Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 2

27 June.

29 June.

[28 June.] CFA


[28 June.] CFA
28 June.

On Wednesday morning I called at Mrs. De Wint’s on my way to commence upon a course of salt water bathing which I took the opportunity of going through while at New York. Hoping to find it beneficial in my old complaint1 which however was more injured by my dissipation than any bathing could remedy. I found her well and after a dull quarter of an hour I returned. But the day had passed, and we had barely time to do more than just look in at Scudder’s Museum2 by way of omitting nothing that was to be seen, before it became time to go to the Play. We patronized the Park Theatre where Mr. Kean performed his favourite character of Richard. Owing to some slight misunderstanding previous to the commencement of the performance, occasioned by the announcement of the sickness and inability to perform, of some inferior actor, there came near being a row, many people thinking it was an excuse for Kean. He being a character not altogether to be depended upon, gave some color for their suspicion and I confess I was myself inclined to believe there was a trick. However after a few hisses and cries of Off, from persons who would not wait to see whether it was he or not, the audience settled down and listened throughout with attention. That there is something certainly original and striking in his performance I will admit, but notwithstanding I do not feel able to call him the Actor he is commonly thought.3

We reached the National Hotel at about eleven o’clock and instead of going to bed we commenced a scene such as Shakespeare might describe. I am scarcely disposed to say much concerning it but my Journal would cease to be worth conducting were I to avoid the singular portions of my life. Tudor called for more of the Champagne wine which was due and I nothing loth ordered it into our bed room. Boardman, Tudor, Richardson and myself constituted the company. I forget how much we drank but I recollect that our appetite grew with what it fed on and that we were suddenly stopped by the notice that we had positively drank the very last bottle of Champagne in the house. It was two o’clock in the morning and we felt that species 56of irritation which is so often prevalent when persons in the enjoyment of pleasure are suddenly checked by an unexpected stoppage in the power of obtaining the means to continue it. I was provoked, two of my companions were in a condition to be outrageous, and we resolved unanimously that if the wine was to be obtained in New York we certainly would have it. We accordingly sallied out, and after a variety of ludicrous incidents, imminent risk of transportation to the Watch House and a most ridiculous Supper in a Cellar near the Theatre, we obtained what we wished, returned and after another half hour’s inebriety we succeeded in getting asleep at about three o’clock in the morning, after a most ludicrous and agreeable evening.

I was the only individual who was entirely master of himself, and this I am not disposed to say when it is really not the case as former passages in my Journal will prove. Although very much exhilarated I was still in excellent condition to manage the rest and fortunate was it at one time or we should all have been consigned to the ignoble retreat of the watch house for the night. Indeed the only matter of surprise with me was that we should have done so much and received no intimation of a watchman. The fact was, I suppose that it was just at their drowsy time. An hour earlier and we certainly would not have passed with impunity.


Probably diarrhea.


CFA had also visited Scudder’s Spectaculum on the previous day (D/ CFA/1). Located on Chatham Street, it contained “a profile cutting department,” where visitors for a quarter could have paper “profiles taken with engraved dresses.” See Odell, Annals N.Y. Stage , 3:223.


One of the great theaters of the era, the Park Theater was located at Park Row, about two hundred feet from Ann Street (Hornblow, Theater , 1:247). Edmund Kean (1787?–1833) played his famous role of Richard III. He had incurred the wrath of Bostonians in 1821 when he refused to play before an empty house and was an exile from the English stage because of notoriously immoral conduct (Odell, Annals N.Y. Stage , 3:211, 178).