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Diary of Charles Francis Adams, 1861

Tuesday 18th

18 June 1861

Thursday 20th

20 June 1861
19 June 1861
Wednesday 19th

A lowering day but it cleared. We were all much occupied in the preparation of the necessary paraphernalia to appear at the Queen’s Drawing room. The uniform was at last donned, and made me feel pretty much as a man does who is about to rush upon the stage as Sir Peter Teazle or Count Almaviva. Mrs Adams had pretty much the same labor in assuming the sable weeds presented to the ladies or the court by her Majesty. At half past one o’clock we proceeded in carriages—towit, Mrs Adams and myself in the first, Mr Wilson and Mr Moran in the second, and my son Henry in a third. We reach St James’s palace in season, and were ushered into the antiroom where we found a great crowd of person in waiting. I was presented to several of the Ministry and of the Corps Diplomatique previously to the opening of the throne room. We then proceeded one by one in the order of precedence established by the rules, and made our bows to the Queen, whilst I presented Mr Wilson and my son. She did not look so well as she when I saw her before. She has nothing imposing about her, and she suffers by contrast with her husband, and the rest of the cortége which surround her. The process is brief and perfectly simple, so that there is much less of embarrassment than I expected. After we had passed through, it remained for us only to wait and see170 the process more deliberately. With the exception of Official characters almost the whole of the line consisted of women, of the different grade of nobility. Many of them were brides or persons married since the last Drawing room, others young girls just coming out into the world. These were dressed in white, constituting the only exception to the general mourning. As each of the person entered the door of the throne room her train was dropped and she swept along the circle formed by two rows of officers of the household until she came to the Queen before whom she made a profound courtesy, if young kissing her hand, and then curtseyed along the row of the Royal family until she departed down the other part of the circle. Her train was lifted for her and again placed on her arm when she sallied out of the other door. And this is all of the much courted honor. The dresses were all as handsome as money could make them, but the darkness of mourning took off all the brilliancy, ordinarily coming from colors and jewels. Here is the substance of monarchy. The throne supported by an Aristocracy imposing from its wealth, and by its association with the established ideas of the people. The main argument to recommend it is the stability which fixed notions give to a social organization. Law of some kind, commanding enough to secure unhesitating obedience. Thus far Great Britain has presented the most favorable illustration of this rule in a practical form. But it has not been without severe trials in the past, and the indications are not altogether decided as it regards the future. After the last lady had been presented, the Queen and her suite retired, and te Diplomatic corps were released. We went home and we were so fatigued as not to be of much use the rest of the day— We had declined several invitations to dinner and in the evening. But one of them I felt bound to accept. Lord Ashburton as the President of the Geographical Society had sent me two invitations. That for the 15th of May was so immediately after my landing that I overlooked the day altogether. So I made it a point to go tonight. The assemblage was slow in getting together. It consisted in a great part of men of the scientific class, and the spacious rooms were filled with microscopes and other instruments illustrating natural appearances. A good many ladies came in afterwards. A very fine collection of pictures amused me until I got sleepy and drew home.171

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=DCA61d170