Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

Thursday. 18th.

Saturday. 20th.

71 Friday. 19th. CFA Friday. 19th. CFA
Friday. 19th.

Morning clear, but a cold, raw wind which as usual destroys all it’s charm. I went to the Office and was so much engaged in accounts that I did not read any thing. Mr. Degrand called in about the sale of some Stocks. Mr. Tilden about some shares in the Stock of the Daily Advocate to which I subscribed.1 This is in the nature of a joint Stock though not incorporated. It was a sum greater than I could afford to give, but I concluded it was better if possible to avoid the responsibilities of a partnership of this sort even at some sacrifice. I accordingly paid the money for the shares and immediately transferred the Certificate to the Directors.

Took a walk and did some Commissions. Among other things, bought some Burgundy. Just as we finished our dinner, my father came in just from Washington. He looks, I think somewhat weather-beaten from his Journey and rather thin from the illness of the Winter. But his health is better.

The Afternoon was taken up in Conversation and in the evening we went to the Theatre. The performance was Fazio, a play of Milman’s. Bianca, Miss Kemble. Fazio, her father. She did well, although the impression made by her was not nearly so great as in the Stranger. The piece is one of pretension, there is much straining for tragic effect without complete success. The auditor does not go with his endeavours. The last scene however was good. Afterpiece, the Boarding House—A poor thing.2 We were at home in good Season. And I retired at my usual hour.

1.

Perhaps Henry Tilden, printer ( Boston Directory ).

2.

Boston, by this date, was in a fever over the Kembles (Columbian Centinel, 22 April, p. 2, col. 3), who were experiencing a repetition of the ecstatic receptions they had had in New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington since their American debut in Sept. 1832 (Odell, Annals N. Y. Stage , 3:598–609). JQA, clearly animated by a desire to see this new constellation rather than by any fondness for the play, put aside the fatigue of his journey to become a member of the party: “Saw Milman’s Tragedy of Fazio; which I should not have thought anything could have tempted me to see. Charles Kemble performed the part of Fazio; and his daughter Fanny Kemble that of Bianca. They both pass here for first rate performers.... The Tragedy of Fazio, is very dull and flat; but yet much more supportable than I could have thought possible. The farce was called the boarding house—laughable; without much wit.” (Diary, 19 April.)

Of Miss Kembles’s Bianca on this occasion, a Harvard undergraduate remembering it sixty years later had a different impression: “We went out, transfixed with horror and fascination, into uttermost darkness, as when one passes an arc light on the road” (Henry Lee, “Frances Anne Kemble,” Atlantic Monthly, May 1893, p. 664). A portrait of Fanny Kemble as Bianca is reproduced in the present volume; see also p. ix–x, above.