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Diary of Charles Francis Adams, 1864

Friday 19th

19 February 1864

Sunday 21st

21 February 1864
20 February 1864
Saturday 20th

The state of my mind is now somewhat peculiar. With much fewer causes of real anxiety than I have ever had since I came here, it seems as if cares oppressed me of a vague and indefinite nature more than ever. Not much work today so I went out to examine once more the effects of the late Lord Lyndhurst. There is a good deal of valuable plate, but on the whole nothing except the little picture that I should care to possess. On my return I found Mr Scott Russell had called. He promised to come again at half past four, when I saw him. I read to him very carefully and slowly the letter of Mr Seward. He seemed a good deal impressed by it. He said that it was quite as favorable as he expected. But it had raised his opinion of the President from the simple and truthful earnestness displayed in it. I pointed out to him the extent to which it varied the topics of our past conversation. Mr Russell said that he was not discouraged from proceeding farther. The only difference was that he should change the form of his propositions. I replied by observing that as matters now stood, the first step must be taken by him. I could only suggest to him that two points must be settled before my government could go further. First, they should have some assurances of the responsible character of the parties behind him. Secondly, their project whatever it might be should take some consistency on paper. I was convinced that the only practicable way to reach a result would be through voluntary withdrawal of the several States. They had reserved a right to do this when they entered the new association. Their retreat would at once dissolve the bond and dissipate the organization founded on it. Mr Russell said that his friend had already all the authority which the combined assent of the confederate people in Europe could confer. But his friend would be ready at any moment to go to America and make his application to the respective States. Pending this, and the refusal of any armistice, I could not expect any attempt to dissolve the only organization which could act in their defence. The first thing to be done was to be sketch some outline of proposals. He was sensible of the necessity of doing so immediately. He intimated that he had already been at this work. But it must now be adapted to the new light afforded by the answer.578 I offered to supply him with the chief topics of Mr Seward’s letter. He said that if I meant him to use them with other parties, he thought it would be better not to have them. Perhaps they might compromise me. I explained that what I meant was not to furnish extracts totidem rebis, for such use as he referred to, but to give him the ideas in an abstract form for his special use in attempting to adapt his own to them. He said in that shape he should like them. He should endeavour to be ready with the result by the end of next week. He then took his leave. We all dined at home Four of us went to Lady Palmerston’s. A large assemblage with a much smaller proportion of my acquaintance. Lord Palmerston seems to hold up very well. He is less broken than he looked a year ago. He is now in his eightieth year. At one time I thought it would be better for our interest in America that he should go out. Of late, I have changed my mind. The Ministry have now gone as far as any Ministry would be likely to do. With tolerable good future we may be able to go safely through the crisis with them. As I was going, I passed Mr Villiers, and spoke in a light jesting way of the rumor that France had proposed to restore the intents cordiale, under the condition that it should comprehend recognition in America. He replied that they were now further from the idea. Theistone was lower than that of the public. Home at midnight.

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=DCA64d051