Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 1

Monday. October 25th.

Wednesday. October 27th. IX.

Tuesday. October 26th. VI:15. CFA


Tuesday. October 26th. VI:15. CFA
Tuesday. October 26th. VI:15.

Missed Prayers but attended recitation this morning, the day looking rather threatening for an intended Parade. I felt in very low spirits, why I have not yet found out, but I could feel no pleasure during the day. I employed my morning in reading and writing exactly as if nothing whatever was going to happen. We of course had no morning lecture and I was well employed. There is a vacant sort of restless feeling on days of such excitement as holidays which troubles me exceedingly, and which I am always anxious to keep down. It is a vacant sort of feeling when you cannot read and you take a very indifferent sort of pleasure in what is passing around. I managed however to control this until Exhibition commenced, when I went in and heard Allen’s part which was a great jumble of nonsense put into the shape of a dashing Conference. Bartlett was quite good and almost made me suspect he had obtained assistance.1 I was surprised at one thing today, as soon as I got upstairs, at observing so many Porcellian Medals, or rather as I afterwards found most of them only ribbands, which were worn by men not members of the Club. I have not mentioned the dissensions since my election and refusal, but it appears that a Southerner, Cabaniss,2 being exasperated with the treatment he had received in not being elected, has joined the Northern party, and incited them to do this thing in order to suppress the club. The party being no party at all in this class, at least there being no aristocratic Northern party, immediately adopted the hint, as these men who had the most claims had also been disappointed in their elections. I consequently think that the itself has been the result of the most contemptible feelings and also that the men themselves have shown how utterly unworthy they were of belonging to an honourable club 424and how just the decision of the society in their case. I was very angry, I must confess. It was so excessively contemptible that I was sorry the northern party had the disgrace of adding this to many other rather unhandsome actions. The actual true state of the case is that the Northern party in that class is composed of a set of blackguards, if I may use so harsh a term. The few respectable individuals among them are mere boys led about by any person who has force or energy enough to guide any body. Cabaniss is a full grown man and ought to be the more ashamed.

I heard very few of the remaining parts. Hedge’s3 poem was very good. He displayed much taste and some talent. His disposition of his subject was very good and his management of the parts was correct. He may make quite a good poet although I cannot think that he is a man of Genius. I heard part of Chapman’s Oration and my mind was made up. In the first place, I thought his character was stamped upon his subject, “The future prospects of our youth.” He was pretty perhaps but not great. He aspired to a description of what he had most thought of. In the next place, he was entirely wanting in power of writing. The work was insipid, not argumentative enough to be strong, and not figurative enough to be brilliant. This applies only to what I have heard of it for I went out fatigued, as it was about half through. What I did hear was enough to confirm my judgment, and it appears to have been the judgment generally. Mr. Everett or some one since at Mr. Hedge’s said it was pretty for so young a man, which is to me “damning with faint praise.” I had made up my opinion of it previously however. It rained during the latter part of Exhibition, but as it ceased after dinner, The Harvard Washington Corps paraded although in low spirits on account of the weather. We went to Professor Hedge’s according to invitation. We met there very nearly all the young ladies in town whom I met for the first time. Not many of these were engaging enough to take the trouble to be amusing to, and I felt too much strained by my dress to wish to exert myself so that I only was introduced to Miss Hedge and a Miss Pierce of Brooklyne with one or two others. We had a very pleasant afternoon considering every thing, and the entertainment was generous and handsome. We remained here until some time after five o’clock whilst it was raining. As soon as it had ceased again we went off and soon dismissed.

I then went home and took some tea after which I determined upon visiting all my class who gave entertainment this evening. I first went to Winthrop’s, a man I have never been introduced to, but whose civilities or at least those of his family, I wished to notice, as somehow 425or other I heard a complaint of my having been considerably impolite in refusing invitations which I never heard of. We were received with much coldness, and soon escaped from his company to Bartletts, from whence to Chapman’s, where I had a warm argument with him on the Porcellian affair, after which went home. X.


Phineas Allen, George Bartlett, and George Edward Winthrop participated in a conference on “the influence of merit, confidence, and intrigue on a man’s advancement in life.” See Records of the College Faculty, 10:77, Harvard Archives.


James B. Cabaniss, a junior from Madison County, Alabama ( Harvard Annual Cat., 1824).


Frederic Henry Hedge, son of Professor Levi Hedge, was a senior. Later he became professor of ecclesiastical history (1857–1876) and of German (1872–1881) at Harvard ( DAB ).