Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 1

Monday. June 28th. VI:5. CFA Monday. June 28th. VI:5. CFA
Monday. June 28th. VI:5.

Missed Prayers this Morning although very anxious to attend indeed. I had cautioned Sheafe to wake me which he did but my drowsy habits had made me return to sleep, which would have continued until breakfast had I not heard the sound of the last man’s steps on the Lyceum stair case. I might just as well have staid at home for not having prepared myself upon the long propositions, I was obliged to say so when unexpectedly called upon. On this account I was marked absent. I had missed a sufficient number already but this must make me more. I returned home quite sorrowful.

At study bell we attended a lecture in which Mr. Channing gave us an account of that sort of eloquence peculiar to Christian countries, the eloquence of the pulpit; he treated of its nature and history. He commenced as usual with a sort of historical sketch of it’s rise, at first mere exhortations from some particular commandment in the Bible. When however the Jews and civilized Heathen nations came to be converted, the Christians adopted some of their rites to please the one and some of their eloquence of the other. In the mean time he observed that probably the Christian religion owed more of it’s errors and follies to these causes than to any in its whole history. A remark new and much to the purpose. This digressive style is his pleasure. He said that this plan of texts had been adopted for pur-212poses of advice or consolation, but that now in many cases this had nothing whatever to do with the subject dissected upon. A pretty severe allusion, I thought to some of the Presidents sermons. Mr. Channing amuses himself picking up now and then a straw in his Lectures. With a sweet pretty style he does nothing but go round and round without making any decision as to the real points in question—what Eloquence is, where it is to be found, how cultivated, in whom it flourished in perfection, how gained? The field is wide but never can be thoroughly passed over in such a dawdling way. The man is a man of exceeding small mind. Though judicious in observations of small things, he can embrace no whole, he can take no wide view of the most enlarged issue on the face of the globe. He has improved my speaking, true? but it is only in a few natural observations which my education early in life enabled me to profit by.

Lecture over I returned home and spent my morning doing nothing or next to nothing. I looked over a little testament and attended recitation to the Dr. this noon. After which until dinner time, I was assisting in chalking the squadding rooms. After dinner I attended a Lecture of Mr. Nuttall’s on Botany. It was on the four first classes according to the system of Linnaeus. He continued his system of illustration and gave us a number of examples to examine at our rooms. Returning I read over my Arithmetical lesson, but Mr. Farrar could not hear us as he was very busy indeed. We therefore went and obtained some strawberries and then I chalked my floor which was no inconsiderable toil; as Lothrop had done the same with me I was obliged to assist him in his which was far the most troublesome of the whole. We finished at last but I was obliged to come home and dress myself all over again, the heat had been so powerful, before I could attend Prayers after which I drilled my section as usual, taught them the step forward, which they performed finally pretty well. I am amused at the exercise and begin now to be quite pleased with it. I kept them about half an hour and then dismissed them until tomorrow morning. I then walked up to College with Lothrop who had just dismissed his section and met a number of our class standing near Hollis1 whom we joined and, after arguing sometime concerning the company, separated.

I had a few minutes conversation with Chapman on the subject of Cunningham’s election to our Club here. It is a matter of great satisfaction that if this Porcellian affair has had no other advantageous effect it has had that of uniting Cunningham and Dwight, which would not have been done in any other way. This was what I tried 213to bring about but without success. The two leaders are now united and will proceed I hope with more effect. I walked down to Howard’s with Lothrop, he was not at home however so we returned. After this I spent a half an hour with Brenan in which we had some conversation concerning the disturbance in the Porcellians. He is in a queer plight in this difficulty for he has been well treated by the Northern party and badly by the Southern so that he can take but a singular part in it without inclining either way. After talking some time with him I returned home. X:15.


Hollis Hall, built in 1764, and still standing.

Tuesday. June 29th. VI. CFA Tuesday. June 29th. VI. CFA
Tuesday. June 29th. VI.

Attended Prayers this Morning for the first time for some days, and recitation. After breakfast I drilled my squad for half an hour and taught them marching in double ranks. I then came home and wrote my Journal for a little while, but as I had two days to make up, I only finished one this Morning. I then went to recitation to Dr. Popkin after which I returned home and wrote some of the Lyceum Journal.1

At dinner I was surprised by a visit from my brother George who came out today in consequence of a note on Saturday which I left for him. I had some conversation with him on College matters and also on his difficulty with John which will I hope soon be amended. I did not dare however to communicate to him my opinions received by that letter concerning Mary as I think with John such a notice should come from higher authority than that where any misconstruction can be put even upon the best intention. He appears to solace himself with a belief which I hope is authorized but I cannot say I think so. I then spoke to him of his Oration which as he appears to be anxious, I believe I shall be compelled to hear. I would gladly go if these parts did not interfere but it appears to me to be a great sacrifice to give us this pleasure for so much stiffness as I shall meet here.2 I settled with him concerning the appropriation for the dress of the Commandant,3 deciding that I should be credited for that Dante4 until an order should be received to give me the money for this very purpose.

After a little more desultory conversation he left me in the stage for Boston and I went up to Otis’ to look over Trigonometry which we recited to Farrar as usual. After this I returned and wrote my Journal for yesterday which employed me until Prayers. I have been so ex-214ceedingly busy of late that I have not been able to look at Mitford, six remaining volumes of which, by the bye, were brought to me to be paid for much to my displeasure as I had calculated upon no such thing. My studies of all kinds appear to be given up for the present only to be resumed with as much vigour as possible in warm weather, as soon as the present Seniors have left College. My expenses are now running very full also which must also be corrected when they leave. Evening spent as usual. X.


No such journal has been found in the Harvard Archives or among CFA’s own papers.


Thus in MS, but the sense is defective; “us” doubtless should be “up,” and “here” is probably a mistake for “there” (i.e. in Quincy, where GWA was to speak).


The uniform of ordinary cadets was an amalgam of required college dress and West Point attire. Students were required to wear a dark gray Oxford mixed, single-breasted coat, with claw-hammer tails. Over this the cadets put white crossbelts and a waist belt. An officer wore the same coat, trimmed with gilt buttons and gold epaulettes, white trousers, black shako with fountain plumes, a scarlet sash, white sword belt, and a straight sword (Batchelder, Bits of Harvard History , p. 68).


This allusion is utterly obscure. Though the term comes up again (see entry for 22 July 1825, below), it is not certain whether it refers to a book, is a slang expression, or what.