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Diary of Charles Francis Adams, 1864

Tuesday 5th

5 April 1864

Thursday 7th

7 April 1864
6 April 1864
Wednesday 6th

It had been announced a few days ago that the Queen would hold this day what is called a Court, to see the Corps Diplomatique. Last evening at about eleven I got a note from the Lord Chamberlain signifying that the Queen was slightly indisposed and hence the Court would be put off until Saturday. This morning, there appears in the Times a notice very evidently official that the Queen cannot do all that is expected from her in running the customary State ceremonials. It is scarcely to be doubted that her mind is a little moved from its balance, and that this disturbs the regular action of the State machinery. I was much engaged today in writing letters. One to Mr Underwood, the Consul at Glasgow who is meditating some very absurd action— Lehaise, a circular to the few Irish Consuls to guard them against running at the enlistment of Irishmen under the plea of emigration. A little of men’s matestro 624 after which I went out and took a long walk. Mrs Adams with Mary and I dined Mrs Darby Griffith. A large company of whom I knew very few. M and Madame and Miss Musurus. Lord Thurlow, Lord Wicklow and Lord Twinleston were all with whom I made acquaintance. The second reminded me of meeting him at Mr Senior’s, the third at Lady Georgiana Fane. I had forgotten both. The dinner was dull. There was a reception afterwards. Mrs Griffith always sits down in the easiest way and plays on the harp for the amusement of her guests. A mistake, I think, for those who have dined at least. The mode of entertaining is always ponderous in this country because the people are not at home in society. Music in oppression to them, and yet the alternative is to shake hands and to talk about the weather. We left early to go to Mr Gladstone’s, where was a pretty full assembly. I there learned that the Lords Court of Appeal had given its decision in the case of the Alexandra, denying the Appeal. The Government is then thrown out and the vessel is released with costs. A curious illustration of the absurdity of the law, as preserved in this land. A foolish old Judge of eighty two charges a jury so strongly in one sense that they bring in a verdict forthwith, as they suppose him to mean. Six months afterwards the government officers propose to carry the case up on a hill of exceptions against his ruling, and he declines to sign it because he aves that he ruled exactly as they said he did not. Hence there was no appeal in this way. To remedy this a special rule is made to meet the case, and thus get it up to the higher court. As soon as it gets up an objection is made to the right to make such a rule. The Judges divide in opinion, but a majority sustain the objection. The crown appeals once more from this decision. The House of Lords divide again, but a majority deny the appeal. Thus though the ordeal of all the Courts passes a question in safety originally decided by a Judge who makes a Jury to understand the law precisely the contrary to what he says he meant. Glorious perfection of human reason, immortalized by Coke and idolized by the worshippers of tradition and safe precedents! From there to Lady Waldegrave’s. Met there Lord Wensleydale who seemed mortified at the decision from which he had himself formally dissented. Home after midnight.625

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=DCA64d097