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Diary of Charles Francis Adams, 1861

Wednesday 20th

20 November 1861

Friday 22d

22 November 1861
21 November 1861
Thursday 21st

Mild and fine. My day was spent in preparing the draught of a note to Lord Russell The instruction I received was the one which he mentioned as having been read by Mr Seward to Lord Lyons, who of course retained a recollection of it. The common course would have been for me to copy it and send it to the Foreign Office. I have preferred to remould the substance, and to modify the argument, so that whilst losing none of its force, it might be stripped of some of its acrid character. If these difficulties end in a breach it is of the utmost importance that the record be clear. In the midst of my labours, I received from the consul at Southampton a telegram announcing that the rebel Steamer Nashville was just arrived there after having taken and burnt the merchant ship Harry Birch, whilst on its way from Havre to New York. Here is a sudden turn of the wheel of fortune, but291 to what consequences to lead is impossible to divine. The excitement in America, when the news gets out will be prodigious, especially among the merchants, and if the government here should persevere in its course of indifference, the demand for my recall will be universal. So I may as well be making preparations for that contingency. My reflections were all so much disturbed that I could do little more than prepare draft of the mere mechanical despatches. Before dinner Mr Morse came in, and then Captain Nelson, the master of the Henry Birch, whom the Consul had sent up to tell his story. As he went on with the detail of the capture, and the conduct of the master of the steamer my hope of extrication from this difficulty removed. I directed Captain Nelson to appear before Mr Morse tomorrow evening and make oath to the statement given this evening and to send it up at as early an hour as possible tomorrow that I might adopt it as the basis of a representative to Lord Russell. All this will require calmness and energy. Am I equal to it? For myself I feel no fears. I must save my country from getting embroiled here if I can; but the task is difficult. In the evening Mrs Adams and I went by invitation to Lady Palmerston’s. A few persons only, after one of her dinners. We had been invited to dine ourselves last Saturday, and are again invited next Saturday Evening. This civility is so significant that it must by no means be declined. I knew very few persons. Only the Marquis d’Azeglio, Sir Roderick Murchison, and perhaps one or two more. But strange as it may be, four or five persons entered into conversation with me without any presentation. Such a thing has not been known to me in England. I touched Lord Palmerston a little on the event of the day, and reminded him of the connection which the Nashville had with our former conversation. He seemed good natured and rather decisive to get information as to grounds on which to act. I told him that I should probably send in a note tomorrow. Home by midnight.

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=DCA61d325