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Diary of Charles Francis Adams, 1865

Thursday 9th

9 February 1865

Saturday 11th

11 February 1865
10 February 1865
Friday 10th



Henry writes me that the family have safely reached Avignon where the weather is fine. I pursued my customary habit of writing my private letters home, which absorbed all day. Just as I was starting for my walk the Prince de Joinville was announced. He sat and talked with me for an hour. His object he said was to put me in possession of such information as he had obtained of the movements going on in France. He had strong reason to suspect that Napoleon had a small fleet of war Steamers in readiness to start at a moment’s warning from Brest. The commander was named. At the same time efforts were making here to stimulate the government to action by appealing to the fears of an attack on canada. This movement was reinforced by all the friends of the rebellion in high quarters. Nevertheless the ministry was indisposed to move, and unless they agreed, Napoleon will not try. His policy was to act in conjunction with England on a distant field, in order to be able to tighten his grasp of affairs at home. He mentioned these things from his good will to our cause, and his desire that we might avoid any step that might chance save that policy. How far the judgment is affected by personal feeling I cannot exactly define. But the animus of the201 Emperor has never been doubtful to me. There in his character an absence of all those moral foundations upon which men ordinarily rely in judging of outward conduct. He has professed and done more courtesy to us than the British Ministry. And yet I would much rather trust the intentions of the latter. There is no doubt in my mind that the intrigues of the rebel emissaries are once more strained to their most to obtain direct aid in the war, without which they now see they must sink very soon. Unfortunately there is a cooperating element in America which tends to drive matters directly into the desired road. To counteract all this will require firmness and moderation in both governments. I am sensible that my own presence here is still of some use The distrust of Mr Seward is qualified by the confidence placed in me, a singular instance of the force of prejudice, for I do no more than carry out his policy. I expressed my thanks to the Prince for his obliging intentions, told him that I had had already written to Mr Seward in the same sense, and that I would further communicate the information he had given me. he asked me about General MacClellan whom he had seen. I said he had not been to this Legation. He said he had hurried through here on account of his Wife’s health; and perhaps it was as well. For there would undoubtedly have been some desire to draw him out by attentions to him, for bad purposes. He had however found him very firm in his attachment to the Union, and in his belief that the end of the struggle was coming from exhaustion. He still retained his regard for him, though he had no sympathy with his politics. I said my feeling to him had never been unfriendly, thought I had never been acquainted with him. His failure as a military man I had been compelled to assume. The Prince assented. He then took his leave. The only difficulty in conversing with him, gives out of his deafness, which has sensibly increased since I first met with him. I esteem him much, and sympathize with them in his painful situation. After he went I had a quick walk around the Regent’s Park. The day has for once been clear and cold. In the evening, my Secretary Mr Alward came in and spent an hour. I received a file of American papers and sat up late straining my eyes to read their bad print. Not much matter in them that has not been anticipated by the telegraph.202

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=DCA65d041