Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 1

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.


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.


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


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


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


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


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

Saturday. July 31st. VII:45. CFA Saturday. July 31st. VII:45. CFA
Saturday. July 31st. VII:45.

Missed Prayers and recitation this morning for the first time for almost three weeks. This was in a sort of dependence upon a report that had gone about that Mr. Heyward was going to give a miss this morning. A report which proved to be incorrect. The larger part of the class trusted to it, I believe. I breakfasted, went to the Reading room and read the Newspapers. George has some handsome compliments passed upon his Oration (which has been printed) in the National Gazette of Philadelphia and the Boston Centinel.1 Nothing else worth observing. I then went to Dwights and spent an hour with him talking and laughing about the Lord knows what. But principally upon College affairs. I cannot lead him to one subject however, that of an alteration of the laws of the Knights. I want to know his mind upon the subject because since this has become the first Northern Club in College, it ought to be something a little more dignified. I then went into a warm bath to refresh myself from the labours of the week, and as yesterday was a most amazingly warm day, it was really necessary. This over, I was all prepared to go to Boston with Sheafe. We went.

I first made a call at the hatter’s to have my cap altered according to a vote of the Officers last Evening. The visors are to be made similar to those of the Rangers. I then went to Mr. Worsley’s2 for a military Coat and finally went to see my brother George. He had not got home so I sat down and talked with Miss Harriet Welsh. She is a singular woman for fluency of tongue, on any subject. She first talked of the probability of my father’s coming and then talked of Johnson, then of George, then of the fire in Boston and lastly fixed upon politics, a 268vehement discussion upon which was commencing when Miss Mary Otis3 came into the room and stopped it. She is staying here while the house is again fitting up, which was damaged by the late fire. I had an opportunity of seeing the ruins today and they looked really melancholy. I also was able to see the other house, that of Dr. Jeffery4 which was burnt first of all, at least the shell of it. This is not so injurious to the effect of the street as that upon the Mall however, which is lugubrious as Otis calls it. Miss Otis is a young lady somewhat over thirty, I imagine who has been pretty but from some reason or other never was married. She is also rather amusing than otherwise. George came in at last but he was amazingly important on account of some flattering letters to him from distinguished individuals.

Two things, I observed in George today which I did not like, an increase of his already inordinate vanity, and a decrease of his never extraordinary manners. I am sorry for this but shall say nothing. I am afraid that my conduct already has excited remark. I will probe my own feelings concerning him to the very core. Am I envious of him? Sincerely, No. I have no wish that he should be less than he is but sincerely wish he may be greater. Otherwise I should not notice so deeply his faults. Am I thoroughly sincere with him? I answer No, because his conduct while at Washington ruined him as to my respect and I cannot entirely forget it. I see his faults, I wish him to correct them but I have no opinion of the man. A thousand little things, when I am with him, make me believe him wanting in common sense and prudence even with all his talents. I cannot think as highly of him as I do of John. I cannot but despise the weak points in his character, to myself why should I hesitate in saying so. I wish him a happy life and a distinguished course but I fear for him. He is not swayed by that high and immutable sense of pride and honour which ought to be the first characteristic of a great man. I had but little conversation with him as he went to Quincy early.

I then went to the Marlborough where I met Ward Marston and had a little conversation with him. Afterwards Sheafe came along and we set off directly for Cambridge, not the shortest way though for we went over the Mill Dam and stopped at the Franklin Hotel5 where we played Billiards the rest of the Afternoon. The table is a pretty good one and very easy to play at. I succeeded in beating Sheafe with some ease. We returned to Cambridge at a little past seven, and took tea after we paid visits to Brenan and to Dwight whom we found reading the new Novel Red Gauntlett by Scott.6 I spent the time until after ten when I returned home and went to bed.


No reference to GWA’s oration has been found in the National Gazette. The Columbian Centinel (31 July 1824) praised the “style, energy, and spirit” of this “literary banquet.”


John S. Worsley, of Hobart and Worsley, Tailor, at 1 State Street ( Boston Directory, 1823).


Mary Ann Otis, daughter of Samuel Allyne Otis and Mary (Smith) Gray Otis (Columbian Centinel, 22 January 1831); see Adams Genealogy.


Presumably Dr. John Jeffries (1796–1876).


Located on the corner of Congress Square and Devonshire Street ( Boston Directory, 1825).


Sir Walter Scott, Redgauntlet, 3 vols., Edinburgh, 1824.