Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 8

Sunday 11th.

Tuesday 13th.

Monday 12th. CFA Monday 12th. CFA
Monday 12th.

Fine day. General Election. Office. Athenaeum. Afternoon at home. Evening at the Play.

I passed my time at the Office much as usual. It being the day for the choice of State Officers, I voted. My position has been somewhat varied during the last year. The course of the Administration in yielding to the eccentricities of Mr. Calhoun has placed me very much upon the other side and yet I have an innate aversion to the dirty dictation of the Whigs of this place. My opinions agree nearly with those of no body here and hence I am obliged to stand entirely upon what I hold to be right for my justification. I therefore selected the names which I held to be the best on the whole, out of the lists presented and voted it with perfect conscientiousness.

There was much excitement on account of the license law of the last Session which bears with peculiar severity upon the spirit dealers in this city. This has distracted the Whigs and hazards their County ticket. In such matters I feel little interest, but as bearing the best list of names I voted the Amory hall ticket which is considered as favouring the law.1

At the Athenaeum I took out Davis life of Aaron Burr2 with a view to future use for Dr. Palfrey. Afternoon, finished Swifts Tale of a Tub. There is so much of the vulgar and coarse about Swift, it is wonderful that his writings remain at all. A kind of bull dog mind characteristic perhaps of the lower orders of the English people.

Evening with my father to hear the Somnambula. Miss Shirreff as Amina, Wilson for Elvino and Seguin as Rhodolpho. The piece very well got up. And perhaps as well done in all but the prima donna as I ever knew it to be. Miss Shirreff is not the singer that Mrs. Wood or Caradori is but she is respectable. Her acting borders upon excess which is better than tameness. Afterpiece, the same as Friday.

139 1.

The Massachusetts legislature, under pressure of temperance advocates, had passed earlier in the year what was known as the License Law of 1838. Insistent demands for repeal made the law’s future a crucial issue in the current electoral campaign, splitting the whig party. The dominant wing of the party was pro-repeal, the “Amory Hall” wing anti-(Daily Centinel & Gazette, 9 Nov., p. 2, cols. 3–5; 12 Nov., p. 1, col. 2, p. 2, col. 6).


M. L. Davis, Memoirs of Aaron Burr, 2 vols., N.Y., 1836–1837.