Skip Navigation

Diary of Thomas McClelland October-December 1861

October 1861

     Saturday 5th-- To-day will be remembered for being the day I filled out the first blank of my Meteorological observations to send to Washington. It was about as hard a task as I have undertaken for a long time. Received a letter from Addison Pease Davis to-day. He is rusticating in Illinois. We have received no numbers of the Evening Post subscribed for on last Tuesday. Yesterday's mail brought me a letter from Dock and Bob. It has been raining the last week nearly every day.

page 244

Wednesday 9th-- This afternoon I delivered myself of the speech in defense of Elizabeth of England. Martin of the Senior Class, either by chance or by the good planning of Professor Blaisdell, spoke on the character of Mary Queen of Scots89. Martin made a good speech yet he entered into no philosophical discussion. After the style of Jacob Abbott90, he delivered a pathetic address on the misfortunes of the unfortunate queen of Scots and chided the firm character of Elizabeth, without considering the times and circumstances of that renowned historical event.

 The committee on College Magazine, reported to the Association their consultations in Peter Hendricksonregard to sustaining the Monthly another year, and recommended that the Magazine be discontinued one year. On motion the recommendation was adopted-----so, under the guidance of the present senior class, which entered College with so much pomp and pride, and which has had its own way in college for three years, the College Magazine, which heretofore has been sustained so well, must perish only to be resurrected by a more generous manly class hereafter.
     The election of Officers of the Delian Society took place this evening. T.S. McClelland, through the efforts of King Caucus, was elected to preside over the destinies of the society for the ensuing term. Southworth Vice President, Lathrop Sec. Martin Treasurer. Mr. S.M. Allen was appointed Poet for the Archaean public meeting.
     Mr. Denton lectured to-night on the Carboniferous formation of the earth. This makes the third lecture he has delivered.
     Received a letter from Dock by mail.

     Sunday 13th- Yesterday I went out to see my Norwegian friends Mrs. Lunn and family. Also my Pennsylvania Dutch friends, the Goss family. Peter Hendrickson91 went with me, as far as Lunn's, I went to Goss's. All the afternoon I picked hickory nuts. By night I had nearly three pecks which I left to have sent to me.

page 245

On my return I found a letter from Dock, a copy of the Sentinel and the first No. of the Evening Post, dated Oct. 9, 1861 awaiting me.
     Professor Blaisdell preached in our church this morning.

     Monday 14th- I take a good deal of comfort in reading my Evening Post. This evening Hayden, Shephard and myself tried to sing--much to the detriment of the Memorabilia lesson.

     Tuesday 15th- Saturday's paper came in this evening. Joseph Goss sent me in $5.50, the residue of what he owed me for harvesting for him.
     The rain has begun to patter on my skylight. Thermometer at noon shows 74 degrees.

     Wednesday 16th- To-night I endeavored to preside over the Delian Society. The proclivities of the Society are to make fun rather than to promote the welfare of the organization. I do not think that I can get along without there is more regard to good order. I am not a little astonished that members of the society who pretend to be Christians, when the meetings are opened with prayer, should with impunity act in a manner unbecoming even gentlemen. I shall make it my especial duty to obtain the repeal of the laws respecting opening the Society with prayer when my term of office is expired-- conscientously believing it is a mockery to sustain the practice when the binding obligations are totally neglected.

     Monday 28th- This evening I finished John Lord Cambell's Life of Sir Francis Bacon. I was entirely ignorant of Bacon's character until I read this life. Bacon was a peculiar man. Few have ever stooped so low to obtain the favor of those in high places as he, especially men of such profound learning.

page 246

Yet with all his meanness, he was an ornament to his age.
     We are just getting into the merits of Trigonometry having studied in one week. The thermometer indicates cold weather these nights. A good fire is required for comfort.

November 1861

     Friday 1st- This first day of the month of Nov. has been cloudy and dull. Mr. Merriman of the Junior class, and myself, called to see ____ [the word has been scribbled over] the first of the season said some foolish things and heard a good many in fine was materially benefitted. "A little nonsense now and then is relished by the best of man" is an old adage.

