two o’clock prior to meeting my father in order to go down to the Boat.

A certain Mr. Greenough had invited a number of persons to go down into the harbour to see the effect of a certain new kind of Oil which he thinks burns brighter in a light house than whale oil or sperm oil. We being of the number went down and found many persons of the party but a great doubt of the propriety of trying the experiment on so windy a night. After some dispute as to the prospect of it’s continuing to blow or of it’s becoming calm, it was finally decided to go as far as Hingham and there act according to the event. The boat had a rough time and the evening set in dark and gloomy. I found on board A. H. Everett, O. W. B. Peabody, B. T. Reed, and a few others of my acquaintance with whom I had a pleasant conversation.

When we reached the landing Mr. Greenough invited us to the Old Colony House whither by the officious interference of Captain Sturgis of the Revenue Cutter we were marched up to the music of his band with a form which I thought made us only ridiculous. After taking tea, as the trip out to the Light house proved impracticable, Mr. Greenough proceeded to execute experiments in the hall. He showed two lights, one of which was supplied with his preparation, the other with common oil. And the result of all the different trials was undoubtedly in favor of the former as giving a whiter and better light. But we were not able to judge of the quality of the oil or of his preparation nor of the expense of the different substances. He showed us that his mixture was more inflammable than oil or even Spirits of the ordinary strength.1

These experiments lasted until nine when the boat returned with the gentlemen to town, but we preferred hiring a vehicle to take us 301directly home, so that we reached our houses at about half past ten in a pretty heavy rain.


To this account the journal entry in JQA’s Diary adds only the names of those who marched in the procession behind the band and crew and a somewhat more precise description of Benjamin Franklin Greenough’s “preparation” or “mixture.” JQA named it a “chemical oil” and “chemical compound.” The demonstration seems to have evoked no conclusive judgments and to have been without immediate significance.

Saturday 28th. CFA Saturday 28th. CFA
Saturday 28th.

Clear day but cool. To town, early return and afternoon at home. Evening at the Mansion.

As by the summary proceeding of last evening I had left my horse in town, the next thing seemed to me to be to regain the control of him, so I went to town in the Omnibus and after reading the Morning Newspapers I returned without attending to any business. But as the day seemed fair I thought I should like to ride through Roxbury and Milton over what is called the old road. Modern processes cut short the distances between places but they do not come attended with the beauty of the ancient. This is all along it’s whole length a highly improved road and every foot of it’s pretty and interesting.

I got home precisely at noon and immediately sat down to work as usual. Finished the copying of Mrs. Cranch’s MS of my grandmother. After dinner Tacitus, Life of Agricola. Evening at the Mansion. Miss Cutts returned there this evening.

Sunday 29th. CFA Sunday 29th. CFA
Sunday 29th.

Clear day though cold. Exercises as usual. Visit to Mrs. Quincy. Evening at the Mansion.

After my regular lesson with Louisa, I attended divine service as usual but upon rather an uncommon occasion. This was selected as the day of Anniversary of the second century since the gathering of the Church, and Mr. Lunt seized the occasion to deliver in his two discourses an interesting account of our church experiences.

His text in the morning was from 8 Deuteronomy 7.9.10. Rather too long to insert. In the Afternoon John 4. 20 “Our fathers worshipped in this mountain.” The subject was somewhat dry but he enlivened it by eloquent passages thrown in here and there very neatly and very adroitly. His notice of my grandfather af-302fected me to tears. I am unable to give any satisfactory abstract of the discourses and hope to see them printed in order to keep me in the recollection.1 The house was full all day and the attention was flattering. Mr. Lunt is one of that class of men who are not appreciated by their generation. He has done more than many who have twice his reputation.

I dined at my father’s with I. P. Davis who was there. After service went down with the ladies to see Mrs. Quincy the elder and her daughters who were at her son’s for the day. Evening at the Mansion.


Mr. Lunt’s sermons were printed as Two Discourses, delivered September 29, 1839, on Occasion of the Two Hundredth Anniversary of the Gathering of the First Congregational Church, Quincy, Boston, 1840. The events of 1636–1639, centering upon the theological controversy involving Rev. John Wheelwright at Mount Wollaston, are the subject of the first sermon. The second undertakes the history from 17 Sept. 1639 (O.S.), the date of the gathering of a distinct and independent church at Mount Wollaston under pastors William Tompson and Henry Flynt. The journal entry in JQA’s Diary provides a somewhat fuller account of the occasion than does CFA’s.