Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 5

Monday. 5th. CFA Monday. 5th. CFA
Monday. 5th.

Morning pleasant. I was engaged for some time in disposing of the various little matters that have accumulated upon my table during the past winter. Office, where I finished the Leases which I had engaged to draw out for a new Tenant at Quincy, and read a little of Mr. Jefferson’s second volume. Walk.


Afternoon. Began Mandeville’s Fable of the Bees. A curious production which manifests the curious mechanism of the human mind, working to paradox as well as truth. The argument is ingenious though every thread of the web is rotten. Ovid, Dido to Aeneas, not so much to my fancy. Ovid has a style which requires familiarity with it to be easy.

Evening. Theatre. A new opera, by Auber. Fra Diavolo.1 An Italian Bandit disguised as a nobleman pursuing an English Milord with his Wife and plenty of Money and Jewels, travelling for pleasure. He is finally caught by stratagem. Mr. Wood was the robber. Mrs. Wood, the Innkeeper’s daughter through whom the discovery takes place. The Music is lively, a little in the ballad way with occasional bursts of harmony. The Woods sing and perform almost equally well. His soft notes are perfectly enchanting, while her complete management of her voice and powerful compass give the requisite brilliancy of execution. We retired much gratified. It rained hard and we were caught. Luckily I could procure a Carriage. Home not very late.


Not strictly a “new” opera, Fra Diavolo had been introduced in New York by Mrs. Austin in June 1833; its first appearance in the Woods’ repertory was in November of that year (Odell, Annals N. Y. Stage , 3:624, 661). The present production promised for the first time all the original music without abridgment or mutilation (Columbian Centinel, 26 April, p. 2, col. 6).

Tuesday. 6th. CFA Tuesday. 6th. CFA
Tuesday. 6th.

Heavy rain in the morning, and thick weather all day. I was engaged in details much of my morning, preparatory to change of residence. Took an Account of my Wine of which I have far more than I know what to do with. Arranged my papers &ca. At the office where I read very quietly some of Jefferson’s Correspondence. One rigmarole Letter to a lady in the shape of a Dialogue between his head and his heart is a very curious specimen of gallantry of the heavy style.

Home. Afternoon, continued reading the Dissertation of Mandeville. As singular as any thing I ever knew. Ovid also, Hermione to Orestes. Evening finished Miss Edgeworth’s Belinda. The catastrophe is disfigured by one or two awkward incidents. The idea of a girl’s being in love with a picture is not a natural one. And the calm philosophy with which Belinda passes herself over from one betrothed to another, though it may be reason, is repugnant to the feelings.

My wife took tea with Miss Carter and I went in the evening. Two Miss Sigourneys from Hartford, Miss Julia Gorham and her brothers. Tedious. Returned at ten.