Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5



“The Remarks of My Grandfather upon ... the Plays of Terence, Made for Myself and Brothers Many Years Ago ... Are Not Particularly Striking Yet Somewhat Characteristic” facing or following page 212[unavailable]

In August 1816, impelled by word that his grandson George Washington Adams was to take part in a school production of Terence’s Phormio at Ealing near London, and that John Quincy Adams’ other two sons were studying Terence’s six comedies, John Adams undertook to read them anew. Having done so, he wrote successive letters on each of the plays to his grandsons, some jointly some severally, accompanied by lists of passages from the plays he considered significant, translations of the passages, and, in a number of instances, commentary on them (Adams Papers, M/JA/9.4; Microfilms, Reel No. 188).

Charles Francis Adams, coming to a rereading of Terence in January–March 1834 (p. 253, 279–280, below), underlined in his copy those passages which his grandfather had noted in four of the plays, entered the translations and observations with John Adams’ initials in the top and bottom margins, and on blank pages at the front and back of the volume included the texts of two of the letters. To his grandfather’s opinions he sometimes appended his own comments, modifying or disagreeing with John Adams’ views. The volume thus annotated, a London, 1825, edition, is one of thirteen copies of Terence’s plays now in the Stone Library at Quincy.

Courtesy of the National Park Service, Adams National Historic Site.