Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 1

Tuesday. June 15th. VI. CFA Tuesday. June 15th. VI. CFA
Tuesday. June 15th. VI.

Attended Prayers but as usual had no recitation this Morning. I read my Chapters in the Bible and wrote a Theme this Morning on Spring Vacation, quite a pleasant subject. At nine o’clock we were called in to the usual annual examination. This being our third and last but one.1 Few attended, Dr. Porter and Dr. Fiske2 I believe were the only two. Our examination commenced with Enfield and I was taken up among the first on a part which I had not seen. I managed by keeping the book open to read it off and passed decently. We next came to Tacitus in which I was taken up first and came off moderately well. Next came Metaphysics which I most dreaded, the class recited wretchedly until dinner time which suspended my fate. I was however not so badly off as I expected although I have not much to boast as to the goodness of the recitation. Dr. Ware examined us next in Paley and called upon me first by which I was able to recite very decently well. Still I owe part of it to my class mate Ames3 who was sitting behind. The old mole Allen has not the quickness of a tortoise and though desirous, he is ill timed. I am very sorry for the first of these young men, it is matter of great regret that his finances will not suffer him 187to take the situation in his class which both his feelings and his character require. He is a gentleman and an honourable fellow and is more respected among the upper class of young men than any one I know. He is one of the very few in the class who are not directly in our society, whom I like. Professor Willard then examined his four scholars in Hebrew to the amusement of all the rest of the class after which Dr. Popkin closed with Homer which I passed quite well. On the whole, the examination was a decent one, it was not creditable as it showed that the studies had been very poorly conducted. Our good scholars did not do half as much credit to themselves as usual and our bad ones were in character. For my own part I performed my duty decently and that was all. Comparing it with that of the last year it is rather better as I did not go through without a dead set4 in Blair.5 This was given me by the malignity of Mr. Channing who asked me questions which few could have answered. If this was bad, I recited well in Logic, and in Greek, so that perhaps taking the two I was very much as usual in this one. We had no speech and were dismissed at about half past six o’clock.

After Prayers and tea, we as usual with us on the evening of Examination went to Fresh Pond to a Supper. Our party was composed this time, of Richardson, Rundlet, Sheafe, Brenan, Lothrop and myself. Of these the three first and I went up immediately and spent the Evening, bowling by candlelight. Richardson and I beat the other two. This is quite good amusement, and much more interesting than I used to think. It is not equal to billiards though which I think is the most delightful of all mere amusements. At half past nine o’clock the rest of the party had joined us and we sat down to a supper quite as handsome as I wished. It was much superior in quality to the last one and looked really fit for any person to sit down to. I know not what was the reason however but my appetite was not good and I was not able to eat at all to my satisfaction. As I was fixed upon a sober time, I determined to be prudent, influenced partly by the feelings which I saw excited at home, as our members expected to have a crow over us and partly as I saw Brenan was fixed upon the same. And I was not going to expose myself before him unless it was the same on his part with me. My feelings warned me in time and I refused all drinking after this. The conduct of Rundlet and us two influenced materially the joviality of the table and, although very near intoxication, the other three managed to pass off with only muddled brains. I recollected so well the effects of the excessive debauch of last year that I rejoiced much at the course of this. After many a song and poor toast 188we arose and having paid his bill of thirteen dollars we returned home.

The walk was an exceedingly pleasant one. Lothrop and Rundlet were very amusing and although Brenan was too prudent as he was fearful of a discovery, which I thought was not risked in the least, we came home pleasantly, and all retired in very good humour. Rundlet stayed at Sheafe’s. On the whole I rejoiced very much to find this had been a rational supper, which among young men is but too seldom the case. Although some of our party were considerably exhilarated none of them were in such a state as to be unable to take care of themselves. This evening for the first time, I was compelled to neglect reading my Bible but there being no light in the house I retired without. II:30.

1.

By college rule juniors at Harvard were examined on the second Tuesday of the third term ( Harvard Annual Cat., 1823, p. 16).

2.

Eliphalet Porter, Harvard 1777, a Fellow and Overseer of the college, and Thaddeus Fiske, Harvard 1785, another Overseer ( Harvard Quinquennial Cat. ; Harvard Annual Cat., 1823).

3.

Seth Ames, of Dedham ( Harvard Annual Cat., 1823).

4.

“A complete failure in a recitation” ( Dict. of Americanisms ).

5.

Hugh Blair, Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres. JQA’s two sets of the work, published in London in 1793 and in 1796, each in 3 vols., are in the Stone Library. Another copy, also in 3 vols., published in 1789 in Basel, is among JA’s books in the Boston Public Library ( Catalogue of JA’s Library , p. 29).

