Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 1

Saturday. September 25th. VI:15.

Monday. September 27th. VI:10.

Sunday. September 26th. VII:30. CFA


Sunday. September 26th. VII:30. CFA
Sunday. September 26th. VII:30.

Missed Prayers this Morning commencing the year in no better way than formerly. I met at breakfast with all the remaining members of our assembly. Chapman, Dwight and Cunningham all very well. After breakfast, I returned to my room and went through my business very fast indeed. I brought up my Index entirely which had been neglected much longer than I had any idea of. I also wrote my Journal previous to attending Chapel in the morning and hearing the President deliver a Sermon on the death of Mrs. Farrar, the wife of the Professor who died this vacation. I was looking nearly all the time at the Freshman Class which appeared to be exceedingly small. It does not fill the seats at all and is said to be the smallest class for at least ten years, which is something of a shock to the College government. They have not expected such a blow so soon.1

In the afternoon I went to Otis’s room and spent part of the day there, over a comfortable glass of wine. I employed myself also part of the day in writing a long letter to John2 in pretty severe terms, answering the two which I received last week from him. I am not inclined to indulge in sarcasm but I thought I was obliged to after such a singular evasion on his part of what certainly it was fair to ask. If he retorts snappishly, which is very probable, I shall say nothing more. I again attended Chapel and heard a Sermon from Dr. Ware most of which I attended to. It was an address to College and more particularly to the Freshman Class. It was sensible and affecting, much in it which made me think, Experience is a singular teacher and at Cambridge comes too late. The Freshmen all look like children and make me think of a parcel of babies still in leading strings. There is not a manly looking animal among them.

After tea I paid a visit to Fay and to Dwight, took a short walk, read Pope’s Second Epistle on the Characters of Women and a Tract of Dr. Johnson’s called the False Alarm—written to prevent the effects of the representations of Junius respecting the Middlesex Election. I did not think it very powerful. I spent an hour at Otis’s in company 336with Rundlet and Fay, and closed the Evening by reading a number of the striking maxims of Rochefoucault.3 X.


For the size of the freshman class, see entry for 27 Aug., and note, above. The marked drop in enrollment was indeed a blow, for Harvard had just lost its annual state subsidy of $10,000, appropriated since 1814, and the legislature, influenced by a campaign among orthodox Calvinists against Harvard’s theological liberalism, had voted to charter Amherst College. See Morison, Three Centuries of Harvard , p. 218–220.




A copy of François de la Rochefoucauld’s Maximes et réflexions morales, Amsterdam, 1780, is in the Stone Library. A Paris edition, published in 1777, bearing JA’s autograph, is among the President’s books in the Boston Public Library ( Catalogue of JA’s Library , p. 140).