Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5



ix Descriptive List of Illustrations Descriptive List of Illustrations

[Note: for permissions reasons, not all illustrations from the letterpress volumes are available in this digital edition.]

Descriptive List of Illustrations
Fanny Kemble, as Bianca in Milman’s Fazio, by Thomas Sully, 1833 facing or following page 116[unavailable]

Having seen Fanny Kemble for the first time on 17 April 1833, one day after she and her father made their initial appearances in Boston, Charles Francis Adams, together with his father just arrived from Washington, on the 19th saw her in the role in which she had made her American debut in New York: as Bianca in the tragedy of Fazio. By that date the Kemble conquest of Boston was complete. See p. 71, below. During the week following, Charles Francis Adams saw her in three additional roles on successive evenings. He was as faithful in attendance when she returned to Boston on a second tour in March and April 1834, her last before abandoning her theatrical career to enter upon what proved an unhappy marriage with Pierce Butler of Philadelphia. When she did return to the public platform in 1848 to do enormously successful dramatic readings from Shakespeare, which she continued through the 1850’s, Charles Francis Adams’ journal for the period reveals that he remained a faithful auditor to the last.

In the years between, Fanny Kemble had become a controversial figure after her frank and tactless impressions of America and Americans were published in a Journal in 1835 (vol. 6:132, below; Clifford Ashby, “Fanny Kemble’s ‘Vulgar’ Journal,” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 98:58–66 [January 1974]) and after she became an active abolitionist following her residence on the Georgia plantation of her slaveholding husband. It was in connection with the first of these that Miss Kemble has a further place in the Adams family records. In that portion of her Journal relating to her first season in Boston she entered an account of a conversation on Shakespeare she had had at an evening party with a famous gentleman she did not identify, but who was easily identifiable as John Quincy Adams, and which treated the gentleman’s expressed opinions with more mirth than respect. Her report of the conversation led the ex-President, under the urging of his friend Dr. George Parkman, to undertake his own account of the conversation and a fuller exposition of his views on Shakespeare in the theater. Publication of these opinions as review articles brought the matter to a close. The affair and its issues are recounted in an editorial note, p. 84–87, below.


In the first days of the Kembles’ Boston success John Quincy Adams wrote that “Fanny Kemble passes here for a great Beauty, and a great Genius, both of which with the aid of Fashion and Fancy, she is” (Diary, 19 April 1833); and in a letter to his wife he put it that “She is very well formed—not unhandsome” (20 April 1833, Adams Papers). Initially, Charles Francis Adams, while fully acknowledging her dramatic gifts, was less taken with her appearance: “I thought her an ugly, bright looking girl,” but he later acknowledged that “Her eyes give her great power” (p. 74 and 291, below). Her features would seem then to have been not conventionally beautiful but of a sort that strangely fixed the attention of the beholders. The problem of properly rendering her face must have fascinated Thomas Sully. In his “Register of Portraits” are entered ten likenesses of Fanny Kemble between 1832 and 1834 (Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 33:62 [January 1909]). The portrait reproduced, one of two of her by Sully in the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and perhaps his most successful effort, has been in that collection since 1843. Oil on canvas, 30 x 25 1/2 inches, it is signed, “TS 1833.”

Courtesy of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

Mrs. Wood and Ensemble in the Final Scene of La Sonnambula  facing or following page 116[unavailable]

Mrs. Joseph Wood had made a brilliant American debut at the Park Theatre in New York on 9 September 1833 before appearing in Boston three months later. Earlier, Mrs. Wood as Mary Ann Paton and then as the wife of Lord William Lenox had, during a triumphant career at Covent Garden, won recognition as the finest vocalist in England. When her unhappy first marriage had ended in divorce, she married Wood, a handsome singer at Covent Garden but of more humble origins than hers. Together, the Woods would dominate the musical scene in New York for the four years following. See George C. D. Odell, Annals of the New York Stage, New York, 1927–1949, 3:657, 664; 4:63, 109; also p. 227, below.

