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Browsing: Diary of Charles Francis Adams, Volume 1


Docno: ADMS-13-01-02-0003-0001-0026

Author: CFA
Date: 1824-01-25

Sunday 25th.

It was very rainy indeed this morning, but as my father was going to the Capitol, I thought that it would be better for me to accompany him. We went in the Carriage and found Dr. Staughton performing the services. There was hardly any body present. This did not appear to be the most pleasing circumstance of all, and he made his sermon or rather homily what he called short, that is to say about ten minutes, the proper length in my mind, to have an effect. He told us that on account of the inclemency of the weather the service must be short, indeed he appeared in a great hurry to get out of the pulpit. Mr. Fuller appeared to think when I met him coming out, it was scarcely worth the trouble of coming up. It certainly was not worth the trouble of walking home in the heavy rain which was my lot as the Coachman had taken French leave as soon as we got out.1 Monsieur went visiting, he had an Umbrella, but I had to make the best of my Cloak and Cap which served me well, indeed I did not get wet except in my feet which were exposed, the water washing through my boots very soon.
This was a writing day at home. John, Mary, Madame and others employed. So that I was somewhat ennuyé, not being able to talk { 67 } so much politics on account of Johnson’s absence. This was remedied in the afternoon by his appearance. Finding Rockville a very poor place for bad weather, he thought he would again come up to try the air of the city and the conversation of friends to the cause of his favourite candidate. I was very glad to see him, as I know he enjoys himself more here and he is a very pleasant young man.
After some conversation concerning politics and a laugh at the fears about New York,2 we went up to dress for dinner. Monsieur had invited two or three. Blunt was invited to fill up the table. Professor Everett, and Dr. Sewall. They came early and we had to sit considerable time before dinner. Johnson got talking with Dr. Sewall3 about sickness and varioloid and every thing medical which must have been amusing to his nerves who can hardly hear the mention of blood. This man is a very unpleasant looking man as he has all the dark appearance of a rogue. Dwight of my class4 would say immediately that he was a most tremendous villain.
Blunt had his invariable self conceit and impudence and Everett looked every way except the right way, talked as if he was hammering steel, and excited the great displeasure of the ladies. But the circumstance which amused me most was that after dinner Monsieur got upon his favourite theory concerning comets and argued with a man of undoubtedly a great deal of learning without coming to much of a point. But Blunt undertook to talk upon the subject and informed us of the sundry great things he had done in his youth in the astronomical way. Monsieur treated him very much like an infant and manifested to him, if such a thing was possible, that he knew precious little about the matter upon which he was so fluent.
There was some discussion as to the character of the French Mathematicians, Monsieur attacking them as not being original geniuses, which the Professor did not seem to relish. This diverted me as the Cambridge course is entirely French. In fact I have often been led to question the propriety of using them so exclusively. Everett appears to be considerably down—as he finds no success in this measure of Webster’s, he packs up to go back to Cambridge and resume his lectures. He did not say much against the opposers of the resolution but his friend the Dr. supplied his place and poured his philipic pretty severely on the heads of the foolish men. Everett has an unpleasant way about him, arising from too deep seclusion and attention to himself. They retired early and Blunt went off not in the least troubled.
1. JQA had sent the coachman home (JQA, Diary, 25 Jan. 1824).
2. The latest report from New York was that the legislature might give Craw• { 68 } ford the state’s entire electoral vote. To forestall such massive support, the other presidential candidates were beginning to think of uniting forces to check Crawford. Their initial objective was to prevent a congressional caucus, proposed for April, from nominating the Georgian.
3. Dr. Thomas Sewall, Harvard Medical School 1821, was professor of anatomy and physiology at the Columbian College from 1821 to 1845 ( Harvard Quinquennial Cat. ).
4. William Dwight, of Springfield, Mass. ( Harvard Annual Cat., 1824).

Docno: ADMS-13-01-02-0003-0001-0027

Author: CFA
Date: 1824-01-26

Monday. 26th.

Continued my studies in Geography and read Lord Bacon, also one or two numbers in the North American Review, which in my opinion is not exactly equal to it’s predecessor. Having nothing to do, I walked with Johnson to the Capitol, but we were not very well rewarded for our pains, Mr. Alexander Smyth being up, making remarks and observations without end. We saw his papers before him and were always expecting the present one to be the last but he always had one more so that we were entirely disappointed for the day. Finding this to be the case, I went into the Senate. Mr. Barton speaking very coolly on a case of land claims.1 This was the first time I had been here for three years, as last Winter although often at the House, there never had been even curiosity enough to draw me here.
The speech here was as uninteresting as the other so that I soon returned to the House. As Johnson was patiently sitting here, I joined him and we made observations on the Members generally. Alexander Smyth is only famous for his proclamations, and foolish conduct in the last war and for having excited the wrath of my father who gave him a most complete overthrow.2 This is no boasting as it has been allowed on all sides. He finished logicizing and Mr. Rich then rose, and moved that the committee rise without asking leave to sit again—which was carried without counting the division, Webster voting for it. So this bill is laid asleep after having made some disturbance and ill blood. We returned home very much amused on the whole and spent the rest of the day in conversation.
1. David Barton (1783–1837), Senator from Missouri, spoke in favor of a bill to adjust land claims in Missouri and the Territory of Arkansas ( Annals of Congress , 18 Cong., 1 sess., p. 142).
2. For Smyth’s conduct in the War of 1812, see entry for 22 Jan., and note, above. Smyth and JQA had been carrying on a running battle for months. In January 1823 the Congressman charged JQA with falsifying the Journal of the Federal Convention, published in 1819 on congressional order by the State Department, but he was obliged to drop his accusation of what JQA called a “conspiracy of the colons and capital letters” when the Secretary proved that no errors were intended when some unusual punctuation appeared in the official printing of the document. In January 1824 Smyth made the preposterous charge that JQA favored the African slave trade. See JQA, Memoirs , 6:120–122, 124–127; 7:242, 308, 431; and JQA’s Letter [of 22 Dec. 1822], in Reply to a Letter of the Hon. Alexander { 69 } Smyth, to His Constituents . . . [Washington?], 1823, first published in the Richmond Enquirer, 4 Jan. 1823, then in the pamphlet cited here, and reprinted in JQA, Writings , 7:335–354.