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Diary of Charles Francis Adams, 1864

Monday 10th

10 October 1864

Wednesday 12th

12 October 1864
11 October 1864
Tuesday 11th

The news from America continues favorable, and the depreciation of the paper is rapidly diminishing. This morning, Mr and Mrs Malthus left us as well as the Archdeacon, leaving only Mr Smith here with ourselves. Lord Belper arranged a little extension to Newstead Abbey. We drove down to the station where we took the train to Nottingham. From that point we took carriages ten miles to our object. Here we were received with great civility by Mr and Mrs Webb, the present owners, who had been apprised of our coming. Newstead, long the gloomy retreat of an eccentric family became suddenly an object of interest to Europe and America as associated with the brilliant poetical faculties displayed by the latest owner of his line, Lord Byron. Originally a monkish retreat, it adapted itself but imperfectly to the conveniences of social and domestic life. All that has been told of its internal history while held by the Byrons is by no means creditable. Yet the edifice and the site, with its remnant of architectural ruin129 and the adjoining sheet of water, all of them gilded by the sunshine of the poets genius inspire the visitor with a degree of interest, scarcely created by ordinary scenery even of a more picturesque nature. The corkscrew stairs, narrow corridors and generally small bedrooms became magnified and adorned by the fancy, when connected with the fact that a poet however wayward lived and breathed in the atmosphere. The Estate was sold by him, and passed into the hands of Colonel Wildman, a West India planter, who spent the last twenty years of his life and an enormous sum of money, in restoring and improving and adorning it. It is said to have cost him in all a hundred and eighty thousand pounds. At his death, it passed into the hands of a new purchaser, Mr Webb, who has been continuing the work, with a heavy additional cutlery. Thus it is becoming a perfect museum of antiquities of all sorts. Armor, and bronzes, and china are added to the old oaken panneling, gobrlin tapestry, pictures and furniture remaining here or collected elsewhere from former ages. The quaint cloisters are glazed, and warmed by pipes of hot water, whilst Chapel and banqueting room are restored with every elegance of roman cut, each of its respective uses. It is evidently one of those cases, not uncommon in this country, of the desire of occupation by those whom fortune dooms to idleness. All the interior and as much of the grounds as we had time for are shown to us, after which we were invited to a sumptuous luncheon in the great room. There were sixteen or eighteen at table, consisting mainly of relations of Mrs Webb— One exception was Dr Livingstone, the explorer of Africa, whom Mr Webb met with whilst on a hunting expedition there, and whom, he had invited to stay with him whilst writing his second work. Dr L took the opportunity to speak to me about a son of his, who has made his way somehow to America, and into the army. I promised to make some enquiries respecting him. On our return we observed many rabbits running about. The place is infested with them to a degree beyond even Holwood. We got back with precision to the railway and home, much pleased with the excursion. Mary and Mr Smith accompanied us, but Henry was too unwell to go. At dinner only one new person, Mr Herrick, the owner of a neighboring Estate of Beaumanoir.130

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=DCA64d285