Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 8

313 Wednesday 23d. CFA Wednesday 23d. CFA
Wednesday 23d.

Lovely day. At home. Dine at the house below and Evening at Lyceum.

The day was extraordinarily fine. We have been as much favored in the season this year as last year we were otherwise. I was at work most of the day with Kirk in making the necessary preparations for the Winter, protecting my plants and shrubs. We were much favored in having this fine opportunity. But I snatched only the intervals for writing, and made slow progress.

We dined at my father’s as usual. In the evening Mr. A. H. Everett and L. Jarvis were there and took tea after which we attended his Everett’s Lecture at the Lyceum upon the subject of the Literature of the Bible, taking the distribution of philosophy, poetry and History. He very lightly skimmed over each interspersing fine passages of poetry or prose extracted from a great variety of authors. There was no great expenditure of original thought but much address in the selection of good points and taste in the adaptation of his extracts. On the whole he was extremely successful. And this is the secret of Lyceum lectures, flashy and popular. Remainder of the evening at the house below.

Thursday 24th. CFA Thursday 24th. CFA
Thursday 24th.

Fine day though hazy and warm. To Braintree. Lecture. Evening at the Mansion.

I worked very steadily upon my third paper and finished it. The Courier published the first today, and it reads to suit my taste. At noon I went to the house below to join my father in going to Col. Minot Thayer’s at Braintree. This being the day fixed upon for the delivery by him JQA of the Lecture promised by him to the Braintree people. Col. Thayer had invited him and through him me to dine with him. When we got there at one o’clock we found a considerable assembly of persons, some from Boston and others from Braintree itself. Among the rest were Mr. John Welles, Edward Brooks, J. P. Bigelow, T. W. Phillips and the Revd. Mr. Blagden. Of the Braintree people I knew none although I was introduced to them all. Our dinner was a plentiful one as our host said entirely the produce of his farm. Nothing but water or lemonade on the high temperance plan. Of course it was a mere satisfaction of hunger,1 and after it was over we proceeded to the meeting house of Dr. Storrs where after many ceremonies the Lecture was delivered.

It was a Lecture professing to be upon Education but rather without general plan, and the most remarkable position of which was that the 314Reformation was a question of Education. This is no doubt true in one sense but it is false in another. Reading and writing no doubt were necessary to the full exercise of private judgment, but it has been generally found that a high state of intellectual education leads to indifference to religious belief in cultivated society if not to positive scepticism. There were passages of great force and brilliancy and owing to a hint of mine the Lecture was shortened so as to be within very tolerable limits of time. It appeared to be highly successful and we returned home before sunset after a short visit to Dr. Storrs. Evening at the Mansion. Little Fanny has been quite sick there for a week.

1.

The dinner is further described in JQA’s Diary: “Instead of two or three friends as I had expected there was a company of about 30 persons, and a dinner for at least 60. He said it was all the produce of his own farm; but there was Turkey, Mongrel Mongol Goose, Ducks, Ham, Squab pie, a large variety of vegetables. Apple and cranberry sauce, and lemonade to drink but neither wine nor cyder.”