Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 7

230 Monday 24th. CFA Monday 24th. CFA
Monday 24th.

Morning cloudy with an appearance of rain which however was not realized. I went to Quincy early and found the men making progress in the different branches of the work rather more actively than heretofore. One day more would set the underpinning and another would probably lay all the bricks behind it. From thence I called to see Mrs. Adams and found her and John Quincy as solitary as possible and not over cheerful. I only sat a few minutes and then returned to the hill to give directions. But the rain appearing to threaten, I hastened home to town where I arrived before one.

Found things on the Exchange gloomy enough. Several failures today and the general appearance of things indicating a severe storm. Called at T. K. Davis’ where I found several young men collected and discussing these things.

Left them to return home and read Homer which I find gradually easier. I think now I am making more impression upon the language than I ever did before with all the labour I have spent upon it. My difficulty all arises from a bad Grammar originally which did not distinguish the rules of Greek composition from those of the Latin, particularly in that most important feature the prepositions. The Port Royal Grammar is now supplying that deficiency. Afternoon, Plutarch, and Agathon which still fascinates me.

Evening as my wife was going to a ball at Governor Everett’s in Charlestown to which I had no fancy, I thought I would visit the Theatre to hear the Watsons. The piece was the Pirate boy a sort of vamped up thing from the original opera of Bellini, with a variety of music interspersed by Mr. Watson, from the operas of Bellini, and from Rossini, Viviani, &ca. as well as some ballad singing of his own getting up. I never could much relish this hodge podge style, but I could not help noticing in all the pieces of Bellini the hand that worked the Somnambula. If that is always his style as a composer he cannot equal Rossini.1 With regard to the performance, Mrs. Watson as Clara made a very fat heroine, but she sings well, her voice being a high tenor. Her daughter who enacted Francisco, has much the same style with a lower voice and perhaps less power. Mr. Plumer as Captain Templemore has more acquaintance with music than he can give effective utterance to. They are all indifferent actors, and the piece went off heavily.2 Afterwards a Concert which was more effective. The Swiss airs were on the whole the best adapted to the two females. On the whole I was pleased, as I am almost always with music. The house was thin although a benefit night. Home late.

231 1.

Nevertheless, Bellini’s La Somnambula remained one of CFA’s favorite operas; see vol. 5:x–xi, and entry for 12 Nov. 1838, below.

2.

The same principals had sung the same roles at the National Theatre in New York in January and February and would return there in May after their Boston engagement. Historically the production had some significance in that it was an early instance of the female personation of male characters (Odell, Annals N.Y. Stage , 4:144, 149).

Tuesday 25th. CFA Tuesday 25th. CFA
Tuesday 25th.

My wife is this day twenty nine years old. I remembered it in the little way which I like to do, by making to her a trifling present. Her health has not been so good as I would wish for some months, but I am now encouraged about it. Her children are almost too much for her.

Office. The commercial troubles go on increasing. I passed much of my morning in trying a horse that was offered to me. The one sent for trial last week is very good but rather too dear. This one is offered to me cheaper. I bought him at once, although I have doubts whether I am well suited. This is a business for which I am not well fitted. At any rate I cannot lose a great deal of money in the transaction.

Home and Homer. I have read over the first book three times and am now upon the second. Afternoon, Plutarch, and Agathon. Evening at home and reading Moore’s Life of Byron for the first time for ten days. After which Wraxall and Diary.

Wednesday 26th. CFA Wednesday 26th. CFA
Wednesday 26th.

Day cloudy but warmer. I went to the Office and from thence out of town to Quincy with my new horse whom I found as much as I could manage. I am not at all given to speculations in horseflesh, but should think I had in this case by accident made one.

Found my work rather stationary at Quincy. The framers having taken in dudgeon the wind and cloudy weather, left in a body the other day for town and have not returned. This is a provoking delay for in point of fact the weather has been remarkably favourable. The mason and Deacon Spear were however there and making visible progress, as well as Kirk who after all has thus far approved himself the steadiest of them all. I spent some time in giving directions and overseeing and then returned to town.

Read Homer. Afternoon Plutarch, finishing the Essay upon the management of public affairs, which has taken me a great while and is not done thoroughly yet. I must review it. Greek ought to be pursued 232by me steadily for one month all the time and then I should be able to pursue my present plan more effectually. Agathon which I read almost as easily as English. Evening, at home. Moore’s Life of Byron and afterwards, Wraxall.