A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.

Diary of Charles Francis Adams, 1861

Wednesday 15th

15 May 1861

Friday 17th

17 May 1861
16 May 1861
Thursday 16th



The weather is quite clear and fine, though the East wind reminds me strongly of the same thing on our side of the water. I was up early and took a carriage to drive over to Mr Forster’s in Guilford Street, Russell Square. I met here at breakfast Mr Cassius M Clay and Mr Motley, and Messr Baines, Baxter and (another gentleman whose name I did not catch) Mr Monckton Milnes, all three, members of Parliament. Mrs Forster, a bright looking woman presided very easily, and we had a good deal of conversation respecting America, and the present state of the struggle. I found them all very tolerably informed, and strongly inclined to the antislavery side. Mr Forster told me that in consequence of Lord John Russell’s temporary retirement on account of the death of the Duke of Bedford, Mr Gregory would postpone his motion. He also privately communicated the result of an answer made by one of the Ministry to an enquiry of his touching the intent of the proclamation. The purport of it was that that measure was designed as a warning to the people that any participation in the struggle must be carried on at their own peril. We parted at eleven and I found my way in a vehicle called a Hanson to Mr Dallas’s house. He there assigned formally to me all the papers and the propriety of the Legation, so that this day I assume my post as Minister of the United States. The house is vacated by Mr Dallas tomorrow so that some other provision must be made for the archives until I have a chance to get a house. This must now be promptly attended to. I went back to my lodgings, first examining with some attention the interior of a house in Grosvenor Square. I had some learning to this because it is in the same Square in which grandfather lived whilst he was acting in the same capacity. The house is sufficiently comfortable and convenient, though in some respects deficient. Should the terms be satisfactory I think I may decide upon it. The agent is to let me know tonight. From thence to my lodgings where I dressed and prepared myself for my presentation. The novelty of the situation, and the extraordinary state attached to the person of a sovereign are circumstances which give more or less anxiety to the calmest actor in these scenes. I suppose after all that if a man retains his selfrespect and customary manners he does all that is necessary. I reasoned myself into serenity when Mr Dallas called at half past ten to take me to141 Buckingham Palace. He arrived in five minutes, so that we had twenty five minutes to wait before the hour fixed for the audience. The interval was passed in examining the picture in the great salon, of which there are several of great excellence. Presently Sir Edward Cust, the Master of ceremonies made his appearance with General Bentrick and Lord Harris in waiting. Then came the persian ambassador who was also to have his audience of leave, and lastly Lord Palmerston. In a few minutes after three, the Persian who had a suite of six persons with him was presented to take his leave. Then came the turn of Mr Dallas, and lastly mine. In a room of middling dimensions I was ushered into the presence of the Queen who stood a little in front of a window opposite to the door at which I came in. Lord palmerston presented me and I then bound and made my presentation of credential expressing at the same time in few words the desire of my government to continue our amicable relations and the great opinion my people had not less of her personal than of her political character. She seemed pleased and addressed me the usual question of form whether I had been in the country before to which I answered in the affirmative when very young. And then she bowed and I made the best of my way out of the room. Thus terminated this ceremony, which in such a form as this has not much of stiffness and is rapidly accomplished. Victoria is by means handsome or imposing, and yet the impression made upon me by her manner was favourable as sufficiently dignified and yet gracious. We then left the palace and Mr Dallas set me down at my lodgings where I bed him Goodbye. He leaves tomorrow morning, and from this time I take the burden on my shoulders. I was quietly at home the remainder of the day. Edward Brooks came in and spent a good deal of the time with us. He is lively and pleasant, and contributes must to relieve for the moment the sense of strangeness in this place.

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=DCA61d136