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Browsing: Diary of Charles Francis Adams, Volume 1


Docno: ADMS-13-01-02-0003-0002-0010

Author: CFA
Date: 1824-02-10

Tuesday 10th.

Arose this morning at an early hour, and dressed myself again in my travelling clothes. My preparations having all been made yesterday, I was very early. Monsieur sent for me after breakfast, and entered into conversation with me on the subject of my College studies. The President had written to him, and so favourably that I was quite well received. He still has a little too much penchant to my taking a high College rank for me while here to satisfy him. My feelings were considerably soothed, however, as I have been in the habit of thinking of him only as silently grieved at what he supposes my negligence. And so I shall consider him till I have an opportunity to show by my study and attention that he has entirely mistaken what I am. I mentioned to him my method of studying my College lessons, that I studied only those which I believed to benefit myself. That some branches I was unable and unwilling to study, mentioning particularly the deep parts of mathematics.
I rather think that he does not understand me and that he underrates me, although by this I do not mean to put myself very much up. To myself, I can speak with freedom, and as it is useless for me to try to persuade myself that I am destitute of abilities, so I have no desire to make them more than they really are. My conversation was of such a nature however as to make my spirits very light and buoyant all day. So that I was little affected by the Good bye ceremony. John had intended to go to Baltimore with me but changed his mind. His eyes however looked twice as small as usual, and Monsieur and Johnson looked as if they were sorry for my departure.
{ 89 }
Off drove the stage and I bid Goodbye to all the scenes of Washington, perhaps for ever, who knows. Monsieur next winter may be driving about in the wind, scarcely knowing his future home. Massachusetts may be his station, in which case, I lose sight of Washington for years and perhaps for life. I may never see more that place in which I have spent the very happiest passages of my youthful years. In my mind the associations will ever be pleasant ones, for it appears more like the fairy land to me, or that region in which so many of our pleasant dreams are situated. I had a dream there, for it could have been nothing else, and such as it was, I never expect similar happiness again.1
But this is dreaming and although I thought of it in the coach, it all passed through my mind with such rapidity as soon to give place to other and more immediate images, for now I was forced to consider who were my fellow passengers. They were but three and two of these I shall have occasion to mention more than once. Their names I understood to be Shubrick2 and O’sullivan. The former is a Carolinian in the Navy who came to apply for a station, but in vain. He was a short, fat, figure, with a sort of snap me down face as if impatient of all reply, an under lip very much curled and little fiery twinkling eyes which gave him an expression of good nature as well as of decision. The other was a less pleasing and less striking figure, only having the instinctive features of the Irishman. We went for the most part in silence and dining at Merril’s on the road,3 we arrived at Baltimore at about seven o’clock, the rain pouring in torrents. After taking tea I went directly to bed.
1. A reference, again, to his youthful passion for his cousin, Mary C. Hellen.
2. Presumably Lt. Edward R. Shubrick, commissioned in 1813 and stationed at Philadelphia (Force, National Calendar, 1824, p. 138).
3. John A. Merrill ran a tavern at Waterloo, Md. (J. D. Warfield, The Founders of Anne Arundel and Howard Counties, Maryland, Baltimore, 1905, p. 342).

Docno: ADMS-13-01-02-0003-0002-0011

Author: CFA
Date: 1824-02-11

Wednesday 11th.

I do not recollect ever passing a more uncomfortable night than the one I am now writing of. From eight o’clock until half past two, I was obliged to lay without a wink of sleep or comfort, my blood being in a pretty feverish state. The sound of a fiddle disturbed me until eleven and then the alarm of fire which roused me, as the bell in the house rang with great violence. At last, the man came to inform me that it was time to get up which I heard for once with pleasure. This being done immediately I went down, but had the exquisite { 90 } pleasure of remaining an hour without any thing to do, a long day’s ride before me and a very rainy morning. The roads bad, and the carriages worse so that I had a sweet day’s work in contemplation, particularly after the quiet night and rest which I had so lately enjoyed.
As the roads were very bad on the direct road I had determined to go on the Lancaster route. My companions of yesterday also went, together with an old acquaintance of mine, made at Washington, whom I entirely forgot to mention, although he deserved it. This was a man we were at home accustomed to call “Uncle Bowdoin” as he was in that relation to Mrs. Sullivan who used to call him so.1 He is a great fat old buck just come from Europe. And appears the more ridiculously as his age and form correspond but poorly to the state he wishes to assume. He withal is a terrible puff. With him he carried a valet de chambre, Nicole, who, poor man had to sit in the rain, there being eight inside already, one of them a thorough Pennsylvania native, being six feet and a half high, correspondently gawky, and his mouth from ear to ear. His legs were a terrible inconvenience.
By fate, Uncle, Shubrick and I obtained the back seat, but we had not been there long before the officer began to give signs of his impatient spirit, moving about and puffing most tremendously. This touched my other friend who also set about doing the same here and although it was very dark they appeared to know each other’s size pretty well. At last Shubrick burst forth, in frequent exclamations it is very hot, it is very crowded, ’tis damn’d hot, &c. and Uncle swore they must be carrying “[ . . . ] 2 in the stage.” At last the Lieutenant gave up the point and made a bold push for the front seat, in the middle of our course, which discomposed the rest marvellously but he swore that he could stand it back no longer and that it ought to be a law in the stage, that no large men should be allowed to be conveyed in a stage, or at least they should count more than one. The vehicle was an astonishingly hard one and afflicted us sore, so that nothing was heard except plaints and lamentations. The breakfast was intolerably bad, so that we had great right to be vapourish. But the puffing made me such diversion that I was in great good humour, though I was frequently told it was no laughing matter.
Thus we went and at last reached York, where we dined, having travelled forty miles in the most uncomfortable style possible. From here after a pretty good dinner, we went in a two horse carriage to Lancaster, six of us being inside it and one out. The innkeeper showed { 91 } a specimen of his craft, promising us if we would go, with two horses, to which we had long demurred, that we should go it in three hours, but one mile out of town, the driver became snappish, and such a gentleman as with scorn to refuse a bribe. We were four hours and a half, so that we did not get into Lancaster until near nine o’clock, the space being twenty two miles and more. The weather in the afternoon was oppressively hot, accompanied with most tremendous showers of rain, in fact I should have been much more inclined to call it a July evening than one in February. The carriage was a delightfully easy one however and recompensed us for the duresse in which we had been held. Uncle B. however confessed himself so fatigued that he should be unable to pursue his journey tomorrow, and consequently when the long wished for house was entered, he rolled into bed immediately, declaring, “he should not recover for a week.” I considered the worst part of my journey over, so after supper went to bed, although somewhat dissatisfied being crammed in a room with O’sullivan and Shubrick.
1. CFA’s eccentric traveling companion was evidently a maternal uncle of Mrs. George Sullivan, the former Sarah Bowdoin Winthrop (on whom see entry for 25 Dec. 1823, and note, above), and therefore probably James Temple (1776–1842), a son of Sir John Temple, late British consul general at New York. James Temple had assumed the name Bowdoin under the terms of his paternal uncle James Bowdoin Jr.’s will ( NEHGR , 10 [1856]:76, 78).
2. CFA wrote this word twice, but it is still illegible: “feds,” “peds,” “beds”?