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Diary of Charles Francis Adams, 1863

Friday 6th

6 February 1863

Sunday 8th

8 February 1863
7 February 1863
Saturday 7th

A fine day. My arrears in letters called for a large portion of the morning and my accounts which I am at last able to compare with a corrected return from my Bankers took more. At two I was at the Foreign Office to see Lord Russell by appointment. It was the first time since the indiscreet publication of my Despatches. and I was a little prepared to find him rather more reserved than heretofore. In his place I think I should have been so. But so far as I could see there was no difference. I first touched upon the case of the Scheld dues, a matter about which M Vande Weyer had jogged my elbow on Tuesday last. His Lordship explained what Great Britain had done, which as all I wanted to know. I then came on the case of the gunboat, No 290 and reported the answer to my letter and the instruction to ask him what amendments he might have to suggest to the Enlistment law. He said that since his letter the matter had been brought before the Cabinet, and the Chancellor had expressed the opinion that the present law was quite effective, since which he had no farther measures to propose. I then alluded to the intercepted Despatches, and the exposure which they made of the way the rebel emissaries abused the neutrality of this country. We talked of them and at last agreed that I should address a note to him on the subject. I next spoke of the President’s answer to the Manchester people, and the wish of Mr Seward that a copy of it should be shown to him before sending it. He glanced over it and said there was no possible objection and he took Mr Seward’s act as a compliment. Thus we got on very swimmingly. He said something about Admiral Wilkes and the report from Bermuda about him which he hoped were not well founded. I remarked on the unfriendly temper in that island, and doubted whether Wilkes after his last experience would be very soon anxious to repeat it. Thus passed the conference, as harmoniously as any of its predecessors. I returned home288 to go out in the carriage with Mrs Adams in order to commence upon the customary routine of visits in the ministry and household. We accomplished only a part today. I dined by invitation with the Lord Chancellor, Lord Westbury. A gentleman dinner exclusively, and rather a remarkable collection. Of the Corps Diplomatique only M de Bille and myself. Of the Church the Bishop of Oxford, and another gentleman whom I met long ago at Mr Senior’s, but whose name I did not catch. Chief Justice Earle, the Speaker of the House, Mr Spencer Walpole, Mr Collyer, Mr Kinglake, Lord Stanley, Sir Charles Eastlake, and many others whom I did not know. I sat on the left of his Lordship, and had another opportunity of observing the peculiarities of his character. He is a man of ability and of learning, but very vain of both. The only man I have yet seen in society who talks for effect and with marked egotism. Among other things he remarked, incidentally to a complaint of the decline of the study of Classics, that an ode of Pindar had been worth to him a thousand a year, This led to an explanation of his early struggle with poverty, of his going early to Oxford on the contingency of his obtaining a scholarship which he did, of his response at an examination to a call on him to translate a passage of Pindar by reading the whole Ode. Then how, after he went to the bar, when only of two years standing he had been selected to defend his College in an important lawsuit an account of the impression made on a person by his rendering that ode. How he had advised perseverance in the defence, contrary to the cause of his senior who had recommended a compromise. The cause was gained, and the consequence to him had been an income the next year from the practice of a thousand pounds. Hence his remark that an ode of Pindar had been worth to him a thousand pounds. All this was rather interesting to me as sharing one side of the British system of government. But it was all said in a spirit of self justification never visible in general society here. This is one of the courses of the great dislike entertained of him. Another and a deeper one is289 his alleged disregard of talk. This was the burden of the song among the Ex-Chancellors gathered together at Lord Lyndhurst’s. Whilst fearing his capacity and his rhetorical power the aristocracy look down upon him as in all other respects unworthy of their society. Whilst I cannot resist a feeling of distrust of the specious outward seeming of the man. I am not disposed so summarily to condemn him. We rose early from table, and went upstairs where was other company coming in. The principal people were the lawyers, and their wives. Sir Wl. Atherton, Sir Roundell Palmer and Sir Robert Phillimore. We, that is Mrs Adams and Henry who come in after dinner, and I returned home before twelve.

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=DCA63d038