A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.

Diary of Charles Francis Adams, 1865

Thursday 20th

20 April 1865

Saturday 22d.

22 April 1865
21 April 1865
Friday 21st

Fine weather now. Mr Sturgis came with Miss Grew to get a passport for her on her return home. Sir Henry Holland called to leave a letter for Mr Seward. He expressed much doubt in the case of Mr Seward, mainly from fear of the concussion; so that he rather frightened me. I do not like to think of the consequences of losing him. With any body but the President, I should apprehend the possibility of my being called home, to fill the place, which with a chief like him would be by no means to be desired. If in public life at all, I am more likely to be useful here than at home. Dismissing that notion the real doubt is about the successor. It might be Mr Sumner or an inferior man, and thus unsettle all the foundations of the President’s policy. I will not cherish such forebodings. Wrote my private letters which took most of the day. Walk through the Regent’s Park to the top of Primrose hill. The sun is rapidly developing the young leaf buds, and the bushes and shrubs and trees are taking on that just deep shade of green which is the harbinger of spring. The house chestnuts are in advance as usual. The hill only showed the ordinary smoke and haze which invariable obscures London to a degree that nobody is conscious of whilst in the streets. Mr Alward dined with me, and we went to Drury Lane, where I think I have not been before. My object was to see the performance of Milton’s Masque of Comus. Previously to that however came a piece by Tom Taylor called the Fool’s revenge. The plot is258 is an intricate and a disagreeable one. A profligate Duke of Faenza, A person acting as his jester who had a bitter grudge against one of the nobles for carrying off his Wife, and therefore meditates a revenge by stimulating the Duke to do the same thing to him. Bu the has a daughter remaining, who by a course of accidents happens to be placed in the very room of the nobleman’s Wife on the very night when the jester facilitates the execution of the Duke’s scheme. All this is strange enough. But the issue is still more extraordinary. The Duke has the jester’s daughter in his power, when suddenly his very fierce and wicked wife turns up, and under the instigation of the Jester who all the time thinks he is revenging himself on his enemy the nobleman, concludes upon dropping poison into the refreshment which a page is taking in to the pair in the bedroom. Then comes the explanation to the Jester, and he discovers that he had revenged himself by destroying his own daughter. The doors then fly open, the Duke is seen dead, and the girl is brought out in her father’s arms to all appearance lifeless. But it turns out that she did not drink much of the poison, so she presently comes to life again— And so ends the play. Rather a heavy bunch of absurdities, committed for the sake of some dramatic effects through the Jester. Comus followed, placed on the stage with most elaborate and showy accompaniments. The scenery very exquisite. The Orchestra good, and the singing pretty effective. There is little in the piece, of action. The idea is single, and it is carried forward with that peculiarly rich elegance and majesty of rhythm which distinguishes Milton above all other English poets. Crowns was a man of great physical proportions, but in no way conceiving his character. And the rabble rout consisted of any thing but attractive men and still less pleasing women. The story is that of Circe, only changing the sex and making the tempted female, a type of purity. But if she could have been carried off her feet by the style of dancing and attitudes of the bacchanalians placed before her she must have been sensual indeed. How is it that English women never can dance or move with any of that fascinating and voluptuous grace which marks those of more southern nations? I have a dim recollection of seeing this performed here when I was a boy—and where through the apparatus was not so gorgeous, the female was more beautiful, Comus, more attractive, and the laughing chorus far more exciting. Home at eleven.259

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=DCA65d111