Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 8

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.


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

Monday 18th. CFA Monday 18th. CFA
Monday 18th.

Fine day. Distribution as usual. Evening at home and at E. Brooks’.

I went to the Office as usual this morning and was occupied in accounts and a variety of other little duties but the employment of my hours does not entirely satisfy me. Home at noon to read Hecuba.

The accounts we receive from Quincy are very discouraging. Afternoon Menzel. Evening with the children until eight after which we went to Edward Brooks’, calling for half an hour to see Sidney and his Wife. On my return home went on with my Lecture.

Tuesday 19th. CFA Tuesday 19th. CFA
Tuesday 19th.

Fine day. Morning at Office. To Quincy to dine. Return to tea. Evening at home.

I went to the Office this morning but was not occupied very usefully. Something or other I must soon do. My carpenter called and I gave him a commission or two as also my man whom I dismissed so unceremoniously last night as to put me to some present inconvenience.

At noon I went home and rode with Mrs. Adams to Quincy. We found the family much as usual, but Fanny in a state of insensibility. She has not recovered from the shock of Saturday whence it is plainly to be inferred that the medicine was not the cause. The disease on that day appears to have reached the brain. And it was an unlucky coincidence for Dr. Holbrook that his remedy was productive of some effects so similar that he ascribed them all to it rather too hastily. I am afraid the disease has gone on in stages with certainty to it’s end.

Home by sunset. Evening with the children and in my study, writing.

Wednesday 20th. CFA Wednesday 20th. CFA
Wednesday 20th.

Cold and clear. Office as usual. Regular division. Evening at home.

I went to the Office this morning as usual and was occupied in my ordinary mode. Nothing new. Home in order to attend to details put 330out of order by my man’s departure. Found my Wife who had returned from Quincy where she spent the night, with Dr. Bigelow. Her account is confirmatory of my worst apprehensions. The Dr. now pronounces the case to be dropsy on the brain very decided. The complaint appears then either to have thoroughly baffled their penetration, or it has very suddenly changed it’s character. Mrs. Goods the child’s nurse was at my house just from Washington and went to Quincy in the afternoon’s stage. Evening quietly at home. Continued my Lecture.