Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 1

Monday 9th. CFA Monday 9th. CFA
Monday 9th.

Arose today and went to the House of Representatives for the last time this year. I also went into the Supreme Court. Mr. Wirt was finishing the case in reply to Emmett. It is said very able. Mr. Emmett’s close was said to have been remarkably beautiful, therefore I was sorry I did not hear it. Mr. Wirt was in the law so I did not stay long but went again to the House. Mr. Livingston was speaking on the subject of Internal Improvements trying to place the subject in a new light.1 But he selected the time for his remarks, far too late in the discussion of the bill. Every body is tired of hearing the mention of Roads and Canals, so that he was but little attended to. I not feeling at all like interesting myself particularly as my mind was otherwise occupied, went away and left perhaps for many years the stately building which holds the directing power of the nation.

Miss Selden was at the Supreme Court and John went and sat with her, but I was shy and went off even without speaking to her. She sent by John to inform me the house would be open till evening 88but I did not wish to avail myself of the advantage. In fact I felt so indifferent about going or staying that I was unwilling to excite a regret at departure. On this account also, I refused to go any where and left without paying a single take leave visit, a circumstance which, I have since heard astonished some of the favoris very much.

In the evening by my father’s request, I went to Mr. Sullivan’s to inquire if he had any command, a mere piece of politeness. Which being done, I spent the rest of the evening over the newspapers with Johnson, Monsieur and John having gone as usual to hear Mr. Goodacre.


Edward Livingston first narrowly construed the proposed measure, trying to show that its objects were all within the powers specifically granted the Congress under the Constitution, and then also reaffirmed the power of the federal government to legislate for the general welfare ( Annals of Congress , 18 Cong., 1 sess., p. 1430–1459).

Tuesday 10th. CFA Tuesday 10th. CFA
Tuesday 10th.

Arose this morning at an early hour, and dressed myself again in my travelling clothes. My preparations having all been made yesterday, I was very early. Monsieur sent for me after breakfast, and entered into conversation with me on the subject of my College studies. The President had written to him, and so favourably that I was quite well received. He still has a little too much penchant to my taking a high College rank for me while here to satisfy him. My feelings were considerably soothed, however, as I have been in the habit of thinking of him only as silently grieved at what he supposes my negligence. And so I shall consider him till I have an opportunity to show by my study and attention that he has entirely mistaken what I am. I mentioned to him my method of studying my College lessons, that I studied only those which I believed to benefit myself. That some branches I was unable and unwilling to study, mentioning particularly the deep parts of mathematics.

I rather think that he does not understand me and that he underrates me, although by this I do not mean to put myself very much up. To myself, I can speak with freedom, and as it is useless for me to try to persuade myself that I am destitute of abilities, so I have no desire to make them more than they really are. My conversation was of such a nature however as to make my spirits very light and buoyant all day. So that I was little affected by the Good bye ceremony. John had intended to go to Baltimore with me but changed his mind. His eyes however looked twice as small as usual, and Monsieur and Johnson looked as if they were sorry for my departure.


Off drove the stage and I bid Goodbye to all the scenes of Washington, perhaps for ever, who knows. Monsieur next winter may be driving about in the wind, scarcely knowing his future home. Massachusetts may be his station, in which case, I lose sight of Washington for years and perhaps for life. I may never see more that place in which I have spent the very happiest passages of my youthful years. In my mind the associations will ever be pleasant ones, for it appears more like the fairy land to me, or that region in which so many of our pleasant dreams are situated. I had a dream there, for it could have been nothing else, and such as it was, I never expect similar happiness again.1

But this is dreaming and although I thought of it in the coach, it all passed through my mind with such rapidity as soon to give place to other and more immediate images, for now I was forced to consider who were my fellow passengers. They were but three and two of these I shall have occasion to mention more than once. Their names I understood to be Shubrick2 and O’sullivan. The former is a Carolinian in the Navy who came to apply for a station, but in vain. He was a short, fat, figure, with a sort of snap me down face as if impatient of all reply, an under lip very much curled and little fiery twinkling eyes which gave him an expression of good nature as well as of decision. The other was a less pleasing and less striking figure, only having the instinctive features of the Irishman. We went for the most part in silence and dining at Merril’s on the road,3 we arrived at Baltimore at about seven o’clock, the rain pouring in torrents. After taking tea I went directly to bed.


A reference, again, to his youthful passion for his cousin, Mary C. Hellen.


Presumably Lt. Edward R. Shubrick, commissioned in 1813 and stationed at Philadelphia (Force, National Calendar, 1824, p. 138).


John A. Merrill ran a tavern at Waterloo, Md. (J. D. Warfield, The Founders of Anne Arundel and Howard Counties, Maryland, Baltimore, 1905, p. 342).