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Diary of Charles Francis Adams, 1863

Monday 3d.

3 August 1863

Wednesday 5th

5 August 1863
4 August 1863
Tuesday 4th
York. Durham

In the midst of heavy rain I went with Brooks to take our last seabath at this place. There was no press, so that we had it pretty much to ourselves. The surf was a little heavier, and the cold rather less. After breakfast we set off by railway to York where we met with Henry just come from London with my Despatches and other letters as the rain held up we took advantage of the interval before the departure of the next train to go and view the much famed minister. The most marked characteristic of this edifice consists in its elegance of windows, and the free use made of the boldest printed arches. The exterior is imposing, but not to me more than the font of Peterborough or426 Wells. I should say the chief skill displayed is in the management of light, which at once gives relief to the ornamental tracery visible every where. The Chapter House is remarkable as dispensing with the supporting column in the centre commonly used in other cases. It is a great experiment, but in order to gain it much increased must be giving to the flying buttresses, on the outside. There are many monuments of archbishops, but none of much interested. They are not defaced so much as common. This was owing to the care of Sir Thomas Fairfax whose influence checked the puritan hostility. York is famous as the scene of many of the events in that great struggle. The field of Marston Moor is close by. We went from here to look at the remains of St Leonard’s Hospital and of St Mary’s Abbey. I also followed the course of the old Roman wall as far as Micklegate bar, a curious specimen of old feudal days. Who is there that is not glad to be rid of them; and yet the remnants interest us as pieces of a different world. Having thus improved our time we took the railway train to Durham which we reached in season to visit its cathedral. Its position is decidedly fine. It looms up fine and bold above the town that lies packed along the sides of ravine made by the river. The interior is equally peculiar and imposing. The nave lies between rows of heavy Norman arches formed of columns short and thick only two of which are alike. The effect is massiveness. At the end is a singular excrescence called the Galilee, the only thing of the kind I have yet met with. The windows are fine, especially that of the five sisters—but in this there is no comparison with York. There are fine cloisters. Here was the final resting place of Mr Cuthbert, whose remains travelled so far and wide before they got to it. Here lie the bones of venerable Bede. These names bring us well back into the middle ages, and all the surroundings go to make us feel it. Here was a shrine erect to Cuthbert, where people worshipped almost as if he were himself the Deity. Such was the faith of which this great edifice constitutes a durable monument. After examining this, we next turned our427 attention to the college, which occupies a position nearly as commanding as the cathedral. I tis now a place of education with about sixty students. The rooms are old and quaint, with some curious carved panels and some portraits of interest. The kitchen and refectory are edifying. Having thus examined these interesting relics we returned to the Country Inn, where we dined and lodged.

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=DCA63d216