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Diary of Charles Francis Adams, 1861

Tuesday 26th

26 November 1861

Thursday 28th

28 November 1861
27 November 1861
Wednesday 27th
Fryston Hall

Variable weather with showers, but clearing at night. We have not been lucky in the matter of outdoor exercise in our country visits. A very pleasant breakfast in which our host showed his sprightly conversation. Anecdotes of Lord and Lady Holland, and of Lord Campbell’s Lives of the Chancellor’s, very well told. Mr Venables contributed to it, but not genially. Soon afterwards Lord and Lady Wensleydale left us, much to my regret. I was busy writing to Mr Everett, and I read a little book of Diary of Mrs St George, published by her son Dean Trench, which contains an amusing account of Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton at Dresden. One reference is made to my father when at Berlin. Many of the persons and some of the incidents are familiar to me from his Diary too.296 As it seemed to clear after luncheon, we made up a party to visit the ruin of Pontefract castle which is only two or three miles distant, There were about seven of us in carriage and two walked. Just as we got to the gate it began to drizzle so as materially to impair the comfort of our visit. As I was entering, a telegraphic despatch was put into my hands from Mr Moran, announcing the startling news that Messrs Slidell and Mason had been taken by force out of a British Steamer in the West Indies by one of our steamfrigates. The consequences necessarily rose up very vividly at once in my mind, and prevented me from thinking much of the historical associations connected with this ruin. Little of the castle remains except the round towers and a remnant of the room where Richard the second is said to have been killed. Many of the nobleman engaged in the wards of the roses perished here, and in the later civil convulsion this castle was besieged two years by Cromwell and the Puritans before it surrendered. As it was we paced over the relics in which is now planted an orchard, and where uncommonly luxuriant root is grown. There is still left in the circular tower a stair leading down to a small space supposed to have been used as a dungeon. If so, mercy could scarcely have been one of the virtues of that day. It was growing dark and rainy so we hurried away. And as the carriages when covered could only accommodate the ladies conveniently, the gentleman walked back. This gave me much opportunity to talk over with Mr Forster all parts of the record of the last six months, how I had seen this breach slowly but certainly widening from the first moment when Lord Russell made his wrong departure, without the power to check it more than for a moment. As to this last step, it might probably be justified on the doctrines of Great Britain, but in my opinion, that would scarcely make up for the loss of the popular sympathy in England which follows feeling rather than reason. On the one side would come an excitement in regard to the burning of the Harry Birch, on the other, this unfortunate affair. Between the two the voice of argument would be utterly lost. Mr Forster seemed most anxious297 in regard t the rights of the case, a matter to which I attach importance only as a historical question, whilst the immediate result weights paramount in my mind. We had a very dark and muddy walk home. The company consisted at dinner, of Mrs Ramsden and Sir John, of a Mr Lashington, a new comer, and of Messrs Hague and Wood from the neighborhood. Mr Hague after dinner get talking about our tariff. He is a manufacturer at Haddersfield who has lost a good deal in the present troubles, and feels disposed to consider this the great cause of grievance, in America. I tried to explain the facts as I think them. But men dislike to be convinced when it conflicts with their interests. This is the first time I have discussed any questions of the kind in a mixed company, and I regretted that afterwards. The evening passed off pleasantly. Mr Milnes sang a droll song, and there was a game of whist, Mrs Adams playing in my place.

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=DCA61d331