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Diary of Charles Francis Adams, 1864

Friday 5th

5 August 1864

Sunday 7th

7 August 1864
6 August 1864
Saturday 6th

Took a walk in the morning for the purpose of examining the town. It was Market day and a part of the main street was lined with women selling from baskets, live chickens, ducks and rabbits. The houses are crowded together as in all old European towns. A number of them are of the old form, projecting over the way, with the wooden frame visible, the bricks and stucco filled in. All of these I noticed to be kept in perfect repair and freshened as if a matter of pride. There is unquestionably much poverty in this country, but it does not show itself in dilapidation. I saw but one house with a roof half gone. From the castle now converted into a private dwelling I perceived the peculiarity of a site in a circle of the river Severn leaving but a narrow peninsula.86 On the whole it was not difficult to go back to the days of Henry the fourth and Hotspur, and imagine the life of the lower classes, as it went on in such a place. Very certainly there may have been a superiority in the picturesque, whilst in fact the happiness and comfort and freedom from personal apprehension in this day give cheering indications of the advance of the welfare of mankind. At eleven we took our departure in the train which carried us in a couple of hours into Wales, and to the town of Llangollen. The situation on the banks of the Dee is pretty. But the town consisting of rough, low stone houses crammed together without regard to order or convenience is ugly enough. We found comfortable accommodations at the Hand Hotel. I received my letters from London—and then sallied out to explore. Though little inclined to step ascents at my age, and the heat was considerable, I was led from step to step until I found myself so near the top that I finally accomplished the object in one of the heights behind the house. As usual in such cases, it did not compensate me. The Valle crucis which laid below me is pretty, but nothing more. The range of hills opposite is bleak and bare, having the merit neither of coloring nor of fine outline. The most curious object perhaps in a single comical height standing a little in front, the top of which, surmounted by the ruins of what appears to have been a castle appeared a little below the level of my vision. This addition throws the imagination back at once to render forms of society, and the days of Glendover and of the Edwards. Here comes in the difference between pure nature as seen in America, and the adjunct of human action as found in the association of the old world. I do not find that there is any precise history attached to this point. Crow castle was a ruin in the sixteenth century. It may have been destroyed by Edward 1st two centuries earlier.

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=DCA64d219