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Diary of Charles Francis Adams, 1863

Thursday 19th

19 March 1863

Saturday 21st

21 March 1863
20 March 1863
Friday 20th

I completed my private letters without difficulty today, executed the deposition for the Smithsonian fund, and received one or two visits. The increased length of the day now also brings my walk into light again, so that matters are improving again, so that matters are improving again in all respects but over all this grows a cloud hanging darker and darker from this country. I now begin to fear again that the peace will scarcely last six months. The last aggravation is the making of a loan of three millions sterling to the rebels, which the government has absolutely done nothing to discountenance. The temper of our people is already roused enough by the constant annoyance created by the ravages of the gunboat 290, not to have an additional spur to it from the prospect of a supply of money to fit out others. I suppose that it is in the providence of God to chastise us for sins of omission and commission during the last generation and we must bow in submission to the justice of the decree. In the evening at half past nine o’clock I went with Mrs Adams & Mary to what is called an evening reception of the Prince and Princess of Wales, on the part of the Queen. We went in full dress. As this a rather novel entertainment here at least during the present century, it may be as well to ascribe it. The Corps Diplomatique and Ministry assembled in the gallery. The doors were then opened, and we passed in order before the young couples, making our bows to them and to the circle around them including the Duchess of Cambridge and the Princess Mary as well as the parents of the bride. Then came a momentary dispersion during which we recognized our acquaintances. Presently an opening was made and the circle moved from this which is called Queen Anne’s room, through the next into the throne room, where was the Queen’s private band, playing a selection of good music. There were seats for the hosts, but none for the guests, not even the ladies of the Corps Diplomatique. In point of fact they were all scattered about, without order or object. Then came another more through the gallery320 into the supper room. By accident I got a hint in season and so managed to join the Court in that room before the doors were closed. Some of my colleagues were not so lucky. This was the only interesting part of the evening. The Princess having taken some refreshment, then came forward in the centre of a semi circle, and a succession of persons were presented to her. They consisted of the four ambassadors and their wives, and several Duchesses with a few numbers of her household. She acquitted herself very well. Her manner, simple, easy and above all, natural. I can scarcely imagine a more difficult position for a young and wholly inexperienced girl, now the object of general observation in every moment She looked much prettier than I had before supposed. The impression she made was universally favorable. The Prince on his part was easy in his manner of speaking to several of the ladies previously known to him. The scene was rather brilliant. Tables spread are three sides of the rectangular space. A mass of gold plate attached to the wall at the end, and reflecting the light of many gas jets. Above a number of bright centres of white light. Diamonds and gold lace in the usual profusion. Were I forty years younger, I should doubtless indulge some imagination about it. As it is, it looks more like vanity and vexation of spirit, the paraphernalia of a system which elevates a few at the expense of the many. Were my country only at peace, its simple Institutions and practical forms devoid as they are of all stage effect or artificial adornment seem a grander exposition of the dignity of a whole people. When the signal was given for the Prince to retire, we took a little refreshment, and gave way to the rest of the guests who were not admitted. We reached home at a few minutes after twelve. There was observable here as at Windsor the other day, the same general looseness of arrangement for the convenience of the Corps Diplomatique, which is not intended as neglect, but which is by no means conducive to their satisfaction in what is disagreeable enough at best, Court Attendance.321

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=DCA63d079