Infomotions, Inc.The Education of Henry Adams / Adams, Henry, 1838-1918

Author: Adams, Henry, 1838-1918
Title: The Education of Henry Adams
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): adams; education; henry adams; american; private secretary
Contributor(s): Sharp, R. Farquharson (Robert Farquharson), 1864-1945 [Translator]
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Rights: GNU General Public License
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Identifier: etext2044
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The Education of Henry Adams

by Henry Adams

January, 2000  [Etext #2044]

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The Education of Henry Adams

by Henry Adams


     I. QUINCY (1838-1848)
    II. BOSTON (1848-1854)
   III. WASHINGTON (1850-1854)
    IV. HARVARD COLLEGE (1854-1858)
     V. BERLIN (1858-1859)
    VI. ROME (1859-1860)
   VII. TREASON (1860-1861)
    IX. FOES OR FRIENDS (1862)
   XIV. DILETTANTISM (1865-1866)
    XV. DARWINISM (1867-1868)
   XVI. THE PRESS (1868)
 XVIII. FREE FIGHT (1869-1870)
   XIX. CHAOS (1870)
    XX. FAILURE (1871)
  XXII. CHICAGO (1893)
 XXIII. SILENCE (1894-1898)
  XXIV. INDIAN SUMMER (1898-1899)
 XXXII. VIS NOVA (1903-1904)
  XXXV. NUNC AGE (1905)


  THIS volume, written in 1905 as a sequel to the same author's
"Mont Saint Michel and Chartres," was privately printed, to the
number of one hundred copies, in 1906, and sent to the persons
interested, for their assent, correction, or suggestion. The idea
of the two books was thus explained at the end of Chapter XXIX:

  "Any schoolboy could see that man as a force must be measured
by motion from a fixed point. Psychology helped here by
suggesting a unit -- the point of history when man held the
highest idea of himself as a unit in a unified universe. Eight or
ten years of study had led Adams to think he might use the
century 1150-1250, expressed in Amiens Cathedral and the Works of
Thomas Aquinas, as the unit from which he might measure motion
down to his own time, without assuming anything as true or
untrue, except relation. The movement might be studied at once in
philosophy and mechanics. Setting himself to the task, he began a
volume which he mentally knew as 'Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres:
a Study of Thirteenth-Century Unity.' From that point he proposed
to fix a position for himself, which he could label: 'The
Education of Henry Adams: a Study of Twentieth-Century
Multiplicity.' With the help of these two points of relation, he
hoped to project his lines forward and backward indefinitely,
subject to correction from any one who should know better." 

  The "Chartres" was finished and privately printed in 1904. The
"Education" proved to be more difficult. The point on which the
author failed to please himself, and could get no light from
readers or friends, was the usual one of literary form. Probably
he saw it in advance, for he used to say, half in jest, that his
great ambition was to complete St. Augustine's "Confessions," but
that St. Augustine, like a great artist, had worked from
multiplicity to unity, while he, like a small one, had to reverse
the method and work back from unity to multiplicity. The scheme
became unmanageable as he approached his end. 

  Probably he was, in fact, trying only to work into it his
favorite theory of history, which now fills the last three or
four chapters of the "Education," and he could not satisfy
himself with his workmanship. At all events, he was still
pondering over the problem in 1910, when he tried to deal with it
in another way which might be more intelligible to students. He
printed a small volume called "A Letter to American Teachers,"
which he sent to his associates in the American Historical
Association, hoping to provoke some response. Before he could
satisfy himself even on this minor point, a severe illness in the
spring of 1912 put an end to his literary activity forever.

  The matter soon passed beyond his control. In 1913 the
Institute of Architects published the "Mont-Saint-Michel and
Chartres." Already the "Education" had become almost as well
known as the "Chartres," and was freely quoted by every book
whose author requested it. The author could no longer withdraw
either volume; he could no longer rewrite either, and he could
not publish that which he thought unprepared and unfinished,
although in his opinion the other was historically purposeless
without its sequel. In the end, he preferred to leave the
"Education" unpublished, avowedly incomplete, trusting that it
might quietly fade from memory. According to his theory of
history as explained in Chapters XXXIII and XXXIV, the teacher
was at best helpless, and, in the immediate future, silence next
to good-temper was the mark of sense. After midsummer, 1914, the
rule was made absolute. 

  The Massachusetts Historical Society now publishes the
"Education" as it was printed in 1907, with only such marginal
corrections as the author made, and it does this, not in
opposition to the author's judgment, but only to put both volumes
equally within reach of students who have occasion to consult


September, 1918


  JEAN JACQUES ROUSSEAU began his famous Confessions by a
vehement appeal to the Deity: "I have shown myself as I was;
contemptible and vile when I was so; good, generous, sublime when
I was so; I have unveiled my interior such as Thou thyself hast
seen it, Eternal Father! Collect about me the innumerable swarm
of my fellows; let them hear my confessions; let them groan at my
unworthiness; let them blush at my meannesses! Let each of them
discover his heart in his turn at the foot of thy throne with the
same sincerity; and then let any one of them tell thee if he
dares: 'I was a better man!' " 

  Jean Jacques was a very great educator in the manner of the
eighteenth century, and has been commonly thought to have had
more influence than any other teacher of his time; but his
peculiar method of improving human nature has not been
universally admired. Most educators of the nineteenth century
have declined to show themselves before their scholars as objects
more vile or contemptible than necessary, and even the humblest
teacher hides, if possible, the faults with which nature has
generously embellished us all, as it did Jean Jacques, thinking,
as most religious minds are apt to do, that the Eternal Father
himself may not feel unmixed pleasure at our thrusting under his
eyes chiefly the least agreeable details of his creation. 

  As an unfortunate result the twentieth century finds few recent
guides to avoid, or to follow. American literature offers
scarcely one working model for high education. The student must
go back, beyond Jean Jacques, to Benjamin Franklin, to find a
model even of self-teaching. Except in the abandoned sphere of
the dead languages, no one has discussed what part of education
has, in his personal experience, turned out to be useful, and
what not. This volume attempts to discuss it.

  As educator, Jean Jacques was, in one respect, easily first; he
erected a monument of warning against the Ego. Since his time,
and largely thanks to him, the Ego has steadily tended to efface
itself, and, for purposes of model, to become a manikin on which
the toilet of education is to be draped in order to show the fit
or misfit of the clothes. The object of study is the garment, not
the figure. The tailor adapts the manikin as well as the clothes
to his patron's wants. The tailor's object, in this volume, is to
fit young men, in universities or elsewhere, to be men of the
world, equipped for any emergency; and the garment offered to
them is meant to show the faults of the patchwork fitted on their

  At the utmost, the active-minded young man should ask of his
teacher only mastery of his tools. The young man himself, the
subject of education, is a certain form of energy; the object to
be gained is economy of his force; the training is partly the
clearing away of obstacles, partly the direct application of
effort. Once acquired, the tools and models may be thrown away.

  The manikin, therefore, has the same value as any other
geometrical figure of three or more dimensions, which is used for
the study of relation. For that purpose it cannot be spared; it
is the only measure of motion, of proportion, of human condition;
it must have the air of reality; must be taken for real; must be
treated as though it had life. Who knows? Possibly it had!

February 16, 1907



QUINCY (1838-1848)

  UNDER the shadow of Boston State House, turning its back on the
house of John Hancock, the little passage called Hancock Avenue
runs, or ran, from Beacon Street, skirting the State House
grounds, to Mount Vernon Street, on the summit of Beacon Hill;
and there, in the third house below Mount Vernon Place, February
16, 1838, a child was born, and christened later by his uncle,
the minister of the First Church after the tenets of Boston
Unitarianism, as Henry Brooks Adams.

  Had he been born in Jerusalem under the shadow of the Temple
and circumcised in the Synagogue by his uncle the high priest,
under the name of Israel Cohen, he would scarcely have been more
distinctly branded, and not much more heavily handicapped in the
races of the coming century, in running for such stakes as the
century was to offer; but, on the other hand, the ordinary
traveller, who does not enter the field of racing, finds
advantage in being, so to speak, ticketed through life, with the
safeguards of an old, established traffic. Safeguards are often
irksome, but sometimes convenient, and if one needs them at all,
one is apt to need them badly. A hundred years earlier, such
safeguards as his would have secured any young man's success; and
although in 1838 their value was not very great compared with
what they would have had in 1738, yet the mere accident of
starting a twentieth-century career from a nest of associations
so colonial, -- so troglodytic -- as the First Church, the Boston
State House, Beacon Hill, John Hancock and John Adams, Mount
Vernon Street and Quincy, all crowding on ten pounds of
unconscious babyhood, was so queer as to offer a subject of
curious speculation to the baby long after he had witnessed the
solution. What could become of such a child of the seventeenth
and eighteenth centuries, when he should wake up to find himself
required to play the game of the twentieth? Had he been
consulted, would he have cared to play the game at all, holding
such cards as he held, and suspecting that the game was to be one
of which neither he nor any one else back to the beginning of
time knew the rules or the risks or the stakes? He was not
consulted and was not responsible, but had he been taken into the
confidence of his parents, he would certainly have told them to
change nothing as far as concerned him. He would have been
astounded by his own luck. Probably no child, born in the year,
held better cards than he. Whether life was an honest game of
chance, or whether the cards were marked and forced, he could not
refuse to play his excellent hand. He could never make the usual
plea of irresponsibility. He accepted the situation as though he
had been a party to it, and under the same circumstances would do
it again, the more readily for knowing the exact values. To his
life as a whole he was a consenting, contracting party and
partner from the moment he was born to the moment he died. Only
with that understanding -- as a consciously assenting member in
full partnership with the society of his age -- had his education
an interest to himself or to others. 

  As it happened, he never got to the point of playing the game
at all; he lost himself in the study of it, watching the errors
of the players; but this is the only interest in the story, which
otherwise has no moral and little incident. A story of education
-- seventy years of it -- the practical value remains to the end
in doubt, like other values about which men have disputed since
the birth of Cain and Abel; but the practical value of the
universe has never been stated in dollars. Although every one
cannot be a Gargantua-Napoleon-Bismarck and walk off with the
great bells of Notre Dame, every one must bear his own universe,
and most persons are moderately interested in learning how their
neighbors have managed to carry theirs. 

  This problem of education, started in 1838, went on for three
years, while the baby grew, like other babies, unconsciously, as
a vegetable, the outside world working as it never had worked
before, to get his new universe ready for him. Often in old age
he puzzled over the question whether, on the doctrine of chances,
he was at liberty to accept himself or his world as an accident.
No such accident had ever happened before in human experience.
For him, alone, the old universe was thrown into the ash-heap and
a new one created. He and his eighteenth-century, troglodytic
Boston were suddenly cut apart -- separated forever -- in act if
not in sentiment, by the opening of the Boston and Albany
Railroad; the appearance of the first Cunard steamers in the bay;
and the telegraphic messages which carried from Baltimore to
Washington the news that Henry Clay and James K. Polk were
nominated for the Presidency. This was in May, 1844; he was six
years old ; his new world was ready for use, and only fragments
of the old met his eyes. 

  Of all this that was being done to complicate his education, he
knew only the color of yellow. He first found himself sitting on
a yellow kitchen floor in strong sunlight. He was three years old
when he took this earliest step in education; a lesson of color.
The second followed soon; a lesson of taste. On December 3, 1841,
he developed scarlet fever. For several days he was as good as
dead, reviving only under the careful nursing of his family. When
he began to recover strength, about January 1, 1842, his hunger
must have been stronger than any other pleasure or pain, for
while in after life he retained not the faintest recollection of
his illness, he remembered quite clearly his aunt entering the
sickroom bearing in her hand a saucer with a baked apple. 

  The order of impressions retained by memory might naturally be
that of color and taste, although one would rather suppose that
the sense of pain would be first to educate. In fact, the third
recollection of the child was that of discomfort. The moment he
could be removed, he was bundled up in blankets and carried from
the little house in Hancock Avenue to a larger one which his
parents were to occupy for the rest of their lives in the
neighboring Mount Vernon Street. The season was midwinter,
January 10, 1842, and he never forgot his acute distress for want
of air under his blankets, or the noises of moving furniture. 

  As a means of variation from a normal type, sickness in
childhood ought to have a certain value not to be classed under
any fitness or unfitness of natural selection; and especially
scarlet fever affected boys seriously, both physically and in
character, though they might through life puzzle themselves to
decide whether it had fitted or unfitted them for success; but
this fever of Henry Adams took greater and greater importance in
his eyes, from the point of view of education, the longer he
lived. At first, the effect was physical. He fell behind his
brothers two or three inches in height, and proportionally in
bone and weight. His character and processes of mind seemed to
share in this fining-down process of scale. He was not good in a
fight, and his nerves were more delicate than boys' nerves ought
to be. He exaggerated these weaknesses as he grew older. The
habit of doubt; of distrusting his own judgment and of totally
rejecting the judgment of the world; the tendency to regard every
question as open; the hesitation to act except as a choice of
evils; the shirking of responsibility; the love of line, form,
quality; the horror of ennui; the passion for companionship and
the antipathy to society -- all these are well-known qualities of
New England character in no way peculiar to individuals but in
this instance they seemed to be stimulated by the fever, and
Henry Adams could never make up his mind whether, on the whole,
the change of character was morbid or healthy, good or bad for
his purpose. His brothers were the type; he was the variation. 

  As far as the boy knew, the sickness did not affect him at all,
and he grew up in excellent health, bodily and mental, taking
life as it was given; accepting its local standards without a
dificulty, and enjoying much of it as keenly as any other boy of
his age. He seemed to himself quite normal, and his companions
seemed always to think him so. Whatever was peculiar about him
was education, not character, and came to him, directly and
indirectly, as the result of that eighteenth-century inheritance
which he took with his name. 

  The atmosphere of education in which he lived was colonial,
revolutionary, almost Cromwellian, as though he were steeped,
from his greatest grandmother's birth, in the odor of political
crime. Resistance to something was the law of New England nature;
the boy looked out on the world with the instinct of resistance;
for numberless generations his predecessors had viewed the world
chiefly as a thing to be reformed, filled with evil forces to be
abolished, and they saw no reason to suppose that they had wholly
succeeded in the abolition; the duty was unchanged. That duty
implied not only resistance to evil, but hatred of it. Boys
naturally look on all force as an enemy, and generally find it
so, but the New Englander, whether boy or man, in his long
struggle with a stingy or hostile universe, had learned also to
love the pleasure of hating; his joys were few. 

  Politics, as a practice, whatever its professions, had always
been the systematic organization of hatreds, and Massachusetts
politics had been as harsh as the climate. The chief charm of New
England was harshness of contrasts and extremes of sensibility --
a cold that froze the blood, and a heat that boiled it -- so that
the pleasure of hating -- one's self if no better victim offered
-- was not its rarest amusement; but the charm was a true and
natural child of the soil, not a cultivated weed of the ancients.
The violence of the contrast was real and made the strongest
motive of education. The double exterior nature gave life its
relative values. Winter and summer, cold and heat, town and
country, force and freedom, marked two modes of life and thought,
balanced like lobes of the brain. Town was winter confinement,
school, rule, discipline; straight, gloomy streets, piled with
six feet of snow in the middle; frosts that made the snow sing
under wheels or runners; thaws when the streets became dangerous
to cross; society of uncles, aunts, and cousins who expected
children to behave themselves, and who were not always gratified;
above all else, winter represented the desire to escape and go
free. Town was restraint, law, unity. Country, only seven miles
away, was liberty, diversity, outlawry, the endless delight of
mere sense impressions given by nature for nothing, and breathed
by boys without knowing it. 

  Boys are wild animals, rich in the treasures of sense, but the
New England boy had a wider range of emotions than boys of more
equable climates. He felt his nature crudely, as it was meant. To
the boy Henry Adams, summer was drunken. Among senses, smell was
the strongest -- smell of hot pine-woods and sweet-fern in the
scorching summer noon; of new-mown hay; of ploughed earth; of box
hedges; of peaches, lilacs, syringas; of stables, barns,
cow-yards; of salt water and low tide on the marshes; nothing
came amiss. Next to smell came taste, and the children knew the
taste of everything they saw or touched, from pennyroyal and
flagroot to the shell of a pignut and the letters of a
spelling-book -- the taste of A-B, AB, suddenly revived on the
boy's tongue sixty years afterwards. Light, line, and color as
sensual pleasures, came later and were as crude as the rest. The
New England light is glare, and the atmosphere harshens color.
The boy was a full man before he ever knew what was meant by
atmosphere; his idea of pleasure in light was the blaze of a New
England sun. His idea of color was a peony, with the dew of early
morning on its petals. The intense blue of the sea, as he saw it
a mile or two away, from the Quincy hills; the cumuli in a June
afternoon sky; the strong reds and greens and purples of colored
prints and children's picture-books, as the American colors then
ran; these were ideals. The opposites or antipathies, were the
cold grays of November evenings, and the thick, muddy thaws of
Boston winter. With such standards, the Bostonian could not but
develop a double nature. Life was a double thing. After a January
blizzard, the boy who could look with pleasure into the violent
snow-glare of the cold white sunshine, with its intense light and
shade, scarcely knew what was meant by tone. He could reach it
only by education. 

  Winter and summer, then, were two hostile lives, and bred two
separate natures. Winter was always the effort to live; summer
was tropical license. Whether the children rolled in the grass,
or waded in the brook, or swam in the salt ocean, or sailed in
the bay, or fished for smelts in the creeks, or netted minnows in
the salt-marshes, or took to the pine-woods and the granite
quarries, or chased muskrats and hunted snapping-turtles in the
swamps, or mushrooms or nuts on the autumn hills, summer and
country were always sensual living, while winter was always
compulsory learning. Summer was the multiplicity of nature;
winter was school.

  The bearing of the two seasons on the education of Henry Adams
was no fancy; it was the most decisive force he ever knew; it ran
though life, and made the division between its perplexing,
warring, irreconcilable problems, irreducible opposites, with
growing emphasis to the last year of study. From earliest
childhood the boy was accustomed to feel that, for him, life was
double. Winter and summer, town and country, law and liberty,
were hostile, and the man who pretended they were not, was in his
eyes a schoolmaster -- that is, a man employed to tell lies to
little boys. Though Quincy was but two hours' walk from Beacon
Hill, it belonged in a different world. For two hundred years,
every Adams, from father to son, had lived within sight of State
Street, and sometimes had lived in it, yet none had ever taken
kindly to the town, or been taken kindly by it. The boy inherited
his double nature. He knew as yet nothing about his
great-grandfather, who had died a dozen years before his own
birth: he took for granted that any great-grandfather of his must
have always been good, and his enemies wicked; but he divined his
great-grandfather's character from his own. Never for a moment
did he connect the two ideas of Boston and John Adams; they were
separate and antagonistic; the idea of John Adams went with
Quincy. He knew his grandfather John Quincy Adams only as an old
man of seventy-five or eighty who was friendly and gentle with
him, but except that he heard his grandfather always called "the
President," and his grandmother "the Madam," he had no reason to
suppose that his Adams grandfather differed in character from his
Brooks grandfather who was equally kind and benevolent. He liked
the Adams side best, but for no other reason than that it
reminded him of the country, the summer, and the absence of
restraint. Yet he felt also that Quincy was in a way inferior to
Boston, and that socially Boston looked down on Quincy. The
reason was clear enough even to a five-year old child. Quincy had
no Boston style. Little enough style had either; a simpler manner
of life and thought could hardly exist, short of cave-dwelling.
The flint-and-steel with which his grandfather Adams used to
light his own fires in the early morning was still on the
mantelpiece of his study. The idea of a livery or even a dress
for servants, or of an evening toilette, was next to blasphemy.
Bathrooms, water-supplies, lighting, heating, and the whole array
of domestic comforts, were unknown at Quincy. Boston had already
a bathroom, a water-supply, a furnace, and gas. The superiority
of Boston was evident, but a child liked it no better for that. 

  The magnificence of his grandfather Brooks's house in Pearl
Street or South Street has long ago disappeared, but perhaps his
country house at Medford may still remain to show what impressed
the mind of a boy in 1845 with the idea of city splendor. The
President's place at Quincy was the larger and older and far the
more interesting of the two; but a boy felt at once its
inferiority in fashion. It showed plainly enough its want of
wealth. It smacked of colonial age, but not of Boston style or
plush curtains. To the end of his life he never quite overcame
the prejudice thus drawn in with his childish breath. He never
could compel himself to care for nineteenth-century style. He was
never able to adopt it, any more than his father or grandfather
or great-grandfather had done. Not that he felt it as
particularly hostile, for he reconciled himself to much that was
worse; but because, for some remote reason, he was born an
eighteenth-century child. The old house at Quincy was eighteenth
century. What style it had was in its Queen Anne mahogany panels
and its Louis Seize chairs and sofas. The panels belonged to an
old colonial Vassall who built the house; the furniture had been
brought back from Paris in 1789 or 1801 or 1817, along with
porcelain and books and much else of old diplomatic remnants; and
neither of the two eighteenth-century styles -- neither English
Queen Anne nor French Louis Seize -- was cofortable for a boy, or
for any one else. The dark mahogany had been painted white to
suit daily life in winter gloom. Nothing seemed to favor, for a
child's objects, the older forms. On the contrary, most boys, as
well as grown-up people, preferred the new, with good reason, and
the child felt himself distinctly at a disadvantage for the

  Nor had personal preference any share in his bias. The Brooks
grandfather was as amiable and as sympathetic as the Adams
grandfather. Both were born in 1767, and both died in 1848. Both
were kind to children, and both belonged rather to the eighteenth
than to the nineteenth centuries. The child knew no difference
between them except that one was associated with winter and the
other with summer; one with Boston, the other with Quincy. Even
with Medford, the association was hardly easier. Once as a very
young boy he was taken to pass a few days with his grandfather
Brooks under charge of his aunt, but became so violently homesick
that within twenty-four hours he was brought back in disgrace.
Yet he could not remember ever being seriously homesick again. 

  The attachment to Quincy was not altogether sentimental or
wholly sympathetic. Quincy was not a bed of thornless roses. Even
there the curse of Cain set its mark. There as elsewhere a cruel
universe combined to crush a child. As though three or four
vigorous brothers and sisters, with the best will, were not
enough to crush any child, every one else conspired towards an
education which he hated. From cradle to grave this problem of
running order through chaos, direction through space, discipline
through freedom, unity through multiplicity, has always been, and
must always be, the task of education, as it is the moral of
religion, philosophy, science, art, politics, and economy; but a
boy's will is his life, and he dies when it is broken, as the
colt dies in harness, taking a new nature in becoming tame.
Rarely has the boy felt kindly towards his tamers. Between him
and his master has always been war. Henry Adams never knew a boy
of his generation to like a master, and the task of remaining on
friendly terms with one's own family, in such a relation, was
never easy. 

  All the more singular it seemed afterwards to him that his
first serious contact with the President should have been a
struggle of will, in which the old man almost necessarily
defeated the boy, but instead of leaving, as usual in such
defeats, a lifelong sting, left rather an impression of as fair
treatment as could be expected from a natural enemy. The boy met
seldom with such restraint. He could not have been much more than
six years old at the time -- seven at the utmost -- and his
mother had taken him to Quincy for a long stay with the President
during the summer. What became of the rest of the family he quite
forgot; but he distinctly remembered standing at the house door
one summer morning in a passionate outburst of rebellion against
going to school. Naturally his mother was the immediate victim of
his rage; that is what mothers are for, and boys also; but in
this case the boy had his mother at unfair disadvantage, for she
was a guest, and had no means of enforcing obedience. Henry
showed a certain tactical ability by refusing to start, and he
met all efforts at compulsion by successful, though too vehement
protest. He was in fair way to win, and was holding his own, with
sufficient energy, at the bottom of the long staircase which led
up to the door of the President's library, when the door opened,
and the old man slowly came down. Putting on his hat, he took the
boy's hand without a word, and walked with him, paralyzed by awe,
up the road to the town. After the first moments of consternation
at this interference in a domestic dispute, the boy reflected
that an old gentleman close on eighty would never trouble himself
to walk near a mile on a hot summer morning over a shadeless road
to take a boy to school, and that it would be strange if a lad
imbued with the passion of freedom could not find a corner to
dodge around, somewhere before reaching the school door. Then and
always, the boy insisted that this reasoning justified his
apparent submission; but the old man did not stop, and the boy
saw all his strategical points turned, one after another, until
he found himself seated inside the school, and obviously the
centre of curious if not malevolent criticism. Not till then did
the President release his hand and depart.

  The point was that this act, contrary to the inalienable rights
of boys, and nullifying the social compact, ought to have made
him dislike his grandfather for life. He could not recall that it
had this effect even for a moment. With a certain maturity of
mind, the child must have recognized that the President, though a
tool of tyranny, had done his disreputable work with a certain
intelligence. He had shown no temper, no irritation, no personal
feeling, and had made no display of force. Above all, he had held
his tongue. During their long walk he had said nothing; he had
uttered no syllable of revolting cant about the duty of obedience
and the wickedness of resistance to law; he had shown no concern
in the matter; hardly even a consciousness of the boy's
existence. Probably his mind at that moment was actually
troubling itself little about his grandson's iniquities, and much
about the iniquities of President Polk, but the boy could
scarcely at that age feel the whole satisfaction of thinking that
President Polk was to be the vicarious victim of his own sins,
and he gave his grandfather credit for intelligent silence. For
this forbearance he felt instinctive respect. He admitted force
as a form of right; he admitted even temper, under protest; but
the seeds of a moral education would at that moment have fallen
on the stoniest soil in Quincy, which is, as every one knows, the
stoniest glacial and tidal drift known in any Puritan land.

  Neither party to this momentary disagreement can have felt
rancor, for during these three or four summers the old
President's relations with the boy were friendly and almost
intimate. Whether his older brothers and sisters were still more
favored he failed to remember, but he was himself admitted to a
sort of familiarity which, when in his turn he had reached old
age, rather shocked him, for it must have sometimes tried the
President's patience. He hung about the library; handled the
books; deranged the papers; ransacked the drawers; searched the
old purses and pocket-books for foreign coins; drew the
sword-cane; snapped the travelling-pistols; upset everything in
the corners, and penetrated the President's dressing-closet where
a row of tumblers, inverted on the shelf, covered caterpillars
which were supposed to become moths or butterflies, but never
did. The Madam bore with fortitude the loss of the tumblers which
her husband purloined for these hatcheries; but she made protest
when he carried off her best cut-glass bowls to plant with acorns
or peachstones that he might see the roots grow, but which, she
said, he commonly forgot like the caterpillars. 

  At that time the President rode the hobby of tree-culture, and
some fine old trees should still remain to witness it, unless
they have been improved off the ground; but his was a restless
mind, and although he took his hobbies seriously and would have
been annoyed had his grandchild asked whether he was bored like
an English duke, he probably cared more for the processes than
for the results, so that his grandson was saddened by the sight
and smell of peaches and pears, the best of their kind, which he
brought up from the garden to rot on his shelves for seed. With
the inherited virtues of his Puritan ancestors, the little boy
Henry conscientiously brought up to him in his study the finest
peaches he found in the garden, and ate only the less perfect.
Naturally he ate more by way of compensation, but the act showed
that he bore no grudge. As for his grandfather, it is even
possible that he may have felt a certain self-reproach for his
temporary role of schoolmaster -- seeing that his own career did
not offer proof of the worldly advantages of docile obedience --
for there still exists somewhere a little volume of critically
edited Nursery Rhymes with the boy's name in full written in the
President's trembling hand on the fly-leaf. Of course there was
also the Bible, given to each child at birth, with the proper
inscription in the President's hand on the fly-leaf; while their
grandfather Brooks supplied the silver mugs. 

  So many Bibles and silver mugs had to be supplied, that a new
house, or cottage, was built to hold them. It was "on the hill,"
five minutes' walk above "the old house," with a far view
eastward over Quincy Bay, and northward over Boston. Till his
twelfth year, the child passed his summers there, and his
pleasures of childhood mostly centred in it. Of education he had
as yet little to complain. Country schools were not very serious.
Nothing stuck to the mind except home impressions, and the
sharpest were those of kindred children; but as influences that
warped a mind, none compared with the mere effect of the back of
the President's bald head, as he sat in his pew on Sundays, in
line with that of President Quincy, who, though some ten years
younger, seemed to children about the same age. Before railways
entered the New England town, every parish church showed
half-a-dozen of these leading citizens, with gray hair, who sat
on the main aisle in the best pews, and had sat there, or in some
equivalent dignity, since the time of St. Augustine, if not since
the glacial epoch. It was unusual for boys to sit behind a
President grandfather, and to read over his head the tablet in
memory of a President great-grandfather, who had "pledged his
life, his fortune, and his sacred honor" to secure the
independence of his country and so forth; but boys naturally
supposed, without much reasoning, that other boys had the
equivalent of President grandfathers, and that churches would
always go on, with the bald-headed leading citizens on the main
aisle, and Presidents or their equivalents on the walls. The
Irish gardener once said to the child: "You'll be thinkin' you'll
be President too!" The casuality of the remark made so strong an
impression on his mind that he never forgot it. He could not
remember ever to have thought on the subject; to him, that there
should be a doubt of his being President was a new idea. What had
been would continue to be. He doubted neither about Presidents
nor about Churches, and no one suggested at that time a doubt
whether a system of society which had lasted since Adam would
outlast one Adams more. 

  The Madam was a little more remote than the President, but more
decorative. She stayed much in her own room with the Dutch tiles,
looking out on her garden with the box walks, and seemed a
fragile creature to a boy who sometimes brought her a note or a
message, and took distinct pleasure in looking at her delicate
face under what seemed to him very becoming caps. He liked her
refined figure ; her gentle voice and manner; her vague effect of
not belonging there, but to Washington or to Europe, like her
furniture, and writing-desk with little glass doors above and
little eighteenth-century volumes in old binding, labelled
"Peregrine Pickle" or "Tom Jones" or "Hannah More." Try as she
might, the Madam could never be Bostonian, and it was her cross
in life, but to the boy it was her charm. Even at that age, he
felt drawn to it. The Madam's life had been in truth far from
Boston. She was born in London in 1775, daughter of Joshua
Johnson, an American merchant, brother of Governor Thomas Johnson
of Maryland; and Catherine Nuth, of an English family in London.
Driven from England by the Revolutionary War, Joshua Johnson took
his family to Nantes, where they remained till the peace. The
girl Louisa Catherine was nearly ten years old when brought back
to London, and her sense of nationality must have been confused;
but the influence of the Johnsons and the services of Joshua
obtained for him from President Washington the appointment of
Consul in London on the organization of the Government in 1790.
In 1794 President Washington appointed John Quincy Adams Minister
to The Hague. He was twenty-seven years old when he returned to
London, and found the Consul's house a very agreeable haunt.
Louisa was then twenty.

  At that time, and long afterwards, the Consul's house, far more
than the Minister's, was the centre of contact for travelling
Americans, either official or other. The Legation was a shifting
point, between 1785 and 1815; but the Consulate, far down in the
City, near the Tower, was convenient and inviting; so inviting
that it proved fatal to young Adams. Louisa was charming, like a
Romney portrait, but among her many charms that of being a New
England woman was not one. The defect was serious. Her future
mother-in-law, Abigail, a famous New England woman whose
authority over her turbulent husband, the second President, was
hardly so great as that which she exercised over her son, the
sixth to be, was troubled by the fear that Louisa might not be
made of stuff stern enough, or brought up in conditions severe
enough, to suit a New England climate, or to make an efficient
wife for her paragon son, and Abigail was right on that point, as
on most others where sound judgment was involved; but sound
judgment is sometimes a source of weakness rather than of force,
and John Quincy already had reason to think that his mother held
sound judgments on the subject of daughters-in-law which human
nature, since the fall of Eve, made Adams helpless to realize.
Being three thousand miles away from his mother, and equally far
in love, he married Louisa in London, July 26, 1797, and took her
to Berlin to be the head of the United States Legation. During
three or four exciting years, the young bride lived in Berlin;
whether she was happy or not, whether she was content or not,
whether she was socially successful or not, her descendants did
not surely know; but in any case she could by no chance have
become educated there for a life in Quincy or Boston. In 1801 the
overthrow of the Federalist Party drove her and her husband to
America, and she became at last a member of the Quincy household,
but by that time her children needed all her attention, and she
remained there with occasional winters in Boston and Washington,
till 1809. Her husband was made Senator in 1803, and in 1809 was
appointed Minister to Russia. She went with him to St.
Petersburg, taking her baby, Charles Francis, born in 1807; but
broken-hearted at having to leave her two older boys behind. The
life at St. Petersburg was hardly gay for her; they were far too
poor to shine in that extravagant society; but she survived it,
though her little girl baby did not, and in the winter of
1814-15, alone with the boy of seven years old, crossed Europe
from St. Petersburg to Paris, in her travelling-carriage, passing
through the armies, and reaching Paris in the Cent Jours after
Napoleon's return from Elba. Her husband next went to England as
Minister, and she was for two years at the Court of the Regent.
In 1817 her husband came home to be Secretary of State, and she
lived for eight years in F Street, doing her work of entertainer
for President Monroe's administration. Next she lived four
miserable years in the White House. When that chapter was closed
in 1829, she had earned the right to be tired and delicate, but
she still had fifteen years to serve as wife of a Member of the
House, after her husband went back to Congress in 1833. Then it
was that the little Henry, her grandson, first remembered her,
from 1843 to 1848, sitting in her panelled room, at breakfast,
with her heavy silver teapot and sugar-bowl and cream-jug, which
still exist somewhere as an heirloom of the modern safety-vault.
By that time she was seventy years old or more, and thoroughly
weary of being beaten about a stormy world. To the boy she seemed
singularly peaceful, a vision of silver gray, presiding over her
old President and her Queen Anne mahogany; an exotic, like her
Sevres china; an object of deference to every one, and of great
affection to her son Charles; but hardly more Bostonian than she
had been fifty years before, on her wedding-day, in the shadow of
the Tower of London.

  Such a figure was even less fitted than that of her old
husband, the President, to impress on a boy's mind, the standards
of the coming century. She was Louis Seize, like the furniture.
The boy knew nothing of her interior life, which had been, as the
venerable Abigail, long since at peace, foresaw, one of severe
stress and little pure satisfaction. He never dreamed that from
her might come some of those doubts and self-questionings, those
hesitations, those rebellions against law and discipline, which
marked more than one of her descendants; but he might even then
have felt some vague instinctive suspicion that he was to inherit
from her the seeds of the primal sin, the fall from grace, the
curse of Abel, that he was not of pure New England stock, but
half exotic. As a child of Quincy he was not a true Bostonian,
but even as a child of Quincy he inherited a quarter taint of
Maryland blood. Charles Francis, half Marylander by birth, had
hardly seen Boston till he was ten years old, when his parents
left him there at school in 1817, and he never forgot the
experience. He was to be nearly as old as his mother had been in
1845, before he quite accepted Boston, or Boston quite accepted

  A boy who began his education in these surroundings, with
physical strength inferior to that of his brothers, and with a
certain delicacy of mind and bone, ought rightly to have felt at
home in the eighteenth century and should, in proper
self-respect, have rebelled against the standards of the
nineteenth. The atmosphere of his first ten years must have been
very like that of his grandfather at the same age, from 1767 till
1776, barring the battle of Bunker Hill, and even as late as
1846, the battle of Bunker Hill remained actual. The tone of
Boston society was colonial. The true Bostonian always knelt in
self-abasement before the majesty of English standards; far from
concealing it as a weakness, he was proud of it as his strength.
The eighteenth century ruled society long after 1850. Perhaps the
boy began to shake it off rather earlier than most of his mates. 

  Indeed this prehistoric stage of education ended rather
abruptly with his tenth year. One winter morning he was conscious
of a certain confusion in the house in Mount Vernon Street, and
gathered, from such words as he could catch, that the President,
who happened to be then staying there, on his way to Washington,
had fallen and hurt himself. Then he heard the word paralysis.
After that day he came to associate the word with the figure of
his grandfather, in a tall-backed, invalid armchair, on one side
of the spare bedroom fireplace, and one of his old friends, Dr.
Parkman or P. P. F. Degrand, on the other side, both dozing. 

  The end of this first, or ancestral and Revolutionary, chapter
came on February 21, 1848 -- and the month of February brought
life and death as a family habit -- when the eighteenth century,
as an actual and living companion, vanished. If the scene on the
floor of the House, when the old President fell, struck the still
simple-minded American public with a sensation unusually
dramatic, its effect on a ten-year-old boy, whose boy-life was
fading away with the life of his grandfather, could not be
slight. One had to pay for Revolutionary patriots; grandfathers
and grandmothers; Presidents; diplomats; Queen Anne mahogany and
Louis Seize chairs, as well as for Stuart portraits. Such things
warp young life. Americans commonly believed that they ruined it,
and perhaps the practical common-sense of the American mind
judged right. Many a boy might be ruined by much less than the
emotions of the funeral service in the Quincy church, with its
surroundings of national respect and family pride. By another
dramatic chance it happened that the clergyman of the parish, Dr.
Lunt, was an unusual pulpit orator, the ideal of a somewhat
austere intellectual type, such as the school of Buckminster and
Channing inherited from the old Congregational clergy. His
extraordinarily refined appearance, his dignity of manner, his
deeply cadenced voice, his remarkable English and his fine
appreciation, gave to the funeral service a character that left
an overwhelming impression on the boy's mind. He was to see many
great functions -- funerals and festival -- in after-life, till
his only thought was to see no more, but he never again witnessed
anything nearly so impressive to him as the last services at
Quincy over the body of one President and the ashes of another.

  The effect of the Quincy service was deepened by the official
ceremony which afterwards took place in Faneuil Hall, when the
boy was taken to hear his uncle, Edward Everett, deliver a
Eulogy. Like all Mr. Everett's orations, it was an admirable
piece of oratory, such as only an admirable orator and scholar
could create; too good for a ten-year-old boy to appreciate at
its value; but already the boy knew that the dead President could
not be in it, and had even learned why he would have been out of
place there; for knowledge was beginning to come fast. The shadow
of the War of 1812 still hung over State Street; the shadow of
the Civil War to come had already begun to darken Faneuil Hall.
No rhetoric could have reconciled Mr. Everett's audience to his
subject. How could he say there, to an assemblage of Bostonians
in the heart of mercantile Boston, that the only distinctive mark
of all the Adamses, since old Sam Adams's father a hundred and
fifty years before, had been their inherited quarrel with State
Street, which had again and again broken out into riot,
bloodshed, personal feuds, foreign and civil war, wholesale
banishments and confiscations, until the history of Florence was
hardly more turbulent than that of Boston? How could he whisper
the word Hartford Convention before the men who had made it? What
would have been said had he suggested the chance of Secession and
Civil War? 

  Thus already, at ten years old, the boy found himself standing
face to face with a dilemma that might have puzzled an early
Christian. What was he? -- where was he going? Even then he felt
that something was wrong, but he concluded that it must be
Boston. Quincy had always been right, for Quincy represented a
moral principle -- the principle of resistance to Boston. His
Adams ancestors must have been right, since they were always
hostile to State Street. If State Street was wrong, Quincy must
be right! Turn the dilemma as he pleased, he still came back on
the eighteenth century and the law of Resistance; of Truth; of
Duty, and of Freedom. He was a ten-year-old priest and
politician. He could under no circumstances have guessed what the
next fifty years had in store, and no one could teach him; but
sometimes, in his old age, he wondered -- and could never decide
-- whether the most clear and certain knowledge would have helped
him. Supposing he had seen a New York stock-list of 1900, and had
studied the statistics of railways, telegraphs, coal, and steel
-- would he have quitted his eighteenth-century, his ancestral
prejudices, his abstract ideals, his semi-clerical training, and
the rest, in order to perform an expiatory pilgrimage to State
Street, and ask for the fatted calf of his grandfather Brooks and
a clerkship in the Suffolk Bank? 

  Sixty years afterwards he was still unable to make up his mind.
Each course had its advantages, but the material advantages,
looking back, seemed to lie wholly in State Street.


BOSTON (1848-1854)

  PETER CHARDON BROOKS, the other grandfather, died January 1,
1849, bequeathing what was supposed to be the largest estate in
Boston, about two million dollars, to his seven surviving
children: four sons -- Edward, Peter Chardon, Gorham, and Sydney;
three daughters -- Charlotte, married to Edward Everett; Ann,
married to Nathaniel Frothingham, minister of the First Church;
and Abigail Brown, born April 25, 1808, married September 3,
1829, to Charles Francis Adams, hardly a year older than herself.
Their first child, born in 1830, was a daughter, named Louisa
Catherine, after her Johnson grandmother; the second was a son,
named John Quincy, after his President grandfather; the third
took his father's name, Charles Francis; while the fourth, being
of less account, was in a way given to his mother, who named him
Henry Brooks, after a favorite brother just lost. More followed,
but these, being younger, had nothing to do with the arduous
process of educating.

  The Adams connection was singularly small in Boston, but the
family of Brooks was singularly large and even brilliant, and
almost wholly of clerical New England stock. One might have
sought long in much larger and older societies for three
brothers-in-law more distinguished or more scholarly than Edward
Everett, Dr. Frothingham, and Mr. Adams. One might have sought
equally long for seven brothers-in-law more unlike. No doubt they
all bore more or less the stamp of Boston, or at least of
Massachusetts Bay, but the shades of difference amounted to
contrasts. Mr. Everett belonged to Boston hardly more than Mr.
Adams. One of the most ambitious of Bostonians, he had broken
bounds early in life by leaving the Unitarian pulpit to take a
seat in Congress where he had given valuable support to J. Q.
Adams's administration; support which, as a social consequence,
led to the marriage of the President's son, Charles Francis, with
Mr. Everett's youngest sister-in-law, Abigail Brooks. The wreck
of parties which marked the reign of Andrew Jackson had
interfered with many promising careers, that of Edward Everett
among the rest, but he had risen with the Whig Party to power,
had gone as Minister to England, and had returned to America with
the halo of a European reputation, and undisputed rank second
only to Daniel Webster as the orator and representative figure of
Boston. The other brother-in-law, Dr. Frothingham, belonged to
the same clerical school, though in manner rather the less
clerical of the two. Neither of them had much in common with Mr.
Adams, who was a younger man, greatly biassed by his father, and
by the inherited feud between Quincy and State Street; but
personal relations were friendly as far as a boy could see, and
the innumerable cousins went regularly to the First Church every
Sunday in winter, and slept through their uncle's sermons,
without once thinking to ask what the sermons were supposed to
mean for them. For two hundred years the First Church had seen
the same little boys, sleeping more or less soundly under the
same or similar conditions, and dimly conscious of the same
feuds; but the feuds had never ceased, and the boys had always
grown up to inherit them. Those of the generation of 1812 had
mostly disappeared in 1850; death had cleared that score; the
quarrels of John Adams, and those of John Quincy Adams were no
longer acutely personal; the game was considered as drawn; and
Charles Francis Adams might then have taken his inherited rights
of political leadership in succession to Mr. Webster and Mr.
Everett, his seniors. Between him and State Street the relation
was more natural than between Edward Everett and State Street;
but instead of doing so, Charles Francis Adams drew himself aloof
and renewed the old war which had already lasted since 1700. He
could not help it. With the record of J. Q. Adams fresh in the
popular memory, his son and his only representative could not
make terms with the slave-power, and the slave-power overshadowed
all the great Boston interests. No doubt Mr. Adams had principles
of his own, as well as inherited, but even his children, who as
yet had no principles, could equally little follow the lead of
Mr. Webster or even of Mr. Seward. They would have lost in
consideration more than they would have gained in patronage. They
were anti-slavery by birth, as their name was Adams and their
home was Quincy. No matter how much they had wished to enter
State Street, they felt that State Street never would trust them,
or they it. Had State Street been Paradise, they must hunger for
it in vain, and it hardly needed Daniel Webster to act as
archangel with the flaming sword, to order them away from the

  Time and experience, which alter all perspectives, altered this
among the rest, and taught the boy gentler judgment, but even
when only ten years old, his face was already fixed, and his
heart was stone, against State Street; his education was warped
beyond recovery in the direction of Puritan politics. Between him
and his patriot grandfather at the same age, the conditions had
changed little. The year 1848 was like enough to the year 1776 to
make a fair parallel. The parallel, as concerned bias of
education, was complete when, a few months after the death of
John Quincy Adams, a convention of anti-slavery delegates met at
Buffalo to organize a new party and named candidates for the
general election in November: for President, Martin Van Buren;
for Vice-President, Charles Francis Adams. 

  For any American boy the fact that his father was running for
office would have dwarfed for the time every other excitement,
but even apart from personal bias, the year 1848, for a boy's
road through life, was decisive for twenty years to come. There
was never a side-path of escape. The stamp of 1848 was almost as
indelible as the stamp of 1776, but in the eighteenth or any
earlier century, the stamp mattered less because it was standard,
and every one bore it; while men whose lives were to fall in the
generation between 1865 and 1900 had, first of all, to get rid of
it, and take the stamp that belonged to their time. This was
their education. To outsiders, immigrants, adventurers, it was
easy, but the old Puritan nature rebelled against change. The
reason it gave was forcible. The Puritan thought his thought
higher and his moral standards better than those of his
successors. So they were. He could not be convinced that moral
standards had nothing to do with it, and that utilitarian
morality was good enough for him, as it was for the graceless.
Nature had given to the boy Henry a character that, in any
previous century, would have led him into the Church; he
inherited dogma and a priori thought from the beginning of time;
and he scarcely needed a violent reaction like anti-slavery
politics to sweep him back into Puritanism with a violence as
great as that of a religious war. 

  Thus far he had nothing to do with it; his education was
chiefly inheritance, and during the next five or six years, his
father alone counted for much. If he were to worry successfully
through life's quicksands, he must depend chiefly on his father's
pilotage; but, for his father, the channel lay clear, while for
himself an unknown ocean lay beyond. His father's business in
life was to get past the dangers of the slave-power, or to fix
its bounds at least. The task done, he might be content to let
his sons pay for the pilotage; and it mattered little to his
success whether they paid it with their lives wasted on
battle-fields or in misdirected energies and lost opportunity.
The generation that lived from 1840 to 1870 could do very well
with the old forms of education; that which had its work to do
between 1870 and 1900 needed something quite new.

  His father's character was therefore the larger part of his
education, as far as any single person affected it, and for that
reason, if for no other, the son was always a much interested
critic of his father's mind and temper. Long after his death as
an old man of eighty, his sons continued to discuss this subject
with a good deal of difference in their points of view. To his
son Henry, the quality that distinguished his father from all the
other figures in the family group, was that, in his opinion,
Charles Francis Adams possessed the only perfectly balanced mind
that ever existed in the name. For a hundred years, every
newspaper scribbler had, with more or less obvious excuse,
derided or abused the older Adamses for want of judgment. They
abused Charles Francis for his judgment. Naturally they never
attempted to assign values to either; that was the children's
affair; but the traits were real. Charles Francis Adams was
singular for mental poise -- absence of self-assertion or
self-consciousness -- the faculty of standing apart without
seeming aware that he was alone -- a balance of mind and temper
that neither challenged nor avoided notice, nor admitted question
of superiority or inferiority, of jealousy, of personal motives,
from any source, even under great pressure. This unusual poise of
judgment and temper, ripened by age, became the more striking to
his son Henry as he learned to measure the mental faculties
themselves, which were in no way exceptional either for depth or
range. Charles Francis Adams's memory was hardly above the
average; his mind was not bold like his grandfather's or restless
like his father's, or imaginative or oratorical -- still less
mathematical; but it worked with singular perfection, admirable
self-restraint, and instinctive mastery of form. Within its range
it was a model. 

  The standards of Boston were high, much affected by the old
clerical self-respect which gave the Unitarian clergy unusual
social charm. Dr. Channing, Mr. Everett, Dr. Frothingham. Dr.
Palfrey, President Walker, R. W. Emerson, and other Boston
ministers of the same school, would have commanded distinction in
any society; but the Adamses had little or no affinity with the
pulpit, and still less with its eccentric offshoots, like
Theodore Parker, or Brook Farm, or the philosophy of Concord.
Besides its clergy, Boston showed a literary group, led by
Ticknor, Prescott, Longfellow, Motley, O. W. Holmes; but Mr.
Adams was not one of them; as a rule they were much too
Websterian. Even in science Boston could claim a certain
eminence, especially in medicine, but Mr. Adams cared very little
for science. He stood alone. He had no master -- hardly even his
father. He had no scholars -- hardly even his sons. 

  Almost alone among his Boston contemporaries, he was not
English in feeling or in sympathies. Perhaps a hundred years of
acute hostility to England had something to do with this family
trait; but in his case it went further and became indifference to
social distinction. Never once in forty years of intimacy did his
son notice in him a trace of snobbishness. He was one of the
exceedingly small number of Americans to whom an English duke or
duchess seemed to be indifferent, and royalty itself nothing more
than a slightly inconvenient presence. This was, it is true,
rather the tone of English society in his time, but Americans
were largely responsible for changing it, and Mr. Adams had every
possible reason for affecting the manner of a courtier even if he
did not feel the sentiment. Never did his son see him flatter or
vilify, or show a sign of envy or jealousy; never a shade of
vanity or self-conceit. Never a tone of arrogance! Never a
gesture of pride!

  The same thing might perhaps have been said of John Quincy
Adams, but in him his associates averred that it was accompanied
by mental restlessness and often by lamentable want of judgment.
No one ever charged Charles Francis Adams with this fault. The
critics charged him with just the opposite defect. They called
him cold. No doubt, such perfect poise -- such intuitive
self-adjustment -- was not maintained by nature without a
sacrifice of the qualities which would have upset it. No doubt,
too, that even his restless-minded, introspective, self-conscious
children who knew him best were much too ignorant of the world
and of human nature to suspect how rare and complete was the
model before their eyes. A coarser instrument would have
impressed them more. Average human nature is very coarse, and its
ideals must necessarily be average. The world never loved perfect
poise. What the world does love is commonly absence of poise, for
it has to be amused. Napoleons and Andrew Jacksons amuse it, but
it is not amused by perfect balance. Had Mr. Adams's nature been
cold, he would have followed Mr. Webster, Mr. Everett, Mr.
Seward, and Mr. Winthrop in the lines of party discipline and
self-interest. Had it been less balanced than it was, he would
have gone with Mr. Garrison, Mr. Wendell Phillips, Mr. Edmund
Quincy, and Theodore Parker, into secession. Between the two
paths he found an intermediate one, distinctive and
characteristic -- he set up a party of his own. 

