Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 1

Tuesday. June 15th. VI.

Thursday. June 17th. VII:30.

Wednesday. June 16th. VIII. CFA


Wednesday. June 16th. VIII. CFA
Wednesday. June 16th. VIII.

Missed Prayers. At study bell I attended a lecture of Mr. Channings. His subject today he divided into three heads, Demonstrative, deliberative and judicial oratory. He treated today of the first of these, he considered it as the least important of the three as it was used only on occasions of meetings for the purpose of hearing, and not on occasions involving the interest of any portion of individuals. Funeral orations, panegyrics, Orations on annual festivals such as the fourth of July and others. This style of speaking was suited therefore only for holiday occasions. He closed this lecture and this part of his subject with a few observations concerning the requisites for this, of which he mentioned the accurate delineation of character as the most important, that it was not sufficient to speak merely of his qualities as general, such as that he was brave or generous, for this he has in common with thousands, and although some people might prefer a bombastic sounding expression of some common qualities, it exhibited bad taste and showed that they only who had no discernment would do this. Other men would give value to the exact description of some remarkable peculiarity, some feeling for which he was remarkable 189only to these immediately.1 On a judicious selection of these he said depended the principal ..., 2 the force of an Oration of the demonstrative kind. This was a pretty good lecture.

I did absolutely nothing this Morning from a sort of listlessness always following a blow, although I had no headache or sick feeling much to my satisfaction and our good companions lost their expected satisfaction. I regret that I saw this for really I do not wish to think ill of more fellows than I can help. These I have a good opinion of at present and wish to continue. Had Otis possessed one quality more I could have liked him. Had Richardson been in good society he would have made a better companion. Wheatland knew no politeness. Thus it is, I am necessarily debarred by a consciousness of their faults from the intimacy of many whom I have wished to respect. I attended Dr. Popkin at eleven o’clock and recited without having looked at the lesson. This Greek Testament is boy’s play. After it I read the two books of Cowper’s Task which finish it. I did not neglect reading it yesterday but it was done in the examination room and so lazily that I thought it proper to go over it again. I have no remarks further to make on this subject.

After dinner I read a very little in Mitford’s Greece which I shall not notice at present. At two o’clock, I attended a lecture from Mr. Nuttall the Curator of the gardens on Botany,3 a course which I wish to attend as by this I shall ensure regularity and order, to my study of it. To accommodate the Senior members he began his course with the more important parts of his flower, in this way making it quite puzzling to those who have not been over the terms. I have studied them and found but little difficulty in understanding him. He treated today of the calyx or flower cup, its different forms and illustrated them by different flowers. He appears to be an agreable man, and quite easy in his manner. He certainly appears desirous of giving some instruction in this branch, and as it is a pleasing one, I am delighted at having this opportunity of cultivating it. This first lecture was sufficiently simple.

I then returned home and wrote my journal for Monday as I had no opportunity for this purpose yesterday. We then went to Mr. Farrar, Otis, Sheafe, Percy4 and I were all the class. He employed all the time in explaining to us the day’s lesson and by dint of perseverance made us or at least Otis and myself understand it. As to Percy he never will understand anything. Sheafe did not take the trouble. We returned home, for me to laze away my time as I have been during this term, but I do not know why, my hope is that a letter from my father will 190encourage me to continue my studies. I went to the Athenaeum and spent half an hour reading there and then went to Prayers. After which I took a walk with Sheafe and Richardson crossing the Cham, the romantic name of a very pretty stream which winds along here.

Returning, I spent the evening at Tudor’s, reading with him the trip to Paris of Mathews5 in ridiculous style. This, to be sure is a very foolish way of spending my time and really I begin to be very much ashamed of myself. My Mitford has for the last few days been deplorably neglected and I altogether reject all time because there appears so little of it.6 Indeed I have decided I think that the two first years are far the best for reading. When I came down, I tried to read Enfield over but could not, it appeared so unusual to get a lesson, I did not know what to make of it. I read my Chapters in the Bible all and finished the book of Genesis. It is a book I will not criticize although perhaps I ought to. X.


Thus in MS.


Word omitted in MS.


Thomas Nuttall (1786–1859), the noted botanist and ornithologist, who in 1822 became curator of the Botanical Garden at Harvard ( DAB ).


Robert Dow Percy, of St. Francisville, La., a junior ( Harvard Annual Cat., 1823).


Possibly Henry Matthews, The Diary of an Invalid; being the Journal of a Tour ... in Portugal, Italy, Switzerland and France in the Years 1817–1819, London, 1820.


Thus in MS.