Chapter XIV (The Education of Henry Adams)

Dilettantism (1865-1866)

THE campaign of 1864 and the reelection of Mr. Lincoln in
November set the American Minister on so firm a footing that he
could safely regard his own anxieties as over, and the anxieties of
Earl Russell and the Emperor Napoleon as begun. With a few months more
his own term of four years would come to an end, and even though the
questions still under discussion with England should somewhat
prolong his stay, he might look forward with some confidence to his
return home in 1865. His son no longer fretted. The time for going
into the army had passed. If he were to be useful at all, it must be
as a son, and as a son he was treated with the widest indulgence and
trust. He knew that he was doing himself no good by staying in London,
but thus far in life he had done himself no good anywhere, and reached
his twenty-seventh birthday without having advanced a step, that he
could see, beyond his twenty-first. For the most part, his friends
were worse off than he. The war was about to end and they were to be
set adrift in a world they would find altogether strange.
At this point, as though to cut the last thread of relation, six
months were suddenly dropped out of his life in England. The London
climate had told on some of the family; the physicians prescribed a
winter in Italy. Of course the private secretary was detached as their
escort, since this was one of his professional functions; and he
passed six months, gaining an education as Italian courier, while
the Civil War came to its end. As far as other education went, he
got none, but he was amused. Travelling in all possible luxury, at
some one else’s expense, with diplomatic privileges and position,
was a form of travel hitherto untried. The Cornice in vettura was
delightful; Sorrento in winter offered hills to climb and grottoes
to explore, and Naples near by to visit; Rome at Easter was an
experience necessary for the education of every properly trained
private secretary; the journey north by vettura through Perugia and
Sienna was a dream; the Splugen Pass, if not equal to the Stelvio, was
worth seeing; Paris had always something to show. The chances of
accidental education were not so great as they had been, since one’s
field of experience had grown large; but perhaps a season at Baden
Baden in these later days of its brilliancy offered some chances of
instruction, if it were only the sight of fashionable Europe and
America on the race-course watching the Duke of Hamilton, in the
middle, improving his social advantages by the conversation of Cora
The assassination of President Lincoln fell on the party while they
were at Rome, where it seemed singularly fitting to that nursery of
murderers and murdered, as though America were also getting
educated. Again one went to meditate on the steps of the Santa Maria
in Ara Coeli but the lesson seemed as shallow as before. Nothing
happened. The travellers changed no plan or movement. The Minister did
not recall them to London. The season was over before they returned;
and when the private secretary sat down again at his desk in
Portland Place before a mass of copy in arrears, he saw before him a
world so changed as to be beyond connection with the past. His
identity, if one could call a bundle of disconnected memories an
identity, seemed to remain; but his life was once more broken into
separate pieces; he was a spider and had to spin a new web in some new
place with a new attachment.
All his American friends and contemporaries who were still alive
looked singularly commonplace without uniforms, and hastened to get
married and retire into back streets and suburbs until they could find
employment. Minister Adams, too, was going home “next fall,” and
when the fall came, he was going home “next spring,” and when the
spring came, President Andrew Johnson was at loggerheads with the
Senate, and found it best to keep things unchanged. After the usual
manner of public servants who had acquired the habit of office and
lost the faculty of will, the members of the Legation in London
continued the daily routine of English society, which, after
becoming a habit, threatened to become a vice. Had Henry Adams
shared a single taste with the young Englishmen of his time, he
would have been lost; but the custom of pounding up and down Rotten
Row every day, on a hack, was not a taste, and yet was all the sport
he shared. Evidently he must set to work; he must get a new education;
he must begin a career of his own.
{CH_XIV ^paragraph 5}
Nothing was easier to say, but even his father admitted two careers
to be closed. For the law, diplomacy had unfitted him; for diplomacy
he already knew too much. Any one who had held, during the four most
difficult years of American diplomacy, a position at the centre of
action, with his hands actually touching the lever of power, could not
beg a post of Secretary at Vienna or Madrid in order to bore himself
doing nothing until the next President should do him the honor to turn
him out. For once all his advisers agreed that diplomacy was not
In any ordinary system he would have been called back to serve in
the State Department, but, between the President and the Senate,
service of any sort became a delusion. The choice of career was more
difficult than the education which had proved impracticable. Adams saw
no road; in fact there was none. All his friends were trying one
path or another, but none went a way that he could have taken. John
Hay passed through London in order to bury himself in second-rate
Legations for years, before he drifted home again to join Whitelaw
Reid and George Smalley on the Tribune. Frank Barlow and Frank
Bartlett carried Major-Generals’ commissions into small law
business. Miles stayed in the army. Henry Higginson, after a desperate
struggle, was forced into State Street; Charles Adams wandered
about, with brevet-brigadier rank, trying to find employment. Scores
of others tried experiments more or less unsuccessful. Henry Adams
could see easy ways of making a hundred blunders; he could see no
likely way of making a legitimate success. Such as it was, his
so-called education was wanted nowhere.
