Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 1

Saturday 31st.

Monday. 2d.

Journal. February. 1824. Sunday 1st. CFA


Journal. February. 1824. Sunday 1st. CFA
Journal. February. 1824. Sunday 1st.

For the first time this Winter, we had a cold day, in truth, hitherto it has been most remarkable in this respect. I went to Mr. Baker’s Church1 however, with my father, and heard him deliver a Sermon in his own style. That is to say, a sort of familiar conversation with his people. It appears to me that this sort of preaching might be made a great deal of by an eloquent and a powerful man. And even without if a person possessed only tact and talent enough he might act with a great deal of force. It is a method which so easily takes hold of the multitude and shows so much of the native simplicity of the religion that it is surprizing able men have not oftener resorted to it. For my own part however I am much more affected I must confess with the regular service of the English Church.

Returning, I spent the rest of the day lounging about the house, 77reading one or two French books and for the most part not doing much. Perhaps it would not be improper for me here to mention what I have read this winter, as my list has not hitherto been very extensive. I have in the first place, read a novel by Benjamin Constant which appears to me very beautifully written and interesting; the moral too I very much approve for it gives us an animated description of the waste of youth, through the indulgence of a careless passion and the feelings which attend on an extravagance in love. A full argument, it appears to me to the question of difference of age in marriage and has shown me the folly of my conduct and my wishes two or three years since. I have forgotten the name.2

It having become time to dress for dinner, Monsieur having made up a company for a Sunday dinner, we went upstairs, and after a long conversation on politics &c., New York &c., we prepared to go down. The gentlemen asked were Mr. Coolidge of Boston,3 Captain Pedrick formerly mentioned who has at last arrived, and Mr. Van Wyck of New York who is staying here at present with purpose not known but supposed.4 After a very long and tedious sitting upstairs dinner was announced and I by fate was thrown between the girls, as the gentlemen neither of them could endure the fire. Mr. Coolidge had his usual smooth insinuating New England way, which showed the man of wealth which Bostonians know so well how to do, and not the finished man which in such a station he might be. Mr. Van Wyck appeared to me the only really any thing like agreable man of the three and what he possessed appeared more of the homely and simple manners of a New York inlander than the polished ones of the city. But Captain Pedrick, alas! was doomed to be laughed at by the table in a most unmannerly way. Johnson, John, Madame, Mary and myself were on the full soar for half an hour, trying to make subjects for conversation and failing. For my part, I endeavoured to lay it all on the fire which affected me, but it made it more ridiculous and we were doomed to be unmannerly, for this day. The Captain looked very blue, and Abby appeared to be out of her element not being quick at such things. We soon rose, and then were doomed to a bore, as the visitors did not appear to know the rules.


Daniel Baker, minister of the Second Presbyterian Church in Washington (Bryan, Hist. of the National Capital , 2:181).


The novel was Constant’s Adolphe, Phila., 1817.


Presumably Joseph Coolidge, of the Boston mercantile family (Crawford, Mass. Families , 2:213 ff.).


Samuel Van Wyck, brother of Congressman William William Van Wyck, of New York, was eager to go to Europe as a diplomatic agent or messenger (JQA, Diary, 1 and 11 Feb. 1824).