When Charles Francis Adams first heard Mrs. Wood, he found her voice and ability worthy of comparison with those he judged best among the signers he had heard, Mrs. Malibran and Mrs. Austin (p. 227, 231, 301, below). Soon, however, her gifts won praise from him that did not look back to the performances of others: “Her complete management of her voice and powerful compass give the requisite brilliancy of execution” (p. 307, below). During the two theatrical seasons, 1833–1834 and 1835–1836, in which he had the opportunity to hear Mrs. Wood, Adams’ Diary reveals that he attended twenty of her performances. He heard her in six roles: three times in the Barber of Seville, twice in Cenerentola, Fra Diavolo, Maid of Judah, and Robert the Devil. It was in La Sonnambula, however, that she became for Adams almost a passion.

Between 29 December 1835, when Bellini’s new opera had its first performance in Boston (after being introduced in New York by the Woods on 13 November, preceding), and 9 March 1836, the xifinal one of the season, Adams was at six of Mrs. Woods’ appearances as Amina in La Sonnambula. He found the opera satisfying at each hearing until the last: “The music is sustained throughout, full of melody and character, occasionally passionate and then pathetic with some extraordinarily poetical conceptions.... A very delightful piece. Such a one as I love to hear. It is delicious”; “Perhaps there is in the whole range of refined enjoyments none more perfect in all respects than that of listening to the good singing of a good Opera”; “I shall remember the moments spent in hearing these notes as the pleasantest of my life” (vol. 6:297–298, 303, 345). Adams’ enthusiasm was hardly greater than that of Boston’s musical public: “Mr. and Mrs. Wood took the town by storm, and airs from the ‘Sonnambula’ were played, sung, whistled, and ground on hand-organs with persistent zeal” (Francis Boott Greenough, ed., Letters of Horatio Greenough to ... Henry Greenough, Boston, 1887, p. 51).

One of the most popular of the “airs” was the finale, “ Oh Ah do not mingle one earthly feeling,” which Adams pronounced “exquisite” (vol. 6:305). The front cover of the song in sheet-music form, displaying Mrs. Wood and cast before an arboreal retreat and waterfall, was executed “On Stone by J. H. Bufford corner of Beekman & Nassau Sts.” and “Published at Atwill’s Music Saloon 201 Broadway./Endicott, Litho.” Presumably the artist was John H. Bufford and the lithographic printer was George Endicott, both well known lithographers (George C. Groce and David H. Wallace, Dictionary of Artists in America, 1564–1860, New Haven, 1957).

Courtesy of the Harvard Theatre Collection.

Auction Catalogue of Paintings from Thomas Jefferson’s Collection at Monticello for Sale in Boston, 1833 facing or following page 116[unavailable]

The Catalogue of ... Choice Pictures, Being the Collection of the late President Jefferson to be Sold at Auction on Friday, July 19, at Mr. Harding’s Gallery, School St. is of eight pages and lists paintings numbered one to fifty-six. However, some numbers in the sequence are omitted, and only forty-five items were actually included. The catalogue is by subject with most of the entries bearing notes of attribution, designation as originals or copies, and averrals relating to the circumstances of acquisition by Jefferson. These last belied the claim made for all in a foreword that “The Pictures which compose this collection, were purchased in Paris by Mr. Jefferson, while residing there as minister of the United States.” Of the forty-five paintings, thirteen were described as originals; the rest were entered as copies, as painted “after —,” or undescribed. By subject, twenty-four were biblical, twelve were portraits, five illustrated scenes from classical literature, and four were landscapes and the like.

Most of the paintings being offered were not new to Boston. The collection had apparently been removed from Monticello after Jefferson’s death and before the bulk of the furnishings and other personal property was sold at auction on the premises on 15 January xii1827. The decision for early sale or removal was made by Thomas Jefferson Randolph, Jefferson’s grandson and executor, who was faced with the necessity not only of meeting the indebtedness with which the estate was burdened but of protecting his mother and Jefferson’s heir, Martha Jefferson Randolph, against threats of seizure of her inheritance on behalf of creditors of her impecunious and debt-ridden husband, Thomas Mann Randolph (Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation, Report of the Curator, 1960, Charlottesville, 1961, p. 12–13).

It appears that it was on the advice of Joseph Coolidge Jr., of Boston, son-in-law of Martha Jefferson Randolph, that Boston was selected as the most advantageous site for the sale of the paintings, though the collection seems to have been exhibited en route without success in New York City. In Boston, a large part of the collection was included in the Athenaeum Gallery Exhibition from May to August 1828 (Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation, Report of the Curator, 1957, p. 6; Report of the Curator, 1965, p. 9; Mabel M. Swan. The Athenaeum Gallery, 1827–1873, Boston, 1940, p. 85–89). The Jefferson paintings shown at the Athenaeum numbered thirty-eight, and fourteen of the works listed in the 1833 Catalogue were omitted. All but two of those shown at the Athenaeum—the Stuart profile of Jefferson, now at the Fogg Art Museum (Alfred L. Bush, The Life Portraits of Thomas Jefferson, Charlottesville, 1962, p. 76), and the portrait of Madison attributed to Robert Edge Pirne—were for sale. At the close of the Exhibition only one sale, that to the Athenaeum of the Greuze portrait of Franklin for $200, is recorded. However, since seven of those shown at the Athenaeum, including the three already named, were not included in the 1833 sale, it seems likely that the four additional ones were sold during the intervening years, especially since six of the seven were among those listed as originals and seem among the choicest. The remainder of the collection remained in Joseph Coolidge’s custody to await a more favorable opportunity for disposition.

Five years passed before another public exhibition and sale was attempted. Even then the results were not good, the public’s reaction agreeing with that expressed by Charles Francis Adams that the paintings remaining “are poor enough in all conscience” (p. 128, below). Despite the brave assertion in the Catalogue that the pictures “have a value as works of art, distinct from that which they derive from their association with the names of their late distinguished owner and the venerable artist Trumbull, whose taste directed in making the selection” (p. 2), neither associational nor aesthetic claims were given much weight in the value assigned to the paintings at the sale. Bids of thirty-five, twenty, and fifteen dollars obtained the portraits of Locke, Columbus, and Bacon respectively; and the whole sale realized a “little more than $500” (Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation, Report of the Curator, 1965, p. 10).

Although the importance of the paintings as Jeffersoniana did not immediaetly immediately affect their value in the market place, a sufficient number of the purchasers of the paintings attached significance to their earlier locus to make possible the construction at Monticello by the xiiiMemorial Foundation of a census of a substantial number of the dispersed works in the form of a “Paintings Locator File” (Report of the Curator, 1959, p. 9). A number of the paintings have found their way, some early some late, into institutional collections. Six from the 1833 sale, with two additional ones from the earlier Athenaeum exhibition, have been returned to Monticello where they now hang (Report of the Curator, 1959, p. 22–28; Report of the Curator, 1965, p. 8); three—the Columbus, the Lafayette, and the Wright portrait of Washington—hang at the Massachusetts Historical Society ( Proceedings , 2[1833–1855]: 16, 23, 25); the Mather Brown portrait of John Adams, along with the Franklin, is at the Boston Athenaeum (Andrew Oliver, Portraits of John and Abigail Adams, Cambridge, 1967, p. 49, 52).

Courtesy of the Boston Athenaeum.

Charles Francis Adams’ Annotated Copy of Horace facing or following page 116[unavailable]

Although Charles Francis Adams had read in Horace’s poetry over a period of months in 1825 just after his college graduation (vol. 2:11–19, above), and in the summer of 1831 after an extended study of his De Arte Poetica and other classic examples in the critical genre had concluded of Horace’s essay, “I know nothing in its way superior to it” (vol. 4:109–110, above), it was not until he took up the poet again early in 1833 that he came to a full realization of Horace’s powers. At the outset of this renewed effort, one of the satires so struck him that he wrote, “I wonder I never read them attentively before. How admirable. Every sentiment so just in itself, so gracefully put in. I will read Horace perpetually. Make him familiar” (p. 21, below). And after a “slow perusal” of the odes that he called “tolerably thorough,” Adams concluded, “I have for the first time formed an idea of the peculiar qualities of the Poet.... I find him now possessed of the Power to fly high into the sublimest noblest regions of Poetry” (p. 142, below). His admiration for both the critic and the poet, Adams also recorded in his own copy of the Opera of Horace, London, 1824, in comments that are evident on the pages from the volume here illustrated.

