Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

Monday. 15th. CFA Monday. 15th. CFA
Monday. 15th.

Morning clear but extraordinarily cold for the Season. I left home early for the purpose of attending a meeting of the Directors of the Boylston Market. Question as to the Appropriation for widening the Street. A discussion of two hours followed which was wound up by a recommendation to appropriate two thousand dollars in aid of the object. The sum required is five. Mr. Child dissented.1 I consider the appropriation as rather heavy. But I was surprised to find the value attached to Property up here.

This delay was a serious one to me as I had designed an early day at Quincy. Determined however upon not being put off, I started at ten and reached the house about eleven. Found the Painter gone. My 69time being short, I employed it to the best of my ability and returned to town just by dinner time.

Afternoon, T. B. Adams called and conversed upon subjects of business &c. He leaves tomorrow. I find him vastly improved. Evening passed quietly at home. Began the Itineraire of Chateaubriand.2

1.

R. Child (below, entry for 27 April). He is erroneously identified at vol. 3:220 and thus in the index (1968 edn.) as Joshua Child.

2.

CFA’s copy of Itinéraire de Paris à Jérusalem et de Jérusalem à Paris, 2 vols., Paris, 1812, is in MQA.

Tuesday. 16th. CFA Tuesday. 16th. CFA
Tuesday. 16th.

Clear day but the weather is cold and comfortless. I know of no deception greater than our month of April. We have a fine air and clear Sun. The face of nature seems to invite to enjoyment, but suddenly we are cut in two by a keen, sharp Easterly wind that dispels every agreeable expectation. The Child is now ailing too, and on the whole there is a weight upon my spirits. Besides this, I experience a most unaccountable apathy which paralizes all exertion. Is this a natural or a healthy state of mind? I answer No, and would correct it if I could, but the die is cast. I would leave the Country and attempt to revive my energies in Europe but I have not the means apart from my occupations.

Finished the History of the United States which is a poor thing—Unworthy of its high company. Walk as usual. Afternoon, Botta and German. Very hard. I think I shall devote my Summer to the acquisition of this language and Spanish and Italian. I shall have four months in the Country in which time I think I can make considerable progress. Evening at home. Twelfth Night, Les Parvenus, and above all the affecting book of Job, to my Wife. Afterwards, Chateaubriand.

Wednesday. 17th. CFA Wednesday. 17th. CFA
Wednesday. 17th.

The morning was so cloudy that I concluded not to go to Quincy. The Newspapers announce my father’s arrival at Philadelphia, but we hear not a syllable about him by private communication. At Office where I read some of Sir James Mackintosh’s third volume of the History of England. I also went to the Athenaeum and passed an hour. Nothing of any consequence happened. Afternoon quietly at home. Read Botta and one hour of German.

Went to the Theatre to hear and see Charles Kemble and his 70daughter. The piece was the Stranger. She performed Mrs. Haller. There is something so affecting in that play that it affects me deeply even with poor acting. That on this evening was chaste, suitable, and yet exceedingly touching. I could not resist a few tears, and the house was generally affected.1 But to feel it thoroughly a person must be a parent. I recognize here a difference in the effect upon me tonight and formerly independently of the superior performance. Farce called the dumb Belle. Exceedingly comic. Mrs. Barrett and her husband. Something was necessary to change the current of feeling and this did it. Home by eleven.

1.

William Dunlap’s adaptation of Kotzebue’s Menschenhass und Reue became a favorite in the theatrical repertory immediately upon its presentation in America in 1798 (Odell, Annals N. Y. Stage , 2:43–45). CFA had seen it at least once before, in 1825 (vol. 1:456). During the engagement of the Kembles, which began on 16 April and ended on 17 May, the Adamses attended the theater more frequently than was their custom.