Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 1

Saturday. July. 24th. VI. CFA Saturday. July. 24th. VI. CFA
Saturday. July. 24th. VI.

Attended Prayers and recitation in Topography. A very remarkable thing indeed after a meeting of the Knights, as I do not recollect doing such a thing before for a very great while. I have however of late been so exceedingly regular that I am desirous of forming a habit. I find that one miss leads on to another until one gets very much out of his reckoning. I have already indulged too much this quarter. The exertion also after all is not exceedingly great and there is a satisfaction in having done properly which compensates for the trouble. This over, I went to College to see if any thing was going on, found nothing particular except that rooms in Holworthy1 had been distributed to our class, this was not materially interesting to me as I had not applied for one. Dwight obtained a very good one. The day was a rainy one, and after a few minutes at the Bookstore, I went and took a bath—the heat and exertion of yesterday having given me that unpleasant feeling of distress which arises from great perspiration. This over I returned to my room but felt so languid and fatigued from want of sleep, that I could do nothing so that I went to sleep until dinner time. I tried to read a little of Mitford and Plutarch but when I found my-256self sleeping over the book, I very wisely concluded it would do me no good to read so.

Wheatland came up today and moved his furniture, he appears in good health and in a pleasant, quiet state of spirits. I am more happy to see him so than an inmate of the house. I forgot to mention that Walley had declined coming here since he had been given to understand the sentiment of the house. I am glad he has declined, but I am really sorry for the way we have taken, for he must certainly have felt very severely, the treatment he has experienced from us. It was open and direct insult. It was a thing which would have made me suffer most intolerably, and I do not think that in this case, he has deserved it. We all confess we know nothing about the man’s character, and after the fashion of the College, we abuse him, and will probably ruin his character. I know too well the injurious effects of this course of conduct, to be willing myself to doom a man to the fate of my first prejudice without the slightest pretence to impartiality. I think it is the worst fault of College young men.

After dinner, I employed some of the afternoon in writing my Journal, it hangs exceedingly upon the hands and I am more afraid of my resolution for it, than I ever have been. Perseverance however is my motto and with it I hope to succeed. My duty done, I went over and paid Brenan, a visit of half an hour. We began conversing upon the usual subject, the differences existing in College. He was elected a member of the Porcellians at a Meeting last Night or at least in the afternoon and in his own true spirit declined. He is certainly the most singular man I have met with for a long while. With pride sufficient to fight a host, he has no idea of being subjected to the caprices of a pack of self constituted judges of character. I admire his conduct although I do not think I should have imitated it. Mr. Cenas gained his admission yesterday, a man who never would have got in, had I been a member, or had the club existed as it did some little time since.2 The society has not taken a more proper step than this to injure itself in public estimation. I have become of late exceedingly interested in the politics of the lower class as I wish to countermine all the working of a scandalously arrogant party with inferior means in the Sophomore class. Brenan is a good fellow, very impartial or at least as far as he can be. And I think when he makes an attachment, he is fully sensible of it’s value. I was talking very earnestly with him when his chum and Richardson came in which entirely broke it up. We talked afterwards much in the usual way.

I attended Prayers and then after tea took a pleasant walk with 257 Billy Dwight as I call him very foolishly. We had an unusual conversation concerning future prospects and I sounded his feelings more on the subject of his own intention than I ever have yet. His mind is by no means made up and he has not that fixed, settled ambition which I once thought he possessed. He is a young man of remarkable mind, strong, sensible, acute and though carried off by very violent passions, I like his feelings the more for it. I returned and after some silly conversation at Richardson’s I went to bed. X:30.

1.

Holworthy Hall, completed in 1812, was the “most desirable place for undergraduates to room” (Morison, Three Centuries of Harvard , p. 215).

2.

The meaning of this passage is puzzling, both because Cenas had been initiated into the Porcellian Club in 1823 (Catalogue of the Honorary and Immediate Members of the Porcellian Club of Harvard University, Cambridge, 1831) and because CFA himself had only recently declined election to the club (see entries for 25 and 27 June, above). Perhaps in his reference to Brenan CFA is repeating the sentiment he expressed earlier (see entry for 28 June, above) that the South Carolinian must have found it hard to decline an invitation to join the prestigious, Southern-dominated club.

Sunday. July 25th. VII:30. CFA Sunday. July 25th. VII:30. CFA
Sunday. July 25th. VII:30.

Missed Prayers this morning according to privilege, which I do enjoy most exceedingly, it comes more pleasantly as it is more rare. After breakfast I did very little until the time for Chapel, merely writing my Journal. I attended and heard Dr. Ware preach an amazingly long and dry sermon, which put me to sleep although I had reasonably refreshed myself last night. The President has gone to the Springs for the recovery of his health which would be in bad order from all the accounts we receive of it in the Prayers.

In the afternoon, I took up Shakespeare’s “All’s well that end’s well” and could not stop until I finished it although I was conscious that by it, I retarded my Journal and every thing else for a season. It was so interesting however that I could not help it. There is much fault in the plot of the play, I think, and generally I should call it by no means one of Shakespeare’s best, yet the humour of the clown is remarkable and Monsieur Parolles is no inaccurate hit at an extremely common character, but nevertheless difficult to draw. I did then intend to have slept away the heat but I recollected Paley was not read which stopped me immediately and I went over it attentively. I was however prevented from studying quite as much as usual by the entrance of Mr. John Howard, who dined here, spent the afternoon at Otis’ and just called in to see me. It is a more difficult thing to get along with this man than with any one I know. He has I know not what about him which debars all conversation on any pleasant subject. His stiffness, 258his affectation and his vanity have so run away with him that it is out of the question to speak of any thing but self with him and this is too sickening for me to attempt. He has some high feelings too, and in a short reference to the conduct of the Porcellians, I was amused at his vivacity, and force in his reply. Thus we remained until the time for another sermon from Dr. Ware which was dryly and heavily passed, in vain attention to him. The Chapel was amazingly warm however and prevented all comfort or ease even in sleep.

After tea, I took a walk with Richardson and upon returning went with Sheafe to Willard’s for a little refreshment this exceedingly hot night. We met Rundlet there and spent an hour in conversation of some sort or other, principally on the old and, I should suppose the worn out subject of College popularity, and affairs. This company has interested us so much of late that we have talked more about it than we otherwise should have done, at least I should for I had no idea of becoming interested in the matter. We remained here longer than I intended and on my return, I found it was the doleful week in which we had to study our lessons in the Evening, which I accordingly did and read my Bible and retired. X:30.