Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 1

Thursday. July 29th. V:20. CFA Thursday. July 29th. V:20. CFA
Thursday. July 29th. V:20.

Arose and looked over my lesson, but felt so much fatigued that I went to sleep again until the Prayer bell, which I obeyed and attended recitation. I was called upon this morning for the first time since Friday, and in consequence was not remarkably well prepared. I was rejoiced at finding two letters for me in the Post-Office, one from my Mother who has at last returned to Washington and seems to write with much more life than usual, and one from John in his usual style.1 It has been so long since I received one before that really my spirits were considerably affected for the better as I really felt as if I had a home again. My Mother does not appear inclined to come on here this summer but I doubt very much whether she will persevere in her resolution. John is as wild and extravagant as usual, talks about a certain Theresa whom he met at Bedford, and became very suddenly exquisitely pathetical.

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I regretted exceedingly being compelled to withdraw from these and commence writing a Forensic on the negative of the question whether, the fear of man in animals arise from adventitious circumstances. Which I argued in surprisingly short time. It was a very easy subject and all my difficulty was that I had such little time left me. After hearing all the Forensics which were very good today and which forced a compliment from Mr. Hedge, I cannot say which my opinion is and am rather inclined to think that it is much like all other questions of this sort, not worth disputing about. This over, being the last Forensic in the Junior Year, I spent the rest of the time until dinner reading the newspapers.

After dinner, I did nothing until I attended Mr. Nuttall’s lecture upon the unimportant parts of flowers, such as the stipella, tendril, spine, thorn and other little appendages. I have got extremely tired of these lectures as I do not learn any more than I already have. Returning home, I still found Chapman and Otis here, playing upon a miniature billiard table. They had been here ever since dinner. It proves the interest of the game that such a wretched imitation should please. I did nothing of importance but write my Journal, this afternoon. As to reading, it appears to me that I have entirely given that up. I am somewhat ashamed but it does not really seem as if I had one moment of time to spare to do anything. I cannot be angry with myself.

I attended Evening Prayers. After tea the Company was ordered out. As Cunningham had not returned, Cenas the First Lieutenant took his place. He was not much in the Company, last year, and consequently had not learnt any thing correctly. This together with the fright came near exposing him considerably. Luckily a gentle rain, as soon as we had commenced manoeuvring, made us return in quick time. And the company was dismissed in a hurry. I escaped with a gentle wetting. We immediately adjourned to Mr. Willard’s where we refreshed ourselves, we wanted it very much. None of us however were in fine humour. These meetings of the officers are not so agreable as I was inclined to suppose they would be. Our tempers are all three cornered and it is only chance which makes them come compactly together. Lothrop appeared in singular humour, at the appointment of Markers which came round tonight. He displayed feelings which surprised me very much indeed. The Northern feelings which I have indulged of late considerably, have had a fine opportunity for being gratified, as the Northern men have been the superior soldiers. But Lothrop, this afternoon or evening, appeared to be anxious to have some Southern man in, before Lowell2 and Phillips upon whom3 I 265was piqued. It was a singular circumstance but had no effect, for my Candidates were carried by a decided vote. I had no idea of allowing a superiority where there was materially the reverse, and thereby injuring the feelings of certainly that portion of the class which we are most bound to support.

The provision for the Evening made by Cenas was most wretchedly deficient, as it was at his room, and I returned thirsty and dissatisfied with every thing and every body and, now that Cunningham is sick, with but a gloomy prospect before me. The rain had ceased and I returned home after having had considerable conversation and some argument. I came back and read over my lesson and went to bed, feeling again dissatisfied and feeling again a sort of disappointment and disgust. The vanity and mutability of feelings was strongly exemplified in these cases as in any I have ever known. I also read my Bible and went to bed. X.

1.

The letter from JA2 is missing.

2.

Charles Russell Lowell, a sophomore, was a member of the distinguished Boston family of that name ( Harvard Annual Cat., 1823).

3.

Thus apparently in MS, but CFA may have meant to write “which.”

Friday. July 30th. V:40. CFA Friday. July 30th. V:40. CFA
Friday. July 30th. V:40.

