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Diary of Charles Francis Adams, 1863

Tuesday 3d

3 February 1863

Thursday 5th

5 February 1863
4 February 1863
Wednesday 4th

A mild, cloudy day. This morning I learned something about the house, which it sees formerly belong to Lord Holland, and was the resort of Fox, and Mackintosh and Macaulay in times of Whig association. It has since passed into the hands of the Duke of Bedford, but is leased to His Lordship for life. It is large, but old and cut up in a curious quaint way. Soon after breakfast a party and made up for us to go over and pay a visit to Woburn Abbey, the seat of the Bedford family. There are five old oaks in this park, but with the exception of this ridge, the country around is flat and uninteresting. Lady Wensleydale was a little touched with gout and was wheeled in to breakfast., so her going as intended was out of the question. He undertook to accompany us which gave me almost as much anxiety. At last Mrs Wortley, Miss Sidwell and us three were settled to make the party. The distance about seven miles. There is little left of trace of the Abbey, but instead of it is a very spacious mansion, the outside Architecture of which is not by any means so attractive as the interior. The Duke of285 Bedford is an invalid and has no affinity for the state at this place when full of company, or for its solitude when empty. So he lives in London all the year round. So we had access to the whole interior. There are many portraits of historical interest, and some fine pictures. But in the long line of Russell’s I found only here and there one worth remembering. There was Admiral Russell, and the martyr William, and there was the Duke of Bedford whom Junius attached in so ruthless a manner on the painful death of his son Lord Tavistock, and whom Burke scared so heavily in the day when he defended his own pension. My friend the foreign Secretary was also there not very like what he is now, but perhaps as good a representation of the race as any. The library is large and handsome, looks good but nothing rare. Then there was a gallery of sculpture by itself. Some nice things, but nothing that impressed me much. The Conservatory, the dairy and every other appendage to a place were in character, and all this conglomeration of luxury its owner dreads as a bore! Such is life. I think I should agree with him. The Estate are now large, and the rent rolls approach a millions of dollars per annum. But the Duke would live on a tenth part of it without grumbling. He is single and has no disposition to be otherwise. I confess I should fancy such a burden as this residence must be as little as he. We get back at or before four, and I then took a walk to a neighboring ruin, about a mile distant. It is represented to have been built in Elizabeth’s time. But when Lord Holland had the Estate he did not lie so near a neighbor, so he let it go to decay. It has the arms and the monogram of the Sidney family. A tall tree has grown in the midst of it, indicating a pretty long process of decay. The site is good, but he walls are rapidly giving. We had at dinner the same party with the exception of Mr and Mrs Alderson, another clergyman in the place of Mr Bentinck. Afterwards Lord Wensleydale insisted upon resuming cards, with a result not materially changed from last night. This was really extraordinary. We retired a little before midnight.286

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=DCA63d035