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Diary of Charles Francis Adams, 1864

Thursday 13th

13 October 1864

Saturday 15th

15 October 1864
14 October 1864
Friday 14th

Another fine autumn day. Mr Forster had arranged for us a trip to visit the place of Lord de Grey, for the purpose of visiting Fountain’s Abbey. Accordingly we drove seven miles to Arthington, where we took a train going to Ripon, and from the station there it was about three miles to Studley Royal, where Lord de Grey resides. We saw the outside only of the cathedral at Ripon, our time falling short. It is not at all striking. But the examination of the grounds and the ruins was very interesting. The very fine woods composed of lofty breeches and evergreens spread over a diversified surface showed in their autumn tints a softness of colouring particularly suited to a first view of what is considered as the finest ruin in England. It certainly is the most extensive and the best preserved. There is an appearance of an enlargement of the choir at some period, probably in consequence of the increasing number of the monks.132 That it must have been one of the largest Monasteries in the kingdom is rendered certain by the great extent caused by the foundation walls. The guide reported it at twelve acres The ornamental work is by no means so elaborate as in some other cases, especially those in Scotland. The tower remains almost entire, as well as the nave of the main edifice, whilst some of the other buildings are also well preserved. The effect of the whole as placed in a smooth sharm green, surrounded by a semi circle of old trees, some of them years of unknown age and really beautiful. Certainly the persons who chose the sites for these establishments in England knew what they were about. The first impression always is of profound repose in the midst of the most beautiful associations with the idea of God’s mercy to man. The great fallacy underlying the system is that it sets up a negative as the great end of life. If all the human race were to retire into cloisters there to do nothing but pray to God unceasingly there would presently be no one left in the world to acknowledge his blessings or fulfil the great purposes of his creation. To say that practically this could never happen is no justification of the system. If it be a merit in some to seclude themselves thus, it ought to be equally so in all. These ruins are now more worthy of admiration than they ever were in their original perfect condition. They tell of a past age of defection civilization, when violence and fraud had sway, and the time and weak stood in need of refuge. I am very glad I have seen this place. We drove to the house and left cards for Lord de Grey, after which we crossed the park abounding in small deer, and returned to the station at Rison— Hence home as we came. At diner we had Mr Harris, a banker at Bradford, and Mr Foster’s partner, whose name I did not catch. Afterwards, cards.

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=DCA64d288