The copy which Charles Francis Adams annotated has the text of J. M. Gesner but is without any scholarly apparatus. It was primarily to remedy this lack that, as Adams noted on the flyleaf, he supplied marginalia principally drawn from a consultation of the more scholarly French edition of Dacier and Sanadon, 8 vols., Amsterdam, 1735, and that of Zeunius, Leipzig, 1802 (the first of these is among John Adams’ books now at the Boston Public Library; the second, along with the copy annotated, is in the Stone Library at Quincy; see p. 22 and 105, below). In addition to those annotations that compare the judgments of the critics or that undertake the elucidation of words or passages, a number of them express the reader’s own aesthetic or moral judgments.

Courtesy of the National Park Service, Adams National Historic Site.

Election-Day Flier, 1833, Issued by Supporters of John Quincy Adams for Governor facing or following page 117[unavailable]

This undated document, which is without the names of those responsible for its authorship and circulation, must have been distributed in Boston on Monday, 11 November 1833, on which day the election for state offices was held. The event which occasioned it was the departure of John Quincy Adams, the nominee of the antimasonic party for Governor, from Massachusetts for Washington four days before the election. This action was seized upon by the opposition National Republican press as evidence that Adams, entertaining no hope of victory, had abandoned his supporters. On Saturday, 9 November, both the Boston Atlas and the Columbian Centinel made political capital of the departure in the passages quoted on the flier. See below, p. 209. The rebuttal from the Antimasons, evidently prepared over the weekend for circulation among the voters before they entered the polling places, expressed bitter complaint that a man of such stature, with a record of such distinguished public service, should be so vilified; sore vexation that a departure dictated by concern for his Congressional obligations should be misrepresented as an abandonment of the party leadership he had accepted.

With more anger than sagacity, the framers of the handbill, by quoting at length the aspersions of the Atlas, gave added currency to other charges which the enemies of John Quincy Adams had leveled at him during the campaign. The basic charge had been that John Quincy Adams supported the alleged policy of the Antimasons to “proscribe” any candidate for public office of whatever party who was a Freemason or who failed to pledge his opposition to Freemasonry. The principal evidence cited against Adams on the matter was contained in a passage from his letter to Benjamin Cowell, 28 November 1832 (LbC, Adams Papers), which the opposition press had obtained and publicized. In rebutting the charge, Adams chose, somewhat injudiciously, to have published a letter taking a position against “proscription” which he had written to John Brazer Davis (6 April 1832, MB:M. A. De Wolfe Howe Papers) without obtaining the consent of Davis’ executors. In the resulting furor, in which the authenticity of the letter came into question and explanations of its provenance had to be offered, the letter became the object of fierce ridicule as the “washstand letter.” On these matters, see p. 183–184, below; also Memoirs of John Quincy Adams, ed. Charles Francis Adams, Philadelphia, 1874–1877, 9:16–17.

However much the political effectiveness of the flier may be put in question, there is in its text a statement that goes to a basic understanding of John Quincy Adams’ often puzzling political behavior: “His claims as a candidate for Governor, he leaves with his fellow citizens. His presence was not required at the election, and true to his republican principles, he will not seek to promote his election to any office, by personal influence!” Unstated was a second commitment made by Adams to himself and to his son Charles Francis that he would accept no elected office except one that came as a free expression of the will of a majority of the electorate ( Memoirs , 9:21; to Charles Francis Adams, 26 November 1833, Adams Papers). Acting upon these principles, Adams had concluded, as soon as he xvlearned that the National Republicans would not join with the Antimasons in making him their candidate against the Jacksonian party, that a majority would not likely be obtained by a vote of the people, and that in that event, even if he obtained a plurality, he would withdraw his name from the balloting that would ensue in the legislature. This decision he confided to Charles Francis long before the departure for Washington. When the results of the popular election became known, Adams’ decision would be duly communicated to Benjamin Hallett, the leader of the Massachusetts Antimasons and the editor of the Boston Daily Advocate, and ultimately, before the legislative balloting began, to a surprised Commonwealth. See p. 188, 212, 222–223 and 239, below.

