Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 1

Tuesday. May. 11th. V:15.

Thursday. May 13th. V:30.

Wednesday. May. 12th. V:25. CFA Wednesday. May. 12th. V:25. CFA
Wednesday. May. 12th. V:25.

Looked over my Astronomy with more care than usual, attended Prayers and having spent the half hour in writing my journal, went to recitation but was not called upon. The Morning being the busy one, I did not accomplish my Journal till late, my Spanish lesson employing me until late. Mr. Sales was not well attended today, this was not the case however with the Lecture from Farrar. For that was very full. He gave us the theory of Thunder and Lightning today. The great fault with this man is that there is no originality in him, his experiments are precisely those we read in Enfield not varied in the least and illustrated almost in his words. He gives us also much repetition of the simple steps which tires one very much. He has a great deal of recapitulation. He closed his lecture by showing us a few experiments in Opticks exhibiting by the power of the solar microscope, a number of flies magnified and some crystallizations which were very beautiful indeed. He is not generally successful in his experiments however.

Returning home I finished Shenstone and Churchill1 in this collection. I also read “la Gloire du Val de Grace,”2 the concluding poem in the works of Moliere. I passed quickly over the softness of the first poet and read with great delight the Rosciad. It is admirable satire—piquant, just and well directed. The lines have remarkable force in them and the sentiments on the subject are correct. It is forcible and this is the great end of Poetry. The lines are strong and come together 134uniting meaning with sound. Indeed I have not relished any of this kind of writing remarkably until I came to this, and have marked it for frequent reconsideration. As to Moliere’s Poem, I do not see much meaning to it, it appears to be a panegyric upon the work of some carver and may be said perhaps to be prettily turned. It has a great deal of Boileau’s “clinquant” in it though. At least such was my impression, which may be unjust as I will confess I read it superficially. This finishes his Works. I have been very well pleased in reading them. He ridiculed the foibles of the age with a great deal of happiness and introduced some improvements of consequence in the public taste. For his wit and comic effect he will deservedly remain a favourite with the French and a standard in their language. I have read all his plays in exactly one month. My daily portion has been missed but once and that was on a day which I had allowed myself a holiday. It was on last Exhibition.3 This has been beneficial to me as it has proved my method and resolution and also it has opened to my examination the beauties of one of the first authors in the French or in any language. I speak now in my own person and therefore drop the objection of moral tendency.

I had intended to have spent the afternoon in reading but Tudor came in and staid here. We conversed for a considerable time. This is a singular man, I have attempted once or twice to draw a correct character but find myself unable. His fine feelings, his variableness, his love of contradiction and his obstinacy when engaged on a side make up a chaos which it is impossible to arrange in a continual and regular series. The fine points of his nature far out-balance the bad ones. He is generous, he is affectionate, and openhearted. Positive and this arises from youth, obstinate and this comes from feeling. The truth is that he has lived without obtaining or endeavouring to obtain any command over his passions, he gratifies all his desires without hesitations. Still he has some principle, for though dissipated he never drinks to excess and ardent he indulges but little in women. Of this latter quality one might be led to doubt his possession. But on the whole I incline to think from his complexion and temper it is but want of temptation which makes him appear the contrary. This principle if I will speak correctly, I must allow is not from a sentiment of moral wrong but from the dislike of the consequences as affecting himself. Thus have I been as fair and impartial as possible in this account. He is my friend.

I read ninety pages of Mosheim today—to become disgusted by his partiality, and the contentions which he describes. Had I not gone so 135far in this work, I should throw it up in disgust, and that would injure my perseverance. We attended the Dudleian Lecture this afternoon in the place of a recitation. It was delivered this year by Mr. Flint of Salem.4 The subject, the force of revealed religion. This makes the fourth we have heard since entering College. There was not a great deal of argument in it as his proofs were simple, reducing himself to two or three plain but pretty powerful dilemmas. His close was eloquent however, in his address to the students he spoke with much feeling and his unaffected manner had considerable effect. It was on the whole quite an agreable disappointment. The rest of the day was spent in finishing my portion of Mosheim, writing a sketch for my tomorrow’s theme and studying my lesson. At nine o’clock, Richardson and Tudor came down and we drank a bottle of Champagne Wine together. We (the Lyceum Club of whom I shall speak hereafter) had bought a hamper and therefore to try its quality we three took one of the Society.5 It was very delicious and after some conversation we all retired, I being moderately exhilarated, very slightly however. The Wine was very fine. XI.


Charles Churchill (1731–1764).


“La gloire du dôme du Val-de-Grâce.”


By college rule this would have been the last Tuesday of April (or 27 April).


The Dudleian Lecture was an annual rotating theological discourse. The Rev. James Flint’s sermon was later published in A Present from a Pastor to His Young Parishioners, Boston, 1844; the manuscript is in the Harvard Archives.


Thus in MS.