Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 6

Monday. 28th.

Wednesday. 30th.

Tuesday. 29th. CFA Tuesday. 29th. CFA
Tuesday. 29th.

Day mild. I went to the Office, where I was engaged for the most part in looking over the Quarter’s Accounts and bringing down the affairs of my Agency as usual. This took some time, after which I went out to pay various Accounts I was anxious to clear off previous to New Year. I meant to have taken a walk but was disappointed as happens more often than not. Called in to see Mr. Brooks and inquire how Mr. Everett’s child is. It is Grace, the third who is suffering from a disease in the head hardly ascertained. The Accounts are not encouraging.

On my return to my Office, I found there A. H. Everett. He called only to know if I had any further information relative to the subject discussed yesterday. He had not seen the editorial column of the Atlas which has today no leaning to Mr. Van Buren, on the contrary intimates a determination to persevere with Mr. Webster until the election goes to the House when Harrison or any person might be selected to the exclusion of Mr. Van Buren. At the same time, the Globe of this morning’s mail has a biting Commentary upon Mr. Webster’s Antimasonic Letter.1 This is all the new evidence and is satisfactory so far as it goes.


Mr. Everett had hardly gone before Mr. Hallett came in with Letters from some of the seceders in Pennsylvania who want to get up a National Convention, for their own special benefit. Mr. Irwin and Mr. Gilleland are both connected with the Pittsburgh Times and were delegates from that place to the late Convention. They write under the excitement of defeat and mortified pride. The tone is bad and the subject matter is not good enough to make up for it. The substance is an urgent call upon us to give over hostilities to Mr. Webster—deserted on all sides, they say he seeks shelter with the Antimasons. Joined with this are projects in plenty ingenious but utterly without basis, evidently straws at which these drowning men are catching. They have committed a folly and must now set about repenting to which they are ill disposed. Mr. H. read to me his reply which I thought extremely judicious. He then read to me a letter from Dutee J. Pearce in which he mentions the fact that Mr. Blair, Editor of the Globe is a bigotted Mason which satisfactorily accounts for a great many things. Also some propositions to encourage the Advocate founded upon Patronage. I told him that if he could make the paper go on without it, it would be better, but if not, better take it, than lose that. I saw no principle in the way. For the rest, we again talked over the proposed course which we agreed to be, not to acknowledge the seceders as the party, to discourage a National Convention but not absolutely to refuse to go into it. This conversation consumed all my time devoted to the Classics and intrenched even upon the dinner hour.

Home. Afternoon, continued my reply to my father’s letter, a very poor thing and not such as I ought to send but my time is not sufficiently abundant to allow of writing over. I shall hardly be able as it is, to copy and despatch it before New Year.2

Evening, I went with my Wife to the Theatre. The new Opera of the Somnambula or the Sleepwalker—Music by Bellini a young man who died a martyr to his musical enthusiasm. The plot is simple. Amina, (Mrs. Wood) is betrothed to Elvino (Mr. Wood) on a day when the Lord of the territory Count Rhodolpho (Mr. Brough) happens to come to the Inn. He is shown to the haunted chamber. Amina walks into it in her Sleep and falls on the bed. She sings however a song which leads Rodolpho to respect her mistake and leave the room. The tenants coming at dawn to salute their Lord find in his place and bed Amina. This produces a breach, which is only healed by a subsequent strong evidence of her tendency and by Rodolpho’s decided testimony. The piece then ends happily. The music is sustained throughout, full of melody and character, occasionally passionate and 298then pathetic with some extraordinarily poetical conceptions. The Chorus is fine and for once very well done. On the whole, a very delightful piece. Such a one as I love to hear. It is delicious.3


Webster’s letter of 20 Nov. to the Allegheny County Delegates to the Pennsylvania Democratic Anti-Masonic Convention seeking their support had failed to prevent the convention’s endorsement of Harrison. Publication of the letter provoked the editorial comment in Washington: “We must look upon [Mr. Webster’s] adhesion ... to Democracy and Antimasonry both at once, as almost a revolution ‘in the state of man.’ ... Here is the abjuration of masonry and whiggery by the defender of the faith and of the constitution. It came too late.” (Globe, 25 Dec., p. 3, col. 1.)


CFA to JQA, 28-29 Dec. (Adams Papers).


Boston was to greet the Woods’ production of La Sonnambula with a fervor at least equal to that shown in New York following its introduction there on 13 November. From that date to the close of their engagement at the end of the month the Woods had sung little else, so great was the demand for the new success (Odell, Annals N.Y. Stage , 4:54–55). As for Boston, “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).