February 12, Friday. Incessant employment early and late has prevented me from making entries, and there has been little of public interest to engage me. On Monday evening I attended a party at Admiral Shubrick’s which could not be avoided, and was detained later than I intended, but also went at 11 p.m. to Tassara’s, the Spanish Minister. Both were very dull, the latter crowded.
Committees and resolutions of inquiry from Congress have flocked in upon the Department. Many of the latter were frivolous, and most of them for mischievous purposes. How little do the outside public know of the intrigues of Congressional demagogues, who, under the guise of great public economists, are engaged in speculating schemes and fraudulent contrivances to benefit themselves, pecuniarily! John P. Hale, who is eminently conspicuous in this class of professed servants and guardians of the public treasury, has been whitewashed for his three-thousand-dollar retainer. The committee excuse him, but propose a law which shall inflict ten thousand dollars’ fine and two years’ imprisonment on any one who shall again commit the offense.
Little of particular interest in the Cabinet-meeting. Seward left early, and Chase soon followed. I to-day wrote the latter, expressing pretty deliberately and effectually my opinion in regard to permits for cutting ship-timber in North Carolina. It may give offense, but I could do no less than in a mild form object to the favoritism and monopoly that the system engendered.
Blair, who, with Senator Doolittle, was at my house this evening, avers I am a fortunate man above others. He says my opponents are making me great, and that I am fortunate in the attacks and abuses that are bestowed, and repeats an aphorism of Colonel Benton, that “a man is made great by his enemies, and not by his friends.” There is doubtless some truth in the remark, but not, I apprehend, as regards myself.