Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

Tuesday. 27th.

Thursday. 29th.

Wednesday. 28th. CFA Wednesday. 28th. CFA
Wednesday. 28th.

I said that my plan was to be altered. This is in consequence of a disposition on the part of my brother to conciliate, by his manner to my Wife and by his postponing his departure. As this manifests an inclination which is certainly uncalled for by the circumstances, I feel it to be my duty to reciprocate it. So far as I can, I will do so. This will depend entirely upon him. If I am not subjected to any galling sense of inferiority unjustly and unnecessarily pressed upon me in matters of daily intercourse we shall do well. If I am again, I must leave the scene before my temper gets the better of me. I wonder what pleasure a man can feel in piquing himself upon always gaining little victories in boasting. What is there which raises more sharp angles in the whole progress of life?

I started early this morning to be present at a meeting of the Class called for nine o’clock, Commencement morning. Reached Cambridge shortly after that time and upon looking round found nobody. A more thorough examination discovered Fay, Dillaway, Allen, Sherwin, and I heard of two more.1 But the purpose for which the meeting was called the removal of the Cenotaph or monument of the Class, was not accomplished. Our graveyards are not sacred places that our little memorial is suffering in its present position. The idea is to put it in Mount Auburn. I went to look at it as well as at many of the 158old scenes of my College life. Many things are changed. Much building and ornamenting gives a different look to the place. I cannot account for the desolate feeling which came over me while I was there. Nothing came back to me that I valued. My friendships formed there have been none of them permanent. Poor Sheafe too, the inscription to whom on the Stone did nothing to diminish my melancholy, he has gone to a better world.2 This world has made all the rest uncongenial to me. I live in my own family and my own thoughts. The rest is a blank. Part of my feeling may also be attributed to the coldness of my instructors with whose names I have not a single warming association. They might have made me love the Institution. Is not this difficulty at the bottom of the present decaying condition of the College? For on this day the marks of decay struck me forcibly. No Graduate of modern times whom I have met entertains any enthusiasm for the place of his education. Few of them contracted any of the spirit of literary research. Indeed this which I did not acquire and which I weakened there is the only tie that holds me to it.

I hastened from the spot, and returned to town, where my avocations restored the general tone of my thoughts. In consequence of the reasons assigned above, I returned home to dinner. Afternoon passed in writing Diary and reading a little. Quiet evening.


None of the classmates mentioned, Richard Sullivan Fay, Charles Knapp Dillaway, Phineas Allen, and Thomas Sherwin, had been of CFA’s circle during their undergraduate years (vol. 1:374; 2:273).


George Sheafe, with whom CFA had been on terms of some intimacy, had died in 1826, the year following their graduation (vol. 1:12, 374; 2:22). A search has failed to reveal the location or fate of the class monument with its memorial inscriptions.