Courtesy of L.H. Butterfield.

Alexander Hill Everett, after A Painting by Gérard in 1825 facing or following page 212[unavailable]

The steel engraving by Henry Jordan and Frederick W. Halpin of Alexander Hill Everett (1790–1847) was published by J. & H. G. Langley, New York City, and appeared in 1842 in the Democratic Review, 10:facing p. 460. The engraving must have been done in the same year since it was only then that Halpin, recently arrived from England, and Jordan began to work together as a firm (George C. Groce and David H. Wallace, Dictionary of Artists in America, 1564–1860, New Haven, 1957). The likeness is “taken from a very fine portrait painted a number of years ago in Paris by the celebrated Girard, now in the possession of Ex-President Adams” (Democratic Review, 10:478). This would have been the portrait intended for President Adams for which Everett sat to Baron François Gérard (1770–1836) in 1825, when on his way to his new post as minister to Spain. Of it, Everett wrote to the President from Madrid: “In passing through Paris last August I sat a few times to Gérard for a portrait, intending it for you. My stay was so short that I could not at the time get it finished, and prepared for shipment: but I have since learned from my correspondent that it has been sent off to America. I have requested my brother Edward to deliver it to you, and venture to hope that you will do me the favour to accept it. My friends at Paris thought the resemblance pretty good, but were not much pleased with the colouring: As respects the execution, however, the name of Gérard, who stands at the head of his art in France, may be supposed to cover all defects. I informed him at the time of the destination of the portrait, and he appeared to be pleased with the opportunity of placing one of his works in your hands” (15 April 1826, Adams Papers). Whether the painting was kept by Adams in Washington or in Quincy during the years between 1825 and 1842 cannot be ascertained, nor is any information of its later whereabouts known to the editors.

The relations between the two men had long been close. Everett had studied law with Adams and had served him as private secretary in Russia, 1809–1811. As Secretary of State, Adams appointed Everett chargé d’affaires at The Hague, 1818–1824; the appointment in Madrid followed when Adams became President. At the end of the Adams administration Everett returned to Boston. In the years xvithat followed, as Everett ventured into domestic politics on his own, there were times when the two found themselves on opposing sides, particularly since Everett, seeking to survive, seemed to follow a somewhat devious course. See, for example, p. 187, 196, and 369, below. Louisa Catherine Adams was led to say of him during such a time: “I have known him ... ever since he was 19 years old and from that time I have never yet had reason to believe that he knew what a fixed principle was” (p. 208, below).

The connections between Charles Francis Adams and Everett were of a varied sort and began soon after Everett resumed his residence in Boston as editor of the North American Review , to which Adams was a contributor, generally unsatisfied by the treatment he received. Other points of friction developed as Adams expressed irritation on occasion at what seemed to him a lack of loyalty to John Quincy Adams and at Everett’s addiction to expediency which served more often to make him vulnerable than to advance his career. See below, p. 187, 205; vol. 6:257, 261. However, the relationship underwent several transformations during the years embraced by the present volumes, as will be evident in the index. Adams was always an admirer of Everett’s abilities: “As a Writer he has few equals” (vol. 3:133, above). He regarded Everett and John Quincy Adams as “the two best political writers in the State, if not in the Country” (vol. 6:198, below). In turn, Everett came to show greater appreciation of Adams’ writings (p. 144, below). Further, in the tortuous course of politics, Everett, for a time at least, returned to adherence to John Quincy Adams’ position, winning Charles Francis Adams’ grudging approbation: “Everett is a man of whose motives of action I have seen too much within a few years to rely upon them very implicitly. He has on the whole supported my father and therefore I am disposed to do what I can to support him” (vol. 6:304, below). A respect for each other as writers and the necessities of antimasonic politics ultimately produced a situation in which the two by agreement were writing for the Boston Daily Advocate in tandem. See vol. 6:152–153 and 183–184, below.

Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Thomas Baker Johnson, Attributed to Chester Harding facing or following page 212[unavailable]

Thomas Baker Johnson (1779—1843), only brother of Charles Francis Adams’ mother, in early 1836, on leaving for Europe with the intent to remain there, carried out his earlier plan to place his financial affairs entirely in the hands of his nephew, Charles Francis. Although the hoped–for improvement in his health did not occur and Johnson returned to America in 1838, Charles Francis Adams remained his agent and trustee until Johnson’s death, and thereafter under the terms of his will. Despite this manifestation of trust on the one side and magnanimity on the other, there was no intimacy between the two men. Indeed, Johnson was without any intimates, living his later life in a seclusion in Georgetown and Washington penetrated only by his immediate relatives. See below, p. 341; vol. 6:211, 339, 372; see also Thomas Baker Johnson, Will, 25 February 1842, Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 603.


As a young man Johnson had shown promise, and he was not without some mental powers even in his last years. He was a student at Harvard College from 1796 to 1798. He became deputy postmaster at New Orleans in 1810, retaining the post until 1824. During that period he was able to lay by out of his salary the $45,000.00 which he later turned over to his nephew to be invested. He seems always to have been inclined to parsimoniousness, fearing that poverty would overtake him as it had Joshua Johnson, his father.

Other fears, carried to extremes that suggest the pathological, increasingly possessed him. These included an abiding horror of Blacks, a terror that “encreased to a degree beyond remedy.... His Nights are destroyed by horrible visions; and the nervous suffocation and sweats that ensue exhaust his Frame to almost childish weakness” (Louisa Catherine Adams to John Quincy Adams, 8 November 1840; see also, same to Charles Francis Adams, 18 April 1836, 27 December 1840, all in Adams Papers). His diaries, maintained uncontinuously from 1807 to 1838 (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reels 332—339), are revealing of this and only less so of his loathing of Jews. They show too a preoccupation with his maladies, both those which had clear and serious physiological manifestations and those which seem essentially hypochondriacal. Whether his self–absorption and self–deprivation of friends and society was the expression of a consuming indolence, or the reverse, it resulted in his retirement from all employment after 1824, seized and bound by the “great demon of Ennui” (vol. 6:16, below). Brief sketches of Johnson are at vol. 1:443, above, and in Diary and Autobiography of John Adams , Cambridge, 1961, 3:240; an overview of his life is undertaken by Louisa Catherine Adams in letters to her husband, 10 July 1834, and to her son, 18–21, 29 March 1838, all Adams Papers; see also Adams Genealogy.

What significance attaches to Johnson’s manifest interest in portraits of himself and of members of his family is a subject for speculation. It was Johnson who in 1816 had Charles Robert Leslie commissioned to paint the likenesses of John Quincy and Louisa Catherine Adams which he gave to Charles Francis Adams in 1836 (vol. 6:372, 386, below; Andrew Oliver, Portraits of John Quincy Adams and his Wife, Cambridge, 1970, p. 57–64). He also sat for at least two portraits of himself. One, done probably in 1820 and attributed to “Thomas Sully or a student,” was owned in 1967 by William C. J. Doolittle of Barneveld, New York, an Adams descendant. That reproduced in the present volume of a somewhat older sitter than the other, hangs in the Old House in Quincy, the gift of Charles Francis Adams 2d to whom it had been bequeathed by Robert C. Buchanan, a nephew of Thomas Baker Johnson. A note in Adams’ hand, dated 1903, on the back of the painting attributes the portrait to Chester Harding, on what grounds is not known. One of the surviving likenesses may be that for which Johnson sat to Charles Bird King in 1823 (Louisa Catherine Adams to Charles Francis Adams, 13 June 1823, Adams Papers).

