Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 1

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.

1.

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.

2.

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

3.

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

Tuesday. August 24th. IX. CFA Tuesday. August 24th. IX. CFA
Tuesday. August 24th. IX.

Arose much later than I had any idea of, and after breakfasting, went down to the Athenaeum but could find no news. Cambridge deserted today because La Fayette is to be received with much form and to make his triumphal entry into Boston. Great preparations have been made and it is expected every thing will be very splendid. For my part I have seen many such shows and have ever disliked them. I therefore did not take the trouble to go to Boston today, but went home and very coolly sat down to read Waverley. As I went on, I found myself more and more pleased, there was something so perfectly easy in the incident and the characters are all so interesting, that a man is led on from step to step until he feels quite intensely. I did not relish it by any means the less because I had read it before. It is rather singular that I have often commenced it but could never get over the tedium of the first five chapters and that, although these very chapters contain some sensible remarks, I read it over but never went farther and, when I read the novel, I neglected these Chapters. McIvor is a finely sketched portrait, Flora also except that she has a little more female sternness than is pleasant in association, and Rose is a little, a very little too milk and watery. The old Baron is admirable, but my friend, the hero of the tale, is little more than a puppet. I finished the first volume of Percy Mallory and was obliged to desist as I could not get the second. A very different novel and one which if I ever finish it, I shall notice in it’s proper place.

In the afternoon, I was interrupted for half an hour by a visit from 300Dwight who had just returned from Salem, where he had been on a visit to Wheatland. He appeared in very good spirits indeed. I attended Prayers, for the last time in the Junior Year, and heard a ridiculously affected Prayer from Mr. Heyward on the subject which the President had spoken so feelingly upon long since. He took his last opportunity and made the most of it. At tea the students came in thick, Wheatland and Tudor came back and we looked somewhat like old times again. After tea I took a walk with Tudor and had some conversation with him. He afterwards came to my room where we sat and smoked all the Evening. He does not appear to be in exceedingly good spirits. Something, but I cannot tell what, weighs upon him. After he went, I remained up until I had finished Waverley. XI.