Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 1

Wednesday. July 7th. VI. CFA Wednesday. July 7th. VI. CFA
Wednesday. July 7th. VI.

Attended Prayers and recitations this morning very fortunately, and was called upon in a long proposition, the commencement of which I was prepared to recite. Had he continued one word farther than what I actually recited, I think it would have been not so well. No exercises after the Morning as the Seniors were examined today. I squadded my section in the hall this morning on the right oblique step. I then went and took a warm bath which gave me a feeling of fatigue all day. The rest of the morning was employed in writing my Journal and doing a little at the bookstore.

I made an engagement to take a ride this afternoon with Otis, but while at dinner we were surprised by the cry of fire and a tremendous pillar of smoke arose in the direction of Boston. It was in appearance at the bottom of Beacon street as seen from the tops of the Colleges. Otis consequently hurried into town to see if his father’s was in danger and left me to enjoy the afternoon alone. I therefore took up Mitford again and read his view of the Western Countries politically connected with Greece and of the Grecian settlements in Sicily and Italy. The history was rather uninteresting and merely embraced a short account of the Grecian settlements. A small definition of History I met with which struck me and I shall insert it in my Common Place Book.

I then went to the book store where I met Cunningham who had been into Boston and who told me that the fire had caught in Charles Street, had extended up Beacon Street and had burnt sixteen houses besides stables, barns, shops &c. in great numbers. In short there has 227not been such a fire for a great while, it has taken off some very pretty houses. A great effort checked it at a Mr. Eckley’s1 at the bottom of the street. Otis returned before Prayers. It appears that all the people in the street were in a fright and were fixing their houses in preparation, had moved all their furniture, in short that the mall presented a very queer sight—of furniture, books and every thing else lying without distinction all over the common.2 I was troubled with the ringing here and in fact managed somehow or other to spend an extremely unpleasant day, deriving no satisfaction or pleasure from my own reading or any thing. Indeed I begin to believe that unless soon recovered I shall lose my taste for reading which to me would be the most serious loss in the world.

After Prayers, I read my lesson over and then went upstairs to attend a Meeting of the Lyceum Club which was held tonight for the first time this term at Wheatland’s room. The Members did not arrive until very late, nine o’clock for example. And Otis was tired, Chapman’s eyes by working at this fire were almost out of his head. I know no place where Otis shows himself more unpleasantly than at parties of this sort, he has no sort of knowledge how to please them, he does not become warm but on the contrary, either goes to sleep or complains of something the matter with him. He has not those feelings which make him an agreable companion because he has not any energy in his composition. How few there are in this world who can be called perfectly agreable. How few there are in whom the ingredients are mixed in perfect proportion. If Otis has too little energy, Dwight has too much of it. If the one is easily moved, the other is the most difficult. Positive even when incorrect and the more so when the most are against him. It is one of the faults, I have to find in him. Another is his whimwham, to use the expression of the Author of Salmagundi, his frequent expressions of like and dislike which are unpleasant and according to the strict rule of good breeding, improper.

The society met, Lothrop absent who will not probably join the club this term. Cunningham was proposed and admitted, a little other business was settled and we employed ourselves much in our usual way. We played cards for a little while and gave them up to take a few strawberries after which we resumed our amusement not with much life however, as Chapman was really in pain and Otis “as stupid as a beast.” We therefore threw this up and began with a little singing not however in a very loud strain. Tudor was somewhat exhilarated, from the effect of the end of College life and the variety 228of liquors which he took. I staid here till late and humoured Tudor as much as possible. Richardson is unpleasant at a treat of this kind because he becomes talkative, noisy, and impertinent. Sheafe was sulky. The Meeting however was pleasant as I was in one of my quiet fits3 and amused myself with the nonsense of others. My complaisance cost me a sick fit this evening, thanking Heaven that this is the last. I.

1.

David Eckley lived at 8 Beacon Street ( Boston Directory, 1829–30).

2.

The conflagration began in a carpenter shop on the corner of Chesnut and Charles streets and spread to Beacon Street. Fifteen houses were burned in the two-hour blaze, including the Beacon Street mansions of Tasker H. Swett, Henry G. Rice, William Minot, Timothy H. Carter, Samuel Austin, and Stephen Bean. The Harrison Gray Otis mansion was unharmed (Boston Daily Advertiser, 8 July 1824; Boston Directory, 1825).

3.

MS: “fist.”

Thursday. July. 8th. VI:5. CFA Thursday. July. 8th. VI:5. CFA
Thursday. July. 8th. VI:5.

Missed Prayers but awoke in sufficient time to attend recitation, not in very good time for it, but I was not called upon. After breakfast I attended a squad of my section. My guide was not out so that I was unable to advance them as fast as the other commandants had done theirs. I then wrote a theme on the subject of style, “he that would write, should read.” I was much pleased with the subject and wrote it very soon indeed. In observations on style I cannot help thinking that the most proper are the cautions concerning false taste which is so often prevalent in the style of this century. Reading good books is an excellent preservative against this, as we naturally take our form of expression from them and are disgusted when we meet with any thing which opposes our ideas of nature. I am not so extravagantly fond of natural style as many people but still I like it much. I then carried up my Theme. I insert it here as worthy of remark that Mr. Channing approved one line of my last Theme.

I then went to the reading Room, found no News and was considerably disappointed at not finding any letters for me. Returned home, wrote my Journal and finished Salmagundi with which I have been exceedingly amused. I then went to a Lecture from Mr. Nuttall who discussed the property of the Monadelphia and Diadelphia Classes of Linnaeus. I also attended Testament as it appears for the last time. Dr. Popkin at the close of the recitation gave us his usual words, “Farewell and I wish you well.” Having thus completed an education in the languages, after a study of nine years in Latin and six in Greek, I must conclude by saying that I do not regret this much.

Mathematics over, and Education that trouble of life, at least the 229drudgery of it is over, and I enter upon matters directly pertaining to the course in life which I am about to pursue. The day opens upon me at a distance when I shall be able to go on in that track which I have laid down for myself. Attended Prayers, gave my section an excellent squad upon the wheeling and turning, after which I spent an hour with Rundlet and Lothrop as usual. They are both very good fellows and we amused ourselves conversing for some time after which I came home, a few minutes at Wheatlands, Silsbee there. Looked over Bible and lesson and went to bed. X:35.