Wednesday. June 16th. VIII. CFA Wednesday. June 16th. VIII. CFA
Wednesday. June 16th. VIII.

Missed Prayers. At study bell I attended a lecture of Mr. Channings. His subject today he divided into three heads, Demonstrative, deliberative and judicial oratory. He treated today of the first of these, he considered it as the least important of the three as it was used only on occasions of meetings for the purpose of hearing, and not on occasions involving the interest of any portion of individuals. Funeral orations, panegyrics, Orations on annual festivals such as the fourth of July and others. This style of speaking was suited therefore only for holiday occasions. He closed this lecture and this part of his subject with a few observations concerning the requisites for this, of which he mentioned the accurate delineation of character as the most important, that it was not sufficient to speak merely of his qualities as general, such as that he was brave or generous, for this he has in common with thousands, and although some people might prefer a bombastic sounding expression of some common qualities, it exhibited bad taste and showed that they only who had no discernment would do this. Other men would give value to the exact description of some remarkable peculiarity, some feeling for which he was remarkable 189only to these immediately.1 On a judicious selection of these he said depended the principal ..., 2 the force of an Oration of the demonstrative kind. This was a pretty good lecture.

I did absolutely nothing this Morning from a sort of listlessness always following a blow, although I had no headache or sick feeling much to my satisfaction and our good companions lost their expected satisfaction. I regret that I saw this for really I do not wish to think ill of more fellows than I can help. These I have a good opinion of at present and wish to continue. Had Otis possessed one quality more I could have liked him. Had Richardson been in good society he would have made a better companion. Wheatland knew no politeness. Thus it is, I am necessarily debarred by a consciousness of their faults from the intimacy of many whom I have wished to respect. I attended Dr. Popkin at eleven o’clock and recited without having looked at the lesson. This Greek Testament is boy’s play. After it I read the two books of Cowper’s Task which finish it. I did not neglect reading it yesterday but it was done in the examination room and so lazily that I thought it proper to go over it again. I have no remarks further to make on this subject.

After dinner I read a very little in Mitford’s Greece which I shall not notice at present. At two o’clock, I attended a lecture from Mr. Nuttall the Curator of the gardens on Botany,3 a course which I wish to attend as by this I shall ensure regularity and order, to my study of it. To accommodate the Senior members he began his course with the more important parts of his flower, in this way making it quite puzzling to those who have not been over the terms. I have studied them and found but little difficulty in understanding him. He treated today of the calyx or flower cup, its different forms and illustrated them by different flowers. He appears to be an agreable man, and quite easy in his manner. He certainly appears desirous of giving some instruction in this branch, and as it is a pleasing one, I am delighted at having this opportunity of cultivating it. This first lecture was sufficiently simple.

I then returned home and wrote my journal for Monday as I had no opportunity for this purpose yesterday. We then went to Mr. Farrar, Otis, Sheafe, Percy4 and I were all the class. He employed all the time in explaining to us the day’s lesson and by dint of perseverance made us or at least Otis and myself understand it. As to Percy he never will understand anything. Sheafe did not take the trouble. We returned home, for me to laze away my time as I have been during this term, but I do not know why, my hope is that a letter from my father will 190encourage me to continue my studies. I went to the Athenaeum and spent half an hour reading there and then went to Prayers. After which I took a walk with Sheafe and Richardson crossing the Cham, the romantic name of a very pretty stream which winds along here.

Returning, I spent the evening at Tudor’s, reading with him the trip to Paris of Mathews5 in ridiculous style. This, to be sure is a very foolish way of spending my time and really I begin to be very much ashamed of myself. My Mitford has for the last few days been deplorably neglected and I altogether reject all time because there appears so little of it.6 Indeed I have decided I think that the two first years are far the best for reading. When I came down, I tried to read Enfield over but could not, it appeared so unusual to get a lesson, I did not know what to make of it. I read my Chapters in the Bible all and finished the book of Genesis. It is a book I will not criticize although perhaps I ought to. X.

1.

Thus in MS.

2.

Word omitted in MS.

3.

Thomas Nuttall (1786–1859), the noted botanist and ornithologist, who in 1822 became curator of the Botanical Garden at Harvard ( DAB ).

4.

Robert Dow Percy, of St. Francisville, La., a junior ( Harvard Annual Cat., 1823).

5.

Possibly Henry Matthews, The Diary of an Invalid; being the Journal of a Tour ... in Portugal, Italy, Switzerland and France in the Years 1817–1819, London, 1820.

6.

Thus in MS.