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Diary of Charles Francis Adams, 1861

Tuesday 14th

14 May 1861

Thursday 16th

16 May 1861
15 May 1861
Wednesday 15th



Feeling anxious lest the retirement of Lord John Russell might derange the rather informal arrangement proposed by him to Mr Dallas, I directed Mr Moran to send in the customary form my request for an audience of presentation. This brought me two replies, one from Lord John, and the other from the under Secretary Mr Hammond, confirming the appointment of Thursday at 3 o’clock for my presentation, and the latter notifying me that Lord Palmerston would act in the place of Lord John Russell. So that this matter is disposed of. I had visits from Colonel Fremont, Mr F. B. Crowninshield, and many other persons, some on business, others, of form. At noon I went out to execute some purchases, and incidentally to see a house in Cavendish Square that is to let. I examined it with some care. It is handsome down below, but he upstairs accommodation is poor and dirty. The situation likewise is139 represented to be remote from the fashionable circles. So I must look a little farther. The question of today is what am I to do about dress at Court. Mr Dallas has followed the example of Mr Buchanan, who obeyed the directions of Mr Mary when he issued the famous circular about the simplicity of dress. In other words he has appeared the only man of the entire corps Diplomatique in a plain black suit. Mr Dallas confessed to me that this gave him a painful degree of prominence from the contrast it presented. Yet he had worn it steadily from deference to the example of his predecessor as well as taste. On the other hand Mr Moran, the under Secretary, though not apparently found of much display, very seriously complains of the difficulties in which the legation is involved by reason of the adherence to a fancy that conflict with the prejudices of all those who attend the Court. It so happens that the ordinary black dress adopted is exactly that used by all the servants who officiate as butlers in great houses. The effect of this association among so formal a people is obvious. After reflecting upon this, and upon the peculiarity of my situation here in this time of difficulty at home I made up my mind that it is no time for indulging oddities of any kind. If gold lace and silk stockings recommend my country through me to the people who have any influence, more than a black coast and pantaloons I am for the former. For the rest, nothing can be much more unpalatable to me than to be so bedizened and masqueraded. I also know how the act will be represented at home, as the cropping out of any aristocratic tendencies. Personally the thing does me no good. On the other hand it amy give me more footing for the aid of my country here where aid is needed, so that all other considerations amount to nothing. In the evening who should come in from Paris but Edward Brooks to spend a day or two in company with my wife. We were delighted to see him, and only regretted he could not get into this house. it will cheer Mrs Adams to have the opportunity to talk over all matters with her brother. In the evening we had visits from secretaries Messr Wilson and Moran. The former is yet raw and inexperienced. But the latter is of great use to me. Indeed I know not how I should get on without him.140

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=DCA61d135