February 19, Friday. Am perplexed about charges and specifications against Wilkes. His conduct has been bad, — such as will perhaps break him. I think it might, if pressed to extremes, but I do not wish to be severe. Although insubordinate, disobedient, selfish, arrogant, and imperious towards inferiors, and somewhat insolent to all, I hoped to let him off without a trial. But he would not permit; the more forbearing I was, the more presumptuous and offensive he became, trampling on regulations and making public issue with the Department on false assumptions and misrepresentations. The Navy dislike him and would treat him harshly; I have no malevolence towards him and do not want him punished to the extent he deserves and is liable, but he cannot be permitted to go unrebuked.
As I went into the Cabinet-meeting a fair, plump lady pressed forward and insisted she must see the President, —only for a moment, — wanted nothing. I made her request known to the President, who directed that she should be admitted. She said her name was Holmes, that she belonged in Dubuque, Iowa, was passing East and came from Baltimore expressly to have a look at President Lincoln. “Well, in the matter of looking at one another,” said the President, laughing, “I have altogether the advantage.” She wished his autograph, and was a special admirer and enthusiastic.