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Browsing: Diary of Charles Francis Adams, Volume 1


Docno: ADMS-13-01-02-0003-0008-0002

Author: CFA
Date: 1824-07-02

Friday. July 2d. VII:30.

I had intended to have gone to recitation but my rest this night was disturbed by horrible dreams and I awoke this morning with a { 218 } bad head ach. I could have done nothing all day, had I gone, for until half past five I had no refreshing sleep whatever. My dreams arising from indigestion were horrible. Such being my feelings in the morning I attended the drill of my section without pleasure and heard Mr. Channing’s lecture this morning without attention. I merely heard him say that there was one peculiarity which distinguished pulpit eloquence which was that no manifestation of pleasure or satisfaction was allowed in the course of an exercise. He then gave a sketch of the history of preaching. After the first preacher it used to be the custom when any sentiment pleased the audience to acknowledge it by loud acclamations and clapping of hands. It had been usual among the earlier divines to address the congregation more familiarly and to receive nods from individuals when they understood the doctrine inculcated; to this he attributes this habit which existed until almost a century ago when it was preached down. He then closed what he had to say with some observations on the popularity of this sort of eloquence. Only very great orators attracted crowds at the bar or in the hall of legislation, but this was always attended and always pleasant. Even the theatre, he said, a place devoted to pleasure, and an amusement which can certainly be obtained at a cheap rate, this was not filled uniformly. This was all which I heard in the gentleman’s closing lecture on sacred oratory. I then went to this meeting of the Company Officers and argued away concerning the propriety of this and that until almost dinner time. We performed every thing which we had been directed to very shortly and the Captain determined we should not do any more until he had learnt the words of command when he could call us together and direct us to proceed regularly in these manoeuvres which he had selected for the year. Thus we adjourned again sine die much to my satisfaction as I doubt not we should have wasted an amazing deal of time, spent some money, and not have done any more than we shall by the present agreement.
After dinner, I attended Declamation. Howard delivered Patrick Henry’s speech, but he could not give the proper force to it. He speaks only pretty well. Dwight delivered Lord Chesterfield’s speech on the Theatre bill. He selects good speeches but not striking ones. Miller delivered one which excited the risible faculties of all [the] College as it was a piece of a man defending himself from murder. The commencement of his piece concerning his own character was so applicable that it struck every one. We were detained very late so that I was obliged to go up immediately to Mr. Nuttall and heard him discuss the nature of the four next classes. I returned home and tried to do { 219 } something but I was exceedingly sleepy and my head ach was still upon me so that I went to sleep and was not roused until Prayers, having had a most refreshing nap. After this exercise I drilled my squad for the last time in the Evening in a room. They did not do as well as I wished them to. Indeed now I am considerably provoked with the section. I then came home again and read my lesson over before attending a meeting of the Knights which was called at eight o’clock.
The Meeting was full this Evening as it was the last time the Seniors were present and we were to proceed to the Election of Officers for the next year and I am forthwith to enjoy in this Club Otium cum dignitate. We proceeded to a choice of them immediately. Cunningham was chosen Grand Master in the place of Barnwell, Crowninshield,1 Deputy Grand Master in the place of Miller, Dwight Secretary succeeding Rundlet, and Perkins2 succeeding to my honour. I was perfectly satisfied with this result, it evidently showed the party feeling which existed in the club as every man elected was a Northerner. We spent the evening very pleasantly indeed. I was diverted with Lowndes3 and Tudor who enjoyed the corner much. Every body appeared in better humour than usual. I staid here at my old room, which was much worse in appearance this evening than it ever was in my hands, until after eleven, when a parcel of us went out and took a walk. Brigham,4 who was with us, being in high humour, sung two or three songs in his best style. After which we returned and went to bed well content. XI:30.
1. Benjamin Varnum Crowninshield, of Salem, a freshman ( Harvard Annual Cat., 1823).
2. William Powell Perkins, of Boston, another freshman (same).
3. Thomas Lowndes, of Charleston, S.C., a senior (same).
4. Benjamin Brigham, of Boston, a junior (same).