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Browsing: Diary of Charles Francis Adams, Volume 1


Docno: ADMS-13-01-02-0003-0001-0018

Author: CFA
Date: 1824-01-18

Sunday 18th.

This day, for the first time since I have been here I went to the Capitol to hear Dr. Staugten who has acquired some reputation for preaching good sermons, which has made him a Chaplain. He is President of the College near here and is the head of the sect of the Baptists in this place.1 His delivery is extemporaneous and at first strange and disagreable. Entirely contrary to the notions we have usually formed of pulpit eloquence he is exceedingly theatrical and varies the tone of his voice from high to low with great rapidity. This I have observed is somewhat the fashion here among certain sects who judge less of propriety than of policy, for by the one method they imagine that they can strike the passions of the ignorant whereas by the other they would remain a sect without numbers and with no probability of increase which is their great aim. I came home rather disgusted I must confess. He has nothing of the power of [ . . . ] 2 although he tries the same style and greatly exceeds it.
As I had nothing to do in the afternoon, I set off on a stroll with dog Booth. I wished again to see some spots very dear to me by the associations they call up and by the time which has passed since I saw them. I did not go last winter. My course was over the Tiber to the Potomac bridge, where I had been so often shooting, where I had spent perhaps the most delightful of my days, where I had sometimes sat down and thought and thought till I had wrapt myself in an elysium of delight. The feelings are all over, but even now it is sweet to recollect it as a dream which passed over but too soon, and never to be equalled again. The recollection is more sweet, because it is more gentle and not exposed to the same high storms of passion.
From the bridge I turned and came round by the old house of Ironside, whither I had so often gone to recite in my young days. Poor man, he was then in affliction and he had my good wishes for his relief which he has always construed into exertions I could make, none [of] which would avail him. But he was relieved. I have not seen him this winter more than once and he was then in agony, his child { 50 } had died on that morning. I perceived his grief and was quiet. Passing by the house now deserted and wild, I reached the little canal where I had so often fished and had spent some of my most delightful [word omitted]. It was here where the intimacies began, it was here where I could create obligations only to return with more pleasure to myself. The bridge is now broken down, and the planks are off and every thing to which I was attached appears to be going to wreck, even to the great causes of my pleasure. But so be it. Now I am but an indifferent spectator, without interest and without affection.
My walk was a long one and return late, so that I had but just time to dress for dinner. Monsieur had invited one or two gentlemen to dine, Mr. Amory of Boston, Mr. Connell of Philadelphia, Mr. Dodge, the Marseilles Consul,3 and Blunt. The dinner was a so so pleasant one, but Mr. Amory did not appear in good spirits probably owing to his robbery which has made great talk and concerning which he has been much questioned. He laughed and gave us some account of it, in which it appears the thieves were amazingly polite. Connell is a monstrous talker about nothing at all and after the first half hour that you are acquainted with him will talk you almost to death half of which conversation you cannot hear and the other half having so little subject you cannot understand. Dodge is a simpering whimpering sort of an innocently conceited fop, somewhat elated on account of his late marriage with Miss DWolfe, without much meaning in any thing except a great idea of wealth.4 As to Blunt he is a young man with considerable abilities but with twice the vanity and four times the arrogance. Placed here as a political machine to look after matters as they respect the election he claims an intimacy in our family which we have no objection to allow him. Had he not become too conspicuous in the city of New York from his politics, he would have formed a lower opinion of himself and then would have been a very agreable man.
After dinner, Mr. William Lee, Mr. and Mrs. Sullivan and Dr. Watkins with his son5 dropped in at different times so that we looked quite a party. I spent an hour upstairs, reading, and the rest of the evening in the drawing room. Mr. Amory’s spirits were raised considerably latterly by the news of the capture of the robbers brought in by Mr. Lee, and went away repeating to himself his joy. John and Young Watkins talked together almost all the evening. I had some conversation with Sullivan and begin to think him as shallow as he is reputed to be. Lee has grown larger than ever and puffs away with more importance than ever. Thus did the evening pass away, rather { 51 } pleasantly than otherwise. Mrs. Sullivan appears to be much delighted here as she will have an opportunity, she knows, of being more noticed than at home. This has now gone over even here and now she wishes an intimacy here to keep her up in the great world.
1. William Staughton, D.D. (1770–1829), chaplain to the United States Senate and president from 1822 to 1829 of Columbian College (later, George Washington University), established to train ministers for the Baptist Church (Sprague, Annals Amer. Pulpit , 6:334–339; Columbia Hist. Soc., Records , 29–30 [1928]: 211–268; U.S. Official Register, 1825, p. 143 of addenda).
2. Illegible name. Possibly “McKraine” or “Mr. Kraine.”
3. Joshua Dodge ( U.S. Official Register, 1825, p. 13).
4. Possibly a daughter of the wealthy Senator James De Wolf, of Bristol, R.I.
5. Lee, the Second Auditor of the Treasury, was an old friend of JQA from their days in the foreign service. Tobias Watkins was a literary physician, formerly secretary to the Florida Claims Commission, who was now writing articles for Peter Force’s National Journal booming JQA for the Presidency. His son was Thomas L. C. Watkins (Bemis, JQA , 2:24, and note; 2:23).