  This political party became a chief influence in the education
of the boy Henry in the six years 1848 to 1854, and violently
affected his character at the moment when character is plastic.
The group of men with whom Mr. Adams associated himself, and
whose social centre was the house in Mount Vernon Street,
numbered only three: Dr. John G. Palfrey, Richard H. Dana, and
Charles Sumner. Dr. Palfrey was the oldest, and in spite of his
clerical education, was to a boy often the most agreeable, for
his talk was lighter and his range wider than that of the others;
he had wit, or humor, and the give-and-take of dinner-table
exchange. Born to be a man of the world, he forced himself to be
clergyman, professor, or statesman, while, like every other true
Bostonian, he yearned for the ease of the Athenaeum Club in Pall
Mall or the Combination Room at Trinity. Dana at first suggested
the opposite; he affected to be still before the mast, a direct,
rather bluff, vigorous seaman, and only as one got to know him
better one found the man of rather excessive refinement trying
with success to work like a day-laborer, deliberately hardening
his skin to the burden, as though he were still carrying hides at
Monterey. Undoubtedly he succeeded, for his mind and will were
robust, but he might have said what his lifelong friend William
M. Evarts used to say: "I pride myself on my success in doing not
the things I like to do, but the things I don't like to do."
Dana's ideal of life was to be a great Englishman, with a seat on
the front benches of the House of Commons until he should be
promoted to the woolsack; beyond all, with a social status that
should place him above the scuffle of provincial and
unprofessional annoyances; but he forced himself to take life as
it came, and he suffocated his longings with grim
self-discipline, by mere force of will. Of the four men, Dana was
the most marked. Without dogmatism or self-assertion, he seemed
always to be fully in sight, a figure that completely filled a
well-defined space. He, too, talked well, and his mind worked
close to its subject, as a lawyer's should; but disguise and
silence it as he liked, it was aristocratic to the tenth

  In that respect, and in that only, Charles Sumner was like him,
but Sumner, in almost every other quality, was quite different
from his three associates -- altogether out of line. He, too,
adored English standards, but his ambition led him to rival the
career of Edmund Burke. No young Bostonian of his time had made
so brilliant a start, but rather in the steps of Edward Everett
than of Daniel Webster. As an orator he had achieved a triumph by
his oration against war; but Boston admired him chiefly for his
social success in England and on the Continent; success that gave
to every Bostonian who enjoyed it a halo never acquired by
domestic sanctity. Mr. Sumner, both by interest and instinct,
felt the value of his English connection, and cultivated it the
more as he became socially an outcast from Boston society by the
passions of politics. He was rarely without a pocket-full of
letters from duchesses or noblemen in England. Having sacrificed
to principle his social position in America, he clung the more
closely to his foreign attachments. The Free Soil Party fared ill
in Beacon Street. The social arbiters of Boston -- George Ticknor
and the rest -- had to admit, however unwillingly, that the Free
Soil leaders could not mingle with the friends and followers of
Mr. Webster. Sumner was socially ostracized, and so, for that
matter, were Palfrey, Dana, Russell, Adams, and all the other
avowed anti-slavery leaders, but for them it mattered less,
because they had houses and families of their own; while Sumner
had neither wife nor household, and, though the most socially
ambitious of all, and the most hungry for what used to be called
polite society, he could enter hardly half-a-dozen houses in
Boston. Longfellow stood by him in Cambridge, and even in Beacon
Street he could always take refuge in the house of Mr. Lodge, but
few days passed when he did not pass some time in Mount Vernon
Street. Even with that, his solitude was glacial, and reacted on
his character. He had nothing but himself to think about. His
superiority was, indeed, real and incontestable; he was the
classical ornament of the anti-slavery party; their pride in him
was unbounded, and their admiration outspoken.

  The boy Henry worshipped him, and if he ever regarded any older
man as a personal friend, it was Mr. Sumner. The relation of Mr.
Sumner in the household was far closer than any relation of
blood. None of the uncles approached such intimacy. Sumner was
the boy's ideal of greatness; the highest product of nature and
art. The only fault of such a model was its superiority which
defied imitation. To the twelve-year-old boy, his father, Dr.
Palfrey, Mr. Dana, were men, more or less like what he himself
might become; but Mr. Sumner was a different order -- heroic. 

  As the boy grew up to be ten or twelve years old, his father
gave him a writing-table in one of the alcoves of his Boston
library, and there, winter after winter, Henry worked over his
Latin Grammar and listened to these four gentlemen discussing the
course of anti-slavery politics. The discussions were always
serious; the Free Soil Party took itself quite seriously; and
they were habitual because Mr. Adams had undertaken to edit a
newspaper as the organ of these gentlemen, who came to discuss
its policy and expression. At the same time Mr. Adams was editing
the "Works" of his grandfather John Adams, and made the boy
read texts for proof-correction. In after years his father
sometimes complained that, as a reader of Novanglus and
Massachusettensis, Henry had shown very little consciousness of
punctuation; but the boy regarded this part of school life only
as a warning, if he ever grew up to write dull discussions in the
newspapers, to try to be dull in some different way from that of
his great-grandfather. Yet the discussions in the Boston Whig
were carried on in much the same style as those of John Adams and
his opponent, and appealed to much the same society and the same
habit of mind. The boy got as little education, fitting him for
his own time, from the one as from the other, and he got no more
from his contact with the gentlemen themselves who were all types
of the past. 

  Down to 1850, and even later, New England society was still
directed by the professions. Lawyers, physicians, professors,
merchants were classes, and acted not as individuals, but as
though they were clergymen and each profession were a church. In
politics the system required competent expression; it was the old
Ciceronian idea of government by the best that produced the long
line of New England statesmen. They chose men to represent them
because they wanted to be well represented, and they chose the
best they had. Thus Boston chose Daniel Webster, and Webster
took, not as pay, but as honorarium, the cheques raised for him
by Peter Harvey from the Appletons, Perkinses, Amorys, Searses,
Brookses, Lawrences, and so on, who begged him to represent them.
Edward Everett held the rank in regular succession to Webster.
Robert C. Winthrop claimed succession to Everett. Charles Sumner
aspired to break the succession, but not the system. The Adamses
had never been, for any length of time, a part of this State
succession; they had preferred the national service, and had won
all their distinction outside the State, but they too had
required State support and had commonly received it. The little
group of men in Mount Vernon Street were an offshoot of this
system; they were statesmen, not politicians; they guided public
opinion, but were little guided by it. 

  The boy naturally learned only one lesson from his saturation
in such air. He took for granted that this sort of world, more or
less the same that had always existed in Boston and Massachusetts
Bay, was the world which he was to fit. Had he known Europe he
would have learned no better. The Paris of Louis Philippe,
Guizot, and de Tocqueville, as well as the London of Robert Peel,
Macaulay, and John Stuart Mill, were but varieties of the same
upper-class bourgeoisie that felt instinctive cousinship with the
Boston of Ticknor, Prescott, and Motley. Even the typical
grumbler Carlyle, who cast doubts on the real capacity of the
middle class, and who at times thought himself eccentric, found
friendship and alliances in Boston -- still more in Concord. The
system had proved so successful that even Germany wanted to try
it, and Italy yearned for it. England's middle-class government
was the ideal of human progress. 

  Even the violent reaction after 1848, and the return of all
Europe to military practices, never for a moment shook the true
faith. No one, except Karl Marx, foresaw radical change. What
announced it? The world was producing sixty or seventy million
tons of coal, and might be using nearly a million
steam-horsepower, just beginning to make itself felt. All
experience since the creation of man, all divine revelation or
human science, conspired to deceive and betray a twelve-year-old
boy who took for granted that his ideas, which were alone
respectable, would be alone respected. 

  Viewed from Mount Vernon Street, the problem of life was as
simple as it was classic. Politics offered no difficulties, for
there the moral law was a sure guide. Social perfection was also
sure, because human nature worked for Good, and three instruments
were all she asked -- Suffrage, Common Schools, and Press. On
these points doubt was forbidden. Education was divine, and man
needed only a correct knowledge of facts to reach perfection: 

  "Were half the power that fills the world with terror,
    Were half the wealth bestowed on camps and courts,
  Given to redeem the human mind from error,
    There were no need of arsenals nor forts."

Nothing quieted doubt so completely as the mental calm of the
Unitarian clergy. In uniform excellence of life and character,
moral and intellectual, the score of Unitarian clergymen about
Boston, who controlled society and Harvard College, were never
excelled. They proclaimed as their merit that they insisted on no
doctrine, but taught, or tried to teach, the means of leading a
virtuous, useful, unselfish life, which they held to be
sufficient for salvation. For them, difficulties might be
ignored; doubts were waste of thought; nothing exacted solution.
Boston had solved the universe; or had offered and realized the
best solution yet tried. The problem was worked out.

  Of all the conditions of his youth which afterwards puzzled the
grown-up man, this disappearance of religion puzzled him most.
The boy went to church twice every Sunday; he was taught to read
his Bible, and he learned religious poetry by heart; he believed
in a mild deism; he prayed; he went through all the forms; but
neither to him nor to his brothers or sisters was religion real.
Even the mild discipline of the Unitarian Church was so irksome
that they all threw it off at the first possible moment, and
never afterwards entered a church. The religious instinct had
vanished, and could not be revived, although one made in later
life many efforts to recover it. That the most powerful emotion
of man, next to the sexual, should disappear, might be a personal
defect of his own; but that the most intelligent society, led by
the most intelligent clergy, in the most moral conditions he ever
knew, should have solved all the problems of the universe so
thoroughly as to have quite ceased making itself anxious about
past or future, and should have persuaded itself that all the
problems which had convulsed human thought from earliest recorded
time, were not worth discussing, seemed to him the most curious
social phenomenon he had to account for in a long life. The
faculty of turning away one's eyes as one approaches a chasm is
not unusual, and Boston showed, under the lead of Mr. Webster,
how successfully it could be done in politics; but in politics a
certain number of men did at least protest. In religion and
philosophy no one protested. Such protest as was made took forms
more simple than the silence, like the deism of Theodore Parker,
and of the boy's own cousin Octavius Frothingham, who distressed
his father and scandalized Beacon Street by avowing scepticism
that seemed to solve no old problems, and to raise many new ones.
The less aggressive protest of Ralph Waldo Emerson, was, from an
old-world point of view, less serious. It was naif. 

  The children reached manhood without knowing religion, and with
the certainty that dogma, metaphysics, and abstract philosophy
were not worth knowing. So one-sided an education could have been
possible in no other country or time, but it became, almost of
necessity, the more literary and political. As the children grew
up, they exaggerated the literary and the political interests.
They joined in the dinner-table discussions and from childhood
the boys were accustomed to hear, almost every day, table-talk as
good as they were ever likely to hear again. The eldest child,
Louisa, was one of the most sparkling creatures her brother met
in a long and varied experience of bright women. The oldest son,
John, was afterwards regarded as one of the best talkers in
Boston society, and perhaps the most popular man in the State,
though apt to be on the unpopular side. Palfrey and Dana could be
entertaining when they pleased, and though Charles Sumner could
hardly be called light in hand, he was willing to be amused, and
smiled grandly from time to time; while Mr. Adams, who talked
relatively little, was always a good listener, and laughed over a
witticism till he choked. 

  By way of educating and amusing the children, Mr. Adams read
much aloud, and was sure to read political literature, especially
when it was satirical, like the speeches of Horace Mann and the
"Epistles" of "Hosea Biglow," with great delight to the youth. So
he read Longfellow and Tennyson as their poems appeared, but the
children took possession of Dickens and Thackeray for themselves.
Both were too modern for tastes founded on Pope and Dr. Johnson.
The boy Henry soon became a desultory reader of every book he
found readable, but these were commonly eighteenth-century
historians because his father's library was full of them. In the
want of positive instincts, he drifted into the mental indolence
of history. So too, he read shelves of eighteenth-century poetry,
but when his father offered his own set of Wordsworth as a gift
on condition of reading it through, he declined. Pope and Gray
called for no mental effort; they were easy reading; but the boy
was thirty years old before his education reached Wordsworth. 

  This is the story of an education, and the person or persons
who figure in it are supposed to have values only as educators or
educated. The surroundings concern it only so far as they affect
education. Sumner, Dana, Palfrey, had values of their own, like
Hume, Pope, and Wordsworth, which any one may study in their
works; here all appear only as influences on the mind of a boy
very nearly the average of most boys in physical and mental
stature. The influence was wholly political and literary. His
father made no effort to force his mind, but left him free play,
and this was perhaps best. Only in one way his father rendered
him a great service by trying to teach him French and giving him
some idea of a French accent. Otherwise the family was rather an
atmosphere than an influence. The boy had a large and
overpowering set of brothers and sisters, who were modes or
replicas of the same type, getting the same education, struggling
with the same problems, and solving the question, or leaving it
unsolved much in the same way. They knew no more than he what
they wanted or what to do for it, but all were conscious that
they would like to control power in some form; and the same thing
could be said of an ant or an elephant. Their form was tied to
politics or literature. They amounted to one individual with
half-a-dozen sides or facets; their temperaments reacted on each
other and made each child more like the other. This was also
education, but in the type, and the Boston or New England type
was well enough known. What no one knew was whether the
individual who thought himself a representative of this type, was
fit to deal with life. 

  As far as outward bearing went, such a family of turbulent
children, given free rein by their parents, or indifferent to
check, should have come to more or less grief. Certainly no one
was strong enough to control them, least of all their mother, the
queen-bee of the hive, on whom nine-tenths of the burden fell, on
whose strength they all depended, but whose children were much
too self-willed and self-confident to take guidance from her, or
from any one else, unless in the direction they fancied. Father
and mother were about equally helpless. Almost every large family
in those days produced at least one black sheep, and if this
generation of Adamses escaped, it was as much a matter of
surprise to them as to their neighbors. By some happy chance they
grew up to be decent citizens, but Henry Adams, as a brand
escaped from the burning, always looked back with astonishment at
their luck. The fact seemed to prove that they were born, like
birds, with a certain innate balance. Home influences alone never
saved the New England boy from ruin, though sometimes they may
have helped to ruin him; and the influences outside of home were
negative. If school helped, it was only by reaction. The dislike
of school was so strong as to be a positive gain. The passionate
hatred of school methods was almost a method in itself. Yet the
day-school of that time was respectable, and the boy had nothing
to complain of. In fact, he never complained. He hated it because
he was here with a crowd of other boys and compelled to learn by
memory a quantity of things that did not amuse him. His memory
was slow, and the effort painful. For him to conceive that his
memory could compete for school prizes with machines of two or
three times its power, was to prove himself wanting not only in
memory, but flagrantly in mind. He thought his mind a good enough
machine, if it were given time to act, but it acted wrong if
hurried. Schoolmasters never gave time. 

  In any and all its forms, the boy detested school, and the
prejudice became deeper with years. He always reckoned his
school-days, from ten to sixteen years old, as time thrown away.
Perhaps his needs turned out to be exceptional, but his existence
was exceptional. Between 1850 and 1900 nearly every one's
existence was exceptional. For success in the life imposed on him
he needed, as afterwards appeared, the facile use of only four
tools: Mathematics, French, German, and Spanish. With these, he
could master in very short time any special branch of inquiry,
and feel at home in any society. Latin and Greek, he could, with
the help of the modern languages, learn more completely by the
intelligent work of six weeks than in the six years he spent on
them at school. These four tools were necessary to his success in
life, but he never controlled any one of them. 

  Thus, at the outset, he was condemned to failure more or less
complete in the life awaiting him, but not more so than his
companions. Indeed, had his father kept the boy at home, and
given him half an hour's direction every day, he would have done
more for him than school ever could do for them. Of course,
school-taught men and boys looked down on home-bred boys, and
rather prided themselves on their own ignorance, but the man of
sixty can generally see what he needed in life, and in Henry
Adams's opinion it was not school. 

  Most school experience was bad. Boy associations at fifteen
were worse than none. Boston at that time offered few healthy
resources for boys or men. The bar-room and billiard-room were
more familiar than parents knew. As a rule boys could skate and
swim and were sent to dancing-school; they played a rudimentary
game of baseball, football, and hockey; a few could sail a boat;
still fewer had been out with a gun to shoot yellow-legs or a
stray wild duck; one or two may have learned something of natural
history if they came from the neighborhood of Concord; none could
ride across country, or knew what shooting with dogs meant. Sport
as a pursuit was unknown. Boat-racing came after 1850. For
horse-racing, only the trotting-course existed. Of all pleasures,
winter sleighing was still the gayest and most popular. From none
of these amusements could the boy learn anything likely to be of
use to him in the world. Books remained as in the eighteenth
century, the source of life, and as they came out -- Thackeray,
Dickens, Bulwer, Tennyson, Macaulay, Carlyle, and the rest --
they were devoured; but as far as happiness went, the happiest
hours of the boy's education were passed in summer lying on a
musty heap of Congressional Documents in the old farmhouse at
Quincy, reading "Quentin Durward," "Ivanhoe," and " The
Talisman," and raiding the garden at intervals for peaches and
pears. On the whole he learned most then.


WASHINGTON (1850-1854)

  EXCEPT for politics, Mount Vernon Street had the merit of
leaving the boy-mind supple, free to turn with the world, and if
one learned next to nothing, the little one did learn needed not
to be unlearned. The surface was ready to take any form that
education should cut into it, though Boston, with singular
foresight, rejected the old designs. What sort of education was
stamped elsewhere, a Bostonian had no idea, but he escaped the
evils of other standards by having no standard at all; and what
was true of school was true of society. Boston offered none that
could help outside. Every one now smiles at the bad taste of
Queen Victoria and Louis Philippe -- the society of the forties
-- but the taste was only a reflection of the social slack-water
between a tide passed, and a tide to come. Boston belonged to
neither, and hardly even to America. Neither aristocratic nor
industrial nor social, Boston girls and boys were not nearly as
unformed as English boys and girls, but had less means of
acquiring form as they grew older. Women counted for little as
models. Every boy, from the age of seven, fell in love at
frequent intervals with some girl -- always more or less the same
little girl -- who had nothing to teach him, or he to teach her,
except rather familiar and provincial manners, until they married
and bore children to repeat the habit. The idea of attaching
one's self to a married woman, or of polishing one's manners to
suit the standards of women of thirty, could hardly have entered
the mind of a young Bostonian, and would have scandalized his
parents. From women the boy got the domestic virtues and nothing
else. He might not even catch the idea that women had more to
give. The garden of Eden was hardly more primitive. 

  To balance this virtue, the Puritan city had always hidden a
darker side. Blackguard Boston was only too educational, and to
most boys much the more interesting. A successful blackguard must
enjoy great physical advantages besides a true vocation, and
Henry Adams had neither; but no boy escaped some contact with
vice of a very low form. Blackguardism came constantly under
boys' eyes, and had the charm of force and freedom and
superiority to culture or decency. One might fear it, but no one
honestly despised it. Now and then it asserted itself as
education more roughly than school ever did. One of the commonest
boy-games of winter, inherited directly from the
eighteenth-century, was a game of war on Boston Common. In old
days the two hostile forces were called North-Enders and
South-Enders. In 1850 the North-Enders still survived as a
legend, but in practice it was a battle of the Latin School
against all comers, and the Latin School, for snowball, included
all the boys of the West End. Whenever, on a half-holiday, the
weather was soft enough to soften the snow, the Common was apt to
be the scene of a fight, which began in daylight with the Latin
School in force, rushing their opponents down to Tremont Street,
and which generally ended at dark by the Latin School dwindling
in numbers and disappearing. As the Latin School grew weak, the
roughs and young blackguards grew strong. As long as snowballs
were the only weapon, no one was much hurt, but a stone may be
put in a snowball, and in the dark a stick or a slungshot in the
hands of a boy is as effective as a knife. One afternoon the
fight had been long and exhausting. The boy Henry, following, as
his habit was, his bigger brother Charles, had taken part in the
battle, and had felt his courage much depressed by seeing one of
his trustiest leaders, Henry Higginson -- "Bully Hig," his school
name -- struck by a stone over the eye, and led off the field
bleeding in rather a ghastly manner. As night came on, the Latin
School was steadily forced back to the Beacon Street Mall where
they could retreat no further without disbanding, and by that
time only a small band was left, headed by two heroes, Savage and
Marvin. A dark mass of figures could be seen below, making ready
for the last rush, and rumor said that a swarm of blackguards
from the slums, led by a grisly terror called Conky Daniels, with
a club and a hideous reputation, was going to put an end to the
Beacon Street cowards forever. Henry wanted to run away with the
others, but his brother was too big to run away, so they stood
still and waited immolation. The dark mass set up a shout, and
rushed forward. The Beacon Street boys turned and fled up the
steps, except Savage and Marvin and the few champions who would
not run. The terrible Conky Daniels swaggered up, stopped a
moment with his body-guard to swear a few oaths at Marvin, and
then swept on and chased the flyers, leaving the few boys
untouched who stood their ground. The obvious moral taught that
blackguards were not so black as they were painted; but the boy
Henry had passed through as much terror as though he were Turenne
or Henri IV, and ten or twelve years afterwards when these same
boys were fighting and falling on all the battle-fields of
Virginia and Maryland, he wondered whether their education on
Boston Common had taught Savage and Marvin how to die. 

  If violence were a part of complete education, Boston was not
incomplete. The idea of violence was familiar to the anti-slavery
leaders as well as to their followers. Most of them suffered from
it. Mobs were always possible. Henry never happened to be
actually concerned in a mob, but he, like every other boy, was
sure to be on hand wherever a mob was expected, and whenever he
heard Garrison or Wendell Phillips speak, he looked for trouble.
Wendell Phillips on a platform was a model dangerous for youth.
Theodore Parker in his pulpit was not much safer. Worst of all,
the execution of the Fugitive Slave Law in Boston -- the sight of
Court Square packed with bayonets, and his own friends obliged to
line the streets under arms as State militia, in order to return
a negro to slavery -- wrought frenzy in the brain of a
fifteen-year-old, eighteenth-century boy from Quincy, who wanted
to miss no reasonable chance of mischief. 

  One lived in the atmosphere of the Stamp Act, the Tea Tax, and
the Boston Massacre. Within Boston, a boy was first an
eighteenth-century politician, and afterwards only a possibility;
beyond Boston the first step led only further into politics.
After February, 1848, but one slight tie remained of all those
that, since 1776, had connected Quincy with the outer world. The
Madam stayed in Washington, after her husband's death, and in her
turn was struck by paralysis and bedridden. From time to time her
son Charles, whose affection and sympathy for his mother in her
many tribulations were always pronounced, went on to see her, and
in May, 1850, he took with him his twelve-year-old son. The
journey was meant as education, and as education it served the
purpose of fixing in memory the stage of a boy's thought in 1850.
He could not remember taking special interest in the railroad
journey or in New York; with railways and cities he was familiar
enough. His first impression was the novelty of crossing New York
Bay and finding an English railway carriage on the Camden and
Amboy Railroad. This was a new world; a suggestion of corruption
in the simple habits of American life; a step to exclusiveness
never approached in Boston; but it was amusing. The boy rather
liked it. At Trenton the train set him on board a steamer which
took him to Philadelphia where he smelt other varieties of town
life; then again by boat to Chester, and by train to Havre de
Grace; by boat to Baltimore and thence by rail to Washington.
This was the journey he remembered. The actual journey may have
been quite different, but the actual journey has no interest for
education. The memory was all that mattered; and what struck him
most, to remain fresh in his mind all his lifetime, was the
sudden change that came over the world on entering a slave State.
He took education politically. The mere raggedness of outline
could not have seemed wholly new, for even Boston had its ragged
edges, and the town of Quincy was far from being a vision of
neatness or good-repair; in truth, he had never seen a finished
landscape; but Maryland was raggedness of a new kind. The
railway, about the size and character of a modern tram, rambled
through unfenced fields and woods, or through village streets,
among a haphazard variety of pigs, cows, and negro babies, who
might all have used the cabins for pens and styes, had the
Southern pig required styes, but who never showed a sign of care.
This was the boy's impression of what slavery caused, and, for
him, was all it taught. Coming down in the early morning from his
bedroom in his grandmother's house -- still called the Adams
Building in -- F Street and venturing outside into the air
reeking with the thick odor of the catalpa trees, he found
himself on an earth-road, or village street, with wheel-tracks
meandering from the colonnade of the Treasury hard by, to the
white marble columns and fronts of the Post Office and Patent
Office which faced each other in the distance, like white Greek
temples in the abandoned gravel-pits of a deserted Syrian city.
Here and there low wooden houses were scattered along the
streets, as in other Southern villages, but he was chiefly
attracted by an unfinished square marble shaft, half-a-mile
below, and he walked down to inspect it before breakfast. His
aunt drily remarked that, at this rate, he would soon get through
all the sights; but she could not guess -- having lived always in
Washington -- how little the sights of Washington had to do with
its interest. 

  The boy could not have told her; he was nowhere near an
understanding of himself. The more he was educated, the less he
understood. Slavery struck him in the face; it was a nightmare; a
horror; a crime; the sum of all wickedness! Contact made it only
more repulsive. He wanted to escape, like the negroes, to free
soil. Slave States were dirty, unkempt, poverty-stricken,
ignorant, vicious! He had not a thought but repulsion for it; and
yet the picture had another side. The May sunshine and shadow had
something to do with it; the thickness of foliage and the heavy
smells had more; the sense of atmosphere, almost new, had perhaps
as much again; and the brooding indolence of a warm climate and a
negro population hung in the atmosphere heavier than the
catalpas. The impression was not simple, but the boy liked it:
distinctly it remained on his mind as an attraction, almost
obscuring Quincy itself. The want of barriers, of pavements, of
forms; the looseness, the laziness; the indolent Southern drawl;
the pigs in the streets; the negro babies and their mothers with
bandanas; the freedom, openness, swagger, of nature and man,
soothed his Johnson blood. Most boys would have felt it in the
same way, but with him the feeling caught on to an inheritance.
The softness of his gentle old grandmother as she lay in bed and
chatted with him, did not come from Boston. His aunt was anything
rather than Bostonian. He did not wholly come from Boston
himself. Though Washington belonged to a different world, and the
two worlds could not live together, he was not sure that he
enjoyed the Boston world most. Even at twelve years old he could
see his own nature no more clearly than he would at twelve
hundred, if by accident he should happen to live so long.

  His father took him to the Capitol and on the floor of the
Senate, which then, and long afterwards, until the era of
tourists, was freely open to visitors. The old Senate Chamber
resembled a pleasant political club. Standing behind the
Vice-President's chair, which is now the Chief Justice's, the boy
was presented to some of the men whose names were great in their
day, and as familiar to him as his own. Clay and Webster and
Calhoun were there still, but with them a Free Soil candidate for
the Vice-Presidency had little to do; what struck boys most was
their type. Senators were a species; they all wore an air, as
they wore a blue dress coat or brass buttons; they were Roman.
The type of Senator in 1850 was rather charming at its best, and
the Senate, when in good temper, was an agreeable body, numbering
only some sixty members, and affecting the airs of courtesy. Its
vice was not so much a vice of manners or temper as of attitude.
The statesman of all periods was apt to be pompous, but even
pomposity was less offensive than familiarity -- on the platform
as in the pulpit -- and Southern pomposity, when not arrogant,
was genial and sympathetic, almost quaint and childlike in its
simple-mindedness; quite a different thing from the Websterian or
Conklinian pomposity of the North. The boy felt at ease there,
more at home than he had ever felt in Boston State House, though
his acquaintance with the codfish in the House of Representatives
went back beyond distinct recollection. Senators spoke kindly to
him, and seemed to feel so, for they had known his family
socially; and, in spite of slavery, even J. Q. Adams in his later
years, after he ceased to stand in the way of rivals, had few
personal enemies. Decidedly the Senate, pro-slavery though it
were, seemed a friendly world. 

  This first step in national politics was a little like the walk
before breakfast; an easy, careless, genial, enlarging stride
into a fresh and amusing world, where nothing was finished, but
where even the weeds grew rank. The second step was like the
first, except that it led to the White House. He was taken to see
President Taylor. Outside, in a paddock in front, "Old Whitey,"
the President's charger, was grazing, as they entered; and
inside, the President was receiving callers as simply as if he
were in the paddock too. The President was friendly, and the boy
felt no sense of strangeness that he could ever recall. In fact,
what strangeness should he feel? The families were intimate; so
intimate that their friendliness outlived generations, civil war,
and all sorts of rupture. President Taylor owed his election to
Martin Van Buren and the Free Soil Party. To him, the Adamses
might still be of use. As for the White House, all the boy's
family had lived there, and, barring the eight years of Andrew
Jackson's reign, had been more or less at home there ever since
it was built. The boy half thought he owned it, and took for
granted that he should some day live in it. He felt no sensation
whatever before Presidents. A President was a matter of course in
every respectable family; he had two in his own; three, if he
counted old Nathaniel Gorham, who, was the oldest and first in
distinction. Revolutionary patriots, or perhaps a Colonial
Governor, might be worth talking about, but any one could be
President, and some very shady characters were likely to be.
Presidents, Senators, Congressmen, and such things were swarming
in every street. 

  Every one thought alike whether they had ancestors or not. No
sort of glory hedged Presidents as such, and, in the whole
country, one could hardly have met with an admission of respect
for any office or name, unless it were George Washington. That
was -- to all appearance sincerely -- respected. People made
pilgrimages to Mount Vernon and made even an effort to build
Washington a monument. The effort had failed, but one still went
to Mount Vernon, although it was no easy trip. Mr. Adams took the
boy there in a carriage and pair, over a road that gave him a
complete Virginia education for use ten years afterwards. To the
New England mind, roads, schools, clothes, and a clean face were
connected as part of the law of order or divine system. Bad roads
meant bad morals. The moral of this Virginia road was clear, and
the boy fully learned it. Slavery was wicked, and slavery was the
cause of this road's badness which amounted to social crime --
and yet, at the end of the road and product of the crime stood
Mount Vernon and George Washington. 

  Luckily boys accept contradictions as readily as their elders
do, or this boy might have become prematurely wise. He had only
to repeat what he was told -- that George Washington stood alone.
Otherwise this third step in his Washington education would have
been his last. On that line, the problem of progress was not
soluble, whatever the optimists and orators might say -- or, for
that matter, whatever they might think. George Washington could
not be reached on Boston lines. George Washington was a primary,
or, if Virginians liked it better, an ultimate relation, like the
Pole Star, and amid the endless restless motion of every other
visible point in space, he alone remained steady, in the mind of
Henry Adams, to the end. All the other points shifted their
bearings; John Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, even John
Marshall, took varied lights, and assumed new relations, but
Mount Vernon always remained where it was, with no practicable
road to reach it; and yet, when he got there, Mount Vernon was
only Quincy in a Southern setting. No doubt it was much more
charming, but it was the same eighteenth-century, the same old
furniture, the same old patriot, and the same old President. 

  The boy took to it instinctively. The broad Potomac and the
coons in the trees, the bandanas and the box-hedges, the bedrooms
upstairs and the porch outside, even Martha Washington herself in
memory, were as natural as the tides and the May sunshine; he had
only enlarged his horizon a little; but he never thought to ask
himself or his father how to deal with the moral problem that
deduced George Washington from the sum of all wickedness. In
practice, such trifles as contradictions in principle are easily
set aside; the faculty of ignoring them makes the practical man;
but any attempt to deal with them seriously as education is
fatal. Luckily Charles Francis Adams never preached and was
singularly free from cant. He may have had views of his own, but
he let his son Henry satisfy himself with the simple elementary
fact that George Washington stood alone. 

  Life was not yet complicated. Every problem had a solution,
even the negro. The boy went back to Boston more political than
ever, and his politics were no longer so modern as the eighteenth
century, but took a strong tone of the seventeenth. Slavery drove
the whole Puritan community back on its Puritanism. The boy
thought as dogmatically as though he were one of his own
ancestors. The Slave power took the place of Stuart kings and
Roman popes. Education could go no further in that course, and
ran off into emotion; but, as the boy gradually found his
surroundings change, and felt himself no longer an isolated atom
in a hostile universe, but a sort of herring-fry in a shoal of
moving fish, he began to learn the first and easier lessons of
practical politics. Thus far he had seen nothing but
eighteenth-century statesmanship. America and he began, at the
same time, to become aware of a new force under the innocent
surface of party machinery. Even at that early moment, a rather
slow boy felt dimly conscious that he might meet some personal
difficulties in trying to reconcile sixteenth-century principles
and eighteenth-century statesmanship with late nineteenth-century
party organization. The first vague sense of feeling an unknown
living obstacle in the dark came in 185l.

  The Free Soil conclave in Mount Vernon Street belonged, as
already said, to the statesman class, and, like Daniel Webster,
had nothing to do with machinery. Websters or Sewards depended on
others for machine work and money -- on Peter Harveys and Thurlow
Weeds, who spent their lives in it, took most of the abuse, and
asked no reward. Almost without knowing it, the subordinates
ousted their employers and created a machine which no one but
themselves could run. In 1850 things had not quite reached that
point. The men who ran the small Free Soil machine were still
modest, though they became famous enough in their own right.
Henry Wilson, John B. Alley, Anson Burlingame, and the other
managers, negotiated a bargain with the Massachusetts Democrats
giving the State to the Democrats and a seat in the Senate to the
Free Soilers. With this bargain Mr. Adams and his statesman
friends would have nothing to do, for such a coalition was in
their eyes much like jockeys selling a race. They did not care to
take office as pay for votes sold to pro-slavery Democrats.
Theirs was a correct, not to say noble, position; but, as a
matter of fact, they took the benefit of the sale, for the
coalition chose Charles Sumner as its candidate for the Senate,
while George S. Boutwell was made Governor for the Democrats.
This was the boy's first lesson in practical politics, and a
sharp one; not that he troubled himself with moral doubts, but
that he learned the nature of a flagrantly corrupt political
bargain in which he was too good to take part, but not too good
to take profit. Charles Sumner happened to be the partner to
receive these stolen goods, but between his friend and his father
the boy felt no distinction, and, for him, there was none. He
entered into no casuistry on the matter. His friend was right
because his friend, and the boy shared the glory. The question of
education did not rise while the conflict lasted. Yet every one
saw as clearly then as afterwards that a lesson of some sort must
be learned and understood, once for all. The boy might ignore, as
a mere historical puzzle, the question how to deduce George
Washington from the sum of all wickedness, but he had himself
helped to deduce Charles Sumner from the sum of political
corruption. On that line, too, education could go no further.
Tammany Hall stood at the end of the vista. 

  Mr. Alley, one of the strictest of moralists, held that his
object in making the bargain was to convert the Democratic Party
to anti-slavery principles, and that he did it. Henry Adams could
rise to no such moral elevation. He was only a boy, and his
object in supporting the coalition was that of making his friend
a Senator. It was as personal as though he had helped to make his
friend a millionaire. He could never find a way of escaping
immoral conclusions, except by admitting that he and his father
and Sumner were wrong, and this he was never willing to do, for
the consequences of this admission were worse than those of the
other. Thus, before he was fifteen years old, he had managed to
get himself into a state of moral confusion from which he never
escaped. As a politician, he was already corrupt, and he never
could see how any practical politician could be less corrupt than

  Apology, as he understood himself, was cant or cowardice. At
the time he never even dreamed that he needed to apologize,
though the press shouted it at him from every corner, and though
the Mount Vernon Street conclave agreed with the press; yet he
could not plead ignorance, and even in the heat of the conflict,
he never cared to defend the coalition. Boy as he was, he knew
enough to know that something was wrong, but his only interest
was the election. Day after day, the General Court balloted; and
the boy haunted the gallery, following the roll-call, and
wondered what Caleb Cushing meant by calling Mr. Sumner a
"one-eyed abolitionist." Truly the difference in meaning with the
phrase "one-ideaed abolitionist," which was Mr. Cushing's actual
expression, is not very great, but neither the one nor the other
seemed to describe Mr. Sumner to the boy, who never could have
made the error of classing Garrison and Sumner together, or
mistaking Caleb Cushing's relation to either. Temper ran high at
that moment, while Sumner every day missed his election by only
one or two votes. At last, April 24, 1851, standing among the
silent crowd in the gallery, Henry heard the vote announced which
gave Sumner the needed number. Slipping under the arms of the
bystanders, he ran home as hard as he could, and burst into the
dining-room where Mr. Sumner was seated at table with the family.
He enjoyed the glory of telling Sumner that he was elected; it
was probably the proudest moment in the life of either. 

  The next day, when the boy went to school, he noticed numbers
of boys and men in the streets wearing black crepe on their arm.
He knew few Free Soil boys in Boston; his acquaintances were what
he called pro-slavery; so he thought proper to tie a bit of white
silk ribbon round his own arm by way of showing that his friend
Mr. Sumner was not wholly alone. This little piece of bravado
passed unnoticed; no one even cuffed his ears; but in later life
he was a little puzzled to decide which symbol was the more
correct. No one then dreamed of four years' war, but every one
dreamed of secession. The symbol for either might well be matter
of doubt.

  This triumph of the Mount Vernon Street conclave capped the
political climax. The boy, like a million other American boys,
was a politician, and what was worse, fit as yet to be nothing
else. He should have been, like his grandfather, a protege of
George Washington, a statesman designated by destiny, with
nothing to do but look directly ahead, follow orders, and march.
On the contrary, he was not even a Bostonian; he felt himself
shut out of Boston as though he were an exile; he never thought
of himself as a Bostonian; he never looked about him in Boston,
as boys commonly do wherever they are, to select the street they
like best, the house they want to live in, the profession they
mean to practise. Always he felt himself somewhere else; perhaps
in Washington with its social ease; perhaps in Europe; and he
watched with vague unrest from the Quincy hills the smoke of the
Cunard steamers stretching in a long line to the horizon, and
disappearing every other Saturday or whatever the day might be,
as though the steamers were offering to take him away, which was
precisely what they were doing.

  Had these ideas been unreasonable, influences enough were at
hand to correct them; but the point of the whole story, when
Henry Adams came to look back on it, seemed to be that the ideas
were more than reasonable; they were the logical, necessary,
mathematical result of conditions old as history and fixed as
fate -- invariable sequence in man's experience. The only idea
which would have been quite unreasonable scarcely entered his
mind. This was the thought of going westward and growing up with
the country. That he was not in the least fitted for going West
made no objection whatever, since he was much better fitted than
most of the persons that went. The convincing reason for staying
in the East was that he had there every advantage over the West.
He could not go wrong. The West must inevitably pay an enormous
tribute to Boston and New York. One's position in the East was
the best in the world for every purpose that could offer an
object for going westward. If ever in history men had been able
to calculate on a certainty for a lifetime in advance, the
citizens of the great Eastern seaports could do it in 1850 when
their railway systems were already laid out. Neither to a
politician nor to a business-man nor to any of the learned
professions did the West promise any certain advantage, while it
offered uncertainties in plenty. 

  At any other moment in human history, this education, including
its political and literary bias, would have been not only good,
but quite the best. Society had always welcomed and flattered men
so endowed. Henry Adams had every reason to be well pleased with
it, and not ill-pleased with himself. He had all he wanted. He
saw no reason for thinking that any one else had more. He
finished with school, not very brilliantly, but without finding
fault with the sum of his knowledge. Probably he knew more than
his father, or his grandfather, or his great-grandfather had
known at sixteen years old. Only on looking back, fifty years
later, at his own figure in 1854, and pondering on the needs of
the twentieth century, he wondered whether, on the whole the boy
of 1854 stood nearer to the thought of 1904, or to that of the
year 1. He found himself unable to give a sure answer. The
calculation was clouded by the undetermined values of
twentieth-century thought, but the story will show his reasons
for thinking that, in essentials like religion, ethics,
philosophy; in history, literature, art; in the concepts of all
science, except perhaps mathematics, the American boy of 1854
stood nearer the year 1 than to the year 1900. The education he
had received bore little relation to the education he needed.
Speaking as an American of 1900, he had as yet no education at
all. He knew not even where or how to begin. 



  ONE day in June, 1854, young Adams walked for the last time
down the steps of Mr. Dixwell's school in Boylston Place, and
felt no sensation but one of unqualified joy that this experience
was ended. Never before or afterwards in his life did he close a
period so long as four years without some sensation of loss --
some sentiment of habit -- but school was what in after life he
commonly heard his friends denounce as an intolerable bore. He
was born too old for it. The same thing could be said of most New
England boys. Mentally they never were boys. Their education as
men should have begun at ten years old. They were fully five
years more mature than the English or European boy for whom
schools were made. For the purposes of future advancement, as
afterwards appeared, these first six years of a possible
education were wasted in doing imperfectly what might have been
done perfectly in one, and in any case would have had small
value. The next regular step was Harvard College. He was more
than glad to go. For generation after generation, Adamses and
Brookses and Boylstons and Gorhams had gone to Harvard College,
and although none of them, as far as known, had ever done any
good there, or thought himself the better for it, custom, social
ties, convenience, and, above all, economy, kept each generation
in the track. Any other education would have required a serious
effort, but no one took Harvard College seriously. All went there
because their friends went there, and the College was their ideal
of social self-respect. 

  Harvard College, as far as it educated at all, was a mild and
liberal school, which sent young men into the world with all they
needed to make respectable citizens, and something of what they
wanted to make useful ones. Leaders of men it never tried to
make. Its ideals were altogether different. The Unitarian clergy
had given to the College a character of moderation, balance,
judgment, restraint, what the French called mesure; excellent
traits, which the College attained with singular success, so that
its graduates could commonly be recognized by the stamp, but such
a type of character rarely lent itself to autobiography. In
effect, the school created a type but not a will. Four years of
Harvard College, if successful, resulted in an autobiographical
blank, a mind on which only a water-mark had been stamped.

  The stamp, as such things went, was a good one. The chief
wonder of education is that it does not ruin everybody concerned
in it, teachers and taught. Sometimes in after life, Adams
debated whether in fact it had not ruined him and most of his
companions, but, disappointment apart, Harvard College was
probably less hurtful than any other university then in
existence. It taught little, and that little ill, but it left the
mind open, free from bias, ignorant of facts, but docile. The
graduate had few strong prejudices. He knew little, but his mind
remained supple, ready to receive knowledge. 

  What caused the boy most disappointment was the little he got
from his mates. Speaking exactly, he got less than nothing, a
result common enough in education. Yet the College Catalogue for
the years 1854 to 1861 shows a list of names rather distinguished
in their time. Alexander Agassiz and Phillips Brooks led it; H.
H. Richardson and O. W. Holmes helped to close it. As a rule the
most promising of all die early, and never get their names into a
Dictionary of Contemporaries, which seems to be the only popular
standard of success. Many died in the war. Adams knew them all,
more or less; he felt as much regard, and quite as much respect
for them then, as he did after they won great names and were
objects of a vastly wider respect; but, as help towards
education, he got nothing whatever from them or they from him
until long after they had left college. Possibly the fault was
his, but one would like to know how many others shared it.
Accident counts for much in companionship as in marriage. Life
offers perhaps only a score of possible companions, and it is
mere chance whether they meet as early as school or college, but
it is more than a chance that boys brought up together under like
conditions have nothing to give each other. The Class of 1858, to
which Henry Adams belonged, was a typical collection of young New
Englanders, quietly penetrating and aggressively commonplace;
free from meannesses, jealousies, intrigues, enthusiasms, and
passions; not exceptionally quick; not consciously skeptical;
singularly indifferent to display, artifice, florid expression,
but not hostile to it when it amused them; distrustful of
themselves, but little disposed to trust any one else; with not
much humor of their own, but full of readiness to enjoy the humor
of others; negative to a degree that in the long run became
positive and triumphant. Not harsh in manners or judgment, rather
liberal and open-minded, they were still as a body the most
formidable critics one would care to meet, in a long life exposed
to criticism. They never flattered, seldom praised; free from
vanity, they were not intolerant of it; but they were
objectiveness itself; their attitude was a law of nature; their
judgment beyond appeal, not an act either of intellect or emotion
or of will, but a sort of gravitation. 

  This was Harvard College incarnate, but even for Harvard
College, the Class of 1858 was somewhat extreme. Of unity this
band of nearly one hundred young men had no keen sense, but they
had equally little energy of repulsion. They were pleasant to
live with, and above the average of students -- German, French,
English, or what not -- but chiefly because each individual
appeared satisfied to stand alone. It seemed a sign of force; yet
to stand alone is quite natural when one has no passions; still
easier when one has no pains.

  Into this unusually dissolvent medium, chance insisted on
enlarging Henry Adams's education by tossing a trio of Virginians
as little fitted for it as Sioux Indians to a treadmill. By some
further affinity, these three outsiders fell into relation with
the Bostonians among whom Adams as a schoolboy belonged, and in
the end with Adams himself, although they and he knew well how
thin an edge of friendship separated them in 1856 from mortal
enmity. One of the Virginians was the son of Colonel Robert E.
Lee, of the Second United States Cavalry; the two others who
seemed instinctively to form a staff for Lee, were
town-Virginians from Petersburg. A fourth outsider came from
Cincinnati and was half Kentuckian, N. L. Anderson, Longworth on
the mother's side. For the first time Adams's education brought
him in contact with new types and taught him their values. He saw
the New England type measure itself with another, and he was part
of the process.

  Lee, known through life as "Roony," was a Virginian of the
eighteenth century, much as Henry Adams was a Bostonian of the
same age. Roony Lee had changed little from the type of his
grandfather, Light Horse Harry. Tall, largely built, handsome,
genial, with liberal Virginian openness towards all he liked, he
had also the Virginian habit of command and took leadership as
his natural habit. No one cared to contest it. None of the New
Englanders wanted command. For a year, at least, Lee was the most
popular and prominent young man in his class, but then seemed
slowly to drop into the background. The habit of command was not
enough, and the Virginian had little else. He was simple beyond
analysis; so simple that even the simple New England student
could not realize him. No one knew enough to know how ignorant he
was; how childlike; how helpless before the relative complexity
of a school. As an animal, the Southerner seemed to have every
advantage, but even as an animal he steadily lost ground. 

  The lesson in education was vital to these young men, who,
within ten years, killed each other by scores in the act of
testing their college conclusions. Strictly, the Southerner had
no mind; he had temperament He was not a scholar; he had no
intellectual training; he could not analyze an idea, and he could
not even conceive of admitting two; but in life one could get
along very well without ideas, if one had only the social
instinct. Dozens of eminent statesmen were men of Lee's type, and
maintained themselves well enough in the legislature, but college
was a sharper test. The Virginian was weak in vice itself, though
the Bostonian was hardly a master of crime. The habits of neither
were good; both were apt to drink hard and to live low lives; but
the Bostonian suffered less than the Virginian. Commonly the
Bostonian could take some care of himself even in his worst
stages, while the Virginian became quarrelsome and dangerous.
When a Virginian had brooded a few days over an imaginary grief
and substantial whiskey, none of his Northern friends could be
sure that he might not be waiting, round the corner, with a knife
or pistol, to revenge insult by the dry light of delirium
tremens; and when things reached this condition, Lee had to
exhaust his authority over his own staff. Lee was a gentleman of
the old school, and, as every one knows, gentlemen of the old
school drank almost as much as gentlemen of the new school; but
this was not his trouble. He was sober even in the excessive
violence of political feeling in those years; he kept his temper
and his friends under control.

  Adams liked the Virginians. No one was more obnoxious to them,
by name and prejudice; yet their friendship was unbroken and even
warm. At a moment when the immediate future posed no problem in
education so vital as the relative energy and endurance of North
and South, this momentary contact with Southern character was a
sort of education for its own sake; but this was not all. No
doubt the self-esteem of the Yankee, which tended naturally to
self-distrust, was flattered by gaining the slow conviction that
the Southerner, with his slave-owning limitations, was as little
fit to succeed in the struggle of modern life as though he were
still a maker of stone axes, living in caves, and hunting the bos
primigenius, and that every quality in which he was strong, made
him weaker; but Adams had begun to fear that even in this respect
one eighteenth-century type might not differ deeply from another.
Roony Lee had changed little from the Virginian of a century
before; but Adams was himself a good deal nearer the type of his
great-grandfather than to that of a railway superintendent. He
was little more fit than the Virginians to deal with a future
America which showed no fancy for the past. Already Northern
society betrayed a preference for economists over diplomats or
soldiers -- one might even call it a jealousy -- against which
two eighteenth-century types had little chance to live, and which
they had in common to fear.

  Nothing short of this curious sympathy could have brought into
close relations two young men so hostile as Roony Lee and Henry
Adams, but the chief difference between them as collegians
consisted only in their difference of scholarship: Lee was a
total failure; Adams a partial one. Both failed, but Lee felt his
failure more sensibly, so that he gladly seized the chance of
escape by accepting a commission offered him by General Winfield
Scott in the force then being organized against the Mormons. He
asked Adams to write his letter of acceptance, which flattered
Adams's vanity more than any Northern compliment could do,
because, in days of violent political bitterness, it showed a
certain amount of good temper. The diplomat felt his profession. 

  If the student got little from his mates, he got little more
from his masters. The four years passed at college were, for his
purposes, wasted. Harvard College was a good school, but at
bottom what the boy disliked most was any school at all. He did
not want to be one in a hundred -- one per cent of an education.
He regarded himself as the only person for whom his education had
value, and he wanted the whole of it. He got barely half of an
average. Long afterwards, when the devious path of life led him
back to teach in his turn what no student naturally cared or
needed to know, he diverted some dreary hours of faculty-meetings
by looking up his record in the class-lists, and found himself
graded precisely in the middle. In the one branch he most needed
-- mathematics -- barring the few first scholars, failure was so
nearly universal that no attempt at grading could have had value,
and whether he stood fortieth or ninetieth must have been an
accident or the personal favor of the professor. Here his
education failed lamentably. At best he could never have been a
mathematician; at worst he would never have cared to be one; but
he needed to read mathematics, like any other universal language,
and he never reached the alphabet. 

