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Browsing: Diary of Charles Francis Adams, Volume 2

Docno: ADMS-13-02-02-0004-0009-0014

Author: CFA
Date: 1828-09-14

Sunday 14th.

We arrived at Baltimore at about four o’clock and I dressed immediately to go up and obtain a seat in the Mail for Washington. But I found great difficulty in getting any place at all owing to the number of persons going on, and it was only by taking an outside seat in an extra stage that I managed to go on. Nothing particular happened but in travelling onward I could not help remarking how very much altered was the state of my feelings at this time from any preceding journey in this direction. My interests and associations are now fixed elsewhere and nothing but the remaining term of my father’s Presidency whether short or long gives it any kind of charm. I dressed myself upon my arrival at Gadsby’s1 and walked up to the house.
Found my Mother very much better and sitting up though still extremely weak from the great violence of her attack. Mary, my brother’s wife, very well, Abby Adams, my Aunt and Uncle Smith, my father and John very well. Those compose the family. The two last only arrived yesterday. They all treated me very kindly. I conversed with my Mother until dinner time, and after it, rode with John to my Aunt Frye’s, where they seemed quite glad to see me. But on returning I came near finishing my visit. John’s horse became restless, and I was thrown out in one of his plunges. My head was bruised and my shoulder but luckily with no further damage, which considering { 283 } my very flat and heavy fall, may be esteemed providential. I walked home and retired soon after, being in much pain.
1. Gadsby’s National Hotel, on Pennsylvania Avenue at Sixth Street (Bryan, Hist. of the National Capital, 2:61).

Docno: ADMS-13-02-02-0004-0009-0015

Author: CFA
Date: 1828-09-15

Monday. 15th.

Arose this morning with a headache and numb feeling in my shoulder which gradually disappeared in the course of the day. I passed a large part of the morning with my Mother, who did not appear so well today. She talked a great deal with me upon indifferent subjects. I then took a walk and stopped at Johnson Hellen’s Office,1 found him alone, and talked a great deal with him upon the only subject in which he appears to feel any decided interest, the election. I talked with him, though my interest rises in that sickly kind of way which precedes immediate loathing. In the afternoon, I sat down and wrote to Abby, a long letter giving an account of every thing of interest which I could find, all of which did not amount to much, for a less interesting journey, it seems to me that I never took in my whole life.2 Our way of life here is one of luxury and strongly contrasts with mine in Boston. But I feel little or no attachment to it now, and am surprised at my own indifference. Evening with my Mother.
1. Johnson Hellen now had an office on Eleventh Street, near Pennsylvania Avenue (Washington Directory, 1830).
2. From this entry through that of 4 November, CFA’s diary is again filled with references to letters received from, or written to, his fiancée. Unless otherwise noted, all these letters are in the Adams Papers. In many ways these letters are similar to those Charles and Abigail exchanged during their earlier separation (see entry for 25 Mar. 1827, and note, above), but this time the engaged couple seemed less formal, more intimate. CFA himself was aware of the change, for he wrote Abigail: “I am obtaining that kind of easy manner by custom, which enables me to tell you the prettiest things in a natural way, without appearing to assume that ridiculous sentimental sick tone” (19 Oct. 1828). Filled with constant assurances of eternal affection, with speculations as to when their marriage could take place, and with anticipations of future happiness, the letters do not contain much noteworthy news, but they do show that this visit to the capital taught CFA two worthwhile lessons. “It has put me very much out of conceit with Washington,” he told Abigail, “and consequently reconciled me much more to Boston” (29 [i.e. 28] Sept. 1828). Second, and more important, it removed any lingering attraction that Mary C. Hellen (now Mrs. JA2) might have had for him. Now he could assure Abigail “how infinitely superior you are to my sister in law . . . the only individual who ever stood in the least in your way with me by contrast” (22 Oct. 1828).

Docno: ADMS-13-02-02-0004-0009-0016

Author: CFA
Date: 1828-09-16

Tuesday. 16th.

Morning, arose much better. With rubbing my shoulder with spirit, I have prevented any serious consequence, but it was a serious injury and came near making my visit a pretty disagreeable one. My { 284 } Mother was much better this morning and I passed it with her, in general conversation. Afternoon, wrote a short letter to George,1 and received a long one from Abby written only the day after I left her. This gave me great pleasure and put me in good spirits for the day. I could not think of wasting all my time however and so began the Works of Burke in a copy which John has been so kind as to give me, a most acceptable present. I passed the evening with my Mother.
1. Missing.
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, 2018.