A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.
close
-
The Adams Papers Digital Edition is undergoing active maintenance while we work on improvements to the system. You may experience slow performance or the inability to access content. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. We will endeavor to return to full capabilities as soon as possible.

Browsing: Diary of Charles Francis Adams, Volume 1


Docno: ADMS-13-01-02-0003-0007-0030

Author: CFA
Date: 1824-06-30

Wednesday June 30th. VI.

Attended Prayers and recitation, but very luckily was not called upon in the latter, otherwise I should have been compelled to the same course with the last Monday’s. After breakfast I went to Lecture as usual. The subject today was Pulpit Eloquence in continuation. He began by stating it’s design different from any other sort of speaking as the latter were and merely1 to influence a person’s opinion upon an immediate measure but it was the duty of the first to inculcate principles which were to mould a man for life. He was to act upon their feelings, to produce morality and justice, piety and good conduct to man. He was to teach them their duty to others, and all the important advice for their happiness here and hereafter.
He then entered into a discussion on the nature of God’s temple and the propriety of attending it which did not in my mind have any immediate connection with the subject in question. He then recommended suitable action and propriety in manner. He said it had [been] made an objection here that men did not give sufficient attention to these points, but on the whole he seemed to think they did and appeared to believe the Church would become corrupt as soon as it improved. He said that a gaudy eloquence would be introduced which would destroy all feeling and that the progress of morality would be checked, which was now advancing so fast under the pro• { 215 } tecting care of our clergy. Here I cannot in the least agree with him. That vicious eloquence should be introduced I for my part have not the least desire but that we should not actually suffer under the torment of some of our ministers whilst delivering their Sermons does appear to me to be very much to be wished. That I shall not be more edified by a good Sermon preached by a good deliverer than by our Dr. Ware or President appears to me to be about as incorrect an idea as I can well conceive of. The fact is that this lecture has very nearly made [up] my mind about Channing, for I do think that he knows very little of the real subject which he is treating of and prefers going out of his road somewhat to talk a little metaphysical concerning the pleasures of recollection and to make a pretty quotation concerning Milton than to talk properly on his subject. He might make a moderately good essayist if he chose but he never was meant to be remarkable in any thing. His conducting the North American Review brought but very little character to him.2
I went to try to get a bath but not succeeding, I went to the Bookstore and bought Salmagundi as I saw a pretty copy there which matched the other works of Irving in my possession.3 It is a work of some humour but it is now so long since I have read it, if I ever did, that I should like to go over it again, consequently I commenced it today and was much amused with it’s style. I attended recitation to Dr. Popkin today. He got into very bad humour concerning the lesson as the students laughed at one or two mistakes, which were made. There is more evidence than my simple self to show that there is a habit of neglecting the Testament lessons here.
After dinner I laid down, the weather was so warm it was hardly possible to do any thing else. I looked over the lesson to Mr. Farrar and recited to him very much as usual. He paid us a compliment and dismissed us. I consider him as the only man in the government who appears to know any thing about recitation as an exercise to acquire knowledge, the rest is now all a perfect rote system. Immediately after we got out I went to refresh myself with a bath, in which although a bad one I remained three quarters of an hour. The water was cold and not enough of it. I returned home and employed myself until Prayers in writing my Journal which falls behind hand now that I can read so little. It has now become something of a weight upon a man’s conscience like mine although knowing at the same time that it is unavoidable.
After Prayers, I drilled my section and was honoured by a visit from Cunningham and sundry of my class. They performed very { 216 } well. After squad, I walked up to College, met some of the officers and talked a little with them. As I happened to come across Blake in the mean time, I determined to finish that business concerning my uniform and settle with him which I did and paid him the full value. As I had never been to see him before although I know Blake and Silsbee his chum very well, I spent the evening here and we conversed on the various College subjects which are considered interesting, the company, the Porcellians, not a great deal directly about these last, as these are members and the conduct of the first of them is not much approved in our party. We also talked a good deal about different subjects of little importance, Silsbee having come in, when the bell rung and I returned home. Read my Bible and lesson. X:15.
1. Thus in MS .
2. Edward T. Channing had heen editor of the North American Review from May 1818 to October 1819 ( DAB ).
3. CFA’s copy of Washington Irving’s Salmagundi, London, 1824, is in the Stone Library.
{ 216 }