  Beyond two or three Greek plays, the student got nothing from
the ancient languages. Beyond some incoherent theories of
free-trade and protection, he got little from Political Economy.
He could not afterwards remember to have heard the name of Karl
Marx mentioned, or the title of "Capital." He was equally
ignorant of Auguste Comte. These were the two writers of his time
who most influenced its thought. The bit of practical teaching he
afterwards reviewed with most curiosity was the course in
Chemistry, which taught him a number of theories that befogged
his mind for a lifetime. The only teaching that appealed to his
imagination was a course of lectures by Louis Agassiz on the
Glacial Period and Paleontology, which had more influence on his
curiosity than the rest of the college instruction altogether.
The entire work of the four years could have been easily put into
the work of any four months in after life. 

  Harvard College was a negative force, and negative forces have
value. Slowly it weakened the violent political bias of
childhood, not by putting interests in its place, but by mental
habits which had no bias at all. It would also have weakened the
literary bias, if Adams had been capable of finding other
amusement, but the climate kept him steady to desultory and
useless reading, till he had run through libraries of volumes
which he forgot even to their title-pages. Rather by instinct
than by guidance, he turned to writing, and his professors or
tutors occasionally gave his English composition a hesitating
approval; but in that branch, as in all the rest, even when he
made a long struggle for recognition, he never convinced his
teachers that his abilities, at their best, warranted placing him
on the rank-list, among the first third of his class. Instructors
generally reach a fairly accurate gauge of their scholars'
powers. Henry Adams himself held the opinion that his instructors
were very nearly right, and when he became a professor in his
turn, and made mortifying mistakes in ranking his scholars, he
still obstinately insisted that on the whole, he was not far
wrong. Student or professor, he accepted the negative standard
because it was the standard of the school. 

  He never knew what other students thought of it, or what they
thought they gained from it; nor would their opinion have much
affected his. From the first, he wanted to be done with it, and
stood watching vaguely for a path and a direction. The world
outside seemed large, but the paths that led into it were not
many and lay mostly through Boston, where he did not want to go.
As it happened, by pure chance, the first door of escape that
seemed to offer a hope led into Germany, and James Russell Lowell
opened it.

  Lowell, on succeeding Longfellow as Professor of
Belles-Lettres, had duly gone to Germany, and had brought back
whatever he found to bring. The literary world then agreed that
truth survived in Germany alone, and Carlyle, Matthew Arnold,
Renan, Emerson, with scores of popular followers, taught the
German faith. The literary world had revolted against the yoke of
coming capitalism -- its money-lenders, its bank directors, and
its railway magnates. Thackeray and Dickens followed Balzac in
scratching and biting the unfortunate middle class with savage
ill-temper, much as the middle class had scratched and bitten the
Church and Court for a hundred years before. The middle class had
the power, and held its coal and iron well in hand, but the
satirists and idealists seized the press, and as they were agreed
that the Second Empire was a disgrace to France and a danger to
England, they turned to Germany because at that moment Germany
was neither economical nor military, and a hundred years behind
western Europe in the simplicity of its standard. German thought,
method, honesty, and even taste, became the standards of
scholarship. Goethe was raised to the rank of Shakespeare -- Kant
ranked as a law-giver above Plato. All serious scholars were
obliged to become German, for German thought was revolutionizing
criticism. Lowell had followed the rest, not very
enthusiastically, but with sufficient conviction, and invited his
scholars to join him. Adams was glad to accept the invitation,
rather for the sake of cultivating Lowell than Germany, but still
in perfect good faith. It was the first serious attempt he had
made to direct his own education, and he was sure of getting some
education out of it; not perhaps anything that he expected, but
at least a path.

  Singularly circuitous and excessively wasteful of energy the
path proved to be, but the student could never see what other was
open to him. He could have done no better had he foreseen every
stage of his coming life, and he would probably have done worse.
The preliminary step was pure gain. James Russell Lowell had
brought back from Germany the only new and valuable part of its
universities, the habit of allowing students to read with him
privately in his study. Adams asked the privilege, and used it to
read a little, and to talk a great deal, for the personal contact
pleased and flattered him, as that of older men ought to flatter
and please the young even when they altogether exaggerate its
value. Lowell was a new element in the boy's life. As practical a
New Englander as any, he leaned towards the Concord faith rather
than towards Boston where he properly belonged; for Concord, in
the dark days of 1856, glowed with pure light. Adams approached
it in much the same spirit as he would have entered a Gothic
Cathedral, for he well knew that the priests regarded him as only
a worm. To the Concord Church all Adamses were minds of dust and
emptiness, devoid of feeling, poetry or imagination; little
higher than the common scourings of State Street; politicians of
doubtful honesty; natures of narrow scope; and already, at
eighteen years old, Henry had begun to feel uncertainty about so
many matters more important than Adamses that his mind rebelled
against no discipline merely personal, and he was ready to admit
his unworthiness if only he might penetrate the shrine. The
influence of Harvard College was beginning to have its effect. He
was slipping away from fixed principles; from Mount Vernon
Street; from Quincy; from the eighteenth century; and his first
steps led toward Concord. 

  He never reached Concord, and to Concord Church he, like the
rest of mankind who accepted a material universe, remained always
an insect, or something much lower -- a man. It was surely no
fault of his that the universe seemed to him real; perhaps -- as
Mr. Emerson justly said -- it was so; in spite of the
long-continued effort of a lifetime, he perpetually fell back
into the heresy that if anything universal was unreal, it was
himself and not the appearances; it was the poet and not the
banker; it was his own thought, not the thing that moved it. He
did not lack the wish to be transcendental. Concord seemed to
him, at one time, more real than Quincy; yet in truth Russell
Lowell was as little transcendental as Beacon Street. From him
the boy got no revolutionary thought whatever -- objective or
subjective as they used to call it -- but he got good-humored
encouragement to do what amused him, which consisted in passing
two years in Europe after finishing the four years of Cambridge

  The result seemed small in proportion to the effort, but it was
the only positive result he could ever trace to the influence of
Harvard College, and he had grave doubts whether Harvard College
influenced even that. Negative results in plenty he could trace,
but he tended towards negation on his own account, as one side of
the New England mind had always done, and even there he could
never feel sure that Harvard College had more than reflected a
weakness. In his opinion the education was not serious, but in
truth hardly any Boston student took it seriously, and none of
them seemed sure that President Walker himself, or President
Felton after him, took it more seriously than the students. For
them all, the college offered chiefly advantages vulgarly called
social, rather than mental. 

  Unluckily for this particular boy, social advantages were his
only capital in life. Of money he had not much, of mind not more,
but he could be quite certain that, barring his own faults, his
social position would never be questioned. What he needed was a
career in which social position had value. Never in his life
would he have to explain who he was; never would he have need of
acquaintance to strengthen his social standing; but he needed
greatly some one to show him how to use the acquaintance he cared
to make. He made no acquaintance in college which proved to have
the smallest use in after life. All his Boston friends he knew
before, or would have known in any case, and contact of Bostonian
with Bostonian was the last education these young men needed.
Cordial and intimate as their college relations were, they all
flew off in different directions the moment they took their
degrees. Harvard College remained a tie, indeed, but a tie little
stronger than Beacon Street and not so strong as State Street.
Strangers might perhaps gain something from the college if they
were hard pressed for social connections. A student like H. H.
Richardson, who came from far away New Orleans, and had his
career before him to chase rather than to guide, might make
valuable friendships at college. Certainly Adams made no
acquaintance there that he valued in after life so much as
Richardson, but still more certainly the college relation had
little to do with the later friendship. Life is a narrow valley,
and the roads run close together. Adams would have attached
himself to Richardson in any case, as he attached himself to John
LaFarge or Augustus St. Gaudens or Clarence King or John Hay,
none of whom were at Harvard College. The valley of life grew
more and more narrow with years, and certain men with common
tastes were bound to come together. Adams knew only that he would
have felt himself on a more equal footing with them had he been
less ignorant, and had he not thrown away ten years of early life
in acquiring what he might have acquired in one.

  Socially or intellectually, the college was for him negative
and in some ways mischievous. The most tolerant man of the world
could not see good in the lower habits of the students, but the
vices were less harmful than the virtues. The habit of drinking
-- though the mere recollection of it made him doubt his own
veracity, so fantastic it seemed in later life -- may have done
no great or permanent harm; but the habit of looking at life as a
social relation -- an affair of society -- did no good. It
cultivated a weakness which needed no cultivation. If it had
helped to make men of the world, or give the manners and
instincts of any profession -- such as temper, patience,
courtesy, or a faculty of profiting by the social defects of
opponents -- it would have been education better worth having
than mathematics or languages; but so far as it helped to make
anything, it helped only to make the college standard permanent
through life. The Bostonian educated at Harvard College remained
a collegian, if he stuck only to what the college gave him. If
parents went on generation after generation, sending their
children to Harvard College for the sake of its social
advantages, they perpetuated an inferior social type, quite as
ill-fitted as the Oxford type for success in the next generation.

  Luckily the old social standard of the college, as President
Walker or James Russell Lowell still showed it, was admirable,
and if it had little practical value or personal influence on the
mass of students, at least it preserved the tradition for those
who liked it. The Harvard graduate was neither American nor
European, nor even wholly Yankee; his admirers were few, and his
many; perhaps his worst weakness was his self-criticism and
self-consciousness; but his ambitions, social or intellectual,
were necessarily cheap even though they might be negative. Afraid
of such serious risks, and still more afraid of personal
ridicule, he seldom made a great failure of life, and nearly
always led a life more or less worth living. So Henry Adams, well
aware that he could not succeed as a scholar, and finding his
social position beyond improvement or need of effort, betook
himself to the single ambition which otherwise would scarcely
have seemed a true outcome of the college, though it was the last
remnant of the old Unitarian supremacy. He took to the pen. He

  The College Magazine printed his work, and the College
Societies listened to his addresses. Lavish of praise the readers
were not; the audiences, too, listened in silence; but this was
all the encouragement any Harvard collegian had a reasonable hope
to receive; grave silence was a form of patience that meant
possible future acceptance; and Henry Adams went on writing. No
one cared enough to criticise, except himself who soon began to
suffer from reaching his own limits. He found that he could not
be this -- or that -- or the other; always precisely the things
he wanted to be. He had not wit or scope or force. Judges always
ranked him beneath a rival, if he had any; and he believed the
judges were right. His work seemed to him thin, commonplace,
feeble. At times he felt his own weakness so fatally that he
could not go on; when he had nothing to say, he could not say it,
and he found that he had very little to say at best. Much that he
then wrote must be still in existence in print or manuscript,
though he never cared to see it again, for he felt no doubt that
it was in reality just what he thought it. At best it showed only
a feeling for form; an instinct of exclusion. Nothing
shocked--not even its weakness. 

  Inevitably an effort leads to an ambition -- creates it -- and
at that time the ambition of the literary student, which almost
took place of the regular prizes of scholarship, was that of
being chosen as the representative of his class -- Class Orator
-- at the close of their course. This was political as well as
literary success, and precisely the sort of eighteenth-century
combination that fascinated an eighteenth century boy. The idea
lurked in his mind, at first as a dream, in no way serious or
even possible, for he stood outside the number of what were known
as popular men. Year by year, his position seemed to improve, or
perhaps his rivals disappeared, until at last, to his own great
astonishment, he found himself a candidate. The habits of the
college permitted no active candidacy; he and his rivals had not
a word to say for or against themselves, and he was never even
consulted on the subject; he was not present at any of the
proceedings, and how it happened he never could quite divine, but
it did happen, that one evening on returning from Boston he
received notice of his election, after a very close contest, as
Class Orator over the head of the first scholar, who was
undoubtedly a better orator and a more popular man. In politics
the success of the poorer candidate is common enough, and Henry
Adams was a fairly trained politician, but he never understood
how he managed to defeat not only a more capable but a more
popular rival.

  To him the election seemed a miracle. This was no mock-modesty;
his head was as clear as ever it was in an indifferent canvass,
and he knew his rivals and their following as well as he knew
himself. What he did not know, even after four years of
education, was Harvard College. What he could never measure was
the bewildering impersonality of the men, who, at twenty years
old, seemed to set no value either on official or personal
standards. Here were nearly a hundred young men who had lived
together intimately during four of the most impressionable years
of life, and who, not only once but again and again, in different
ways, deliberately, seriously, dispassionately, chose as their
representatives precisely those of their companions who seemed
least to represent them. As far as these Orators and Marshals had
any position at all in a collegiate sense, it was that of
indifference to the college. Henry Adams never professed the
smallest faith in universities of any kind, either as boy or man,
nor had he the faintest admiration for the university graduate,
either in Europe or in America; as a collegian he was only known
apart from his fellows by his habit of standing outside the
college; and yet the singular fact remained that this commonplace
body of young men chose him repeatedly to express his and their
commonplaces. Secretly, of course, the successful candidate
flattered himself -- and them -- with the hope that they might
perhaps not be so commonplace as they thought themselves; but
this was only another proof that all were identical. They saw in
him a representative -- the kind of representative they wanted --
and he saw in them the most formidable array of judges he could
ever meet, like so many mirrors of himself, an infinite
reflection of his own shortcomings.

  All the same, the choice was flattering; so flattering that it
actually shocked his vanity; and would have shocked it more, if
possible, had he known that it was to be the only flattery of the
sort he was ever to receive. The function of Class Day was, in
the eyes of nine-tenths of the students, altogether the most
important of the college, and the figure of the Orator was the
most conspicuous in the function. Unlike the Orators at regular
Commencements, the Class Day Orator stood alone, or had only the
Poet for rival. Crowded into the large church, the students,
their families, friends, aunts, uncles and chaperones, attended
all the girls of sixteen or twenty who wanted to show their
summer dresses or fresh complexions, and there, for an hour or
two, in a heat that might have melted bronze, they listened to an
Orator and a Poet in clergyman's gowns, reciting such platitudes
as their own experience and their mild censors permitted them to
utter. What Henry Adams said in his Class Oration of 1858 he soon
forgot to the last word, nor had it the least value for
education; but he naturally remembered what was said of it. He
remembered especially one of his eminent uncles or relations
remarking that, as the work of so young a man, the oration was
singularly wanting in enthusiasm. The young man -- always in
search of education -- asked himself whether, setting rhetoric
aside, this absence of enthusiasm was a defect or a merit, since,
in either case, it was all that Harvard College taught, and all
that the hundred young men, whom he was trying to represent,
expressed. Another comment threw more light on the effect of the
college education. One of the elderly gentlemen noticed the
orator's "perfect self-possession." Self-possession indeed! If
Harvard College gave nothing else, it gave calm. For four years
each student had been obliged to figure daily before dozens of
young men who knew each other to the last fibre. One had done
little but read papers to Societies, or act comedy in the Hasty
Pudding, not to speak of regular exercises, and no audience in
future life would ever be so intimately and terribly intelligent
as these. Three-fourths of the graduates would rather have
addressed the Council of Trent or the British Parliament than
have acted Sir Anthony Absolute or Dr. Ollapod before a gala
audience of the Hasty Pudding. Self-possession was the strongest
part of Harvard College, which certainly taught men to stand
alone, so that nothing seemed stranger to its graduates than the
paroxysms of terror before the public which often overcame the
graduates of European universities. Whether this was, or was not,
education, Henry Adams never knew. He was ready to stand up
before any audience in America or Europe, with nerves rather
steadier for the excitement, but whether he should ever have
anything to say, remained to be proved. As yet he knew nothing
Education had not begun.


BERLIN (1858-1859)

  A FOURTH child has the strength of his weakness. Being of no
great value, he may throw himself away if he likes, and never be
missed. Charles Francis Adams, the father, felt no love for
Europe, which, as he and all the world agreed, unfitted Americans
for America. A captious critic might have replied that all the
success he or his father or his grandfather achieved was chiefly
due to the field that Europe gave them, and it was more than
likely that without the help of Europe they would have all
remained local politicians or lawyers, like their neighbors, to
the end. Strictly followed, the rule would have obliged them
never to quit Quincy; and, in fact, so much more timid are
parents for their children than for themselves, that Mr. and Mrs.
Adams would have been content to see their children remain
forever in Mount Vernon Street, unexposed to the temptations of
Europe, could they have relied on the moral influences of Boston
itself. Although the parents little knew what took place under
their eyes, even the mothers saw enough to make them uneasy.
Perhaps their dread of vice, haunting past and present, worried
them less than their dread of daughters-in-law or sons-in-law who
might not fit into the somewhat narrow quarters of home. On all
sides were risks. Every year some young person alarmed the
parental heart even in Boston, and although the temptations of
Europe were irresistible, removal from the temptations of Boston
might be imperative. The boy Henry wanted to go to Europe; he
seemed well behaved, when any one was looking at him; he observed
conventions, when he could not escape them; he was never
quarrelsome, towards a superior; his morals were apparently good,
and his moral principles, if he had any, were not known to be
bad. Above all, he was timid and showed a certain sense of
self-respect, when in public view. What he was at heart, no one
could say; least of all himself; but he was probably human, and
no worse than some others. Therefore, when he presented to an
exceedingly indulgent father and mother his request to begin at a
German university the study of the Civil Law -- although neither
he nor they knew what the Civil Law was, or any reason for his
studying it -- the parents dutifully consented, and walked with
him down to the railway-station at Quincy to bid him good-bye,
with a smile which he almost thought a tear.

  Whether the boy deserved such indulgence, or was worth it, he
knew no more than they, or than a professor at Harvard College;
but whether worthy or not, he began his third or fourth attempt
at education in November, 1858, by sailing on the steamer Persia,
the pride of Captain Judkins and the Cunard Line; the newest,
largest and fastest steamship afloat. He was not alone. Several
of his college companions sailed with him, and the world looked
cheerful enough until, on the third day, the world -- as far as
concerned the young man -- ran into a heavy storm. He learned
then a lesson that stood by him better than any university
teaching ever did -- the meaning of a November gale on the
mid-Atlantic -- which, for mere physical misery, passed
endurance. The subject offered him material for none but serious
treatment; he could never see the humor of sea-sickness; but it
united itself with a great variety of other impressions which
made the first month of travel altogether the rapidest school of
education he had yet found. The stride in knowledge seemed
gigantic. One began a to see that a great many impressions were
needed to make very little education, but how many could be
crowded into one day without making any education at all, became
the pons asinorum of tourist mathematics. How many would turn out
to be wrong whether any could turn out right, was ultimate

  The ocean, the Persia, Captain Judkins, and Mr. G. P. R. James,
the most distinguished passenger, vanished one Sunday morning in
a furious gale in the Mersey, to make place for the drearier
picture of a Liverpool street as seen from the Adelphi
coffee-room in November murk, followed instantly by the
passionate delights of Chester and the romance of red-sandstone
architecture. Millions of Americans have felt this succession of
emotions. Possibly very young and ingenuous tourists feel them
still, but in days before tourists, when the romance was a
reality, not a picture, they were overwhelming. When the boys
went out to Eaton Hall, they were awed, as Thackeray or Dickens
would have felt in the presence of a Duke. The very name of
Grosvenor struck a note of grandeur. The long suite of lofty,
gilded rooms with their gilded furniture; the portraits; the
terraces; the gardens, the landscape; the sense of superiority in
the England of the fifties, actually set the rich nobleman apart,
above Americans and shopkeepers. Aristocracy was real. So was the
England of Dickens. Oliver Twist and Little Nell lurked in every
churchyard shadow, not as shadow but alive. Even Charles the
First was not very shadowy, standing on the tower to see his army
defeated. Nothing thereabouts had very much changed since he lost
his battle and his head. An eighteenth-century American boy fresh
from Boston naturally took it all for education, and was amused
at this sort of lesson. At least he thought he felt it. 

  Then came the journey up to London through Birmingham and the
Black District, another lesson, which needed much more to be
rightly felt. The plunge into darkness lurid with flames; the
sense of unknown horror in this weird gloom which then existed
nowhere else, and never had existed before, except in volcanic
craters; the violent contrast between this dense, smoky,
impenetrable darkness, and the soft green charm that one glided
into, as one emerged -- the revelation of an unknown society of
the pit -- made a boy uncomfortable, though he had no idea that
Karl Marx was standing there waiting for him, and that sooner or
later the process of education would have to deal with Karl Marx
much more than with Professor Bowen of Harvard College or his
Satanic free-trade majesty John Stuart Mill. The Black District
was a practical education, but it was infinitely far in the
distance. The boy ran away from it, as he ran away from
everything he disliked.

  Had he known enough to know where to begin he would have seen
something to study, more vital than the Civil Law, in the long,
muddy, dirty, sordid, gas-lit dreariness of Oxford Street as his
dingy four-wheeler dragged its weary way to Charing Cross. He did
notice one peculiarity about it worth remembering. London was
still London. A certain style dignified its grime; heavy, clumsy,
arrogant, purse-proud, but not cheap; insular but large; barely
tolerant of an outside world, and absolutely self-confident. The
boys in the streets made such free comments on the American
clothes and figures, that the travellers hurried to put on tall
hats and long overcoats to escape criticism. No stranger had
rights even in the Strand. The eighteenth century held its own.
History muttered down Fleet Street, like Dr. Johnson, in Adams's
ear; Vanity Fair was alive on Piccadilly in yellow chariots with
coachmen in wigs, on hammer-cloths; footmen with canes, on the
footboard, and a shrivelled old woman inside; half the great
houses, black with London smoke, bore large funereal hatchments;
every one seemed insolent, and the most insolent structures in
the world were the Royal Exchange and the Bank of England. In
November, 1858, London was still vast, but it was the London of
the eighteenth century that an American felt and hated. 

  Education went backward. Adams, still a boy, could not guess
how intensely intimate this London grime was to become to him as
a man, but he could still less conceive himself returning to it
fifty years afterwards, noting at each turn how the great city
grew smaller as it doubled in size; cheaper as it quadrupled its
wealth; less imperial as its empire widened; less dignified as it
tried to be civil. He liked it best when he hated it. Education
began at the end, or perhaps would end at the beginning. Thus far
it had remained in the eighteenth century, and the next step took
it back to the sixteenth. He crossed to Antwerp. As the Baron Osy
steamed up the Scheldt in the morning mists, a travelling band on
deck began to play, and groups of peasants, working along the
fields, dropped their tools to join in dancing. Ostade and
Teniers were as much alive as they ever were, and even the Duke
of Alva was still at home. The thirteenth-century cathedral
towered above a sixteenth-century mass of tiled roofs, ending
abruptly in walls and a landscape that had not changed. The taste
of the town was thick, rich, ripe, like a sweet wine; it was
mediaeval, so that Rubens seemed modern; it was one of the
strongest and fullest flavors that ever touched the young man's
palate; but he might as well have drunk out his excitement in old
Malmsey, for all the education he got from it. Even in art, one
can hardly begin with Antwerp Cathedral and the Descent from the
Cross. He merely got drunk on his emotions, and had then to get
sober as he best could. He was terribly sober when he saw Antwerp
half a century afterwards. One lesson he did learn without
suspecting that he must immediately lose it. He felt his middle
ages and the sixteenth century alive. He was young enough, and
the towns were dirty enough -- unimproved, unrestored,
untouristed -- to retain the sense of reality. As a taste or a
smell, it was education, especially because it lasted barely ten
years longer; but it was education only sensual. He never dreamed
of trying to educate himself to the Descent from the Cross. He
was only too happy to feel himself kneeling at the foot of the
Cross; he learned only to loathe the sordid necessity of getting
up again, and going about his stupid business.

  This was one of the foreseen dangers of Europe, but it vanished
rapidly enough to reassure the most anxious of parents. Dropped
into Berlin one morning without guide or direction, the young man
in search of education floundered in a mere mess of
misunderstandings. He could never recall what he expected to
find, but whatever he expected, it had no relation with what it
turned out to be. A student at twenty takes easily to anything,
even to Berlin, and he would have accepted the thirteenth century
pure and simple since his guides assured him that this was his
right path; but a week's experience left him dazed and dull.
Faith held out, but the paths grew dim. Berlin astonished him,
but he had no lack of friends to show him all the amusement it
had to offer. Within a day or two he was running about with the
rest to beer-cellars and music-halls and dance-rooms, smoking bad
tobacco, drinking poor beer, and eating sauerkraut and sausages
as though he knew no better. This was easy. One can always
descend the social ladder. The trouble came when he asked for the
education he was promised. His friends took him to be registered
as a student of the university; they selected his professors and
courses; they showed him where to buy the Institutes of Gaius and
several German works on the Civil Law in numerous volumes; and
they led him to his first lecture. 

  His first lecture was his last. The young man was not very
quick, and he had almost religious respect for his guides and
advisers; but he needed no more than one hour to satisfy him that
he had made another failure in education, and this time a fatal
one. That the language would require at least three months' hard
work before he could touch the Law was an annoying discovery; but
the shock that upset him was the discovery of the university
itself. He had thought Harvard College a torpid school, but it
was instinct with life compared with all that he could see of the
University of Berlin. The German students were strange animals,
but their professors were beyond pay. The mental attitude of the
university was not of an American world. What sort of instruction
prevailed in other branches, or in science, Adams had no occasion
to ask, but in the Civil Law he found only the lecture system in
its deadliest form as it flourished in the thirteenth century.
The professor mumbled his comments; the students made, or seemed
to make, notes; they could have learned from books or discussion
in a day more than they could learn from him in a month, but they
must pay his fees, follow his course, and be his scholars, if
they wanted a degree. To an American the result was worthless. He
could make no use of the Civil Law without some previous notion
of the Common Law; but the student who knew enough of the Common
Law to understand what he wanted, had only to read the Pandects
or the commentators at his ease in America, and be his own
professor. Neither the method nor the matter nor the manner could
profit an American education.

  This discovery seemed to shock none of the students. They went
to the lectures, made notes, and read textbooks, but never
pretended to take their professor seriously. They were much more
serious in reading Heine. They knew no more than Heine what good
they were getting, beyond the Berlin accent -- which was bad; and
the beer -- which was not to compare with Munich; and the dancing
-- which was better at Vienna. They enjoyed the beer and music,
but they refused to be responsible for the education. Anyway, as
they defended themselves, they were learning the language. 

  So the young man fell back on the language, and being slow at
languages, he found himself falling behind all his friends, which
depressed his spirits, the more because the gloom of a Berlin
winter and of Berlin architecture seemed to him a particular sort
of gloom never attained elsewhere. One day on the Linden he
caught sight of Charles Sumner in a cab, and ran after him.
Sumner was then recovering from the blows of the South Carolinian
cane or club, and he was pleased to find a young worshipper in
the remote Prussian wilderness. They dined together and went to
hear "William Tell" at the Opera. Sumner tried to encourage his
friend about his difficulties of language: "I came to Berlin," or
Rome, or whatever place it was, as he said with his grand air of
mastery, "I came to Berlin, unable to say a word in the language;
and three months later when I went away, I talked it to my
cabman." Adams felt himself quite unable to attain in so short a
time such social advantages, and one day complained of his trials
to Mr. Robert Apthorp, of Boston, who was passing the winter in
Berlin for the sake of its music. Mr. Apthorp told of his own
similar struggle, and how he had entered a public school and sat
for months with ten-year-old-boys, reciting their lessons and
catching their phrases. The idea suited Adams's desperate frame
of mind. At least it ridded him of the university and the Civil
Law and American associations in beer-cellars. Mr. Apthorp took
the trouble to negotiate with the head-master of the
Friedrichs-Wilhelm-Werdersches Gymnasium for permission to Henry
Adams to attend the school as a member of the Ober-tertia, a
class of boys twelve or thirteen years old, and there Adams went
for three months as though he had not always avoided high schools
with singular antipathy. He never did anything else so foolish
but he was given a bit of education which served him some purpose
in life.

  It was not merely the language, though three months passed in
such fashion would teach a poodle enough to talk with a cabman,
and this was all that foreign students could expect to do, for
they never by any chance would come in contact with German
society, if German society existed, about which they knew
nothing. Adams never learned to talk German well, but the same
might be said of his English, if he could believe Englishmen. He
learned not to annoy himself on this account. His difficulties
with the language gradually ceased. He thought himself quite
Germanized in 1859. He even deluded himself with the idea that he
read it as though it were English, which proved that he knew
little about it; but whatever success he had in his own
experiment interested him less than his contact with German

  He had revolted at the American school and university; he had
instantly rejected the German university; and as his last
experience of education he tried the German high school. The
experiment was hazardous. In 1858 Berlin was a poor, keen-witted,
provincial town, simple, dirty, uncivilized, and in most respects
disgusting. Life was primitive beyond what an American boy could
have imagined. Overridden by military methods and bureaucratic
pettiness, Prussia was only beginning to free her hands from
internal bonds. Apart from discipline, activity scarcely existed.
The future Kaiser Wilhelm I, regent for his insane brother King
Friedrich Wilhelm IV, seemed to pass his time looking at the
passers-by from the window of his modest palace on the Linden.
German manners, even at Court, were sometimes brutal, and German
thoroughness at school was apt to be routine. Bismarck himself
was then struggling to begin a career against the inertia of the
German system. The condition of Germany was a scandal and
nuisance to every earnest German, all whose energies were turned
to reforming it from top to bottom; and Adams walked into a great
public school to get educated, at precisely the time when the
Germans wanted most to get rid of the education they were forced
to follow. As an episode in the search for education, this
adventure smacked of Heine. 

  The school system has doubtless changed, and at all events the
schoolmasters are probably long ago dead; the story has no longer
a practical value, and had very little even at the time; one
could at least say in defence of the German school that it was
neither very brutal nor very immoral. The head-master was
excellent in his Prussian way, and the other instructors were not
worse than in other schools; it was their system that struck the
systemless American with horror. The arbitrary training given to
the memory was stupefying; the strain that the memory endured was
a form of torture; and the feats that the boys performed, without
complaint, were pitiable. No other faculty than the memory seemed
to be recognized. Least of all was any use made of reason, either
analytic, synthetic, or dogmatic. The German government did not
encourage reasoning. 

  All State education is a sort of dynamo machine for polarizing
the popular mind; for turning and holding its lines of force in
the direction supposed to be most effective for State purposes.
The German machine was terribly efficient. Its effect on the
children was pathetic. The Friedrichs-Wilhelm-Werdersches
Gymnasium was an old building in the heart of Berlin which served
the educational needs of the small tradesmen or bourgeoisie of
the neighborhood; the children were Berliner-kinder if ever there
were such, and of a class suspected of sympathy and concern in
the troubles of 1848. None was noble or connected with good
society. Personally they were rather sympathetic than not, but as
the objects of education they were proofs of nearly all the evils
that a bad system could give. Apparently Adams, in his rigidly
illogical pursuit, had at last reached his ideal of a viciously
logical education. The boys' physique showed it first, but their
physique could not be wholly charged to the school. German food
was bad at best, and a diet of sauerkraut, sausage, and beer
could never be good; but it was not the food alone that made
their faces white and their flesh flabby. They never breathed
fresh air; they had never heard of a playground; in all Berlin
not a cubic inch of oxygen was admitted in winter into an
inhabited building; in the school every room was tightly closed
and had no ventilation; the air was foul beyond all decency; but
when the American opened a window in the five minutes between
hours, he violated the rules and was invariably rebuked. As long
as cold weather lasted, the windows were shut. If the boys had a
holiday, they were apt to be taken on long tramps in the
Thiergarten or elsewhere, always ending in over-fatigue,
tobacco-smoke, sausages, and beer. With this, they were required
to prepare daily lessons that would have quickly broken down
strong men of a healthy habit, and which they could learn only
because their minds were morbid. The German university had seemed
a failure, but the German high school was something very near an
indictable nuisance.

  Before the month of April arrived, the experiment of German
education had reached this point. Nothing was left of it except
the ghost of the Civil Law shut up in the darkest of closets,
never to gibber again before any one who could repeat the story.
The derisive Jew laughter of Heine ran through the university and
everything else in Berlin. Of course, when one is twenty years
old, life is bound to be full, if only of Berlin beer, although
German student life was on the whole the thinnest of beer, as an
American looked on it, but though nothing except small fragments
remained of the education that had been so promising -- or
promised -- this is only what most often happens in life, when
by-products turn out to be more valuable than staples. The German
university and German law were failures; German society, in an
American sense, did not exist, or if it existed, never showed
itself to an American; the German theatre, on the other hand, was
excellent, and German opera, with the ballet, was almost worth a
journey to Berlin; but the curious and perplexing result of the
total failure of German education was that the student's only
clear gain -- his single step to a higher life -- came from time
wasted; studies neglected; vices indulged; education reversed; --
it came from the despised beer-garden and music-hall; and it was
accidental, unintended, unforeseen. 

  When his companions insisted on passing two or three afternoons
in the week at music-halls, drinking beer, smoking German
tobacco, and looking at fat German women knitting, while an
orchestra played dull music, Adams went with them for the sake of
the company, but with no presence of enjoyment; and when Mr.
Apthorp gently protested that he exaggerated his indifference,
for of course he enjoyed Beethoven, Adams replied simply that he
loathed Beethoven; and felt a slight surprise when Mr. Apthorp
and the others laughed as though they thought it humor. He saw no
humor in it. He supposed that, except musicians, every one
thought Beethoven a bore, as every one except mathematicians
thought mathematics a bore. Sitting thus at his beer-table,
mentally impassive, he was one day surprised to notice that his
mind followed the movement of a Sinfonie. He could not have been
more astonished had he suddenly read a new language. Among the
marvels of education, this was the most marvellous. A prison-wall
that barred his senses on one great side of life, suddenly fell,
of its own accord, without so much as his knowing when it
happened. Amid the fumes of coarse tobacco and poor beer,
surrounded by the commonest of German Haus-frauen, a new sense
burst out like a flower in his life, so superior to the old
senses, so bewildering, so astonished at its own existence, that
he could not credit it, and watched it as something apart,
accidental, and not to be trusted. He slowly came to admit that
Beethoven had partly become intelligible to him, but he was the
more inclined to think that Beethoven must be much overrated as a
musician, to be so easily followed. This could not be called
education, for he had never so much as listened to the music. He
had been thinking of other things. Mere mechanical repetition of
certain sounds had stuck to his unconscious mind. Beethoven might
have this power, but not Wagner, or at all events not the Wagner
later than "Tannhauser." Near forty years passed before he
reached the "Gotterdammerung."

  One might talk of the revival of an atrophied sense -- the
mechanical reaction of a sleeping consciousness -- but no other
sense awoke. His sense of line and color remained as dull as
ever, and as far as ever below the level of an artist. His
metaphysical sense did not spring into life, so that his mind
could leap the bars of German expression into sympathy with the
idealities of Kant and Hegel. Although he insisted that his faith
in German thought and literature was exalted, he failed to
approach German thought, and he shed never a tear of emotion over
the pages of Goethe and Schiller. When his father rashly ventured
from time to time to write him a word of common sense, the young
man would listen to no sense at all, but insisted that Berlin was
the best of educations in the best of Germanies; yet, when, at
last, April came, and some genius suggested a tramp in Thuringen,
his heart sang like a bird; he realized what a nightmare he had
suffered, and he made up his mind that, wherever else he might,
in the infinities of space and time, seek for education, it
should not be again in Berlin. 


ROME (1859-1860)

  THE tramp in Thuringen lasted four-and-twenty hours. By the end
of the first walk, his three companions -- John Bancroft, James
J. Higginson, and B. W. Crowninshield, all Boston and Harvard
College like himself -- were satisfied with what they had seen,
and when they sat down to rest on the spot where Goethe had
written --

                "Warte nur! balde
          Rubest du auch!" --

the profoundness of the thought and the wisdom of the advice
affected them so strongly that they hired a wagon and drove to
Weimar the same night. They were all quite happy and lighthearted
in the first fresh breath of leafless spring, and the beer was
better than at Berlin, but they were all equally in doubt why
they had come to Germany, and not one of them could say why they
stayed. Adams stayed because he did not want to go home, and he
had fears that his father's patience might be exhausted if he
asked to waste time elsewhere. 

  They could not think that their education required a return to
Berlin. A few days at Dresden in the spring weather satisfied
them that Dresden was a better spot for general education than
Berlin, and equally good for reading Civil Law. They were
possibly right. There was nothing to study in Dresden, and no
education to be gained, but the Sistine Madonna and the
Correggios were famous; the theatre and opera were sometimes
excellent, and the Elbe was prettier than the Spree. They could
always fall back on the language. So he took a room in the
household of the usual small government clerk with the usual
plain daughters, and continued the study of the language.
Possibly one might learn something more by accident, as one had
learned something of Beethoven. For the next eighteen months the
young man pursued accidental education, since he could pursue no
other; and by great good fortune, Europe and America were too
busy with their own affairs to give much attention to his.
Accidental education had every chance in its favor, especially
because nothing came amiss. 

  Perhaps the chief obstacle to the youth's education, now that
he had come of age, was his honesty; his simple-minded faith in
his intentions. Even after Berlin had become a nightmare, he
still persuaded himself that his German education was a success.
He loved, or thought he loved the people, but the Germany he
loved was the eighteenth-century which the Germans were ashamed
of, and were destroying as fast as they could. Of the Germany to
come, he knew nothing. Military Germany was his abhorrence. What
he liked was the simple character; the good-natured sentiment;
the musical and metaphysical abstraction; the blundering
incapacity of the German for practical affairs. At that time
everyone looked on Germany as incapable of competing with France,
England or America in any sort of organized energy. Germany had
no confidence in herself, and no reason to feel it. She had no
unity, and no reason to want it. She never had unity. Her
religious and social history, her economical interests, her
military geography, her political convenience, had always tended
to eccentric rather than concentric motion. Until coal-power and
railways were created, she was mediaeval by nature and geography,
and this was what Adams, under the teachings of Carlyle and
Lowell, liked.

  He was in a fair way to do himself lasting harm, floundering
between worlds passed and worlds coming, which had a habit of
crushing men who stayed too long at the points of contact.
Suddenly the Emperor Napoleon declared war on Austria and raised
a confused point of morals in the mind of Europe. France was the
nightmare of Germany, and even at Dresden one looked on the
return of Napoleon to Leipsic as the most likely thing in the
world. One morning the government clerk, in whose family Adams
was staying, rushed into his room to consult a map in order that
he might measure the distance from Milan to Dresden. The third
Napoleon had reached Lombardy, and only fifty or sixty years had
passed since the first Napoleon had begun his military successes
from an Italian base. 

  An enlightened young American, with eighteenth-century tastes
capped by fragments of a German education and the most excellent
intentions, had to make up his mind about the moral value of
these conflicting forces. France was the wicked spirit of moral
politics, and whatever helped France must be so far evil. At that
time Austria was another evil spirit. Italy was the prize they
disputed, and for at least fifteen hundred years had been the
chief object of their greed. The question of sympathy had
disturbed a number of persons during that period. The question of
morals had been put in a number of cross-lights. Should one be
Guelph or Ghibelline? No doubt, one was wiser than one's
neighbors who had found no way of settling this question since
the days of the cave-dwellers, but ignorance did better to
discard the attempt to be wise, for wisdom had been singularly
baffled by the problem. Better take sides first, and reason about
it for the rest of life.

  Not that Adams felt any real doubt about his sympathies or
wishes. He had not been German long enough for befogging his mind
to that point, but the moment was decisive for much to come,
especially for political morals. His morals were the highest, and
he clung to them to preserve his self-respect; but steam and
electricity had brought about new political and social
concentrations, or were making them necessary in the line of his
moral principles -- freedom, education, economic development and
so forth -- which required association with allies as doubtful as
Napoleon III, and robberies with violence on a very extensive
scale. As long as he could argue that his opponents were wicked,
he could join in robbing and killing them without a qualm; but it
might happen that the good were robbed. Education insisted on
finding a moral foundation for robbery. He could hope to begin
life in the character of no animal more moral than a monkey
unless he could satisfy himself when and why robbery and murder
were a virtue and duty. Education founded on mere self-interest
was merely Guelph and Ghibelline over again -- Machiavelli
translated into American. 

  Luckily for him he had a sister much brighter than he ever was
-- though he thought himself a rather superior person -- who
after marrying Charles Kuhn, of Philadelphia, had come to Italy,
and, like all good Americans and English, was hotly Italian. In
July, 1859, she was at Thun in Switzerland, and there Henry Adams
joined them. Women have, commonly, a very positive moral sense;
that which they will, is right; that which they reject, is wrong;
and their will, in most cases, ends by settling the moral. Mrs.
Kuhn had a double superiority. She not only adored Italy, but she
cordially disliked Germany in all its varieties. She saw no gain
in helping her brother to be Germanized, and she wanted him much
to be civilized. She was the first young woman he was ever
intimate with -- quick, sensitive, wilful, or full of will,
energetic, sympathetic and intelligent enough to supply a score
of men with ideas -- and he was delighted to give her the reins
-- to let her drive him where she would. It was his first
experiment in giving the reins to a woman, and he was so much
pleased with the results that he never wanted to take them back.
In after life he made a general law of experience -- no woman had
ever driven him wrong; no man had ever driven him right. 

  Nothing would satisfy Mrs. Kuhn but to go to the seat of war as
soon as the armistice was declared. Wild as the idea seemed,
nothing was easier. The party crossed the St. Gothard and reached
Milan, picturesque with every sort of uniform and every sign of
war. To young Adams this first plunge into Italy passed Beethoven
as a piece of accidental education. Like music, it differed from
other education in being, not a means of pursuing life, but one
of the ends attained. Further, on these lines, one could not go.
It had but one defect -- that of attainment. Life had no richer
impression to give; it offers barely half-a-dozen such, and the
intervals seem long. Exactly what they teach would puzzle a
Berlin jurist; yet they seem to have an economic value, since
most people would decline to part with even their faded memories
except at a valuation ridiculously extravagant. They were also
what men pay most for; but one's ideas become hopelessly mixed in
trying to reduce such forms of education to a standard of
exchangeable value, and, as in political economy, one had best
disregard altogether what cannot be stated in equivalents. The
proper equivalent of pleasure is pain, which is also a form of

  Not satisfied with Milan, Mrs. Kuhn insisted on invading the
enemy's country, and the carriage was chartered for Innsbruck by
way of the Stelvio Pass. The Valtellina, as the carriage drove up
it, showed war. Garibaldi's Cacciatori were the only visible
inhabitants. No one could say whether the pass was open, but in
any case no carriage had yet crossed. At the inns the handsome
young officers in command of the detachments were delighted to
accept invitations to dinner and to talk all the evening of their
battles to the charming patriot who sparkled with interest and
flattery, but not one of them knew whether their enemies, the
abhorred Austrian Jagers, would let the travellers through their
lines. As a rule, gaiety was not the character failing in any
party that Mrs. Kuhn belonged to, but when at last, after
climbing what was said to be the finest carriage-pass in Europe,
the carriage turned the last shoulder, where the glacier of the
Ortler Spitze tumbled its huge mass down upon the road, even Mrs.
Kuhn gasped when she was driven directly up to the barricade and
stopped by the double line of sentries stretching on either side
up the mountains, till the flash of the gun barrels was lost in
the flash of the snow. For accidental education the picture had
its value. The earliest of these pictures count for most, as
first impressions must, and Adams never afterwards cared much for
landscape education, except perhaps in the tropics for the sake
of the contrast. As education, that chapter, too, was read, and
set aside. 

  The handsome blond officers of the Jagers were not to be beaten
in courtesy by the handsome young olive-toned officers of the
Cacciatori. The eternal woman as usual, when she is young,
pretty, and engaging, had her way, and the barricade offered no
resistance. In fifteen minutes the carriage was rolling down to
Mals, swarming with German soldiers and German fleas, worse than
the Italian; and German language, thought, and atmosphere, of
which young Adams, thanks to his glimpse of Italy, never again
felt quite the old confident charm. 

  Yet he could talk to his cabman and conscientiously did his
cathedrals, his Rhine, and whatever his companions suggested.
Faithful to his self-contracted scheme of passing two winters in
study of the Civil Law, he went back to Dresden with a letter to
the Frau Hofrathin von Reichenbach, in whose house Lowell and
other Americans had pursued studies more or less serious. In
those days, "The Initials" was a new book. The charm which its
clever author had laboriously woven over Munich gave also a
certain reflected light to Dresden. Young Adams had nothing to do
but take fencing-lessons, visit the galleries and go to the
theatre; but his social failure in the line of "The Initials,"
was humiliating and he succumbed to it. The Frau Hofrathin
herself was sometimes roused to huge laughter at the total
discomfiture and helplessness of the young American in the face
of her society. Possibly an education may be the wider and the
richer for a large experience of the world; Raphael Pumpelly and
Clarence King, at about the same time, were enriching their
education by a picturesque intimacy with the manners of the
Apaches and Digger Indians. All experience is an arch, to build
upon. Yet Adams admitted himself unable to guess what use his
second winter in Germany was to him, or what he expected it to
be. Even the doctrine of accidental education broke down. There
were no accidents in Dresden. As soon as the winter was over, he
closed and locked the German door with a long breath of relief,
and took the road to Italy. He had then pursued his education, as
it pleased him, for eighteen months, and in spite of the infinite
variety of new impressions which had packed themselves into his
mind, he knew no more, for his practical purposes, than the day
he graduated. He had made no step towards a profession. He was as
ignorant as a schoolboy of society. He was unfit for any career
in Europe, and unfitted for any career in America, and he had not
natural intelligence enough to see what a mess he had thus far
made of his education. 

  By twisting life to follow accidental and devious paths, one
might perhaps find some use for accidental and devious knowledge,
but this had been no part of Henry Adams's plan when he chose the
path most admired by the best judges, and followed it till he
found it led nowhere. Nothing had been further from his mind when
he started in November, 1858, than to become a tourist, but a
mere tourist, and nothing else, he had become in April, 1860,
when he joined his sister in Florence. His father had been in the
right. The young man felt a little sore about it. Supposing his
father asked him, on his return, what equivalent he had brought
back for the time and money put into his experiment! The only
possible answer would be: "Sir, I am a tourist! "  

  The answer was not what he had meant it to be, and he was not
likely to better it by asking his father, in turn, what
equivalent his brothers or cousins or friends at home had got out
of the same time and money spent in Boston. All they had put into
the law was certainly thrown away, but were they happier in
science? In theory one might say, with some show of proof, that a
pure, scientific education was alone correct; yet many of his
friends who took it, found reason to complain that it was
anything but a pure, scientific world in which they lived. 

  Meanwhile his father had quite enough perplexities of his own,
without seeking more in his son's errors. His Quincy district had
sent him to Congress, and in the spring of 1860 he was in the
full confusion of nominating candidates for the Presidential
election in November. He supported Mr. Seward. The Republican
Party was an unknown force, and the Democratic Party was torn to
pieces. No one could see far into the future. Fathers could
blunder as well as sons, and, in 1860, every one was conscious of
being dragged along paths much less secure than those of the
European tourist. For the time, the young man was safe from
interference, and went on his way with a light heart to take
whatever chance fragments of education God or the devil was
pleased to give him, for he knew no longer the good from the bad.

  He had of both sorts more than he knew how to use. Perhaps the
most useful purpose he set himself to serve was that of his pen,
for he wrote long letters, during the next three months, to his
brother Charles, which his brother caused to be printed in the
Boston Courier; and the exercise was good for him. He had little
to say, and said it not very well, but that mattered less. The
habit of expression leads to the search for something to express.
Something remains as a residuum of the commonplace itself, if one
strikes out every commonplace in the expression. Young men as a
rule saw little in Italy, or anywhere else, and in after life
when Adams began to learn what some men could see, he shrank into
corners of shame at the thought that he should have betrayed his
own inferiority as though it were his pride, while he invited his
neighbors to measure and admire; but it was still the nearest
approach he had yet made to an intelligent act. 

  For the rest, Italy was mostly an emotion and the emotion
naturally centred in Rome. The American parent, curiously enough,
while bitterly hostile to Paris, seemed rather disposed to accept
Rome as legitimate education, though abused; but to young men
seeking education in a serious spirit, taking for granted that
everything had a cause, and that nature tended to an end, Rome
was altogether the most violent vice in the world, and Rome
before 1870 was seductive beyond resistance. The month of May,
1860, was divine. No doubt other young men, and occasionally
young women, have passed the month of May in Rome since then, and
conceive that the charm continues to exist. Possibly it does --
in them -- but in 1860 the lights and shadows were still
mediaeval, and mediaeval Rome was alive; the shadows breathed and
glowed, full of soft forms felt by lost senses. No sand-blast of
science had yet skinned off the epidermis of history, thought,
and feeling. The pictures were uncleaned, the churches
unrestored, the ruins unexcavated. Mediaeval Rome was sorcery.
Rome was the worst spot on earth to teach nineteenth-century
youth what to do with a twentieth-century world. One's emotions
in Rome were one's private affair, like one's glass of absinthe
before dinner in the Palais Royal; they must be hurtful, else
they could not have been so intense; and they were surely
immoral, for no one, priest or politician, could honestly read in
the ruins of Rome any other certain lesson than that they were
evidence of the just judgments of an outraged God against all the
doings of man. This moral unfitted young men for every sort of
useful activity; it made Rome a gospel of anarchy and vice; the
last place under the sun for educating the young; yet it was, by
common consent, the only spot that the young -- of either sex and
every race -- passionately, perversely, wickedly loved. 

