Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 4

Thursday. 6th. CFA Thursday. 6th. CFA
Thursday. 6th.

Cloudy and cool. At the Office. Received a letter from my Father, mentioning the sickness of my Mother, and apparently in a state of considerable depression. I do not know what the matter can be, but this I imagine, that all is not right in the family.1 Whether the subject relates to my father’s embarrassed affairs or to other concerns I can not pretend to divine. In consequence of his writing that I had not noticed his two last, I immediately sat down, and penned an answer,2 which with the copying took my whole morning, with the exception of the time regularly devoted to walking.

After dinner. Worked in continuation of No. 6, which I finished, and without waiting to scratch them any more, I despatched the three numbers to Mr. Hallett. I ought to have mentioned that the first of the series appeared yesterday,3 with a favourable notice from the Editor.4

My Wife and I went to the Tremont House and took Tea with Mrs. Gorham Brooks prior to going to the Theatre. The piece was a new Play of one Knowles called the Hunchback. The plot is very defective, the events ill combined and the developement meagre, but several single scenes have pathos, force and affect strongly. C. Kean and Hamblin. The former is a mediocre resemblance of his father. We remained only during this Play.5 I could not study. Amused myself with Marmontel.

1.

JQA to CFA, 1 Dec. (Adams Papers). LCA’s condition seems to have been attributable partly to her own discomfort from a return of erysipelas along with an 414attack of “inflammable rhumatic fever,” and partly to her concern at JA2’s “almost total loss of sight” and at the continued ill health of his children (JQA, Diary, 15, 29 Nov., 1 Dec.; LCA to Mary Roberdeau, 21 Nov., Adams Papers).

2.

LbC in Adams Papers.

3.

“The Principles and Grounds of Anti-Masonry,” signed “F,” Boston Daily Advocate, 5 Dec., p. 2, cols. 3–4.

4.

“We ask particular attention to the series of numbers from an able pen, which we commence publishing today.... [We] commend the candid and temperate manner in which our correspondent discusses the subject” (same, col. 1).

5.

The performance at the Tremont Theatre was the seventh and final one of The Hunchback, a play in five acts by James Sheridan Knowles. The play had had its première in London in the spring and in New York in June. Beginning in the fall of 1832 it became for a long time one of the more popular vehicles for Charles Kemble in the role of Sir Thomas Clifford and Fanny Kemble as Julia. Neither Thomas S. Hamblin as Sir Thomas, Charles Kean as Master Walter, nor Naomi Vincent as Julia achieved any reputation in their roles. On the same evening another company was presenting The Hunchback at the Warren Theatre. (Boston Daily Advertiser & Patriot, 6 Dec., p. 3, cols. 4–5; Odell, Annals N.Y. Stage , 3:558, 607, 617; DNB notice of Knowles.)

Friday. 7th. CFA Friday. 7th. CFA
Friday. 7th.

The President’s Message arrived today, or I should rather say was published in the Newspapers.1 It gives no comfort to us in this Quarter. I regard the intimation as tolerably distinct that New England Interests are in the end to be sacrificed for the purpose of conciliating the jealous States of the South. I have expected this all along. Thank fortune, there is a constantly vivifying principle in the character of our inhabitants which will sustain them through difficulty. It is not so with the slave-holding South.

Time taken up in reading. Diary and Lingard. The mornings are very short and I do daudle considerably. Walk, the day was fine. Afternoon, not very diligent. I have got along so many papers in advance that I can afford to rest myself. Nevertheless I commenced No. 7. The thing becomes more intricate as I proceed.

Quiet evening at home. Malvina, and the Life of Roubiliac. I afterwards resumed my German and read two Fables of Lessing, one of which is the first that I understand in the point of it.

1.

Jackson’s Fourth Annual Message was delivered to the two Houses of Congress on 4 December. The Boston Daily Advertiser & Patriot printed it complete on the 7th (p. 2, cols. 2–6). The text is in Richardson, ed., Messages and Papers , 2:591–606.

Saturday. 8th. CFA Saturday. 8th. CFA
Saturday. 8th.

Morning rainy and dark. I went to the Office as usual. The second of my numbers appeared in the Advocate.1 I do not think it equal to the first. The editor has also made a few corrections, some of which are no improvements.2 I see in one or two a distrust of my information, 415which I do not wonder at, but yet cannot admire. These are some of the difficulties against which young men always have to struggle, and I trust that they will not succeed in discouraging me.

Time taken up writing Diary and reading Lingard. A call from Deacon Danl. Spear of Quincy about the Pew of the Episcopal Church, the balance for which I paid.3 Took my usual walk notwithstanding the rain.

Afternoon, working upon Antimasonry. Finished No. 7. but am much dissatisfied with it. Shall have to write it over. I have not got that power yet, which enables a person at the first dash to give thoughts their most effective form. How labour saving such a power is.

Evening quiet at home. My way of life here in Boston, is the most pacific, secluded kind of thing imaginable. I see few, know few and trouble myself with few. Read to my Wife, the lives of Roubiliac and Banks, Sculptors, and with her more of Malvina. Afterwards I hammered away upon German, and found my progress not so much impeded. Understand the point of two or three Fables. I have a notion that these are not the easiest things possible to begin with.

1.

Page 2, cols. 3–4.

2.

“You must make great allowance for errors of the Press. My sense is most shockingly mangled and my friend Hallett now and then amends a sentence in such a way as by no means to improve it” (CFA to JQA, 31 Dec., LbC, Adams Papers).

3.

JQA had subscribed $100 toward the building of Christ Church in Quincy and had authorized the purchase of a pew at a price not to exceed $25 (JQA to CFA, 25 Nov., Adams Papers).