Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 7

Monday. 26th.

Wednesday. 28th.

Tuesday 27th. CFA


Tuesday 27th. CFA
Tuesday 27th.

At an early hour this morning we were up and dressed, ready to go into town. The day was cloudy and appeared to threaten heavy rain. This was rather unexpected to me as the evening had been so clear. My father and I with my little Louisa started in the Carriage for Boston a little after seven and reached my house before nine. I there left her and accompanied my father to the Mayor’s house. It had been arranged that the procession should start from the State House at ten o’clock so we found Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong ready and waiting for us.1 The lady had evidently expected my Mother whom I had persuaded to remain at home.

My father went in the procession but under the protection of Mr. Cruft. I joined Mrs. Armstrong’s party and we were admitted in the ladies gallery to the seats reserved for our family. Here we waited an hour and a half. The procession finally came in and filled the place, the Odeon,2 to the utmost. In witnessing this dense crowd and the interest they appeared to take in my father, I could not help reflecting upon the mutability of the popular passion.

My father was two hours and twenty minutes in the delivery. He was listened to with attention but was not heard very generally. His voice was feeble and the darkness of the day prevented his having light enough to read with facility. Indeed at one time I was very fearful he 102would stop altogether. He however got through and by giving full effect to his close succeeded remarkably well.3

I had entertained doubts of the result all along. The subject itself admitted of little rhetoric, and the disadvantages under which my father always labours before a Boston audience, though less perceptible on this than on former occasions, were considerable. Added to this his voice and his age, and I felt remarkably well satisfied that the result was as good as it turned out. These are scenes which prodigiously attract some people but they never recommend themselves to me. Either I take no interest in the speaker and then the thing is tedious, or I take so much as to make every movement painful. In neither case do I enjoy that evenness of mind which to me appears the point of all earthly happiness.

My father had engaged to dine with the Mayor so I was joined in the invitation. Dr. Lowell who officiated as Chaplain and two of the Marshals of the day, Messrs. Bigelow and Homer with Miss Walker a sister of Mrs. Armstrong’s made up the company. The dinner was pleasant enough but there is a something indescribable in such occasions which no principle of republican theory can entirely obviate. I felt it even against my will. We left at five o’clock and returned to Quincy, where I retired to bed very early.


Samuel T. Armstrong was the mayor of Boston.


Located at Federal and Franklin streets, the Odeon, originally the Boston Theatre, had been converted to a public lecture hall in 1835 (Winsor, Memorial History of Boston , 4:362, 365).


JQA in the entry in his Diary for the day adds: “I had undertaken this task with a most painful anxiety and fear that I might be disabled from performing it altogether, an anxiety much sharpened by the illness which for the last three days had almost extinguished my voice. ... There was a heavy shower while I was speaking; and the house being lighted only by Sky-lights from above, there were parts of the time when I found it impossible to read, and was obliged to pass over towards the end or repeat from memory. The delivery was accordingly bad .... There was however an uninterrupted and fixed attention of the auditory throughout the whole Time; occasional slight cheerings of applause, and at the close, a full, and long continued manifestation of satisfaction.”