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Diary of Charles Francis Adams, 1861

Sunday 14th

14 July 1861

Tuesday 16th

16 July 1861
15 July 1861
Monday 15th

I think this was the finest day I have yet seen. The air was clear and soft after a fresh morning shower. I was busy at home until noon when I sallied out in desperation to the South Kensington museum to see the collection of modern British painters. It is so large as to make it difficult even to glance through them. Here is the series of Hogarth’s pictures of Marriage a la Mode. Also Copley’s picture of the death of Chatham. Also several of Sir Joshua Reynolds, of Milson and of Gainsborough. But it seems to me that Constable has seized more of the character of English landscape than any other artist. Landseer is skilful in animals. Leslie in English life— There are a great many pictures of Turner which seem to furnish an example of the progress of extravagance. He played with colour until he conceived his incenses when he was in his last stage to depend upon prodigality of White, and gaudy and flaming reds. Some of Turner’s pictures in his second stage are very good. Those in the first are copied from Claude. It has been the fashion to exalt Turner of late years far beyond his deserts. On the whole the collection is valuable and suggestive. Three hours fatigued me and I went home to find my weekly despatches had arrived, and letters from my sons which absorbed me completely. The news is favorable so far as it goes. I think present difficulties with Great Britain are smoothed. I dined today with Mr Edward Ellice and a small company. Mr Greville, Count Flahaut, Mr d’Azeglio, the Marquis of Landsdowne, Mr Waddington, Mr Panizzi, the head of the British Museum, and M Merimée. Lord Lyndhurst was to have been there but could not come. Some tack about the Ministry. Lord Herbert is failing in health and must soon resign. Lord John Russell is announced as about to go up to the House of Lords. It is190 by no means clear who the successors are to be, and yet the necessity of getting strength in the House of commons grows more palpable daily. The decline of influence is visible in the fact that the ministers are left in a minority three times in four. Yet it is equally clear that the conservatives are in no condition to take Office. The truth is that the reform of the rotten borough system has changed the nature of government, by introducing an independent, popular element which neither of the old aristocratic combinations can command. We shall see more of this as time goes on. Mr Ellice is one of the managing members of the old Whig connection, who has grown rather tired of politics and yet knows not how t live out of the beaten track. From here, Mrs Adams called and took me tot he Marquis of Landsdowne’s where there was a concert. Quite crowded. Some good singing from Mario and Madam Grisi, but we left before it was over.

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=DCA61d196