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Diary of Charles Francis Adams, 1862

Saturday 15th

14 November 1862

Monday 17th

17 November 1862
15 November 1862
Sunday 16th

A fine, clear day and mild. Attended Divine service at the Chapel, where Mr Martineau preached a Semon aimed at the pantheistical theories of the day. It was good but more marked with his prevailing tendency to rarify his atmosphere of though. After service paid a visit to Sir Charles and Lady Lyell. Afterwards, I called to see Lord Lyndhurst, and was admitted. He looked more wasted than before, but seemed at active mentally as ever. Count Pahlen, a Russian diplomatic character was there. His Lordship began talking at once about American affairs in which he seems to take the greatest interest. Soon afterwards Lord Bingham, Mr Charles Greville and Lord Chelmsford successively came in. With the exception of Count Pahlen and Lord Chelmsford they are full upon me, discoursing on American affairs, as I have heard others represent that Englishmen do to them. I kept as calm as I could and parried the blows where I did not defend. An Englishman always takes his view from his own island as the standard of political excellence, and despises anything outside of it too much to think of trying to understand it. Here were some of the cleverest men in England lost in a maze about our elections, and disposed to construe every thing as chaos which does not assimilate to their parliament. Presently they all got tired of this.237 I ought to remark that Lord Brougham personally treated me with much more courtesy than ever before, and incidentally asked me why I was not at the Lord Mayor’s dinner last week, as if he had had an intention of some kind in connection with it. I am the more pleased in having escaped that trial. For his Lordship is not always judicious or happy in his public notices, especially since he has grown old. The three Ex Chancellors then began talking about Lord Westbray, the present Chancellor, and it soon became quite edifying to notice how keen was the enjoyment of every piece of calumny and detraction which each put in. According to them the head of the law had betrayed his incapacity in his late measures of reform of the law. And yet more he was a man who could not be believed in any thing he said. Indeed to such a degree was this time that the underlings in the offices of Parliament were always compelled to visit him with some companion as a witness in order to protect ourselves from the risk of misrepresentation. And yet these are the men who profess to be shocked at the laxity of the doings in America! Lord Brougham doubtless had his experience of the same kind from ex-Chancellors when he was in that Office, but it does not seem to have warmed his charity or prompted him to forbearance, Indeed this whole scene from beginning to end did not contribute to elevate my notions of the statesmen of Great Britain. I would not have missed it on any account. The talk then turned to the distress in Lancashire, when I seized the opportunity to take my leave. I forgot to mention a visit from Mr Lampson at noon. In the evening I got my Despatches, all of them more or less redolent of Mr Gladstone’s speech.

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=DCA62d320