A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.
close
-
The Adams Papers Digital Edition is undergoing active maintenance while we work on improvements to the system. You may experience slow performance or the inability to access content. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. We will endeavor to return to full capabilities as soon as possible.

Browsing: Diary of Charles Francis Adams, Volume 1


Docno: ADMS-13-01-02-0003-0011-0027

Author: CFA
Date: 1824-10-27

Wednesday. October 27th. IX.

Missed Prayers and recitation this morning, being too fatigued to rise early. I was accordingly not up until quite late. After breakfast however I attended Lecture as usual. He treated to day of Phalaris. The age of Phalaris is fixed at different times by different authors. He was a native of Astypalaea, a city of Crete or of one of the Sporades. He was driven from here for designs upon the Government and went to Agrigentum. Here he was more successful, for managing to form a party among the artificers at the head of whom he had been placed to direct the public works, he seized the Government. His severities have rendered his name a proverb for severity. The most common incident is that of the brazen bull which an artist brought to him according to some, as an exquisite specimen for torture; according to others he caused it to be made. At any rate, he tried it first upon the artist. The accounts of this affair vary considerably, but we can not conclude very favourably as his character was certainly not remarkable for humanity. He sent this brazen bull to Apollo afterwards. He extended his government and patronized letters, in his reign of 28 years according to some, eighteen, to others. He perished at last in an insurrection of the citizens; it is impossible to say how deservedly. One hundred and forty-eight letters are ascribed to him. Their merit is as much questioned as their authenticity. Ancient authors are by no means distinguished for the striking display and contrast of character in this book, which has been praised but which at the same time is an argument against their authenticity. The authenticity of these letters has been the subject of a celebrated controversy in England. It is put down in the synopsis as much at length as Mr. Everett delivered. Indeed I have nothing more to put down concerning this discussion. It has been settled pretty { 426 } decidedly in favour of Dr. Bentley. I have made a mistake in placing this Lecture under this day as it ought to give way to the conclusion of Aesop. I have been absent from town, and in making up the days shall be compelled to fill up tomorrow with today’s lecture. After Lecture I returned home and was obliged to amuse myself in writing all the morning. I then attended Mr. Farrar’s recitation and was called upon. I did not acquit myself very remarkably well but that is frequently the case.
After this was over, I returned home and the rest of the day was employed in a variety of ways. I studied my lesson in Paley this afternoon with much attention and was taken up. I did very well. After Prayers, as I understood, Miss Kelly,1 a new actress had arrived and that the School for Scandal was to be the play, I went to Boston with a party of Students composed principally of our society. I had a difficulty concerning my ticket as I was turned out of my regular box and was obliged to take a distant one. On the whole however I incline to think it improved my enjoyment as I understand there was a great deal of prompting—the play is a new one on these boards and the parts must therefore have been committed lately. The play is such an admirable play that almost any acting will carry it through and this was by no means bad. Miss Kelly took the part of Lady Teazle and performed pretty well, not that I do not think she could have thrown a little more variety in her manner, but she had some knowledge of style, her appearance is rather commanding for a woman of fashion and she has some dignity. Mr. Finn was excellent as Sir Charles Surface. He has made himself a very good comic actor and has been sufficiently wise to drop tragedy almost entirely so that now he is quite an attraction for the Boston stage. Mr. Kilner2 also was very exceedingly good this Evening, he mouthed less and repeated less than usual. But Mr. Clarke3 except in one scene, made wretched work of poor Crabtree; he mistook the part altogether. On the whole however, although the scandalous circle was very much below mediocrity, I was extremely gratified with the play and have scarcely ever been to the Theatre when I received more pleasure. The afterpiece was the Romp.4 Mrs. Henry played the part of Priscilla Tomboy and any thing is good coming from so beautiful a woman. I can hesitate but little in giving her the decided palm over every other woman I have ever seen. As something quite uncommon, Richardson was of our party tonight. We supped at the Marlborough where I heard an amusing conversation concerning politics, at present raging. We then returned home and Chapman and Richardson spent a little while at my room before we retired. XII.
{ 427 }
1. Lydia Kelly, the English actress, was “a reigning sensation of the American stage” (Odell, Annals N.Y. Stage , 3:138).
2. Thomas Kilner, generally considered an “admirable actor” (same, 3:120).
3. John H. Clarke, who played secondary roles (same, 3:53).
4. A musical entertainment in two acts, altered from Love in the City, by Isaac Bickerstaffe.