Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 1

Sunday. May. 9th. VII:20. CFA Sunday. May. 9th. VII:20. CFA
Sunday. May. 9th. VII:20.

Arose very late this morning after having missed Prayers. The late hour at which I retired last night and the only time we have for indulgence had their effect in detaining me. This circumstance however put me woefully back in my day’s business. My Journal not being finished until it was time to attend Chapel. Indeed I find that the duties I have set upon myself too difficult as they give me not a moment of leisure time during the day. Unavoidable circumstances and occurrences delay my progress and make me unsatisfied with myself. Indeed this accumulation of duties has happened by accident as I commenced two long works before I received this Journal1 for which I had made no allowance. Things being so however I shall persevere, as but little more is left. I can not bear to give way in a plan as it diminishes my self esteem and injures future resolutions. The precedent is the thing to be feared and not the step.

I concluded the poem of Liberty and with a few other small poems, 127finished the Sixth Volume of the Poets. Whatever I may intend to read over, certainly this is not one as I imagine there is not enough temptation. Of his small poems I noticed some very remarkable. “Les Femmes Savantes” came to my assistance and amused me very much. A severe caricature upon the Blue stockings but perhaps not altogether so incorrect as might be supposed. A learned lady is a suspicious personage for it naturally makes a person suppose that wanting the employment which is the lot of the sex in general, she is obliged to resort to books as a relief from ennui. This is all well enough if no noise be made about it. Pity, respect and esteem, would arise in case such a matter were but suspected and one had no room to go further. They are a talking set though and cannot conceal the pride of superiority in any respect.

I attended Chapel and heard Dr. Ware in the morning and Mr. Colman2 in the afternoon. The former was uncommonly long this morning, creating a smile throughout the Student seats upon his sixthly and lastly. This is not the fault of the old gentleman generally however. The latter person preaches here but seldom and is generally considered fearfully having dosed us at times. He was short however today, and although I did not think his Sermon extraordinary, I was quite pleased with the variety of his imagery and the strength of his expression. The seats are no places however to attend to a Preacher with Patience. I sometimes think it would be the worst penance a Student could be put to, if he were set there for any length of time. An anthem was sung but not very much to my taste as it appears to me that they howl more than formerly, having lost the good way of singing, they formerly possessed. I came away rejoiced as probably it is the last Sunday, I attend this Term.

I could not touch Mosheim until late in the Evening owing partly to my being obliged to answer the letter received yesterday from John which took some time; as he writes full letters I consider myself compelled to answer in the same style whether I possess material or not.3 I principally amused him today with an account of the late expulsion. The other cause which detained me was a visit from Tudor and Richardson in the Evening. I must confess that finding myself so much interrupted by the visits and parties of the Students, I have been seriously considering the expediency of obtaining some other room next year. Were it not that it would be inconvenient to me on account of my books, the great superiority of accommodations, I think I should be decided in favour of this step. Whatever the pleasure may be, I am conscious of a higher end in coming here than amusement. My temper 128is naturally jovial and is liable therefore to be exposed to temptations which would make me extravagant and dissipated. My conversation with Richardson was not of a nature to soften these feelings in the least. He is the most irritating young man in his manners that I ever met with and that so unconsciously that one becomes the more provoked because he can blame him less. A perfect facheux with as good a disposition as I have seen. Weak however as possible he seldom knows when he is straining most the feelings of his companions. He bears me astonishingly. I am conscious of my arrogance towards him and wish I could correct him or me, but it is no affair of mine and talking with him always makes me feel humbled.

They stayed until eight o’clock so that I could read but fifty pages of Mosheim this day. The Catholic religion gained ground in this Century by a reaction and many princes were reconverted perhaps more from policy than belief. These princes also commenced their system of persecution. The Moors, the Huguenots and the Germans suffered from the effects of this bigotry which returned upon themselves with tenfold injury. Spain has never recovered the step taken at that time for the industrious portion of the people were expelled. The power of the popes and their direction of temporal affairs was no longer tolerated, it became what was first intended, merely acting over spiritual matters and even those in a moderate degree. They could no more pretend to the supreme dominion over the world.

Having copied an extract into my Common Place Book, I went up and spent some time at Wheatland’s room, all the Lyceum were collected there. Payne and Lunt,4 Seniors, and Day a Yale Student5 were also there. After being amused at some stories some of which were excessively blasphemous I came away. I was rather ashamed so having read Enfield, retired. X:15.


See entry for 3 May, above.


Henry Colman, the Congregational minister in Salem ( Mass. Register, 1825, p. 86).


Both letters are missing.


William Edward Payne, of Boston, and George Lunt, of Newburyport ( Harvard Annual Cat., 1823).


Edgar Burr Day, Yale 1824 (Dexter, Yale Graduates Later than 1815 ).

