Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 7

Thursday 16th. CFA Thursday 16th. CFA
Thursday 16th.
Hudson River

We made excellent progress in the night so that we found upon going on deck we were within a few miles of New York. After considering the difficulty of getting rooms in that city and the little use of our staying there if we could, I determined on passing if I could at once to the Steamer going up the Hudson. This our early arrival made perfectly practicable. We crossed a single Wharf and found ourselves quietly ensconced in the Albany, just getting ready to start for the place from which she took her name. The day was beautiful but there were two drawbacks to my enjoying it—my Wife’s condition, brought on by the unusual excitement of travelling, and the excessive crowd in the boat, and the absence of acquaintance.

The scenery of the Hudson River for sixty miles from New York is superior to anything of the kind I ever saw. It combines almost all descriptions of beauty. But it must be admitted that three or four hundred persons of all sorts do not add to the agreeable character of the meditation upon them. To be manoeuvring to get a seat and then fear to move from it on account of the hazard of it’s loss—To be pushed aside by rough seamen, or dirty emigrants, to be stared at by 6vulgar-genteel people—These are the deductions from a picturesque tour, which travelling on the Hudson calls for.

We reached West Point at about twelve and were pleasantly lodged at the Hotel. But greatly to our surprise we met with two of the Misses DeWint together with Mrs. Adams, Mrs. Angier and Jos. H. Adams, who had come down from Fishkill for a day or two’s gaiety.1 This made up a large party. The number at the House was extraordinarily large on account of the presence of the Board of Visitors who have not quite completed their examination.

After dinner, we were not much disposed to make exertion. Abby was quite tired out and I myself felt some need of rest from the nervous agitation which twenty two hours of steam transportation of so rapid a character had produced. I. Hull Adams came in with two or three of his companions—Ridgely, McLane and so forth. He sung on the Guitar. He is in high spirits in consequence of having passed his examination unexpectedly well. But there is a want of character about him that reminds me of his father.2

In the evening, we attended the Parade and afterwards a kind of dance at the Hotel, in which the Officers and band of the Station took the principal part. Abby danced notwithstanding all her fatigue, and we retired late in a noisy house.

1.

Mrs. Thomas Boylston Adams, with her son and daughter, Joseph Harrod Adams and Abigail Smith Adams Angier (Mrs. John), was combining a visit to Mrs. John Peter de Windt, daughter of Abigail Adams Smith, at her home at Fishkill Landing with a visit to Isaac Hull Adams, another son, who was a cadet at West Point.

2.

On Thomas Boylston Adams, JQA’s brother, see vol. 1:xxiii–xxiv. CFA had earlier entertained hope for Isaac Hull Adams’ development, had taken Hull in and tutored him while he prepared for his West Point entrance examination; see vol. 4:255–300 passim.

Friday. 17th. CFA Friday. 17th. CFA
Friday. 17th.
West Point

The day was exceedingly warm and disabled us from any great exertion. After breakfast we all lounged to Kosciusko’s garden as it is called—A spot on the declivity of the rock which is said to have been the favorite resort of the Polish patriot when he resided at the point. There is a pretty natural fountain here which the Cadets have ornamented with a marble socket and they have placed seats near it so as to produce quite a pretty effect. In warm weather however the place is somewhat excluded from air by the surrounding hills. We soon left it for the purpose of witnessing the form of guardmounting which takes

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place every morning on the plain. After it was over we lounged among the trees until noon for the sake of giving to Mrs. Adams a chance for the society of her son who is excluded from the hotel. He has been rather unwise during his stay here in getting into thoughtless scrapes, so that his stay depends now upon the most rigid obedience of orders. We returned to the Hotel to give time for the ladies to get ready to return to Fishkill by Steamboat. I accompanied them to the Wharf. The scene of pushing and thrusting which there took place beggars description. The Boats take such numbers to and from each stopping place and wait so few minutes that it becomes necessary to be on the alert not to be left behind or trampled over in the fray. I returned up the hill by the steep path, which is something of an effort and found that we were left in the crowd quite alone. For we neither knew any body nor was there any of that disposition to make acquaintance which is so frequent at public places. I passed some time in writing a letter to Mrs. Frothingham giving some account of our proceedings,1 and more in reading a book which I brought with me for the purpose, Sartor Resartus2—A curious medley of strange conceits and odd phraseology with reflection and eloquence of expression. I was however very drowsy owing to fatigue and last evening’s vigil. Went out to parade, and in the evening took a walk for the purpose of meeting Hull who is confined to the limits of the Post. I talked with him about his situation as delicately as I could and tried to intimate to him the expediency of turning his attention to earning by good conduct a creditable exit from the Institution. He promised fairly and we returned to the Hotel. There was music by the band, but no dancing and a shower dispersed the musicians early enough to give us a good night’s rest.

1.

The letter is missing.

2.

No copy of Carlyle’s Sartor Resartus is at MQA.