Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 8

Monday 29th.

Wednesday May 1.

Tuesday 30th. CFA Tuesday 30th. CFA
Tuesday 30th.

Visits. My father’s Address. Sidney Brooks. Evening, National Theatre.

I did not sleep much and could not help thinking when awake of the melancholy event which had happened ten years before on this route. It seemed to me as if some accident would happen to make the day memorable to the family. But the time wore away and at six o’clock we found ourselves at the foot of the Battery. Thus was dismissed one of those vain superstitious fears which when given way to would have an increasing force as we go on in life. I was glad to be rid of it.

Found my father at the Astor house. The morning was passed in making calls upon Mrs. DeWint, Sidney Brooks, A. Campbell and 226others, in which I was the longer that I knew not well the streets. This occasioned a delay of my getting to the Church where my father was to deliver his Oration. It was extremely full and I had to stand for some time, but a lady becoming tired in a Pew close by, I procured a seat comfortably. The oration of my father was more successful than I had expected. It was written with his usual force and inculcated his political doctrine with earnestness.1 He was tolerably well heard and sustained his voice very uniformly to the end. The close brought down a continuation of loud applause. After it was over we returned to the Astor House.

I met Dr. Wilkes in the Church but upon my addressing him it seemed he had utterly forgotten me.2 However upon our leaving his recollection had returned and he was correspondingly anxious to make up his error by pressing me to dine with him today and when I waived that he urged tomorrow to which I assented notwithstanding that I was to return to Boston in the afternoon. My father came in with President Duer of Columbia College and upon invitation I accompanied him to see the library of that Institution which seems a very respectable and carefully selected one. Thence home.

The Historical Society proposed to finish the day by a dinner but I received no invitation to it and did not think a ticket worth purchasing even if I had known they were for sale. I detest going as a mere pendant of another person and dislike dinners themselves too much to go myself. But my father who was anxious to have me invited went in a manner to give me reason to suppose I might be sent for, to avoid which I went out myself.

Called to see Mrs. Brooks and found her at dinner with her husband at a new French hotel in Broadway. They live in great luxury but I think are not happy from the restlessness of having no home. I spent a couple of hours with them in conversation and upon the coming in of two Italians, I left and walked up though tired enough to the National Theatre, where was performed the Mountain Sylph. Miss Shirreff, Mr. Wilson, Seguin and Mrs. Bailey. Some pretty airs but I was rather disappointed.3 Home at ten very tired.


JQA’s oration before the New-York Historical Society, “The Jubilee of the Constitution,” was published in the Quincy Patriot on 22 June; the MS is at MHi.


An acquaintance made on CFA’s trip to Niagara; see the entry for 30 June 1836, above.


The new opera, The Mountain Sylph by Barnett, performed by Jane Shirreff, John Wilson, Edward Seguin, and Charlotte Watson Bailey, was one of the most popular theater pieces in New York during the 1838–1839 season (Odell, Annals N.Y. Stage , 4:20, 292–293, 301).