  Boys never see a conclusion; only on the edge of the grave can
man conclude anything; but the first impulse given to the boy is
apt to lead or drive him for the rest of his life into conclusion
after conclusion that he never dreamed of reaching. One looked
idly enough at the Forum or at St. Peter's, but one never forgot
the look, and it never ceased reacting. To a young Bostonian,
fresh from Germany, Rome seemed a pure emotion, quite free from
economic or actual values, and he could not in reason or common
sense foresee that it was mechanically piling up conundrum after
conundrum in his educational path, which seemed unconnected but
that he had got to connect; that seemed insoluble but had got to
be somehow solved. Rome was not a beetle to be dissected and
dropped; not a bad French novel to be read in a railway train and
thrown out of the window after other bad French novels, the
morals of which could never approach the immorality of Roman
history. Rome was actual; it was England; it was going to be
America. Rome could not be fitted into an orderly, middle-class,
Bostonian, systematic scheme of evolution. No law of progress
applied to it. Not even time-sequences -- the last refuge of
helpless historians -- had value for it. The Forum no more led to
the Vatican than the Vatican to the Forum. Rienzi, Garibaldi,
Tiberius Gracchus, Aurelian might be mixed up in any relation of
time, along with a thousand more, and never lead to a sequence.
The great word Evolution had not yet, in 1860, made a new
religion of history, but the old religion had preached the same
doctrine for a thousand years without finding in the entire
history of Rome anything but flat contradiction. 

  Of course both priests and evolutionists bitterly denied this
heresy, but what they affirmed or denied in 1860 had very little
importance indeed for 1960. Anarchy lost no ground meanwhile. The
problem became only the more fascinating. Probably it was more
vital in May, 1860, than it had been in October, 1764, when the
idea of writing the Decline and Fall of the city first started to
the mind of Gibbon, "in the close of the evening, as I sat musing
in the Church of the Zoccolanti or Franciscan Friars, while they
were singing Vespers in the Temple of Jupiter, on the ruins of
the Capitol." Murray's Handbook had the grace to quote this
passage from Gibbon's "Autobiography," which led Adams more than
once to sit at sunset on the steps of the Church of Santa Maria
di Ara Coeli, curiously wondering that not an inch had been
gained by Gibbon -- or all the historians since -- towards
explaining the Fall. The mystery remained unsolved; the charm
remained intact. Two great experiments of Western civilization
had left there the chief monuments of their failure, and nothing
proved that the city might not still survive to express the
failure of a third. 

  The young man had no idea what he was doing. The thought of
posing for a Gibbon never entered his mind. He was a tourist,
even to the depths of his sub-consciousness, and it was well for
him that he should be nothing else, for even the greatest of men
cannot sit with dignity, "in the close of evening, among the
ruins of the Capitol," unless they have something quite original
to say about it. Tacitus could do it; so could Michael Angelo;
and so, at a pinch, could Gibbon, though in figure hardly heroic;
but, in sum, none of them could say very much more than the
tourist, who went on repeating to himself the eternal question:
-- Why! Why!! Why!!! -- as his neighbor, the blind beggar, might
do, sitting next him, on the church steps. No one ever had
answered the question to the satisfaction of any one else; yet
every one who had either head or heart, felt that sooner or later
he must make up his mind what answer to accept. Substitute the
word America for the word Rome, and the question became personal. 

  Perhaps Henry learned something in Rome, though he never knew
it, and never sought it. Rome dwarfs teachers. The greatest men
of the age scarcely bore the test of posing with Rome for a
background. Perhaps Garibaldi -- possibly even Cavour -- could
have sat "in the close of the evening, among the ruins of the
Capitol," but one hardly saw Napoleon III there, or Palmerston or
Tennyson or Longfellow. One morning, Adams happened to be
chatting in the studio of Hamilton Wilde, when a middle-aged
Englishman came in, evidently excited, and told of the shock he
had just received, when riding near the Circus Maximus, at coming
unexpectedly on the guillotine, where some criminal had been put
to death an hour or two before. The sudden surprise had quite
overcome him; and Adams, who seldom saw the point of a story till
time had blunted it, listened sympathetically to learn what new
form of grim horror had for the moment wiped out the memory of
two thousand years of Roman bloodshed, or the consolation,
derived from history and statistics, that most citizens of Rome
seemed to be the better for guillotining. Only by slow degrees,
he grappled the conviction that the victim of the shock was
Robert Browning; and, on the background of the Circus Maximus,
the Christian martyrs flaming as torches, and the morning's
murderer on the block, Browning seemed rather in place, as a
middle-aged gentlemanly English Pippa Passes; while afterwards,
in the light of Belgravia dinner-tables, he never made part of
his background except by effacement. Browning might have sat with
Gibbon, among the ruins, and few Romans would have smiled. 

  Yet Browning never revealed the poetic depths of Saint Francis;
William Story could not touch the secret of Michael Angelo, and
Mommsen hardly said all that one felt by instinct in the lives of
Cicero and Caesar. They taught what, as a rule, needed no
teaching, the lessons of a rather cheap imagination and cheaper
politics. Rome was a bewildering complex of ideas, experiments,
ambitions, energies; without her, the Western world was pointless
and fragmentary; she gave heart and unity to it all; yet Gibbon
might have gone on for the whole century, sitting among the ruins
of the Capitol, and no one would have passed, capable of telling
him what it meant. Perhaps it meant nothing.

  So it ended; the happiest month of May that life had yet
offered, fading behind the present, and probably beyond the past,
somewhere into abstract time, grotesquely out of place with the
Berlin scheme or a Boston future. Adams explained to himself that
he was absorbing knowledge. He would have put it better had he
said that knowledge was absorbing him. He was passive. In spite
of swarming impressions he knew no more when he left Rome than he
did when he entered it. As a marketable object, his value was
less. His next step went far to convince him that accidental
education, whatever its economical return might be, was
prodigiously successful as an object in itself. Everything
conspired to ruin his sound scheme of life, and to make him a
vagrant as well as pauper. He went on to Naples, and there, in
the hot June, heard rumors that Garibaldi and his thousand were
about to attack Palermo. Calling on the American Minister,
Chandler of Pennsylvania, he was kindly treated, not for his
merit, but for his name, and Mr. Chandler amiably consented to
send him to the seat of war as bearer of despatches to Captain
Palmer of the American sloop of war Iroquois. Young Adams seized
the chance, and went to Palermo in a government transport filled
with fleas, commanded by a charming Prince Caracciolo. 

  He told all about it to the Boston Courier; where the narrative
probably exists to this day, unless the files of the Courier have
wholly perished; but of its bearing on education the Courier did
not speak. He himself would have much liked to know whether it
had any bearing whatever, and what was its value as a
post-graduate course. Quite apart from its value as life
attained, realized, capitalized, it had also a certain value as a
lesson in something, though Adams could never classify the branch
of study. Loosely, the tourist called it knowledge of men, but it
was just the reverse; it was knowledge of one's ignorance of men.
Captain Palmer of the Iroquois, who was a friend of the young
man's uncle, Sydney Brooks, took him with the officers of the
ship to make an evening call on Garibaldi, whom they found in the
Senate House towards sunset, at supper with his picturesque and
piratic staff, in the full noise and color of the Palermo
revolution. As a spectacle, it belonged to Rossini and the
Italian opera, or to Alexandre Dumas at the least, but the
spectacle was not its educational side. Garibaldi left the table,
and, sitting down at the window, had a few words of talk with
Captain Palmer and young Adams. At that moment, in the summer of
1860, Garibaldi was certainly the most serious of the doubtful
energies in the world; the most essential to gauge rightly. Even
then society was dividing between banker and anarchist. One or
the other, Garibaldi must serve. Himself a typical anarchist,
sure to overshadow Europe and alarm empires bigger than Naples,
his success depended on his mind; his energy was beyond doubt. 

  Adams had the chance to look this sphinx in the eyes, and, for
five minutes, to watch him like a wild animal, at the moment of
his greatest achievement and most splendid action. One saw a
quiet-featured, quiet-voiced man in a red flannel shirt;
absolutely impervious; a type of which Adams knew nothing.
Sympathetic it was, and one felt that it was simple; one
suspected even that it might be childlike, but could form no
guess of its intelligence. In his own eyes Garibaldi might be a
Napoleon or a Spartacus; in the hands of Cavour he might become a
Condottiere; in the eyes of history he might, like the rest of
the world, be only the vigorous player in the game he did not
understand. The student was none the wiser. 

  This compound nature of patriot and pirate had illumined
Italian history from the beginning, and was no more intelligible
to itself than to a young American who had no experience in
double natures. In the end, if the "Autobiography" tells truth,
Garibaldi saw and said that he had not understood his own acts;
that he had been an instrument; that he had served the purposes
of the class he least wanted to help; yet in 1860 he thought
himself the revolution anarchic, Napoleonic, and his ambition was
unbounded. What should a young Bostonian have made of a character
like this, internally alive with childlike fancies, and
externally quiet, simple, almost innocent; uttering with apparent
conviction the usual commonplaces of popular politics that all
politicians use as the small change of their intercourse with the
public; but never betraying a thought? 

  Precisely this class of mind was to be the toughest problem of
Adams's practical life, but he could never make anything of it.
The lesson of Garibaldi, as education, seemed to teach the
extreme complexity of extreme simplicity; but one could have
learned this from a glow-worm. One did not need the vivid
recollection of the low-voiced, simple-mannered, seafaring
captain of Genoese adventurers and Sicilian brigands, supping in
the July heat and Sicilian dirt and revolutionary clamor, among
the barricaded streets of insurgent Palermo, merely in order to
remember that simplicity is complex. 

  Adams left the problem as he found it, and came north to
stumble over others, less picturesque but nearer. He squandered
two or three months on Paris. From the first he had avoided
Paris, and had wanted no French influence in his education. He
disapproved of France in the lump. A certain knowledge of the
language one must have; enough to order dinner and buy a theatre
ticket; but more he did not seek. He disliked the Empire and the
Emperor particularly, but this was a trifle; he disliked most the
French mind. To save himself the trouble of drawing up a long
list of all that he disliked, he disapproved of the whole, once
for all, and shut them figuratively out of his life. France was
not serious, and he was not serious in going there. 

  He did this in good faith, obeying the lessons his teachers had
taught him; but the curious result followed that, being in no way
responsible for the French and sincerely disapproving them, he
felt quite at liberty to enjoy to the full everything he
disapproved. Stated thus crudely, the idea sounds derisive; but,
as a matter of fact, several thousand Americans passed much of
their time there on this understanding. They sought to take share
in every function that was open to approach, as they sought
tickets to the opera, because they were not a part of it. Adams
did like the rest. All thought of serious education had long
vanished. He tried to acquire a few French idioms, without even
aspiring to master a subjunctive, but he succeeded better in
acquiring a modest taste for Bordeaux and Burgundy and one or two
sauces; for the Trois Freres Provencaux and Voisin's and
Philippe's and the Cafe Anglais; for the Palais Royal Theatre,
and the Varietes and the Gymnase; for the Brohans and Bressant,
Rose Cheri and Gil Perez, and other lights of the stage. His
friends were good to him. Life was amusing. Paris rapidly became
familiar. In a month or six weeks he forgot even to disapprove of
it; but he studied nothing, entered no society, and made no
acquaintance. Accidental education went far in Paris, and one
picked up a deal of knowledge that might become useful; perhaps,
after all, the three months passed there might serve better
purpose than the twenty-one months passed elsewhere; but he did
not intend it -- did not think it -- and looked at it as a
momentary and frivolous vacation before going home to fit himself
for life. Therewith, after staying as long as he could and
spending all the money he dared, he started with mixed emotions
but no education, for home.


TREASON (1860-1861)

  WHEN, forty years afterwards, Henry Adams looked back over his
adventures in search of knowledge, he asked himself whether
fortune or fate had ever dealt its cards quite so wildly to any
of his known antecessors as when it led him to begin the study of
law and to vote for Abraham Lincoln on the same day. 

  He dropped back on Quincy like a lump of lead; he rebounded
like a football, tossed into space by an unknown energy which
played with all his generation as a cat plays with mice. The
simile is none too strong. Not one man in America wanted the
Civil War, or expected or intended it. A small minority wanted
secession. The vast majority wanted to go on with their
occupations in peace. Not one, however clever or learned, guessed
what happened. Possibly a few Southern loyalists in despair might
dream it as an impossible chance; but none planned it. 

  As for Henry Adams, fresh from Europe and chaos of another
sort, he plunged at once into a lurid atmosphere of politics,
quite heedless of any education or forethought. His past melted
away. The prodigal was welcomed home, but not even his father
asked a malicious question about the Pandects. At the utmost, he
hinted at some shade of prodigality by quietly inviting his son
to act as private secretary during the winter in Washington, as
though any young man who could afford to throw away two winters
on the Civil Law could afford to read Blackstone for another
winter without a master. The young man was beyond satire, and
asked only a pretext for throwing all education to the east wind.
November at best is sad, and November at Quincy had been from
earliest childhood the least gay of seasons. Nowhere else does
the uncharitable autumn wreak its spite so harshly on the frail
wreck of the grasshopper summer; yet even a Quincy November
seemed temperate before the chill of a Boston January. 

  This was saying much, for the November of 1860 at Quincy stood
apart from other memories as lurid beyond description. Although
no one believed in civil war, the air reeked of it, and the
Republicans organized their clubs and parades as Wide-Awakes in a
form military in all things except weapons. Henry reached home in
time to see the last of these processions, stretching in ranks of
torches along the hillside, file down through the November night;
to the Old House, where Mr. Adams, their Member of Congress,
received them, and, let them pretend what they liked, their air
was not that of innocence. 

  Profoundly ignorant, anxious, and curious, the young man packed
his modest trunk again, which had not yet time to be unpacked,
and started for Washington with his family. Ten years had passed
since his last visit, but very little had changed. As in 1800 and
1850, so in 1860, the same rude colony was camped in the same
forest, with the same unfinished Greek temples for work rooms,
and sloughs for roads. The Government had an air of social
instability and incompleteness that went far to support the right
of secession in theory as in fact; but right or wrong, secession
was likely to be easy where there was so little to secede from.
The Union was a sentiment, but not much more, and in December,
1860, the sentiment about the Capitol was chiefly hostile, so far
as it made itself felt. John Adams was better off in Philadelphia
in 1776 than his great-grandson Henry in 1860 in Washington. 

  Patriotism ended by throwing a halo over the Continental
Congress, but over the close of the Thirty-sixth Congress in
1860-61, no halo could be thrown by any one who saw it. Of all
the crowd swarming in Washington that winter, young Adams was
surely among the most ignorant and helpless, but he saw plainly
that the knowledge possessed by everybody about him was hardly
greater than his own. Never in a long life did he seek to master
a lesson so obscure. Mr. Sumner was given to saying after
Oxenstiern: "Quantula sapientia mundus regitur!" Oxenstiern
talked of a world that wanted wisdom; but Adams found himself
seeking education in a world that seemed to him both unwise and
ignorant. The Southern secessionists were certainly unbalanced in
mind -- fit for medical treatment, like other victims of
hallucination -- haunted by suspicion, by idees fixes, by violent
morbid excitement; but this was not all. They were stupendously
ignorant of the world. As a class, the cotton-planters were
mentally one-sided, ill-balanced, and provincial to a degree
rarely known. They were a close society on whom the new fountains
of power had poured a stream of wealth and slaves that acted like
oil on flame. They showed a young student his first object-lesson
of the way in which excess of power worked when held by
inadequate hands. 

  This might be a commonplace of 1900, but in 1860 it was
paradox. The Southern statesmen were regarded as standards of
statesmanship, and such standards barred education. Charles
Sumner's chief offence was his insistence on Southern ignorance,
and he stood a living proof of it. To this school, Henry Adams
had come for a new education, and the school was seriously,
honestly, taken by most of the world, including Europe, as proper
for the purpose, although the Sioux Indians would have taught
less mischief. From such contradictions among intelligent people,
what was a young man to learn? 

  He could learn nothing but cross-purpose. The old and typical
Southern gentleman developed as cotton-planter had nothing to
teach or to give, except warning. Even as example to be avoided,
he was too glaring in his defiance of reason, to help the
education of a reasonable being. No one learned a useful lesson
from the Confederate school except to keep away from it. Thus, at
one sweep, the whole field of instruction south of the Potomac
was shut off; it was overshadowed by the cotton planters, from
whom one could learn nothing but bad temper, bad manners, poker,
and treason. 

  Perforce, the student was thrown back on Northern precept and
example; first of all, on his New England surroundings.
Republican houses were few in Washington, and Mr. and Mrs. Adams
aimed to create a social centre for New Englanders. They took a
house on I Street, looking over Pennsylvania Avenue, well out
towards Georgetown -- the Markoe house -- and there the private
secretary began to learn his social duties, for the political
were confined to committee-rooms and lobbies of the Capitol. He
had little to do, and knew not how to do it rightly, but he knew
of no one who knew more. 

  The Southern type was one to be avoided; the New England type
was one's self. It had nothing to show except one's own features.
Setting aside Charles Sumner, who stood quite alone and was the
boy's oldest friend, all the New Englanders were sane and steady
men, well-balanced, educated, and free from meanness or intrigue
-- men whom one liked to act with, and who, whether graduates or
not, bore the stamp of Harvard College. Anson Burlingame was one
exception, and perhaps Israel Washburn another; but as a rule the
New Englander's strength was his poise which almost amounted to a
defect. He offered no more target for love than for hate; he
attracted as little as he repelled; even as a machine, his motion
seemed never accelerated. The character, with its force or
feebleness, was familiar; one knew it to the core; one was it --
had been run in the same mould. 

  There remained the Central and Western States, but there the
choice of teachers was not large and in the end narrowed itself
to Preston King, Henry Winter Davis, Owen Lovejoy, and a few
other men born with social faculty. Adams took most kindly to
Henry J. Raymond, who came to view the field for the New York
Times, and who was a man of the world. The average Congressman
was civil enough, but had nothing to ask except offices, and
nothing to offer but the views of his district. The average
Senator was more reserved, but had not much more to say, being
always excepting one or two genial natures, handicapped by his
own importance. 

  Study it as one might, the hope of education, till the arrival
of the President-elect, narrowed itself to the possible influence
of only two men -- Sumner and Seward.

  Sumner was then fifty years old. Since his election as Senator
in 1851 he had passed beyond the reach of his boy friend, and,
after his Brooks injuries, his nervous system never quite
recovered its tone; but perhaps eight or ten years of solitary
existence as Senator had most to do with his development. No man,
however strong, can serve ten years as schoolmaster, priest, or
Senator, and remain fit for anything else. All the dogmatic
stations in life have the effect of fixing a certain stiffness of
attitude forever, as though they mesmerized the subject. Yet even
among Senators there were degrees in dogmatism, from the frank
South Carolinian brutality, to that of Webster, Benton, Clay, or
Sumner himself, until in extreme cases, like Conkling, it became
Shakespearian and bouffe -- as Godkin used to call it -- like
Malvolio. Sumner had become dogmatic like the rest, but he had at
least the merit of qualities that warranted dogmatism. He justly
thought, as Webster had thought before him, that his great
services and sacrifices, his superiority in education, his
oratorical power, his political experience, his representative
character at the head of the whole New England contingent, and,
above all, his knowledge of the world, made him the most
important member of the Senate; and no Senator had ever saturated
himself more thoroughly with the spirit and temper of the body.  

  Although the Senate is much given to admiring in its members a
superiority less obvious or quite invisible to outsiders, one
Senator seldom proclaims his own inferiority to another, and
still more seldom likes to be told of it. Even the greatest
Senators seemed to inspire little personal affection in each
other, and betrayed none at all. Sumner had a number of rivals
who held his judgment in no high esteem, and one of these was
Senator Seward. The two men would have disliked each other by
instinct had they lived in different planets. Each was created
only for exasperating the other; the virtues of one were the
faults of his rival, until no good quality seemed to remain of
either. That the public service must suffer was certain, but what
were the sufferings of the public service compared with the risks
run by a young mosquito -- a private secretary -- trying to buzz
admiration in the ears of each, and unaware that each would
impatiently slap at him for belonging to the other? Innocent and
unsuspicious beyond what was permitted even in a nursery, the
private secretary courted both. 

  Private secretaries are servants of a rather low order, whose
business is to serve sources of power. The first news of a
professional kind, imparted to private secretary Adams on
reaching Washington, was that the President-elect, Abraham
Lincoln, had selected Mr. Seward for his Secretary of State, and
that Seward was to be the medium for communicating his wishes to
his followers. Every young man naturally accepted the wishes of
Mr. Lincoln as orders, the more because he could see that the new
President was likely to need all the help that several million
young men would be able to give, if they counted on having any
President at all to serve. Naturally one waited impatiently for
the first meeting with the new Secretary of State. 

  Governor Seward was an old friend of the family. He professed
to be a disciple and follower of John Quincy Adams. He had been
Senator since 1849, when his responsibilities as leader had
separated him from the Free Soil contingent, for, in the dry
light of the first Free Soil faith, the ways of New York politics
Thurlow Weed had not won favor; but the fierce heat which welded
the Republican Party in 1856 melted many such barriers, and when
Mr. Adams came to Congress in December, 1859, Governor Seward
instantly renewed his attitude of family friend, became a daily
intimate in the household, and lost no chance of forcing his
fresh ally to the front.

  A few days after their arrival in December, 1860, the Governor,
as he was always called, came to dinner, alone, as one of the
family, and the private secretary had the chance he wanted to
watch him as carefully as one generally watches men who dispose
of one's future. A slouching, slender figure; a head like a wise
macaw; a beaked nose; shaggy eyebrows; unorderly hair and
clothes; hoarse voice; offhand manner; free talk, and perpetual
cigar, offered a new type -- of western New York -- to fathom; a
type in one way simple because it was only double -- political
and personal; but complex because the political had become
nature, and no one could tell which was the mask and which the
features. At table, among friends, Mr. Seward threw off
restraint, or seemed to throw it off, in reality, while in the
world he threw it off, like a politician, for effect. In both
cases he chose to appear as a free talker, who loathed pomposity
and enjoyed a joke; but how much was nature and how much was
mask, he was himself too simple a nature to know. Underneath the
surface he was conventional after the conventions of western New
York and Albany. Politicians thought it unconventionality.
Bostonians thought it provincial. Henry Adams thought it
charming. From the first sight, he loved the Governor, who,
though sixty years old, had the youth of his sympathies. He
noticed that Mr. Seward was never petty or personal; his talk was
large; he generalized; he never seemed to pose for statesmanship;
he did not require an attitude of prayer. What was more unusual
-- almost singular and quite eccentric -- he had some means,
unknown to other Senators, of producing the effect of

  Superficially Mr. Seward and Mr. Adams were contrasts;
essentially they were much alike. Mr. Adams was taken to be
rigid, but the Puritan character in all its forms could be supple
enough when it chose; and in Massachusetts all the Adamses had
been attacked in succession as no better than political
mercenaries. Mr. Hildreth, in his standard history, went so far
as to echo with approval the charge that treachery was hereditary
in the family. Any Adams had at least to be thick-skinned,
hardened to every contradictory epithet that virtue could supply,
and, on the whole, armed to return such attentions; but all must
have admitted that they had invariably subordinated local to
national interests, and would continue to do so, whenever forced
to choose. C. F. Adams was sure to do what his father had done,
as his father had followed the steps of John Adams, and no doubt
thereby earned his epithets. 

  The inevitable followed, as a child fresh from the nursery
should have had the instinct to foresee, but the young man on the
edge of life never dreamed. What motives or emotions drove his
masters on their various paths he made no pretence of guessing;
even at that age he preferred to admit his dislike for guessing
motives; he knew only his own infantile ignorance, before which
he stood amazed, and his innocent good-faith, always matter of
simple-minded surprise. Critics who know ultimate truth will
pronounce judgment on history; all that Henry Adams ever saw in
man was a reflection of his own ignorance, and he never saw quite
so much of it as in the winter of 1860-61. Every one knows the
story; every one draws what conclusion suits his temper, and the
conclusion matters now less than though it concerned the merits
of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden; but in 1861 the conclusion
made the sharpest lesson of life; it was condensed and
concentrated education.

  Rightly or wrongly the new President and his chief advisers in
Washington decided that, before they could administer the
Government, they must make sure of a government to administer,
and that this chance depended on the action of Virginia. The
whole ascendancy of the winter wavered between the effort of the
cotton States to drag Virginia out, and the effort of the new
President to keep Virginia in. Governor Seward representing the
Administration in the Senate took the lead; Mr. Adams took the
lead in the House; and as far as a private secretary knew, the
party united on its tactics. In offering concessions to the
border States, they had to run the risk, or incur the certainty,
of dividing their own party, and they took this risk with open
eyes. As Seward himself, in his gruff way, said at dinner, after
Mr. Adams and he had made their speeches: "If there's no
secession now, you and I are ruined." 

  They won their game; this was their affair and the affair of
the historians who tell their story; their private secretaries
had nothing to do with it except to follow their orders. On that
side a secretary learned nothing and had nothing to learn. The
sudden arrival of Mr. Lincoln in Washington on February 23, and
the language of his inaugural address, were the final term of the
winter's tactics, and closed the private secretary's interest in
the matter forever. Perhaps he felt, even then, a good deal more
interest in the appearance of another private secretary, of his
own age, a young man named John Hay, who lighted on LaFayette
Square at the same moment. Friends are born, not made, and Henry
never mistook a friend except when in power. From the first
slight meeting in February and March, 1861, he recognized Hay as
a friend, and never lost sight of him at the future crossing of
their paths; but, for the moment, his own task ended on March 4
when Hay's began. The winter's anxieties were shifted upon new
shoulders, and Henry gladly turned back to Blackstone. He had
tried to make himself useful, and had exerted energy that seemed
to him portentous, acting in secret as newspaper correspondent,
cultivating a large acquaintance and even haunting ballrooms
where the simple, old-fashioned, Southern tone was pleasant even
in the atmosphere of conspiracy and treason. The sum was next to
nothing for education, because no one could teach; all were as
ignorant as himself; none knew what should be done, or how to do
it; all were trying to learn and were more bent on asking than on
answering questions. The mass of ignorance in Washington was
lighted up by no ray of knowledge. Society, from top to bottom,
broke down.

  From this law there was no exception, unless, perhaps, that of
old General Winfield Scott, who happened to be the only military
figure that looked equal to the crisis. No one else either looked
it, or was it, or could be it, by nature or training. Had young
Adams been told that his life was to hang on the correctness of
his estimate of the new President, he would have lost. He saw Mr.
Lincoln but once; at the melancholy function called an Inaugural
Ball. Of course he looked anxiously for a sign of character. He
saw a long, awkward figure; a plain, ploughed face; a mind,
absent in part, and in part evidently worried by white kid
gloves; features that expressed neither self-satisfaction nor any
other familiar Americanism, but rather the same painful sense of
becoming educated and of needing education that tormented a
private secretary; above all a lack of apparent force. Any
private secretary in the least fit for his business would have
thought, as Adams did, that no man living needed so much
education as the new President but that all the education he
could get would not be enough. 

  As far as a young man of anxious temperament could see, no one
in Washington was fitted for his duties; or rather, no duties in
March were fitted for the duties in April. The few people who
thought they knew something were more in error than those who
knew nothing. Education was matter of life and death, but all the
education in the world would have helped nothing. Only one man in
Adams's reach seemed to him supremely fitted by knowledge and
experience to be an adviser and friend. This was Senator Sumner;
and there, in fact, the young man's education began; there it

  Going over the experience again, long after all the great
actors were dead, he struggled to see where he had blundered. In
the effort to make acquaintances, he lost friends, but he would
have liked much to know whether he could have helped it. He had
necessarily followed Seward and his father; he took for granted
that his business was obedience, discipline, and silence; he
supposed the party to require it, and that the crisis overruled
all personal doubts. He was thunderstruck to learn that Senator
Sumner privately denounced the course, regarded Mr. Adams as
betraying the principles of his life, and broke off relations
with his family.

  Many a shock was Henry Adams to meet in the course of a long
life passed chiefly near politics and politicians, but the
profoundest lessons are not the lessons of reason; they are
sudden strains that permanently warp the mind. He cared little or
nothing about the point in discussion; he was even willing to
admit that Sumner might be right, though in all great emergencies
he commonly found that every one was more or less wrong; he liked
lofty moral principle and cared little for political tactics; he
felt a profound respect for Sumner himself; but the shock opened
a chasm in life that never closed, and as long as life lasted, he
found himself invariably taking for granted, as a political
instinct, with out waiting further experiment -- as he took for
granted that arsenic poisoned -- the rule that a friend in power
is a friend lost.

  On his own score, he never admitted the rupture, and never
exchanged a word with Mr. Sumner on the subject, then or
afterwards, but his education -- for good or bad -- made an
enormous stride. One has to deal with all sorts of unexpected
morals in life, and, at this moment, he was looking at hundreds
of Southern gentlemen who believed themselves singularly honest,
but who seemed to him engaged in the plainest breach of faith and
the blackest secret conspiracy, yet they did not disturb his
education. History told of little else; and not one rebel
defection -- not even Robert E. Lee's -- cost young Adams a
personal pang; but Sumner's struck home.

  This, then, was the result of the new attempt at education,
down to March 4, 1861; this was all; and frankly, it seemed to
him hardly what he wanted. The picture of Washington in March,
1861, offered education, but not the kind of education that led
to good. The process that Matthew Arnold described as wandering
between two worlds, one dead, the other powerless to be born,
helps nothing. Washington was a dismal school. Even before the
traitors had flown, the vultures descended on it in swarms that
darkened the ground, and tore the carrion of political patronage
into fragments and gobbets of fat and lean, on the very steps of
the White House. Not a man there knew what his task was to be, or
was fitted for it; every one without exception, Northern or
Southern, was to learn his business at the cost of the public.
Lincoln, Seward, Sumner, and the rest, could give no help to the
young man seeking education; they knew less than he; within six
weeks they were all to be taught their duties by the uprising of
such as he, and their education was to cost a million lives and
ten thousand million dollars, more or less, North and South,
before the country could recover its balance and movement. Henry
was a helpless victim, and, like all the rest, he could only wait
for he knew not what, to send him he knew not where. 

  With the close of the session, his own functions ended. Ceasing
to be private secretary he knew not what else to do but return
with his father and mother to Boston in the middle of March, and,
with childlike docility, sit down at a desk in the law-office of
Horace Gray in Court Street, to begin again: "My Lords and
Gentlemen"; dozing after a two o'clock dinner, or waking to
discuss politics with the future Justice. There, in ordinary
times, he would have remained for life, his attempt at education
in treason having, like all the rest, disastrously failed. 



  HARDLY a week passed when the newspapers announced that
President Lincoln had selected Charles Francis Adams as his
Minister to England. Once more, silently, Henry put Blackstone
back on its shelf. As Friar Bacon's head sententiously announced
many centuries before: Time had passed! The Civil Law lasted a
brief day; the Common Law prolonged its shadowy existence for a
week. The law, altogether, as path of education, vanished in
April, 1861, leaving a million young men planted in the mud of a
lawless world, to begin a new life without education at all. They
asked few questions, but if they had asked millions they would
have got no answers. No one could help. Looking back on this
moment of crisis, nearly fifty years afterwards, one could only
shake one's white beard in silent horror. Mr. Adams once more
intimated that he thought himself entitled to the services of one
of his sons, and he indicated Henry as the only one who could be
spared from more serious duties. Henry packed his trunk again
without a word. He could offer no protest. Ridiculous as he knew
himself about to be in his new role, he was less ridiculous than
his betters. He was at least no public official, like the
thousands of improvised secretaries and generals who crowded
their jealousies and intrigues on the President. He was not a
vulture of carrion -- patronage. He knew that his father's
appointment was the result of Governor Seward's personal
friendship; he did not then know that Senator Sumner had opposed
it, or the reasons which Sumner alleged for thinking it unfit;
but he could have supplied proofs enough had Sumner asked for
them, the strongest and most decisive being that, in his opinion,
Mr. Adams had chosen a private secretary far more unfit than his
chief. That Mr. Adams was unfit might well be, since it was hard
to find a fit appointment in the list of possible candidates,
except Mr. Sumner himself; and no one knew so well as this
experienced Senator that the weakest of all Mr. Adams's proofs of
fitness was his consent to quit a safe seat in Congress for an
exceedingly unsafe seat in London with no better support than
Senator Sumner, at the head of the Foreign Relations Committee,
was likely to give him. In the family history, its members had
taken many a dangerous risk, but never before had they taken one
so desperate. 

  The private secretary troubled himself not at all about the
unfitness of any one; he knew too little; and, in fact, no one,
except perhaps Mr. Sumner, knew more. The President and Secretary
of State knew least of all. As Secretary of Legation the
Executive appointed the editor of a Chicago newspaper who had
applied for the Chicago Post-Office; a good fellow, universally
known as Charley Wilson, who had not a thought of staying in the
post, or of helping the Minister. The Assistant Secretary was
inherited from Buchanan's time, a hard worker, but socially
useless. Mr. Adams made no effort to find efficient help; perhaps
he knew no name to suggest; perhaps he knew too much of
Washington, but he could hardly have hoped to find a staff of
strength in his son. 

  The private secretary was more passive than his father, for he
knew not where to turn. Sumner alone could have smoothed his path
by giving him letters of introduction, but if Sumner wrote
letters, it was not with the effect of smoothing paths. No one,
at that moment, was engaged in smoothing either paths or people.
The private secretary was no worse off than his neighbors except
in being called earlier into service. On April 13 the storm burst
and rolled several hundred thousand young men like Henry Adams
into the surf of a wild ocean, all helpless like himself, to be
beaten about for four years by the waves of war. Adams still had
time to watch the regiments form ranks before Boston State House
in the April evenings and march southward, quietly enough, with
the air of business they wore from their cradles, but with few
signs or sounds of excitement. He had time also to go down the
harbor to see his brother Charles quartered in Fort Independence
before being thrown, with a hundred thousand more, into the
furnace of the Army of the Potomac to get educated in a fury of
fire. Few things were for the moment so trivial in importance as
the solitary private secretary crawling down to the wretched old
Cunard steamer Niagara at East Boston to start again for
Liverpool. This time the pitcher of education had gone to the
fountain once too often; it was fairly broken; and the young man
had got to meet a hostile world without defence -- or arms.

  The situation did not seem even comic, so ignorant was the
world of its humors; yet Minister Adams sailed for England, May
1, 1861, with much the same outfit as Admiral Dupont would have
enjoyed if the Government had sent him to attack Port Royal with
one cabin-boy in a rowboat. Luckily for the cabin-boy, he was
alone. Had Secretary Seward and Senator Sumner given to Mr. Adams
the rank of Ambassador and four times his salary, a palace in
London, a staff of trained secretaries, and personal letters of
introduction to the royal family and the whole peerage, the
private secretary would have been cabin-boy still, with the extra
burden of many masters; he was the most fortunate person in the
party, having for master only his father who never fretted, never
dictated, never disciplined, and whose idea of American diplomacy
was that of the eighteenth century. Minister Adams remembered how
his grandfather had sailed from Mount Wollaston in midwinter,
1778, on the little frigate Boston, taking his eleven-year-old
son John Quincy with him, for secretary, on a diplomacy of
adventure that had hardly a parallel for success. He remembered
how John Quincy, in 1809, had sailed for Russia, with himself, a
baby of two years old, to cope with Napoleon and the Czar
Alexander single-handed, almost as much of an adventurer as John
Adams before him, and almost as successful. He thought it natural
that the Government should send him out as an adventurer also,
with a twenty-three-year-old son, and he did not even notice that
he left not a friend behind him. No doubt he could depend on
Seward, but on whom could Seward depend? Certainly not on the
Chairman of the Committee of Foreign Relations. Minister Adams
had no friend in the Senate; he could hope for no favors, and he
asked none. He thought it right to play the adventurer as his
father and grandfather had done before him, without a murmur.
This was a lofty view, and for him answered his objects, but it
bore hard on cabin-boys, and when, in time, the young man
realized what had happened, he felt it as a betrayal. He modestly
thought himself unfit for the career of adventurer, and judged
his father to be less fit than himself. For the first time
America was posing as the champion of legitimacy and order. Her
representatives should know how to play their role; they should
wear the costume; but, in the mission attached to Mr. Adams in
1861, the only rag of legitimacy or order was the private
secretary, whose stature was not sufficient to impose awe on the
Court and Parliament of Great Britain. 

  One inevitable effect of this lesson was to make a victim of
the scholar and to turn him into a harsh judge of his masters. If
they overlooked him, he could hardly overlook them, since they
stood with their whole weight on his body. By way of teaching him
quickly, they sent out their new Minister to Russia in the same
ship. Secretary Seward had occasion to learn the merits of
Cassius M. Clay in the diplomatic service, but Mr. Seward's
education profited less than the private secretary's, Cassius
Clay as a teacher having no equal though possibly some rivals. No
young man, not in Government pay, could be asked to draw, from
such lessons, any confidence in himself, and it was notorious
that, for the next two years, the persons were few indeed who
felt, or had reason to feel, any sort of confidence in the
Government; fewest of all among those who were in it. At home,
for the most part, young men went to the war, grumbled and died;
in England they might grumble or not; no one listened.

  Above all, the private secretary could not grumble to his
chief. He knew surprisingly little, but that much he did know. He
never labored so hard to learn a language as he did to hold his
tongue, and it affected him for life. The habit of reticence --
of talking without meaning -- is never effaced. He had to begin
it at once. He was already an adept when the party landed at
Liverpool, May 13, 1861, and went instantly up to London: a
family of early Christian martyrs about to be flung into an arena
of lions, under the glad eyes of Tiberius Palmerston. Though Lord
Palmerston would have laughed his peculiar Palmerston laugh at
figuring as Tiberius, he would have seen only evident resemblance
in the Christian martyrs, for he had already arranged the

  Of what they had to expect, the Minister knew no more than his
son. What he or Mr. Seward or Mr. Sumner may have thought is the
affair of history and their errors concern historians. The errors
of a private secretary concerned no one but himself, and were a
large part of his education. He thought on May 12 that he was
going to a friendly Government and people, true to the
anti-slavery principles which had been their steadiest
profession. For a hundred years the chief effort of his family
had aimed at bringing the Government of England into intelligent
cooperation with the objects and interests of America. His father
was about to make a new effort, and this time the chance of
success was promising. The slave States had been the chief
apparent obstacle to good understanding. As for the private
secretary himself, he was, like all Bostonians, instinctively
English. He could not conceive the idea of a hostile England. He
supposed himself, as one of the members of a famous anti-slavery
family, to be welcome everywhere in the British Islands. 

  On May 13, he met the official announcement that England
recognized the belligerency of the Confederacy. This beginning of
a new education tore up by the roots nearly all that was left of
Harvard College and Germany. He had to learn -- the sooner the
better -- that his ideas were the reverse of truth; that in May,
1861, no one in England -- literally no one -- doubted that
Jefferson Davis had made or would make a nation, and nearly all
were glad of it, though not often saying so. They mostly imitated
Palmerston who, according to Mr. Gladstone, "desired the
severance as a diminution of a dangerous power, but prudently
held his tongue." The sentiment of anti-slavery had disappeared.
Lord John Russell, as Foreign Secretary, had received the rebel
emissaries, and had decided to recognize their belligerency
before the arrival of Mr. Adams in order to fix the position of
the British Government in advance. The recognition of
independence would then become an understood policy; a matter of
time and occasion. 

  Whatever Minister Adams may have felt, the first effect of this
shock upon his son produced only a dullness of comprehension -- a
sort of hazy inability to grasp the missile or realize the blow.
Yet he realized that to his father it was likely to be fatal. The
chances were great that the whole family would turn round and go
home within a few weeks. The horizon widened out in endless waves
of confusion. When he thought over the subject in the long
leisure of later life, he grew cold at the idea of his situation
had his father then shown himself what Sumner thought him to be
-- unfit for his post. That the private secretary was unfit for
his -- trifling though it were -- was proved by his unreflecting
confidence in his father. It never entered his mind that his
father might lose his nerve or his temper, and yet in a
subsequent knowledge of statesmen and diplomats extending over
several generations, he could not certainly point out another who
could have stood such a shock without showing it. He passed this
long day, and tedious journey to London, without once thinking of
the possibility that his father might make a mistake. Whatever
the Minister thought, and certainly his thought was not less
active than his son's, he showed no trace of excitement. His
manner was the same as ever; his mind and temper were as
perfectly balanced; not a word escaped; not a nerve twitched. 

  The test was final, for no other shock so violent and sudden
could possibly recur. The worst was in full sight. For once the
private secretary knew his own business, which was to imitate his
father as closely as possible and hold his tongue. Dumped thus
into Maurigy's Hotel at the foot of Regent Street, in the midst
of a London season, without a friend or even an acquaintance, he
preferred to laugh at his father's bewilderment before the
waiter's "'amhandheggsir" for breakfast, rather than ask a
question or express a doubt. His situation, if taken seriously,
was too appalling to face. Had he known it better, he would only
have thought it worse.

  Politically or socially, the outlook was desperate, beyond
retrieving or contesting. Socially, under the best of
circumstances, a newcomer in London society needs years to
establish a position, and Minister Adams had not a week or an
hour to spare, while his son had not even a remote chance of
beginning. Politically the prospect looked even worse, and for
Secretary Seward and Senator Sumner it was so; but for the
Minister, on the spot, as he came to realize exactly where he
stood, the danger was not so imminent. Mr. Adams was always one
of the luckiest of men, both in what he achieved and in what he
escaped. The blow, which prostrated Seward and Sumner, passed
over him. Lord John Russell had acted -- had probably intended to
act -- kindly by him in forestalling his arrival. The blow must
have fallen within three months, and would then have broken him
down. The British Ministers were a little in doubt still -- a
little ashamed of themselves -- and certain to wait the longer
for their next step in proportion to the haste of their first. 

  This is not a story of the diplomatic adventures of Charles
Francis Adams, but of his son Henry's adventures in search of an
education, which, if not taken too seriously, tended to humor.
The father's position in London was not altogether bad; the son's
was absurd. Thanks to certain family associations, Charles
Francis Adams naturally looked on all British Ministers as
enemies; the only public occupation of all Adamses for a hundred
and fifty years at least, in their brief intervals of quarrelling
with State Street, had been to quarrel with Downing Street; and
the British Government, well used to a liberal unpopularity
abroad, even when officially rude liked to be personally civil.
All diplomatic agents are liable to be put, so to speak, in a
corner, and are none the worse for it. Minister Adams had nothing
in especial to complain of; his position was good while it
lasted, and he had only the chances of war to fear. The son had
no such compensations. Brought over in order to help his father,
he could conceive no way of rendering his father help, but he was
clear that his father had got to help him. To him, the Legation
was social ostracism, terrible beyond anything he had known.
Entire solitude in the great society of London was doubly
desperate because his duties as private secretary required him to
know everybody and go with his father and mother everywhere they
needed escort. He had no friend, or even enemy, to tell him to be
patient. Had any one done it, he would surely have broken out
with the reply that patience was the last resource of fools as
well as of sages; if he was to help his father at all, he must do
it at once, for his father would never so much need help again.
In fact he never gave his father the smallest help, unless it
were as a footman, clerk, or a companion for the younger

  He found himself in a singular situation for one who was to be
useful. As he came to see the situation closer, he began to doubt
whether secretaries were meant to be useful. Wars were too common
in diplomacy to disturb the habits of the diplomat. Most
secretaries detested their chiefs, and wished to be anything but
useful. At the St. James's Club, to which the Minister's son
could go only as an invited guest, the most instructive
conversation he ever heard among the young men of his own age who
hung about the tables, more helpless than himself, was: "Quel
chien de pays!" or, "Que tu es beau aujourd'hui, mon cher!" No
one wanted to discuss affairs; still less to give or get
information. That was the affair of their chiefs, who were also
slow to assume work not specially ordered from their Courts. If
the American Minister was in trouble to-day, the Russian
Ambassador was in trouble yesterday, and the Frenchman would be
in trouble to-morrow. It would all come in the day's work. There
was nothing professional in worry. Empires were always tumbling
to pieces and diplomats were always picking them up.

  This was his whole diplomatic education, except that he found
rich veins of jealousy running between every chief and his staff.
His social education was more barren still, and more trying to
his vanity. His little mistakes in etiquette or address made him
writhe with torture. He never forgot the first two or three
social functions he attended: one an afternoon at Miss Burdett
Coutts's in Stratton Place, where he hid himself in the embrasure
of a window and hoped that no one noticed him; another was a
garden-party given by the old anti-slavery Duchess Dowager of
Sutherland at Chiswick, where the American Minister and Mrs.
Adams were kept in conversation by the old Duchess till every one
else went away except the young Duke and his cousins, who set to
playing leap-frog on the lawn. At intervals during the next
thirty years Henry Adams continued to happen upon the Duke, who,
singularly enough, was always playing leap-frog. Still another
nightmare he suffered at a dance given by the old Duchess Dowager
of Somerset, a terrible vision in castanets, who seized him and
forced him to perform a Highland fling before the assembled
nobility and gentry, with the daughter of the Turkish Ambassador
for partner. This might seem humorous to some, but to him the
world turned to ashes.

  When the end of the season came, the private secretary had not
yet won a private acquaintance, and he hugged himself in his
solitude when the story of the battle of Bull Run appeared in the
Times. He felt only the wish to be more private than ever, for
Bull Run was a worse diplomatic than military disaster. All this
is history and can be read by public schools if they choose; but
the curious and unexpected happened to the Legation, for the
effect of Bull Run on them was almost strengthening. They no
longer felt doubt. For the next year they went on only from week
to week, ready to leave England at once, and never assuming more
than three months for their limit. Europe was waiting to see them
go. So certain was the end that no one cared to hurry it. 

  So far as a private secretary could see, this was all that saved
his father. For many months he looked on himself as lost or
finished in the character of private secretary; and as about to
begin, without further experiment, a final education in the ranks
of the Army of the Potomac where he would find most of his
friends enjoying a much pleasanter life than his own. With this
idea uppermost in his mind, he passed the summer and the autumn,
and began the winter. Any winter in London is a severe trial;
one's first winter is the most trying; but the month of December,
1861, in Mansfield Street, Portland Place, would have gorged a
glutton of gloom.

  One afternoon when he was struggling to resist complete nervous
depression in the solitude of Mansfield Street, during the
absence of the Minister and Mrs. Adams on a country visit,
Reuter's telegram announcing the seizure of Mason and Slidell
from a British mail-steamer was brought to the office. All three
secretaries, public and private were there -- nervous as wild
beasts under the long strain on their endurance -- and all three,
though they knew it to be not merely their order of departure --
not merely diplomatic rupture -- but a declaration of war --
broke into shouts of delight. They were glad to face the end.
They saw it and cheered it! Since England was waiting only for
its own moment to strike, they were eager to strike first. 

  They telegraphed the news to the Minister, who was staying with
Monckton Milnes at Fryston in Yorkshire. How Mr. Adams took it,
is told in the "Lives" of Lord Houghton and William E. Forster
who was one of the Fryston party. The moment was for him the
crisis of his diplomatic career; for the secretaries it was
merely the beginning of another intolerable delay, as though they
were a military outpost waiting orders to quit an abandoned
position. At the moment of sharpest suspense, the Prince Consort
sickened and died. Portland Place at Christmas in a black fog was
never a rosy landscape, but in 1861 the most hardened Londoner
lost his ruddiness. The private secretary had one source of
comfort denied to them -- he should not be private secretary

  He was mistaken -- of course! He had been mistaken at every
point of his education, and, on this point, he kept up the same
mistake for nearly seven years longer, always deluded by the
notion that the end was near. To him the Trent Affair was nothing
but one of many affairs which he had to copy in a delicate round
hand into his books, yet it had one or two results personal to
him which left no trace on the Legation records. One of these,
and to him the most important, was to put an end forever to the
idea of being "useful." Hitherto, as an independent and free
citizen, not in the employ of the Government, he had kept up his
relations with the American press. He had written pretty
frequently to Henry J. Raymond, and Raymond had used his letters
in the New York Times. He had also become fairly intimate with
the two or three friendly newspapers in London, the Daily News,
the Star, the weekly Spectator; and he had tried to give them
news and views that should have a certain common character, and
prevent clash. He had even gone down to Manchester to study the
cotton famine, and wrote a long account of his visit which his
brother Charles had published in the Boston Courier.
Unfortunately it was printed with his name, and instantly came
back upon him in the most crushing shape possible -- that of a
long, satirical leader in the London Times. Luckily the Times did
not know its victim to be a part, though not an official, of the
Legation, and lost the chance to make its satire fatal; but he
instantly learned the narrowness of his escape from old Joe
Parkes, one of the traditional busy-bodies of politics, who had
haunted London since 1830, and who, after rushing to the Times
office, to tell them all they did not know about Henry Adams,
rushed to the Legation to tell Adams all he did not want to know
about the Times. For a moment Adams thought his "usefulness" at
an end in other respects than in the press, but a day or two more
taught him the value of obscurity. He was totally unknown; he had
not even a club; London was empty; no one thought twice about the
Times article; no one except Joe Parkes ever spoke of it; and the
world had other persons -- such as President Lincoln, Secretary
Seward, and Commodore Wilkes -- for constant and favorite objects
of ridicule. Henry Adams escaped, but he never tried to be useful
again. The Trent Affair dwarfed individual effort. His education
at least had reached the point of seeing its own proportions.
"Surtout point de zele!" Zeal was too hazardous a profession for
a Minister's son to pursue, as a volunteer manipulator, among
Trent Affairs and rebel cruisers. He wrote no more letters and
meddled with no more newspapers, but he was still young, and felt
unkindly towards the editor of the London Times. 

  Mr. Delane lost few opportunities of embittering him, and he
felt little or no hope of repaying these attentions; but the
Trent Affair passed like a snowstorm, leaving the Legation, to
its surprise, still in place. Although the private secretary saw
in this delay -- which he attributed to Mr. Seward's good sense
-- no reason for changing his opinion about the views of the
British Government, he had no choice but to sit down again at his
table, and go on copying papers, filing letters, and reading
newspaper accounts of the incapacity of Mr. Lincoln and the
brutality of Mr. Seward -- or vice versa. The heavy months
dragged on and winter slowly turned to spring without improving
his position or spirits. Socially he had but one relief; and, to
the end of life, he never forgot the keen gratitude he owed for
it. During this tedious winter and for many months afterwards,
the only gleams of sunshine were on the days he passed at
Walton-on-Thames as the guest of Mr. and Mrs. Russell Sturgis at
Mount Felix.

