Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 1

21st. CFA 21st. CFA
21st.

The journey was slow and we did not get to New York till after six in the next morning, owing to the frequent stops which we made on the road. My friend Lewis and the Calvinist in the course of the night fell into a discussion which became exceedingly warm and not the less entertaining on that account. The former possessed to the full that positive manner which men in his profession so generally acquire and evidently was conscious of the superiority which he possessed over his antagonist by his voyages and travels. The parson was pious, 16bigoted and intolerant. I will say however for him that he did not pretend to conceal his ignorance and in the true spirit which he ought always to possess, appeared really glad to become enlightened by this conversation. Though the Lieutenant took seaman’s privilege and extended sundry accounts of his to a most unwarrantable length. But it does disgust me to the full to see a man of this kind turning the very best feelings of the human heart to gall, merely for the sake of acquiring undue influence with the people. There is nothing so wicked to me as to make religion a cover for exciting the passions of the people as there is nothing which can more easily be done and which done, has more pernicious effects. The parson however found no one to support him and therefore sullenly retired from the field. He would not give up his point he said though the gentleman had brought numerous authorities which he had only heard of indistinctly before but of which he was glad he now had an opportunity of gaining a certainty. The argument was the use of Missionary societies, a favourite hobby with that sect of Christians.

Arrived at New York, we parted, and as the Citizen’s Coach had gone I was obliged to wait till the Mail went out, at one o’clock. Consequently I went to the City Hotel1 to spend the Morning and dress myself afresh. There is nothing in the world so dull as to be at a Hotel on Sunday. The hours few as they were hung heavily. And after all my exertions to kill time in dressing and looking out of the window to see the people go to Meeting, I was at last forced to sit down in the bar room to the newspapers with a cigar to comfort me. Luckily a book was laying on the table open, which at first however I was afraid to touch, imagining it might be somebody else’s amusement, but finding no claimant I sat down to it and in this way managed to pass the time. It was called, “Wine and Walnuts” and appeared to be nothing but disconnected stories concerning the principal painters of former times in England.2 By disconnected I mean that there was no regular plan although the same persons were brought on as actors throughout this volume. A Composition in itself rather flat, but interesting from the characters it attempts to describe.

At last the time came for starting and much to my joy, I found myself starting from the wharf in the ferry boat across the river. We lost dinner by mistake and went on. The mail is allowed to carry but six inside which were all gentlemen. Consequently when a lady wished to come in she forced one of us to give up his seat. Who that one should be was for a time doubtful. No one would go until a man who appeared French or Spanish volunteered which immediately 17brought to my mind the truth of the proverbs concerning nations. I was about to offer myself, God knows how unwillingly, and felt glad to be anticipated in spite of the reflection on our nation. It was but for one stage however and it was soon over. We had with us a man who called himself a great proprietor but excessively drunk, and insisted upon having seen me two years ago travelling upon that road in a waggon and complaining at that time of having suffered from a jolting received in it. I was perfectly willing to prove the contrary and as he insisted I had no objection to let him believe all he wished. Suddenly he turned solemn and informed us that his wife lay dying in New York and then gave us an account of her doctor, so that we presumed him to have taken a cup extraordinary to “drown dull care.” There was a young quaker with us who insisted that I belonged to a counting room in Philadelphia so much that I really began to doubt my own identity. Some amusing conversation took place respecting the late robbery of Rufus G. Amory3 on this road. It appears that they treated him very civilly and requested his money merely as a loan until they should become able to return it.

1.

Located at 115 Broadway (Stokes, Iconography of Manhattan Island , 6:611).

2.

Wine and Walnuts; or, After Dinner Chat, by Ephraim Hardcastle, Citizen and Dry-Salter (pseud, of William Henry Pyne), 2 vols., London, 1823.

3.

Rufus Greene Amory, Harvard 1778, had his law office at 90 Court Street, Boston ( Boston Directory, 1823).

22d. CFA 22d. CFA
22d.

Thus we travelled on, rapidly and comfortably throughout the night and at six o’clock on the next morning we arrived at the city of Philadelphia, and were set down at the Mansion House. Much to my astonishment I found that Washington Hall had been burnt down since I had been here last winter, that Renshaw had moved away and that a man by name Bayley had just taken his place.1 The waiters were raw and troubled me. I staid here however only to breakfast and dress after which I took my course to the Steam Boat which went at ten o’clock. It had been some years since I had been in a regular steamboat before and I was the more pleased with this method of conveyance by contrasting it with the rough motion of a stage. The great objection to them is that when men travel alone they are apt to make them feel alone among a multitude. Society is not sufficiently thrown together to force conversation between men ignorant of each other as in a stage. Consequently, unless one obtains a book, it will be an amazingly dull voyage to him. For my part, I purchased Moore’s Collection of Anecdotes for want of something better. The 18bookstore was a miserable one and there was nothing else but religion in it. This book I read during the day although I never saw a more stupid collection of anecdotes in all my life.

After dinner I recognized Mr. Tyler, a Man who claims relationship in some way with us, I believe, and who sells lottery tickets in Washington.2 He is at present deeply interested in the politics of the day particularly the Presidential question the changes on which he was perpetually ringing. It is the fashion in the boats of this kind to electioneer all the passengers and it is usual on the Mississipi to make nominations of some one of the candidates. There was no agreement here however there being some supporters to each of the men. From Newcastle to Frenchtown we have to ride across in stages into one of which I happened to be thrown with him and he forced me into conversation which troubled me as it required a great share of prudence to get through it properly. Perhaps I said more than I ought.

Here I made acquaintance with a man who appeared to have been a Scotchman and Sea captain but was now settled in Charleston. We had considerable conversation respecting a number of the bright young men there and on the whole managed to get over the longest sixteen miles and the slowest horses in the world, with some pleasure. It was evening before we got on board the other boat and very dark, and as I was considerably fatigued I retired to bed immediately after supper, and soon got to sleep, being serenaded into a doze by a most unhallowed, unearthly sound of fiddling.

1.

The Mansion House Hotel was the old Bingham mansion, No. 122, on the west side of Third Street, between Walnut and Spruce, which was built about 1790. It was leased by William Renshaw, who opened a hotel in 1807. Renshaw opened the New Mansion House Hotel at Eleventh and Market streets in 1812, but two years later, returned to keep his old place which he renamed the Washington Hall Hotel. The latter was destroyed by fire on 17 March 1823. ( PMHB , 49 [1925]:190.)

2.

Benjamin Owen Tyler was a kinsman of the Adams family through the Owens and the Tylers of Uxbridge, Mass. (JQA, Diary, 1 July 1818).