One profession alone seemed possible- the press. In 1860 he would
have said that he was born to be an editor, like at least a thousand
other young graduates from American colleges who entered the world
every year enjoying the same conviction; but in 1866 the situation was
altered; the possession of money had become doubly needful for
success, and double energy was essential to get money. America had
more than doubled her scale. Yet the press was still the last resource
of the educated poor who could not be artists and would not be tutors.
Any man who was fit for nothing else could write an editorial or a
criticism. The enormous mass of misinformation accumulated in ten
years of nomad life could always be worked off on a helpless public,
in diluted doses, if one could but secure a table in the corner of a
newspaper office. The press was an inferior pulpit; an anonymous
schoolmaster; a cheap boarding-school; but it was still the nearest
approach to a career for the literary survivor of a wrecked education.
For the press, then, Henry Adams decided to fit himself, and since
he could not go home to get practical training, he set to work to do
what he could in London.
He knew, as well as any reporter on the New York Herald, that
this was not an American way of beginning, and he knew a certain
number of other drawbacks which the reporter could not see so clearly.
Do what he might, he drew breath only in the atmosphere of English
methods and thoughts; he could breathe none other. His mother- who
should have been a competent judge, since her success and popularity
in England exceeded that of her husband- averred that every woman
who lived a certain time in England came to look and dress like an
Englishwoman, no matter how she struggled. Henry Adams felt himself
catching an English tone of mind and processes of thought, though at
heart more hostile to them than ever. As though to make him more
helpless and wholly distort his life, England grew more and more
agreeable and amusing. Minister Adams became, in 1866, almost a
historical monument in London; he held a position altogether his
own. His old opponents disappeared. Lord Palmerston died in October,
1865; Lord Russell tottered on six months longer, but then vanished
from power; and in July, 1866, the conservatives came into office.
Traditionally the Tories were easier to deal with than the Whigs,
and Minister Adams had no reason to regret the change. His personal
relations were excellent and his personal weight increased year by
year. On that score the private secretary had no cares, and not much
copy. His own position was modest, but it was enough; the life he
led was agreeable; his friends were all he wanted, and, except that he
was at the mercy of politics, he felt much at ease. Of his daily
life he had only to reckon so many breakfasts; so many dinners; so
many receptions, balls, theatres, and country-parties; so many cards
to be left; so many Americans to be escorted- the usual routine of
every young American in a Legation; all counting for nothing in sum,
because, even if it had been his official duty- which it was not- it
was mere routine, a single, continuous, unbroken act, which led to
nothing and nowhere except Portland Place and the grave.
The path that led somewhere was the English habit of mind which
deepened its ruts every day. The English mind was like the London
drawing-room, a comfortable and easy spot, filled with bits and
fragments of incoherent furnitures, which were never meant to go
together, and could be arranged in any relation without making a
whole, except by the square room. Philosophy might dispute about
innate ideas till the stars died out in the sky, but about innate
tastes no one, except perhaps a collie dog, has the right to doubt;
least of all, the Englishman, for his tastes are his being; he
drifts after them as unconsciously as a honey-bee drifts after his
flowers, and, in England, every one must drift with him. Most young
Englishmen drifted to the race-course or the moors or the
hunting-field; a few towards books; one or two followed some form of
science; and a number took to what, for want of a better name, they
called Art. Young Adams inherited a certain taste for the same pursuit
from his father who insisted that he had it not, because he could
not see what his son thought he saw in Turner. The Minister, on the
other hand, carried a sort of aesthetic rag-bag of his own, which he
regarded as amusement, and never called art. So he would wander off on
a Sunday to attend service successively in all the city churches built
by Sir Christopher Wren; or he would disappear from the Legation day
after day to attend coin sales at Sotheby’s, where his son attended
alternate sales of drawings, engravings, or water-colors. Neither knew
enough to talk much about the other’s tastes, but the only
difference between them was a slight difference of direction. The
Minister’s mind like his writings showed a correctness of form and
line that his son would have been well pleased had he inherited.
