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Diary of Charles Francis Adams, 1865

Tuesday 24th

24 January 1865

Thursday 26th

26 January 1865
25 January 1865
Wednesday 25th

Mrs Adams improves daily, but the weather is not propitious. Having again a good deal of leisure I continued Mr Mill’s on representative government. His theory of a representation of minorities as a safeguard against what he calls class legislation, is in fact an attempt to guard against the power of a democracy. It presupposes a fixed condition of popular opinion contradicted by the experience of our government, so far as it goes, in every stage of its condition. There never would be a time in England any more than in the United States, when a minority and a strong one too will not exist. This happening of a very great preponderance almost inevitably produces division. It is a mistake also to assume that a representative acts only for a majority of his constituents. In a very great proportion of the service he is called to give he is as useful in carrying out the views of the minority who did not vote for him. I fancy Mr Mill is a little misled by the fact that the confined nature of the franchise in England leads to a rigidity in the political habits of the voters which is not to be found in more open constituencies. With us there is generally a fluctuating body between the parties which nine times in ten determines the result185 I had one or two visits of persons passing through to Paris, and in the course of my walk I returned that of Mr Schleiden. Mr Forster dined quietly with us, and we talked over the state of the relations between the two countries. He expressed a little uneasiness at the prospect of my leaving, as although he thought every thing looked well enough just now, there might a moment of crisis so soon as the aristocratic classes should begin fully to take in the possibility of a restoration in America. The disappointment would be intense, and might give rise to a sudden effort at counteraction in America. The disappointment would be intense, and might give rise to a sudden effort at counteraction. I said I was not unaware of that contingency. But if the government were to relieve me I had little doubt that my successor would be carefully selected. I hoped it might be Mr Everett, in whose discretion I should have the utmost reliance. Mr Foster recalled the fact that two or three times during my stay there had been efforts made to fix a quarrel upon me, which he intimated had been avoided mainly by my care. I applied his remark by recalling the incident of Lord Palmerston, as a most amusing one. On the whole Mr Foster has been our finnest and most judicious friend. We owe to his tact and talent even more than we do to the more showy interference of Messr Cobden and Bright. Mr Morse came in for a short visit and talked a little of the rebel movements here which are indefatigably carried on though as yet apparently to no effective purpose. Continued Dr Palfrey’s third volume.

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=DCA65d025