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Diary of Charles Francis Adams, 1863

Thursday 6th

6 August 1863

Saturday 8th

8 August 1863
7 August 1863
Friday 7th

The weather was less promising today. We had fixed upon it for an excursion to Melrose Abbey and Abottsford, so that we did not choose to retreat. Accordingly we all went but Henry who been formerly. The railway carriage brought us about forty miles to Melrose, where we took a carriage for Abbotsford, four miles, stopping on the way to see the Ruins of the Abbey. They much exceeded my expectation both in regard to completeness and to the preservation of the details. In substance, all these old Abbeys are much alike. But there is a difference in the elegance of the details. I have nowhere in England seen such exquisite tracery. The stone itself seems of much better quality, in many parts showing little or no change by wear. The photograph shows but one side, and not the most graceful. After half an hour passed here we went on to Abbotsford, the house Sir Walter Scott fashioned for himself in the days when his literary success had turned his head. He paid dearly for the folly in his last years, and he leaves the place during the season of sight seeing. I have no admiration for Scott. He was a Tory in politics, and falsified all the history that he touched— He magnified a past age for merits which it did not possess, and infected youth with the spirit of admiration for persons who are not deserving of it. Yet he has430 done for Scotland what Homer did for the plains of Troy. He has invested it with a practical and romantic charm which actually belong neither to the country nor to the people. His Highland heroes were actually a set of cruel, barbarous, and thievish adventurers, dirty in their habits and vulgar in manners. Yet he has made Scotland what it never was before his time a spot for pilgrims to visit in search of the many spots to which his pen has given a mystic charm. This house is his monument which multitudes from all lands, flock to view every year. Every thing is left pretty much as it was at his death. It has become a museum rather than a residence. We saw his books, the presents made him in his lifetime, his curiosities, and even his last clothes, and then took our leave. Another drive of five miles took us to Dryborough in the ruins of which Abbey he was buried. This is evidently the remnant of a much larger establishment than Melrose. I was less struck with it, and the visible approach of rain made me anxious to get away. Neither was my fear illfounded. For the drops began to fall before we could cross the steam on the other side of which we had left the carriage, and it continued to drive hard until we reached the first railway station at Newton. It then cleared and we returned without further incident to a late dinner at home.

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=DCA63d219