     Saturday 2nd-- Have been busy this afternoon filling out two reports for Smithsonian Institute. The weather is decidely cold to-night.
     News this week in some respects interesting. The battle at Leesburg92 and the death of Colonel Baker93 were sad affairs. There is something wrong. Truly the cause of right cannot die!

     Sunday 3rd-- Mr. Adams gave us an exceedingly long sermon this morning. He gave, I should judge, the elders a good blowing up for not engaging him for another year. He made the remark that preachers were regarded formerly as pastors to whom his chare could go for relgious consolation, but now they were not retained long enough in one place to get acquainted with their hearers.
     President Chapin gave us a lecture this afternoon on the validity of God's Revelation to man through Jesus Christ.
     Read Milton's "Comus" and his poem on Christ's Nativity this afternoon. The weather is cool this evening. Thermometer 35 degrees.

     Tuesday 5th-- Rehearsed my anti-Mason piece to Prof. Blaisdell preparatory to speaking it on the morrow. I looked over sone of the back numbers of the Post to get information on the Mexico question. I think of writing on this question. Saturday's Post did not come in this evening as it ought. The election of State and county officers took place to-day. For the second time I availed myself of the blessed right of suffrage, and cast a vote for the Union party. Some rain to-day. The indications are that the old institution is on the eve of suspension. The President starts on a begging tour in a few days.

     Friday 8th-- McVean lies in No. 2 M.C. very sick with the measels. His mother is attending upon him. I fear the rebels will get hold on me and lay me up for two or three weeks. To-day we recited our first lesson in Surveying. I like the study very much. Went out to Clark's this evening and had my bed filled with clean oat straws. Prospects of a heavy frost to-night.
     Wrote a letter to Heath this evening asking him to sell me his looking glass.
     Commenced the Personal History of Lord Bacon, by W. Hepworth Dixon, a member of the Inner Temple. My author is a great lover of Bacon.

     Tuesday 12th-- Attended a sociable at Dr. Clark's this evening. I thought the appellation social bull would have been quite as appropriate. One Junior, one Senior, two Sophs, one Freshman and lots of preps were there. Maidens differing in age from eight or nine years up to seventy. Some old gentlemen honored the assembly with their presence. A good deal was said part of which was certainly sensible. My best moments were spent chatting with Rev. Mr. Adams, Dr. Clark, Miss Montgomery, Miss Mears, Miss Clark & Miss _____. [here again lines are blacked out.]
     I'm going again someday.

     Wednesday 13th-- An awful dry time we had speaking this afternoon. The boys had good orations but were asleep and did not recite well. We had a good debate to-night. President Chapin handed me an invoice of books this evening. The addition to the Lib. is over $200.


     Thursday 14th-- To-day I received my first lesson in practical mathmatics. For a year and nearly a term we have been drilling in Algebra and Geometry which practically manifested no benefit. To-day we went out and surveyed for two hours. What we surveyed was to illustrate Proofs 1-2-3-4-6 in Loomis' Trigonometry. I just begin to see the use of mathematical studies. The afternoon was rather cool for our work. This evening Wright and I performed the problems from the field notes we took.

     Friday 15th-- Attended Rev. Mr. Adams bible class with Merriman this evening. After meeting was out took a walk out to the end of Bridge Street then came up to Middle College and had a good chat on matters and things generally.

     Saturday 16-- The long expected Library books came along to-day and a busy time I have had un-packing and labelling. The box cost over two hundred dollars. The Encyclopedia Brittanica being the chief work--cost $125.00 The Edinburg Review in sixty vols. Elliot's debates, Hist of New England, Benton's Thirty years in U.S. Senate, Millman's Latin Christianity and a few other books constituted the lot.