Attended Prayers and recitation in Topography, fortunately was taken up in the Commencement of the review and succeeded very well. After breakfast I attended lecture after having written some of my Journal and wasted some of my time. Mr. Channing commenced his today’s lecture by showing the similarity between the different sorts of figures of which he treats. These to be sure are few enough and herein lies a great deficiency, he made a number of quotations from the different plays of Shakespear and from Childe Harold to prove that personification was only the addition of a few words to metaphor, or rather I mean the contrary. I could make his quotations for I recollect some of them but it would take too much time and paper. He having run over this subject went upon the discussion of the origin of figurative language. He argued against all the suppositions which derived it from a device to strengthen the memory by associations or to obtain fluency. He supposed it to arise from the spontaneous effusion of the feelings. He argued this, because the least polished languages or at least those which had arisen with the least attention were generally the most figurative. The Eastern languages were by far the most glowing ones and these were the offspring of nature. It was the most striking, the most beautiful way of expressing one’s ideas. It was the 266impulse which acted upon all men of warm feelings, it required no cultivation, on the contrary was checked by it.

This over I returned home and continued writing my Journal and arranging my room which was in a dreadful state of disorder. This took me up very nearly all the morning. After dinner, I managed to waste some more time. Not writing an answer to either of my letters of yesterday. I attended Declamation and heard another division of the Sophomore Class. One individual, Keith,1 amused us exceedingly. However declaimed very well. I was very tired however before all of them got through. It is most extremely dull work, to sit and hear a number of stupid drones murder some of the finest specimens of English eloquence. If it did not excuse us from an afternoon’s Exercise it would be the most intolerable burden which we suffer under, this is the case in the third term of the Sophomore Year and consequently is well known here.

At last after an hour’s siege we were released. I did not attend Mr. Nuttall’s closing Lecture today because The Rangers, a Boston military Company2 who were encamped at West Cambridge sent us an invitation last Evening to go over and see them parade, which we accepted and I accordingly went with Chapman. The remaining officers went together excepting Cenas who stayed at home. We arrived there considerably too early and were exposed to the heat of a most broiling sun without a shade of any sort near the encamping ground. Our Officers were considerably astonished also when they found what good company they had tumbled into, and Chapman could but ill conceal his feelings. We were politely received by two of the Officers, Gardner3 and Baxter, who appeared pretty well, but the Captain did not satisfy us at all. He appeared some what of a puppy but I know not whether this is actually the case. At any rate the manner in which he received us was far from cordial. There was a great deal of company, and I was surprised to find so many ladies in the collection, as I supposed it to be a scene which would not be very pleasant to modesty. Pratt and Tucker4 of the Senior Class were there and were almost the only ones whom I could see of any acquaintance. They paraded but performed their manoeuvres wretchedly. They afterwards went through the drill for the rifle, which I watched attentively as we have some idea of instructing our soldiers in it. I obtained a pretty clear idea of it from what I saw although it was badly done. I could not see it through, so after a glass or two at the camp for I had need of refreshment from the sun, we returned home to be in time for our evening drill. Cunningham returned today, unexpectedly but much to my joy.

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We did not get home in time for Prayers but we took supper and then paraded. The contrast was striking. Our company outdid itself tonight. But one mistake was made and that was owing to a misunderstanding between the officers and the Captain. We all came off in fine humour and immediately adjourned to the Hotel where we regaled ourselves all the Evening. Cenas was not present being a Deipnophagos.5 We had singing, mirth and merriment until a late hour in the night. XI.

1.

Omen Southworth Keith, of Franklin, Mass. ( Harvard Annual Cat., 1823).

2.

First organized in 1813 (Winsor, Memorial History of Boston , 3:307).

3.

W. H. Gardner ( Mass. Register, 1824, p. 123).

4.

William Pratt and Charles Church Chandler Tucker, both of Boston ( Harvard Annual Cat., 1823).

5.

Glutton (Greek). There is doubtless a play on Cenas’ name here; cena (Latin) was the principal meal of the Romans.