Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 6

Wednesday. 12th.

Friday. 14th.

Thursday. 13th. CFA Thursday. 13th. CFA
Thursday. 13th.
Philadelphia

A most lovely day with all the peculiar haze and softness of what we call Indian Summer in this Country. I was up early and out walking the Streets. My first visit was to the Mint, a new building of considerable beauty in the upper part of the town. My purpose was to exchange 9a few gold pieces which my wife has had for some time past for similar pieces of the new coinage to gain the premium. But I took the opportunity of looking through the Establishment itself. It occupies the four sides of a square, with rooms connected with each other all round. On the left hand is the melting, in the back, the rolling and cutting, while the third side contains the stamping which is the most curious part of the process. The machine is worked by a lever and screw. The flat piece is placed in a certain receptacle and it is thrown out stamped on both sides and edge, a perfect coin, there being also a portion of the work so constructed as to reject imperfect pieces. Of this however I am not sure. My only evidence of it being certain pieces lying in among the machinery which were manifestly defective. The front which forms the other side of the square contains the Offices for the despatch of business. After some difficulty and negotiation I succeeded in procuring what I wished although the Director did not give me as much as I think he was bound to do. It is not my way however, to make difficulties.

I went away and passed the remainder of my time in walking the Streets and visiting various public buildings and shops. Among others the Repository for the Porcelain China manufactured here—An infant branch which does not succeed in the higher department. Indeed our luxury although it has somewhat increased is yet hardly equal to sustaining this especially when in competition with the foreign manufacture.

I returned home to dinner, on the whole pleased with the appearance of Philadelphia. There is something solid and comfortable about it, something which shows permanency. 1 Every thing looks neat, the steps are white, the entries clean, the carriages nice, the houses bright. All this betokens perhaps too nice attention to the minutiae of life, but the effect upon the eyes of strangers cannot be denied to be cheerful and inviting. I think I should like to live in Philadelphia very well. It seems to me to combine many of the essentials to mere bodily enjoyment and not a few of those of the mind. New York is all display, Baltimore is upstart, Washington is fashion and politics, Boston is unbending rigidity. I think Philadelphia has niether of these faults. Perhaps the greatest might be tameness, but that is almost equally shared with all our American cities.

In the afternoon, after going to the Boat and finding Wilson just arrived with the Carriage, I gave him his orders and spent the remaining hours at the Exhibition of the Academy of Arts. Here is quite a tolerable collection of pictures. One of Allston’s I had never seen be-10fore—The bones of Elisha. One or two of Leslie’s with several pretty small ones. I had not time to do justice to the collection. The twilight obscured the pictures and I could not judge of them. The taste for Art was low in Philadelphia. All the Newspapers complain of want of patronage to this exhibition. Indeed for public spirit Boston is incomparably beyond all the Cities.

Evening passed in conversation with my Mother who has not left her room. She seems feeble today but decides to go tomorrow. I was fatigued and retired early.

1.

Contemporary prints of some of the buildings and streets mentioned in CFA’s account of Philadelphia are reproduced in the present volume; see also p. ix–x, above.