Courtesy of the National Park Service, Adams National Historic site.

“The Remarks of My Grandfather upon ... the Plays of Terence, Made for Myself and Brothers Many Years Ago ... Are Not Particularly Striking Yet Somewhat Characteristic” facing or following page 212[unavailable]

In August 1816, impelled by word that his grandson George Washington Adams was to take part in a school production of Terence’s Phormio at Ealing near London, and that John Quincy Adams’ other two sons were studying Terence’s six comedies, John Adams undertook to read them anew. Having done so, he wrote successive letters on each of the plays to his grandsons, some jointly some severally, accompanied by lists of passages from the plays he considered significant, translations of the passages, and, in a number of instances, commentary on them (Adams Papers, M/JA/9.4; Microfilms, Reel No. 188).

Charles Francis Adams, coming to a rereading of Terence in January–March 1834 (p. 253, 279–280, below), underlined in his copy those passages which his grandfather had noted in four of the plays, entered the translations and observations with John Adams’ initials in the top and bottom margins, and on blank pages at the front and back of the volume included the texts of two of the letters. To his grandfather’s opinions he sometimes appended his own comments, modifying or disagreeing with John Adams’ views. The volume thus annotated, a London, 1825, edition, is one of thirteen copies of Terence’s plays now in the Stone Library at Quincy.

Courtesy of the National Park Service, Adams National Historic Site.

The Convent-School of the Ursuline Community, Mount Benedict, Charlestown, Massachusetts facing or following page 212[unavailable]

The view of the school for young ladies, founded in 1820 and administered by the nuns of the Ursuline Community on the crest of Mount Benedict in that part of Charlestown which is now Somerville, Massachusetts, is that which appeared at the top of the first page of the four-page Prospectus issued by the Community. The Prospectus is undated, but it was issued between 1829, when the two wings were added to the main building, and August 1834, when the whole structure was burned by a mob.

The building, begun in 1826, was of red brick. The central section was of three stories, the wings of two. It was located on a tract of twenty–seven acres, two acres of which were given over to gardens. It was said to have been the “most elegant and imposing building ever erected in New England for the education of girls.” The fee for board and tuition was $125 annually. Courses in music, drawing and painting, foreign languages, and cookery carried extra charges of varying amounts. Instruction in French, Latin, Spanish, and Italian was offered. The school’s clientele was overwhelmingly Protestant. The parents apparently were satisfied that they could rely upon the assurance offered by the Prospectus that “the religious opinions of the children are not interfered with.” The later testimony under oath of Protestant students that they had been able to practice xixtheir religion unmolested and that they had not been proselytized went uncontradicted. “Prospectus of the Ursuline Community”; Justin Winsor, ed., The Memorial History of Boston, Boston, 1880–1881, 3:240; Ray Allen Billington, “The Burning of the Charlestown Convent,” New England Quarterly, 10:5–8 (March 1937).

Beginning about 1830 there was in Boston and vicinity a perceptible growth in the intensity of anti-Catholic feeling, fostered partly among the laboring classes by the threat posed by the rising tide of Irish immigration, among the more educated under the prodding of a substantial segment of the Protestant clergy led by Rev. Lyman Beecher. The conviction that the convent-schools, of which that on Mount Benedict was the most prominent, were part of a new papal design to undermine Protestant New England, became fixed in the minds of many. In such an atmosphere the wildest rumors were sent abroad and were believed. The ample warnings given of the mob action of 11 August were met by official indifference and inertia. Only when the tragedy had occurred, and then in the fear of retaliation by the Irish, did the “responsible” leaders of Boston meet to express their condemnation. The promise then made of a stern search and punishment for the perpetrators was fulfilled in only the most limited way. Although Charles Francis Adams’ comments on the lamentable event and what it portended seemed to limit responsibility for it to “the lower part of the population,” to “the ignorant and little principled,” the comments carry the full sense of the larger damage done, of the way by which the concepts of “freedom” and of “justice” in America are put in jeopardy. See p. 359, 360, below; Billington in New England Quarterly, 10:4–24 (March 1937).

