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Diary of Charles Francis Adams, 1862

Friday 12th

12 September 1862

Sunday 14th

14 September 1862
13 September 1862
Saturday 13th
Norman Court

Norman Court is a favorable specimen of an English country seat. The house is convenient and spacious, whilst the guards around it are laid out with great elegance and good taste. The Estate comprises about eight thousand acres and is distributed in all the varieties of woodland, arable and grass. The greatest ornament are superb beeches, and elms, growing down to the ground and collected in clumps, or else in avenues on the approach. All this is highly artificial but it wears the appearance only of polished nature. The want here is of water, and of a little bolder landscape. Mr Lear is an artist, and this morning he kept us all interest in showing a long series of water colour sketches of scenes in Egypt and Palestine, and Italy and Corfu, which he has employed much of his life in taking. Afterwards a party went out and rove to a neighboring place to see a country house in a state of dilapidation. It seems that this Estate once belonged to Lord Rolle, the hero of the Rolliad. At his death it was sold to Sir Isaac Goldsmith who intended to reside in it. But it so happened that he went to take possession, just at the movement of the popular commotion about he reform bill, which manifested itself in an unpleasant form of demanding meat and rink at his place. He set off to197 London directly afterwards, and never resumed his residence. The house was then taken by a humorist by the name of Yates I think, a single man who chief amusements were to fight cooks in the parlour, and to encourage rats in the dining room for the sake of exercising himself and guests during dinner in shooting them with pistols. The effect of this may be imagined. And now Sir Francis Goldsmith who was inherited the property finds it not worth repairing. There were traces of old carving and of marble and oak ornament which it seemed a pity to suffer to fall into decay, but on the whole it looked gloomy and had no merit of site to recommend it. There is a very remarkable avenue of yew trees, which are very old and striking but which do not add to cheerfulness of the scene. Indeed as a general thing the appearance of these great country Estates is lonely and sad. I can understand the reason why they keep up such a round of company in them. We then drove around the chantry, which is rural and pretty, mainly in consequence of the beech growth. In the evening the company all met again—those who had been out shooting, and those who had been driving. We had some songs of Mr Lear, some of the party played at billiards and some at conundrums. And we separated at half past eleven.

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=DCA62d256