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Diary of Charles Francis Adams, 1861

Sunday 17th

14 November 1861

Tuesday 19th

19 November 1861
18 November 1861
Monday 18th

The cold has been quite sharp for two days, the thermometer falling to eighteen degrees, which is as low as he have it in America around Boston in this month. But the sky was clear and the air bracing. Soon after breakfast Mr Denison asked me into his private room where we entered into conversation upon the present state of our affairs. He expressed great satisfaction with my speech and said that he had heard the same from others. The impression had become general here that the Americans were unreasonable in their anger with the government for the course they had taken in issuing the proclamation of neutrality, and it had led to a corresponding degree of indifference towards them. He had received a letter from Mr Everett which had so much embarrassed him tat he had not yet answered it, though some time had elapsed since. He then read it to me. The substance of it was the old complaint of precipitation in measures here before my arrival,and a corresponding opinion of the exaggerated tone of some of Mr Seward’s despatches. I then explained to him the true causes for Mr Everett’s ground of complaint, and also disavowed all belief in any intent on the part of Mr Seward to be hostile beyond the point to which it was his duty to object. I did not think there was any ill will on his part to this government. He had been the real author of my own appointment, and all my impressions were known to be favorable to the preservations of friendly relations. That there was in his papers an unconciliatory tone at times I did not deny. I could account for it only by the excessive amount of care and anxiety to which he had been subjected. I knew him well enough to say it was not his natural disposition. Mr D. said that he had not been aware of the facts I had stated, and he though at all events they furnished some colour for the position we had taken. At the same time he believed the ministry well disposed and that if mistakes had been made they were not intentional. I agreed with him in that opinion. The result had been unfortunately, for irritations had increased on both sides, until I could scarcely predict the issue. I then asked him as to the prospect of the ministry standing here. He said that it really rested in Parliament upon the sufferance of the opposition. He did not doubt that if all of them should write they could bring on the necessity of a change.288 On the other hand it was well known that a considerable class were very averse to the idea of disturbing Lord Palmerston. He was old and popular and enjoyed the confidence of the higher classes. An attempt to dislodge him might be accompanied with a dissolution of Parliament, a new election, and perhaps a distracted administration. Their policy was rather to wait their time. Lord Palmerston was now seventy seven years old, and though to all appearance sound, was subject to the change more or less speedy that attends such a time of life. His removal would open the way without a contest. Hence it was that the wise and the more prudent counselled patience. On the other side however, the young and ambitious and hungry were for precipitating matters, and perhaps an occasion might occur when the temptation to seize the prize would be too great for resistance. This seems to me a tolerable clear view of the case. I then left him. After luncheon, all the guests excepting Lady Percy and Miss Canning went over in a roomy carriage ten miles to Kelham, where Mr Mauners Sutton is erecting a very showy house in the place of an old Mansion lately burned. Mr Denison desired us to see it as a specimen of Mr Scott’s taste, an architect whose revival of the mediæval style has made some noise of late in this country. It is a huge pile, containing a very large number of rooms, and not a singly really effective one, at least to my taste. No suites, angles every where, columns to break spaces, and arches to darken windows. Outside one or two of the points of view gave pleasant effects. I cannot admire this style. The cost was estimated at first to be sixteen thousand pounds, but the opinion of the gentleman was that it could not be completed for less than eighty. Mr Sutton is not understood to be rich enough to live at the rate which such a structure will demand. Architects are such dangerous animals that next to gaming, I hold them financially in the greatest horror. We returned home to dinner several of the gentlemen getting out of the carriage to walk the last mile and a half. In the evening we were all assembled again. And the Speaker made up a Whist table for Lord Stratford and the Bishop against Mr Howard and myself. We played until midnight, and the Bishop even then showed signs of an inclination to go on. My loss this night was sixpence.289

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=DCA61d322