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Browsing: Diary of Charles Francis Adams, Volume 1


Docno: ADMS-13-01-02-0003-0008-0022

Author: CFA
Date: 1824-07-22

Thursday. July 22d. VI.

Attended Prayers and recitation in Topography. After breakfast I sat myself down and wrote a theme upon the subject of Lord Byron’s death. It was very easy and fruitful, although my Class have been assuring me that it is already hackneyed. I commenced with a few observations upon his future character and then went on culling the remarkable parts of his character good and bad, as well as I could within so short a time. I then concluded with my own sentiments upon his character, and quoted the late toast of Mr. Sprague’s which I think is one of the sweetest things I have seen for a great while. I shall insert it in my Common Place Book.1 I was obliged to go to the Athenaeum to obtain it, which delayed me considerably and I was not released until almost half past ten, which was the time appointed for a meeting of the Officers at the Arbour. We all attended and went through the form of Parade, and performed all the evolutions which we intend to do tomorrow night. This employed us all the morning. { 253 } We adjourned to the Ensign’s to appoint Markers which we did and took a little refreshment. Some strong punch upon an empty stomach affected us all a little.
We dined and after dinner, I attended Mr. Nuttall’s lecture upon leaves. The heat of the weather made me so exceedingly sleepy that I attended to very little indeed. The leaves were a dry subject and as I could read my own book exactly as well, I was rather sorry I attended. I know not how it was but I spent the whole of the rest of this afternoon in writing my Journal. The listlessness occasioned by the warm weather destroys all power of fixing the mind in writing particularly. My Journal is a weight and in case I feel it next month I shall take leave to abridge it considerably without feeling in the least as if I had infringed upon my first intention.
After Prayers, we received the unwelcome news that Walley the Sophomore2 had applied for Tudor’s room and would probably obtain it. We had a consultation at which Dwight and Chapman attended and found ourselves in a great quandary upon the subject and adjourned without doing any thing. I was affected with a bad head ach, and therefore was glad to read my Bible and go to bed. Every body appeared to be sick this Evening. X:15.
1. In his literary commonplace book (M/CFA/18, p. 104), CFA did copy the toast Sprague gave at a dinner on 5 July 1824 to the memory of Lord Byron:

“O’er the tomb of Childe Harold Greek maidens shall weep

In his own native land, his body shall sleep

With the bones of the bravest and best

But his soul shall go down to the latest of time

Fame tell how he rose for Earth’s loveliest clime

And mercy shall blot out the rest.”

2. Samuel Hurd Walley, of Boston ( Harvard Annual Cat., 1824).

Docno: ADMS-13-01-02-0003-0008-0023

Author: CFA
Date: 1824-07-23

Friday. July 23d. VI.

Attended Prayers and recitation in Topography, and then came home and dressed myself for I am exceedingly hurried in the morning now. At study bell I attended Parade at the arbour and remained there until Lecture time. Indeed I have found what I expected would be the case, that what with the company itself, the preparations and the thoughts, my time will be very much injured. I have lost two valuable mornings in this week by this way. I attended lecture. It was upon the use of words. I was in no state of mind to attend to it consequently shall give a very brief abstract of it. He said a great deal depended upon the right use of words. That in the first place, words were formed according to necessity and on this account it is that we { 254 } have so many synonyms. Our words are almost all of double meaning and refer as well to the mind as to external objects. It consequently requires some study to understand their application and full meaning. A man should study his mother tongue thoroughly. There are many varieties in the fashions of words although it will not do, to be too bold, to introduce obsolete ones or coin new ones, there are many fashionable writers who will give currency to their own words. The first is that it is becoming more and more usual to draw from the earlier sources of the English language. Formerly the use of literature and language would have been dated in the age of Anne but now we refer to the time of Elizabeth. He then made some observations upon the language of this country. It had been stated that we could not preserve the purity of a language at such a distance from the source of it, that we should only become possessors of a sort of provincial language. It was true that many new words had crept in, such as from the nature of the country must arise, and the mixed state of population might injure it a little, but the very fact that we read all english publications and imitate them is sufficient to prove that we have undergone no material alteration and we are now proving that we can write as well as the English. There are many in this country willing to hazard their reputation for writers upon mere essays in periodical publications. All our exhibitions of talent circulate in this way as we have not yet become a Pamphlet writing or book making country. The lecture was a dry one and the heat oppressive.
After lecture I came home and wrote my Journal which was all I did until dinner time. After this was over I wasted an hour until Declamation. Another division of the Sophomores declaimed today, few did well, Goodwin1 was the only one. I did not attend Mr. Nuttall’s Lecture this afternoon, it was so exceedingly warm, I was overpowered. I spent some time in Dwight’s room, and amusing myself there, after which I returned home and literally wasted the afternoon drinking lemonade at Sheafe’s room. My thoughts were running in any direction but one proper to read in so that I with regret shall be obliged for the present to break a fixed habit at the risk of not reobtaining it. The summer term is not one in which we can speak decisively of ourselves.
This was the evening appointed for the first regular drill with all the Officers, and we discussed the probability of rain to the last moment. After Prayers, it did sprinkle a little, but it only delayed us a half an hour. When we were all ready, and joining the Parade, I was most exceedingly frightened and when I took my station before the { 255 } ranks, I could hear my heart beat as well as feel it. We went through it very well and then marched round the town as usual with us to salute the Professors on the first night of the new company. After a warm march we came home having made about two or three mistakes a piece. My finale on the Evening parade was wretched but luckily no one saw me, it was so very dark. From here, I went immediately up to the Knights meeting. It was quite pleasant this Evening. I obtained Sheafe’s admission and afterwards we admitted some of the Sophomores for the first time and one Freshman. I went as a Committee to see Atherton and Phillips2 who both joined. This was what I wished as we have some intention if possible to raise a Northern party in that class. And as the late discussion in the Porcellians has blown the whole of the Southern proceedings, we have a desire by means of the Club to form an opposing power. After they were all initiated, I spent a sociable hour and3 from the idea of such a trouble over with good success. I then went and took a walk with some of the members of the club and returned home to bed, not reading my Bible this Evening. XI:30.
1. Hersey Bradford Goodwin, of Plymouth ( Harvard Annual Cat., 1823).
2. John Charles Phillips, of Boston, a sophomore (same).
3. A word or more was probably inadvertently omitted by the diarist here.