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Diary of Charles Francis Adams, 1861

Wednesday 3d.

3 July 1861

Friday 5th

5 July 1861
4 July 1861
Thursday 4th

A cloudy anniversary in more senses than one. On Tuesday I received an invitation to attend a breakfast arranged by several american in this city as a celebration, but I had some time since accepted an invitation to go to Harrow, and therefore I sent an excuse. I was not sorry for it as I have profound distrust of the judgment of the floating American population in Europe. Many of them are mere adventurers, who always push themselves into the greatest prominence, to the exclusion of more worthy but more modest citizens. I went to Harrow in the cars from the North Western Railway Station, walking from the place of arrival about two miles to the site of the school on the hill. At the door of the head master’s house I met the archbishop of York who greatly aided me in getting to my place in the hall. There was little method or order in the crowd jostling to get in, and when that is the case my chance is not great. In the centre of an ancient and narrow hall was a table around which were placed a row of about a dozen seats reserved for the invited guests. Here I found Lord Palmerston,181 Lord Clarendon, Lord Wensleydale whom I knew, and others whom I did not know. Directly in front of this table was a small circle of young men, and a small platform between, on which they were to recite the parts assigned them. Upon the table were the books and medals to be assigned to the respective youths as prizes. The exercises were generally good without being remarkably well delivered. Some of the prize essays were printed in a volume which was distributed, as only passages were read or delivered memoriter. One or two of them are very creditable. The most distinguished is Mr Ridley who took six prizes, a great cause of honest pride in Lord and Lady Wensleydale, the grandparents. At the close there was delay and confusion in the midst of which we were jostled into a straggling procession in the rain, and made our way to a place where the corner stone of a new library was to be laid by Lord Palmerston. In America we manage all the detail much better. Head master Butler presented a silver trowel to his Lordship, and he then made a speech after his fashion. The manner and matter would scarcely have passed muster with us; but it was immensely cheered. We were then ushered into the new chapel which is neat and pretty gothic. From thence the company went to lunch at Mr Butler’s, but the delay had been such I was obliged to leave in order to reach the return train. I walked down and got back to my house at half past five— I had a quiet evening— And thus passed the day.

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=DCA61d185