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Diary of Charles Francis Adams, 1863

Tuesday 26th

26 May 1863

Tuesday 28th

28 May 1863
27 May 1863
Wednesday 27th

A lovely day. I was up early prior to our departure and tried a dip into the sea. The water was so cold I was content with a very brief stay. After breakfast we took our leave of this attractive place. I like it for its quiet and privacy. Our rooms were apart as much as if in a private house. This is just what we want when escaping from the din and turmoil of London. We got home by one o’clock, and I returned to my ordinary accumulation of labour. The Despatches are not numerous, but one of them was of interest to me as explaining the course of the government in answer to the representations made both by France and England about my letter. Mr Seward has labored to steer clear of difficulties all round, in the course of which he has shown a little of that moral flexibility which constitutes a defect in his character. Whilst he disavows my action, which was well enough, he disdains for me certain portions of it which I cannot even tacitly confine as true. His true course should have been to attribute the whole of my course to good motives at the same time that he relives the government from the necessity of raising a question in it with these wilful grumblers. The British Minister complains of me for meddling with trade because I give to an American Admiral an assurance that two Americans are on an honest voyage, even though friend in suspicions company. The French Emperor complains of me because I say I give the letter cheerfully, to persons going to carry arms to Mexico. Of course I must mean hostility to the French invaders. It is conscience that makes cowards of us all. He knew what I ought to feel as his outrageous proceeding, and so he read the expression of it in language in which I never thought to clothe it. Mr Seward has degraded himself, his country and me so far as to admit that such a construction was reasonable, and therefore to apologize for376 for it. In this he will not get me to join him. The only thing the whole affair shows it the readiness which both these powers betray to detect a cause of complaint with us. It was so in the case of the shutting up the harbor of Charleston, in the construction put on General Butler’s proclamation, in the appointment of Admiral Wilkes, and so it is now. The sense of our being in what they regard as inextricable difficulty, instead of prompting a generous construction of our action, stimulates them to take advantage of the opportunity. The most flagrant case of all is the construction put by Lord Russell in the President’s proclamation of emancipation. Such is English manliness! Such is English honesty! Looking back for two hundred and fifty years, what has America experienced from England that can earn for her one single tittle of honor or respect? France has done far better until she put herself in the hands of a selfish usurper who knows no other guide to his policy but the necessity of sustaining himself. The conjunction of two under present auspices is a misfortune to the world. It is not possible that it should attack the life of the Usurper. I took my usual walk in the direction of Messr Sotheby’s auction room where I examined a collection of coins to be sold this week. Mrs Adams and I dined with Sir William and Lady Martins. The company all new to me. Lord and Lady Mountgarret and daughter, Mr Greyson, Mr Vansittart, Mr and Mrs Painter and daughter, Sir Charles Russell and some whose names I failed to catch. The dinner was rendered amusing by Mr Vansittart, who gave us some insight into the politics of members of Parliament, of the so called conservative class. Acknowledging Lord Derby as his chief, he was at no pains to conceal his contempt for Mr D’Israeli as a parvenue. And his theory of obligation to sustain profligate jobs if granted by his own side furnishes a pretty commentary on the boasted purification of the British constitution. The pharisaic indignation which is vented here on people in the United States who are caught doing such things is among the amusing illustrations of the passions that now predominate in the higher classes. The family went on to a ball. But I walked home.377

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=DCA63d147