Almost all our Class have arrived. This morning I was not waked by the ringing of the prayer bell and therefore did not attend the recitation. I declaimed this afternoon, part of one of Mr. Fox’s speeches, from the Parliamentary debates, in December 1783.1 N. B. Did not speak loud enough, and changed feet too often. We danced in the evening at Putnams chamber till 9 o’clock. Read after I came home, a chapter or two in Gibbon.
1. Charles James Fox was foreign secretary in the coalition ministry of the Duke of Portland. The speech was undoubtedly Fox’s highly “republican” one of 17 Dec., filled with sound Whig principles and made because the King used his personal influence to defeat Fox’s India bill. Fox passionately defended the rights of the Commons and liberties of England: “The deliberation of this night must decide whether we are to be freemen or slaves; whether the House of Commons is to be the palladium of liberty or the organ of despotism.” Fox and the rest of the ministers were dismissed the following day, and Pitt formed a government (The Parliamentary Register; Or a History of the Proceedings and Debates of the House of Commons..., 112 vols., London, 1775–1813, 12:428–429).