     Saturday 23-- This day I spent in the courtroom instead of preparing and reciting my lessons as I ought. The case on trial was the State of Wisconsin against a Mr. Lockwood Principal of Union School Westside of the river, for assualt and battery on the person of John Cheeney. The verdict was given in favor of the teacher. At prayers this evening, all the boys joining in Middle College remained in the chapel after prayers and had a friendly chat with President Chapin about our smoky chimneys. He promised us that he would do what he could for us. I think we will be attended to. Yesterday the first snow of the season. It has blown and snown all day. [Thomas probably wrote "snown" because it rhymes with blown, just to be comical.] Thermometer average 24 degrees above zero.

page 249

     Thursday 28-- Thanksgiving Day. This has been the most unprofitable day to me of the whole term. If I had not earned a quarter this morning I should feel rather mean. At Eleven o'clock I went over to the Episcopal Church and heard prayers read. I did not accept Prof. Emerson's invitation to dinner, but dined on a piece of bread and butter-my regular diet-at home.
     Received a letter from Dock this evening. He carries on a driving business if he hears thirty one recitations a day. As I have only had four hours sleep out of the last thirty-six, I must get to bed earlier to-night.

December 1861

     Sunday 1st-- A most miserable day. Adam's preached us another of his long, day sermons this morning. I hope they will ship him a hire Blaisdell for another year. President Chapin preached a good sermon this afternoon, but I was so sleepy I did not hear the half of it. To-day has been not only winter in name but also in-deed. This morning at 7 o'clock the Thermometer 3 degrees, at 2 P.M. 12 degrees, and at 9 P.M. 1 degree.
     Wrote a letter to mother to-day and have done little else. Tried to read a little from the history of Liberty by Eliot. Do not like the style of writing and will not continue to read it.
     To-night is a singer. Cannot keep my feet warm.

     Thursday 5-- Professor Blaisdell informed me to-day the set of British Essayists in eight vols, which were sent by mistake to the college, will be sold for eleven dollars. The books would certainly retail at $3.00 per vol. making $24.00 for the set. I want them and have written Dock to see if he can furnish the money.
     Weather moderate to-day. Average 39-36' degrees above zero. To-morrow I must speak and have not committed my oration yet. Alas! the work I have to do! Finished reviewing Memorabilia to-day and have had an advance lesson assigned us for Monday.

page 250

     Friday 6th-- Middle College got very light footed to-night and was compelled "rusticum saltare." The dance was a regular old hoedown. May Fidler, McVean, Dales, Shepard, Hayden, Martin, Baxter, and Norwegian, and McClelland, constituted the dancers. The most prominent feature of the sport was the extra amount of dust kicked up.
     The "Post" brought us the President's Message to-night. The message is very good, though I think inferior to his Message of the Extraordinary Congress in the fall.
     The editor of the "Rebellion Record" sent me some pecimens numbers, prospectuses + c. I must try and get up a club of twenty this vacation.
     Made a miserable flunk this morning in Rhetorical Exercise. Failed to speak my oration.
     Thermometer 53 degrees--Raining.

     Tuesday 10th-- I suppose we Sophs have recited our last lesson in Memorabilia. This morning we completed the last Chap. in the fourth book, Robbins' Edition. To-morrow we have the Life of Socrates and Xenophon.
     An object is on foot to send to New York and Boston for the text books of next term. I fear we will add fresh fuel to the fire already kindled in the Book--sellers against us. [words crossd out after "sellers"]
     The weather grows colder. Thermometer 56, 49, 30 degrees--7 A.M., 2 P.M., and 9 P.M. respectively. No clouds to-night. Wind N.W. blowing at a rate of 35 miles an hour.
Received a letter from Dock. No Evening Post.

     Friday 13th-- This day closes the recitations for the term. This morning I made out my bill of books and gave to President Chapin to forward to Mr. Burnham in Boston. I purchased the set of English Essayists from the college, which was sent by mistake, from Boston in a cargo of Books. I paid Eleven Dollars for the eight vols. The retail price of the Books is about $24.00 I get them at half price at least.
     Received a letter from Dock, also one from Till.

page 251

The Post I think is not so interesting to-day as usual. By the Chicago Tribune the Trent94 has arrived in England. Great indignation was manifested in Liverpool on account of the arrest of Mason95 and Slidell96. Rumors are vague. Trouble, I doubt not, is brewing across the water. Let the worst come!

     Tuesday 17th-- Recitations all finished for the term and every person glad. The Juniors had their exhibition to-night. Everybody seemed well pleased with the performance.

