A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.

Diary of Charles Francis Adams, 1861

Saturday 10th

10 August 1861

Monday 12th

12 August 1861
11 August 1861
Sunday 11th

A very warm day, but bright and genial. I was out early. We visited King’s chapel too late to get within the choir, during the service, so we sat outside, taking but little part in it as a religious exercise, but examining carefully the architectural beauties of the structure. I am not an enthusiast about the Gothic, most of the charm of which I believe to consist in the associations it furnishes with past great ideas. It is the emanation of religious fanaticism working out the notion of the personal presence of the Deity in the house made for him with hands. Who can honestly ascribe a single feeling of true piety to such a brute as Henry the 8th, and yet Henry the 8th is the sovereign whose initials and whose arm every where remind you that the edifice was his work. A poor origin for the English Reformation. Such churches are well adapted to produce the scenic effects of public worship, but they do not stretch up208 to the magnificent idea of God who takes no note of the pride of his creatures any more than he measures the insignificance of their labors. The architect of creation lives in space. There is the arena for the thought that approximates to honor of him. The rest is man’s feeble vanity. After service and during the rest of the day I visited a considerable number of sixteen colleges which make up the University. Though all more or less ancient I noticed there was no dilapidation. And indeed I perceive this peculiarity wherever I go. I see no signs of poverty in the buildings. The streets are neat and clean, and the dwellings are well taken care of, as well as the grounds. Nothing can be prettier than the grounds along the little stream which gives its name to the place. It is vacation now, so that we see few students or fellows. I rambled about so much as to be well tired out before night. The heat was considerable too, for England.

Cite web page as:

Charles Francis Adams, Sr., [date of entry], diary, in Charles Francis Adams, Sr.: The Civil War Diaries (Unverified Transcriptions). Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2015. http://www.masshist.org/publications/cfa-civil-war/view?id=DCA61d223