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Diary of Charles Francis Adams, 1862

Wednesday 30th

30 April 1862

Friday 2d.

2 May 1862
1 May 1862
Thursday May 1st



A gentle rain in the morning but it cleared most favourably for the Exhibition. the opening of which has been so long looked for. Soon after breakfast Mrs Adams, my Secretary, Mr Moran and I, dressed in my coat of mail went in State. There was a great concourse, but by the favor of diplomatic privilege we succeeded in getting into the building and reaching our places without delay. There were at once end of the edifice, the farthest off from that at which we entered. Close to the wall were arranged the army of instrumental and vocal performers. In front of them was a gilt chair typical of the throne, around which were placed several more chairs for the Commissioners. Around this as a centre were put chairs divided by radiating passage ways, to accommodate the Corps Diplomatique, the Queen’s ministry and household, the Arms and Navy Officers and the Municipal dignitaries. The rest of the arrangement designed for holders of season tickets I could see but little. The procession consisting of the Commission, the Duke of Cambridge, the87 Duke of Canterbury, the Lord Chancellor, the Speaker of the Commons Lord Derby and Viscount Palmerston came in procession at about one o’clock, when the ceremonies commenced. There was an address made by Earl Glenville on their entering the building which at our end we knew nothing of. Then came God save the Queen which was repeated at the end, with far more effect. Then an elaborate composition by Meyerbeer, called a march, then an ode by the Poet Laureate, Tennyson, then a march by Auber. All were very well executed by the myriad of people engaged in the labour, but I am not sufficiently versed in the science of musical composition to advance any opinion of their respective merits. To me the effect was of enormous labour to prudence great effects without corresponding success. The Duke of Cambridge then rose and declared the Exhibition open. On the whole, the complete performance of the programme in the presence of all there is of authority in England short of the Sovereign, may be considered a great feat. But to me the exception went far to spoil it all. Had the Queen been in the midst of her people, and Albert, the master spirit of the enterprise been there, how different would have been the power of the National Anthem raised by two thousand voice, and responded to by ten times as many loyal subjects in her presence. As it was, the Duke of Cambridge summoned no power by his name, and the hymn was no more here than if sung in any ordinary no power by his name, and the hymn was no more here than if sung in any ordinary Theatre. We soon afterwards left by the order that we entered, and the carriage passed through a crowd of spectators that lined the road all the way into Hyde Park and through it as far as the easter gate next to Apsley House. The absence was not long for we got home by half past three o’clock. We went by invitation to dine with the Marquis of Landsdowne. A small party, consisting of Dean Trench, Messr Hayward, Parizzi and another whose name I did not get, Sir Edmund and Lady Head, Mrs Ford. Lord and Lady Shellburne of course. The dinner was pleasant without being animated. The house is elegant has been in the earlier period of its present master the great centre of the Whig88 aristocracy and talent of the country. But the Marquis is now a man of eighty two, and infirm at that. And the day of that kind of society seems to be passing away with him. We took our leave in order to go to a reception at Stafford House, the residence of the Duke of Sutherland. There was a great crowd, consisting in the main of the dignitaries and spectators of the Exhibition. The interior of the house is the finest in London. Nothing has been spared that wealth could do. But the reception was much it always is, mechanical and heavy. I meet here the corps Diplomatique and other acquaintances, but plunging into such an assemblage, shows me how little progress I have yet made in acquaintance. We went through the suite of apartments and left to call at the Queen’s opera to take up the children who had gone to listen to Semiramis. We were in time to hear the last act while was well sung, if not with extraordinary power. Rossini’s music always charms me, as associated with my first impression of Italian music, and in this piece I am just in the stage when every repetition gains on my ear. We got home after midnight pretty well fatigued.

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=DCA62d121