Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 6

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).

Wednesday. 15th. CFA Wednesday. 15th. CFA
Wednesday. 15th.

Mr. Brooks this day made me a present of the Mortgage and arrears of Interest upon the House in Acorn Street lately purchased by me. This had not been my intention in making the acquisition and it puts me a little into the difficult position of appearing to solicit such a present. Now this is so much against my habit that I need no argument to prove to myself my sincerity nor shall I go very far to attempt to manifest it to others. To Mr. Brooks I am under every obligation 117not only for a very favorable opinion of myself but for an exceeding kindness and attention to all our wishes. He has been particularly kind to me since I have made part of his family. I hope under all circumstances that I shall retain a most lively remembrance of it. My own father has shown less interest in my Prosperity.1

Out at the Office this morning. The Mason came to see me and I was obliged to go up with him to my House to give him Instructions about the repairs to be made. The business of setting in motion workmen on our own Account is something new. I called also to see Mr. Wild, my Tenant and the Cashier of the Boston Bank. I explained to him my view of his situation and left him with the alternative either to take a long Lease or take an addition upon his rent. Thus passed the morning, with a short walk.

In the afternoon, continued Grimm and Mons. Thiers who succeeds in softening down many of the roughest features of the Revolution of 1789, but I take his accounts with mistrust. A man who does not feel when he writes of such incidents must be made of singular stuff. Finished in the evening the first volume of the Poems of Coleridge upon which my opinion is decided. They are too abstract, much too speculative to serve the purposes of Poetry.

1.

See note to entry for 20 April, below.