Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 1

Friday. August 27th. VIII:15. CFA Friday. August 27th. VIII:15. CFA
Friday. August 27th. VIII:15.

Arose but much too late for the Stage in which I intended to have gone. I just gave Tudor a farewell. He is going now and will perhaps not meet any of his friends for many years, if ever. He appears to me, from some reason or other, not to be in his usual tone of spirits but I shall recollect him with pleasure, as one of these high souled generous spirits whom one seldom meets in this world. I went to the Athenaeum and, having spent a few minutes there, I went to see the Freshmen who are examined today for admission. I could only think of the time when I was trembling before the Cambridge Government as a suppliant for their favour. I am now under unpleasant shackles but, thank God, I see my way. The class is a small one and not very interesting.1 College is degenerating, it appears to me. I could not sit here long so I went to Brenan’s and spent half an hour with him conversing much in the usual strain. He feels more bitterly on the subject of party differences than he used to, owing to the ridiculous speeches of Cunningham. He told me some things which really showed this man’s folly extremely. I am satisfied with my estimate of the man’s character and am sorry to say my opinion is a poor one.

From here I went home and arranged my room as well as I could. I have managed in the course of the past week to get through a long life of Burns written I believe by Dr. Curry.2 The account given of this man is astonishing. His remarkable powers of mind, his prejudices, and his failings afford one of the most striking pictures for study and observation that I have ever seen. Melancholy as the account is, it affects me more, as with less talents I have seen another example of the same misfortune. It is a subject which has made me think often but it is scarce one to be talked of or written of.

After a Whitney dinner, I got into the stage where I found fifteen and went to Boston, stopped at George’s room scarcely a minute before the Quincy stage arrived, in which I went off. After an unusually 303tedious time of it, we arrived and I found the family much as usual. My Grandfather exceedingly weak, he is evidently departing, I think. I spent rather a dull evening and went to bed early. X.


Numbering only 46 members, the incoming freshman class was smaller than usual. The five previous entering classes had ranged from 81 in 1819 to 63 in 1821. See Harvard Annual Cat., 1819–1824. Incoming freshmen were examined on the Friday after commencement ( Mass. Register, 1825, p. 129).


CFA’s copy of Burns’ Works, with a “Life” by Dr. James Currie, London, 1824, is in the Stone Library.

Saturday. August 28th. IX. CFA Saturday. August 28th. IX. CFA
Saturday. August 28th. IX.

Arose and after breakfast sat down to the important business of writing my Journal which has on account of my frequent change of residence lately, gone very much behind hand. I kept myself writing a considerable part of the morning. My account of this month will be rather short however in consequence of this. I am the more inclined to regret this as some scenes there are in the latter part of this month which deserve more full notice. I might have written much more fully even than is my common custom had I not thought I had better not discourage myself and rather keep the book up regularly than risk neglect. In a vacation, there are so many occasions which call a man’s attention off and he himself feels as if he was not to be under restraint, that it is my principal wish to have no more to do than one or at most two day’s, which were as many as ten at that time.

After dinner I determined to have some amusement and therefore walked down to Neponset where I practiced a little while at billiards. Mr. Miller of Quincy and a brother in law of his, a Mr. Nicholson, came in and I played with them. The former is a fat, prosy country gentleman, who could fill in England the place of a fox hunting Squire exceedingly well, but here, he has wealth, a little influence and pleases himself altogether. A little coarseness and much self importance but on the whole not an exceedingly disagreable man. The other appears to be a very gentlemanly man and quite intelligent. A judgment as to this latter character can hardly be made at a billiard table but I was certainly considerably pleased with his manner. He had not the vulgarity, though this is a little too harsh a name, of his companion. We played sometime and came off almost even all round, I believe. I walked home and felt myself somewhat fatigued as this was pretty active exercise. George came out in the stage this Evening and so did Miss Harriet Welsh but my Father did not make his appearance as was expected. I spent the Evening with my Grandfather, he is more fond of conversation now and less of reading than he used to be, and 304this difference is perceptible. After he had retired, I sat up and talked with George on College and all other interesting subjects until very late. XI:30.