Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3

Wednesday. 3d. CFA Wednesday. 3d. CFA
Wednesday. 3d.

Morning cloudy with snow but it soon stopped and produced a pleasant day. I went to the Office as usual and was engaged in the transaction of business for some time. I claimed the Dividend upon the Middlesex Canal Stock for my father, my brother’s Estate and myself, and deposited the amount in the Bank. This sum relieves me from all embarrassment but I had hoped for better results. My anticipations of having a sum sufficiently large to make a handsome investment is entirely vanished, and if I can now from the proceeds of the Quarter pay expenses of repairs and have a fund sufficient to pay off the charges accruing on the first of April without trenching upon next Quarter I shall think I have done very well—Which is one of the vicissitudes to which property is liable. I do not much relish this management of property, it has too many cares, troubles and vexations attending it to make the business agreeable, particularly in depressed times.

At my Office I was occupied in copying my Letter to my Father, and preparing it to send away. I also sent to Mr. Child my first Number thus taking the final leap. It will come out on Saturday, and I must begin to prepare another Number.1 I had a number of visitors, Chardon Brooks about some Tickets to the Theatre, and Workmen to get Orders about the Houses. Returning home I found that Miss Elizabeth Phillips was going to Charlestown instead of to the Theatre which put me in some quandary for I had a Ticket for her. I sent it back however to be 153disposed of. Abby was disturbed by the cross occurrence. It was not very well.

At four I went to a Meeting of the Directors of the Middlesex Canal at the Office of Mr. William Sullivan.2 We proceeded to elect the Officers for the year and do all the necessary business. The Company has been of late years managed by a standing Committee in connection with Mr. Eddy the Agent.3 I do not know how far this plan is entirely correct, but I do not feel as yet at all qualified to make any motion to alter it. It took the afternoon and I came away with a report made to the Board of Directors by Mr. Sullivan which I design copying for information.4 On returning home, I prepared myself directly to go to the Theatre with Abby and Miss Parks who came from Mrs. Frothingham’s. The play was King John, the two leading parts taken by Mr. Booth and Mr. E. Forrest.5 I was on the whole agreeably disappointed in the piece and the acting. Booth ranted less than I had expected but he hardly went through a buffoon afterpiece without evincing symptoms of his infirmity. Returned in a shower of snow, Miss Parks coming to our House.

1.

The first number of CFA’s essay on Eloquence appeared in the Massachusetts Journal on 20 Feb.; see the entry for that date and note 3 there. No further numbers were published.

2.

A member of the directors’ Standing Committee, Sullivan had his office on Court Square ( Boston Directory, 1830–1831). His father, James Sullivan (1744–1808), attorney general and governor of Massachusetts, had been an originator of the plan for the Canal and the principal figure in its early history. See Roberts, The Middlesex Canal, 1793–1860, p. 28, 30, 31, 34, 222.

3.

Caleb Eddy, who served as superintendent, treasurer, and clerk of the corporation, had assumed the agency in 1825 and would continue until 1845 (same, p. 222).

4.

The history, problems, and prospects of the Middlesex Canal were matters of continuing interest to CFA. In Feb. 1829 he undertook a thorough study of the Canal; see vol. 2:339–344. His paper and his copy of the Sullivan report are preserved in one of his composition books (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 315). CFA’s early position on railroad building was clearly affected by his interest in canal enterprises (CFA to JQA, 2 Feb., LbC, Adams Papers; below, entry for 26 Feb.). The Middlesex Canal, joining the Charles River basin and the Merrimac and planned as a first link in a water route from Boston to the St. Lawrence, was particularly vulnerable since the most insistent proposal being advanced was for a railroad paralleling the Canal from Boston to Lowell. The Canal’s obsolescence was rapid after trains loaded with cargo began to ply the route in 1835. See Roberts, The Middlesex Canal, 1793–1860, p. 26–27, 154–158, 170–175, 191–196. A part of the canal’s route is shown on the “map of Boston and the adjacent towns” reproduced in the present volume.

5.

The performance, the play’s first in Boston, was at the Tremont Theatre before a “crowded and fashionable audience.” John was played by Junius Brutus Booth (1796–1852), Falconbridge by Edwin Forrest (1806–1872), Lady Constance by Mrs. Duff. In the farce, Amateurs and Actors, which followed, Booth was Geoffrey Muffincap (Columbian Centinel, 3 Feb., p. 3, col. 4; 6 Feb., p. 2, col. 6). An engraving of Tremont Street and Theatre is reproduced in this volume.

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