Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 8

Saturday 16th. CFA Saturday 16th. CFA
Saturday 16th.

Mild and pleasant. Office. To Quincy to dine. Evening return, head ach.

I awoke this morning with a dull feeling the precursor of head ach which did not fail to take it’s usual course through the day until it sent me helpless to bed. At the Office I was occupied in the usual way. Deacon Spear came from Quincy and I was busy in accounts. The political news is not varied at all by the last returns. Either Morton or nobody is elected.

I went to Quincy at one o’clock and found the family in great distress. Little Fanny had passed a bad night and this day was speechless. The apprehension of course was that she was near her end. But the 328physician called in, Dr. Woodward, and Dr. Holbrook ascribed it to the effect of a violent anodyne given last evening which had operated otherwise than he had expected. This relieved the present apprehension although as it seemed to me not entirely with reason. I fear the poor child will not survive many days and that her end has been rather hastened than retarded by the mode of treatment adopted by Dr. Holbrook. This is altogether melancholy. I dined at Quincy and in the afternoon early we returned home.

Little Charles returned today from Portsmouth safe and well. I hardly know how much I prize my children until they are absent. My evening was utterly useless to me from my head ach.

Sunday 17th. CFA Sunday 17th. CFA
Sunday 17th.

Lovely day, clouding however towards night. Usual exercises. Evening to Mr. Brooks’.

This was one of our most charming mornings. After the usual exercises with Louisa I attended as usual divine exercises at Chauncy place and heard Dr. Dewey of New York1 preach in the morning from Job 23. 1 to 5, too long to quote. He began by a general sketch of the book of Job preparatory to his introduction of the particular purpose of quoting the text which was to show a tendency in man perpetually to look upward from the mere business of this world and seek a higher power freed from the struggles of this life. This aspiration was only to be satisfied by Religion. The afternoon was upon a collateral subject. Matthew 4. 4. “It is written, man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Religion being the desire of man this could only be gratified by the exercise of faith and virtue. Dr. Dewey is a very popular preacher and is to some extent deserving of esteem. But his sermons left me cold as they found me and created rather an idea of excessive pretension than of fulness of wisdom or piety.

I had a very pleasant walk with the children round the Common and after service read a Sermon by Dr. Clark from the English preacher, Proverbs 10. 9. “He that walketh uprightly, walketh surely.” It was a new version of the old maxim, “Honesty is the best policy,” which after all is not at the summit of all moral excellence. Yet it is a safe practical guide for men who will not refine.

Evening, Thomas and Francis Frothingham came in for an hour after which we went to Mr. Brooks’ house but not finding him at home, sat with Mr. and Mrs. P. C. B. Junr. The Account from Quincy 329today by Thomas who brought in Louisa C. Smith is not favorable. She had not entirely recovered her Speech as predicted. My fear is that there was a combination with the medicine of a more powerful kind to bring about the effect.

1.

On Rev. Orville Dewey, see vol. 6:388–389.