{CH_XIV ^paragraph 10}
Of all supposed English tastes, that of art was the most alluring
and treacherous. Once drawn into it, one had small chance of escape,
for it had no centre or circumference, no beginning, middle, or end,
no origin, no object, and no conceivable result as education. In
London one met no corrective. The only American who came by, capable
of teaching, was William Hunt, who stopped to paint the portrait of
the Minister which now completes the family series at Harvard College.
Hunt talked constantly, and was, or afterwards became, a famous
teacher, but Henry Adams did not know enough to learn. Perhaps, too,
he had inherited or acquired a stock of tastes, as young men must,
which he was slow to outgrow. Hunt had no time to sweep out the
rubbish of Adams’s mind. The portrait finished, he went.
As often as he could, Adams ran over to Paris, for sunshine, and
there always sought out Richardson in his attic in the Rue du Bac,
or wherever he lived, and they went off to dine at the Palais Royal,
and talk of whatever interested the students of the Beaux Arts.
Richardson, too, had much to say, but had not yet seized his style.
Adams caught very little of what lay in his mind, and the less,
because, to Adams, everything French was bad except the restaurants,
while the continuous life in England made French art seem worst of
all. This did not prove that English art, in 1866, was good; far
from it; but it helped to make bric-a-brac of all art, after the
manner of England.
Not in the Legation, or in London, but in Yorkshire at Thornes,
Adams met the man that pushed him furthest in this English garden of
innate disorder called taste. The older daughter of the Milnes
Gaskells had married Francis Turner Palgrave. Few Americans will
ever ask whether any one has described the Palgraves, but the family
was one of the most describable in all England at that day. Old Sir
Francis, the father, had been much the greatest of all the
historians of early England, the only one who was un-English; and
the reason of his superiority lay in his name, which was Cohen, and
his mind which was Cohen also, or at least not English. He changed his
name to Palgrave in order to please his wife. They had a band of
remarkable sons: Francis Turner, Gifford, Reginald, Inglis; all of
whom made their mark. Gifford was perhaps the most eccentric, but
his “Travels” in Arabia were famous, even among the famous travels
of that generation. Francis Turner- or, as he was commonly called,
Frank Palgrave- unable to work off his restlessness in travel like
Gifford, and stifled in the atmosphere of the Board of Education,
became a critic. His art-criticisms helped to make the Saturday Review
a terror to the British artist. His literary taste, condensed into the
“Golden Treasury,” helped Adams to more literary education than he
ever got from any taste of his own. Palgrave himself held rank as
one of the minor poets; his hymns had vogue. As an art-critic he was
too ferocious to be liked; even Holman Hunt found his temper humorous;
among many rivals, he may perhaps have had a right to claim the much
disputed rank of being the most unpopular man in London; but he
liked to teach, and asked only for a docile pupil. Adams was docile
enough, for he knew nothing and liked to listen. Indeed, he had to
listen, whether he liked or not, for Palgrave’s voice was strident and
nothing could stop him. Literature, painting, sculpture,
architecture were open fields for his attacks, which were always
intelligent if not always kind, and when these failed, he readily
descended to meaner levels. John Richard Green, who was Palgrave’s
precise opposite, and whose Irish charm of touch and humor defended
him from most assaults, used to tell with delight of Palgrave’s call
on him just after he had moved into his new Queen Anne house in
Kensington Square: “Palgrave called yesterday, and the first thing
he said was, ‘I’ve counted three anachronisms on your front
Another savage critic, also a poet, was Thomas Woolner, a type
almost more emphatic than Palgrave in a society which resounded with
emphasis. Woolner’s sculpture showed none of the rough assertion
that Woolner himself showed, when he was not making supernatural
effort to be courteous, but his busts were remarkable, and his work
altogether was, in Palgrave’s clamorous opinion, the best of his
day. He took the matter of British art- or want of art- seriously,
almost ferociously, as a personal grievance and torture; at times he
was rather terrifying in the anarchistic wrath of his denunciation. As
Henry Adams felt no responsibility for English art, and had no
American art to offer for sacrifice, he listened with enjoyment to
language much like Carlyle’s, and accepted it without a qualm. On
the other hand, as a third member of this critical group, he fell in
with Stopford Brooke whose tastes lay in the same direction, and whose
expression was modified by clerical propriety. Among these men, one
wandered off into paths of education much too devious and slippery for
an American foot to follow. He would have done better to go on the
race-track, as far as concerned a career.
