Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 2

Wednesday. March 28th. CFA Wednesday. March 28th. CFA
Wednesday. March 28th.

I have resumed my regular habits and find them quite agreeable. I think more of Abby than I had expected I should, especially upon the journey, and I shall most probably obtain no information of her journey until the latter end of the week. I have resumed the study of law, but without being entirely decided upon pursuing it as a profession. Mr. Webster seems to think it is a man’s only course and I am somewhat inclined to his opinion. Although in very fact my principal motive in thinking of this connection before my feelings were entangled was to avoid that labor. But I feel now like the creature of circumstances, and my own opinion of the proper course to adopt is to make the law a profession so as to rise in character, and if any thing better should present, to take it, provided it is really better. If not, it is at any rate an honorable situation and one which I ought not to complain of. My own prospects at this moment are perhaps 115more brilliant than they ever will be at any other; the result is in the hands of God.

I went last evening to congratulate my friend Weed who was married to Miss McLean, the daughter of the Postmaster general.1 I could not help reflecting upon her situation with sentiments of something like doubt. The step such as it is involves much of the value of life itself, and yet it is strange to see how very few view it in that light. To some it seems a mere matter of a day’s pastime. Millions of ideas rush into my mind in thinking upon this subject, which I would rather not admit. Perhaps a day, a month, or year may increase or destroy them. I dare hardly express them to myself. The die is cast with me however and I am disposed to think that there is no retreating even if I would. But my course is most certainly so far as my own judgment can act upon it, authorized by every principle and feeling in my own mind, and although it involves my own happiness or misery to a great extent, yet it is a question which must some day or other be brought to a test and why not soon when life is new. If at any time it becomes burdensome by implicating the fortune of others besides myself, there is but one alternative, and that is too terrible to think of; I am not writing in a melancholy humour, these reflections pass my mind every day and from custom I bear them with composure. I have firm confidence in a good Providence which has never yet deserted me, and which I trust will avert the evils which I so constantly am dreading.


Arabella Edwards McLean, oldest daughter of John McLean (1785–1861), had just married Elijah J. Weed, of the Marine Corps (Francis P. Weisenburger, The Life of John McLean, Columbus, 1937, p. 218).

Saturday. March 31st. CFA Saturday. March 31st. CFA
Saturday. March 31st.

I have passed one day in study, another in fishing and a third in laziness which is not giving a very good account of my time. But I hope soon to do better. On Thursday, I wrote to Abby and propose to continue the practise twice a week during the remainder of my stay here. Wyer called to see me on that day and was as talkative as ever, after all saying nothing whatever. A pleasant rattle. Mr. Walsh of Philadelphia1 and Mr. Daniel Brent dined with us today. The former seems to be fully disposed to come right again provided his variable temper will allow him. I do not admire his political character although his literary reputation is deservedly high. And his conversational powers are very great—perhaps by this I say too much, from an acquaintance too short; but he is certainly pleasant. My father being 116much taken with the miniature of myself which I had taken for Abby, seems as I understand to express a wish that I should sit for a large portrait for him. I accordingly made arrangements with Mr. King for it.2 My father was uncommonly eloquent after dinner today, and laid himself out more forcibly than usual. When he does so, how immeasureably he rises above all others. There is no comparison.


Robert Walsh (1784–1859), the Pennsylvania journalist and literary man, who was co-editor of the National Gazette from 1820 to 1835 and editor of the American Quarterly Review from 1827 to 1837, was in Washington to seek federal appointments for his political friends ( DAB ; JQA, Memoirs , 7:251–252).


Concerning this portrait see entry for 17 Jan. 1824, and note, above.