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Browsing: Diary of Charles Francis Adams, Volume 1


Docno: ADMS-13-01-02-0003-0008-0027

Author: CFA
Date: 1824-07-27

Tuesday. July 27th. V:30.

Arose and looked over my lesson before Prayers, which I attended, and recitation in Topography. I was not taken up, it being a hard lesson and I not being able to recite, as he supposed. This was not true however for I was. My spirits were in not much better state than yesterday, but gradually I became better and after breakfast laid it down as a rule hereafter to follow, to keep Richardson at such a distance that I could hear no more of his stories nor could be exposed { 261 } to his insulting speeches. I shall as much as possible in future, to [ . . . ] good terms with him, treat him as I did when but slightly acquainted. I wish to try to see if I can succeed in my attempt.
This morning passed singularly quick from some reason of other. I was at the Athenaeum a little while, then transacting business at Mr. Higginson’s1 and finally writing an answer to my Uncle for Whitney.2 I encroached a little in this way upon my hour for Paley and consequently when the time came, I was not perfectly prepared for recitation and therefore did not recite as well as usual. After this, I spent the hour as usual studying tomorrow’s lesson. That today was upon rights.
In the afternoon we had a review with Mr. Farrar of all that we had been over in Plane Trigonometry and we recited very handsomely indeed. This over I did not spend the rest of the day very profitably. I wrote only part of my Journal the whole of which I should have finished.
There is some pleasure, after all, in being an Officer, as it gives some amusement and excitement to the Evenings. After Prayers tonight I scarcely knew what to do with myself so I went and took an extremely long walk with the two Otis’, Sheafe having gone to town. I find that Exercise is a great preservative of health here and that I have not had half the pain or languid or sickly feeling that I had before I was a soldier. I am convinced this is an excellent establishment on this account. And as a proof of it, fast young men are fond of the company merely on that account. Upon returning I came to my room and read and wrote as usual. My Topography, I did not study particularly, as I have not the honour of being taken up very often. Went to bed early. X:15.
1. Possibly Stephen Higginson, Steward of Harvard College from 1818 to 1827 (Harvard Quinquennial Cat.).
2. Missing.

Docno: ADMS-13-01-02-0003-0008-0028

Author: CFA
Date: 1824-07-28

Wednesday. July 28th. V:15.

Arose and studied my Topography, after which I attended Prayers and recitation in it. After breakfast we attended Mr. Channing, he continued his observations in purity and precision in language recapitulating considerably. He said that synonyms as they were called should be studied, as there were very few which did not express something peculiar to themselves, and varying in a slight degree from each other, to give, for instance, to bestow, to grant, to yield and many others had some little singularity in their meaning, so that it would hardly be proper to substitute one for the other. It was the knowledge of these { 262 } distinctions which it was so necessary to obtain, the niceties of language would preserve a man always from ridiculous blunders. It might be asked however, what was the use of such minuteness when one could be understood perfectly well without. To this we can answer that correctness distinguishes the gentleman and man of learning from the ignorant and it is the great barrier in society. Having thus closed with this part of his subject, he went on to the discussion of figurative language, first asking what definition there was, he said he had seen none sufficiently correct. Figurative language, it had been said, was a direction of external objects to the mind in order to illustrate and adorn. He thought this hardly distinct however as there was much figurative language which could not come under this application. The lamentation of Eve in the eleventh book of Paradise lost at leaving Paradise is highly figurative but it is all description or at least can not come nearer than that here. The true definition of figurative language in his mind was that which is perverted from its original meaning in order to affect the passions by some striking position. This was one of two which he gave, the other was not sufficiently clear to remember. This neither obviates his objection nor example, in my opinion. He then stated the general use and pleasure of metaphors, and other figures. They gave a finish to style and refreshed the mind by bringing up agreable images. Words are all made to express some particular quality or object and those who keep these remembrances best in mind will take the greatest pleasure in this sort of imagery.
I returned to my room when this was over and studied my Paley until recitation time. It was upon Property, an easy lesson, and I acquitted myself moderately well at recitation. I think his first Chapter upon Property is not a correct statement of things. I see no resemblance at all to our state of society. We collect no heap for one, reserving only our sustenance for ourselves. Every man collects for himself, to be sure, he collects for and pays others, but these do him assistance in turn by which he is enabled to attend to his business more exclusively. And when one robs, he is punished not for robbing or taking from one in particular, but he would suffer the same punishment, if he took from any other.1 I cannot help seeing a great deal of erroneous representation here. Such a state would not be desirable even with the reasons he gives. Thus I employed the morning, and in the afternoon I studied a lesson in Spherical Trigonometry and recited it remarkably well to Mr. Farrar. I know not how it is but I can get along much better with him in the Geometrical parts of the works than with Mr. Hayward. He has more of the spirit and less of the form. I employed { 263 } the rest of the afternoon in writing up my Journal which in this cool weather I have almost succeeded in doing.
Cunningham was taken sick today and went to town, consequently the Company could not parade this Evening. Consequently, Prayers and tea being over, I went and took a long walk with Richardson for a Companion for want of a better. We went to Sweet Auburn2 for the first time this year. Walking there we met Dwight, with whom we came down. As the difficult part of the week was past, which is a great relief to such a student as he is, he was correspondently elated and made the proposition for a sociable game of cards. We accordingly went to Richardson’s where we sat down. As nobody was in the house to fill up the table, we were obliged to send for Chapman. Dwight also sent for a bottle of Old Madeira and we spent a very sociable, comfortable evening. Otis and Sheafe came up afterwards. This was a little like last Winter, except that it was rather pleasanter as it was more close and compact. It was also unexpected. We adjourned after an exceedingly pleasant state of enjoyment, and I came down, read my Bible and retired. X:30.
1. Paley, in his Moral Philosophy, stated that men gathered property in a heap, reserving nothing for themselves but the chaff and the refuse, and they kept this heap for someone, often the weakest or worst member of the group, who spent or spoiled it. Further, if one of the group stole from the hoard, he would be hanged. See Paley’s Moral Philosophy: with Annotations by Richard Whately, London, 1859, p. 103.
2. A picturesque woodland in Cambridge which attracted romantic young people even after it became Mount Auburn Cemetery in 1831 (Morison, Three Centuries of Harvard, p. 207).
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2014.
http://www.masshist.org/apde2/