Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 2

Sunday 14th.

Tuesday. 16th.

Monday. 15th. CFA


Monday. 15th. CFA
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.


Johnson Hellen now had an office on Eleventh Street, near Pennsylvania Avenue ( Washington Directory, 1830).


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).