Monday. May. 10th. V:15. CFA Monday. May. 10th. V:15. CFA
Monday. May. 10th. V:15.

Arose and after again looking over my Astronomy attended Prayers. Did the same between Prayers and recitation it being our turn to go in last. My Journal being thus delayed could scarcely command enough time to day. I spent all the leisure part of the morning upon it which to be sure is not much as I was employed learning and reciting my Spanish lesson. Mr. Farrar’s Lecture takes up more than an hour a 129day. Today he exhibited to us a solar microscope and tried some experiments with it. The day was not a good one for although it was clear, the wind was high and shook the mirror very much. The magnifying power though was astonishing exhibiting the finest fibres of a small portion of the finest of animals that is to say the most delicate. The lecture was a beautiful one and drew a much larger audience than usual although the students could not avoid showing their boyish propensities. The darkness of the room made a return of light very painful and I walked home with my eyes shut.

Entering my room, I found to my no small surprise, my brother George sitting here. He had come with my Uncle from Quincy and was going to Boston. As it was the second time I had seen him only, I fell immediately to talking of every subject which I had been asking him in my mind for some time. I have been to town to see him but it is impossible to find him there. Having talked of Washington and Quincy for some time, My Uncle came in and arranged accounts between himself and me, treating me very generously. I like very much some of this man’s qualities and am sorry that I have been at times so violent but my patience has been so severely tasked at times when my character for credit was less established that I could not help bursting out. They left me at dinner time.

The afternoon was spent in reading some pieces of Ambrose Phillips particularly his translation of Sappho which is quite good and all the poems of Collins in this collection. Of these I prefer three which in my mind are equal to any thing of the kind in the language. The Ode to the Passions I need only mention as it’s character is too high to need remark. His dirge in Cymbeline and the ode to Thomson are really beautiful.1 There is a tinge of deep melancholy spread over these which gives them great richness and a tender, plaintive tone which goes to the heart instantly. He wrote with feeling and he wrote with force. His life is a melancholy story like that of many of his equals, he died miserably. I was very much pleased with these productions today. But from some cause or other I had not accomplished any thing today except what I have mentioned at three o’clock when it was necessary to study my lesson in Tacitus. We commenced the dialogue on Orators today but I did not read over the whole of the day’s lesson before the bell rung. As it has been usual for Mr. Otis to call upon me first on Mondays I determined to make up my lost time by carrying Moliere into recitation. This was amusement for recitation as my expectation was answered. I read “la Comtesse d’Escarbagnas.” It is but a small work and nevertheless rather diverting. Not 130much point to the Play but as usual some severe satire. The women had reason to abuse Moliere for he was continually ridiculing them. His plays turn generally on their foibles. The countess is an aping fine lady taken off pretty well, but with not much exertion, as it seems as if it was thrown together for an afterpiece.

After recitation I paid a visit to Cunningham’s2 room with Otis, for the first time this term. My negligence has been great towards him. But circumstances have affected our intercourse. He has not been here so often since his quarrel with Dwight and I have felt less interested in him since I have seen him less. This difference is a very unpleasant affair to me and as it has been very silly I had hoped to be able to decide it but they are such tempers that I despair. Nothing could be done while Otis was with me so I made a formal visit and returned home. From thence went to the Book store where I lounged until Prayers. After attending these I returned home with the hope of having a good reading evening to myself but I had hardly got myself comfortably seated before J. Otis3 and Rundlet walked in to pay me a visit. This broke up my evening entirely so that I did not read a word. Allyne Otis came in also and we talked all over the old affairs of our Freshman year. I recollected my dissipation, melancholy and waste of time and had more to reproach myself of than usually agrees with me to recollect. The worst of this world is that in times past we recollect only the bad actions as the most striking and the good ones being a mere matter of course are suffered to run on unnoticed. My Journal had I kept one would have told me all, but I think the negligence of that is the very worst sign of all. I recollect billiards, drinking parties and riding as the principal concerns of that year. With my sickness, my ideas fortunately changed and I came back a new man. Perhaps I am too free now but at least there is not this fear that I shall go to lengths which will be destructive to me hereafter. I trust not. J. Otis is one of the most remarkable instances of resolution I have seen, his health though has contributed as much if not more than his inclinations to the destruction of his applications. They left me at nine and after a little talk with Mr. Saunder’s I went to Wheatland’s where as usual I met a pack of Seniors who kept me there till after ten o’clock when I came down and could give but a superficial look at “Twilight” this evening. X:15.


Several selections from Ambrose Philips (1675?-1749) and William Collins (1721–1759) are included in Aikin’s British Poets .


Francis Cunningham, of Boston, a junior ( Harvard Annual Cat., 1823).


Joseph Russell Otis, of Boston, a junior (same).