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Diary of Charles Francis Adams, 1864

Thursday 7th

7 July 1864

Saturday 9th

9 July 1864
8 July 1864
Friday 8th

The Scotia was reported this morning, and a telegraph from Mr Kuhn at Queenstown saying that they had reached that place all well. Thank God for this mercy, Her illness, and suffering when at sea had made us anxious. The public news indicates no progress. The rebel forces stand at bay in their last strongholds. The most serious evil in the rapid depreciation of paper. My business was light and early finished for home. Went to the House of Commons to witness the close of the great struggle for power between the parties. This morning’s Times had calculated a probable majority of four for the ministry in a full count of all the members. I found the chamber very much crowded, and listening with deep attention to Mr Bernal Osborne, who was making one of the independent kind of speeches, more or less reflecting the peculiar caprices of the individual, instead of looking at great purposes. The hits were neat and telling, especially in regard to the delineation of party combinations, but they were evidently more sparks extinguished immediately. He was followed by Mr Whiteside with a good lawyer’s argument ad hominem. Then came four or five others in series without much force, during the interval of empty benches, and dinner. After the house filled the animation returned. Mr Spencer Walpole made what on the whole seemed to me the best matured address that I had heard. Then came Lord67 Palmerston to a densely packed auditory. He is not a good speaker. His manner is hesitating, his logic defective, his philosophy frivolous, and yet he seems to possess much of that peculiar gift which Burke has so happily ascribed to Charles Townshend, that of hitting the House between wind and water. His mind is typical of John Bull. Hence the only real source of his power as a public man. I never listen to him without a feeling a little akin to contempt, and yet I cannot doubt that he makes the only real leader now to be found in English politics. He spoke manifestly with some labour, and when he finished he was escorted into the lobby, as if somewhat exhausted. Mr D’Israeli briefly replied to some of the attacks that had been made upon him during the four nights, and closed the discussion. The division followed. According to custom, we were all cleared out of the galleries, and I did not return to hear the announcement in form. The Ministry preponderated by a vote of 313 to 295, an eighteen majority. Had the scale turned the other way, the scene would have been worth staying to see. The effect of so large a vote will probably be to tide the Cabinet over another year, with substantially the same negative policy it has heretofore adhered to. An opposition will not overcome it, so long as it shall have nothing better to hold out to the people. Lord Palmerston may die a minister if he likes. This whole affair amounted to nothing more than a gladiatorial show. The one side justifying themselves for having had no systematic policy in a case of flagrant wrong committed in despite of them— The other affecting to condemn what is showed no inclination to remedy. Nothing could be more hollow and unsubstantial than this display. It was clear enough that all felt it so. I do not know how a result could be more favorable to our present situation in the United States. The only thing that was not attached in the debate so far as the foreign policy is concerned was that respecting America. It is therefore altogether likely that whilst I remain, I shall be able to maintain the same footing with the Ministry that I have already gained, and that without much trouble. Home at about 3. o’clock.68

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=DCA64d190