Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 1

180 Friday. June 11th. IV:30. CFA Friday. June 11th. IV:30. CFA
Friday. June 11th. IV:30.

After a very sleepless night, from what cause I know not, I arose, dressed myself and read my usual number of Chapters and the first book of Cowper’s Task. This is a pleasant poem but as it is a commencement of a subject not the most excellent for a Poet’s pen, we must wait till he obtains room for more excursions. I read this Poem just before I commenced Aikin and recollect the great pleasure which I had in it. I am now very curious to see whether my marks will be the same as formerly. I doubt much the strength of my natural taste and consequently shall see what is the variation. I then attended Prayers and after looking over my lessons, recitation. I then returned home got a lesson in Botany and wrote my Journal.

At ten o’clock I attended Mr. Channing’s second Lecture. His style is certainly quite good, he treated today of Rhetoric as a branch of study. He distinguished from Ethics and Logic by embracing parts of both but giving a more extended surface. The one he said treated of moral obligation of the duty of man to God, to himself and to the world, but Rhetoric was connected with their passions and although it’s effects were caused by touching the sense of rectitude which existed in every man, they acted upon those passions of men which Moral Philosophy is intended to bind. He said it was different from Logic as that was merely a dry search after Truth in methodical formulas whereas this was designed to apply these very rules clothed in the beauty of language and all the richness of imagery which the mind of men can comprehend. He then went on to discuss the subjects in which Eloquence existed. Some people had said that Eloquence arose from the subject and that in Law and Divinity it was impossible to be eloquent but it was his opinion that Eloquence existed every where and that it was in the power of a naturally eloquent man (for it is his opinion that it is natural) to be eloquent on every subject, that he could exert his powers of imagination even on things the most dry. This is all just observation and I saw it powerfully exemplified in the case of Mr. Emmet on the Steam Boat question last Winter.1 I did not hear however what was said to be his very finest part which was the close of his speech. The subject was as dry also as any which could have been agitated.

I read a considerable portion of Mitford’s Greece. He treated of the Oracles, the Games and the council of Amphictyons, the three great links, as he thinks of the Grecian people. These gave them a consistency which otherwise they would not have possessed and made them have the appearance to others at least of being a people. The 181influence obtained by the Oracle was not surprising considering the state of the people. The institution of the Games was very good for them as it gave them a character, it promoted taste and elegance for which they were afterwards so noted. I finished this early and copied a piece in my Common Place Book before dinner. Afterwards, I read Mitford’s Appendix on the subject of the Chronology of these times which to be sure is obscure enough. I shall not attempt to make dates but merely to keep the course of events. These to be sure are doubtful enough but I am inclined to believe them. Mr. Mitford is pretty positive in his style of speaking or writing, nevertheless he is a very pleasant author to read. The last Chapter which I read was on the history of the smaller States of Greece which he gives merely to prepare for his great subject.

I then attended Declamation and spoke myself Byron’s beautiful ode to the Greeks in Don Juan. I tried my best but hardly gave the full force of the sublime production. It was difficult. Mr. Channing criticized my rapidity by which I lost some force, of this I was conscious but I am still in a flurry on the Stage, which it is impossible for me to get over. I am happy to think of my own improvement since I entered College and have no fear of any appearance when warmed by my subject. This was the first time that I have ever felt in the least carried away, I wished to be more so but was afraid of extravagance in action.

After this our Lyceum members made a party and went to Fresh Pond where we spent a very pleasant afternoon in bowling, we returned soon after tea time, missing Prayers. I made arrangements with Mr. Wyeth for Tuesday. The Lyceum Club, the regular Members met and went through the regular business of the term. I was elected President, Richardson Vice P. and Otis, Secretary. The same irregular Members were elected for this term. I then called upon Brenan and a few minutes on Dwight—and after settling some Club Accounts with Mr. Willard, I retired—having read my Chapters. XI:15.


See entry for 4 Feb., above.

Saturday. June. 12th. V:45. CFA Saturday. June. 12th. V:45. CFA
Saturday. June. 12th. V:45.

