Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 1

Friday. September 10th. IX. CFA Friday. September 10th. IX. CFA
Friday. September 10th. IX.

Arose and after breakfasting, I read the paper and wrote my Journal, matters of not very great consequence at present. I spent the greater part of the day in the company of my mother, it is so exceedingly attractive that perhaps my duty gives way to it. As my duty at present however is not of any very exceeding importance, my mind is at ease. I have lately come to one determination, after thinking a good deal upon the subject, and that is, if any reasonable subject is given out, to write for the Bowdoin prize even if I should not send it up, and this I make my record.1 All the reading part of the day, I spent in going attentively over Junius as a first perusal. The more I read, the more I admire the style and the more I become impressed with a feeling of the necessity of a forcible one. I will do nothing else while I remain in College but pay attention to it, practically, as well as theoretically and I think a year is but small allowance. I shall be obliged to exercise myself considerably in writing of different sorts and, as there are so many opportunities for writing, I think I shall devote my time most usefully and most economically. I wish I had the power of Junius although it is rather a dangerous one to one’s self. He irritated his enemies to madness almost.


I had much conversation with my mother about their plans which appear to be, simply, to come and reside here and live in simple, unoffending style. I shall trouble my head no more about it. As George had given me a little piece of business to transact, I took advantage of the return of the carriage from taking my father to General Sumner’s.2 I did not collect the note as the person was gone. I returned cursing the trouble. My mother went to town this Evening to remain until tomorrow. I this Evening studied a large part of the drill of the Light Infantry for the campaign next term. The next part of the evening in conversing with Mrs. Clark on indifferent subjects, principally on some observations of Mrs. TBA’s. I then went down stairs and talked with Uncle some time on the state of my father’s landed property, a subject on which he is ever doleful. My Father having directed me to sit up for him expressly, I was obliged to remain up and amused myself with reading Junius. He arrived at last, which dismissed me. XII.


The subjects for the annual Bowdoin prize dissertation competition were: (1) the importance of the study of the learned languages as a branch of education; (2) the antiquity, extent, cultivation, and present state of China. First prize was a gold medal and forty dollars; two second prizes consisted of twenty dollars worth of books. There is no record among CFA’s papers that he entered the contest. Only two prizes are recorded in the Faculty Records, and they went to Edward B. Emerson and Jason Whitman, a junior.


William H. Sumner, of Boston, a brigadier general in the Massachusetts militia and a principal developer of East Boston ( Mass. Register, 1824, p. 106).

Saturday. September 11th. IX. CFA Saturday. September 11th. IX. CFA
Saturday. September 11th. IX.

Arose a little earlier than I had myself expected considering that I had been up until so late last night. I immediately sat down and wrote my Journal for the morning’s business. My mother was not here this morning, so that I employed my time more than usual. My father went to Boston again today which will be the usual course while he is here. His friends being continually desirous to entertain him and do him honour. In this state of things also, they wish to be particularly marked in their way of treating him. I amused myself all the morning in reading Junius. It is astonishing to think of the power which this author obtained in England by his manner. No man but was afraid of him excepting perhaps Mr. Horne1 and he was afraid of nobody. Sir William Draper was to be pitied as in any other contest he might have come out with some credit but he came across the path of an enormously cruel as well as a powerful man and was treated accordingly. One thing, I am struck with in the remarks of the Commentator, that he is rather servile to the governing power and speaks of 321Junius, the Earl of Chatham and all the other great men of the nation not as Patriots but merely as men swayed by the interest of the moment. Indeed English liberty is but a shadow when it’s greatest supporters are merely venal timeservers. What Junius was, though a matter of great speculation, will probably never be disclosed. He must have been a great man.

Immediately after dinner I took a walk to Neponset and spent the rest of the afternoon in playing, so long an absence has had a little effect upon my play which I did not get over for more than half an hour. I played however with my usual success and gratification. It is unquestionably a most interesting game. I remained until it was so dark, I could not see a ball and then returned home where I did not arrive until eight o’clock. I then read two letters of Junius, particularly the famous one for which the publisher was prosecuted.2 My father and mother did not return home until ten o’clock when we sat down to supper and except a very little time spent in conversation with George, who came out with them, we went directly to bed. XI:15.


John Horne Tooke (1736–1812).


George Woodfall (1767–1844), publisher of the Public Advertiser, was prosecuted for printing Junius’ letter No. XXXV, dated 19 December 1769, entitled “Junius’s Address to the King.” The printer obtained the celebrated verdict that he was guilty of printing and publishing only, won a new trial, and was freed. (Junius, ed. John Wade, London, 1881, 1:255–256; DNB .)