Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 1

Wednesday. August 25th. VIII.

Friday. August 27th. VIII:15.

Thursday. August 26th. VIII. CFA


Thursday. August 26th. VIII. CFA
Thursday. August 26th. VIII.

Arose a Senior Sophister at Harvard University. Although the day was not fair, company began to flock in from all quarters. And the society began to show their medals. I got a place to hear some of the prize speakers but there were none worth hearing, it was the most inferior exhibition of declamation which I had ever heard at this institution. I could not hear the whole. I went out, visited Silsbee and returned again, but where Mr. Everett was delivering his Oration before the Φ B K1 the press was so very great that it was impossible for me in any way to endure it. I heard him for about twenty minutes and then came off. I think it is a shameful thing that the students at a literary institution should not have peculiar seats provided for them at literary exercises. It appears to me that Collegians themselves are much the most to be attended as their taste is to be formed, and they ought to have full power of forming it. They have not it now as it is impossible for them to obtain any situation of any sort. I could hear no more of Professor Everett and therefore gave up all idea of it. This I regretted as the passages I had heard were really fine and I had understood, since, his final close was quite affecting. He hailed the general La Fayette who was here again today, with remarkable beauty. His oration lasted two hours. A small poem of Mr. Ware’s which came previously lasted about twenty minutes. It was also spoken well of. I was invited to dine at Whitney’s, so immediately afterwards I went up to his room, but I had been paying my devoirs so faithfully to Silsbee’s table that I could eat nothing. I saw my Uncle, and Aunt and George there, sat with them a little while and then came off. I then went and heard some of the toasts at the dinner of the Society2 which is so remarkable for men of talents. There was a remarkable flash of wit kept running on, and for once I wished myself a member of the society. It was but a passing wish and it is only when you see the gold shining 302among the dross that you value it, the dross at Cambridge, at other times is rather supereminent. I then went home and found Tudor with whom I strolled about the tents, saw gambling, cheating, swearing and drunkenness exhibited in their most attractive veins, visited Silsbee’s again for a few moments and returned home to bed. XI.


Edward Everett’s address, “The Circumstances Favorable to the Progress of Literature in America,” was published in his Orations and Speeches on Various Occasions, Boston, 1850, 1:9–44.


Phi Beta Kappa.