Attended Prayers, read two Chapters in the Bible, looked over my lesson and went to recitation. I went to see the Newspapers but found nothing except the declaration of New Hampshire which makes it pretty decisive as to the opinion of the New England States, five of whom have determined the public opinion by a public manifestation.1 No Southern papers or Mail this morning. I then went home and wrote my Journal and read the second book of Cowper’s Task in which he 182writes with that fullness of heart which will always make poetry good and where he inveighs so bitterly against the vices of the clergy. There is a fine tone of piety and feeling which makes this pleasing. This was all that I was able to do today as at eleven o’clock I rode into town with Sheafe. We went in very quick as the mare, Doty, was in good train.

Arrived at the Marlborough2 the first thing was to go to Mr. Rockford and be served there with a little haircutting which is the great reason I believe of the excess of blood in my head with which I am now afflicted. From here after walking about town a little, I went to Dr. Welsh’s and saw George, and for once found him at home. We had considerable conversation on politics and his appointment to deliver a fourth of July Oration at Quincy. For my own part on consideration of the subject, I do not think it will do him any injury and it may do him some good. I am afraid, he will be led to express opinions which may be used against him at some future time as this is now the practice in this country to call up all old opinions in order to convict a man of gross inconsistency in his course. But this will be avoided in considering his youth, and as he can write and speak well he may make a favourable impression upon an audience not most critical. The Quincy people would be all well inclined to him as they perhaps are proud of our family already. Perhaps it is all which would have brought their town’s name peculiarly into notice.

I also had a good deal of conversation with him concerning his misunderstanding with John, which will, I hope, soon be rectified. I dined with him and had some laugh with Miss Harriet about the family and Mrs. Adams &c. &c. I had the pleasure of eating Salmon for the first time this year and drinking some excellent Porter, after which I smoked a very good Cigar with him. We talked of those cousins of ours in whom I feel considerable interest, the one because I believe her no favourite with her own family, the other because she will be in so very unfortunate a situation unless well married which is very doubtful.

It is one of the worst consequences attending an unfortunate match that the family arising from it must partake in some measure of the sentiments of their parents and consequently are in danger of doing the same or worse. Thus it is with these and even worse as they see but little of the best company. Abigail has received a lesson this winter which will save her from a bad step and I hope the other will.

The Quincy Stage arrived and I was obliged to go in seek of amusement. I rambled about until I found myself near Mr. Hilliard’s 183store3 where I went in and looked over the books there, none of which I was in the least tempted to buy. The assortment does not appear to be a good one. Ever since Mr. Hilliard’s purchase the books have been very far inferior to what they have been before. Mr. Hall,4 it is said, has ruined the importation of valuable books because he has made bad ones so cheap. I then went to the Marlborough with Sheafe who had also dropped into the bookstore and after a little walk went to the billiard room to see Tudor whom we had agreed to bring to Cambridge. We found him here playing and as I had nothing else to do I sat myself down and began to read the Extravagant Burletta of Tom and Jerry5 which made so much noise in Boston last Winter. It is a ridiculous thing without wit but so well describing the humours of high and low life that it takes with the people astonishingly. All productions of this sort will run on the stage much longer than those much superior in point of merit for this has nothing to boast.

At half past six or seven we returned to Cambridge bringing out Tudor, we obtained tea however from Mrs. Saunders’. I spent the evening at Tudor’s and we drank a bottle of Porter. But I was so thoroughly worn out that I could not exert myself to quit even old Mclntire the shoe maker who came up on business with Tudor. He is a queer old put, very amusing generally from his attempts at elegance in language and his singular application of great words. I stayed at Tudor’s until ten o’clock which being my usual hour for retiring I went down stairs and read two Chapters according to custom and went to bed.

My day in Boston was spent on the whole in a manner much pleasanter than usual, George’s being visible for once and being quite agreable has afforded me much pleasure. I still had two or three weary hours and am but little tempted to renew my visit. Indeed I do not expect to go in again until late in the term. I refused to day to go and hear George which hurt him severely, I believe, I must change my mind.6 X:15.


JQA was the unanimous choice of New England for the Presidency. Calhoun received the section’s almost unanimous vote for Vice President (Bemis, JQA , 2:30).


Located at 11 Marlborough Place ( Boston Directory, 1823).


Cummings & Hilliard & Co., book-sellers, at 1 Cornhill Street (same).


Presumably Lorenzo T. Hall, a printer at Second Street (same).


William Thomas Moncrieff, Tom and Jerry; or, Life in London.


Thus punctuated in MS.