Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 8

Wednesday 22d. CFA Wednesday 22d. CFA
Wednesday 22d.

Rain hail and snow. Walking. Evening at Clinton Hall.

The sleep of a few hours was not refreshing to me inasmuch as waking brought with it the consciousness of a sharp head ach. The weather was bad being snowy and on the whole the aspect of things cheerless enough. After a light breakfast I walked out, to see if Sidney Brooks had started, and upon calling at his store found that he left town yesterday.

The snow began to turn into rain and I found no acquaintances and no sign of an inquiry on the part of the Mercantile Library Association if I was there. I do not remember in my life that I ever felt more dolefully. My fear that I should be utterly unable to execute my engagement at all aggravated my uneasiness very much. I starved myself and this probably prevented my being obliged to give up entirely. But finding things so out of joint and myself so poorly I set about inquiring the readiest means of getting away, and finally engaged a seat in the stage going out tomorrow morning.

This done I called to see Hunt the publisher of The Merchants’ Magazine and set him in quest of Mr. Ward who finally called to see me at five o’clock. He notified me of his abdication and that the new President would call with himself at 7 o’clock to take me to Clinton Hall. Accordingly we went at the specified hour, the rain pouring in torrents.

Clinton Hall is a neat building erected for the accommodation of this Society and contains a Lecture Room, Library and Reading Room, besides a small room for the Directors into which I was introduced.1 But I soon found by various whisperings among the young men that there was no audience. They charged this to the weather and finally requested of me to postpone the delivery of my Lecture until tomorrow evening. My own inclination was to go on that I might get away in the morning. But I answered that I had come to please them and not myself and if it was their desire that I should wait I would. This they finally determined upon. So the matter was announced to the few who had the energy to come.

The Directors then carried me round their Library and showed me many new books as well as old ones. They pride themselves as all 363young men do more upon the number than the selection, but this is on the whole creditable. I was not however in good order to think about it so I was glad when the time came for me to be transferred to the Astor House and thence to bed, tired and dull.


Clinton Hall, erected for the Society in 1829–1830, was located at the southwest corner of Beekman and Nassau streets (Stokes, Iconography of Manhattan Island , 5:1681, 1686).

Thursday 23d. CFA Thursday 23d. CFA
Thursday 23d.

Clear day. Much exercise. Evening, Lecture.

The weather cleared very mild and for some hours there was a general thaw which however lasted but a few hours and gave way to a very sharp northwester. My head ach was gone and after breakfast having dismissed my Stageman who called for me I sat down to write letters to my Wife and Mother.1 This done I went out to perform some little commissions which I was too much discouraged to execute yesterday and made a visit to Mrs. Davis. Thus the whole morning vanished fast enough.

After dinner I met with a companion in a young Mexican named Cuesta who was a fellow traveller from Boston and a very gentlemanly man. After dinner I passed some time in trying to find if the Steamboat to New Haven would go tomorrow but without success. My walk however and other occupations took up the time so that I was not ennuié.

At seven the gentlemen came again in a Carriage and transported me to Clinton Hall where I found a tolerable but by no means very large collection of people. They apologized and seemed very uneasy for what was a very simple thing. Their second course of which this was the beginning has not taken very well. The Lecturing system is already overdone here and the courses marked out are abandoned. I regretted only my having accepted their invitation as well on my own account as theirs. But it being now too late to change I went on with my Lecture which I delivered now for the eighth time as it appeared to very general acceptation. Then home to bed.


Neither letter has been located.

Friday 24th. CFA Friday 24th. CFA
Friday 24th.

Cool. Left by the Stage. Morning out. Dine and evening at Mr. Davis’.

I arose early this morning and put every thing in order to start by 364the Stage which had agreed to call for me as I thought, but after waiting two hours in vain I walked to the Office and found it had left me. This was vexatious as it threatened to make me a delay of Sunday. I tried to persuade the Agent to change me into the Mail but he would not. Throughout the whole business it is impossible to describe the extent to which the unaccommodating spirit is carried on that road. I left in disgust extracting nothing more than a promise that if a passenger in the Mail could be found voluntarily to exchange with me he would let me know by half past three o’clock.

On my return home I found Mr. C. A. Davis who called and asked me to accompany him to his counting room where he kept me some time in conversation upon currency and politics. After this I went down to inquire if the boat would go to New Haven tomorrow, which being answered in the affirmative gave me satisfaction enough to reconcile me to the delay. The remainder of the morning passed rapidly in executing little commissions and in reading at the Reading Room in Clinton Hall. A very pleasant place to resort to.

Mr. Davis called at dinner time to take me to dine with him which I was glad to do having given up my Stage Agent. Nobody at table but Mrs. Howell, Mr. Dekay, Mrs. Davis’s brother, and Miss Julia her daughter who is a pretty girl enough. The dinner was tres mince, but plenty of wine and good conversation so that I remained until late in the evening and thereby failed to make the visit I had intended to the Coldens.

Much talk with Mr. D. about Biddle respecting whose course of policy I expected he would entertain opinions very different from mine, but I found he rather confirmed by positive facts within his experience the truth of the inferences which I had drawn from more general reasoning. Home and to bed but for some reason or other I could not sleep for some hours although perfectly tranquil.