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Browsing: Diary of Charles Francis Adams, Volume 1

Docno: ADMS-13-01-02-0003-0009-0025

Author: CFA
Date: 1824-08-25

Wednesday. August 25th. VIII.

Arose and walked out immediately to the Athenaeum. The village was becoming very much crowded as it was the all important Commencement day. I remained here until I thought every body whom I knew had got into the Chapel. There is in me an invincible reluctance to accompany any of my Quincy acquaintance to a public place, as I not only dislike the trouble, but they cling so together and in the flock something “outré” is always to be feared. I also wish to discourage the plan of coming to Cambridge as it is not pleasant to me. I myself went out in front of the piazza of the University and waited there while the procession was forming and for La Fayette to arrive. He did at last among the acclamations of the multitude. He got out and was received by the President with an address which he answered. The crowd was very great. He appears to be younger than he really is, about sixty when he is sixty five.1 He is not a handsome man and never was, he has a pleasant eye and agreable expression in his countenance, with a very winning manner which has taken every where. The enthusiasm of the people with respect to him is astonishing, he was almost prevented from moving yesterday and today there was nothing but a sea of heads to be seen. It was rather affecting as it moves the very noblest feelings in the human heart. The services, the age and the patriotism of this man receive no more than their due reward. They, after this ceremony, all walked into the Meeting House where the Exercises were performed. The house was so exceedingly crowded that it was impossible to get in and after one trial I gave up all idea of it. I therefore amused myself going round the Common observing the display of the passions of men. It was a singular scene and for a quantity of rogues, { 301 } knaves and whores matched almost any in the world. Most deficient however in the last mentioned article. I spent much of the day thus but after the parts were over, which I understood were exceedingly fine, I dined and then went to Whitney’s to see Abby and Elizabeth and carry them to town if it was necessary, but it was not. George then made an agreement to come at seven to go to town and go through the ceremony of inviting La Fayette to Quincy, but no George came and I spent the evening at Richardson’s. XI.
1. Actually Lafayette was 67.

Docno: ADMS-13-01-02-0003-0009-0026

Author: CFA
Date: 1824-08-26

Thursday. August 26th. VIII.

Arose a Senior Sophister at Harvard University. Although the day was not fair, company began to flock in from all quarters. And the society began to show their medals. I got a place to hear some of the prize speakers but there were none worth hearing, it was the most inferior exhibition of declamation which I had ever heard at this institution. I could not hear the whole. I went out, visited Silsbee and returned again, but where Mr. Everett was delivering his Oration before the Φ B K1 the press was so very great that it was impossible for me in any way to endure it. I heard him for about twenty minutes and then came off. I think it is a shameful thing that the students at a literary institution should not have peculiar seats provided for them at literary exercises. It appears to me that Collegians themselves are much the most to be attended as their taste is to be formed, and they ought to have full power of forming it. They have not it now as it is impossible for them to obtain any situation of any sort. I could hear no more of Professor Everett and therefore gave up all idea of it. This I regretted as the passages I had heard were really fine and I had understood, since, his final close was quite affecting. He hailed the general La Fayette who was here again today, with remarkable beauty. His oration lasted two hours. A small poem of Mr. Ware’s which came previously lasted about twenty minutes. It was also spoken well of. I was invited to dine at Whitney’s, so immediately afterwards I went up to his room, but I had been paying my devoirs so faithfully to Silsbee’s table that I could eat nothing. I saw my Uncle, and Aunt and George there, sat with them a little while and then came off. I then went and heard some of the toasts at the dinner of the Society2 which is so remarkable for men of talents. There was a remarkable flash of wit kept running on, and for once I wished myself a member of the society. It was but a passing wish and it is only when you see the gold shining { 302 } among the dross that you value it, the dross at Cambridge, at other times is rather supereminent. I then went home and found Tudor with whom I strolled about the tents, saw gambling, cheating, swearing and drunkenness exhibited in their most attractive veins, visited Silsbee’s again for a few moments and returned home to bed. XI.
1. Edward Everett’s address, “The Circumstances Favorable to the Progress of Literature in America,” was published in his Orations and Speeches on Various Occasions, Boston, 1850, 1:9–44.
2. Phi Beta Kappa.
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.