Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 6

Sunday. 22d. CFA Sunday. 22d. CFA
Sunday. 22d.

Snow and hail throughout the day with occasional thunder and lightning. The Winter continues with little abatement. I read part of Schiller’s William Tell. This appears to me a masterly performance. It throws you completely into a new land. It gives you new scenery, manners and modes of thought—The simple feelings of poor herdsmen, ennobled by resistance to oppression.

Attended Divine Service and heard Mr. Frothingham. Galatians 5. 14. “For all the law is fulfilled in one word even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” He considered this precept as affected by two opposites of doctrine upon morality—The one that all benevolence was founded upon selflove, the other, that none is valuable without total disinterestedness. Both these he viewed as erroneous and the precept as a medium between them. Philippians 4. 4. “Rejoice in the Lord alway.” The duty of cheerfulness under all the vicissitudes of life.

I did not succeed in a walk today so that for three successive Sundays I have failed in my walk which the severity of the Season did not deter me from. Read a discourse of Dr. Barrow. Titus 3. 2. “To speak evil of no man,” directed against the prevailing custom of harsh judgment. A very sensible Sermon and discriminating. Perhaps there is no habit more common in the world than this of censuring the acts and 102motives of one another—None from which it is so proper to desist, none into which it is so easy to fall. I do not like to make too rigid an examination into myself upon this subject. And yet there are few people against whom I bear any ill-will. And very few whom I censure unless I believe there is sound reason for it. Read Grimm and evening William Tell.

Monday. 23d. CFA Monday. 23d. CFA
Monday. 23d.

Cold and clear. The winter goes backward. I finished Wilhelm Tell this morning, and I have rarely read a piece which charmed me more. The keeping is so good.1 But there is a difficulty in the fifth act which must affect it as a representation. The interest is most wound up at the close of the fourth act upon the death of Gessler. So that the remainder is dragging. The acquisition of the freedom they fought for may be supposed as well as represented, and the introduction of an entirely new character in John Parricide as he is called seems to be without any adequate justification in the plot of the piece. Yet I will not criticize further a poem which has given me so much genuine enjoyment.

To the Office, where I was occupied in Diary and finished Diderot’s sketch of which after all I do not think much. It is curious to observe what a stress he lays upon Religion, in Education. Short walk. Home where I read Murphy’s Play of “All in the Wrong.”2

Afternoon attended a Meeting of Directors of Boylston Market. Dividend declared for next month, 3 per cent, the rest reserved to go on with the new Fishmarket. Remainder of the day passed in looking over plans and estimates with the Carpenters. This will cost a great deal. I am right in selling out. Home.

Evening went with Mr. Brooks to the Theatre to see Miss Jarman who is now here. Murphy’s Comedy of All in the Wrong. Lady Restless, Miss Jarman, Sir John, Mr. Ternan, Beverly, Mr. Barry, Belinda, Mrs. Barrett. The piece was well cast and performed in a spirited manner. A want of grace on all sides but otherwise very well. Miss Jarman is better fitted for Comedy than the tragic. But she is so masculine a style of woman that she never could make me feel much in any part. My impressions received at Philadelphia were confirmed.3 Home late.

1.

Thus in MS. Perhaps to be paraphrased: “The interest is so well sustained.”

2.

In vol. 12 of John Bell, British Theatre, 34 vols., London, 1795–1797, borrowed from the Athenaeum.

3.

See the entry for 20 Nov. 1834, above.

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