Fortunately for him he knew too little ever to be an art-critic,
still less an artist. For some things ignorance is good, and art is
one of them. He knew he knew nothing, and had not the trained eye or
the keen instinct that trusted itself; but he was curious, as he
went on, to find out how much the others knew. He took Palgrave’s word
as final about a drawing of Rembrandt or Michael Angelo, and he
trusted Woolner implicitly about a Turner; but when he quoted their
authority to any dealer, the dealer pooh-poohed it, and declared
that it had no weight in the trade. If he went to a sale of drawings
or paintings, at Sotheby’s or Christie’s, an hour afterwards, he saw
these same dealers watching Palgrave or Woolner for a point, and
bidding over them. He rarely found two dealers agree in judgement.
He once bought a water-color from the artist himself, out of his
studio, and had it doubted an hour afterwards by the dealer to whose
place he took it for framing. He was reduced to admit that he could
not prove its authenticity; internal evidence was against it.
{CH_XIV ^paragraph 15}
One morning in early July, 1867, Palgrave stopped at the Legation
in Portland Place on his way downtown, and offered to take Adams to
Sotheby’s, where a small collection of old drawings was on show. The
collection was rather a curious one, said to be that of Sir Anthony
Westcomb, from Liverpool, with an undisturbed record of a century, but
with nothing to attract notice. Probably none but collectors or
experts examined the portfolios. Some dozens of these were always on
hand, following every sale, and especially on the lookout for old
drawings, which became rarer every year. Turning rapidly over the
numbers, Palgrave stopped at one containing several small drawings,
one marked as Rembrandt, one as Rafael; and putting his finger on
the Rafael, after careful examination; “I should buy this,” he said;
“it looks to me like one of those things that sell for five
shillings one day, and fifty pounds the next.” Adams marked it for a
bid, and the next morning came down to the auction. The numbers sold
slowly, and at noon he thought he might safely go to lunch. When he
came back, half an hour afterwards, the drawing was gone. Much annoyed
at his own stupidity, since Palgrave had expressly said he wanted
the drawing for himself if he had not in a manner given it to Adams,
the culprit waited for the sale to close, and then asked the clerk for
the name of the buyer. It was Holloway, the art-dealer, near Covent
Garden, whom he slightly knew. Going at once to the shop he waited
till young Holloway came in, with his purchases under his arm, and
without attempt at preface, he said: “You bought to-day, Mr. Holloway,
a number that I wanted. Do you mind letting me have it?” Holloway took
out the parcel, looked over the drawings, and said that he had
bought the number for the sake of the Rembrandt, which he thought
possibly genuine; taking that out, Adams might have the rest for the
price he paid for the lot- twelve shillings.
Thus, down to that moment, every expert in London had probably seen
these drawings. Two of them- only two- had thought them worth buying
at any price, and of these two, Palgrave chose the Rafael, Holloway
the one marked as Rembrandt. Adams, the purchaser of the Rafael,
knew nothing whatever on the subject, but thought he might credit
himself with education to the value of twelve shillings, and call
the drawing nothing. Such items of education commonly came higher.
He took the drawing to Palgrave. It was closely pasted to an old,
rather thin, cardboard mount, and, on holding it up to the window, one
could see lines on the reverse. “Take it down to Reed at the British
Museum,” said Palgrave; “he is Curator of the drawings, and, if you
ask him, he will have it taken off the mount.” Adams amused himself
for a day or two by searching Rafael’s works for the figure, which
he found at last in the Parnasso, the figure of Horace, of which, as
it happened- though Adams did not know it- the British Museum owned
a much finer drawing. At last he took the dirty, little, unfinished
red-chalk sketch to Reed whom he found in the Curator’s room, with
some of the finest Rafael drawings in existence, hanging on the walls.
“Yes!” said Mr. Reed; “I noticed this at the sale; but it’s not
Rafael!” Adams, feeling himself incompetent to discuss this subject,
reported the result to Palgrave, who said that Reed knew nothing about
it. Also this point lay beyond Adams’s competence; but he noted that
Reed was in the employ of the British Museum as Curator of the best-
or nearly the best collection in the world, especially of Rafaels, and
that he bought for the Museum. As expert he had rejected both the
Rafael and the Rembrandt at first-sight, and after his attention was
recalled to the Rafael for a further opinion he rejected it again.
