Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 6

Thursday. 16th. CFA Thursday. 16th. CFA
Thursday. 16th.
Boston

The rain in the night was amazingly heavy and when I arose in the morning there seemed exceedingly little prospect of my being able to get to town this day. A furious and driving storm from the North east appeared to be deluging the land. It ceased after breakfast and remained a cloudy day. I therefore took my leave at about ten. My little Louisa appeared more willing to be left than I had quite expected and I rather doubt whether I was not of the two far the most affected by the separation. The City looked infinitely better for the vehement washing operation it had undergone.

I went home, changed my dress for a thicker one and then to the Office, where I was occupied in Diary and Accounts. Read an article in my last number of the North American Review upon Washington Irving’s late work.1 It was pleasant and amusing but there is far too much of the couleur de rose in every thing connected with this periodical. Puff, Puff, Puff, as if a sign board painter could not be made to pass as good an ordeal in matters of nice colouring by this process as an Artist of first quality.2 Home. Read Juvenal for an hour today faithfully.

Afternoon divided between Thiers, and the Manuscript papers which I arrange slowly. The campaign in Italy of 1796 interested me much. Bonaparte’s great fore was energy. That of La Fayette, disinterestedness. The one was the greater man, the other, the more virtuous one.

In the evening, I went down to see Maelzel’s Exhibition of his evening curiosities. The room, Concert Hall, was crowded to excess, and the air which still smacked of the heat of the last few days was almost intolerable. I take great pleasure in going to this exhibition because Maelzel is a connoisseur in music and besides his mechanical works he plays with spirit and truth. I was pleased with all his dancing figures, and with the conflagration of Moscow excepting that the horrible din made my head ache. The Chess player was there also as imperturbable and as successful as when I last saw him eight or ten years ago.3 Home at ten. My house seems longely and I feel the absence 179of all the animation of children as well as of the anxiety they cause me. Worked upon No. 8.

1.

An essay-review in the July issue of the North Amer. Rev. (41:1–28) by Edward Everett of Washington Irving’s A Tour on the Prairies, the first volume of his Crayon Miscellany, 3 vols., Phila., 1835.

2.

The meaning apparently is that if examined through “rose-colored glasses” the coloring of a sign painter seems as good as that of an artist of the first quality.

3.

John Nepomuk Maelzel, after a highly successful career in European capitals presenting automata and spectacles of his devising, brought his mechanical marvels to the United States in 1826 and was received with great applause in New York, Boston, and elsewhere. On his almost annual visits thereafter, the staples in his programs were the spectacle of the Conflagration of Moscow, which he had first displayed in 1813, and the mechanical chess player, who had challenged all comers since 1817. Maelzel’s accomplishments in music were considerable: not only was he a performer of serious music, but his automata played the music of Mozart, Haydn, and the like; he also contributed significantly to improvements in the metronome. Although Maelzel’s current engagement in Boston, begun in June, was to prove the last in the United states in which the performances were under his personal management, his devices continued to be presented by others, and the debate on the means employed in the operation of the chess player was pursued. (Joseph Earl Arrington, “John Maelzel, Master Showman...,” PMHB , 84:56–92 [Jan. 1960]; “The Great Chess-Playing Androides,” American Magazine of Useful and Entertaining Knowledge, 3:192–198 [Feb. 1837].)

Friday. 17th. CFA Friday. 17th. CFA
Friday. 17th.
Medford

Morning cool and delightfully pleasant. I occupied myself for an hour after breakfast with my coins and then went up again to renew my negotiation with Mr. Sharpe. But I did not find him. At the Office engaged in Accounts and Diary.

My No. 4 of my publication appeared this morning in both papers simultaneously. No editorial comments in the Centinel. I fancy he finds the thing beyond his mark, and abandons in despair. So much the better. Those articles cannot fall to the ground, they are too strongly reasoned not to produce some public effect.

I though I would go to Medford at noon. Accordingly I started at a little after one and arrived to dinner. Found my Wife and children tolerably, but the former not so much improved as I had anticipated—indeed as I thought not looking so well. Mrs. N. Hall dined there. In the afternoon I took a lounge and a nap in the grove upon my return from which I found the house full of company. Mr. and Mrs. R. D. Tucker, Mr. R. D. Shepherd and a Mr. Mayhew from Baltimore. Mr. and Mrs. Palfrey with Mrs. Phillips and Miss Salisbury. This is the weariness of Medford.

I could not help a feeling of relief when I thought I was not living 180here this Summer, to go this heavy round every day. My Wife is gregarious like all other Americans and this is perhaps what I regret most in her. The party retired at sunset, and in the evening I remained at home, in spite of an invitation to Jonathan Brooks’. My Wife was so fatigued as to stay too. Read an Article upon Coleridge in the new Edinburgh.1

1.

Specimens of the Table Talk of Samuel Taylor Coleridge was reviewed in Edinburgh Review, 61:68–81 (April 1835).