Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 7

Tuesday 5th. CFA Tuesday 5th. CFA
Tuesday 5th.

I went to town. Very fine day. At the Office, engaged in accounts. Visits from Mr. Walsh and Mr. Whiting, my Mason. The latter bringing his Account after the return of the Surveyor, with which he was much dissatisfied. I thought it fair, but not high.

Call upon T. K. Davis to give him for Mr. Henry a copy of my father’s report upon Weights and Measures which he asked me for as long ago as at Josiah Quincy’s when we dined there. To my house also and to see Mr. Brooks with whom I had much talk.


Home. Afternoon at my house where they are engaged breaking the ground up round the house. I have been much troubled by the large masses of pudding stone which lie scattered about the single acre I have taken and which it is hard to move or to leave. Read a little of Humboldt. Evening at home, Loto, after which, writing.

Wednesday 6th. CFA Wednesday 6th. CFA
Wednesday 6th.

A beautiful day. I remained at home, part of my time superintending the work and part devoted to study. Read a hundred lines of the seventh book of the Iliad, and engaged in assorting books. Afternoon much the same account to give until evening when I went to town accompanying the ladies of the family to the Theatre to see the representation of “the Stranger”. Miss Tree as Mrs. Haller. The Stranger was taken by Mr. Barry. This is a piece I never can see without feeling it.1 Indeed I am more touched by it than by any. If this is the test of a good piece it certainly is good, but I require rather more. I feel the inconsistencies in the character of the heroine, and the affectations of sentiment, it contains. Miss Tree’s general conception of the part did not in my judgment equal Fanny Kemble’s, although her execution of the details was occasionally better. The afterpiece was called “the Barrack room” a french vaudeville, resting upon the custom of Napoleon of infusing pedigree into his new Noblesse. The nature of Miss Tree, her most marked characteristic had a fine field here, and she succeeded in amusing us. Home by twelve safe and sound.


Earlier attendance at performances of William Dunlap’s The Stranger is recorded in the Diary in 1825, 1833, and 1834 (1:456; 5:70; 6:19). That in 1833 with Fanny Kemble and Charles Kemble in the leading roles remained in CFA’s mind as the one against which others were to be measured.

Thursday 7th. CFA Thursday 7th. CFA
Thursday 7th.

The weather we now have is remarkably fine. I remained at home all day engaged in pretty constant superintendence of the men who were at work upon the hill, they harrowed the ground over with very little apparent effect. I was occupied in staking out the lines of the road and walk this morning and they then began clearing them out. A little more finishing was also done to the banks which will now be sodded directly. I had time to read one hundred lines of the Iliad and this was pretty nearly the sum of my studies.

Read attentively the message of President Van Buren to Congress. This got to Boston yesterday in the short space of a day and a half.1 It 311does not appear to me a paper which would do any credit to a statesman, but it is well calculated as an appeal to the democratic principle which works wider and wider in our high places. He recommends a separation of the Government from all banking Institutions and an entire withdrawal of its agency in the matter of currency. This is coming back to the confederation. There is no knowing whether the people will or will not sustain these opinions, but I very much misunderstand them if they do one moment after they understand their practical effect.


President Van Buren’s Message to the Congress delivered on the 4th appeared in the Daily Advertiser on 7 Sept., p. 1, cols. 1–6, p. 4, cols. 1–2.