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Diary of Charles Francis Adams, 1861

Thursday August 1st

1 August 1861

Saturday 3d

3 August 1861
2 August 1861
Friday 2d

Warm but showery. My works was so well advanced that I had not so much pressure today, and all my papers for the mail were completed by two o’clock. I then went out in the carriage to pay a visit to Mr Forster and Mr Bright. The first was not a home, and the second had removed from his lodgings, so that I201 failed of seeing both. I then drove down to Westminster Abbey there to meet Mrs Adams and the Brookses for the purpose of seeing the edifice. Services were going on, and Mrs Brooks being afraid of the rain decided to go home. We remained through the service, and after it was over we went through all the chapels and cloister, and viewed all the monuments. The force of all this gothic architecture is to be found in the associations connected with it. The idea will present itself of the many generations who have successively lived and acted within these walls. Here was the Roman Catholic priest in all his glory. Here was the shrine of Edward the Confessor. Here reposed Edward the first and Henry the seventh. Then came the reformation and the consequent change of the ritual. The struggles which ended only in the expulsion of the Stuarts. The leading men of nearly a thousand years have come and gone through this edifice. Many of them are buried under it. All this give dignity to the long aisles and vaulted arches which does not belong innately to them. The very same thing in America would be only a cumbrous pile of stone and mortar. The collection of tombs did not impress me favorable for the vain distinctions of worldly rank were too strongly perceptible. Many who had the most elaborate and expensive monuments of brass and marble were not among the class who have left any other memories behind them. Whilst the distinction was by no means proportionate even in those who are remembered. The devices also are for the most part meaningless or presumptuous. They generally attempt things to which marble is not equal. The inscriptions are diffuse and pompous. Not more than three or four have any beauty. The Roman simplicity is much more taking. The decay of the stone of the building itself is perhaps as interesting as any single thing. We returned home before six and after dinner Mrs Adams and I drove to Thomas’s Hotel to sit with the Brookses. Mrs Brooks looks very feeble. Mrs Selden was there again. Home before eleven.202

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=DCA61d214