  His education had unfortunately little to do with bankers,
although old George Peabody and his partner, Junius Morgan, were
strong allies. Joshua Bates was devoted, and no one could be
kinder than Thomas Baring, whose little dinners in Upper
Grosvenor Street were certainly the best in London; but none
offered a refuge to compare with Mount Felix, and, for the first
time, the refuge was a liberal education. Mrs. Russell Sturgis
was one of the women to whom an intelligent boy attaches himself
as closely as he can. Henry Adams was not a very intelligent boy,
and he had no knowledge of the world, but he knew enough to
understand that a cub needed shape. The kind of education he most
required was that of a charming woman, and Mrs. Russell Sturgis,
a dozen years older than himself, could have good-naturedly
trained a school of such, without an effort, and with infinite
advantage to them. Near her he half forgot the anxieties of
Portland Place. During two years of miserable solitude, she was
in this social polar winter, the single source of warmth and

  Of course the Legation itself was home, and, under such
pressure, life in it could be nothing but united. All the inmates
made common cause, but this was no education. One lived, but was
merely flayed alive. Yet, while this might be exactly true of the
younger members of the household, it was not quite so with the
Minister and Mrs. Adams. Very slowly, but quite steadily, they
gained foothold. For some reason partly connected with American
sources, British society had begun with violent social prejudice
against Lincoln, Seward, and all the Republican leaders except
Sumner. Familiar as the whole tribe of Adamses had been for three
generations with the impenetrable stupidity of the British mind,
and weary of the long struggle to teach it its own interests, the
fourth generation could still not quite persuade itself that this
new British prejudice was natural. The private secretary
suspected that Americans in New York and Boston had something to
do with it. The Copperhead was at home in Pall Mall. Naturally
the Englishman was a coarse animal and liked coarseness. Had
Lincoln and Seward been the ruffians supposed, the average
Englishman would have liked them the better. The exceedingly
quiet manner and the unassailable social position of Minister
Adams in no way conciliated them. They chose to ignore him, since
they could not ridicule him. Lord John Russell set the example.
Personally the Minister was to be kindly treated; politically he
was negligible; he was there to be put aside. London and Paris
imitated Lord John. Every one waited to see Lincoln and his
hirelings disappear in one vast debacle. All conceived that the
Washington Government would soon crumble, and that Minister Adams
would vanish with the rest.

  This situation made Minister Adams an exception among
diplomats. European rulers for the most part fought and treated
as members of one family, and rarely had in view the possibility
of total extinction; but the Governments and society of Europe,
for a year at least, regarded the Washington Government as dead,
and its Ministers as nullities. Minister Adams was better
received than most nullities because he made no noise. Little by
little, in private, society took the habit of accepting him, not
so much as a diplomat, but rather as a member of opposition, or
an eminent counsel retained for a foreign Government. He was to
be received and considered; to be cordially treated as, by birth
and manners, one of themselves. This curiously English way of
getting behind a stupidity gave the Minister every possible
advantage over a European diplomat. Barriers of race, language,
birth, habit, ceased to exist. Diplomacy held diplomats apart in
order to save Governments, but Earl Russell could not hold Mr.
Adams apart. He was undistinguishable from a Londoner. In society
few Londoners were so widely at home. None had such double
personality and corresponding double weight.

  The singular luck that took him to Fryston to meet the shock of
the Trent Affair under the sympathetic eyes of Monckton Milnes
and William E. Forster never afterwards deserted him. Both Milnes
and Forster needed support and were greatly relieved to be
supported. They saw what the private secretary in May had
overlooked, the hopeless position they were in if the American
Minister made a mistake, and, since his strength was theirs, they
lost no time in expressing to all the world their estimate of the
Minister's character. Between them the Minister was almost safe. 

  One might discuss long whether, at that moment, Milnes or
Forster were the more valuable ally, since they were influences
of different kinds. Monckton Milnes was a social power in London,
possibly greater than Londoners themselves quite understood, for
in London society as elsewhere, the dull and the ignorant made a
large majority, and dull men always laughed at Monckton Milnes.
Every bore was used to talk familiarly about "Dicky Milnes," the
"cool of the evening"; and of course he himself affected social
eccentricity, challenging ridicule with the indifference of one
who knew himself to be the first wit in London, and a maker of
men -- of a great many men. A word from him went far. An
invitation to his breakfast-table went farther. Behind his almost
Falstaffian mask and laugh of Silenus, he carried a fine, broad,
and high intelligence which no one questioned. As a young man he
had written verses, which some readers thought poetry, and which
were certainly not altogether prose. Later, in Parliament he made
speeches, chiefly criticised as too good for the place and too
high for the audience. Socially, he was one of two or three men
who went everywhere, knew everybody, talked of everything, and
had the ear of Ministers; but unlike most wits, he held a social
position of his own that ended in a peerage, and he had a house
in Upper Brook Street to which most clever people were
exceedingly glad of admission. His breakfasts were famous, and no
one liked to decline his invitations, for it was more dangerous
to show timidity than to risk a fray. He was a voracious reader,
a strong critic, an art connoisseur in certain directions, a
collector of books, but above all he was a man of the world by
profession, and loved the contacts -- perhaps the collisions --
of society. Not even Henry Brougham dared do the things he did,
yet Brougham defied rebuff. Milnes was the good-nature of London;
the Gargantuan type of its refinement and coarseness; the most
universal figure of May Fair. 

  Compared with him, figures like Hayward, or Delane, or
Venables, or Henry Reeve were quite secondary, but William E.
Forster stood in a different class. Forster had nothing whatever
to do with May Fair. Except in being a Yorkshireman he was quite
the opposite of Milnes. He had at that time no social or
political position; he never had a vestige of Milnes's wit or
variety; he was a tall, rough, ungainly figure, affecting the
singular form of self-defense which the Yorkshiremen and
Lancashiremen seem to hold dear -- the exterior roughness assumed
to cover an internal, emotional, almost sentimental nature.
Kindly he had to be, if only by his inheritance from a Quaker
ancestry, but he was a Friend one degree removed. Sentimental and
emotional he must have been, or he could never have persuaded a
daughter of Dr. Arnold to marry him. Pure gold, without a trace
of base metal; honest, unselfish, practical; he took up the Union
cause and made himself its champion, as a true Yorkshireman was
sure to do, partly because of his Quaker anti-slavery
convictions, and partly because it gave him a practical opening
in the House. As a new member, he needed a field. 

  Diffidence was not one of Forster's weaknesses. His practical
sense and his personal energy soon established him in leadership,
and made him a powerful champion, not so much for ornament as for
work. With such a manager, the friends of the Union in England
began to take heart. Minister Adams had only to look on as his
true champions, the heavy-weights, came into action, and even the
private secretary caught now and then a stray gleam of
encouragement as he saw the ring begin to clear for these burly
Yorkshiremen to stand up in a prize-fight likely to be as brutal
as ever England had known. Milnes and Forster were not exactly
light-weights, but Bright and Cobden were the hardest hitters in
England, and with them for champions the Minister could tackle
even Lord Palmerston without much fear of foul play.

  In society John Bright and Richard Cobden were never seen, and
even in Parliament they had no large following. They were classed
as enemies of order, -- anarchists, -- and anarchists they were
if hatred of the so-called established orders made them so. About
them was no sort of political timidity. They took bluntly the
side of the Union against Palmerston whom they hated. Strangers
to London society, they were at home in the American Legation,
delightful dinner-company, talking always with reckless freedom.
Cobden was the milder and more persuasive; Bright was the more
dangerous to approach; but the private secretary delighted in
both, and nourished an ardent wish to see them talk the same
language to Lord John Russell from the gangway of the House. 

  With four such allies as these, Minister Adams stood no longer
quite helpless. For the second time the British Ministry felt a
little ashamed of itself after the Trent Affair, as well it
might, and disposed to wait before moving again. Little by
little, friends gathered about the Legation who were no
fair-weather companions. The old anti-slavery, Exeter Hall,
Shaftesbury clique turned out to be an annoying and troublesome
enemy, but the Duke of Argyll was one of the most valuable
friends the Minister found, both politically and socially, and
the Duchess was as true as her mother. Even the private secretary
shared faintly in the social profit of this relation, and never
forgot dining one night at the Lodge, and finding himself after
dinner engaged in instructing John Stuart Mill about the peculiar
merits of an American protective system. In spite of all the
probabilities, he convinced himself that it was not the Duke's
claret which led him to this singular form of loquacity; he
insisted that it was the fault of Mr. Mill himself who led him on
by assenting to his point of view. Mr. Mill took no apparent
pleasure in dispute, and in that respect the Duke would perhaps
have done better; but the secretary had to admit that though at
other periods of life he was sufficiently and even amply snubbed
by Englishmen, he could never recall a single occasion during
this trying year, when he had to complain of rudeness. 

  Friendliness he found here and there, but chiefly among his
elders; not among fashionable or socially powerful people, either
men or women; although not even this rule was quite exact, for
Frederick Cavendish's kindness and intimate relations made
Devonshire House almost familiar, and Lyulph Stanley's ardent
Americanism created a certain cordiality with the Stanleys of
Alderley whose house was one of the most frequented in London.
Lorne, too, the future Argyll, was always a friend. Yet the
regular course of society led to more literary intimacies. Sir
Charles Trevelyan's house was one of the first to which young
Adams was asked, and with which his friendly relations never
ceased for near half a century, and then only when death stopped
them. Sir Charles and Lady Lyell were intimates. Tom Hughes came
into close alliance. By the time society began to reopen its
doors after the death of the Prince Consort, even the private
secretary occasionally saw a face he knew, although he made no
more effort of any kind, but silently waited the end. Whatever
might be the advantages of social relations to his father and
mother, to him the whole business of diplomacy and society was
futile. He meant to go home. 



  OF the year 1862 Henry Adams could never think without a
shudder. The war alone did not greatly distress him; already in
his short life he was used to seeing people wade in blood, and he
could plainly discern in history, that man from the beginning had
found his chief amusement in bloodshed; but the ferocious joy of
destruction at its best requires that one should kill what one
hates, and young Adams neither hated nor wanted to kill his
friends the rebels, while he wanted nothing so much as to wipe
England off the earth. Never could any good come from that
besotted race! He was feebly trying to save his own life. Every
day the British Government deliberately crowded him one step
further into the grave. He could see it; the Legation knew it; no
one doubted it; no one thought of questioning it. The Trent
Affair showed where Palmerston and Russell stood. The escape of
the rebel cruisers from Liverpool was not, in a young man's eyes,
the sign of hesitation, but the proof of their fixed intention to
intervene. Lord Russell's replies to Mr. Adams's notes were
discourteous in their indifference, and, to an irritable young
private secretary of twenty-four, were insolent in their
disregard of truth. Whatever forms of phrase were usual in public
to modify the harshness of invective, in private no political
opponent in England, and few political friends, hesitated to say
brutally of Lord John Russell that he lied. This was no great
reproach, for, more or less, every statesman lied, but the
intensity of the private secretary's rage sprang from his belief
that Russell's form of defence covered intent to kill. Not for an
instant did the Legation draw a free breath. The suspense was
hideous and unendurable. 

  The Minister, no doubt, endured it, but he had support and
consideration, while his son had nothing to think about but his
friends who were mostly dying under McClellan in the swamps about
Richmond, or his enemies who were exulting in Pall Mall. He bore
it as well as he could till midsummer, but, when the story of the
second Bull Run appeared, he could bear it no longer, and after a
sleepless night, walking up and down his room without reflecting
that his father was beneath him, he announced at breakfast his
intention to go home into the army. His mother seemed to be less
impressed by the announcement than by the walking over her head,
which was so unlike her as to surprise her son. His father, too,
received the announcement quietly. No doubt they expected it, and
had taken their measures in advance. In those days, parents got
used to all sorts of announcements from their children. Mr. Adams
took his son's defection as quietly as he took Bull Run; but his
son never got the chance to go. He found obstacles constantly
rising in his path. The remonstrances of his brother Charles, who
was himself in the Army of the Potomac, and whose opinion had
always the greatest weight with Henry, had much to do with
delaying action; but he felt, of his own accord, that if he
deserted his post in London, and found the Capuan comforts he
expected in Virginia where he would have only bullets to wound
him, he would never forgive himself for leaving his father and
mother alone to be devoured by the wild beasts of the British
amphitheatre. This reflection might not have stopped him, but his
father's suggestion was decisive. The Minister pointed out that
it was too late for him to take part in the actual campaign, and
that long before next spring they would all go home together.

  The young man had copied too many affidavits about rebel
cruisers to miss the point of this argument, so he sat down again
to copy some more. Consul Dudley at Liverpool provided a
continuous supply. Properly, the affidavits were no business of
the private secretary, but practically the private secretary did
a second secretary's work, and was glad to do it, if it would
save Mr. Seward the trouble of sending more secretaries of his
own selection to help the Minister. The work was nothing, and no
one ever complained of it; not even Moran, the Secretary of
Legation after the departure of Charley Wilson, though he might
sit up all night to copy. Not the work, but the play exhausted.
The effort of facing a hostile society was bad enough, but that
of facing friends was worse. After terrific disasters like the
seven days before Richmond and the second Bull Run, friends
needed support; a tone of bluff would have been fatal, for the
average mind sees quickest through a bluff; nothing answers but
candor; yet private secretaries never feel candid, however much
they feel the reverse, and therefore they must affect candor; not
always a simple act when one is exasperated, furious, bitter, and
choking with tears over the blunders and incapacity of one's
Government. If one shed tears, they must be shed on one's pillow.
Least of all, must one throw extra strain on the Minister, who
had all he could carry without being fretted in his family. One
must read one's Times every morning over one's muffin without
reading aloud -- "Another disastrous Federal Defeat"; and one
might not even indulge in harmless profanity. Self-restraint
among friends required much more effort than keeping a quiet face
before enemies. Great men were the worst blunderers. One day the
private secretary smiled, when standing with the crowd in the
throne-room while the endless procession made bows to the royal
family, at hearing, behind his shoulder, one Cabinet Minister
remark gaily to another: "So the Federals have got another
licking!" The point of the remark was its truth. Even a private
secretary had learned to control his tones and guard his features
and betray no joy over the "lickings" of an enemy -- in the
enemy's presence. 

  London was altogether beside itself on one point, in especial;
it created a nightmare of its own, and gave it the shape of
Abraham Lincoln. Behind this it placed another demon, if possible
more devilish, and called it Mr. Seward. In regard to these two
men, English society seemed demented. Defence was useless;
explanation was vain; one could only let the passion exhaust
itself. One's best friends were as unreasonable as enemies, for
the belief in poor Mr. Lincoln's brutality and Seward's ferocity
became a dogma of popular faith. The last time Henry Adams saw
Thackeray, before his sudden death at Christmas in 1863, was in
entering the house of Sir Henry Holland for an evening reception.
Thackeray was pulling on his coat downstairs, laughing because,
in his usual blind way, he had stumbled into the wrong house and
not found it out till he shook hands with old Sir Henry, whom he
knew very well, but who was not the host he expected. Then his
tone changed as he spoke of his -- and Adams's -- friend, Mrs.
Frank Hampton, of South Carolina, whom he had loved as Sally
Baxter and painted as Ethel Newcome. Though he had never quite
forgiven her marriage, his warmth of feeling revived when he
heard that she had died of consumption at Columbia while her
parents and sister were refused permission to pass through the
lines to see her. In speaking of it, Thackeray's voice trembled
and his eyes filled with tears. The coarse cruelty of Lincoln and
his hirelings was notorious. He never doubted that the Federals
made a business of harrowing the tenderest feelings of women --
particularly of women -- in order to punish their opponents. On
quite insufficient evidence he burst into violent reproach. Had
Adams carried in his pocket the proofs that the reproach was
unjust, he would have gained nothing by showing them. At that
moment Thackeray, and all London society with him, needed the
nervous relief of expressing emotion; for if Mr. Lincoln was not
what they said he -- was what were they? 

  For like reason, the members of the Legation kept silence, even
in private, under the boorish Scotch jibes of Carlyle. If Carlyle
was wrong, his diatribes would give his true measure, and this
measure would be a low one, for Carlyle was not likely to be more
sincere or more sound in one thought than in another. The proof
that a philosopher does not know what he is talking about is apt
to sadden his followers before it reacts on himself. Demolition
of one's idols is painful, and Carlyle had been an idol. Doubts
cast on his stature spread far into general darkness like shadows
of a setting sun. Not merely the idols fell, but also the habit
of faith. If Carlyle, too, was a fraud, what were his scholars
and school? 

  Society as a rule was civil, and one had no more reason to
complain than every other diplomatist has had, in like
conditions, but one's few friends in society were mere ornament.
The Legation could not dream of contesting social control. The
best they could do was to escape mortification, and by this time
their relations were good enough to save the Minister's family
from that annoyance. Now and then, the fact could not be wholly
disguised that some one had refused to meet -- or to receive --
the Minister; but never an open insult, or any expression of
which the Minister had to take notice. Diplomacy served as a
buffer in times of irritation, and no diplomat who knew his
business fretted at what every diplomat -- and none more commonly
than the English -- had to expect; therefore Henry Adams, though
not a diplomat and wholly unprotected, went his way peacefully
enough, seeing clearly that society cared little to make his
acquaintance, but seeing also no reason why society should
discover charms in him of which he was himself unconscious. He
went where he was asked; he was always courteously received; he
was, on the whole, better treated than at Washington; and he held
his tongue. 

  For a thousand reasons, the best diplomatic house in London was
Lord Palmerston's, while Lord John Russell's was one of the
worst. Of neither host could a private secretary expect to know
anything. He might as well have expected to know the Grand Lama.
Personally Lord Palmerston was the last man in London that a
cautious private secretary wanted to know. Other Prime Ministers
may perhaps have lived who inspired among diplomatists as much
distrust as Palmerston, and yet between Palmerston's word and
Russell's word, one hesitated to decide, and gave years of
education to deciding, whether either could be trusted, or how
far. The Queen herself in her famous memorandum of August 12,
1850, gave her opinion of Palmerston in words that differed
little from words used by Lord John Russell, and both the Queen
and Russell said in substance only what Cobden and Bright said in
private. Every diplomatist agreed with them, yet the diplomatic
standard of trust seemed to be other than the parliamentarian No
professional diplomatists worried about falsehoods. Words were
with them forms of expression which varied with individuals, but
falsehood was more or less necessary to all. The worst liars were
the candid. What diplomatists wanted to know was the motive that
lay beyond the expression. In the case of Palmerston they were
unanimous in warning new colleagues that they might expect to be
sacrificed by him to any momentary personal object. Every new
Minister or Ambassador at the Court of St. James received this
preliminary lesson that he must, if possible, keep out of
Palmerston's reach. The rule was not secret or merely diplomatic.
The Queen herself had emphatically expressed the same opinion
officially. If Palmerston had an object to gain, he would go down
to the House of Commons and betray or misrepresent a foreign
Minister, without concern for his victim. No one got back on him
with a blow equally mischievous -- not even the Queen -- for, as
old Baron Brunnow described him: "C'est une peau de rhinocere!"
Having gained his point, he laughed, and his public laughed with
him, for the usual British -- or American -- public likes to be
amused, and thought it very amusing to see these beribboned and
bestarred foreigners caught and tossed and gored on the horns of
this jovial, slashing, devil-may-care British bull. 

  Diplomatists have no right to complain of mere lies; it is
their own fault, if, educated as they are, the lies deceive them;
but they complain bitterly of traps. Palmerston was believed to
lay traps. He was the enfant terrible of the British Government.
On the other hand, Lady Palmerston was believed to be good and
loyal. All the diplomats and their wives seemed to think so, and
took their troubles to her, believing that she would try to help
them. For this reason among others, her evenings at home --
Saturday Reviews, they were called -- had great vogue. An
ignorant young American could not be expected to explain it.
Cambridge House was no better for entertaining than a score of
others. Lady Palmerston was no longer young or handsome, and
could hardly at any age have been vivacious. The people one met
there were never smart and seldom young; they were largely
diplomatic, and diplomats are commonly dull; they were largely
political, and politicians rarely decorate or beautify an evening
party; they were sprinkled with literary people, who are
notoriously unfashionable; the women were of course ill-dressed
and middle-aged; the men looked mostly bored or out of place;
yet, beyond a doubt, Cambridge House was the best, and perhaps
the only political house in London, and its success was due to
Lady Palmerston, who never seemed to make an effort beyond a
friendly recognition. As a lesson in social education, Cambridge
House gave much subject for thought. First or last, one was to
know dozens of statesmen more powerful and more agreeable than
Lord Palmerston; dozens of ladies more beautiful and more
painstaking than Lady Palmerston; but no political house so
successful as Cambridge House. The world never explains such
riddles. The foreigners said only that Lady Palmerston was "

  The small fry of the Legations were admitted there, or
tolerated, without a further effort to recognize their existence,
but they were pleased because rarely tolerated anywhere else, and
there they could at least stand in a corner and look at a bishop
or even a duke. This was the social diversion of young Adams. No
one knew him -- not even the lackeys. The last Saturday evening
he ever attended, he gave his name as usual at the foot of the
staircase, and was rather disturbed to hear it shouted up as "Mr.
Handrew Hadams!" He tried to correct it, and the footman shouted
more loudly: "Mr. Hanthony Hadams!" With some temper he repeated
the correction, and was finally announced as "Mr. Halexander
Hadams," and under this name made his bow for the last time to
Lord Palmerston who certainly knew no better.

  Far down the staircase one heard Lord Palmerston's laugh as he
stood at the door receiving his guests, talking probably to one
of his henchmen, Delane, Borthwick, or Hayward, who were sure to
be near. The laugh was singular, mechanical, wooden, and did not
seem to disturb his features. "Ha! . . . Ha! . . . Ha!" Each was
a slow, deliberate ejaculation, and all were in the same tone, as
though he meant to say: "Yes! . . . Yes! . . . Yes!" by way of
assurance. It was a laugh of 1810 and the Congress of Vienna.
Adams would have much liked to stop a moment and ask whether
William Pitt and the Duke of Wellington had laughed so; but young
men attached to foreign Ministers asked no questions at all of
Palmerston and their chiefs asked as few as possible. One made
the usual bow and received the usual glance of civility; then
passed on to Lady Palmerston, who was always kind in manner, but
who wasted no remarks; and so to Lady Jocelyn with her daughter,
who commonly had something friendly to say; then went through the
diplomatic corps, Brunnow, Musurus, Azeglio, Apponyi, Van de
Weyer, Bille, Tricoupi, and the rest, finally dropping into the
hands of some literary accident as strange there as one's self.
The routine varied little. There was no attempt at entertainment.
Except for the desperate isolation of these two first seasons,
even secretaries would have found the effort almost as mechanical
as a levee at St. James's Palace.

  Lord Palmerston was not Foreign Secretary; he was Prime
Minister, but he loved foreign affairs and could no more resist
scoring a point in diplomacy than in whist. Ministers of foreign
powers, knowing his habits, tried to hold him at arms'-length,
and, to do this, were obliged to court the actual Foreign
Secretary, Lord John Russell, who, on July 30, 1861, was called
up to the House of Lords as an earl. By some process of personal
affiliation, Minister Adams succeeded in persuading himself that
he could trust Lord Russell more safely than Lord Palmerston. His
son, being young and ill-balanced in temper, thought there was
nothing to choose. Englishmen saw little difference between them,
and Americans were bound to follow English experience in English
character. Minister Adams had much to learn, although with him as
well as with his son, the months of education began to count as

  Just as Brunnow predicted, Lord Palmerston made his rush at
last, as unexpected as always, and more furiously than though
still a private secretary of twenty-four. Only a man who had been
young with the battle of Trafalgar could be fresh and jaunty to
that point, but Minister Adams was not in a position to
sympathize with octogenarian youth and found himself in a danger
as critical as that of his numerous predecessors. It was late one
after noon in June, 1862, as the private secretary returned, with
the Minister, from some social function, that he saw his father
pick up a note from his desk and read it in silence. Then he said
curtly: "Palmerston wants a quarrel!" This was the point of the
incident as he felt it. Palmerston wanted a quarrel; he must not
be gratified; he must be stopped. The matter of quarrel was
General Butler's famous woman-order at New Orleans, but the
motive was the belief in President Lincoln's brutality that had
taken such deep root in the British mind. Knowing Palmerston's
habits, the Minister took for granted that he meant to score a
diplomatic point by producing this note in the House of Commons.
If he did this at once, the Minister was lost; the quarrel was
made; and one new victim to Palmerston's passion for popularity
was sacrificed.

  The moment was nervous -- as far as the private secretary knew,
quite the most critical moment in the records of American
diplomacy -- but the story belongs to history, not to education,
and can be read there by any one who cares to read it. As a part
of Henry Adams's education it had a value distinct from history.
That his father succeeded in muzzling Palmerston without a public
scandal, was well enough for the Minister, but was not enough for
a private secretary who liked going to Cambridge House, and was
puzzled to reconcile contradictions. That Palmerston had wanted a
quarrel was obvious; why, then, did he submit so tamely to being
made the victim of the quarrel? The correspondence that followed
his note was conducted feebly on his side, and he allowed the
United States Minister to close it by a refusal to receive
further communications from him except through Lord Russell. The
step was excessively strong, for it broke off private relations
as well as public, and cost even the private secretary his
invitations to Cambridge House. Lady Palmerston tried her best,
but the two ladies found no resource except tears. They had to do
with American Minister perplexed in the extreme. Not that Mr.
Adams lost his temper, for he never felt such a weight of
responsibility, and was never more cool; but he could conceive no
other way of protecting his Government, not to speak of himself,
than to force Lord Russell to interpose. He believed that
Palmerston's submission and silence were due to Russell. Perhaps
he was right; at the time, his son had no doubt of it, though
afterwards he felt less sure. Palmerston wanted a quarrel; the
motive seemed evident; yet when the quarrel was made, he backed
out of it; for some reason it seemed that he did not want it --
at least, not then. He never showed resentment against Mr. Adams
at the time or afterwards. He never began another quarrel.
Incredible as it seemed, he behaved like a well-bred gentleman
who felt himself in the wrong. Possibly this change may have been
due to Lord Russell's remonstrances, but the private secretary
would have felt his education in politics more complete had he
ever finally made up his mind whether Palmerston was more angry
with General Butler, or more annoyed at himself, for committing
what was in both cases an unpardonable betise. 

  At the time, the question was hardly raised, for no one doubted
Palmerston's attitude or his plans. The season was near its end,
and Cambridge House was soon closed. The Legation had troubles
enough without caring to publish more. The tide of English
feeling ran so violently against it that one could only wait to
see whether General McClellan would bring it relief. The year
1862 was a dark spot in Henry Adams's life, and the education it
gave was mostly one that he gladly forgot. As far as he was
aware, he made no friends; he could hardly make enemies; yet
towards the close of the year he was flattered by an invitation
from Monckton Milnes to Fryston, and it was one of many acts of
charity towards the young that gave Milnes immortality. Milnes
made it his business to be kind. Other people criticised him for
his manner of doing it, but never imitated him. Naturally, a
dispirited, disheartened private secretary was exceedingly
grateful, and never forgot the kindness, but it was chiefly as
education that this first country visit had value. Commonly,
country visits are much alike, but Monckton Milnes was never like
anybody, and his country parties served his purpose of mixing
strange elements. Fryston was one of a class of houses that no
one sought for its natural beauties, and the winter mists of
Yorkshire were rather more evident for the absence of the hostess
on account of them, so that the singular guests whom Milnes
collected to enliven his December had nothing to do but astonish
each other, if anything could astonish such men. Of the five,
Adams alone was tame; he alone added nothing to the wit or humor,
except as a listener; but they needed a listener and he was
useful. Of the remaining four, Milnes was the oldest, and perhaps
the sanest in spite of his superficial eccentricities, for
Yorkshire sanity was true to a standard of its own, if not to
other conventions; yet even Milnes startled a young American
whose Boston and Washington mind was still fresh. He would not
have been startled by the hard-drinking, horse-racing
Yorkshireman of whom he had read in books; but Milnes required a
knowledge of society and literature that only himself possessed,
if one were to try to keep pace with him. He had sought contact
with everybody and everything that Europe could offer. He knew it
all from several points of view, and chiefly as humorous.

  The second of the party was also of a certain age; a quiet,
well-mannered, singularly agreeable gentleman of the literary
class. When Milnes showed Adams to his room to dress for dinner,
he stayed a moment to say a word about this guest, whom he called
Stirling of Keir. His sketch closed with the hint that Stirling
was violent only on one point -- hatred of Napoleon III. On that
point, Adams was himself sensitive, which led him to wonder how
bad the Scotch gentleman might be. The third was a man of thirty
or thereabouts, whom Adams had already met at Lady Palmerston's
carrying his arm in a sling. His figure and bearing were
sympathetic -- almost pathetic -- with a certain grave and gentle
charm, a pleasant smile, and an interesting story. He was
Lawrence Oliphant, just from Japan, where he had been wounded in
the fanatics' attack on the British Legation. He seemed
exceptionally sane and peculiarly suited for country houses,
where every man would enjoy his company, and every woman would
adore him. He had not then published "Piccadilly"; perhaps he was
writing it; while, like all the young men about the Foreign
Office, he contributed to The Owl. 

  The fourth was a boy, or had the look of one, though in fact a
year older than Adams himself. He resembled in action -- and in
this trait, was remotely followed, a generation later, by another
famous young man, Robert Louis Stevenson -- a tropical bird,
high-crested, long-beaked, quick-moving, with rapid utterance and
screams of humor, quite unlike any English lark or nightingale.
One could hardly call him a crimson macaw among owls, and yet no
ordinary contrast availed. Milnes introduced him as Mr. Algernon
Swinburne. The name suggested nothing. Milnes was always
unearthing new coins and trying to give them currency. He had
unearthed Henry Adams who knew himself to be worthless and not
current. When Milnes lingered a moment in Adams's room to add
that Swinburne had written some poetry, not yet published, of
really extraordinary merit, Adams only wondered what more Milnes
would discover, and whether by chance he could discover merit in
a private secretary. He was capable of it. 

  In due course this party of five men sat down to dinner with
the usual club manners of ladyless dinner-tables, easy and formal
at the same time. Conversation ran first to Oliphant who told his
dramatic story simply, and from him the talk drifted off into
other channels, until Milnes thought it time to bring Swinburne
out. Then, at last, if never before, Adams acquired education.
What he had sought so long, he found; but he was none the wiser;
only the more astonished. For once, too, he felt at ease, for the
others were no less astonished than himself, and their
astonishment grew apace. For the rest of the evening Swinburne
figured alone; the end of dinner made the monologue only freer,
for in 1862, even when ladies were not in the house, smoking was
forbidden, and guests usually smoked in the stables or the
kitchen; but Monckton Milnes was a licensed libertine who let his
guests smoke in Adams's bedroom, since Adams was an
American-German barbarian ignorant of manners; and there after
dinner all sat -- or lay -- till far into the night, listening to
the rush of Swinburne's talk. In a long experience, before or
after, no one ever approached it; yet one had heard accounts of
the best talking of the time, and read accounts of talkers in all
time, among the rest, of Voltaire, who seemed to approach nearest
the pattern. 

  That Swinburne was altogether new to the three types of
men-of-the-world before him; that he seemed to them quite
original, wildly eccentric, astonishingly gifted, and
convulsingly droll, Adams could see; but what more he was, even
Milnes hardly dared say. They could not believe his incredible
memory and knowledge of literature, classic, mediaeval, and
modern; his faculty of reciting a play of Sophocles or a play of
Shakespeare, forward or backward, from end to beginning; or
Dante, or Villon, or Victor Hugo. They knew not what to make of
his rhetorical recitation of his own unpublished ballads --
"Faustine"; the "Four Boards of the Coffin Lid"; the "Ballad of
Burdens" -- which he declaimed as though they were books of the
Iliad. It was singular that his most appreciative listener should
have been the author only of pretty verses like "We wandered by
the brook-side," and "She seemed to those that saw them meet";
and who never cared to write in any other tone; but Milnes took
everything into his sympathies, including Americans like young
Adams whose standards were stiffest of all, while Swinburne,
though millions of ages far from them, united them by his humor
even more than by his poetry. The story of his first day as a
member of Professor Stubbs's household was professionally clever
farce, if not high comedy, in a young man who could write a Greek
ode or a Proven‡al chanson as easily as an English quatrain.

  Late at night when the symposium broke up, Stirling of Keir
wanted to take with him to his chamber a copy of "Queen
Rosamund," the only volume Swinburne had then published, which
was on the library table, and Adams offered to light him down
with his solitary bedroom candle. All the way, Stirling was
ejaculating explosions of wonder, until at length, at the foot of
the stairs and at the climax of his imagination, he paused, and
burst out: "He's a cross between the devil and the Duke of

  To appreciate the full merit of this description, a judicious
critic should have known both, and Henry Adams knew only one --
at least in person -- but he understood that to a Scotchman the
likeness meant something quite portentous, beyond English
experience, supernatural, and what the French call moyenageux, or
mediaeval with a grotesque turn. That Stirling as well as Milnes
should regard Swinburne as a prodigy greatly comforted Adams, who
lost his balance of mind at first in trying to imagine that
Swinburne was a natural product of Oxford, as muffins and
pork-pies of London, at once the cause and effect of dyspepsia.
The idea that one has actually met a real genius dawns slowly on
a Boston mind, but it made entry at last. 

  Then came the sad reaction, not from Swinburne whose genius
never was in doubt, but from the Boston mind which, in its
uttermost flights, was never moyenageux. One felt the horror of
Longfellow and Emerson, the doubts of Lowell and the humor of
Holmes, at the wild Walpurgis-night of Swinburne's talk. What
could a shy young private secretary do about it? Perhaps, in his
good nature, Milnes thought that Swinburne might find a friend in
Stirling or Oliphant, but he could hardly have fancied Henry
Adams rousing in him even an interest. Adams could no more
interest Algernon Swinburne than he could interest Encke's comet.
To Swinburne he could be no more than a worm. The quality of
genius was an education almost ultimate, for one touched there
the limits of the human mind on that side; but one could only
receive; one had nothing to give -- nothing even to offer. 

  Swinburne tested him then and there by one of his favorite
tests -- Victor Hugo for to him the test of Victor Hugo was the
surest and quickest of standards. French poetry is at best a
severe exercise for foreigners; it requires extraordinary
knowledge of the language and rare refinement of ear to
appreciate even the recitation of French verse; but unless a poet
has both, he lacks something of poetry. Adams had neither. To the
end of his life he never listened to a French recitation with
pleasure, or felt a sense of majesty in French verse; but he did
not care to proclaim his weakness, and he tried to evade
Swinburne's vehement insistence by parading an affection for
Alfred de Musset. Swinburne would have none of it; de Musset was
unequal; he did not sustain himself on the wing. 

  Adams would have given a world or two, if he owned one, to
sustain himself on the wing like de Musset, or even like Hugo;
but his education as well as his ear was at fault, and he
succumbed. Swinburne tried him again on Walter Savage Landor. In
truth the test was the same, for Swinburne admired in Landor's
English the qualities that he felt in Hugo's French; and Adams's
failure was equally gross, for, when forced to despair, he had to
admit that both Hugo and Landor bored him. Nothing more was
needed. One who could feel neither Hugo nor Landor was lost. 

  The sentence was just and Adams never appealed from it. He knew
his inferiority in taste as he might know it in smell. Keenly
mortified by the dullness of his senses and instincts, he knew he
was no companion for Swinburne; probably he could be only an
annoyance; no number of centuries could ever educate him to
Swinburne's level, even in technical appreciation; yet he often
wondered whether there was nothing he had to offer that was worth
the poet's acceptance. Certainly such mild homage as the American
insect would have been only too happy to bring, had he known how,
was hardly worth the acceptance of any one. Only in France is the
attitude of prayer possible; in England it became absurd. Even
Monckton Milnes, who felt the splendors of Hugo and Landor, was
almost as helpless as an American private secretary in personal
contact with them. Ten years afterwards Adams met him at the
Geneva Conference, fresh from Paris, bubbling with delight at a
call he had made on Hugo: "I was shown into a large room," he
said, "with women and men seated in chairs against the walls, and
Hugo at one end throned. No one spoke. At last Hugo raised his
voice solemnly, and uttered the words: 'Quant a moi, je crois en
Dieu!' Silence followed. Then a woman responded as if in deep
meditation: 'Chose sublime! un Dieu qui croft en Dieu!"' 

  With the best of will, one could not do this in London; the
actors had not the instinct of the drama; and yet even a private
secretary was not wholly wanting in instinct. As soon as he
reached town he hurried to Pickering's for a copy of "Queen
Rosamund," and at that time, if Swinburne was not joking,
Pickering had sold seven copies. When the "Poems and Ballads"
came out, and met their great success and scandal, he sought one
of the first copies from Moxon. If he had sinned and doubted at
all, he wholly repented and did penance before "Atalanta in
Calydon," and would have offered Swinburne a solemn worship as
Milnes's female offered Hugo, if it would have pleased the poet.
Unfortunately it was worthless. 

  The three young men returned to London, and each went his own
way. Adams's interest in making friends was something desperate,
but "the London season," Milnes used to say, "is a season for
making acquaintances and losing friends"; there was no intimate
life. Of Swinburne he saw no more till Monckton Milnes summoned
his whole array of Frystonians to support him in presiding at the
dinner of the Authors' Fund, when Adams found himself seated next
to Swinburne, famous then, but no nearer. They never met again.
Oliphant he met oftener; all the world knew and loved him; but he
too disappeared in the way that all the world knows. Stirling of
Keir, after one or two efforts, passed also from Adams's vision
into Sir William Stirling-Maxwell. The only record of his
wonderful visit to Fryston may perhaps exist still in the
registers of the St. James's Club, for immediately afterwards
Milnes proposed Henry Adams for membership, and unless his memory
erred, the nomination was seconded by Tricoupi and endorsed by
Laurence Oliphant and Evelyn Ashley. The list was a little
singular for variety, but on the whole it suggested that the
private secretary was getting on. 



  ON Moran's promotion to be Secretary, Mr. Seward inquired
whether Minister Adams would like the place of Assistant
Secretary for his son. It was the first -- and last -- office
ever offered him, if indeed he could claim what was offered in
fact to his father. To them both, the change seemed useless. Any
young man could make some sort of Assistant Secretary; only one,
just at that moment, could make an Assistant Son. More than half
his duties were domestic; they sometimes required long absences;
they always required independence of the Government service. His
position was abnormal. The British Government by courtesy allowed
the son to go to Court as Attache, though he was never attached,
and after five or six years' toleration, the decision was
declared irregular. In the Legation, as private secretary, he was
liable to do Secretary's work. In society, when official, he was
attached to the Minister; when unofficial, he was a young man
without any position at all. As the years went on, he began to
find advantages in having no position at all except that of young
man. Gradually he aspired to become a gentleman; just a member of
society like the rest. The position was irregular; at that time
many positions were irregular; yet it lent itself to a sort of
irregular education that seemed to be the only sort of education
the young man was ever to get. 

  Such as it was, few young men had more. The spring and summer
of 1863 saw a great change in Secretary Seward's management of
foreign affairs. Under the stimulus of danger, he too got
education. He felt, at last, that his official representatives
abroad needed support. Officially he could give them nothing but
despatches, which were of no great value to any one; and at best
the mere weight of an office had little to do with the public.
Governments were made to deal with Governments, not with private
individuals or with the opinions of foreign society. In order to
affect European opinion, the weight of American opinion had to be
brought to bear personally, and had to be backed by the weight of
American interests. Mr. Seward set vigorously to work and sent
over every important American on whom he could lay his hands. All
came to the Legation more or less intimately, and Henry Adams had
a chance to see them all, bankers or bishops, who did their work
quietly and well, though, to the outsider, the work seemed wasted
and the "influential classes" more indurated with prejudice than
ever. The waste was only apparent; the work all told in the end,
and meanwhile it helped education. 

  Two or three of these gentlemen were sent over to aid the
Minister and to cooperate with him. The most interesting of these
was Thurlow Weed, who came to do what the private secretary
himself had attempted two years before, with boyish ignorance of
his own powers. Mr. Weed took charge of the press, and began, to
the amused astonishment of the secretaries, by making what the
Legation had learned to accept as the invariable mistake of every
amateur diplomat; he wrote letters to the London Times. Mistake
or not, Mr. Weed soon got into his hands the threads of
management, and did quietly and smoothly all that was to be done.
With his work the private secretary had no connection; it was he
that interested. Thurlow Weed was a complete American education
in himself. His mind was naturally strong and beautifully
balanced; his temper never seemed ruffled; his manners were
carefully perfect in the style of benevolent simplicity, the
tradition of Benjamin Franklin. He was the model of political
management and patient address; but the trait that excited
enthusiasm in a private secretary was his faculty of irresistibly
conquering confidence. Of all flowers in the garden of education,
confidence was becoming the rarest; but before Mr. Weed went
away, young Adams followed him about not only obediently -- for
obedience had long since become a blind instinct -- but rather
with sympathy and affection, much like a little dog.

  The sympathy was not due only to Mr. Weed's skill of
management, although Adams never met another such master, or any
one who approached him; nor was the confidence due to any display
of professions, either moral or social, by Mr. Weed. The trait
that astounded and confounded cynicism was his apparent
unselfishness. Never, in any man who wielded such power, did
Adams meet anything like it. The effect of power and publicity on
all men is the aggravation of self, a sort of tumor that ends by
killing the victim's sympathies; a diseased appetite, like a
passion for drink or perverted tastes; one can scarcely use
expressions too strong to describe the violence of egotism it
stimulates; and Thurlow Weed was one of the exceptions; a rare
immune. He thought apparently not of himself, but of the person
he was talking with. He held himself naturally in the background.
He was not jealous. He grasped power, but not office. He
distributed offices by handfuls without caring to take them. He
had the instinct of empire: he gave, but he did not receive. This
rare superiority to the politicians he controlled, a trait that
private secretaries never met in the politicians themselves,
excited Adams's wonder and curiosity, but when he tried to get
behind it, and to educate himself from the stores of Mr. Weed's
experience, he found the study still more fascinating. Management
was an instinct with Mr. Weed; an object to be pursued for its
own sake, as one plays cards; but he appeared to play with men as
though they were only cards; he seemed incapable of feeling
himself one of them. He took them and played them for their
face-value; but once, when he had told, with his usual humor,
some stories of his political experience which were strong even
for the Albany lobby, the private secretary made bold to ask him
outright: "Then, Mr. Weed, do you think that no politician can be
trusted? " Mr. Weed hesitated for a moment; then said in his mild
manner: "I never advise a young man to begin by thinking so." 

  This lesson, at the time, translated itself to Adams in a moral
sense, as though Mr. Weed had said: "Youth needs illusions !" As
he grew older he rather thought that Mr. Weed looked on it as a
question of how the game should be played. Young men most needed
experience. They could not play well if they trusted to a general
rule. Every card had a relative value. Principles had better be
left aside; values were enough. Adams knew that he could never
learn to play politics in so masterly a fashion as this: his
education and his nervous system equally forbade it, although he
admired all the more the impersonal faculty of the political
master who could thus efface himself and his temper in the game.
He noticed that most of the greatest politicians in history had
seemed to regard men as counters. The lesson was the more
interesting because another famous New Yorker came over at the
same time who liked to discuss the same problem. Secretary Seward
sent William M. Evarts to London as law counsel, and Henry began
an acquaintance with Mr. Evarts that soon became intimate. Evarts
was as individual as Weed was impersonal; like most men, he cared
little for the game, or how it was played, and much for the
stakes, but he played it in a large and liberal way, like Daniel
Webster, "a great advocate employed in politics." Evarts was also
an economist of morals, but with him the question was rather how
much morality one could afford. "The world can absorb only doses
of truth," he said; "too much would kill it." One sought
education in order to adjust the dose. 

  The teachings of Weed and Evarts were practical, and the
private secretary's life turned on their value. England's power
of absorbing truth was small. Englishmen, such as Palmerston,
Russell, Bethell, and the society represented by the Times and
Morning Post, as well as the Tories represented by Disraeli, Lord
Robert Cecil, and the Standard, offered a study in education that
sickened a young student with anxiety. He had begun -- contrary
to Mr. Weed's advice -- by taking their bad faith for granted.
Was he wrong? To settle this point became the main object of the
diplomatic education so laboriously pursued, at a cost already
stupendous, and promising to become ruinous. Life changed front,
according as one thought one's self dealing with honest men or
with rogues. 

  Thus far, the private secretary felt officially sure of
dishonesty. The reasons that satisfied him had not altogether
satisfied his father, and of course his father's doubts gravely
shook his own convictions, but, in practice, if only for safety,
the Legation put little or no confidence in Ministers, and there
the private secretary's diplomatic education began. The
recognition of belligerency, the management of the Declaration of
Paris, the Trent Affair, all strengthened the belief that Lord
Russell had started in May, 1861, with the assumption that the
Confederacy was established; every step he had taken proved his
persistence in the same idea; he never would consent to put
obstacles in the way of recognition; and he was waiting only for
the proper moment to interpose. All these points seemed so fixed
-- so self-evident -- that no one in the Legation would have
doubted or even discussed them except that Lord Russell
obstinately denied the whole charge, and persisted in assuring 

  Minister Adams of his honest and impartial neutrality. 
With the insolence of youth and zeal, Henry Adams jumped at once
to the conclusion that Earl Russell -- like other statesmen --
lied; and, although the Minister thought differently, he had to
act as though Russell were false. Month by month the
demonstration followed its mathematical stages; one of the most
perfect educational courses in politics and diplomacy that a
young man ever had a chance to pursue. The most costly tutors in
the world were provided for him at public expense -- Lord
Palmerston, Lord Russell, Lord Westbury, Lord Selborne, Mr.
Gladstone, Lord Granville, and their associates, paid by the
British Government; William H. Seward, Charles Francis Adams,
William Maxwell Evarts, Thurlow Weed, and other considerable
professors employed by the American Government; but there was
only one student to profit by this immense staff of teachers. The
private secretary alone sought education. 

  To the end of his life he labored over the lessons then taught.
Never was demonstration more tangled. Hegel's metaphysical
doctrine of the identity of opposites was simpler and easier to
understand. Yet the stages of demonstration were clear. They
began in June, 1862, after the escape of one rebel cruiser, by
the remonstrances of the Minister against the escape of "No.
290," which was imminent. Lord Russell declined to act on the
evidence. New evidence was sent in every few days, and with it,
on July 24, was included Collier's legal opinion: "It appears
difficult to make out a stronger case of infringement of the
Foreign Enlistment Act, which, if not enforced on this occasion,
is little better than a dead letter." Such language implied
almost a charge of collusion with the rebel agents -- an intent
to aid the Confederacy. In spite of the warning, Earl Russell let
the ship, four days afterwards, escape. 

  Young Adams had nothing to do with law; that was business of
his betters. His opinion of law hung on his opinion of lawyers.
In spite of Thurlow Weed's advice, could one afford to trust
human nature in politics ? History said not. Sir Robert Collier
seemed to hold that Law agreed with History. For education the
point was vital. If one could not trust a dozen of the most
respected private characters in the world, composing the Queen's
Ministry, one could trust no mortal man.

  Lord Russell felt the force of this inference, and undertook to
disprove it. His effort lasted till his death. At first he
excused himself by throwing the blame on the law officers. This
was a politician's practice, and the lawyers overruled it. Then
he pleaded guilty to criminal negligence, and said in his
"Recollections":-- "I assent entirely to the opinion of the Lord
Chief Justice of England that the Alabama ought to have been
detained during the four days I was waiting for the opinion of
the law officers. But I think that the fault was not that of the
commissioners of customs, it was my fault as Secretary of State
for Foreign Affairs." This concession brought all parties on
common ground. Of course it was his fault! The true issue lay not
in the question of his fault, but of his intent. To a young man,
getting an education in politics, there could be no sense in
history unless a constant course of faults implied a constant

  For his father the question was not so abstruse; it was a
practical matter of business to be handled as Weed or Evarts
handled their bargains and jobs. Minister Adams held the
convenient belief that, in the main, Russell was true, and the
theory answered his purposes so well that he died still holding
it. His son was seeking education, and wanted to know whether he
could, in politics, risk trusting any one. Unfortunately no one
could then decide; no one knew the facts. Minister Adams died
without knowing them. Henry Adams was an older man than his
father in 1862, before he learned a part of them. The most
curious fact, even then, was that Russell believed in his own
good faith and that Argyll believed in it also. 

  Argyll betrayed a taste for throwing the blame on Bethell, Lord
Westbury, then Lord Chancellor, but this escape helped Adams not
at all. On the contrary, it complicated the case of Russell. In
England, one half of society enjoyed throwing stones at Lord
Palmerston, while the other half delighted in flinging mud at
Earl Russell, but every one of every party united in pelting
Westbury with every missile at hand. The private secretary had no
doubts about him, for he never professed to be moral. He was the
head and heart of the whole rebel contention, and his opinions on
neutrality were as clear as they were on morality. The private
secretary had nothing to do with him, and regretted it, for Lord
Westbury's wit and wisdom were great; but as far as his authority
went he affirmed the law that in politics no man should be

  Russell alone insisted on his honesty of intention and
persuaded both the Duke and the Minister to believe him. Every
one in the Legation accepted his assurances as the only
assertions they could venture to trust. They knew he expected the
rebels to win in the end, but they believed he would not actively
interpose to decide it. On that -- on nothing else -- they rested
their frail hopes of remaining a day longer in England. Minister
Adams remained six years longer in England; then returned to
America to lead a busy life till he died in 1886 still holding
the same faith in Earl Russell, who had died in 1878. In 1889,
Spencer Walpole published the official life of Earl Russell, and
told a part of the story which had never been known to the
Minister and which astounded his son, who burned with curiosity
to know what his father would have said of it. 

