Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 7

Sunday. 22d i.e. 23d.

Tuesday 25th.

230 Monday 24th. CFA Monday 24th. CFA
Monday 24th.

Morning cloudy with an appearance of rain which however was not realized. I went to Quincy early and found the men making progress in the different branches of the work rather more actively than heretofore. One day more would set the underpinning and another would probably lay all the bricks behind it. From thence I called to see Mrs. Adams and found her and John Quincy as solitary as possible and not over cheerful. I only sat a few minutes and then returned to the hill to give directions. But the rain appearing to threaten, I hastened home to town where I arrived before one.

Found things on the Exchange gloomy enough. Several failures today and the general appearance of things indicating a severe storm. Called at T. K. Davis’ where I found several young men collected and discussing these things.

Left them to return home and read Homer which I find gradually easier. I think now I am making more impression upon the language than I ever did before with all the labour I have spent upon it. My difficulty all arises from a bad Grammar originally which did not distinguish the rules of Greek composition from those of the Latin, particularly in that most important feature the prepositions. The Port Royal Grammar is now supplying that deficiency. Afternoon, Plutarch, and Agathon which still fascinates me.

Evening as my wife was going to a ball at Governor Everett’s in Charlestown to which I had no fancy, I thought I would visit the Theatre to hear the Watsons. The piece was the Pirate boy a sort of vamped up thing from the original opera of Bellini, with a variety of music interspersed by Mr. Watson, from the operas of Bellini, and from Rossini, Viviani, &ca. as well as some ballad singing of his own getting up. I never could much relish this hodge podge style, but I could not help noticing in all the pieces of Bellini the hand that worked the Somnambula. If that is always his style as a composer he cannot equal Rossini.1 With regard to the performance, Mrs. Watson as Clara made a very fat heroine, but she sings well, her voice being a high tenor. Her daughter who enacted Francisco, has much the same style with a lower voice and perhaps less power. Mr. Plumer as Captain Templemore has more acquaintance with music than he can give effective utterance to. They are all indifferent actors, and the piece went off heavily.2 Afterwards a Concert which was more effective. The Swiss airs were on the whole the best adapted to the two females. On the whole I was pleased, as I am almost always with music. The house was thin although a benefit night. Home late.

231 1.

Nevertheless, Bellini’s La Somnambula remained one of CFA’s favorite operas; see vol. 5:x–xi, and entry for 12 Nov. 1838, below.


The same principals had sung the same roles at the National Theatre in New York in January and February and would return there in May after their Boston engagement. Historically the production had some significance in that it was an early instance of the female personation of male characters (Odell, Annals N.Y. Stage , 4:144, 149).