Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 1

Tuesday. July 13th. VIII.

Thursday. July. 15th. V:55.

Wednesday. July 14th. VII. CFA


Wednesday. July 14th. VII. CFA
Wednesday. July 14th. VII.

Missed Prayers and recitation again this morning, although I had cautioned Richardson last night to rouse me which he did, but sleep overpowered me and I fell back again and did not awake until I found Otis laughing at my surprise. I could not help doing so too although it was a serious matter. My negligence has been singular and nevertheless it appears to me impossible that it should have been less for I appear almost forced to every bit of it. I am marked for four recitations this week, two of them I could not avoid. I certainly preferred Mr. Nuttall’s Lecture to a recitation which could not profit me at all and yesterday I could not study.

After breakfast I attended Mr. Channing, who continued his subject of the different methods of criticism. He spoke of the class of Annotators to old books and poets, and also to books which had an immediate bearing upon the professions, these last were the most voluminous, they pretended to explain obsolete or difficult passages and terms, and also to give the sense of their author in their interpretation. This was not productive of much good as every man entertained his own opinion and laid it down in dry prose, so that it was of more injury than it was worth to a good author to break off in a fine passage to examine a dull dry note giving you no information in a great deal of words. The fact was that with these men, the difficulty was that they added notes where no information was wanted and gave no satisfaction whenever some was. He then passed on to notice Literary Reviews of the present day, he sketched their history 239and their influence. The Edinburgh Review he said had obtained an authority over all matters of taste and there were many advantages in it for they checked all incorrect style. But one disadvantage in the system was that it forestalled public opinion, it brought a fashion of superficial reading too much into habit. Persons were contented with extracts and satisfied with the representation whatever it was which the reviewer chose to give to his work. Here was an opening for injustice and a habit which was a bad one.

Tudor went this morning with his puppy and I felt singularly upon it for I have become quite attached to him, the traits of his character are so directly catching to a young man that it is impossible not to be pleased with him. His unpopularity at College has been singular, and has originated for the most part in Southern prejudice.

I have never given Wheatland’s Character. It is such a compound of vanity, Narrow mindedness, malignity, and benevolent feeling that I cannot exactly ascertain the true ingredients. His system of bullying, over Richardson and Otis, I did not like at all, and his weakness finally exposed him considerably. His envy made him angry with many here who were in better circumstances and made him slander many unfairly. He had no spirit of justice in his likes and dislikes, and would repeat stories concerning men, of a nature which he knew to be incorrect or exaggerated, without observing the cause however small it might be which made him say so. He was withal kind to inferiors, and to those who were sick, when his envy was laid by any mortification on another, his kind feelings predominated. His prejudices changed quickly when an opportunity offered for soothing them. He loved distinction, and therefore took the character of an eccentric man, or as they call it here, odd. He was in consequence visited respectably without having to support the expense. Above all his ruling passion was Economy. Thus much for him, I shall see him but little hereafter and shall remain content with the idea of having spent a year with him on friendly terms.

We went to Mr. Hedge this morning who read us a Lecture upon the subject of Moral Philosophy. It was attended to very much as usual, and I although I attempted something like it in the beginning, do not think worthwhile to detail it. In the afternoon we went to Mr. Farrar at three o’clock and he kept me up to go through two lessons and gave me something of a screwing as the students call it. He has so much rapidity in his manner that his enumeration of figures confuses a young man and his severity when you are wrong depresses considerably. The rest of the afternoon I spent writing up the Journal 240which has at last I believe got up to its proper regularity and I hope now that the Seniors are gone, that it will not again become a trouble to me. After Prayers, I drilled my Squad as usual, they did not perform at all well and I was quite in a bad humour when I went to the usual Meeting. After which I returned home, got my lesson and retired much on the usual hour. The Sophomores were fined four dollars a man for combination to be absent yesterday from Mr. Hedge. X:30.