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Diary of Charles Francis Adams, 1864

Tuesday 13th

13 September 1864

Thursday 15th

15 September 1864
14 September 1864
Wednesday 14th

The morning opened dark and with a boisterous wind driving the clouds fast before it. I walked not before breakfast to look at the town. It is very prettily situated112 on an elevation, around which the little river arm winds at a distance of three hundred or more feet beneath. Over this a suspension bridge has been thrown, which gives an additional effect of height. After breakfast we decided to go by railway to Bath, in order that I might report myself, and obtain some idea of the course I was expected to take. Mr Kuhn and Louisa accompanied me for the purpose of seeing the place. But unfortunately it began to rain hard just as we got there, and continued to do so more and more heavily whilst we stayed. We drove to the pump room, where was the process of organization. There was an array of Secretaries to which we were to report. Meeting with Sir Roderick Murchison I asked his aid to guide me to information. He took me to the Secretary, Mr Moore, who seemed well disposed, but rather puzzled what to advise. He said something about the Mayor’s having enquired after me, and having provided accommodations for me. When I told him that it was not what I wanted as I had gone to Clifton, he seemed relieved. What I did want was to know what I was to do in order get a place to hear Sir Charles Lyell’s address in the evening. He said that there were no places reserved any where. My course would be to apply to be made an associate of the British Institution for the occasion for which I should be obliged to pay a pound, and then to get my seat as soon as I could at the Theatre. It seemed to me rather singular that I should have been formally invited by the Mayor of Bath, on the suggestion of Sir Charles Lyell to such one entertainment as this. But I had no help for it, So I paid my pound, took my ticket and programmes, and arranged to go back to Clifton with my children to dinner, to return in the evening. Mr Moran gave me an invitation to see his collection of fossils, close by. We went in a heavy shower, and found it choice and very curious. Some specimens of fish not unlike our present flat species, were very perfect From hence we returned to Clifton, having pretty much failed in every object of the expedition. The rain which had baffled us now ceased, and the evening was clear and fine.113 For this I was thankful, as otherwise I fear even my regard for Sir Charles Lyell would have scarcely carried me through the rest of my task. After dinner was over I drove back to the Station, three miles and returned to Bath just in time to hasten to the Theatre and secure my seat. In the general melée I found every thing taken until I ascended to the highest gallery usually described in former days as the abode of the gods. Here I got a good place among very respectable company of men and women, in which I both saw and heard very well. On the stage, where I should have been, were seated the general Committee of the association, and the officers including the President, Sir William Armstrong, and his successor, Sir Charles Lyell, as well as the worthy Mayor. At eight o’clock the simple ceremony of changing the Office was accomplished in a few words from Sir William Armstrong, and Sir Charles began upon his Address. His voice was clear and his articulation distinct so that I lost scarcely a word. Beginning with a reference to the hot well at this place he drew a parallel with the emission of fire and cinders from volcanoes, tracing both to cognate causes in the bowels of the earth. This led him on by degrees, to an exposition of his bolder theory of the antiquity of the creation. But before he had finished I was warned of the necessity of meeting the return to Bath. In a very bright moonlight I walked back to the Station, and got home to my lodgings at the Clifton Down Hotel by a quarter to eleven. Thus terminated this extraordinary adventure. It presents me out of many singular illustrations of the peculiar manner of the English people. That there was no intentional neglect of courtesy was very plain, for I found the next morning that the Mayor had made a friendly allusion to me as on the platform, and the newspapers all reported me as actually there. And this allusion was favorably received by the audience. Whilst therefore I have no desire to take offence at such singular inattention to the rules of courtesy and hospitality to an invited guest, I am equally determined to avoid so far as may be in my power all occasions in which I may be liable to become a victim to it.114

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=DCA64d258