     Wednesday 18th-- This morning attended prayers being the last exercise of the Term. Received the results of the examinations. I was so fortunate as not to be conditioned in Geometry--I ought to have been.
     Gave my room a good scrubbing to-day, and arranged things for another term.
     Rice, Alley, Wright, Dales, Jennings, and I feasted this evening on oysters, apples, nuts, popped corn, and coffee. 1 ½ o'clock in the morning only found us going to bed.

     Thursday 19th-- Bought half dozen Beloit Courier's Containing Junior orations and mailed them. Wrote letters to Bob, Dock, and Mother. I have accomplished very little to-day.
     Called on Deacon Gregory this afternoon to settle my bill. In obedience to instuctions from Prof. Kelsey I charged the sum of one dollar for filling blanks of Meteorological Register. This bill Deacon reprediated. I cannot settle until President Chapin returns and approves the bill.
[Here a line is blacked out.]

     Friday 20th-- Helped Mr. Alley saw kindling wood in cellar to-day. Received the evening Post in good order to-night. The weather has turned cold since last night. Thermometer at 7 o'clock- 8 degrees, above, at 2 o'clock P.M. 9 degrees above, at 9 o'clock P.M.-- 6 degrees above zero.

     Saturday 21st-- From 5 1/2 o'clock until 2 P.M. I sawed wood in the cellar. In the afternoon went out to Durgin's.

page 252

Commenced to snow during the night. Miron H. Durgin brought news from town that the small pox was at the Bushnell House. Thompson one of the waiters is reported to be down with this miserable disease.

     Monday 23rd-- Came in town this morning. Hastened to Dr. Taggart's to be vaccinated. The Dr. told me there was no danger. He said Thompson was affected by a slight touch of the varioloid.

          Tuesday 24th-- Rose late and have done very little all day. Took tea with Professor Blaisdell this evening. Wrote a big financial report to Bob. I do not understand it myself and I apprehend he will have to employ a Commercial College to assist him to interpret it.

     Friday 27th-- The eastern mail brought me a letter from a person I had supposed was my uncle. He addressed me as "Friend" and subscribed himself "Wm. McClelland". The letter bears a very "Patriotic" tone. The edge is colored with red and blue and white. On the envelop is an American flag. He says he has a son six feet high, and seventeen years old but hopes they may not have to part with him to go to war. He means to say that he hopes James may never go to war. O patriotism! Where is thy virtue.
     He is much interested in my welfare. He hopes I may make my mark in the world. As there are many ways of making marks, I do not pretend to know what he means. He designed coming out west this last fall but the war offered him chances to make money, so he did not come. Having no room for such whole souled, patriotic, philanthropic literature, I burn the letter with disgust.
     The veteran General Scott has unexpectedly returned from Paris. It is supposed he brings important messages from the Emperor Napoleon concerning the Mason and Slidell seizure. All the indications are to the effect that the Federal government will deliver up Mason and Slidell to the British Authorities. The attacks of the British journals are ungenerous, unmanly, despotis, disgraceful.

page 253

Their former croakings were leveled upon as because we suffered the system of human slavery to exist in the government. Now they do everything in their power to accomplish the seperation of our government, and the establishing a Southern Confederacy the basis of which is African Slavery. How inconsistent! How ungenerous!
     No particular forward movements of our army are being made.
     The Congressional Investigating Committee are thoroughly sifting the Fremont affair in Missouri97. The committee are making disclosures, which if true will justly disgrace Fremont98 and his whole command. Time will tell the tale.
     A pleasant day. Thermometer average for the day 10 degrees above.

     Monday 30th-- Skating and hunting have been the marked features of this day's labor. Walked about a mile on the ice, carried a gun a half hour in the wood and shot nothing, is the sum and substance of my sport.
The mail brought me a letter from Till. I have written an answer to it.
     Report says, Mason and Slidell are given up to the authorities of Great Britain. It is hard to bear the indignity yet it may be politic in the administration to yield and prevent a foreign war. The account will be settled ere long and that to the regret of haughty England.
     Warm thermometer averages 24 degrees 30'.

 on to January-March 1862

or Back to Thomas McClelland Diary Home or July-September 1861