Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 1



21st. CFA


21st. CFA

The journey was slow and we did not get to New York till after six in the next morning, owing to the frequent stops which we made on the road. My friend Lewis and the Calvinist in the course of the night fell into a discussion which became exceedingly warm and not the less entertaining on that account. The former possessed to the full that positive manner which men in his profession so generally acquire and evidently was conscious of the superiority which he possessed over his antagonist by his voyages and travels. The parson was pious, 16bigoted and intolerant. I will say however for him that he did not pretend to conceal his ignorance and in the true spirit which he ought always to possess, appeared really glad to become enlightened by this conversation. Though the Lieutenant took seaman’s privilege and extended sundry accounts of his to a most unwarrantable length. But it does disgust me to the full to see a man of this kind turning the very best feelings of the human heart to gall, merely for the sake of acquiring undue influence with the people. There is nothing so wicked to me as to make religion a cover for exciting the passions of the people as there is nothing which can more easily be done and which done, has more pernicious effects. The parson however found no one to support him and therefore sullenly retired from the field. He would not give up his point he said though the gentleman had brought numerous authorities which he had only heard of indistinctly before but of which he was glad he now had an opportunity of gaining a certainty. The argument was the use of Missionary societies, a favourite hobby with that sect of Christians.

Arrived at New York, we parted, and as the Citizen’s Coach had gone I was obliged to wait till the Mail went out, at one o’clock. Consequently I went to the City Hotel1 to spend the Morning and dress myself afresh. There is nothing in the world so dull as to be at a Hotel on Sunday. The hours few as they were hung heavily. And after all my exertions to kill time in dressing and looking out of the window to see the people go to Meeting, I was at last forced to sit down in the bar room to the newspapers with a cigar to comfort me. Luckily a book was laying on the table open, which at first however I was afraid to touch, imagining it might be somebody else’s amusement, but finding no claimant I sat down to it and in this way managed to pass the time. It was called, “Wine and Walnuts” and appeared to be nothing but disconnected stories concerning the principal painters of former times in England.2 By disconnected I mean that there was no regular plan although the same persons were brought on as actors throughout this volume. A Composition in itself rather flat, but interesting from the characters it attempts to describe.

At last the time came for starting and much to my joy, I found myself starting from the wharf in the ferry boat across the river. We lost dinner by mistake and went on. The mail is allowed to carry but six inside which were all gentlemen. Consequently when a lady wished to come in she forced one of us to give up his seat. Who that one should be was for a time doubtful. No one would go until a man who appeared French or Spanish volunteered which immediately 17brought to my mind the truth of the proverbs concerning nations. I was about to offer myself, God knows how unwillingly, and felt glad to be anticipated in spite of the reflection on our nation. It was but for one stage however and it was soon over. We had with us a man who called himself a great proprietor but excessively drunk, and insisted upon having seen me two years ago travelling upon that road in a waggon and complaining at that time of having suffered from a jolting received in it. I was perfectly willing to prove the contrary and as he insisted I had no objection to let him believe all he wished. Suddenly he turned solemn and informed us that his wife lay dying in New York and then gave us an account of her doctor, so that we presumed him to have taken a cup extraordinary to “drown dull care.” There was a young quaker with us who insisted that I belonged to a counting room in Philadelphia so much that I really began to doubt my own identity. Some amusing conversation took place respecting the late robbery of Rufus G. Amory3 on this road. It appears that they treated him very civilly and requested his money merely as a loan until they should become able to return it.


Located at 115 Broadway (Stokes, Iconography of Manhattan Island , 6:611).


Wine and Walnuts; or, After Dinner Chat, by Ephraim Hardcastle, Citizen and Dry-Salter (pseud, of William Henry Pyne), 2 vols., London, 1823.


Rufus Greene Amory, Harvard 1778, had his law office at 90 Court Street, Boston ( Boston Directory, 1823).