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Diary of Charles Francis Adams, 1864

Sunday 22d.

22 May 1864

Tuesday 24th

24 May 1864
23 May 1864
Monday 23d

The telegraph brought us this morning the details of which Mr Morgan had sent last night the substance. In the evening I got the Despatches and the newspapers. They very materially modify the sanguine nature of my hopes. The result though on the whole, it may be regarded as favorable, has been gained with great difficulty, and is not after all decisive. The campaign is not to be carried on with the disposition of forces upon which alone, any firm reliance can be placed. I suppose that the army of the rebels must be less than in preceding years, but I know that arms is not materially greater. Hence the issue is yet left to accident and the trial of skill, rather than any moral certainty. We must therefore await the course of events just as we have done heretofore, trusting in the general result from the experience of the past, rather than to any speedy determination of it. I had a curious visit this morning from a Dane, Baron C. Dirkinch-Holenfeld. He comes with a letter of introduction from Mr Marsh, the consul at Alton. His object to solicit some sort of interposition in behalf of Denmark, which was now struggling for existence. His plan was to get the British government to place a military force at Copenhagen with a fleet in the Baltic apparently to resist the progress of the Germans, but really to encourage the Danish King to dismiss his ministers and in effect to change his government. He is evidently one of the aristocracy, who would not grieve if the end of the war should be to impair the vigor of the popular principle. This is in reality the object of the Prussian government likewise. It was amusing that he should hit upon me as an agent. As he did not disclose the true motives of his policy I did not let him see I penetrated them. I rested myself on the rule of neutrality in European affairs enjoined upon me by my Government. He disavowed all wish that I should act officially. All he hoped was that I might in conversation, let drop the scheme he suggested, either to Lord Russell or Lord Palmerston, without in any way committing my official character. It a little amused me to think of my operating on Lord Palmerston. I replied by expressing my deep interest in the situation of Denmark, and my desire to be of service to it25 wherever I could. But as between the Germans and the Danes, both of whom had been friendly to us in our difficulties, and many of the former were fighting in our ranks, I felt that I could not venture on any step whatever. He then asked me whether I knew of any person though when Lord Palmerston could be approached. I mentioned Lord Shaftsbury; at the same time disclaiming any but the most general information on the subject. He then left. In speaking about this visit to M. Bille in the evening, I found him very unequivocal in his designation of the character of the man. Went out to pay some visits. Found nobody at home, but Mr Teran. He told me the result of the conference I had procured for him with Lord Russell. He said he found him much occupied with the Danish matter in which it was manifest that the cooperation of the Emperor was essential. It was clear to him that no obstruction to his wishes in Mexico would be permitted to stand in the way. His Lordship had told him that it was the rule of the government to recognize that authority in a state which was established de facto in the capital. Hence so soon as Maximilian should enter into possession of the city, he would be acknowledged. How much light this lets in upon the expectations of the rebel emissaries at the time of the attempt on Washington previous to my arrival, I now clearly feel. Hence the boastful announcement that I should not be received. This is indeed the Ministry of feeble things in England. They are sacrificing Mexico after the fashion of their betrayal of Denmark with a kiss, all because the Emperor points. In the evening, with Mrs Adams and Mary to the second Concert at Buckingham Palace. We had the privilege of the private entice tonight which made matters easier. The programme I insert. Patti sang the air from Verdi quiet well though I do not estimate her at the level which fashion gives her. The Chorus from the Precursa was good. The customary march to supper, into which the practice of pushing in against the rule is becoming quite common with the nobility. The Prince went round and spoke to all the corps. Among others to me. He asked if I was at the Literary Fund dinner where he presided the other day. I said I had declined to go. If I had been sure that he would preside, I should have gone.26 He nodded in acknowledgement of the compliment. He then enquired about the coming election of President, and who was to be the person. I said that so far as I was able to judge, Mr Lincoln was likely to be reelected. He expressed surprise and asked if that was permitted—a very good measure of his knowledge of our history. After a pretty long sojourn we returned in a struggling way to the concert room. Many of the diplomats slipped off, so that our benches which had been crowded were now thin. We got home at half past one.

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=DCA64d144