Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 8

Tuesday 15th. CFA Tuesday 15th. CFA
Tuesday 15th.

Cool day. Division as usual. Evening at home.

Every thing falls now with me into arrears so much that I refused to day going to Cambridge upon the examination of the second section of 173the Sophomore class. And in the evening, received a slightly complaining letter of the same, from the President,1 as none of the Committee had come. At the Office I did not execute great things neither.

Continued Electra and made some progress in coins. While reading Crevier I glance off to read Gibbon’s opening chapters of his history which never struck me so masterly as now. He is certainly in most respects unique. Evening we were quietly at home. Edmund Quincy stopped in to take tea and talked for an hour. After whom, Mr. Beale and his son George.


Letter missing.

Wednesday 16th. CFA Wednesday 16th. CFA
Wednesday 16th.

Fine day though cold. To Cambridge, returning to Mr. Brooks’ and in the evening to Mrs. N. Appleton’s.

I went on my division to Cambridge today and found myself in a carriage with Mr. Hillard, and Messrs. Gould and Hubbard of the Latin Committee. We had the first division of the Sophomore class before us in six books of the Iliad and four of the Odyssey of Homer. And a very bad recitation they made of it, so much as to satisfy me that the deficiency of training could not be supplied.

The complaint now is that nobody goes to Harvard because it is dear. Sure enough, nobody will buy an article dear when the same can be got cheap, but the secret not yet found out at Cambridge is that they should provide a better article than can be got elsewhere, and then see if even in these economical times they would not have abundant demand.

The dinner was dull and I was glad to get back to town to a second at Mr. Brooks’ where were assembled Mrs. Gray and Mrs. Hall, Mr. and Mrs. Sargent and my Wife. We had a pleasant time and then home.

Evening we went to pay the wedding visit to Mr. and Mrs. Nathan Appleton. She is at once transferred into wealth and station, and becomes it well. If an old man like Mr. Appleton must marry, it is as well that he should act with discrimination as to the person he is about to admit into his family. A great crowd from which we were glad to go home.

Thursday 17th. CFA Thursday 17th. CFA
Thursday 17th.

Fine day. Morning as usual. Dinner late at Mr. Otis’s. Evening at home.


I was occupied as usual this morning upon my Arrears of Diary which keep growing in spite of myself and upon the accounts the end of which is not yet. I take no exercise this year excepting such as I can get by going out to various places. Home to read Electra. And as Mr. Allyne Otis had invited me to a late dinner I occupied my intervening time in my pursuit of the coins. Miss Louisa C. Smith spent the day with my Wife.

At five I went down the street to the place of invitation and was ushered into a room where were assembled a company among whom I was most surprised to see myself. T. H. Perkins Jr., W. Amory, R. S. Fay, J. L. Stackpole, W. Lee Jr., Mr. Crowninshield, T. Dwight, Copley Greene, T. Motley Jr., P. Grant, J. M. Warren, F. Codman, besides Mrs. Ritchie, Mr. Otis the elder and his two sons. These are the members of the club to which Otis had called my attention. A poor business enough. I felt much out of my element, but was treated with great civility and left the table at eight.

Mr. Otis feels aggrieved by my father’s political career. He thinks it destroyed him and probably is correct insofar as this, that he was made by it to pay a heavy penalty for his own faults. He has always treated me with attention and though I cannot admire nor respect the motives of action which have gone through his life, yet I think his age and his private character are entitled to respect.1 Evening at home, reading Miss Martineau.


The long maintained but often unhappy relations of Harrison Gray Otis, now 73, with JA and JQA are chronicled in Morison, H. G. Otis, 1969, p. 190–193, 272–274, 446–448. These connections spanned the years of controversy among the Federalists and between them and the party’s opponents, from the Hamiltonian break in 1799 through the charges of disunion conspiracies in 1804 and 1814 to the breakup of the Federalists in 1828. The stormy relationship was punctuated on several occasions by pleasant dinners at which Otis was a genial host to an Adams. Of the present occasion, CFA wrote to LCA: “Among other wonderful events is the rapproachement between us and the O’s. We have talked and becarded and bedined and are mighty friendly” (6 Feb., Adams Papers).