  The story was this: The Alabama escaped, by Russell's confessed
negligence, on July 28, 1862. In America the Union armies had
suffered great disasters before Richmond and at the second Bull
Run, August 29-30, followed by Lee's invasion of Maryland,
September 7, the news of which, arriving in England on September
14, roused the natural idea that the crisis was at hand. The next
news was expected by the Confederates to announce the fall of
Washington or Baltimore. Palmerston instantly, September 14,
wrote to Russell: "If this should happen, would it not be time
for us to consider whether in such a state of things England and
France might not address the contending parties and recommend an
arrangement on the basis of separation?" 

  This letter, quite in the line of Palmerston's supposed
opinions, would have surprised no one, if it had been
communicated to the Legation; and indeed, if Lee had captured
Washington, no one could have blamed Palmerston for offering
intervention. Not Palmerston's letter but Russell's reply,
merited the painful attention of a young man seeking a moral
standard for judging politicians: -- 

GOTHA, September, 17, 1862


    Whether the Federal army is destroyed or not, it is clear
  that it is driven back to Washington and has made no progress
  in subduing the insurgent States. Such being the case, I agree
  with you that the time is come for offering mediation to the
  United States Government with a view to the recognition of the
  independence of the Confederates. I agree further that in case
  of failure, we ought ourselves to recognize the Southern States
  as an independent State. For the purpose of taking so important
  a step, I think we must have a meeting of the Cabinet. The 23d
  or 30th would suit me for the meeting.

    We ought then, if we agree on such a step, to propose it
  first to France, and then on the part of England and France, to
  Russia and other powers, as a measure decided upon by us.

    We ought to make ourselves safe in Canada, not by sending
  more troops there, but by concentrating those we have in a few
  defensible posts before the winter sets in. . . .

  Here, then, appeared in its fullest force, the practical
difficulty in education which a mere student could never
overcome; a difficulty not in theory, or knowledge, or even want
of experience, but in the sheer chaos of human nature. Lord
Russell's course had been consistent from the first, and had all
the look of rigid determination to recognize the Southern
Confederacy "with a view" to breaking up the Union. His letter of
September 17 hung directly on his encouragement of the Alabama
and his protection of the rebel navy; while the whole of his plan
had its root in the Proclamation of Belligerency, May 13, 1861.
The policy had every look of persistent forethought, but it took
for granted the deliberate dishonesty of three famous men:
Palmerston, Russell, and Gladstone. This dishonesty, as concerned
Russell, was denied by Russell himself, and disbelieved by
Argyll, Forster, and most of America's friends in England, as
well as by Minister Adams. What the Minister would have thought
had he seen this letter of September 17, his son would have
greatly liked to know, but he would have liked still more to know
what the Minister would have thought of Palmerston's answer,
dated September 23: --

   . . . It is evident that a great conflict is taking place to
  the northwest of Washington, and its issue must have a great
  effect on the state of affairs. If the Federals sustain a great
  defeat, they may be at once ready for mediation, and the iron
  should be struck while it is hot. If, on the other hand, they
  should have the best of it, we may wait a while and see what
  may follow. . .

  The roles were reversed. Russell wrote what was expected from
Palmerston, or even more violently; while Palmerston wrote what
was expected from Russell, or even more temperately. The private
secretary's view had been altogether wrong, which would not have
much surprised even him, but he would have been greatly
astonished to learn that the most confidential associates of
these men knew little more about their intentions than was known
in the Legation. The most trusted member of the Cabinet was Lord
Granville, and to him Russell next wrote. Granville replied at
once decidedly opposing recognition of the Confederacy, and
Russell sent the reply to Palmerston, who returned it October 2,
with the mere suggestion of waiting for further news from
America. At the same time Granville wrote to another member of
the Cabinet, Lord Stanley of Alderley, a letter published forty
years afterwards in Granville's "Life" (I, 442) to the private
secretary altogether the most curious and instructive relic of
the whole lesson in politics:  

  . . . I have written to Johnny my reasons for thinking it
  decidedly premature. I, however, suspect you will settle to do
  so. Pam., Johnny, and Gladstone would be in favor of it, and
  probably Newcastle. I do not know about the others. It appears
  to me a great mistake. . . .

  Out of a Cabinet of a dozen members, Granville, the best
informed of them all, could pick only three who would favor
recognition. Even a private secretary thought he knew as much as
this, or more. Ignorance was not confined to the young and
insignificant, nor were they the only victims of blindness.
Granville's letter made only one point clear. He knew of no fixed
policy or conspiracy. If any existed, it was confined to
Palmerston, Russell, Gladstone, and perhaps Newcastle. In truth,
the Legation knew, then, all that was to be known, and the true
fault of education was to suspect too much. 

  By that time, October 3, news of Antietam and of Lee's retreat
into Virginia had reached London. The Emancipation Proclamation
arrived. Had the private secretary known all that Granville or
Palmerston knew, he would surely have thought the danger past, at
least for a time, and any man of common sense would have told him
to stop worrying over phantoms. This healthy lesson would have
been worth much for practical education, but it was quite upset
by the sudden rush of a new actor upon the stage with a rhapsody
that made Russell seem sane, and all education superfluous. 

  This new actor, as every one knows, was William Ewart
Gladstone, then Chancellor of the Exchequer. If, in the domain of
the world's politics, one point was fixed, one value ascertained,
one element serious, it was the British Exchequer; and if one man
lived who could be certainly counted as sane by overwhelming
interest, it was the man who had in charge the finances of
England. If education had the smallest value, it should have
shown its force in Gladstone, who was educated beyond all record
of English training. From him, if from no one else, the poor
student could safely learn. 

  Here is what he learned! Palmerston notified Gladstone,
September 24, of the proposed intervention: "If I am not
mistaken, you would be inclined to approve such a course."
Gladstone replied the next day: "He was glad to learn what the
Prime Minister had told him; and for two reasons especially he
desired that the proceedings should be prompt: the first was the
rapid progress of the Southern arms and the extension of the area
of Southern feeling; the second was the risk of violent
impatience in the cotton-towns of Lancashire such as would
prejudice the dignity and disinterestedness of the proffered

  Had the puzzled student seen this letter, he must have
concluded from it that the best educated statesman England ever
produced did not know what he was talking about, an assumption
which all the world would think quite inadmissible from a private
secretary -- but this was a trifle. Gladstone having thus
arranged, with Palmerston and Russell, for intervention in the
American war, reflected on the subject for a fortnight from
September 25 to October 7, when he was to speak on the occasion
of a great dinner at Newcastle. He decided to announce the
Government's policy with all the force his personal and official
authority could give it. This decision was no sudden impulse; it
was the result of deep reflection pursued to the last moment. On
the morning of October 7, he entered in his diary: "Reflected
further on what I should say about Lancashire and America, for
both these subjects are critical." That evening at dinner, as the
mature fruit of his long study, he deliberately pronounced the
famous phrase:--

  . . . We know quite well that the people of the Northern States
  have not yet drunk of the cup -- they are still trying to hold
  it far from their lips -- which all the rest of the world see
  they nevertheless must drink of. We may have our own opinions
  about slavery; we may be for or against the South; but there is
  no doubt that Jefferson Davis and other leaders of the South
  have made an army; they are making, it appears, a navy; and
  they have made, what is more than either, they have made a
  nation. . . .

  Looking back, forty years afterwards, on this episode, one
asked one's self painfully whet sort of a lesson a young man
should have drawn, for the purposes of his education, from this
world-famous teaching of a very great master. In the heat of
passion at the moment, one drew some harsh moral conclusions:
Were they incorrect? Posed bluntly as rules of conduct, they led
to the worst possible practices. As morals, one could detect no
shade of difference between Gladstone and Napoleon except to the
advantage of Napoleon. The private secretary saw none; he
accepted the teacher in that sense; he took his lesson of
political morality as learned, his notice to quit as duly served,
and supposed his education to be finished. 

  Every one thought so, and the whole City was in a turmoil. Any
intelligent education ought to end when it is complete. One would
then feel fewer hesitations and would handle a surer world. The
old-fashioned logical drama required unity and sense; the actual
drama is a pointless puzzle, without even an intrigue. When the
curtain fell on Gladstone's speech, any student had the right to
suppose the drama ended; none could have affirmed that it was
about to begin; that one's painful lesson was thrown away.

  Even after forty years, most people would refuse to believe it;
they would still insist that Gladstone, Russell, and Palmerston
were true villains of melodrama. The evidence against Gladstone
in special seemed overwhelming. The word "must" can never be used
by a responsible Minister of one Government towards another, as
Gladstone used it. No one knew so well as he that he and his own
officials and friends at Liverpool were alone "making" a rebel
navy, and that Jefferson Davis had next to nothing to do with it.
As Chancellor of the Exchequer he was the Minister most
interested in knowing that Palmerston, Russell, and himself were
banded together by mutual pledge to make the Confederacy a nation
the next week, and that the Southern leaders had as yet no hope
of "making a nation" but in them. Such thoughts occurred to every
one at the moment and time only added to their force. Never in
the history of political turpitude had any brigand of modern
civilization offered a worse example. The proof of it was that it
outraged even Palmerston, who immediately put up Sir George
Cornewall Lewis to repudiate the Chancellor of the Exchequer,
against whom he turned his press at the same time. Palmerston had
no notion of letting his hand be forced by Gladstone.

  Russell did nothing of the kind; if he agreed with Palmerston,
he followed Gladstone. Although he had just created a new evangel
of non-intervention for Italy, and preached it like an apostle,
he preached the gospel of intervention in America as though he
were a mouthpiece of the Congress of Vienna. On October 13, he
issued his call for the Cabinet to meet, on October 23, for
discussion of the "duty of Europe to ask both parties, in the
most friendly and conciliatory terms, to agree to a suspension of
arms." Meanwhile Minister Adams, deeply perturbed and profoundly
anxious, would betray no sign of alarm, and purposely delayed to
ask explanation. The howl of anger against Gladstone became
louder every day, for every one knew that the Cabinet was called
for October 23, and then could not fail to decide its policy
about the United States. Lord Lyons put off his departure for
America till October 25 expressly to share in the conclusions to
be discussed on October 23. When Minister Adams at last requested
an interview, Russell named October 23 as the day. To the last
moment every act of Russell showed that, in his mind, the
intervention was still in doubt. 

  When Minister Adams, at the interview, suggested that an
explanation was due him, he watched Russell with natural
interest, and reported thus:  

   . . . His lordship took my allusion at once, though not
  without a slight indication of embarrassment. He said that Mr.
  Gladstone had been evidently much misunderstood. I must have
  seen in the newspapers the letters which contained his later
  explanations. That he had certain opinions in regard to the
  nature of the struggle in America, as on all public questions,
  just as other Englishmen had, was natural enough. And it was
  the fashion here for public men to express such as they held in
  their public addresses. Of course it was not for him to disavow
  anything on the part of Mr. Gladstone; but he had no idea that
  in saying what he had, there was a serious intention to justify
  any of the inferences that had been drawn from it of a
  disposition in the Government now to adopt a new policy. . . .

  A student trying to learn the processes of politics in a free
government could not but ponder long on the moral to be drawn
from this "explanation" of Mr. Gladstone by Earl Russell. The
point set for study as the first condition of political life, was
whether any politician could be believed or trusted. The question
which a private secretary asked himself, in copying this despatch
of October 24, 1862, was whether his father believed, or should
believe, one word of Lord Russell's "embarrassment." The "truth"
was not known for thirty years, but when published, seemed to be
the reverse of Earl Russell's statement. Mr. Gladstone's speech
had been drawn out by Russell's own policy of intervention and
had no sense except to declare the "disposition in the Government
now to adopt" that new policy. Earl Russell never disavowed
Gladstone, although Lord Palmerston and Sir George Cornewall
Lewis instantly did so. As far as the curious student could
penetrate the mystery, Gladstone exactly expressed Earl Russell's

  As political education, this lesson was to be crucial; it would
decide the law of life. All these gentlemen were superlatively
honorable; if one could not believe them, Truth in politics might
be ignored as a delusion. Therefore the student felt compelled to
reach some sort of idea that should serve to bring the case
within a general law. Minister Adams felt the same compulsion. He
bluntly told Russell that while he was "willing to acquit"
Gladstone of "any deliberate intention to bring on the worst
effects," he was bound to say that Gladstone was doing it quite
as certainly as if he had one; and to this charge, which struck
more sharply at Russell's secret policy than at Gladstone's
public defence of it, Russell replied as well as he could: --

  . . . His lordship intimated as guardedly as possible that Lord
  Palmerston and other members of the Government regretted the
  speech, and`Mr. Gladstone himself was not disinclined to
  correct, as far as he could, the misinterpretation which had
  been made of it. It was still their intention to adhere to the
  rule of perfect neutrality in the struggle, and to let it come
  to its natural end without the smallest interference, direct or
  otherwise. But he could not say what circumstances might happen
  from month to month in the future. I observed that the policy
  he mentioned was satisfactory to us, and asked if I was to
  understand him as saying that no change of it was now proposed.
  To which he gave his assent. . . .

Minister Adams never knew more. He retained his belief that
Russell could be trusted, but that Palmerston could not. This was
the diplomatic tradition, especially held by the Russian
diplomats. Possibly it was sound, but it helped in no way the
education of a private secretary. The cat's-paw theory offered no
safer clue, than the frank, old-fashioned, honest theory of
villainy. Neither the one nor the other was reasonable. 

  No one ever told the Minister that Earl Russell, only a few
hours before, had asked the Cabinet to intervene, and that the
Cabinet had refused. The Minister was led to believe that the
Cabinet meeting was not held, and that its decision was informal.
Russell's biographer said that, "with this memorandum [of
Russell's, dated October 13] the Cabinet assembled from all parts
of the country on October 23; but . . . members of the Cabinet
doubted the policy of moving, or moving at that time." The Duke
of Newcastle and Sir George Grey joined Granville in opposition.
As far as known, Russell and Gladstone stood alone.
"Considerations such as these prevented the matter being pursued
any further." 

  Still no one has distinctly said that this decision was formal;
perhaps the unanimity of opposition made the formal Cabinet
unnecessary; but it is certain that, within an hour or two before
or after this decision, "his lordship said [to the United States
Minister] that the policy of the Government was to adhere to a
strict neutrality and to leave this struggle to settle itself."
When Mr. Adams, not satisfied even with this positive assurance,
pressed for a categorical answer: "I asked him if I was to
understand that policy as not now to be changed; he said: Yes!" 

  John Morley's comment on this matter, in the "Life of
Gladstone," forty years afterwards, would have interested the
Minister, as well as his private secretary: "If this relation be
accurate," said Morley of a relation officially published at the
time, and never questioned, "then the Foreign Secretary did not
construe strict neutrality as excluding what diplomatists call
good offices." For a vital lesson in politics, Earl Russell's
construction of neutrality mattered little to the student, who
asked only Russell's intent, and cared only to know whether his
construction had any other object than to deceive the Minister. 

  In the grave one can afford to be lavish of charity, and
possibly Earl Russell may have been honestly glad to reassure his
personal friend Mr. Adams; but to one who is still in the world
even if not of it, doubts are as plenty as days. Earl Russell
totally deceived the private secretary, whatever he may have done
to the Minister. The policy of abstention was not settled on
October 23. Only the next day, October 24, Gladstone circulated a
rejoinder to G. C. Lewis, insisting on the duty of England,
France, and Russia to intervene by representing, "with moral
authority and force, the opinion of the civilized world upon the
conditions of the case." Nothing had been decided. By some means,
scarcely accidental, the French Emperor was led to think that his
influence might turn the scale, and only ten days after Russell's
categorical "Yes!" Napoleon officially invited him to say "No!"
He was more than ready to do so. Another Cabinet meeting was
called for November 11, and this time Gladstone himself reports
the debate:  

  Nov. 11. We have had our Cabinet to-day and meet again
  tomorrow. I am afraid we shall do little or nothing in the
  business of America. But I will send you definite intelligence.
  Both Lords Palmerston and Russell are right.

  Nov. 12. The United States affair has ended and not well. Lord
  Russell rather turned tail. He gave way without resolutely
  fighting out his battle. However, though we decline for the
  moment, the answer is put upon grounds and in terms which leave
  the matter very open for the future.

  Nov. 13. I think the French will make our answer about America
  public; at least it is very possible. But I hope they may not
  take it as a positive refusal, or at any rate that they may
  themselves act in the matter. It will be clear that we concur
  with them, that the war should cease. Palmerston gave to
  Russell's proposal a feeble and half-hearted support.

  Forty years afterwards, when every one except himself, who
looked on at this scene, was dead, the private secretary of 1862
read these lines with stupor, and hurried to discuss them with
John Hay, who was more astounded than himself. All the world had
been at cross-purposes, had misunderstood themselves and the
situation, had followed wrong paths, drawn wrong conclusions, had
known none of the facts. One would have done better to draw no
conclusions at all. One's diplomatic education was a long

  These were the terms of this singular problem as they presented
themselves to the student of diplomacy in 1862: Palmerston, on
September 14, under the impression that the President was about
to be driven from Washington and the Army of the Potomac
dispersed, suggested to Russell that in such a case, intervention
might be feasible. Russell instantly answered that, in any case,
he wanted to intervene and should call a Cabinet for the purpose.
Palmerston hesitated; Russell insisted; Granville protested.
Meanwhile the rebel army was defeated at Antietam, September 17,
and driven out of Maryland. Then Gladstone, October 7, tried to
force Palmerston's hand by treating the intervention as a fait
accompli. Russell assented, but Palmerston put up Sir George
Cornewall Lewis to contradict Gladstone and treated him sharply
in the press, at the very moment when Russell was calling a
Cabinet to make Gladstone's words good. On October 23, Russell
assured Adams that no change in policy was now proposed. On the
same day he had proposed it, and was voted down. Instantly
Napoleon III appeared as the ally of Russell and Gladstone with a
proposition which had no sense except as a bribe to Palmerston to
replace America, from pole to pole, in her old dependence on
Europe, and to replace England in her old sovereignty of the
seas, if Palmerston would support France in Mexico. The young
student of diplomacy, knowing Palmerston, must have taken for
granted that Palmerston inspired this motion and would support
it; knowing Russell and his Whig antecedents, he would conceive
that Russell must oppose it; knowing Gladstone and his lofty
principles, he would not doubt that Gladstone violently denounced
the scheme. If education was worth a straw, this was the only
arrangement of persons that a trained student would imagine
possible, and it was the arrangement actually assumed by nine men
out of ten, as history. In truth, each valuation was false.
Palmerston never showed favor to the scheme and gave it only "a
feeble and half-hearted support." Russell gave way without
resolutely fighting out "his battle." The only resolute,
vehement, conscientious champion of Russell, Napoleon, and
Jefferson Davis was Gladstone. 

  Other people could afford to laugh at a young man's blunders,
but to him the best part of life was thrown away if he learned
such a lesson wrong. Henry James had not yet taught the world to
read a volume for the pleasure of seeing the lights of his
burning-glass turned on alternate sides of the same figure.
Psychological study was still simple, and at worst -- or at best
-- English character was never subtile. Surely no one would
believe that complexity was the trait that confused the student
of Palmerston, Russell, and Gladstone. Under a very strong light
human nature will always appear complex and full of
contradictions, but the British statesman would appear, on the
whole, among the least complex of men. 

  Complex these gentlemen were not. Disraeli alone might, by
contrast, be called complex, but Palmerston, Russell, and
Gladstone deceived only by their simplicity. Russell was the most
interesting to a young man because his conduct seemed most
statesmanlike. Every act of Russell, from April, 1861, to
November, 1862, showed the clearest determination to break up the
Union. The only point in Russell's character about which the
student thought no doubt to be possible was its want of good
faith. It was thoroughly dishonest, but strong. Habitually
Russell said one thing and did another. He seemed unconscious of
his own contradictions even when his opponents pointed them out,
as they were much in the habit of doing, in the strongest
language. As the student watched him deal with the Civil War in
America, Russell alone showed persistence, even obstinacy, in a
definite determination, which he supported, as was necessary, by
the usual definite falsehoods. The young man did not complain of
the falsehoods; on the contrary, he was vain of his own insight
in detecting them; but he was wholly upset by the idea that
Russell should think himself true. 

  Young Adams thought Earl Russell a statesman of the old school,
clear about his objects and unscrupulous in his methods --
dishonest but strong. Russell ardently asserted that he had no
objects, and that though he might be weak he was above all else
honest. Minister Adams leaned to Russell personally and thought
him true, but officially, in practice, treated him as false.
Punch, before 1862, commonly drew Russell as a schoolboy telling
lies, and afterwards as prematurely senile, at seventy. Education
stopped there. No one, either in or out of England, ever offered
a rational explanation of Earl Russell. 

  Palmerston was simple -- so simple as to mislead the student
altogether -- but scarcely more consistent. The world thought him
positive, decided, reckless; the record proved him to be
cautious, careful, vacillating. Minister Adams took him for
pugnacious and quarrelsome; the "Lives" of Russell, Gladstone,
and Granville show him to have been good-tempered, conciliatory,
avoiding quarrels. He surprised the Minister by refusing to
pursue his attack on General Butler. He tried to check Russell.
He scolded Gladstone. He discouraged Napoleon. Except Disraeli
none of the English statesmen were so cautious as he in talking
of America. Palmerston told no falsehoods; made no professions;
concealed no opinions; was detected in no double-dealing. The
most mortifying failure in Henry Adams's long education was that,
after forty years of confirmed dislike, distrust, and detraction
of Lord Palmerston, he was obliged at last to admit himself in
error, and to consent in spirit -- for by that time he was nearly
as dead as any of them -- to beg his pardon. 

  Gladstone was quite another story, but with him a student's
difficulties were less because they were shared by all the world
including Gladstone himself. He was the sum of contradictions.
The highest education could reach, in this analysis, only a
reduction to the absurd, but no absurdity that a young man could
reach in 1862 would have approached the level that Mr. Gladstone
admitted, avowed, proclaimed, in his confessions of 1896, which
brought all reason and all hope of education to a still-stand: --

  I have yet to record an undoubted error, the most singular and
  palpable, I may add the least excusable of them all, especially
  since it was committed so late as in the year 1862 when I had
  outlived half a century . . . I declared in the heat of the
  American struggle that Jefferson Davis had made a nation. . . .
  Strange to say, this declaration, most unwarrantable to be made
  by a Minister of the Crown with no authority other than his
  own, was not due to any feeling of partisanship for the South
  or hostility to the North. . . . I really, though most
  strangely, believed that it was an act of friendliness to all
  America to recognize that the struggle was virtually at an end.
  . . . That my opinion was founded upon a false estimate of the
  facts was the very least part of my fault. I did not perceive
  the gross impropriety of such an utterance from a Cabinet
  Minister of a power allied in blood and language, and bound to
  loyal neutrality; the case being further exaggerated by the
  fact that we were already, so to speak, under indictment before
  the world for not (as was alleged) having strictly enforced the
  laws of neutrality in the matter of the cruisers. My offence
  was indeed only a mistake, but one of incredible grossness, and
  with such consequences of offence and alarm attached to it,
  that my failing to perceive them justly exposed me to very
  severe blame. It illustrates vividly that incapacity which my
  mind so long retained, and perhaps still exhibits, an
  incapacity of viewing subjects all round. . . .

  Long and patiently -- more than patiently -- sympathetically,
did the private secretary, forty years afterwards in the twilight
of a life of study, read and re-read and reflect upon this
confession. Then, it seemed, he had seen nothing correctly at the
time. His whole theory of conspiracy -- of policy -- of logic and
connection in the affairs of man, resolved itself into
"incredible grossness." He felt no rancor, for he had won the
game; he forgave, since he must admit, the "incapacity of viewing
subjects all round" which had so nearly cost him life and
fortune; he was willing even to believe. He noted, without
irritation, that Mr. Gladstone, in his confession, had not
alluded to the understanding between Russell, Palmerston, and
himself; had even wholly left out his most "incredible" act, his
ardent support of Napoleon's policy, a policy which even
Palmerston and Russell had supported feebly, with only half a
heart. All this was indifferent. Granting, in spite of evidence,
that Gladstone had no set plan of breaking up the Union; that he
was party to no conspiracy; that he saw none of the results of
his acts which were clear to every one else; granting in short
what the English themselves seemed at last to conclude -- that
Gladstone was not quite sane; that Russell was verging on
senility; and that Palmerston had lost his nerve -- what sort of
education should have been the result of it? How should it have
affected one's future opinions and acts?

  Politics cannot stop to study psychology. Its methods are
rough; its judgments rougher still. All this knowledge would not
have affected either the Minister or his son in 1862. The sum of
the individuals would still have seemed, to the young man, one
individual -- a single will or intention -- bent on breaking up
the Union "as a diminution of a dangerous power." The Minister
would still have found his interest in thinking Russell friendly
and Palmerston hostile. The individual would still have been
identical with the mass. The problem would have been the same;
the answer equally obscure. Every student would, like the private
secretary, answer for himself alone.



  MINISTER ADAMS troubled himself little about what he did not
see of an enemy. His son, a nervous animal, made life a terror by
seeing too much. Minister Adams played his hand as it came, and
seldom credited his opponents with greater intelligence than his
own. Earl Russell suited him; perhaps a certain personal sympathy
united them; and indeed Henry Adams never saw Russell without
being amused by his droll likeness to John Quincy Adams. Apart
from this shadowy personal relation, no doubt the Minister was
diplomatically right; he had nothing to lose and everything to
gain by making a friend of the Foreign Secretary, and whether
Russell were true or false mattered less, because, in either
case, the American Legation could act only as though he were
false. Had the Minister known Russell's determined effort to
betray and ruin him in October, 1862, he could have scarcely used
stronger expressions than he did in 1863. Russell must have been
greatly annoyed by Sir Robert Collier's hint of collusion with
the rebel agents in the Alabama Case, but he hardened himself to
hear the same innuendo repeated in nearly every note from the
Legation. As time went on, Russell was compelled, though slowly,
to treat the American Minister as serious. He admitted nothing so
unwillingly, for the nullity or fatuity of the Washington
Government was his idee fixe; but after the failure of his last
effort for joint intervention on November 12, 1862, only one week
elapsed before he received a note from Minister Adams repeating
his charges about the Alabama, and asking in very plain language
for redress. Perhaps Russell's mind was naturally slow to
understand the force of sudden attack, or perhaps age had
affected it; this was one of the points that greatly interested a
student, but young men have a passion for regarding their elders
as senile, which was only in part warranted in this instance by
observing that Russell's generation were mostly senile from
youth. They had never got beyond 1815 Both Palmerston and Russell
were in this case. Their senility was congenital, like
Gladstone's Oxford training and High Church illusions, which
caused wild eccentricities in his judgment. Russell could not
conceive that he had misunderstood and mismanaged Minister Adams
from the start, and when after November 12 he found himself on
the defensive, with Mr Adams taking daily a stronger tone, he
showed mere confusion and helplessness. 

  Thus, whatever the theory, the action of diplomacy had to be
the same. Minister Adams was obliged to imply collusion between
Russell and the rebels. He could not even stop at criminal
negligence. If, by an access of courtesy, the Minister were civil
enough to admit that the escape of the Alabama had been due to
criminal negligence, he could make no such concession in regard
to the ironclad rams which the Lairds were building; for no one
could be so simple as to believe that two armored ships-of-war
could be built publicly, under the eyes of the Government, and go
to sea like the Alabama, without active and incessant collusion.
The longer Earl Russell kept on his mask of assumed ignorance,
the more violently in the end, the Minister would have to tear it
off. Whatever Mr. Adams might personally think of Earl Russell,
he must take the greatest possible diplomatic liberties with him
if this crisis were allowed to arrive. 

  As the spring of 1863 drew on, the vast field cleared itself
for action. A campaign more beautiful -- better suited for
training the mind of a youth eager for training -- has not often
unrolled itself for study, from the beginning, before a young man
perched in so commanding a position. Very slowly, indeed, after
two years of solitude, one began to feel the first faint flush of
new and imperial life. One was twenty-five years old, and quite
ready to assert it; some of one's friends were wearing stars on
their collars; some had won stars of a more enduring kind. At
moments one's breath came quick. One began to dream the sensation
of wielding unmeasured power. The sense came, like vertigo, for
an instant, and passed, leaving the brain a little dazed,
doubtful, shy. With an intensity more painful than that of any
Shakespearean drama, men's eyes were fastened on the armies in
the field. Little by little, at first only as a shadowy chance of
what might be, if things could be rightly done, one began to feel
that, somewhere behind the chaos in Washington power was taking
shape; that it was massed and guided as it had not been before.
Men seemed to have learned their business -- at a cost that
ruined -- and perhaps too late. A private secretary knew better
than most people how much of the new power was to be swung in
London, and almost exactly when; but the diplomatic campaign had
to wait for the military campaign to lead. The student could only

  Life never could know more than a single such climax. In that
form, education reached its limits. As the first great blows
began to fall, one curled up in bed in the silence of night, to
listen with incredulous hope. As the huge masses struck, one
after another, with the precision of machinery, the opposing
mass, the world shivered. Such development of power was unknown.
The magnificent resistance and the return shocks heightened the
suspense. During the July days Londoners were stupid with
unbelief. They were learning from the Yankees how to fight. 

  An American saw in a flash what all this meant to England, for
one's mind was working with the acceleration of the machine at
home; but Englishmen were not quick to see their blunders. One
had ample time to watch the process, and had even a little time
to gloat over the repayment of old scores. News of Vicksburg and
Gettysburg reached London one Sunday afternoon, and it happened
that Henry Adams was asked for that evening to some small
reception at the house of Monckton Milnes. He went early in order
to exchange a word or two of congratulation before the rooms
should fill, and on arriving he found only the ladies in the
drawing-room; the gentlemen were still sitting over their wine.
Presently they came in, and, as luck would have it, Delane of the
Times came first. When Milnes caught sight of his young American
friend, with a whoop of triumph he rushed to throw both arms
about his neck and kiss him on both cheeks. Men of later birth
who knew too little to realize the passions of 1863 -- backed by
those of 1813 -- and reenforced by those of 1763 -- might
conceive that such publicity embarrassed a private secretary who
came from Boston and called himself shy; but that evening, for
the first time in his life, he happened not to be thinking of
himself. He was thinking of Delane, whose eye caught his, at the
moment of Milnes's embrace. Delane probably regarded it as a
piece of Milnes's foolery; he had never heard of young Adams, and
never dreamed of his resentment at being ridiculed in the Times;
he had no suspicion of the thought floating in the mind of the
American Minister's son, for the British mind is the slowest of
all minds, as the files of the Times proved, and the capture of
Vicksburg had not yet penetrated Delane's thick cortex of fixed
ideas. Even if he had read Adams's thought, he would have felt
for it only the usual amused British contempt for all that he had
not been taught at school. It needed a whole generation for the
Times to reach Milnes's standpoint. 

  Had the Minister's son carried out the thought, he would surely
have sought an introduction to Delane on the spot, and assured
him that he regarded his own personal score as cleared off --
sufficiently settled, then and there -- because his father had
assumed the debt, and was going to deal with Mr. Delane himself.
"You come next!" would have been the friendly warning. For nearly
a year the private secretary had watched the board arranging
itself for the collision between the Legation and Delane who
stood behind the Palmerston Ministry. Mr. Adams had been steadily
strengthened and reenforced from Washington in view of the final
struggle. The situation had changed since the Trent Affair. The
work was efficiently done; the organization was fairly complete.
No doubt, the Legation itself was still as weakly manned and had
as poor an outfit as the Legations of Guatemala or Portugal.
Congress was always jealous of its diplomatic service, and the
Chairman of the Committee of Foreign Relations was not likely to
press assistance on the Minister to England. For the Legation not
an additional clerk was offered or asked. The Secretary, the
Assistant Secretary, and the private secretary did all the work
that the Minister did not do. A clerk at five dollars a week
would have done the work as well or better, but the Minister
could trust no clerk; without express authority he could admit no
one into the Legation; he strained a point already by admitting
his son. Congress and its committees were the proper judges of
what was best for the public service, and if the arrangement
seemed good to them, it was satisfactory to a private secretary
who profited by it more than they did. A great staff would have
suppressed him. The whole Legation was a sort of improvised,
volunteer service, and he was a volunteer with the rest. He was
rather better off than the rest, because he was invisible and
unknown. Better or worse, he did his work with the others, and if
the secretaries made any remarks about Congress, they made no
complaints, and knew that none would have received a moment's

  If they were not satisfied with Congress, they were satisfied
with Secretary Seward. Without appropriations for the regular
service, he had done great things for its support. If the
Minister had no secretaries, he had a staff of active consuls; he
had a well-organized press; efficient legal support; and a swarm
of social allies permeating all classes. All he needed was a
victory in the field, and Secretary Stanton undertook that part
of diplomacy. Vicksburg and Gettysburg cleared the board, and, at
the end of July, 1863, Minister Adams was ready to deal with Earl
Russell or Lord Palmerston or Mr. Gladstone or Mr. Delane, or any
one else who stood in his way; and by the necessity of the case,
was obliged to deal with all of them shortly. 

  Even before the military climax at Vicksburg and Gettysburg,
the Minister had been compelled to begin his attack; but this was
history, and had nothing to do with education. The private
secretary copied the notes into his private books, and that was
all the share he had in the matter, except to talk in private. 

  No more volunteer services were needed; the volunteers were in
a manner sent to the rear; the movement was too serious for
skirmishing. All that a secretary could hope to gain from the
affair was experience and knowledge of politics. He had a chance
to measure the motive forces of men; their qualities of
character; their foresight; their tenacity of purpose.

  In the Legation no great confidence was felt in stopping the
rams. Whatever the reason, Russell seemed immovable. Had his
efforts for intervention in September, 1862, been known to the
Legation in September, 1863 the Minister must surely have
admitted that Russell had, from the first, meant to force his
plan of intervention on his colleagues. Every separate step since
April, 1861, led to this final coercion. Although Russell's
hostile activity of 1862 was still secret -- and remained secret
for some five-and-twenty years -- his animus seemed to be made
clear by his steady refusal to stop the rebel armaments. Little
by little, Minister Adams lost hope. With loss of hope came the
raising of tone, until at last, after stripping Russell of every
rag of defence and excuse, he closed by leaving him loaded with
connivance in the rebel armaments, and ended by the famous
sentence: "It would be superfluous in me to point out to your
lordship that this is war!"

What the Minister meant by this remark was his own affair; what
the private secretary understood by it, was a part of his
education. Had his father ordered him to draft an explanatory
paragraph to expand the idea as he grasped it, he would have
continued thus:-- 

  "It would be superfluous: 1st. Because Earl Russell not only
knows it already, but has meant it from the start. 2nd Because it
is the only logical and necessary consequence of his unvarying
action. 3d. Because Mr. Adams is not pointing out to him that
'this is war,' but is pointing it out to the world, to complete
the record."

  This would have been the matter-of-fact sense in which the
private secretary copied into his books the matter-of-fact
statement with which, without passion or excitement, the Minister
announced that a state of war existed. To his copying eye, as
clerk, the words, though on the extreme verge of diplomatic
propriety, merely stated a fact, without novelty, fancy, or
rhetoric. The fact had to be stated in order to make clear the
issue. The war was Russell's war--Adams only accepted it.

  Russell's reply to this note of September 5 reached the
Legation on September 8, announcing at last to the anxious
secretaries that "instructions have been issued which will
prevent the departure of the two ironclad vessels from
Liverpool." The members of the modest Legation in Portland Place
accepted it as Grant had accepted the capitulation of Vicksburg.
The private secretary conceived that, as Secretary Stanton had
struck and crushed by superior weight the rebel left on the
Mississippi, so Secretary Seward had struck and crushed the rebel
right in England, and he never felt a doubt as to the nature of
the battle. Though Minister Adams should stay in office till he
were ninety, he would never fight another campaign of life and
death like this; and though the private secretary should covet
and attain every office in the gift of President or people, he
would never again find education to compare with the
life-and-death alternative of this two-year-and-a-half struggle
in London, as it had racked and thumb-screwed him in its shifting
phases; but its practical value as education turned on his
correctness of judgment in measuring the men and their forces. He
felt respect for Russell as for Palmerston because they
represented traditional England and an English policy,
respectable enough in itself, but which, for four generations,
every Adams had fought and exploited as the chief source of his
political fortunes. As he understood it, Russell had followed
this policy steadily, ably, even vigorously, and had brought it
to the moment of execution. Then he had met wills stronger than
his own, and, after persevering to the last possible instant, had
been beaten. Lord North and George Canning had a like experience. 
This was only the idea of a boy, but, as far as he ever knew, it
was also the idea of his Government. For once, the volunteer
secretary was satisfied with his Government. Commonly the
self-respect of a secretary, private or public, depends on, and
is proportional to, the severity of his criticism, but in this
case the English campaign seemed to him as creditable to the
State Department as the Vicksburg campaign to the War Department,
and more decisive. It was well planned, well prepared, and well
executed. He could never discover a mistake in it. Possibly he
was biassed by personal interest, but his chief reason for
trusting his own judgment was that he thought himself to be one
of only half a dozen persons who knew something about it. When
others criticised Mr. Seward, he was rather indifferent to their
opinions because he thought they hardly knew what they were
talking about, and could not be taught without living over again
the London life of 1862. To him Secretary Seward seemed immensely
strong and steady in leadership; but this was no discredit to
Russell or Palmerston or Gladstone. They, too, had shown power,
patience and steadiness of purpose. They had persisted for two
years and a half in their plan for breaking up the Union, and had
yielded at last only in the jaws of war. After a long and
desperate struggle, the American Minister had trumped their best
card and won the game. 

  Again and again, in after life, he went back over the ground to
see whether he could detect error on either side. He found none.
At every stage the steps were both probable and proved. All the
more he was disconcerted that Russell should indignantly and with
growing energy, to his dying day, deny and resent the axiom of
Adams's whole contention, that from the first he meant to break
up the Union. Russell affirmed that he meant nothing of the sort;
that he had meant nothing at all; that he meant to do right; that
he did not know what he meant. Driven from one defence after
another, he pleaded at last, like Gladstone, that he had no
defence. Concealing all he could conceal -- burying in profound
secrecy his attempt to break up the Union in the autumn of 1862
-- he affirmed the louder his scrupulous good faith. What was
worse for the private secretary, to the total derision and
despair of the lifelong effort for education, as the final result
of combined practice, experience, and theory -- he proved it. 

  Henry Adams had, as he thought, suffered too much from Russell
to admit any plea in his favor; but he came to doubt whether this
admission really favored him. Not until long after Earl Russell's
death was the question reopened. Russell had quitted office in
1866; he died in 1878; the biography was published in 1889.
During the Alabama controversy and the Geneva Conference in 1872,
his course as Foreign Secretary had been sharply criticised, and
he had been compelled to see England pay more than L3,000,000
penalty for his errors. On the other hand, he brought forward --
or his biographer for him -- evidence tending to prove that he
was not consciously dishonest, and that he had, in spite of
appearances, acted without collusion, agreement, plan, or policy,
as far as concerned the rebels. He had stood alone, as was his
nature. Like Gladstone, he had thought himself right. 

  In the end, Russell entangled himself in a hopeless ball of
admissions, denials, contradictions, and resentments which led
even his old colleagues to drop his defence, as they dropped
Gladstone's; but this was not enough for the student of diplomacy
who had made a certain theory his law of life, and wanted to hold
Russell up against himself; to show that he had foresight and
persistence of which he was unaware. The effort became hopeless
when the biography in 1889 published papers which upset all that
Henry Adams had taken for diplomatic education; yet he sat down
once more, when past sixty years old, to see whether he could
unravel the skein.

  Of the obstinate effort to bring about an armed intervention,
on the lines marked out by Russell's letter to Palmerston from
Gotha, 17 September, 1862, nothing could be said beyond
Gladstone's plea in excuse for his speech in pursuance of the
same effort, that it was "the most singular and palpable error,"
"the least excusable," "a mistake of incredible grossness," which
passed defence; but while Gladstone threw himself on the mercy of
the public for his speech, he attempted no excuse for Lord
Russell who led him into the "incredible grossness" of announcing
the Foreign Secretary's intent. Gladstone's offence, "singular
and palpable," was not the speech alone, but its cause -- the
policy that inspired the speech. "I weakly supposed . . . I
really, though most strangely, believed that it was an act of
friendliness." Whatever absurdity Gladstone supposed, Russell
supposed nothing of the sort. Neither he nor Palmerston "most
strangely believed" in any proposition so obviously and palpably
absurd, nor did Napoleon delude himself with philanthropy.
Gladstone, even in his confession, mixed up policy, speech,
motives, and persons, as though he were trying to confuse chiefly

  There Gladstone's activity seems to have stopped. He did not
reappear in the matter of the rams. The rebel influence shrank in
1863, as far as is known, to Lord Russell alone, who wrote on
September 1 that he could not interfere in any way with those
vessels, and thereby brought on himself Mr. Adams's declaration
of war on September 5. A student held that, in this refusal, he
was merely following his policy of September, 1862, and of every
step he had taken since 1861. 

  The student was wrong. Russell proved that he had been feeble,
timid, mistaken, senile, but not dishonest. The evidence is
convincing. The Lairds had built these ships in reliance on the
known opinion of the law-officers that the statute did not apply,
and a jury would not convict. Minister Adams replied that, in
this case, the statute should be amended, or the ships stopped by
exercise of the political power. Bethell rejoined that this would
be a violation of neutrality; one must preserve the status quo.
Tacitly Russell connived with Laird, and, had he meant to
interfere, he was bound to warn Laird that the defect of the
statute would no longer protect him, but he allowed the builders
to go on till the ships were ready for sea. Then, on September 3,
two days before Mr. Adams's "superfluous" letter, he wrote to
Lord Palmerston begging for help; "The conduct of the gentlemen
who have contracted for the two ironclads at Birkenhead is so
very suspicious," -- he began, and this he actually wrote in good
faith and deep confidence to Lord Palmerston, his chief, calling
"the conduct" of the rebel agents "suspicious" when no one else
in Europe or America felt any suspicion about it, because the
whole question turned not on the rams, but on the technical scope
of the Foreign Enlistment Act, -- "that I have thought it
necessary to direct that they should be detained," not, of
course, under the statute, but on the ground urged by the
American Minister, of international obligation above the statute.
"The Solicitor General has been consulted and concurs in the
measure as one of policy though not of strict law. We shall thus
test the law, and, if we have to pay damages, we have satisfied
the opinion which prevails here as well as in America that that
kind of neutral hostility should not be allowed to go on without
some attempt to stop it." 

  For naivete that would be unusual in an unpaid attache of
Legation, this sudden leap from his own to his opponent's ground,
after two years and a half of dogged resistance, might have
roused Palmerston to inhuman scorn, but instead of derision, well
earned by Russell's old attacks on himself, Palmerston met the
appeal with wonderful loyalty. "On consulting the law officers he
found that there was no lawful ground for meddling with the
ironclads," or, in unprofessional language, that he could trust
neither his law officers nor a Liverpool jury; and therefore he
suggested buying the ships for the British Navy. As proof of
"criminal negligence" in the past, this suggestion seemed
decisive, but Russell, by this time, was floundering in other
troubles of negligence, for he had neglected to notify the
American Minister. He should have done so at once, on September
3. Instead he waited till September 4, and then merely said that
the matter was under "serious and anxious consideration." This
note did not reach the Legation till three o'clock on the
afternoon of September 5 -- after the "superfluous" declaration
of war had been sent. Thus, Lord Russell had sacrificed the
Lairds: had cost his Ministry the price of two ironclads, besides
the Alabama Claims -- say, in round numbers, twenty million
dollars -- and had put himself in the position of appearing to
yield only to a threat of war. Finally he wrote to the Admiralty
a letter which, from the American point of view, would have
sounded youthful from an Eton schoolboy: -- 

September 14, 1863.

    It is of the utmost importance and urgency that the ironclads
  building at Birkenhead should not go to America to break the
  blockade. They belong to Monsieur Bravay of Paris. If you will
  offer to buy them on the part of the Admiralty you will get
  money's worth if he accepts your offer; and if he does not, it
  will be presumptive proof that they are already bought by the
  Confederates. I should state that we have suggested to the
  Turkish Government to buy them; but you can easily settle that
  matter with the Turks. . . .

  The hilarity of the secretaries in Portland Place would have
been loud had they seen this letter and realized the muddle of
difficulties into which Earl Russell had at last thrown himself
under the impulse of the American Minister; but, nevertheless,
these letters upset from top to bottom the results of the private
secretary's diplomatic education forty years after he had
supposed it complete. They made a picture different from anything
he had conceived and rendered worthless his whole painful
diplomatic experience.

  To reconstruct, when past sixty, an education useful for any
practical purpose, is no practical problem, and Adams saw no use
in attacking it as only theoretical. He no longer cared whether
he understood human nature or not; he understood quite as much of
it as he wanted; but he found in the "Life of Gladstone" (II,
464) a remark several times repeated that gave him matter for
curious thought. "I always hold," said Mr. Gladstone, "that
politicians are the men whom, as a rule, it is most difficult to
comprehend"; and he added, by way of strengthening it: "For my
own part, I never have thus understood, or thought I understood,
above one or two."

  Earl Russell was certainly not one of the two.

  Henry Adams thought he also had understood one or two; but the
American type was more familiar. Perhaps this was the sufficient
result of his diplomatic education; it seemed to be the whole.



  KNOWLEDGE of human nature is the beginning and end of political
education, but several years of arduous study in the neighborhood
of Westminster led Henry Adams to think that knowledge of English
human nature had little or no value outside of England. In Paris,
such a habit stood in one's way; in America, it roused all the
instincts of native jealousy. The English mind was one-sided,
eccentric, systematically unsystematic, and logically illogical.
The less one knew of it, the better.

  This heresy, which scarcely would have been allowed to
penetrate a Boston mind -- it would, indeed, have been shut out
by instinct as a rather foolish exaggeration -- rested on an
experience which Henry Adams gravely thought he had a right to
think conclusive -- for him. That it should be conclusive for any
one else never occurred to him, since he had no thought of
educating anybody else. For him -- alone -- the less English
education he got, the better! 

  For several years, under the keenest incitement to
watchfulness, he observed the English mind in contact with itself
and other minds. Especially with the American the contact was
interesting because the limits and defects of the American mind
were one of the favorite topics of the European. From the
old-world point of view, the American had no mind; he had an
economic thinking-machine which could work only on a fixed line.
The American mind exasperated the European as a buzz-saw might
exasperate a pine forest. The English mind disliked the French
mind because it was antagonistic, unreasonable, perhaps hostile,
but recognized it as at least a thought. The American mind was
not a thought at all; it was a convention, superficial, narrow,
and ignorant; a mere cutting instrument, practical, economical,
sharp, and direct.

  The English themselves hardly conceived that their mind was
either economical, sharp, or direct; but the defect that most
struck an American was its enormous waste in eccentricity.
Americans needed and used their whole energy, and applied it with
close economy; but English society was eccentric by law and for
sake of the eccentricity itself.

  The commonest phrase overheard at an English club or
dinner-table was that So-and-So "is quite mad." It was no offence
to So-and-So; it hardly distinguished him from his fellows; and
when applied to a public man, like Gladstone, it was qualified by
epithets much more forcible. Eccentricity was so general as to
become hereditary distinction. It made the chief charm of English
society as well as its chief terror. 

  The American delighted in Thackeray as a satirist, but
Thackeray quite justly maintained that he was not a satirist at
all, and that his pictures of English society were exact and
good-natured. The American, who could not believe it, fell back
on Dickens, who, at all events, had the vice of exaggeration to
extravagance, but Dickens's English audience thought the
exaggeration rather in manner or style, than in types. Mr.
Gladstone himself went to see Sothern act Dundreary, and laughed
till his face was distorted -- not because Dundreary was
exaggerated, but because he was ridiculously like the types that
Gladstone had seen -- or might have seen -- in any club in Pall
Mall. Society swarmed with exaggerated characters; it contained
little else. 

  Often this eccentricity bore all the marks of strength; perhaps
it was actual exuberance of force, a birthmark of genius. Boston
thought so. The Bostonian called it national character -- native
vigor -- robustness -- honesty -- courage. He respected and
feared it. British self-assertion, bluff, brutal, blunt as it
was, seemed to him a better and nobler thing than the acuteness
of the Yankee or the polish of the Parisian. Perhaps he was

  These questions of taste, of feeling, of inheritance, need no
settlement. Every one carries his own inch-rule of taste, and
amuses himself by applying it, triumphantly, wherever he travels.
Whatever others thought, the cleverest Englishmen held that the
national eccentricity needed correction, and were beginning to
correct it. The savage satires of Dickens and the gentler
ridicule of Matthew Arnold against the British middle class were
but a part of the rebellion, for the middle class were no worse
than their neighbors in the eyes of an American in 1863; they
were even a very little better in the sense that one could appeal
to their interests, while a university man, like Gladstone, stood
outside of argument. From none of them could a young American
afford to borrow ideas. 

  The private secretary, like every other Bostonian, began by
regarding British eccentricity as a force. Contact with it, in
the shape of Palmerston, Russell, and Gladstone, made him
hesitate; he saw his own national type -- his father, Weed,
Evarts, for instance -- deal with the British, and show itself
certainly not the weaker; certainly sometimes the stronger.
Biassed though he were, he could hardly be biassed to such a
degree as to mistake the effects of force on others, and while --
labor as he might -- Earl Russell and his state papers seemed
weak to a secretary, he could not see that they seemed strong to
Russell's own followers. Russell might be dishonest or he might
be merely obtuse -- the English type might be brutal or might be
only stupid -- but strong, in either case, it was not, nor did it
seem strong to Englishmen.

Eccentricity was not always a force; Americans were deeply
interested in deciding whether it was always a weakness.
Evidently, on the hustings or in Parliament, among
eccentricities, eccentricity was at home; but in private society
the question was not easy to answer. That English society was
infinitely more amusing because of its eccentricities, no one
denied. Barring the atrocious insolence and brutality which
Englishmen and especially Englishwomen showed to each other --
very rarely, indeed, to foreigners -- English society was much
more easy and tolerant than American. One must expect to be
treated with exquisite courtesy this week and be totally forgotten
the next, but this was the way of the world, and education 
consisted in learning to turn one's back on others with the same
unconscious indifference that others showed among themselves. The
smart of wounded vanity lasted no long time with a young man about
town who had little vanity to smart, and who, in his own country,
would have found himself in no better position. He had nothing to
complain of. No one was ever brutal to him. On the contrary, he
was much better treated than ever he was likely to be in Boston --
let alone New York or Washington -- and if his reception varied
inconceivably between extreme courtesy and extreme neglect, it
merely proved that he had become, or was becoming, at home. Not
from a sense of personal griefs or disappointments did he labor
over this part of the social problem, but only because his
education was becoming English, and the further it went, the less
it promised.

  By natural affinity the social eccentrics commonly sympathized
with political eccentricity. The English mind took naturally to
rebellion -- when foreign -- and it felt particular confidence in
the Southern Confederacy because of its combined attributes --
foreign rebellion of English blood -- which came nearer ideal
eccentricity than could be reached by Poles, Hungarians, Italians
or Frenchmen. All the English eccentrics rushed into the ranks of
rebel sympathizers, leaving few but well-balanced minds to attach
themselves to the cause of the Union. None of the English leaders
on the Northern side were marked eccentrics. William E. Forster
was a practical, hard-headed Yorkshireman, whose chief ideals in
politics took shape as working arrangements on an economical
base. Cobden, considering the one-sided conditions of his life,
was remarkably well balanced. John Bright was stronger in his
expressions than either of them, but with all his self-assertion
he stuck to his point, and his point was practical. He did not,
like Gladstone, box the compass of thought; "furiously earnest,"
as Monckton Milnes said, "on both sides of every question"; he
was rather, on the whole, a consistent conservative of the old
Commonwealth type, and seldom had to defend inconsistencies.
Monckton Milnes himself was regarded as an eccentric, chiefly by
those who did not know him, but his fancies and hobbies were only
ideas a little in advance of the time; his manner was eccentric,
but not his mind, as any one could see who read a page of his
poetry. None of them, except Milnes, was a university man. As a
rule, the Legation was troubled very little, if at all, by
indiscretions, extravagances, or contradictions among its English
friends. Their work was largely judicious, practical, well
considered, and almost too cautious. The "cranks" were all
rebels, and the list was portentous. Perhaps it might be headed
by old Lord Brougham, who had the audacity to appear at a July
4th reception at the Legation, led by Joe Parkes, and claim his
old credit as "Attorney General to Mr. Madison." The Church was
rebel, but the dissenters were mostly with the Union. The
universities were rebel, but the university men who enjoyed most
public confidence -- like Lord Granville, Sir George Cornewall
Lewis, Lord Stanley, Sir George Grey -- took infinite pains to be
neutral for fear of being thought eccentric. To most observers,
as well as to the Times, the Morning Post, and the Standard, a
vast majority of the English people seemed to follow the
professional eccentrics; even the emotional philanthropists took
that direction; Lord Shaftesbury and Carlyle, Fowell Buxton, and
Gladstone, threw their sympathies on the side which they should
naturally have opposed, and did so for no reason except their
eccentricity; but the "canny" Scots and Yorkshiremen were

  This eccentricity did not mean strength. The proof of it was
the mismanagement of the rebel interests. No doubt the first
cause of this trouble lay in the Richmond Government itself. No
one understood why Jefferson Davis chose Mr. Mason as his agent
for London at the same time that he made so good a choice as Mr.
Slidell for Paris. The Confederacy had plenty of excellent men to
send to London, but few who were less fitted than Mason. Possibly
Mason had a certain amount of common sense, but he seemed to have
nothing else, and in London society he counted merely as one
eccentric more. He enjoyed a great opportunity; he might even
have figured as a new Benjamin Franklin with all society at his
feet; he might have roared as lion of the season and made the
social path of the American Minister almost impassable; but Mr.
Adams had his usual luck in enemies, who were always his most
valuable allies if his friends only let them alone. Mason was his
greatest diplomatic triumph. He had his collision with
Palmerston; he drove Russell off the field; he swept the board
before Cockburn; he overbore Slidell; but he never lifted a
finger against Mason, who became his bulwark of defence. 

  Possibly Jefferson Davis and Mr. Mason shared two defects in
common which might have led them into this serious mistake.
Neither could have had much knowledge of the world, and both must
have been unconscious of humor. Yet at the same time with Mason,
President Davis sent out Slidell to France and Mr. Lamar to
Russia. Some twenty years later, in the shifting search for the
education he never found, Adams became closely intimate at
Washington with Lamar, then Senator from Mississippi, who had
grown to be one of the calmest, most reasonable and most amiable
Union men in the United States, and quite unusual in social
charm. In 1860 he passed for the worst of Southern fire-eaters,
but he was an eccentric by environment, not by nature; above all
his Southern eccentricities, he had tact and humor; and perhaps
this was a reason why Mr. Davis sent him abroad with the others,
on a futile mission to St. Petersburg. He would have done better
in London, in place of Mason. London society would have delighted
in him; his stories would have won success; his manners would
have made him loved; his oratory would have swept every audience;
even Monckton Milnes could never have resisted the temptation of
having him to breakfast between Lord Shaftesbury and the Bishop
of Oxford.

  Lamar liked to talk of his brief career in diplomacy, but he
never spoke of Mason. He never alluded to Confederate management
or criticised Jefferson Davis's administration. The subject that
amused him was his English allies. At that moment -- the early
summer of 1863 -- the rebel party in England were full of
confidence, and felt strong enough to challenge the American
Legation to a show of power. They knew better than the Legation
what they could depend upon: that the law officers and
commissioners of customs at Liverpool dared not prosecute the
ironclad ships; that Palmerston, Russell, and Gladstone were
ready to recognize the Confederacy; that the Emperor Napoleon
would offer them every inducement to do it. In a manner they
owned Liverpool and especially the firm of Laird who were
building their ships. The political member of the Laird firm was
Lindsay, about whom the whole web of rebel interests clung --
rams, cruisers, munitions, and Confederate loan; social
introductions and parliamentary tactics. The firm of Laird, with
a certain dignity, claimed to be champion of England's navy; and
public opinion, in the summer of 1863, still inclined towards

  Never was there a moment when eccentricity, if it were a force,
should have had more value to the rebel interest; and the
managers must have thought so, for they adopted or accepted as
their champion an eccentric of eccentrics; a type of 1820; a sort
of Brougham of Sheffield, notorious for poor judgment and worse
temper. Mr. Roebuck had been a tribune of the people, and, like
tribunes of most other peoples, in growing old, had grown
fatuous. He was regarded by the friends of the Union as rather a
comical personage -- a favorite subject for Punch to laugh at --
with a bitter tongue and a mind enfeebled even more than common
by the political epidemic of egotism. In all England they could
have found no opponent better fitted to give away his own case.
No American man of business would have paid him attention; yet.
the Lairds, who certainly knew their own affairs best, let
Roebuck represent them and take charge of their interests. 

  With Roebuck's doings, the private secretary had no concern
except that the Minister sent him down to the House of Commons on
June 30, 1863, to report the result of Roebuck's motion to
recognize the Southern Confederacy. The Legation felt no anxiety,
having Vicksburg already in its pocket, and Bright and Forster to
say so; but the private secretary went down and was admitted
under the gallery on the left, to listen, with great content,
while John Bright, with astonishing force, caught and shook and
tossed Roebuck, as a big mastiff shakes a wiry, ill-conditioned,
toothless, bad-tempered Yorkshire terrier. The private secretary
felt an artistic sympathy with Roebuck, for, from time to time,
by way of practice, Bright in a friendly way was apt to shake him
too, and he knew how it was done. The manner counted for more
than the words. The scene was interesting, but the result was not
in doubt. 

  All the more sharply he was excited, near the year 1879, in
Washington, by hearing Lamar begin a story after dinner, which,
little by little, became dramatic, recalling the scene in the
House of Commons. The story, as well as one remembered, began
with Lamar's failure to reach St. Petersburg at all, and his
consequent detention in Paris waiting instructions. The motion to
recognize the Confederacy was about to be made, and, in prospect
of the debate, Mr. Lindsay collected a party at his villa on the
Thames to bring the rebel agents into relations with Roebuck.
Lamar was sent for, and came. After much conversation of a
general sort, such as is the usual object or resource of the
English Sunday, finding himself alone with Roebuck, Lamar, by way
of showing interest, bethought himself of John Bright and asked
Roebuck whether he expected Bright to take part in the debate:
"No, sir!" said Roebuck sententiously; "Bright and I have met
before. It was the old story -- the story of the sword-fish and
the whale! NO, sir! Mr. Bright will not cross swords with me

  Thus assured, Lamar went with the more confidence to the House
on the appointed evening, and was placed under the gallery, on
the right, where he listened to Roebuck and followed the debate
with such enjoyment as an experienced debater feels in these
contests, until, as he said, he became aware that a man, with a
singularly rich voice and imposing manner, had taken the floor,
and was giving Roebuck the most deliberate and tremendous
pounding he ever witnessed, "until at last," concluded Lamar, "it
dawned on my mind that the sword-fish was getting the worst of

  Lamar told the story in the spirit of a joke against himself
rather than against Roebuck; but such jokes must have been
unpleasantly common in the experience of the rebel agents. They
were surrounded by cranks of the worst English species, who
distorted their natural eccentricities and perverted their
judgment. Roebuck may have been an extreme case, since he was
actually in his dotage, yet this did not prevent the Lairds from
accepting his lead, or the House from taking him seriously.
Extreme eccentricity was no bar, in England, to extreme
confidence; sometimes it seemed a recommendation; and unless it
caused financial loss, it rather helped popularity.

  The question whether British eccentricity was ever strength
weighed heavily in the balance of education. That Roebuck should
mislead the rebel agents on so strange a point as that of
Bright's courage was doubly characteristic because the Southern
people themselves had this same barbaric weakness of attributing
want of courage to opponents, and owed their ruin chiefly to such
ignorance of the world. Bright's courage was almost as irrational
as that of the rebels themselves. Every one knew that he had the
courage of a prize-fighter. He struck, in succession, pretty
nearly every man in England that could be reached by a blow, and
when he could not reach the individual he struck the class, or
when the class was too small for him, the whole people of
England. At times he had the whole country on his back. He could
not act on the defensive; his mind required attack. Even among
friends at the dinner-table he talked as though he were
denouncing them, or someone else, on a platform; he measured his
phrases, built his sentences, cumulated his effects, and pounded
his opponents, real or imagined. His humor was glow, like iron at
dull heat; his blow was elementary, like the thrash of a whale.

  One day in early spring, March 26, 1863, the Minister requested
his private secretary to attend a Trades-Union Meeting at St.
James's Hall, which was the result of Professor Beesly's patient
efforts to unite Bright and the Trades-Unions on an American
platform. The secretary went to the meeting and made a report
which reposes somewhere on file in the State Department to this
day, as harmless as such reports should be; but it contained no
mention of what interested young Adams most -- Bright's
psychology. With singular skill and oratorical power, Bright
managed at the outset, in his opening paragraph, to insult or
outrage every class of Englishman commonly considered
respectable, and, for fear of any escaping, he insulted them
repeatedly under consecutive heads. The rhetorical effect was

  "Privilege thinks it has a great interest in the American
contest," he began in his massive, deliberate tones; "and every
morning with blatant voice, it comes into our streets and curses
the American Republic. Privilege has beheld an afflicting
spectacle for many years past. It has beheld thirty million of
men happy and prosperous, without emperors -- without king
(cheers) -- without the surroundings of a court (renewed
cheers)--without nobles, except such as are made by eminence in
intellect and virtue -- without State bishops and State priests,
those vendors of the love that works salvation (cheers) --
without great armies and great navies -- without a great debt and
great taxes -- and Privilege has shuddered at what might happen
to old Europe if this great experiment should succeed." 

  An ingenious man, with an inventive mind, might have managed,
in the same number of lines, to offend more Englishmen than
Bright struck in this sentence; but he must have betrayed
artifice and hurt his oratory. The audience cheered furiously,
and the private secretary felt peace in his much troubled mind,
for he knew how careful the Ministry would be, once they saw
Bright talk republican principles before Trades-Unions; but,
while he did not, like Roebuck, see reason to doubt the courage
of a man who, after quarrelling with the Trades-Unions, quarreled
with all the world outside the Trades-Unions, he did feel a doubt
whether to class Bright as eccentric or conventional. Every one
called Bright "un-English," from Lord Palmerston to William E.
Forster; but to an American he seemed more English than any of
his critics. He was a liberal hater, and what he hated he reviled
after the manner of Milton, but he was afraid of no one. He was
almost the only man in England, or, for that matter, in Europe,
who hated Palmerston and was not afraid of him, or of the press
or the pulpit, the clubs or the bench, that stood behind him. He
loathed the whole fabric of sham religion, sham loyalty, sham
aristocracy, and sham socialism. He had the British weakness of
believing only in himself and his own conventions. In all this,
an American saw, if one may make the distinction, much racial
eccentricity, but little that was personal. Bright was singularly
well poised; but he used singularly strong language. 

  Long afterwards, in 1880, Adams happened to be living again in
London for a season, when James Russell Lowell was transferred
there as Minister; and as Adams's relations with Lowell had
become closer and more intimate with years, he wanted the new
Minister to know some of his old friends. Bright was then in the
Cabinet, and no longer the most radical member even there, but he
was still a rare figure in society. He came to dinner, along with
Sir Francis Doyle and Sir Robert Cunliffe, and as usual did most
of the talking. As usual also, he talked of the things most on
his mind. Apparently it must have been some reform of the
criminal law which the Judges opposed, that excited him, for at
the end of dinner, over the wine, he took possession of the table
in his old way, and ended with a superb denunciation of the
Bench, spoken in his massive manner, as though every word were a
hammer, smashing what it struck:--  

  "For two hundred years, the Judges of England sat on the Bench,
condemning to the penalty of death every man, woman, and child
who stole property to the value of five shillings; and, during
all that time, not one Judge ever remonstrated against the law.
We English are a nation of brutes, and ought to be exterminated
to the last man."

  As the party rose from table and passed into the drawing-room,
Adams said to Lowell that Bright was very fine. "Yes!" replied
Lowell, " but too violent! " 

  Precisely this was the point that Adams doubted. Bright knew
his Englishmen better than Lowell did -- better than England did.
He knew what amount of violence in language was necessary to
drive an idea into a Lancashire or Yorkshire head. He knew that
no violence was enough to affect a Somersetshire or Wiltshire
peasant. Bright kept his own head cool and clear. He was not
excited; he never betrayed excitement. As for his denunciation of
the English Bench, it was a very old story, not original with
him. That the English were a nation of brutes was a commonplace
generally admitted by Englishmen and universally accepted by
foreigners; while the matter of their extermination could be
treated only as unpractical, on their deserts, because they were
probably not very much worse than their neighbors. Had Bright
said that the French, Spaniards, Germans, or Russians were a
nation of brutes and ought to be exterminated, no one would have
found fault; the whole human race, according to the highest
authority, has been exterminated once already for the same
reason, and only the rainbow protects them from a repetition of
it. What shocked Lowell was that he denounced his own people. 

  Adams felt no moral obligation to defend Judges, who, as far as
he knew, were the only class of society specially adapted to
defend themselves; but he was curious -- even anxious -- as a
point of education, to decide for himself whether Bright's
language was violent for its purpose. He thought not. Perhaps
Cobden did better by persuasion, but that was another matter. Of
course, even Englishmen sometimes complained of being so
constantly told that they were brutes and hypocrites, although
they were told little else by their censors, and bore it, on the
whole, meekly; but the fact that it was true in the main troubled
the ten-pound voter much less than it troubled Newman, Gladstone,
Ruskin, Carlyle, and Matthew Arnold. Bright was personally
disliked by his victims, but not distrusted. They never doubted
what he would do next, as they did with John Russell, Gladstone,
and Disraeli. He betrayed no one, and he never advanced an
opinion in practical matters which did not prove to be practical.

  The class of Englishmen who set out to be the intellectual
opposites of Bright, seemed to an American bystander the weakest
and most eccentric of all. These were the trimmers, the political
economists, the anti-slavery and doctrinaire class, the followers
of de Tocqueville, and of John Stuart Mill. As a class, they were
timid -- with good reason -- and timidity, which is high wisdom
in philosophy, sicklies the whole cast of thought in action.
Numbers of these men haunted London society, all tending to
free-thinking, but never venturing much freedom of thought. Like
the anti-slavery doctrinaires of the forties and fifties, they
became mute and useless when slavery struck them in the face. For
type of these eccentrics, literature seems to have chosen Henry
Reeve, at least to the extent of biography. He was a bulky figure
in society, always friendly, good-natured, obliging, and useful;
almost as universal as Milnes and more busy. As editor of the
Edinburgh Review he had authority and even power, although the
Review and the whole Whig doctrinaire school had begun -- as the
French say -- to date; and of course the literary and artistic
sharpshooters of 1867 -- like Frank Palgrave -- frothed and
foamed at the mere mention of Reeve's name. Three-fourths of
their fury was due only to his ponderous manner. London society
abused its rights of personal criticism by fixing on every too
conspicuous figure some word or phrase that stuck to it. Every
one had heard of Mrs. Grote as "the origin of the word
grotesque." Every one had laughed at the story of Reeve
approaching Mrs. Grote, with his usual somewhat florid manner,
asking in his literary dialect how her husband the historian was:
"And how is the learned Grotius?" "Pretty well, thank you,
Puffendorf! " One winced at the word, as though it were a drawing
of Forain. 

  No one would have been more shocked than Reeve had he been
charged with want of moral courage. He proved his courage
afterwards by publishing the "Greville Memoirs," braving the
displeasure of the Queen. Yet the Edinburgh Review and its editor
avoided taking sides except where sides were already fixed.
Americanism would have been bad form in the liberal Edinburgh
Review; it would have seemed eccentric even for a Scotchman, and
Reeve was a Saxon of Saxons. To an American this attitude of
oscillating reserve seemed more eccentric than the reckless
hostility of Brougham or Carlyle, and more mischievous, for he
never could be sure what preposterous commonplace it might

  The sum of these experiences in 1863 left the conviction that
eccentricity was weakness. The young American who should adopt
English thought was lost. From the facts, the conclusion was
correct, yet, as usual, the conclusion was wrong. The years of
Palmerston's last Cabinet, 1859 to 1865, were avowedly years of
truce -- of arrested development. The British system like the
French, was in its last stage of decomposition. Never had the
British mind shown itself so decousu -- so unravelled, at sea,
floundering in every sort of historical shipwreck. Eccentricities
had a free field. Contradictions swarmed in State and Church.
England devoted thirty years of arduous labor to clearing away
only a part of the debris. A young American in 1863 could see
little or nothing of the future. He might dream, but he could not
foretell, the suddenness with which the old Europe, with England
in its wake, was to vanish in 1870. He was in dead-water, and the
parti-colored, fantastic cranks swam about his boat, as though he
were the ancient mariner, and they saurians of the prime. 



  MINISTER ADAMS'S success in stopping the rebel rams fixed his
position once for all in English society. From that moment he
could afford to drop the character of diplomatist, and assume
what, for an American Minister in London, was an exclusive
diplomatic advantage, the character of a kind of American Peer of
the Realm. The British never did things by halves. Once they
recognized a man's right to social privileges, they accepted him
as one of themselves. Much as Lord Derby and Mr. Disraeli were
accepted as leaders of Her Majesty's domestic Opposition,
Minister Adams had a rank of his own as a kind of leader of Her
Majesty's American Opposition. Even the Times conceded it. The
years of struggle were over, and Minister Adams rapidly gained a
position which would have caused his father or grandfather to
stare with incredulous envy. 

  This Anglo-American form of diplomacy was chiefly undiplomatic,
and had the peculiar effect of teaching a habit of diplomacy
useless or mischievous everywhere but in London. Nowhere else in
the world could one expect to figure in a role so unprofessional.
The young man knew no longer what character he bore. Private
secretary in the morning, son in the afternoon, young man about
town in the evening, the only character he never bore was that of
diplomatist, except when he wanted a card to some great function.
His diplomatic education was at an end; he seldom met a diplomat,
and never had business with one; he could be of no use to them,
or they to him; but he drifted inevitably into society, and, do
what he might, his next education must be one of English social
life. Tossed between the horns of successive dilemmas, he reached
his twenty-sixth birthday without the power of earning five
dollars in any occupation. His friends in the army were almost as
badly off, but even army life ruined a young man less fatally
than London society. Had he been rich, this form of ruin would
have mattered nothing; but the young men of 1865 were none of
them rich; all had to earn a living; yet they had reached high
positions of responsibility and power in camps and Courts,
without a dollar of their own and with no tenure of office. 

  Henry Adams had failed to acquire any useful education; he
should at least have acquired social experience. Curiously
enough, he failed here also. From the European or English point
of view, he had no social experience, and never got it. Minister
Adams happened on a political interregnum owing to Lord
Palmerston's personal influence from 1860 to 1865; but this
political interregnum was less marked than the social still-stand
during the same years. The Prince Consort was dead; the Queen had
retired; the Prince of Wales was still a boy. In its best days,
Victorian society had never been "smart." During the forties,
under the influence of Louis Philippe, Courts affected to be
simple, serious and middle class; and they succeeded. The taste
of Louis Philippe was bourgeois beyond any taste except that of
Queen Victoria. Style lingered in the background with the
powdered footman behind the yellow chariot, but speaking socially
the Queen had no style save what she inherited. Balmoral was a
startling revelation of royal taste. Nothing could be worse than
the toilettes at Court unless it were the way they were worn.
One's eyes might be dazzled by jewels, but they were heirlooms,
and if any lady appeared well dressed, she was either a foreigner
or "fast." Fashion was not fashionable in London until the
Americans and the Jews were let loose. The style of London
toilette universal in 1864 was grotesque, like Monckton Milnes on
horseback in Rotten Row.

  Society of this sort might fit a young man in some degree for
editing Shakespeare or Swift, but had little relation with the
society of 1870, and none with that of 1900. Owing to other
causes, young Adams never got the full training of such style as
still existed. The embarrassments of his first few seasons
socially ruined him. His own want of experience prevented his
asking introductions to the ladies who ruled society; his want of
friends prevented his knowing who these ladies were; and he had
every reason to expect snubbing if he put himself in evidence.
This sensitiveness was thrown away on English society, where men
and women treated each others' advances much more brutally than
those of strangers, but young Adams was son and private secretary
too; he could not be as thick-skinned as an Englishman. He was
not alone. Every young diplomat, and most of the old ones, felt
awkward in an English house from a certainty that they were not
precisely wanted there, and a possibility that they might be told

  If there was in those days a country house in England which had
a right to call itself broad in views and large in tastes, it was
Bretton in Yorkshire; and if there was a hostess who had a right
to consider herself fashionable as well as charming, it was Lady
Margaret Beaumont; yet one morning at breakfast there, sitting by
her side -- not for his own merits -- Henry Adams heard her say
to herself in her languid and liberal way, with her rich voice
and musing manner, looking into her tea-cup: "I don't think I
care for foreigners!" Horror-stricken, not so much on his own
account as on hers, the young man could only execute himself as
gaily as he might: "But Lady Margaret, please make one small
exception for me!" Of course she replied what was evident, that
she did not call him a foreigner, and her genial Irish charm made
the slip of tongue a happy courtesy; but none the less she knew
that, except for his momentary personal introduction, he was in
fact a foreigner, and there was no imaginable reason why she
should like him, or any other foreigner, unless it were because
she was bored by natives. She seemed to feel that her
indifference needed a reason to excuse itself in her own eyes,
and she showed the subconscious sympathy of the Irish nature
which never feels itself perfectly at home even in England. She,
too, was some shadowy shade un-English. 

  Always conscious of this barrier, while the war lasted the
private secretary hid himself among the herd of foreigners till
he found his relations fixed and unchangeable. He never felt
himself in society, and he never knew definitely what was meant
as society by those who were in it. He saw far enough to note a
score of societies which seemed quite independent of each other.
The smartest was the smallest, and to him almost wholly strange.
The largest was the sporting world, also unknown to him except
through the talk of his acquaintances. Between or beyond these
lay groups of nebulous societies. His lawyer friends, like
Evarts, frequented legal circles where one still sat over the
wine and told anecdotes of the bench and bar; but he himself
never set eyes on a judge except when his father took him to call
on old Lord Lyndhurst, where they found old Lord Campbell, both
abusing old Lord Brougham. The Church and the Bishops formed
several societies which no secretary ever saw except as an
interloper. The Army; the Navy; the Indian Service; the medical
and surgical professions; City people; artists; county families;
the Scotch, and indefinite other subdivisions of society existed,
which were as strange to each other as they were to Adams. At the
end of eight or ten seasons in London society he professed to
know less about it, or how to enter it, than he did when he made
his first appearance at Miss Burdett Coutts's in May, 1861.

  Sooner or later every young man dropped into a set or circle,
and frequented the few houses that were willing to harbor him. An
American who neither hunted nor raced, neither shot nor fished
nor gambled, and was not marriageable, had no need to think of
society at large. Ninety-nine houses in every hundred were
useless to him, a greater bore to him than he to them. Thus the
question of getting into -- or getting out of -- society which
troubled young foreigners greatly, settled itself after three or
four years of painful speculation. Society had no unity; one
wandered about in it like a maggot in cheese; it was not a hansom
cab, to be got into, or out of, at dinner-time.

  Therefore he always professed himself ignorant of society; he
never knew whether he had been in it or not, but from the
accounts of his future friends, like General Dick Taylor or
George Smalley, and of various ladies who reigned in the
seventies, he inclined to think that he knew very little about
it. Certain great houses and certain great functions of course he
attended, like every one else who could get cards, but even of
these the number was small that kept an interest or helped
education. In seven years he could remember only two that seemed
to have any meaning for him, and he never knew what that meaning
was. Neither of the two was official; neither was English in
interest; and both were scandals to the philosopher while they
scarcely enlightened men of the world. 

  One was at Devonshire House, an ordinary, unpremeditated
evening reception. Naturally every one went to Devonshire House
if asked, and the rooms that night were fairly full of the usual
people. The private secretary was standing among the rest, when
Mme. de Castiglione entered, the famous beauty of the Second
Empire. How beautiful she may have been, or indeed what sort of
beauty she was, Adams never knew, because the company, consisting
of the most refined and aristocratic society in the world,
instantly formed a lane, and stood in ranks to stare at her,
while those behind mounted on chairs to look over their
neighbors' heads; so that the lady walked through this polite
mob, stared completely out of countenance, and fled the house at
once. This was all! 

  The other strange spectacle was at Stafford House, April 13,
1864, when, in a palace gallery that recalled Paolo Veronese's
pictures of Christ in his scenes of miracle, Garibaldi, in his
gray capote over his red shirt, received all London, and three
duchesses literally worshipped at his feet. Here, at all events,
a private secretary had surely caught the last and highest touch
of social experience; but what it meant -- what social, moral, or
mental development it pointed out to the searcher of truth -- was
not a matter to be treated fully by a leader in the Morning Post
or even by a sermon in Westminster Abbey. Mme. de Castiglione and
Garibaldi covered, between them, too much space for simple
measurement; their curves were too complex for mere arithmetic.
The task of bringing the two into any common relation with an
ordered social system tending to orderly development -- in London
or elsewhere -- was well fitted for Algernon Swinburne or Victor
Hugo, but was beyond any process yet reached by the education of
Henry Adams, who would probably, even then, have rejected, as
superficial or supernatural, all the views taken by any of the
company who looked on with him at these two interesting and
perplexing sights. 

  From the Court, or Court society, a mere private secretary got
nothing at all, or next to nothing, that could help him on his
road through life. Royalty was in abeyance. One was tempted to
think in these years, 1860-65, that the nicest distinction
between the very best society and the second-best, was their
attitude towards royalty. The one regarded royalty as a bore, and
avoided it, or quietly said that the Queen had never been in
society. The same thing might have been said of fully half the
peerage. Adams never knew even the names of half the rest; he
never exchanged ten words with any member of the royal family; he
never knew any one in those years who showed interest in any
member of the royal family, or who would have given five
shillings for the opinion of any royal person on any subject; or
cared to enter any royal or noble presence, unless the house was
made attractive by as much social effort as would have been
necessary in other countries where no rank existed. No doubt, as
one of a swarm, young Adams slightly knew various gilded youth
who frequented balls and led such dancing as was most in vogue,
but they seemed to set no value on rank; their anxiety was only
to know where to find the best partners before midnight, and the
best supper after midnight. To the American, as to Arthur
Pendennis or Barnes Newcome, the value of social position and
knowledge was evident enough; he valued it at rather more than it
was worth to him; but it was a shadowy thing which seemed to vary
with every street corner; a thing which had shifting standards,
and which no one could catch outright. The half-dozen leaders and
beauties of his time, with great names and of the utmost fashion,
made some of the poorest marriages, and the least showy careers.

  Tired of looking on at society from the outside, Adams grew to
loathe the sight of his Court dress; to groan at every
announcement of a Court ball; and to dread every invitation to a
formal dinner. The greatest social event gave not half the
pleasure that one could buy for ten shillings at the opera when
Patti sang Cherubino or Gretchen, and not a fourth of the
education. Yet this was not the opinion of the best judges.
Lothrop Motley, who stood among the very best, said to him early
in his apprenticeship that the London dinner and the English
country house were the perfection of human society. The young man
meditated over it, uncertain of its meaning. Motley could not
have thought the dinner itself perfect, since there was not then
-- outside of a few bankers or foreigners -- a good cook or a
good table in London, and nine out of ten of the dinners that
Motley ate came from Gunter's, and all were alike. Every one,
especially in young society, complained bitterly that Englishmen
did not know a good dinner when they ate it, and could not order
one if they were given carte blanche. Henry Adams was not a
judge, and knew no more than they, but he heard the complaints,
and he could not think that Motley meant to praise the English

  Equally little could Motley have meant that dinners were good
to look at. Nothing could be worse than the toilettes; nothing
less artistic than the appearance of the company. One's eyes
might be dazzled by family diamonds, but, if an American woman
were present, she was sure to make comments about the way the
jewels were worn. If there was a well-dressed lady at table, she
was either an American or "fast." She attracted as much notice as
though she were on the stage. No one could possibly admire an
English dinner-table.

  Least of all did Motley mean that the taste or the manners were
perfect. The manners of English society were notorious, and the
taste was worse. Without exception every American woman rose in
rebellion against English manners. In fact, the charm of London
which made most impression on Americans was the violence of its
contrasts; the extreme badness of the worst, making background
for the distinction, refinement, or wit of a few, just as the
extreme beauty of a few superb women was more effective against
the plainness of the crowd. The result was mediaeval, and
amusing; sometimes coarse to a degree that might have startled a
roustabout, and sometimes courteous and considerate to a degree
that suggested King Arthur's Round Table; but this artistic
contrast was surely not the perfection that Motley had in his
mind. He meant something scholarly, worldly, and modern; he was
thinking of his own tastes. 

  Probably he meant that, in his favorite houses, the tone was
easy, the talk was good, and the standard of scholarship was
high. Even there he would have been forced to qualify his
adjectives. No German would have admitted that English
scholarship was high, or that it was scholarship at all, or that
any wish for scholarship existed in England. Nothing that seemed
to smell of the shop or of the lecture-room was wanted. One might
as well have talked of Renan's Christ at the table of the Bishop
of London, as talk of German philology at the table of an Oxford
don. Society, if a small literary class could be called society,
wanted to be amused in its old way. Sydney Smith, who had amused,
was dead; so was Macaulay, who instructed if he did not amuse;
Thackeray died at Christmas, 1863; Dickens never felt at home,
and seldom appeared, in society; Bulwer Lytton was not sprightly;
Tennyson detested strangers; Carlyle was mostly detested by them;
Darwin never came to town; the men of whom Motley must have been
thinking were such as he might meet at Lord Houghton's
breakfasts: Grote, Jowett, Milman, or Froude; Browning, Matthew
Arnold, or Swinburne; Bishop Wilberforce, Venables, or Hayward;
or perhaps Gladstone, Robert Lowe, or Lord Granville. A
relatively small class, commonly isolated, suppressed, and lost
at the usual London dinner, such society as this was fairly
familiar even to a private secretary, but to the literary
American it might well seem perfection since he could find
nothing of the sort in America. Within the narrow limits of this
class, the American Legation was fairly at home; possibly a score
of houses, all liberal, and all literary, but perfect only in the
eyes of a Harvard College historian. They could teach little
worth learning, for their tastes were antiquated and their
knowledge was ignorance to the next generation. What was
altogether fatal for future purposes, they were only English.

  A social education in such a medium was bound to be useless in
any other, yet Adams had to learn it to the bottom. The one thing
needful for a private secretary, was that he should not only
seem, but should actually be, at home. He studied carefully, and
practised painfully, what seemed to be the favorite
accomplishments of society. Perhaps his nervousness deceived him;
perhaps he took for an ideal of others what was only his
reflected image; but he conceived that the perfection of human
society required that a man should enter a drawing-room where he
was a total stranger, and place himself on the hearth-rug, his
back to the fire, with an air of expectant benevolence, without
curiosity, much as though he had dropped in at a charity concert,
kindly disposed to applaud the performers and to overlook
mistakes. This ideal rarely succeeded in youth, and towards
thirty it took a form of modified insolence and offensive
patronage; but about sixty it mellowed into courtesy, kindliness,
and even deference to the young which had extraordinary charm
both in women and in men. Unfortunately Adams could not wait till
sixty for education; he had his living to earn; and the English
air of patronage would earn no income for him anywhere else. 

  After five or six years of constant practice, any one can
acquire the habit of going from one strange company to another
without thinking much of one's self or of them, as though
silently reflecting that "in a world where we are all insects, no
insect is alien; perhaps they are human in parts"; but the dreamy
habit of mind which comes from solitude in crowds is not fitness
for social success except in London. Everywhere else it is
injury. England was a social kingdom whose social coinage had no
currency elsewhere.

  Englishwomen, from the educational point of view, could give
nothing until they approached forty years old. Then they become
very interesting -- very charming -- to the man of fifty. The
young American was not worth the young Englishwoman's notice, and
never received it. Neither understood the other. Only in the
domestic relation, in the country -- never in society at large --
a young American might accidentally make friends with an
Englishwoman of his own age, but it never happened to Henry
Adams. His susceptible nature was left to the mercy of American
girls, which was professional duty rather than education as long
as diplomacy held its own.

  Thus he found himself launched on waters where he had never
meant to sail, and floating along a stream which carried him far
from his port. His third season in London society saw the end of
his diplomatic education, and began for him the social life of a
young man who felt at home in England -- more at home there than
anywhere else. With this feeling, the mere habit of going to
garden-parties, dinners, receptions, and balls had nothing to do.
One might go to scores without a sensation of home. One might
stay in no end of country houses without forgetting that one was
a total stranger and could never be anything else. One might bow
to half the dukes and duchesses in England, and feel only the
more strange. Hundreds of persons might pass with a nod and never
come nearer. Close relation in a place like London is a personal
mystery as profound as chemical affinity. Thousands pass, and one
separates himself from the mass to attach himself to another, and
so make, little by little, a group. 

  One morning, April 27, 1863, he was asked to breakfast with Sir
Henry Holland, the old Court physician who had been acquainted
with every American Minister since Edward Everett, and was a
valuable social ally, who had the courage to try to be of use to
everybody, and who, while asking the private secretary to
breakfast one day, was too discreet to betray what he might have
learned about rebel doings at his breakfast-table the day before.
He had been friendly with the Legation, in the teeth of society,
and was still bearing up against the weight of opinion, so that
young Adams could not decline his invitations, although they
obliged him to breakfast in Brook Street at nine o'clock in the
morning, alternately with Mr. James M. Mason. Old Dr. Holland was
himself as hale as a hawk, driving all day bare-headed about
London, and eating Welsh rarebit every night before bed; he
thought that any young man should be pleased to take his early
muffin in Brook Street, and supply a few crumbs of war news for
the daily peckings of eminent patients. Meekly, when summoned,
the private secretary went, and on reaching the front door, this
particular morning, he found there another young man in the act
of rapping the knocker. They entered the breakfastroom together,
where they were introduced to each other, and Adams learned that
the other guest was a Cambridge undergraduate, Charles Milnes
Gaskell, son of James Milnes Gaskell, the Member for Wenlock;
another of the Yorkshire Milneses, from Thornes near Wakefield.
Fate had fixed Adams to Yorkshire. By another chance it happened
that young Milnes Gaskell was intimate at Cambridge with William
Everett who was also about to take his degree. A third chance
inspired Mr. Evarts with a fancy for visiting Cambridge, and led
William Everett to offer his services as host. Adams acted as
courier to Mr. Evarts, and at the end of May they went down for a
few days, when William Everett did the honors as host with a
kindness and attention that made his cousin sorely conscious of
his own social shortcomings. Cambridge was pretty, and the dons
were kind. Mr. Evarts enjoyed his visit but this was merely a
part of the private secretary's day's work. What affected his
whole life was the intimacy then begun with Milnes Gaskell and
his circle of undergraduate friends, just about to enter the

  Intimates are predestined. Adams met in England a thousand
people, great and small; jostled against every one, from royal
princes to gin-shop loafers; attended endless official functions
and private parties; visited every part of the United Kingdom and
was not quite a stranger at the Legations in Paris and Rome; he
knew the societies of certain country houses, and acquired habits
of Sunday-afternoon calls; but all this gave him nothing to do,
and was life wasted. For him nothing whatever could be gained by
escorting American ladies to drawing-rooms or American gentlemen
to levees at St. James's Palace, or bowing solemnly to people
with great titles, at Court balls, or even by awkwardly jostling
royalty at garden-parties; all this was done for the Government,
and neither President Lincoln nor Secretary Seward would ever
know enough of their business to thank him for doing what they
did not know how to get properly done by their own servants; but
for Henry Adams -- not private secretary -- all the time taken up
by such duties was wasted. On the other hand, his few personal
intimacies concerned him alone, and the chance that made him
almost a Yorkshireman was one that must have started under the

  More than any other county in England, Yorkshire retained a
sort of social independence of London. Scotland itself was hardly
more distinct. The Yorkshire type had always been the strongest
of the British strains; the Norwegian and the Dane were a
different race from the Saxon. Even Lancashire had not the mass
and the cultivation of the West Riding. London could never quite
absorb Yorkshire, which, in its turn had no great love for London
and freely showed it. To a certain degree, evident enough to
Yorkshiremen, Yorkshire was not English -- or was all England, as
they might choose to express it. This must have been the reason
why young Adams was drawn there rather than elsewhere. Monckton
Milnes alone took the trouble to draw him, and possibly Milnes
was the only man in England with whom Henry Adams, at that
moment, had a chance of calling out such an un-English effort.
Neither Oxford nor Cambridge nor any region south of the Humber
contained a considerable house where a young American would have
been sought as a friend. Eccentricity alone did not account for
it. Monckton Milnes was a singular type, but his distant cousin,
James Milnes Gaskell, was another, quite as marked, in an
opposite sense. Milnes never seemed willing to rest; Milnes
Gaskell never seemed willing to move. In his youth one of a very
famous group -- Arthur Hallam, Tennyson, Manning, Gladstone,
Francis Doyle -- and regarded as one of the most promising; an
adorer of George Canning; in Parliament since coming of age;
married into the powerful connection of the Wynns of Wynstay;
rich according to Yorkshire standards; intimate with his
political leaders; he was one of the numerous Englishmen who
refuse office rather than make the effort of carrying it, and
want power only to make it a source of indolence. He was a
voracious reader and an admirable critic; he had forty years of
parliamentary tradition on his memory; he liked to talk and to
listen; he liked his dinner and, in spite of George Canning, his
dry champagne; he liked wit and anecdote; but he belonged to the
generation of 1830, a generation which could not survive the
telegraph and railway, and which even Yorkshire could hardly
produce again. To an American he was a character even more
unusual and more fascinating than his distant cousin Lord

  Mr. Milnes Gaskell was kind to the young American whom his son
brought to the house, and Mrs. Milnes Gaskell was kinder, for she
thought the American perhaps a less dangerous friend than some
Englishman might be, for her son, and she was probably right. The
American had the sense to see that she was herself one of the
most intelligent and sympathetic women in England; her sister,
Miss Charlotte Wynn, was another; and both were of an age and a
position in society that made their friendship a complirnent as
well as a pleasure. Their consent and approval settled the
matter. In England, the family is a serious fact; once admitted
to it, one is there for life. London might utterly vanish from
one's horizon, but as long as life lasted, Yorkshire lived for
its friends. 

  In the year 1857, Mr. James Milnes Gaskell, who had sat for
thirty years in Parliament as one of the Members for the borough
of Wenlock in Shropshire, bought Wenlock Abbey and the estate
that included the old monastic buildings. This new, or old,
plaything amused Mrs. Milnes Gaskell. The Prior's house, a
charming specimen of fifteenth-century architecture, had been
long left to decay as a farmhouse. She put it in order, and went
there to spend a part of the autumn of 1864. Young Adams was one
of her first guests, and drove about Wenlock Edge and the Wrekin
with her, learning the loveliness of this exquisite country, and
its stores of curious antiquity. It was a new and charming
existence; an experience greatly to be envied -- ideal repose and
rural Shakespearian peace -- but a few years of it were likely to
complete his education, and fit him to act a fairly useful part
in life as an Englishman, an ecclesiastic, and a contemporary of


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 Pearl.

  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

  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. 

  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 possible. 

  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.

  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 doorstep.' " 

  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 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 judgment. 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. 

  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

  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 kind 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 you."

  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
  "Or questo credo ben che una elleria 
   Te offende tanto che te offese il core. 
   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." 

  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 maybe 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.

  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. 


DARWINISM (1867-1868)

  POLITICS, diplomacy, law, art, and history had opened no outlet
for future energy or effort, but a man must do something, even in
Portland Place, when winter is dark and winter evenings are
exceedingly long. At that moment Darwin was convulsing society.
The geological champion of Darwin was Sir Charles Lyell, and the
Lyells were intimate at the Legation. Sir Charles constantly said
of Darwin, what Palgrave said of Tennyson, that the first time he
came to town, Adams should be asked to meet him, but neither of
them ever came to town, or ever cared to meet a young American,
and one could not go to them because they were known to dislike
intrusion. The only Americans who were not allowed to intrude
were the half-dozen in the Legation. Adams was content to read
Darwin, especially his "Origin of Species" and his "Voyage of the
Beagle." He was a Darwinist before the letter; a predestined
follower of the tide; but he was hardly trained to follow
Darwin's evidences. Fragmentary the British mind might be, but in
those days it was doing a great deal of work in a very un-English
way, building up so many and such vast theories on such narrow
foundations as to shock the conservative, and delight the
frivolous. The atomic theory; the correlation and conservation of
energy; the mechanical theory of the universe; the kinetic theory
of gases, and Darwin's Law of Natural Selection, were examples of
what a young man had to take on trust. Neither he nor any one
else knew enough to verify them; in his ignorance of mathematics,
he was particularly helpless; but this never stood in his way.
The ideas were new and seemed to lead somewhere -- to some great
generalization which would finish one's clamor to be educated.
That a beginner should understand them all, or believe them all,
no one could expect, still less exact. Henry Adams was Darwinist
because it was easier than not, for his ignorance exceeded
belief, and one must know something in order to contradict even
such triflers as Tyndall and Huxley. 

  By rights, he should have been also a Marxist but some narrow
trait of the New England nature seemed to blight socialism, and
he tried in vain to make himself a convert. He did the next best
thing; he became a Comteist, within the limits of evolution. He
was ready to become anything but quiet. As though the world had
not been enough upset in his time, he was eager to see it upset
more. He had his wish, but he lost his hold on the results by
trying to understand them. 

  He never tried to understand Darwin; but he still fancied he
might get the best part of Darwinism from the easier study of
geology; a science which suited idle minds as well as though it
were history. Every curate in England dabbled in geology and
hunted for vestiges of Creation. Darwin hunted only for vestiges
of Natural Selection, and Adams followed him, although he cared
nothing about Selection, unless perhaps for the indirect
amusement of upsetting curates. He felt, like nine men in ten, an
instinctive belief in Evolution, but he felt no more concern in
Natural than in unnatural Selection, though he seized with
greediness the new volume on the "Antiquity of Man" which Sir
Charles Lyell published in 1863 in order to support Darwin by
wrecking the Garden of Eden. Sir Charles next brought out, in
1866, a new edition of his "Principles," then the highest
text-book of geology; but here the Darwinian doctrine grew in
stature. Natural Selection led back to Natural Evolution, and at
last to Natural Uniformity. This was a vast stride. Unbroken
Evolution under uniform conditions pleased every one -- except
curates and bishops; it was the very best substitute for
religion; a safe, conservative practical, thoroughly Common-Law
deity. Such a working system for the universe suited a young man
who had just helped to waste five or ten thousand million dollars
and a million lives, more or less, to enforce unity and
uniformity on people who objected to it; the idea was only too
seductive in its perfection; it had the charm of art. Unity and
Uniformity were the whole motive of philosophy, and if Darwin,
like a true Englishman, preferred to back into it -- to reach God
a posteriori -- rather than start from it, like Spinoza, the
difference of method taught only the moral that the best way of
reaching unity was to unite. Any road was good that arrived. 
Life depended on it. One had been, from the first, dragged hither
and thither like a French poodle on a string, following always
the strongest pull, between one form of unity or centralization
and another. The proof that one had acted wisely because of
obeying the primordial habit of nature flattered one's
self-esteem. Steady, uniform, unbroken evolution from lower to
higher seemed easy. So, one day when Sir Charles came to the
Legation to inquire about getting his "Principles" properly
noticed in America, young Adams found nothing simpler than to
suggest that he could do it himself if Sir Charles would tell him
what to say. Youth risks such encounters with the universe before
one succumbs to it, yet even he was surprised at Sir Charles's
ready assent, and still more so at finding himself, after half an
hour's conversation, sitting down to clear the minds of American
geologists about the principles of their profession. This was
getting on fast; Arthur Pendennis had never gone so far.

  The geologists were a hardy class, not likely to be much hurt
by Adams's learning, nor did he throw away much concern on their
account. He undertook the task chiefly to educate, not them, but
himself, and if Sir Isaac Newton had, like Sir Charles Lyell,
asked him to explain for Americans his last edition of the
"Principia," Adams would have jumped at the chance. Unfortunately
the mere reading such works for amusement is quite a different
matter from studying them for criticism. Ignorance must always
begin at the beginning. Adams must inevitably have begun by
asking Sir Isaac for an intelligible reason why the apple fell to
the ground. He did not know enough to be satisfied with the fact.
The Law of Gravitation was so-and-so, but what was Gravitation?
and he would have been thrown quite off his base if Sir Isaac had
answered that he did not know. 

  At the very outset Adams struck on Sir Charles's Glacial Theory
or theories. He was ignorant enough to think that the glacial
epoch looked like a chasm between him and a uniformitarian world.
If the glacial period were uniformity, what was catastrophe? To
him the two or three labored guesses that Sir Charles suggested
or borrowed to explain glaciation were proof of nothing, and were
quite unsolid as support for so immense a superstructure as
geological uniformity. If one were at liberty to be as lax in
science as in theology, and to assume unity from the start, one
might better say so, as the Church did, and not invite attack by
appearing weak in evidence. Naturally a young man, altogether
ignorant, could not say this to Sir Charles Lyell or Sir Isaac
Newton; but he was forced to state Sir Charles's views, which he
thought weak as hypotheses and worthless as proofs. Sir Charles
himself seemed shy of them. Adams hinted his heresies in vain. At
last he resorted to what he thought the bold experiment of
inserting a sentence in the text, intended to provoke correction.
"The introduction [by Louis Agassiz] of this new geological agent
seemed at first sight inconsistent with Sir Charles's argument,
obliging him to allow that causes had in fact existed on the
earth capable of producing more violent geological changes than
would be possible in our own day." The hint produced no effect.
Sir Charles said not a word; he let the paragraph stand; and
Adams never knew whether the great Uniformitarian was strict or
lax in his uniformitarian creed; but he doubted. 

  Objections fatal to one mind are futile to another, and as far
as concerned the article, the matter ended there, although the
glacial epoch remained a misty region in the young man's
Darwinism. Had it been the only one, he would not have fretted
about it; but uniformity often worked queerly and sometimes did
not work as Natural Selection at all. Finding himself at a loss
for some single figure to illustrate the Law of Natural
Selection, Adams asked Sir Charles for the simplest case of
uniformity on record. Much to his surprise Sir Charles told him
that certain forms, like Terebratula,  appeared to be identical
from the beginning to the end of geological time. Since this was
altogether too much uniformity and much too little selection,
Adams gave up the attempt to begin at the beginning, and tried
starting at the end -- himself. Taking for granted that the
vertebrates would serve his purpose, he asked Sir Charles to
introduce him to the first vertebrate. Infinitely to his
bewilderment, Sir Charles informed him that the first vertebrate
was a very respectable fish, among the earliest of all fossils,
which had lived, and whose bones were still reposing, under
Adams's own favorite Abbey on Wenlock Edge. 

