Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 1

Saturday. July 10th. V:30. CFA Saturday. July 10th. V:30. CFA
Saturday. July 10th. V:30.

Arose and after reading over my lesson attended Prayers and recitation in Enfield in which as usual I went to sleep. The day was not a fair one although at first there was little appearance of rain. After breakfast we dressed and prepared ourselves for an extraordinary dash. Tudor and myself had agreed to go to Nahant today in a tandem, and accordingly made up a party among our acquaintances to go down. This consisted of four besides ourselves, Dwight and Chapman together in a Chaise and Sheafe and J. Otis. It was the first time Tudor had been in a tandem and I was a little anxious to see his driving but the horses were so well trained and Tudor was so careful that we had no sort of difficulty. It is the most pleasing way of driving in the world I think because it is the most novel and the most scarce. They appear handsomer from the Chaise, I think, than they do as they pass, they certainly make a Chaise go very much easier. We stopped a few moments at Linn Lynn to give them breath and then went on again. It began to rain slightly just as we got upon that fine beach over which it is perfect pleasure to ride, and we got to Nahant at about ten o’clock, two hours from the time we started, a distance of about seventeen miles.

Arrived, we immediately went fishing but had not gone before the rest of the party arrived. We all went together but did not remain more than an hour on account of the rain which came on now with violence so that we retreated quickly to the Billiard room. Two Freshmen, Potts and Pringle,1 were there, and as the tables were engaged, four of us went to a bowling alley and spent two hours there amusing ourselves in this way. The tables or alleys are remarkably fine, made of the hardest wood and very accurately smoothed. To a person accustomed to play upon other boards these are exceedingly difficult and I could not calculate upon them in the least in the first part of the time, afterwards however I did better. Chapman and myself beat Dwight and Sheafe very easily. Thus went the morning and we went up to the great hotel with appetites not in the least diminished by the air of the place which is proverbial for being hostile to all dinners &c. No wonder therefore that they charge more.

We sat down to dinner with about twenty five people, certainly not more, perhaps less. The dinner was not equal to my expectations and to my exquisite astonishment there were no silver spoons on the table. 232Heavens said I, is it possible that our good friends the Boston people should be so condescending as to take any thing from something less than silver at one of the most fashionable and the most exquisite places under the sun. The dinner was an inferior one as no company was expected. On the whole I was considerably disappointed in the quality of my dinner considering what I had to pay for it. I came down here to be an epicure and could amuse myself in no way better than if I had stayed at the table of our good hostess at home. I made the best of it however and, as I had an excellent appetite to support me, I did not reject the meal such as it was. For the meats although not delicious were well dressed and tender. Dinner done, the gentlemen called for wine and as it was a particular occasion, we ordered the very best and some cheese. The latter was excellent. The former, although the most particular, was not good by the decision of the Company and we ordered some of another sort. This latter was in my mind much the best and I enjoyed this and a very fine cigar very much better than any thing else during the day.

We did not sit long at table but went off to the billiard room, where we spent the afternoon as we could do nothing in the rain. Otis and I being the only players on one table, were going to enjoy one when Dwight and Sheafe insisted upon being admitted. As these were serious, we could have no pleasure, and it only provoked me as I knew it was my fate to be beaten. Chapman came in and took my side which made the matter worse. I was beaten both ways and now came to play off with Dwight and Chapman. This was a matter of interest to me as the bill had now become a pretty large one. I played first with Dwight, and played remarkably well but got beaten by a lucky scratch. I then played with the other and beat him easily. We then found it was time to return which we did. Tudor bought a dog which we carried home. We arrived safe and after a very few words at Wheatland’s I went to bed. X:30.

1.

Hamilton Potts, of New Orleans, and John J. I. Pringle, of Charleston, S.C. ( Harvard Annual Cat., 1823).

Sunday. July 11th. VIII. CFA Sunday. July 11th. VIII. CFA
Sunday. July 11th. VIII.

Arose considerably refreshed this Morning, and took breakfast. Found Cunningham here, an addition to our number at the table, and I forgot that Silsbee had been here ever since the death of Gray, and the consequent dispersion of his mother’s boarders. The table is in consequence rather larger than I wish it and I shall not be content until the Seniors leave and reduce it. The character of Cunningham I 233have never given which is surprising as he has always ranked among my friends but the reason is that I find it difficult to judge of it myself. That he is a man of talents of a superior sort, I am exceedingly inclined to doubt, that he is a would be fashionable and lady’s man, I am certain and therefore think less of him, that he is stiff and affected I am also certain, but at the same time I believe he has many good feelings. His friendship is not to be slighted, because he will do a man a service and he is pretty firm. There are sundry reasons which I cannot myself tell, which make him agreable and as he is now endeavouring to correct his faults which certainly want it.1 His habits are acquired and if they once are broken he will become the same natural man which he ought to be.

This morning, I wrote my Journal and attended Chapel, where I heard the President deliver a sort of a farewell funeral Oration. It was a queer mixture of the Lord knows what. In the afternoon Dr. Ware delivered an excellent sermon to the Seniors as parting advice. It was plain and simple and extremely pleasant to a man’s feelings, I should imagine, who was about to leave College. There is a pleasant and at the same time a melancholy sort of feeling in seeing this class depart. Why should I be sorry to stay here, where I enjoyed myself as much as I ever shall in any part of my life, perhaps more? It is because I wish for home as it is now and when I think that soon all the pleasure of that home will be gone, even before I get out, I cannot help feeling sorry. There is a happiness for a social being in the bosom of a family, which I am afraid it is my lot never hereafter to enjoy perhaps, but all things are in the womb of futurity and however anxious I may be to know them, I must e’en content myself with the maxim “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

Such has been the state of my feelings today. I am glad when I think that we stay here but one year more and sorry when these Seniors come to my remembrance. At the same time I am attached to Cambridge and should scarcely feel less melancholy if I had directions to leave it tomorrow, with a degree. My only desire is to rush into the world. I wish to be acting my part like other men and feel now like a small dog trying to leap a wall while the larger ones pass over and squeeling his soul out in a fret because he cannot succeed. This is my first set figure in this book, and perhaps not the most consistent with the rules of style. In writing however I am a racer overleaping all obstacles and never returning over the course. This is my second, and indeed I feel so metaphorical this evening that I shall run over every thing so I will e’en return to my subject.

234

After tea I took a walk with Richardson, in which we had some conversation concerning Wheatland with whom he has had a quarrel. He appears to be considerably exasperated against him, on account of an affair about the Major’s detur2 in which I must confess from Richardson’s account of it, I do not think that the former has acted as consistently with honor as he ought to have done. But we must always make allowances for him. Every one who chooses to overstep the rules of honor and good breeding will take the consequences upon his own head. And I believe it will be found that as long as a man preserves them he will pass easily through life. Our walk was a long and a pretty pleasant one as he was in a humour which forbid his making so much of a fool of himself. Indeed could I have the tutoring of that man without the intervention of any body else, I doubt not but what I could make him at least tolerable. I could make him equal to Howard in manners and his own sense, which is a little superior to the other’s, would assist him and make him do. His natural wit, a good deal of which he has, would make him entertaining.

After our return, I went and did some business concerning the Knights with Mr. Willard then came up and read over my lesson and Bible and then went to bed. I did not get to sleep for some time however, as Tudor and Elliot were drinking Champagne, in the third story. X:15.

1.

Punctuated thus in MS.

2.

A prize of books given annually at Harvard College to meritorious students.