Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 6

Sunday. 12th. CFA Sunday. 12th. CFA
Sunday. 12th.

The day was cold with an East wind but clear. I passed the morning in a continuation of Schiller’s History the Interest of which is wonderfully well kept up. The picture of Wallenstein agrees very well with his character in the Play, the master piece of the Author.

Attended divine Service and heard Mr. Putnam of Roxbury from Proverbs 23. 22. “Despise not thy Mother.” A poor text to preach from as conveying nothing but a negative exhortation. The duty of children to Parents is more positive than negative. It consists in active services, in honoring and obeying, not in the mere abstinence from insult. Mr. Putnam did not see his mistake and proceeded to preach upon a subject not included in his Text. The discourse itself would have been far better calculated to affect his own congregation who require the peculiar superintendence of their own Minister than a strange one who one supposed to be properly instructed in moral duties by their own head. The Afternoon Sermon from 2. Corinthians 4. 16. “Though 115our outward man perish yet the inward man is renewed day by day.” My attention was not fixed.

Read a discourse of Dr. Barrow upon Detraction. James 14. 11. “Speak not evil one of another, brethren.” He pursues his usual mode first in defining the modes then the motives which induce it and finally it’s effects from all which he derives the impropriety as well as naturally mean character of the Vice. Dr. Barrow is very strong and very sound but I have as yet found little eloquence. Evening, W. G. Brooks and his Wife with his elder brother Thomas came in. Conversation very uninteresting. Afterwards, read Wilhelm Meister.

Monday. 13th. CFA Monday. 13th. CFA
Monday. 13th.

Much of my time was taken up in going down to procure the Deed of the Estate in Acorn Street which I at last procured. This puts me in a new position in the world. I am now for the first time an owner of the soil and my interests are somewhat identified with those of the town. In this Country the right is less of a privilege than in almost any other. The man whose interests may be staked by owning half the Country upon every Act of it’s government would have no more influence in it than the Irish day laborer who pays only a Poll Tax.

Office. My father continues his exposition of the events of the last Session.1 I do not know exactly what to think about the present state of the affairs of the Nation, and am more removed from them than I had supposed likely. Both sides appear to me equally wrong. My father in general right but often not prudent. Walk.

Afternoon began the History of the French Revolution by M. Thiers who is now a Minister of France.2 Grimm whose last words I am reading. He was at last frightened from Paris and his Correspondence by the increasing fury of the democracy. Evening Wilhelm Meister.

1.

In the series of eight letters to CFA, on which see note to entry for 11 Feb., above. The letters not specifically referred to elsewhere in CFA’s diary as having been received were written on the 3, 4, 6, 8, and 10 April (all in Adams Papers). On the content of the letter of 6 April, of great significance to JQA, see note to entry for 9 March, above.

2.

CFA would continue through August to borrow from the Athenaeum each of the 10 vols. of Histoire de la révolution française, Paris, 1828–1829.

Tuesday. 14th. CFA Tuesday. 14th. CFA
Tuesday. 14th.

A windy cold day. I went to the Office, after my usual reading. But I did not remain there being called in various directions by occupations. Went to find my Carpenter and made a settlement with him of 116his last years account which has been most improperly delayed. A man by name J. H. Winkley from Quincy called for the purpose of inquiring about a certain stone Quarry which my father is in possession of there; his object to purchase or to hire either by paying interest either upon an agreed valuation of the Quarry, or what is called Bankage, i.e. a certain Sum upon each ton of Stone carried away. I told him I would write for an answer which I immediately did and sent it this morning without copying the letter.1 I was hurried. In the mean time my Essay languishes.

Short walk. Home. Wilhelm Meister which I have nearly done. In the Afternoon Mr. Thiers whose History is a Radical, Jacobin affair, modestly so. I went to the Theatre. Sheridan’s Opera of the Duenna. Carlos, Mrs. Maeder,2 Louisa, Miss Cushman, Clara Miss Watson, but the male part so poorly cast that half the music must be omitted and a parcel of modern airs substituted that have no sort of connexion with the Play. Miss Cushman did not acquit herself nearly so well as on Wednesday. Her singing was not true, and her notes rarely articulated with distinctness and fullness.3 Miss Watson disappointed me in her style.4 She scarcely ranks so high as Miss Hughes. A pretty little ballad foisted in without sense or reason beginning “On the margin of fair Zurich’s waters” was on the whole the most effective thing of the evening, and I retired very greatly disappointed at the first representation I have attended of the Duenna.

1.

Letter missing. JQA’s reply of 18 April is in Adams Papers.

2.

Mrs. Maeder, who had married only the preceding year, had, as Clara Fisher, been a dazzling star for the several seasons following her American debut at age sixteen in 1827; but from 1830 had enjoyed but indifferent success (Odell, Annals N.Y. Stage , 3:300–301, 440; 4:66; Notable American Women ).

3.

For Miss Cushman’s vocal difficulties, see below, entry for 15 Oct. and note there.

4.

Charlotte Watson, who had had her Boston debut only the evening before, had achieved great popularity in New York where she had sung in many operettas since her first American appearance in Aug. 1833. She was usually referred to as “pretty,” “charming,” or “lovely” (Odell, Annals N.Y. Stage , 3:700; 4:10, 14).