A week later, Adams returned for the drawing, which Mr. Reed took
out of his drawer and gave him, saying with what seemed a little doubt
or hesitation: “I should tell you that the paper shows a water-mark,
which I find the same as that of paper used by Marc Antonio.” A little
taken back by this method of studying art, a method which even a
poor and ignorant American might use as well as Rafael himself,
Adams asked stupidly: “Then you think it genuine?” “Possibly!” replied
Reed; “but much overdrawn.”
Here was expert opinion after a second revise, with help of
water-marks! In Adams’s opinion it was alone worth another twelve
shillings as education; but this was not all. Reed continued: “The
lines on the back seem to be writing, which I cannot read, but if
you will take it down to the manuscript-room they will read it for
{CH_XIV ^paragraph 20}
Adams took the sheet down to the keeper of the manuscripts and
begged him to read the lines. The keeper, after a few minutes’
study, very obligingly said he could not: “It is scratched with an
artist’s crayon, very rapidly, with many unusual abbreviations and old
forms. If any one in Europe can read it, it is the old man at the
table yonder, Libri! Take it to him!”
This expert broke down on the alphabet! He could not even judge a
manuscript; but Adams had no right to complain, for he had nothing
to pay, not even twelve shillings, though he thought these experts
worth more, at least for his education. Accordingly he carried his
paper to Libri, a total stranger to him, and asked the old man, as
deferentially as possible, to tell him whether the lines had any
meaning. Had Adams not been an ignorant person he would have known all
about Libri, but his ignorance was vast, and perhaps was for the best.
Libri looked at the paper, and then looked again, and at last bade him
sit down and wait. Half an hour passed before he called Adams back and
showed him these lines:-

Or questo credo ben che una elleria
Te offende tanto che te offese il core.
{CH_XIV ^paragraph 25}
Perche sei grande nol sei in tua volia;
Tu vedi e gia non credi il tuo valore;
Passate gia son tutte gelosie;
Tu sei di sasso; non hai piu dolore.

{CH_XIV ^paragraph 30}
As far as Adams could afterwards recall it, this was Libri’s
reading, but he added that the abbreviations were many and unusual;
that the writing was very ancient; and that the word he read as
“elleria” in the first line was not Italian at all.
By this time, one had got too far beyond one’s depth to ask
questions. If Libri could not read Italian, very clearly Adams had
better not offer to help him. He took the drawing, thanked
everybody, and having exhausted the experts of the British Museum,
took a cab to Woolner’s studio, where he showed the figure and
repeated Reed’s opinion. Woolner snorted: “Reed’s a fool!” he said;
“he knows nothing about it; there may be a rotten line or two, but the
drawing’s all right.”
For forty years Adams kept this drawing on his mantelpiece,
partly for its own interest, but largely for curiosity to see
whether any critic or artist would ever stop to look at it. None
ever did, unless he knew the story. Adams himself never wanted to know
more about it. He refused to seek further light. He never cared to
learn whether the drawing was Rafael’s, or whether the verse were
Rafael’s, or whether even the water-mark was Rafael’s. The experts-
some scores of them including the British Museum,- had affirmed that
the drawing was worth a certain moiety of twelve shillings. On that
point, also, Adams could offer no opinion, but he was clear that his
education had profited by it to that extent- his amusement even more.
Art was a superb field for education, but at every turn he met
the same old figure, like a battered and illegible signpost that ought
to direct him to the next station but never did. There was no next
station. All the art of a thousand- or ten thousand- years had brought
England to stuff which Palgrave and Woolner brayed in their mortars;
derided, tore in tatters, growled at, and howled at, and treated in
terms beyond literary usage. Whistler had not yet made his
appearance in London, but the others did quite as well. What result
could a student reach from it? Once, on returning to London, dining
with Stopford Brooke, some one asked Adams what impression the Royal
Academy Exhibition made on him. With a little hesitation, he suggested
that it was rather a chaos, which he meant for civility; but
Stopford Brooke abruptly met it by asking whether chaos were not
better than death. Truly the question was worth discussion. For his
own part, Adams inclined to think that neither chaos nor death was
an object to him as a searcher of knowledge- neither would have
vogue in America- neither would help him to a career. Both of them led
him away from his objects, into an English dilettante museum of
scraps, with nothing but a wall-paper to unite them in any relation of
sequence. Possibly English taste was one degree more fatal than
English scholarship, but even this question was open to argument.
