Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 1

Wednesday. June 9th. VI.

Friday. June 11th. IV:30.

178 Thursday. June 10th. V:45. CFA


Thursday. June 10th. V:45. CFA
Thursday. June 10th. V:45.

Attended Prayers and having looked over my review in the interval, recitation. I was called upon for the first time in a review and recited moderately well. I received a letter this morning from John1 announcing his intention of departing the next day for the springs at a town called Bedford in Virginia. He is to accompany my Mother and Mary in this affair. He also announces his inability to write me in consequence, a thing which I am exceedingly sorry for as I seldom feel perfectly contented unless I receive letters frequently from home. John’s particularly afford me great amusement.

I read this Morning besides my regular Chapters Cowper’s Poem on Retirement much of which pleased me exceedingly. I have not prized this Author as highly as he deserved although I have always admired him. So much striking observation is collected in this poem, the natural agitations of the mind are so accurately described that one can not help being very much pleased with him. I also studied a lesson in Botany. This is a very pleasant amusement in the Spring and as I wish to prepare myself before the lectures come on, if we are to have any, I am now studying it. I did this also last Spring and now merely refresh my Memory. We had no exercise this Morning as the Theme which should have come today is delayed for Examination. I wrote my Journal and spent an hour at Sheafe’s room talking of the Supper which we have in contemplation.

At dinner we were interrupted by the entrance of Tudor who was hailed by general acclamation. His arrival fills up our accustomed society which certainly felt quite a void while he was not here. I spent an hour at Wheatland’s room talking with Burton,2 a graduate and divinity student who belonged to my brother’s class. I talked a great deal of preaching and ministers to him, a subject which of all others is to me the most foolish. It is popular here and Wheatland who is a very good young sample of old narrow mindedness delights in conversation of this kind. I shall not attempt to describe the character of this man until we part never to meet again which will soon be and not to my regret for I know not what is the reason but he appears to me at this time to be more unpleasant than he ever was before; he did not seem to relish Tudor’s popularity among us, and scarcely hailed him half as cordially as any of the rest. Could it have been envy, because he knew he could not have been so received? or what? I will suspect but assert nothing.

I read a portion of Mitford finishing the second Chapter which 179treats of their state of society, of the progress of the Greeks in Religion, Government, Language, Poetry, Agriculture, Masonry, Commerce, Navigation, Astronomy, Physic. Also of their Manners. All this is derived from his great favourite Homer whom he quotes for the establishment of all his facts. The history of these books is singular as it is with good ground supposed that the art of writing was not known until long after these were composed. The general hypothesis is that they were sung by him at the Meetings which have always been held in Greece and that they were handed down in this way from one generation to another, being committed to memory by persons who pursued the same practice which has been common with the Welsh who were very much acted upon by their bards. But still I am inclined to doubt whether poems of this kind could have come down perfect as we find them, they must have undergone considerable correction in later ages when they were first set in order. It appears even so, hardly possible to suppose that any one man could have kept in his memory two such long Poems, knowing also as we do, or say we do, that there was no regular way of singing them, they were composed in disorder and still form so perfect a whole. There is one thing certainly which we can trust to him, for, knowing their unquestionable antiquity, we can have no doubt that he described the manners which were usual in that age. The author’s illustration of them is very good.

I got a Greek lesson this afternoon and attended a recitation to Dr. Popkin, after which I made a short call upon Brenan to inform him of our decision concerning the Supper and read Mitford until Prayers after which we went to Fresh Pond and spent some time in bowling. Met there J. Otis and Bartlett with the latter of whom I had considerable conversation. I went principally to make arrangements but did not succeed owing to Mr. Wyeth’s3 absence. On returning, our Lyceum party went to Mr. Willard’s and refreshed ourselves with a little Porter. Tudor’s presence has inspired us with life and dissipation and we opened the term pleasantly. The evening was so pleasant that I staid out until ten o’clock in the front of the house, admiring the Moon and the beauty of the Evening. After a few minutes at Wheat-land’s where Stackpole and Silsbee were, I came down and reading my two Chapters as usual, I retired. X:15.




Warren Burton, Harvard 1821, who graduated from the Divinity School in 1826.


Jacob Wyeth was owner of the Fresh Pond Inn, since 1796 one of the famous hostelries in the Cambridge area; it was located not far from the present water filtration plant (Chauncey Depew Steele Jr., “A History of Inns and Hotels in Cambridge,” Cambridge Historical Society, Publications, 37 [1959]:33–34).