Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 6

Monday. 10th. CFA Monday. 10th. CFA
Monday. 10th.
Boston

The morning was cloudy and did not promise so well as we might have had reason to expect. But it only rained a little and then cleared away quite fine. I was roused early and got every thing in preparation to start.

After taking breakfast at the Tremont House we were nine of us put into a Stage and rolled to the Depot at the foot of Boylston Street from which the Railroad to Providence commences. This was a little of a surprise upon me but I was in for it and could not do otherwise so I got into the Car and rolled away with the rest. We went at a furious rate, being only about thirty seven minutes going the length of the completed road about fourteen and half miles. This is a degree of speed I do not like nor do I consider it to be at all necessary. For men to whom time is of enormous value it may be of use to risk the chance of death by an accident. But it is not agreeable for a person who has no such excuse to reflect that his love to go fast puts at 6hazard his life. It is trifling. I was glad when it was over and we reached the Stages.

The remainder of the Journey was without incident. I arrived at the Boat just at twelve o’clock and found much to my relief my Mother, Mrs. Smith and the rest with the exception of the poor horse safely ensconced in the Boat. They had gone as far as Wrentham on Saturday, and Providence on Sunday. The horse giving no signs of failing until the last miles of the Second day. He however got in well and expired shortly after. His disease was deeply rooted and not affected by the exertion of the Journey. This may have shortened his agony which is substantially a relief to him but it could have had no other effect. My Mother appeared to have borne her part of the Journey uncommonly well.

My foolish Supper and glass of Porter at the Tremont House had upset my head so that I felt quite unwell all day. The motion of the Boat was considerable and either from that or from the usual results of a sick head ach I was for a few moments quite sick. This relieved me and I passed the evening in conversation with Mr. Fowle. He and his Wife with Mr. and Mrs. Shimmin were passengers on their way to Alexandria and Washington. The boat was quite full of Passengers and a night on the water is always a very disagreeable affair. I slept but little. My berth was next to the boiler of one of the Engines and I heard so distinctly the working of the Machinery that I remained long awake.

Tuesday. 11th. CFA Tuesday. 11th. CFA
Tuesday. 11th.
New York

The morning broke while we were still on the water and a drizzling rain made objects beyond a short distance entirely imperceptible. We reached New York before breakfast and I procured a Hackney Coach for the ladies in which we rode from house to house to get lodgings. At the Clinton Hotel, the Franklin, the City we were refused and at last barely got in at Bunker’s, only accommodated with bedrooms and those scarcely the best. I was glad to get any at all for such is the state of New York in general that it is with the utmost difficulty families can be accommodated.

Breakfast finished I had the day before me. My morning was consumed in a long walk. The weather cleared away and it was fine. I rambled up the streets of Broadway as far as the famous block of Marble houses in Lafayette place. My thoughts followed a singular channel. Here was a great city of busy people. Yet in this City there 7seemed little of the character of a fixed population and little of the external appearance of happiness or content. The Houses look as if they had been built upon too small a scale for the present necessity. And as if contrivances of every kind had been put in requisition to supply the defects. Then the activity of competition glares in every street. Here is a livery stable built of half burnt bricks and clay mortar painted to imitate a Roman temple, there a two story wooden tenement announces the Café des Mille colonnes. One man advertises his blacking in large chalk capitals upon the wooden fences of every vacant lot and another man builds a house to the clouds that his painted letters may be seen for half a mile glaring over the intervening houses. Then such an intermixture of fashion and poverty. The spot where all the trade of the town is carried on is the residence of most of its wealthy men. Here is a great house and there a ginshop, or a tailor’s or a grocery. Such is the character of New York.1 The old families which were an aristocracy have given way. The new ones are coming forward on the strength of wealth suddenly acquired and which in all probability will be as suddenly lost. Adventurers dash in for the spoils and the thousand and one bloodsuckers who are found in the haunts of a corrupt city. I should never be anxious to live in such a city.

I returned home and dressed for dinner. Found nobody at the large table at which I dined whom I knew, and as neither of the ladies came down I had a very solitary and a very stupid dinner. Afternoon short and spent in my Mother’s room. Evening, a short walk and early to bed.

1.

Contemporary prints of the mansions of Lafayette Place and of the Broadway scene are reproduced in the present volume; see also p. viii–ix, above.