Adams went to the sales and bought what he was told to buy; now a
classical drawing by Rafael or Rubens; now a water-color by Girtin
or Cotman, if possible unfinished because it was more likely to be a
sketch from nature; and he bought them not because they went together-
on the contrary, they made rather awkward spots on the wall as they
did on the mind- but because he could afford to buy those, and not
others. Ten pounds did not go far to buy a Michael Angelo, but was a
great deal of money to a private secretary. The effect was spotty,
fragmentary, feeble; and the more so because the British mind was
constructed in that way- boasted of it, and held it to be true
philosophy as well as sound method.
What was worse, no one had a right to denounce the English as
wrong. Artistically their mind was scrappy, and every one knew it, but
perhaps thought itself, history, and nature, were scrappy, and ought
to be studied so. Turning from British art to British literature,
one met the same dangers. The historical school was a playground of
traps and pitfalls. Fatally one fell into the sink of history-
antiquarianism. For one who nourished a natural weakness for what
was called history, the whole of British literature in the
nineteenth century was antiquarianism, or anecdotage, for no one
except Buckle had tried to link it with ideas, and commonly Buckle was
regarded as having failed. Macaulay was the English historian. Adams
had the greatest admiration for Macaulay, but he felt that any one who
should even distantly imitate Macaulay would perish in
self-contempt. One might as well imitate Shakespeare. Yet evidently
something was wrong here, for the poet and the historian ought to have
different methods, and Macaulay’s method ought to be imitable if it
were sound; yet the method was more doubtful than the style. He was
a dramatist; a painter; a poet, like Carlyle. This was the English
mind, method, genius, or whatever one might call it; but one never
could quite admit that the method which ended in Froude and Kinglake
could be sound for America where passion and poetry were
eccentricities. Both Froude and Kinglake, when one met them at dinner,
were very agreeable, very intelligent; and perhaps the English
method was right, and art fragmentary by essence. History, like
everything else, might be a field of scraps, like the refuse about a
Staffordshire iron-furnace. One felt a little natural reluctance to
decline and fall like Silas Wegg on the golden dust heap of British
refuse; but if one must, one could at least expect a degree from
Oxford and the respect of the Athenaeum Club.
{CH_XIV ^paragraph 35}
While drifting, after the war ended, many old American friends came
abroad for a holiday, and among the rest, Dr. Palfrey, busy with his
“History of New England.” Of all the relics of childhood, Dr.
Palfrey was the most sympathetic, and perhaps the more so because
he, too, had wandered into the pleasant meadows of antiquarianism, and
had forgotten the world in his pursuit of the New England Puritan.
Although America seemed becoming more and more indifferent to the
Puritan except as a slightly rococo ornament, he was only the more
amusing as a study for the Monkbarns of Boston Bay, and Dr. Palfrey
took him seriously, as his clerical education required. His work was
rather an Apologia in the Greek sense; a justification of the ways
of God to Man, or, what was much the same thing, of Puritans to
other men; and the task of justification was onerous enough to require
the occasional relief of a contrast or scapegoat. When Dr. Palfrey
happened on the picturesque but unpuritanic figure of Captain John
Smith, he felt no call to beautify Smith’s picture or to defend his
moral character; he became impartial and penetrating. The famous story
of Pocahontas roused his latent New England scepticism. He suggested
to Adams, who wanted to make a position for himself, that an article
in the North American Review on Captain John Smith’s relations with
Pocahontas would attract as much attention, and probably break as much
glass, as any other stone that could be thrown by a beginner. Adams
could suggest nothing better. The task seemed likely to be amusing. So
he planted himself in the British Museum and patiently worked over all
the material he could find, until, at last, after three or four months
of labor, he got it in shape and sent it to Charles Norton, who was
then editing the North American. Mr. Norton very civilly and even
kindly accepted it. The article appeared in January, 1867.
Surely, here was something to ponder over, as a step in
education; something that tended to stagger a sceptic! In spite of
personal wishes, intentions, and prejudices; in spite of civil wars
and diplomatic education; in spite of determination to be actual,
daily, and practical, Henry Adams found himself, at twenty-eight,
still in English society, dragged on one side into English
dilettantism, which of all dilettantism he held the most futile:
and, on the other, into American antiquarianism, which of all
antiquarianism he held the most foolish. This was the result of five
years in London. Even then he knew it to be a false start. He had
wholly lost his way. If he were ever to amount to anything, he must
begin a new education, in a new place, with a new purpose.