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Browsing: Diary of Charles Francis Adams, Volume 1


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”?
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2014.
http://www.masshist.org/apde2/