Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 6

Wednesday. 19th.

Friday. 21st.

Thursday. 20th. CFA Thursday. 20th. CFA
Thursday. 20th.
Philadelphia

I was early roused and on my way to the Steamboat—Leaving Baltimore behind me without regret. A city which I never could much admire. We started in the Independence, and were about seven hours in going to Frenchtown. I was fortunate in meeting again with Col. A. P. Hayne who continued his civility to me, and who introduced me to Captain Kearney of the Navy, a discontented officer. There were one or two others who made a party in the railroad car, and the very fluent conversation of the Col. made the hour pass away like nothing. At one we found ourselves at New Castle and before four o’clock I was safely housed at the United States Hotel, a house I do not admire and which I would not go to for any other purpose than as a mere shelter for the night.

19

After looking over the Newspapers and taking tea, I went out and got myself put in order to attend the Theatre. The piece was that of “the Stranger,” Mrs. Haller by a certain Miss Fanny Jarman who has come here to be a star on the strength of a paragraph from Blackwood in which she was brought in to make the last in a trio of Fannys now on the Stage, Miss Kelly being the first and Miss Kemble the other. She is a tall, full formed woman with a masculine manner, or rather what the French call prononcée, and a “taille si arrondi” that the idea crossed me she must be in a relation somewhat intimate with Mr. Ternan who plays every where in her company. Mr. Sheridan Knowles has since informed me that they are married.1 With these unfavorable prejudices from her first appearance, I was yet quite pleased with her performance. It wanted the power and the pathos of Miss Kemble which drew tears from all eyes not excepting my own. Yet it was not bad, there was no vicious taste, no catches for applause, and the last scene was decidedly moving. Mr. Ternan performed the part of the Stranger, but he was not a fit successor to Charles Kemble. There was a grace, a quiet dignity of offended sensibility about the performance of this part by the latter person, that I do not believe can be surpassed. It was just the height to which this actor can rise. He wants the power of great genius but in the knowledge of true taste he is accurate.

I was in the dress boxes tonight and disappointed that they were not more brilliant. The Theatre is however a poorly constructed one for effect, nor does it seem very well supported. An Afterpiece from the French called the Bold Dragoons of some humour closed the Entertainment.

1.

Mr. and Mrs. Ternan, he from Dublin she “from Covent Garden,” were making their initial American appearances in Philadelphia. A brief engagement in New York in December and January was a failure, and they did not thereafter return (Odell, Annals N.Y. Stage , 4:13). They did, however, have an engagement in Boston, where CFA saw them again on two occasions; see below, entries for 23 and 27 March 1835. CFA’s comparison of their performances with those of the Kembles seems to have stemmed from the heavy reliance in the repertories of both companies on the plays of Sheridan Knowles.