Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 8

Wednesday 9th. CFA Wednesday 9th. CFA
Wednesday 9th.

Fine day. To Cambridge. Afternoon at home, coins. Evening Mr. Dexter’s.

I was up early to be off on the examination of one division of the Junior class in Cambridge University. The arrangement has been much altered, and now imposes upon the Committee much heavier burdens.1 A Carriage called for me which contained Mr. Forbes and Mr. Hillard, and at Cambridge, we found T. K. Davis had come in another carriage with the Latin Committee. Was this accident or a desire to escape me? I neither know nor care which. He seated himself at dinner at the other end of the table which also betrays very much the nature of his feelings. In other respects however there was no difference in his manner, and we were all as pleasant as usual, with due regard to distance.

The examination was an indifferent one. The class is the same with which I first entered into the examinations and does not appear to me to have gone a step forward since the close of the Freshman year. The Professor himself appears to me to be a good scholar but not an effective teacher. We returned to town immediately after dinner, having as a fourth Professor Longfellow in the carriage. Continued coins as usual.

Evening, attended a circle of ladies who form a charitable gossip society and meet at each other’s houses at stated periods. This was by invitation of Miss Catherine Dexter at her brother’s, George M. Dexter’s. A great number of ladies and very few gentlemen. However I got along pretty well, home early.

170 1.

CFA here seems to have reverted to the usage of his grandfather who in his draft of the Massachusetts constitution had been the first to speak of Harvard College as the “University at Cambridge” (Morison, Three Centuries of Harvard , p. 160). The new arrangement for the examiners was communicated to CFA in a letter from President Quincy (1 Jan., Adams Papers).

Thursday. 10th. CFA Thursday. 10th. CFA
Thursday. 10th.

Morning mild. Again to Cambridge returning by dinner time. Evening at Mrs. Shaw’s.

I was rather a volunteer today in going to Cambridge having already done as much as I ought for the week. But as Judge Merril was the only other member of the Committee who could go, I entered the carriage where I found Mr. Gould and Mr. Hubbard of the Latin Committee also. We today finished the examination of the Junior Class, this being the second section. It was much better than that of yesterday although it confirms me in my impression that the classes do not improve in their application as they advance. The young men today did not make out as well as they did in Thucydides a much harder author. Indeed my impression is that the facility of extracting the literal sense of Homer is one of the temptations to slight the study. We dined as usual, and returned by the time of my dinner at home.

Afternoon employed upon coins as usual. Evening to a great ball at Mrs. Shaw’s house in Beacon Street.1 This has been talked of a long while, and great preparations were made for it. The throng was so great as to fill all the rooms even of that spacious building and to make a degree of confusion not very pleasant. The disposition this winter seems to be towards a great deal of social amusement. People are reviving from the pressure of the past and hope is the prevailing feeling for the future. We came home at midnight.


In 1838, the Israel Thorndike house at the corner of Beacon and Belknap (now Joy) streets had been purchased by the elder Robert Gould Shaw (Chamberlain, Beacon Hill , p. 131, 139).

Friday 11th. CFA Friday 11th. CFA
Friday 11th.

Morning clear. Time distributed as usual. Evening at home.

This was a quiet day and I confess I relished it somewhat. My time at the Office taken up in Accounts and settling bills. Nothing of importance going on at present. Home where I continued Electra. This is about the only profitable hour which I spend in the course of the twenty four, and in this I think that I make progress in the language. The coins still go on and I reach in them the age of Constantine while 171in Crevier I remain with the Antonines. Quiet evening at home reading Miss Martineau.