Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 1

Sunday. August 22d. VIII. CFA Sunday. August 22d. VIII. CFA
Sunday. August 22d. VIII.

Arose and spent the morning reading Redgauntlet and writing my Journal. The novel I finished this morning. It is quite interesting in parts but as a whole, I think it comes below St. Ronan’s Well. The parts appear to me to have been laboured and sometimes finished, but the support of character is not perfect, and the close is not pleasing. There are some very pretty letters but on the whole not written with so much life as those of Lord Etherington. Redgauntlet is pretty well carried through and Nanty Ewart’s story afflicted me about as much as any part. There are some fine natural touches in it. The Chevalier is introduced with some effect although I imagine there is no historical ground for the incidents, nor do I believe that there is much probability that the English government would have acted as they are made to here. But when I say this is an inferior novel, it is only in my opinion inferior to his other novels, for I can trace no comparison between him and others. Nothing can be seen in others and the many who ape him which partakes in the least degree of his power of description and colloquial ease. He hits off character more as we believe it to exist than any one, although we may never have seen examples. Cristil Cristal Nixon is one of his villains but he does not take the trouble to draw him out.

I spent the afternoon also in writing my Journal but I did not make so much progress as I wished. George interfered with me part of the time as he was also desirous of the only accommodations we have here for writing, to write his part, or poem for next Wednesday to his class. I consequently amused myself as well as I could with a French 298novel I happened to find written in the style of the Arabian Nights Entertainment. With this which for its extravagance, entertained me, I managed to pass away the afternoon.

In the evening, I sat with my Grandfather. Mrs. Quincy1 and Edmund were here and conversed most fluently. She was determined not to spare George and she belaboured him with compliments. It is singular but every body compliments him openly and he takes it like a philosopher. I think George’s character is changing and a little for the better. He is more convinced of the necessity of it and more willing to make the change. We had some amusing conversation concerning College affairs and I talked much of my class, many of whom I described. We sat up in this way until extremely late. XI:30.


Mrs. Josiah Quincy (1772–1864), the former Eliza Susan Morton, remembered for her beauty and erudition. See Adams Genealogy.

Monday August 23d. VII. CFA Monday August 23d. VII. CFA
Monday August 23d. VII.

Arose earlier than usual this morning in order to prepare for the Stage to go to Boston. I determined to do so because I do not believe I shall obtain an opportunity after this morning. I accordingly went, walked the streets, did nothing and at twelve went to Cambridge. I forgot to mention in it’s proper place, I believe, that I had received an admonition for wearing illegal clothes,1 some time since. I was so unlucky today as to go to Cambridge with one of the Tutors, with the repetition of the offence broad staring in his face. Mr. Heyward reported me. It does not trouble me though.

Arrived at Cambridge I found Mrs. Saunders’ entirely unprepared for my reception consequently I lost my dinner, a conclusion not the most agreable. I spent the afternoon at the Athenaeum quite pleasantly. I commenced a novel called the Spare Wife but I was so revolted by the style, after the manner of the author of Waverly, that I changed it for Percy Mallory2 which was hardly less so. I managed to go on however until I got so interested in the story that I paid no attention to the style. I met Lothrop who told me that they were waiting for the answer of the Government to Cunningham’s request to come out with the Company. The Captain made his appearance and, upon applying, found the Government had declined his offer. This was no more than I expected but I think they pursue a wrong policy in this respect, they discourage the applications of students when there appears to be little reason for so doing, and encourage a feeling of bitterness towards them which does them no good certainly. This was a reasonable request, and it would have gratified the Students very much, but now 299they will only grumble. Cunningham being satisfied went to Boston.

I attended Prayers this Evening, they were thin, and found that my name had not been taken out by Otis as he promised. There was not a single student in town this Evening whom I knew intimately so I took up Waverley and commenced reading the first, and some say the best of the admirable series of the Novels, which I have often mentioned.3 There is something though in the first part of Waverley which is extremely dull and I fell asleep over it more than once. Indeed having lately read nothing but novels I want something exceedingly interesting. I just began to feel excited at the story when I found it time to retire. XI.


For a description of the prescribed college dress, see entry for 29 June, and note, above. There is no record of the admonition given CFA in the Records of the College Faculty, Harvard Archives.


James Hook, Percy Mallory, 3 vols., Edinburgh, 1824.


Sir Walter Scott, Waverley; or, ’Tis Sixty Years Since, 3 vols., Edinburgh, 1814.