Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

Post image for Adams Family Letters, Henry Adams, private secretary of the US Minister to the UK, to his brother, Charles.

Adams Family Letters, Henry Adams, private secretary of the US Minister to the UK, to his brother, Charles.

May 8, 2013

Adams Family Civil War letters; US Minister to the UK and his sons.

London, May 8, 1863

My bulletin is calmer this week than has been usual of late. The little squall has passed and instead of pressing on the Minister, people here feel that Lord Russell was in the wrong in his attack that I sent you some weeks ago, and the Times has this week administered a second pacifyer in the shape of a flattering leader on Mr. Adams’ speech to the Trades Unions delegation. I send you a newspaper containing this speech. Notice also the Royal Academy dinner and Lord Palmerston’s remarks. They are not political, but are a noble specimen of lofty sentiment and brilliant rhetoric, worthy of the experienced statesman to whose power and wisdom this vast nation bows. And these men call Seward shallow and weak!

A much quieter feeling and a partial reaction against the blockade runners have generally prevailed here for a week past. Our successes on the Mississippi, too, and the direct advices from the South are having a quieting effect here on the public, and the Polish question is becoming so grave that we are let up a little. On the whole we have made progress this last week.

Meanwhile we have a complete Cabinet of Ministerial advisers and assistants. I wrote you their names in my last. Of them all Mr. Evarts is the only one whom I put very high. Dana too has written to call on my services for him. So I have done and shall do everything I can to make him comfortable and contented. Last Sunday I took him down to Westminster Abbey in the afternoon, where we listened awhile to the services, and then trotted off and took a steamboat up the river. We had a two hours’ voyage up to Kew, where we arrived at half after five, and had just time to run over the gardens. Then we took a cab and drove up to Richmond Hill, where we ordered dinner at the Star and Garter, and then sat in the open air and watched the view and the sunset until our meal was ready. Much conversation had we, and that of a pretty confidential nature. We discussed affairs at home and philosophic statesmanship, the Government and the possibility of effectual reform. He is much like Dana in his views, but is evidently a good deal soured by his political ill-luck.

Another evening I took him out to see London by night. We visited, as spectators, various places of popular resort. He was much interested in them, and seemed to enjoy the experience as a novelty in his acquaintance with life. London is rather peculiar in these respects, and even an experienced traveller would find novelty in the study of character at the Argyll Rooms and at Evans’s. At any rate, I consider that I have done my part there, and you may imagine that I do not much neglect opportunities to conciliate men like him, like Seward and like Weed. I would like to get further west, but the deuce of it is that there are so few distinguished western men.

With this exception I believe the last week has been quiet. I was rather astonished last Monday by one of Seward’s jocose proceedings. The Minister had sent me down to the Trades Unions meeting three weeks ago to make a report on it to him, for transmission to Washington. I did so and wrote a report which I had no time either to correct or alter, and which was sent the next day to Seward officially, appended to a despatch. Now Seward writes back as grave as a Prime Minister a formal despatch acknowledging the other, and thanking “Mr. Henry B. Adams “in stately and wordy paragraphs for his report and “profound disquisition,” etc., etc. I propose to write a note to Fred Seward on his father’s generosity….

Previous post:

Next post: