A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.

Diary of Charles Francis Adams, 1863

Wednesday 16th

16 December 1863

Friday 18th

18 December 1863
17 December 1863
Thursday 17th

The American newspapers came in this morning and interested me deeply as usual. After I became engaged in writing and working so steadily that I wondered at the sudden darkness which had come on when it proved to be half past four o’clock. We had dinner at five in order that I might go with my son Henry to witness the performance of Terence’s play of the Adelphi by the boys of the Westminster school. It is just a year since I went to see the Andria in company with Sir Robert Phillimore, the Lord Chancellor and Mr Moreira. I had not the benefit of so much pleasant company this year. We got there too early, and among the guests whose number was not large I found only the Archbishop of Canterbury and Mr Milman whom I know. We went in as usual and took our seats. Every thing around looked just the same. The Prologue was tolerably done— Mainly a round of the loss of Westminster alumni during the year and the translation of Dean Trench, with an appropriate conclusion to the Archbishop, himself a boy who had once acted in the school, as Simo in the Andria. The performance was fair but not remarkable. The best part was perhaps that of Micio. Sostrata though small was good. On the other hand Dernea was only middling. Soschinus and Lyrus and Sannio either hard or over acted. There were emendations of the piece to make it more moral. Sannio was converted from leno into mercator and the psaltria was made into a freewoman and married to Ctesipho. All of which is directly in the teeth of Terence’s Prologue, which claims that particular portion of his play as its distinctive merit. This change, Mr Mure told me, was made in deference to the moral scruples of many. Some even objected to seeing the boys dressed as women. And this in a city which permits thousands of women to roam the streets all night soliciting men and boys with the most shameless effrontery: Which moreover tolerates newspapers that daily publish reports of actions of the most profligate nature committed daily in every point of the kingdom.522 Verily this is straining at a great and swallowing a cancel. The piece in itself is poor in plot. Its main interest is in the contrast of the two brothers and the effects of their opposite modes of education. There are fine passages of reflection, all of that tender and humanizing spirit which mark the taste of the poet. For in these he probably did no more than select from his Greek models. On the whole I think the Andria much the most complete drama for the stage. Yet there is enough of movement and humor in this to have made it popular. I am glad I saw it. After the play, there was an epilogue hitting off the city foibles, which was enough to raise a laugh. We returned to the Head master’s house where some refreshments were offered, and then drove home.

Cite web page as:

Charles Francis Adams, Sr., [date of entry], diary, in Charles Francis Adams, Sr.: The Civil War Diaries (Unverified Transcriptions). Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2015. http://www.masshist.org/publications/cfa-civil-war/view?id=DCA63d351