That the members of the Ursuline Community were given refuge after the fire and were able to reestablish their school in the late mansion of H. A. S. Dearborn, at Brinley Place in Roxbury, brightens the record somewhat, though a Committee of Vigilance had to be formed to protect them and a nightly patrol maintained. See Massachusetts Historical Society, Proceedings , 53 (1919–1920): 326–331.

On Mount Benedict, the blackened ruins of the convent stood for half a century.

Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

The Balloon Ascension of C. F. Durant from the Amphitheatre on Charles Street, at “The Bottom of the Common” facing or following page 213[unavailable]

The balloonist C. F. Durant, having earlier been successful in nine ascents elsewhere, made three aerial sorties in Boston during the summer of 1834. Although no claim was advanced that Durant provided Boston with its first opportunity to observe the ascent of a balloon with a human passenger, the three ascensions in 1834, on 31 July, 25 August, and 15 September, particularly the first, occasioned widespread public interest. John Quincy Adams, reflecting still the interest in aerostatics he had shown in Paris in 1784, witnessed the event from the roof of Dr. George Parkman’s house and commented later that “It made my heart ache when I saw him xxsuspended between Earth and Heaven, to think how needlessly men will be prodigal of Life, and how wantonly they will defy the Laws of Nature.” See Diary and Autobiography of John Adams , Cambridge, 1961, 3:xiii, 170; below, p. 353. Charles Francis Adams observed the ascension, also, noting that “it was a beautiful spectacle and the whole town and it’s vicinity were alive to witness it” (below, p. 352).

It was Durant’s hope, of course, that as many as possible of the interested public would, at a cost of fifty cents, witness, to the accompaniment of cannon and the music of a band, the ascension together with the various processes antecedent to it, from the large amphitheatre designed to accommodate six to seven thousand persons, which had been constructed for the occasion on Charles Street at “the bottom of the Common” (Boston Daily Advertiser, 31 July, p. 2, cols. 2 and 6; below, p. 352). The circumstances, perhaps, justified Charles Francis Adams’ observation: “Such is the daring of man in pursuit of mere pelf, for the idea of philosophical advancement is pretty nearly given up.” Indeed, half a century or more had elapsed since Cavendish’s experiments made possible the pioneering ascents of the brothers Montgolfier and others, since the first attempts to gather scientific data of the free air and the first successful voyage by air over the English Channel by Jean Pierre Blanchard and Dr. John Jeffries of Boston (loyalist, physician to John Adams and his family in London); over forty years since the feasibility of ascension and safe descent had been demonstrated in the United States by Blanchard at Philadelphia. See “Aerial Navigation” in American Magazine of Useful and Entertaining Knowledge, 1:247–256 (February 1835); John Langdon Sibley and Clifford K. Shipton, Biographical Sketches of Graduates of Harvard University, Cambridge and Boston, 1873– , 15:419–427; and Dictionary of American Biography under Jeffries; below, p. 352.

Following Durant’s first Boston aerial voyage, which ended in the sea off Cape Ann after an hour and ten minutes, his second and third ended respectively at Mount Auburn in Cambridge and at Lincoln, fifteen miles from Boston, after an hour and forty-five minutes in the air. See Boston Daily Advertiser, 2 August, p. 2, col. 6; 26 August, p. 2, col. 2; 15 September, p. 2, col. 3; below, p. 353.

The wood engraving reproduced is said by the editors of the American Magazine of Useful and Entertaining Knowledge to have been made from a drawing “we had taken on the spot, just as the balloon was departing from the amphitheatre, amidst the peals of cannon and the shouts of the multitude” (1:254). Accompanying it (1:255) was the engraving, also reproduced, of the apparatus by which the several thousand cubic feet of hydrogen gas needed to inflate the balloon was produced in barrels in which the decomposition of water was effected with iron and sulphuric acid, and through a complex of tubes extruding from the barrels introduced into a central tank and then into the bag itself. See Boston Daily Advertiser, 31 July, p. 2, col. 6.

Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society.