Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 6

Saturday. 15th.

Monday. 17th.

Sunday. 16th. CFA Sunday. 16th. CFA
Sunday. 16th.

Our Journey was just executed in time, for this was a severe North East snow storm. My Mother was therefore judicious in advancing her day from this the first date fixed to last week. How much we have to be thankful for. How little my anxiety has been during the Journey, and how favorably every thing has happened for us. These are things little thought of but always worthy of profound attention.

I was engaged all the morning in writing a letter to my Wife1 giving her a detailed Account of my late Journey. I had intended to have been at Church in the morning but there was no service at St. John’s where we were to have gone. In the afternoon I accompanied my father and we heard the Episcopal service performed by a young man whose name 13I could not learn to an extremely thin audience. His Sermon was delivered in a very distinct and animated manner though its substance was not remarkable in any particular excepting its Anti Calvinism. Text, blank in MS .

The day was cold and gloomy, the earth covered with a crust of snow so as to make walking disagreeable. My brother’s house is not badly constructed, not is it without comforts, but there appears a great want of attention to the minutiae which make a residence cheerful and agreeable. To be sure my father’s residence is very well calculated to put to flight any idea of method or arrangement, as well as the greater essential neatness, but yet too much attention has been paid to the expensive parts. The house wants painting, whitewashing and a general correction of all the fireplaces, none of which draw as they ought. Perhaps papering would make the lower rooms still more pleasant. But now there is no one left to attend even to the necessaries far less the mere luxuries of life and the discomfort is apparent enough.2

I was quite depressed, and as I had nothing to do, it determined me to execute directly what has always been my intention—To seek an explanation of my father’s designs, to offer him any assistance which I might render, and regulate my own course upon his answer to this question. Accordingly in the evening I opened the subject. He then gave me his views, very differently from what they had been in our last conversation four weeks ago. He said that he was embarrassed and must look for the means to release himself. He concluded not to break up his establishment here, and he could sell no property. Therefore very little would be necessary for me to be done. I endeavoured to converse in a tone as mild as I could assume, but my father’s spirits have been so depressed, his nerves so shaken that he could not control his feelings at all. I had therefore a hard struggle to resist the painful effect which his mode of speaking produced upon me. I found myself gradually giving way to the same warmth and therefore dropped the conversation and shortly afterwards retired to my own room. My decision however was made.

Finding my services not necessary I had no reason for remaining in a place which gave me no pleasure and concluded upon an early day in the week for my return home. But I cannot, will not conceal from myself the bitterness of my feelings at my disappointment in not carrying through the measures which might save my father and Mother much anxiety and distress of mind for the future, and still more at the exceeding slight appreciation of my late motives of conduct and sacrifices of feeling during this catastrophe.

14 1.

Letter missing.

2.

The present passage on JQA’s residence, as distinct from JA2’s, is puzzling. Though he does not say so, CFA appears to have walked to the house at 1333–1335 F Street NW in which his father and mother had lived from 1820–1825, which JQA still owned, and to which JQA and LCA would return in 1838 for the remainder of their lives. CFA’s allusion to the “expensive parts” relates probably to the additions and improvements effected by JQA in 1821, made necessary by the extensive entertaining expected of the Secretary of State. The property remained in the family until 1884. (William M. Meigs, Life of Charles Jared Ingersoll, Phila., 1897, p. 129; Donald H. Mugridge in Columbia Hist. Soc., Records, 1963, p. 136–138.)