  By this time, in 1867 Adams had learned to know Shropshire
familiarly, and it was the part of his diplomatic education which
he loved best. Like Catherine Olney in "Northanger Abbey," he
yearned for nothing so keenly as to feel at home in a
thirteenth-century Abbey, unless it were to haunt a
fifteenth-century Prior's House, and both these joys were his at
Wenlock. With companions or without, he never tired of it.
Whether he rode about the Wrekin, or visited all the historical
haunts from Ludlow Castle and Stokesay to Boscobel and Uriconium;
or followed the Roman road or scratched in the Abbey ruins, all
was amusing and carried a flavor of its own like that of the
Roman Campagna; but perhaps he liked best to ramble over the Edge
on a summer afternoon and look across the Marches to the
mountains of Wales. The peculiar flavor of the scenery has
something to do with absence of evolution; it was better marked
in Egypt: it was felt wherever time-sequences became
interchangeable. One's instinct abhors time. As one lay on the
slope of the Edge, looking sleepily through the summer haze
towards Shrewsbury or Cader Idris or Caer Caradoc or Uriconium,
nothing suggested sequence. The Roman road was twin to the
railroad; Uriconium was well worth Shrewsbury; Wenlock and
Buildwas were far superior to Bridgnorth. The shepherds of
Caractacus or Offa, or the monks of Buildwas, had they approached
where he lay in the grass, would have taken him only for another
and tamer variety of Welsh thief. They would have seen little to
surprise them in the modern landscape unless it were the steam of
a distant railway. One might mix up the terms of time as one
liked, or stuff the present anywhere into the past, measuring
time by Falstaff's Shrewsbury clock, without violent sense of
wrong, as one could do it on the Pacific Ocean; but the triumph
of all was to look south along the Edge to the abode of one's
earliest ancestor and nearest relative, the ganoid fish, whose
name, according to Professor Huxley, was Pteraspis, a cousin of
the sturgeon, and whose kingdom, according to Sir Roderick
Murchison, was called Siluria. Life began and ended there. Behind
that horizon lay only the Cambrian, without vertebrates or any
other organism except a few shell-fish. On the further verge of
the Cambrian rose the crystalline rocks from which every trace of
organic existence had been erased.

  That here, on the Wenlock Edge of time, a young American,
seeking only frivolous amusement, should find a legitimate
parentage as modern as though just caught in the Severn below,
astonished him as much as though he had found Darwin himself. In
the scale of evolution, one vertebrate was as good as another.
For anything he, or any one else, knew, nine hundred and ninety
nine parts of evolution out of a thousand lay behind or below the
Pteraspis . To an American in search of a father, it mattered
nothing whether the father breathed through lungs, or walked on
fins, or on feet. Evolution of mind was altogether another matter
and belonged to another science, but whether one traced descent
from the shark or the wolf was immaterial even in morals. This
matter had been discussed for ages without scientific result. La
Fontaine and other fabulists maintained that the wolf, even in
morals, stood higher than man; and in view of the late civil war,
Adams had doubts of his own on the facts of moral evolution:-- 

  "Tout bien considere, je te soutiens en somme,
     Que scelerat pour scelerat,
   Il vaut mieux etre un loup qu'un homme." 

  It might well be! At all events, it did not enter into the
problem of Pteraspis,  for it was quite certain that no complete
proof of Natural Selection had occurred back to the time of
Pteraspis,  and that before Pteraspis was eternal void. No trace
of any vertebrate had been found there; only starfish,
shell-fish, polyps, or trilobites whose kindly descendants he had
often bathed with, as a child on the shores of Quincy Bay. 

  That Pteraspis and shark were his cousins, great-uncles, or
grandfathers, in no way troubled him, but that either or both of
them should be older than evolution itself seemed to him
perplexing; nor could he at all simplify the problem by taking
the sudden back-somersault into Quincy Bay in search of the
fascinating creature he had called a horseshoe, whose huge dome
of shell and sharp spur of tail had so alarmed him as a child. In
Siluria, he understood, Sir Roderick Murchison called the
horseshoe a Limulus , which helped nothing. Neither in the
Limulus  nor in the Terebratula , nor in the Cestracion Philippi
,any more than in the Pteraspis,  could one conceive an ancestor,
but, if one must, the choice mattered little. Cousinship had
limits but no one knew enough to fix them. When the vertebrate
vanished in Siluria, it disappeared instantly and forever.
Neither vertebra nor scale nor print reappeared, nor any trace of
ascent or descent to a lower type. The vertebrate began in the
Ludlow shale, as complete as Adams himself -- in some respects
more so -- at the top of the column of organic evolution: and
geology offered no sort of proof that he had ever been anything
else. Ponder over it as he might, Adams could see nothing in the
theory of Sir Charles but pure inference, precisely like the
inference of Paley, that, if one found a watch, one inferred a
maker. He could detect no more evolution in life since the
Pteraspis than he could detect it in architecture since the
Abbey. All he could prove was change. Coal-power alone asserted
evolution -- of power -- and only by violence could be forced to
assert selection of type. 

  All this seemed trivial to the true Darwinian, and to Sir
Charles it was mere defect in the geological record. Sir Charles
labored only to heap up the evidences of evolution; to cumulate
them till the mass became irresistible. With that purpose, Adams
gladly studied and tried to help Sir Charles, but, behind the
lesson of the day, he was conscious that, in geology as in
theology, he could prove only Evolution that did not evolve;
Uniformity that was not uniform; and Selection that did not
select. To other Darwinians -- except Darwin -- Natural Selection
seemed a dogma to be put in the place of the Athanasian creed; it
was a form of religious hope; a promise of ultimate perfection.
Adams wished no better; he warmly sympathized in the object; but
when he came to ask himself what he truly thought, he felt that
he had no Faith; that whenever the next new hobby should be
brought out, he should surely drop off from Darwinism like a
monkey from a perch; that the idea of one Form, Law, Order, or
Sequence had no more value for him than the idea of none; that
what he valued most was Motion, and that what attracted his mind
was Change.

  Psychology was to him a new study, and a dark corner of
education. As he lay on Wenlock Edge, with the sheep nibbling the
grass close about him as they or their betters had nibbled the
grass -- or whatever there was to nibble -- in the Silurian
kingdom of Pteraspis, he seemed to have fallen on an evolution
far more wonderful than that of fishes. He did not like it; he
could not account for it; and he determined to stop it. Never
since the days of his Limulus ancestry had any of his ascendants
thought thus. Their modes of thought might be many, but their
thought was one. Out of his millions of millions of ancestors,
back to the Cambrian mollusks, every one had probably lived and
died in the illusion of Truths which did not amuse him, and which
had never changed. Henry Adams was the first in an infinite
series to discover and admit to himself that he really did not
care whether truth was, or was not, true. He did not even care
that it should be proved true, unless the process were new and
amusing. He was a Darwinian for fun. 

  From the beginning of history, this attitude had been branded
as criminal -- worse than crime -- sacrilege! Society punished it
ferociously and justly, in self-defence. Mr. Adams, the father,
looked on it as moral weakness; it annoyed him; but it did not
annoy him nearly so much as it annoyed his son, who had no need
to learn from Hamlet the fatal effect of the pale cast of thought
on enterprises great or small. He had no notion of letting the
currents of his action be turned awry by this form of conscience.
To him, the current of his time was to be his current, lead where
it might. He put psychology under lock and key; he insisted on
maintaining his absolute standards; on aiming at ultimate Unity.
The mania for handling all the sides of every question, looking
into every window, and opening every door, was, as Bluebeard
judiciously pointed out to his wives, fatal to their practical
usefulness in society. One could not stop to chase doubts as
though they were rabbits. One had no time to paint and putty the
surface of Law, even though it were cracked and rotten. For the
young men whose lives were cast in the generation between 1867
and 1900, Law should be Evolution from lower to higher,
aggregation of the atom in the mass, concentration of
multiplicity in unity, compulsion of anarchy in order; and he
would force himself to follow wherever it led, though he should
sacrifice five thousand millions more in money, and a million
more lives.

  As the path ultimately led, it sacrificed much more than this;
but at the time, he thought the price he named a high one, and he
could not foresee that science and society would desert him in
paying it. He, at least, took his education as a Darwinian in
good faith. The Church was gone, and Duty was dim, but Will
should take its place, founded deeply in interest and law. This
was the result of five or six years in England; a result so
British as to be almost the equivalent of an Oxford degree.

  Quite serious about it, he set to work at once. While confusing
his ideas about geology to the apparent satisfaction of Sir
Charles who left him his field-compass in token of it, Adams
turned resolutely to business, and attacked the burning question
of specie payments. His principles assured him that the honest
way to resume payments was to restrict currency. He thought he
might win a name among financiers and statesmen at home by
showing how this task had been done by England, after the
classical suspension of 1797-1821. Setting himself to the study
of this perplexed period, he waded as well as he could through a
morass of volumes, pamphlets, and debates, until he learned to
his confusion that the Bank of England itself and all the best
British financial writers held that restriction was a fatal
mistake, and that the best treatment of a debased currency was to
let it alone, as the Bank had in fact done. Time and patience
were the remedies. 

  The shock of this discovery to his financial principles was
serious; much more serious than the shock of the Terebratula and
Pteraspis  to his principles of geology. A mistake about
Evolution was not fatal; a mistake about specie payments would
destroy forever the last hope of employment in State Street. Six
months of patient labor would be thrown away if he did not
publish, and with it his whole scheme of making himself a
position as a practical man-of-business. If he did publish, how
could he tell virtuous bankers in State Street that moral and
absolute principles of abstract truth, such as theirs, had
nothing to do with the matter, and that they had better let it
alone? Geologists, naturally a humble and helpless class, might
not revenge impertinences offered to their science; but
capitalists never forgot or forgave.

  With labor and caution he made one long article on British
Finance in 1816, and another on the Bank Restriction of
1797-1821, and, doing both up in one package, he sent it to the
North American for choice. He knew that two heavy, technical,
financial studies thus thrown at an editor's head, would probably
return to crush the author; but the audacity of youth is more
sympathetic -- when successful -- than his ignorance. The editor
accepted both. 

  When the post brought his letter, Adams looked at it as though
he were a debtor who had begged for an extension. He read it with
as much relief as the debtor, if it had brought him the loan. The
letter gave the new writer literary rank. Henceforward he had the
freedom of the press. These articles, following those on
Pocahontas and Lyell, enrolled him on the permanent staff of the
North American Review . Precisely what this rank was worth, no
one could say; but, for fifty years the North American Review 
had been the stage coach which carried literary Bostonians to
such distinction as they had achieved. Few writers had ideas
which warranted thirty pages of development, but for such as
thought they had, the Review alone offered space. An article was
a small volume which required at least three months' work, and
was paid, at best, five dollars a page. Not many men even in
England or France could write a good thirty-page article, and
practically no one in America read them; but a few score of
people, mostly in search of items to steal, ran over the pages to
extract an idea or a fact, which was a sort of wild game -- a
bluefish or a teal -- worth anywhere from fifty cents to five
dollars. Newspaper writers had their eye on quarterly pickings.
The circulation of the Review  had never exceeded three or four
hundred copies, and the Review  had never paid its reasonable
expenses. Yet it stood at the head of American literary
periodicals; it was a source of suggestion to cheaper workers; it
reached far into societies that never knew its existence; it was
an organ worth playing on; and, in the fancy of Henry Adams, it
led, in some indistinct future, to playing on a New York daily

  With the editor's letter under his eyes, Adams asked himself
what better he could have done. On the whole, considering his
helplessness, he thought he had done as well as his neighbors. No
one could yet guess which of his contemporaries was most likely
to play a part in the great world. A shrewd prophet in Wall
Street might perhaps have set a mark on Pierpont Morgan, but
hardly on the Rockefellers or William C. Whitney or Whitelaw
Reid. No one would have picked out William McKinley or John Hay
or Mark Hanna for great statesmen. Boston was ignorant of the
careers in store for Alexander Agassiz and Henry Higginson.
Phillips Brooks was unknown; Henry James was unheard; Howells was
new; Richardson and LaFarge were struggling for a start. Out of
any score of names and reputations that should reach beyond the
century, the thirty-years-old who were starting in the year 1867
could show none that was so far in advance as to warrant odds in
its favor. The army men had for the most part fallen to the
ranks. Had Adams foreseen the future exactly as it came, he would
have been no wiser, and could have chosen no better path.

  Thus it turned out that the last year in England was the
pleasantest. He was already old in society, and belonged to the
Silurian horizon. The Prince of Wales had come. Mr. Disraeli,
Lord Stanley, and the future Lord Salisbury had thrown into the
background the memories of Palmerston and Russell. Europe was
moving rapidly, and the conduct of England during the American
Civil War was the last thing that London liked to recall. The
revolution since 1861 was nearly complete, and, for the first
time in history, the American felt himself almost as strong as an
Englishman. He had thirty years to wait before he should feel
himself stronger. Meanwhile even a private secretary could afford
to be happy. His old education was finished; his new one was not
begun; he still loitered a year, feeling himself near the end of
a very long, anxious, tempestuous, successful voyage, with
another to follow, and a summer sea between. 

  He made what use he could of it. In February, 1868, he was back
in Rome with his friend Milnes Gaskell. For another season he
wandered on horseback over the campagna or on foot through the
Rome of the middle ages, and sat once more on the steps of Ara
Coeli, as had become with him almost a superstition, like the
waters of the fountain of Trevi. Rome was still tragic and solemn
as ever, with its mediaeval society, artistic, literary, and
clerical, taking itself as seriously as in the days of Byron and
Shelley. The long ten years of accidental education had changed
nothing for him there. He knew no more in 1868 than in 1858. He
had learned nothing whatever that made Rome more intelligible to
him, or made life easier to handle. The case was no better when
he got back to London and went through his last season. London
had become his vice. He loved his haunts, his houses, his habits,
and even his hansom cabs. He loved growling like an Englishman,
and going into society where he knew not a face, and cared not a
straw. He lived deep into the lives and loves and disappointments
of his friends. When at last he found himself back again at
Liverpool, his heart wrenched by the act of parting, he moved
mechanically, unstrung, but he had no more acquired education
than when he first trod the steps of the Adelphi Hotel in
November, 1858. He could see only one great change, and this was
wholly in years. Eaton Hall no longer impressed his imagination;
even the architecture of Chester roused but a sleepy interest; he
felt no sensation whatever in the atmosphere of the British
peerage, but mainly an habitual dislike to most of the people who
frequented their country houses; he had become English to the
point of sharing their petty social divisions, their dislikes and
prejudices against each other; he took England no longer with the
awe of American youth, but with the habit of an old and rather
worn suit of clothes. As far as he knew, this was all that
Englishmen meant by social education, but in any case it was all
the education he had gained from seven years in London.


THE PRESS (1868)

  AT ten o'clock of a July night, in heat that made the tropical
rain-shower simmer, the Adams family and the Motley family
clambered down the side of their Cunard steamer into the
government tugboat, which set them ashore in black darkness at
the end of some North River pier. Had they been Tyrian traders of
the year B.C. 1000 landing from a galley fresh from Gibraltar,
they could hardly have been stranger on the shore of a world, so
changed from what it had been ten years before. The historian of
the Dutch, no longer historian but diplomatist, started up an
unknown street, in company with the private secretary who had
become private citizen, in search of carriages to convey the two
parties to the Brevoort House. The pursuit was arduous but
successful. Towards midnight they found shelter once more in
their native land.

  How much its character had changed or was changing, they could
not wholly know, and they could but partly feel. For that matter,
the land itself knew no more than they. Society in America was
always trying, almost as blindly as an earthworm, to realize and
understand itself; to catch up with its own head, and to twist
about in search of its tail. Society offered the profile of a
long, straggling caravan, stretching loosely towards the
prairies, its few score of leaders far in advance and its
millions of immigrants, negroes, and Indians far in the rear,
somewhere in archaic time. It enjoyed the vast advantage over
Europe that all seemed, for the moment, to move in one direction,
while Europe wasted most of its energy in trying several
contradictory movements at once; but whenever Europe or Asia
should be polarized or oriented towards the same point, America
might easily lose her lead. Meanwhile each newcomer needed to
slip into a place as near the head of the caravan as possible,
and needed most to know where the leaders could be found. 
One could divine pretty nearly where the force lay, since the
last ten years had given to the great mechanical energies --
coal, iron, steam -- a distinct superiority in power over the old
industrial elements -- agriculture, handwork, and learning; but
the result of this revolution on a survivor from the fifties
resembled the action of the earthworm; he twisted about, in vain,
to recover his starting-point; he could no longer see his own
trail; he had become an estray; a flotsam or jetsam of wreckage;
a belated reveller, or a scholar-gipsy like Matthew Arnold's. His
world was dead. Not a Polish Jew fresh from Warsaw or Cracow --
not a furtive Yacoob or Ysaac still reeking of the Ghetto,
snarling a weird Yiddish to the officers of the customs -- but
had a keener instinct, an intenser energy, and a freer hand than
he -- American of Americans, with Heaven knew how many Puritans
and Patriots behind him, and an education that had cost a civil
war. He made no complaint and found no fault with his time; he
was no worse off than the Indians or the buffalo who had been
ejected from their heritage by his own people; but he vehemently
insisted that he was not himself at fault. The defeat was not due
to him, nor yet to any superiority of his rivals. He had been
unfairly forced out of the track, and must get back into it as
best he could. 

  One comfort he could enjoy to the full. Little as he might be
fitted for the work that was before him, he had only to look at
his father and Motley to see figures less fitted for it than he.
All were equally survivals from the forties -- bric-a-brac from
the time of Louis Philippe; stylists; doctrinaires; ornaments
that had been more or less suited to the colonial architecture,
but which never had much value in Desbrosses Street or Fifth
Avenue. They could scarcely have earned five dollars a day in any
modern industry. The men who commanded high pay were as a rule
not ornamental. Even Commodore Vanderbilt and Jay Gould lacked
social charm. Doubtless the country needed ornament -- needed it
very badly indeed -- but it needed energy still more, and capital
most of all, for its supply was ridiculously out of proportion to
its wants. On the new scale of power, merely to make the
continent habitable for civilized people would require an
immediate outlay that would have bankrupted the world. As yet, no
portion of the world except a few narrow stretches of western
Europe had ever been tolerably provided with the essentials of
comfort and convenience; to fit out an entire continent with
roads and the decencies of life would exhaust the credit of the
entire planet. Such an estimate seemed outrageous to a Texan
member of Congress who loved the simplicity of nature's noblemen;
but the mere suggestion that a sun existed above him would
outrage the self-respect of a deep-sea fish that carried a
lantern on the end of its nose. From the moment that railways
were introduced, life took on extravagance.

  Thus the belated reveller who landed in the dark at the
Desbrosses Street ferry, found his energies exhausted in the
effort to see his own length. The new Americans, of whom he was
to be one, must, whether they were fit or unfit, create a world
of their own, a science, a society, a philosophy, a universe,
where they had not yet created a road or even learned to dig
their own iron. They had no time for thought; they saw, and could
see, nothing beyond their day's work; their attitude to the
universe outside them was that of the deep-sea fish. Above all,
they naturally and intensely disliked to be told what to do, and
how to do it, by men who took their ideas and their methods from
the abstract theories of history, philosophy, or theology. They
knew enough to know that their world was one of energies quite

  All this, the newcomer understood and accepted, since he could
not help himself and saw that the American could help himself as
little as the newcomer; but the fact remained that the more he
knew, the less he was educated. Society knew as much as this, and
seemed rather inclined to boast of it, at least on the stump; but
the leaders of industry betrayed no sentiment, popular or other.
They used, without qualm, whatever instruments they found at
hand. They had been obliged, in 1861, to turn aside and waste
immense energy in settling what had been settled a thousand years
before, and should never have been revived. At prodigious
expense, by sheer force, they broke resistance down, leaving
everything but the mere fact of power untouched, since nothing
else had a solution. Race and thought were beyond reach. Having
cleared its path so far, society went back to its work, and threw
itself on that which stood first -- its roads. The field was
vast; altogether beyond its power to control offhand; and society
dropped every thought of dealing with anything more than the
single fraction called a railway system. This relatively small
part of its task was still so big as to need the energies of a
generation, for it required all the new machinery to be created
-- capital, banks, mines, furnaces, shops, power-houses,
technical knowledge, mechanical population, together with a
steady remodelling of social and political habits, ideas, and
institutions to fit the new scale and suit the new conditions.
The generation between 1865 and 1895 was already mortgaged to the
railways, and no one knew it better than the generation itself.

  Whether Henry Adams knew it or not, he knew enough to act as
though he did. He reached Quincy once more, ready for the new
start. His brother Charles had determined to strike for the
railroads; Henry was to strike for the press; and they hoped to
play into each other's hands. They had great need, for they found
no one else to play with. After discovering the worthlessness of
a so-called education, they had still to discover the
worthlessness of so-called social connection. No young man had a
larger acquaintance and relationship than Henry Adams, yet he
knew no one who could help him. He was for sale, in the open
market. So were many of his friends. All the world knew it, and
knew too that they were cheap; to be bought at the price of a
mechanic. There was no concealment, no delicacy, and no illusion
about it. Neither he nor his friends complained; but he felt
sometimes a little surprised that, as far as he knew, no one,
seeking in the labor market, ever so much as inquired about their
fitness. The want of solidarity between old and young seemed
American. The young man was required to impose himself, by the
usual business methods, as a necessity on his elders, in order to
compel them to buy him as an investment. As Adams felt it, he was
in a manner expected to blackmail. Many a young man complained to
him in after life of the same experience, which became a matter
of curious reflection as he grew old. The labor market of good
society was ill-organized. 

  Boston seemed to offer no market for educated labor. A peculiar
and perplexing amalgam Boston always was, and although it had
changed much in ten years, it was not less perplexing. One no
longer dined at two o'clock; one could no longer skate on Back
Bay; one heard talk of Bostonians worth five millions or more as
something not incredible. Yet the place seemed still simple, and
less restless-minded than ever before. In the line that Adams had
chosen to follow, he needed more than all else the help of the
press, but any shadow of hope on that side vanished instantly.
The less one meddled with the Boston press, the better. All the
newspapermen were clear on that point. The same was true of
politics. Boston meant business. The Bostonians were building
railways. Adams would have liked to help in building railways,
but had no education. He was not fit. 

  He passed three or four months thus, visiting relations,
renewing friendships, and studying the situation. At thirty years
old, the man who has not yet got further than to study the
situation, is lost, or near it. He could see nothing in the
situation that could be of use to him. His friends had won no
more from it than he. His brother Charles, after three years of
civil life, was no better off than himself, except for being
married and in greater need of income. His brother John had
become a brilliant political leader on the wrong side. No one had
yet regained the lost ground of the war. 

  He went to Newport and tried to be fashionable, but even in the
simple life of 1868, he failed as fashion. All the style he had
learned so painfully in London was worse than useless in America
where every standard was different. Newport was charming, but it
asked for no education and gave none. What it gave was much gayer
and pleasanter, and one enjoyed it amazingly; but friendships in
that society were a kind of social partnership, like the classes
at college; not education but the subjects of education. All were
doing the same thing, and asking the same question of the future.
None could help. Society seemed founded on the law that all was
for the best New Yorkers in the best of Newports, and that all
young people were rich if they could waltz. It was a new version
of the Ant and Grasshopper.

  At the end of three months, the only person, among the hundreds
he had met, who had offered him a word of encouragement or had
shown a sign of acquaintance with his doings, was Edward
Atkinson. Boston was cool towards sons, whether prodigals or
other, and needed much time to make up its mind what to do for
them -- time which Adams, at thirty years old, could hardly
spare. He had not the courage or self-confidence to hire an
office in State Street, as so many of his friends did, and doze
there alone, vacuity within and a snowstorm outside, waiting for
Fortune to knock at the door, or hoping to find her asleep in the
elevator; or on the staircase, since elevators were not yet in
use. Whether this course would have offered his best chance he
never knew; it was one of the points in practical education which
most needed a clear understanding, and he could never reach it.
His father and mother would have been glad to see him stay with
them and begin reading Blackstone again, and he showed no very
filial tenderness by abruptly breaking the tie that had lasted so
long. After all, perhaps Beacon Street was as good as any other
street for his objects in life; possibly his easiest and surest
path was from Beacon Street to State Street and back again, all
the days of his years. Who could tell? Even after life was over,
the doubt could not be determined. 

  In thus sacrificing his heritage, he only followed the path
that had led him from the beginning. Boston was full of his
brothers. He had reckoned from childhood on outlawry as his
peculiar birthright. The mere thought of beginning life again in
Mount Vernon Street lowered the pulsations of his heart. This is
a story of education -- not a mere lesson of life -- and, with
education, temperament has in strictness nothing to do, although
in practice they run close together. Neither by temperament nor
by education was he fitted for Boston. He had drifted far away
and behind his companions there; no one trusted his temperament
or education; he had to go.

  Since no other path seemed to offer itself, he stuck to his
plan of joining the press, and selected Washington as the
shortest road to New York, but, in 1868, Washington stood outside
the social pale. No Bostonian had ever gone there. One announced
one's self as an adventurer and an office-seeker, a person of
deplorably bad judgment, and the charges were true. The chances
of ending in the gutter were, at best, even. The risk was the
greater in Adams's case, because he had no very clear idea what
to do when he got there. That he must educate himself over again,
for objects quite new, in an air altogether hostile to his old
educations, was the only certainty; but how he was to do it --
how he was to convert the idler in Rotten Row into the lobbyist
of the Capital -- he had not an idea, and no one to teach him.
The question of money is rarely serious for a young American
unless he is married, and money never troubled Adams more than
others; not because he had it, but because he could do without
it, like most people in Washington who all lived on the income of
bricklayers; but with or without money he met the difficulty
that, after getting to Washington in order to go on the press, it
was necessary to seek a press to go on. For large work he could
count on the North American Review, but this was scarcely a
press. For current discussion and correspondence, he could depend
on the New York Nation; but what he needed was a New York daily,
and no New York daily needed him. He lost his one chance by the
death of Henry J. Raymond. The Tribune under Horace Greeley was
out of the question both for political and personal reasons, and
because Whitelaw Reid had already undertaken that singularly
venturesome position, amid difficulties that would have swamped
Adams in four-and-twenty hours. Charles A. Dana had made the Sun
a very successful as well as a very amusing paper, but had hurt
his own social position in doing it; and Adams knew himself well
enough to know that he could never please himself and Dana too;
with the best intentions, he must always fail as a blackguard,
and at that time a strong dash of blackguardism was life to the
Sun. As for the New York Herald,  it was a despotic empire
admitting no personality but that of Bennett. Thus, for the
moment, the New York daily press offered no field except the
free-trade Holy Land of the Evening Post  under William Cullen
Bryant, while beside it lay only the elevated plateau of the New
Jerusalem occupied by Godkin and the Nation. Much as Adams liked
Godkin, and glad as he was to creep under the shelter of the
Evening Post and the Nation, he was well aware that he should
find there only the same circle of readers that he reached in the
North American Review. 

  The outlook was dim, but it was all he had, and at Washington,
except for the personal friendship of Mr. Evarts who was then
Attorney General and living there, he would stand in solitude
much like that of London in 1861. Evarts did what no one in
Boston seemed to care for doing; he held out a hand to the young
man. Whether Boston, like Salem, really shunned strangers, or
whether Evarts was an exception even in New York, he had the
social instinct which Boston had not. Generous by nature,
prodigal in hospitality, fond of young people, and a born
man-of-the-world, Evarts gave and took liberally, without
scruple, and accepted the world without fearing or abusing it.
His wit was the least part of his social attraction. His talk was
broad and free. He laughed where he could; he joked if a joke was
possible; he was true to his friends, and never lost his temper
or became ill-natured. Like all New Yorkers he was decidedly not
a Bostonian; but he was what one might call a transplanted New
Englander, like General Sherman; a variety, grown in ranker soil.
In the course of life, and in widely different countries, Adams
incurred heavy debts of gratitude to persons on whom he had no
claim and to whom he could seldom make return; perhaps
half-a-dozen such debts remained unpaid at last, although six is
a large number as lives go; but kindness seldom came more happily
than when Mr. Evarts took him to Washington in October, 1868.

  Adams accepted the hospitality of the sleeper, with deep
gratitude, the more because his first struggle with a
sleeping-car made him doubt the value -- to him -- of a Pullman
civilization; but he was even more grateful for the shelter of
Mr. Evarts's house in H Street at the corner of Fourteenth, where
he abode in safety and content till he found rooms in the
roomless village. To him the village seemed unchanged. Had he not
known that a great war and eight years of astonishing movement
had passed over it, he would have noticed nothing that betrayed
growth. As of old, houses were few; rooms fewer; even the men
were the same. No one seemed to miss the usual comforts of
civilization, and Adams was glad to get rid of them, for his best
chance lay in the eighteenth century. 

  The first step, of course, was the making of acquaintance, and
the first acquaintance was naturally the President, to whom an
aspirant to the press officially paid respect. Evarts immediately
took him to the White House and presented him to President Andrew
Johnson. The interview was brief and consisted in the stock
remark common to monarchs and valets, that the young man looked
even younger than he was. The younger man felt even younger than
he looked. He never saw the President again, and never felt a
wish to see him, for Andrew Johnson was not the sort of man whom
a young reformer of thirty, with two or three foreign educations,
was likely to see with enthusiasm; yet, musing over the interview
as a matter of education, long years afterwards, he could not
help recalling the President's figure with a distinctness that
surprised him. The old-fashioned Southern Senator and statesman
sat in his chair at his desk with a look of self-esteem that had
its value. None doubted. All were great men; some, no doubt, were
greater than others; but all were statesmen and all were
supported, lifted, inspired by the moral certainty of rightness.
To them the universe was serious, even solemn, but it was their
universe, a Southern conception of right. Lamar used to say that
he never entertained a doubt of the soundness of the Southern
system until he found that slavery could not stand a war. Slavery
was only a part of the Southern system, and the life of it all --
the vigor -- the poetry -- was its moral certainty of self. The
Southerner could not doubt; and this self-assurance not only gave
Andrew Johnson the look of a true President, but actually made
him one. When Adams came to look back on it afterwards, he was
surprised to realize how strong the Executive was in 1868 --
perhaps the strongest he was ever to see. Certainly he never
again found himself so well satisfied, or so much at home.

  Seward was still Secretary of State. Hardly yet an old man,
though showing marks of time and violence, Mr. Seward seemed
little changed in these eight years. He was the same -- with a
difference. Perhaps he -- unlike Henry Adams -- had at last got
an education, and all he wanted. Perhaps he had resigned himself
to doing without it. Whatever the reason, although his manner was
as roughly kind as ever, and his talk as free, he appeared to
have closed his account with the public; he no longer seemed to
care; he asked nothing, gave nothing, and invited no support; he
talked little of himself or of others, and waited only for his
discharge. Adams was well pleased to be near him in these last
days of his power and fame, and went much to his house in the
evenings when he was sure to be at his whist. At last, as the end
drew near, wanting to feel that the great man -- the only chief
he ever served even as a volunteer -- recognized some personal
relation, he asked Mr. Seward to dine with him one evening in his
rooms, and play his game of whist there, as he did every night in
his own house. Mr. Seward came and had his whist, and Adams
remembered his rough parting speech: "A very sensible
entertainment!" It was the only favor he ever asked of Mr.
Seward, and the only one he ever accepted.

  Thus, as a teacher of wisdom, after twenty years of example,
Governor Seward passed out of one's life, and Adams lost what
should have been his firmest ally; but in truth the State
Department had ceased to be the centre of his interest, and the
Treasury had taken its place. The Secretary of the Treasury was a
man new to politics -- Hugh McCulloch -- not a person of much
importance in the eyes of practical politicians such as young
members of the press meant themselves to become, but they all
liked Mr. McCulloch, though they thought him a stop-gap rather
than a force. Had they known what sort of forces the Treasury was
to offer them for support in the generation to come, they might
have reflected a long while on their estimate of McCulloch. Adams
was fated to watch the flittings of many more Secretaries than he
ever cared to know, and he rather came back in the end to the
idea that McCulloch was the best of them, although he seemed to
represent everything that one liked least. He was no politician,
he had no party, and no power. He was not fashionable or
decorative. He was a banker, and towards bankers Adams felt the
narrow prejudice which the serf feels to his overerseer; for he
knew he must obey, and he knew that the helpless showed only
their helplessness when they tempered obedience by mockery. The
world, after 1865, became a bankers' world, and no banker would
ever trust one who had deserted State Street, and had gone to
Washington with purposes of doubtful credit, or of no credit at
all, for he could not have put up enough collateral to borrow
five thousand dollars of any bank in America. The banker never
would trust him, and he would never trust the banker. To him, the
banking mind was obnoxious; and this antipathy caused him the
more surprise at finding McCulloch the broadest, most liberal,
most genial, and most practical public man in Washington.

  There could be no doubt of it. The burden of the Treasury at
that time was very great. The whole financial system was in
chaos; every part of it required reform; the utmost experience,
tact, and skill could not make the machine work smoothly. No one
knew how well McCulloch did it until his successor took it in
charge, and tried to correct his methods. Adams did not know
enough to appreciate McCulloch's technical skill, but he was
struck at his open and generous treatment of young men. Of all
rare qualities, this was, in Adams's experience, the rarest. As a
rule, officials dread interference. The strongest often resent it
most. Any official who admits equality in discussion of his
official course, feels it to be an act of virtue; after a few
months or years he tires of the effort. Every friend in power is
a friend lost. This rule is so nearly absolute that it may be
taken in practice as admitting no exception. Apparent exceptions
exist, and McCulloch was one of them.

  McCulloch had been spared the gluttonous selfishness and
infantile jealousy which are the commoner results of early
political education. He had neither past nor future, and could
afford to be careless of his company. Adams found him surrounded
by all the active and intelligent young men in the country. Full
of faith, greedy for work, eager for reform, energetic,
confident, capable, quick of study, charmed with a fight, equally
ready to defend or attack, they were unselfish, and even -- as
young men went -- honest. They came mostly from the army, with
the spirit of the volunteers. Frank Walker, Frank Barlow, Frank
Bartlett were types of the generation. Most of the press, and
much of the public, especially in the West, shared their ideas.
No one denied the need for reform. The whole government, from top
to bottom, was rotten with the senility of what was antiquated
and the instability of what was improvised. The currency was only
one example; the tariff was another; but the whole fabric
required reconstruction as much as in 1789, for the Constitution
had become as antiquated as the Confederation. Sooner or later a
shock must come, the more dangerous the longer postponed. The
Civil War had made a new system in fact; the country would have
to reorganize the machinery in practice and theory.

  One might discuss indefinitely the question which branch of
government needed reform most urgently; all needed it enough, but
no one denied that the finances were a scandal, and a constant,
universal nuisance. The tariff was worse, though more interests
upheld it. McCulloch had the singular merit of facing reform with
large good-nature and willing sympathy -- outside of parties,
jobs, bargains, corporations or intrigues -- which Adams never
was to meet again. 

  Chaos often breeds life, when order breeds habit. The Civil War
had bred life. The army bred courage. Young men of the volunteer
type were not always docile under control, but they were handy in
a fight. Adams was greatly pleased to be admitted as one of them.
He found himself much at home with them -- more at home than he
ever had been before, or was ever to be again -- in the
atmosphere of the Treasury. He had no strong party passion, and
he felt as though he and his friends owned this administration,
which, in its dying days, had neither friends nor future except
in them. 

  These were not the only allies; the whole government in all its
branches was alive with them. Just at that moment the Supreme
Court was about to take up the Legal Tender cases where Judge
Curtis had been employed to argue against the constitutional
power of the Government to make an artificial standard of value
in time of peace. Evarts was anxious to fix on a line of argument
that should have a chance of standing up against that of Judge
Curtis, and was puzzled to do it. He did not know which foot to
put forward. About to deal with Judge Curtis, the last of the
strong jurists of Marshall's school, he could risk no chances. In
doubt, the quickest way to clear one's mind is to discuss, and
Evarts deliberately forced discussion. Day after day, driving,
dining, walking he provoked Adams to dispute his positions. He
needed an anvil, he said, to hammer his ideas on. 

  Adams was flattered at being an anvil, which is, after all,
more solid than the hammer; and he did not feel called on to
treat Mr. Evarts's arguments with more respect than Mr. Evarts
himself expressed for them; so he contradicted with freedom. Like
most young men, he was much of a doctrinaire, and the question
was, in any event, rather historical or political than legal. He
could easily maintain, by way of argument, that the required
power had never been given, and that no sound constitutional
reason could possibly exist for authorizing the Government to
overthrow the standard of value without necessity, in time of
peace. The dispute itself had not much value for him, even as
education, but it led to his seeking light from the Chief Justice
himself. Following up the subject for his letters to the Nation 
and his articles in the North American Review, Adams grew to be
intimate with the Chief Justice, who, as one of the oldest and
strongest leaders of the Free Soil Party, had claims to his
personal regard; for the old Free Soilers were becoming few. Like
all strong-willed and self-asserting men, Mr. Chase had the
faults of his qualities. He was never easy to drive in harness,
or light in hand. He saw vividly what was wrong, and did not
always allow for what was relatively right. He loved power as
though he were still a Senator. His position towards Legal Tender
was awkward. As Secretary of the Treasury he had been its author;
as Chief Justice he became its enemy. Legal Tender caused no
great pleasure or pain in the sum of life to a newspaper
correspondent, but it served as a subject for letters, and the
Chief Justice was very willing to win an ally in the press who
would tell his story as he wished it to be read. The intimacy in
Mr. Chase's house grew rapidly, and the alliance was no small
help to the comforts of a struggling newspaper adventurer in
Washington. No matter what one might think of his politics or
temper, Mr. Chase was a dramatic figure, of high senatorial rank,
if also of certain senatorial faults; a valuable ally. 

  As was sure, sooner or later, to happen, Adams one day met
Charles Sumner on the street, and instantly stopped to greet him.
As though eight years of broken ties were the natural course of
friendship, Sumner at once, after an exclamation of surprise,
dropped back into the relation of hero to the school boy. Adams
enjoyed accepting it. He was then thirty years old and Sumner was
fifty-seven; he had seen more of the world than Sumner ever
dreamed of, and he felt a sort of amused curiosity to be treated
once more as a child. At best, the renewal of broken relations is
a nervous matter, and in this case it bristled with thorns, for
Sumner's quarrel with Mr. Adams had not been the most delicate of
his ruptured relations, and he was liable to be sensitive in many
ways that even Bostonians could hardly keep in constant mind; yet
it interested and fascinated Henry Adams as a new study of
political humanity. The younger man knew that the meeting would
have to come, and was ready for it, if only as a newspaper need;
but to Sumner it came as a surprise and a disagreeable one, as
Adams conceived. He learned something -- a piece of practical
education worth the effort -- by watching Sumner's behavior. He
could see that many thoughts -- mostly unpleasant -- were passing
through his mind, since he made no inquiry about any of Adams's
family, or allusion to any of his friends or his residence
abroad. He talked only of the present. To him, Adams in
Washington should have seemed more or less of a critic, perhaps a
spy, certainly an intriguer or adventurer, like scores of others;
a politician without party; a writer without principles; an
office-seeker certain to beg for support. All this was, for his
purposes, true. Adams could do him no good, and would be likely
to do him all the harm in his power. Adams accepted it all;
expected to be kept at arm's length; admitted that the reasons
were just. He was the more surprised to see that Sumner invited a
renewal of old relations. He found himself treated almost
confidentially. Not only was he asked to make a fourth at
Sumner's pleasant little dinners in the house on La Fayette
Square, but he found himself admitted to the Senator's study and
informed of his views, policy and purposes, which were sometimes
even more astounding than his curious gaps or lapses of

  On the whole, the relation was the queerest that Henry Adams
ever kept up. He liked and admired Sumner, but thought his mind a
pathological study. At times he inclined to think that Sumner
felt his solitude, and, in the political wilderness, craved
educated society; but this hardly told the whole story. Sumner's
mind had reached the calm of water which receives and reflects
images without absorbing them; it contained nothing but itself.
The images from without, the objects mechanically perceived by
the senses, existed by courtesy until the mental surface was
ruffled, but never became part of the thought. Henry Adams roused
no emotion; if he had roused a disagreeable one, he would have
ceased to exist. The mind would have mechanically rejected, as it
had mechanically admitted him. Not that Sumner was more
aggressively egoistic than other Senators -- Conkling, for
instance -- but that with him the disease had affected the whole
mind; it was chronic and absolute; while, with other Senators for
the most part, it was still acute. 

  Perhaps for this very reason, Sumner was the more valuable
acquaintance for a newspaper-man. Adams found him most useful;
perhaps quite the most useful of all these great authorities who
were the stock-in-trade of the newspaper business; the
accumulated capital of a Silurian age. A few months or years
more, and they were gone. In 1868, they were like the town
itself, changing but not changed. La Fayette Square was society.
Within a few hundred yards of Mr. Clark Mills's nursery monument
to the equestrian seat of Andrew Jackson, one found all one's
acquaintance as well as hotels, banks, markets and national
government. Beyond the Square the country began. No rich or
fashionable stranger had yet discovered the town. No literary or
scientific man, no artist, no gentleman without office or
employment, had ever lived there. It was rural, and its society
was primitive. Scarcely a person in it had ever known life in a
great city. Mr. Evarts, Mr. Sam Hooper, of Boston, and perhaps
one or two of the diplomatists had alone mixed in that sort of
world. The happy village was innocent of a club. The one-horse
tram on F Street to the Capitol was ample for traffic. Every
pleasant spring morning at the Pennsylvania Station, society met
to bid good-bye to its friends going off on the single express.
The State Department was lodged in an infant asylum far out on
Fourteenth Street while Mr. Mullett was constructing his
architectural infant asylum next the White House. The value of
real estate had not increased since 1800, and the pavements were
more impassable than the mud. All this favored a young man who
had come to make a name. In four-and-twenty hours he could know
everybody; in two days everybody knew him.

  After seven years' arduous and unsuccessful effort to explore
the outskirts of London society, the Washington world offered an
easy and delightful repose. When he looked round him, from the
safe shelter of Mr. Evarts's roof, on the men he was to work with
-- or against -- he had to admit that nine-tenths of his acquired
education was useless, and the other tenth harmful. He would have
to begin again from the beginning. He must learn to talk to the
Western Congressman, and to hide his own antecedents. The task
was amusing. He could see nothing to prevent him from enjoying
it, with immoral unconcern for all that had gone before and for
anything that might follow. The lobby offered a spectacle almost
picturesque. Few figures on the Paris stage were more
entertaining and dramatic than old Sam Ward, who knew more of
life than all the departments of the Government together,
including the Senate and the Smithsonian. Society had not much to
give, but what it had, it gave with an open hand. For the moment,
politics had ceased to disturb social relations. All parties were
mixed up and jumbled together in a sort of tidal slack-water. The
Government resembled Adams himself in the matter of education.
All that had gone before was useless, and some of it was worse.



  THE first effect of this leap into the unknown was a fit of low
spirits new to the young man's education; due in part to the
overpowering beauty and sweetness of the Maryland autumn, almost
unendurable for its strain on one who had toned his life down to
the November grays and browns of northern Europe. Life could not
go on so beautiful and so sad. Luckily, no one else felt it or
knew it. He bore it as well as he could, and when he picked
himself up, winter had come, and he was settled in bachelor's
quarters, as modest as those of a clerk in the Departments, far
out on G Street, towards Georgetown, where an old Finn named
Dohna, who had come out with the Russian Minister Stoeckel long
before, had bought or built a new house. Congress had met. Two or
three months remained to the old administration, but all interest
centred in the new one. The town began to swarm with
office-seekers, among whom a young writer was lost. He drifted
among them, unnoticed, glad to learn his work under cover of the
confusion. He never aspired to become a regular reporter; he knew
he should fail in trying a career so ambitious and energetic; but
he picked up friends on the press -- Nordhoff, Murat Halstead,
Henry Watterson, Sam Bowles -- all reformers, and all mixed and
jumbled together in a tidal wave of expectation, waiting for
General Grant to give orders. No one seemed to know much about
it. Even Senators had nothing to say. One could only make notes
and study finance. 

  In waiting, he amused himself as he could. In the amusements of
Washington, education had no part, but the simplicity of the
amusements proved the simplicity of everything else, ambitions,
interests, thoughts, and knowledge. Proverbially Washington was a
poor place for education, and of course young diplomats avoided
or disliked it, but, as a rule, diplomats disliked every place
except Paris, and the world contained only one Paris. They abused
London more violently than Washington; they praised no post under
the sun; and they were merely describing three-fourths of their
stations when they complained that there were no theatres, no
restaurants, no monde, no demi-monde, no drives, no splendor,
and, as Mme. de Struve used to say, no grandezza.  This was all
true; Washington was a mere political camp, as transient and
temporary as a camp-meeting for religious revival, but the
diplomats had least reason to complain, since they were more
sought for there than they would ever be elsewhere. For young men
Washington was in one way paradise, since they were few, and
greatly in demand. After watching the abject unimportance of the
young diplomat in London society, Adams found himself a young
duke in Washington. He had ten years of youth to make up, and a
ravenous appetite. Washington was the easiest society he had ever
seen, and even the Bostonian became simple, good-natured, almost
genial, in the softness of a Washington spring. Society went on
excellently well without houses, or carriages, or jewels, or
toilettes, or pavements, or shops, or grandezza of any sort; and
the market was excellent as well as cheap. One could not stay
there a month without loving the shabby town. Even the Washington
girl, who was neither rich nor well-dressed nor well-educated nor
clever, had singular charm, and used it. According to Mr. Adams
the father, this charm dated back as far as Monroe's
administration, to his personal knowledge. 

  Therefore, behind all the processes of political or financial
or newspaper training, the social side of Washington was to be
taken for granted as three-fourths of existence. Its details
matter nothing. Life ceased to be strenuous, and the victim
thanked God for it. Politics and reform became the detail, and
waltzing the profession. Adams was not alone. Senator Sumner had
as private secretary a young man named Moorfield Storey, who
became a dangerous example of frivolity. The new
Attorney-General, E. R. Hoar, brought with him from Concord a
son, Sam Hoar, whose example rivalled that of Storey. Another
impenitent was named Dewey, a young naval officer. Adams came far
down in the list. He wished he had been higher. He could have
spared a world of superannuated history, science, or politics, to
have reversed better in waltzing. 

  He had no adequate notion how little he knew, especially of
women, and Washington offered no standard of comparison. All were
profoundly ignorant together, and as indifferent as children to
education. No one needed knowledge. Washington was happier
without style. Certainly Adams was happier without it; happier
than he had ever been before; happier than any one in the harsh
world of strenuousness could dream of. This must be taken as
background for such little education as he gained; but the life
belonged to the eighteenth century, and in no way concerned
education for the twentieth. 

  In such an atmosphere, one made no great presence of hard work.
If the world wants hard work, the world must pay for it; and, if
it will not pay, it has no fault to find with the worker. Thus
far, no one had made a suggestion of pay for any work that Adams
had done or could do; if he worked at all, it was for social
consideration, and social pleasure was his pay. For this he was
willing to go on working, as an artist goes on painting when no
one buys his pictures. Artists have done it from the beginning of
time, and will do it after time has expired, since they cannot
help themselves, and they find their return in the pride of their
social superiority as they feel it. Society commonly abets them
and encourages their attitude of contempt. The society of
Washington was too simple and Southern as yet, to feel
anarchistic longings, and it never read or saw what artists
produced elsewhere, but it good-naturedly abetted them when it
had the chance, and respected itself the more for the frailty.
Adams found even the Government at his service, and every one
willing to answer his questions. He worked, after a fashion; not
very hard, but as much as the Government would have required of
him for nine hundred dollars a year; and his work defied
frivolity. He got more pleasure from writing than the world ever
got from reading him, for his work was not amusing, nor was he.
One must not try to amuse moneylenders or investors, and this was
the class to which he began by appealing. He gave three months to
an article on the finances of the United States, just then a
subject greatly needing treatment; and when he had finished it,
he sent it to London to his friend Henry Reeve, the ponderous
editor of the Edinburgh Review. Reeve probably thought it good;
at all events, he said so; and he printed it in April. Of course
it was reprinted in America, but in England such articles were
still anonymous, and the author remained unknown.

  The author was not then asking for advertisement, and made no
claim for credit. His object was literary. He wanted to win a
place on the staff of the Edinburgh Review, under the vast shadow
of Lord Macaulay; and, to a young American in 1868, such rank
seemed colossal -- the highest in the literary world -- as it had
been only five-and-twenty years before. Time and tide had flowed
since then, but the position still flattered vanity, though it
brought no other flattery or reward except the regular thirty
pounds of pay -- fifty dollars a month, measured in time and

  The Edinburgh article finished, he set himself to work on a
scheme for the North American Review. In England, Lord Robert
Cecil had invented for the London Quarterly an annual review of
politics which he called the "Session." Adams stole the idea and
the name -- he thought he had been enough in Lord Robert's house,
in days of his struggle with adversity, to excuse the theft --
and began what he meant for a permanent series of annual
political reviews which he hoped to make, in time, a political
authority. With his sources of information, and his social
intimacies at Washington, he could not help saying something that
would command attention. He had the field to himself, and he
meant to give himself a free hand, as he went on. Whether the
newspapers liked it or not, they would have to reckon with him;
for such a power, once established, was more effective than all
the speeches in Congress or reports to the President that could
be crammed into the Government presses.

  The first of these "Sessions" appeared in April, but it could
not be condensed into a single article, and had to be
supplemented in October by another which bore the title of "Civil
Service Reform," and was really a part of the same review. A good
deal of authentic history slipped into these papers. Whether any
one except his press associates ever read them, he never knew and
never greatly cared. The difference is slight, to the influence
of an author, whether he is read by five hundred readers, or by
five hundred thousand; if he can select the five hundred, he
reaches the five hundred thousand. The fateful year 1870 was near
at hand, which was to mark the close of the literary epoch, when
quarterlies gave way to monthlies; letter-press to illustration;
volumes to pages. The outburst was brilliant. Bret Harte led, and
Robert Louis Stevenson followed. Guy de Maupassant and Rudyard
Kipling brought up the rear, and dazzled the world. As usual,
Adams found himself fifty years behind his time, but a number of
belated wanderers kept him company, and they produced on each
other the effect or illusion of a public opinion. They straggled
apart, at longer and longer intervals, through the procession,
but they were still within hearing distance of each other. The
drift was still superficially conservative. Just as the Church
spoke with apparent authority, of the quarterlies laid down an
apparent law, and no one could surely say where the real
authority, or the real law, lay. Science lid not know. Truths a
priori held their own against truths surely relative. According
to Lowell, Right was forever on the scaffold, Wrong was forever
on the Throne; and most people still thought they believed it.
Adams was not the only relic of the eighteenth century, and he
could still depend on a certain number of listeners -- mostly
respectable, and some rich. 

  Want of audience did not trouble him; he was well enough off in
that respect, and would have succeeded in all his calculations if
this had been his only hazard. Where he broke down was at a point
where he always suffered wreck and where nine adventurers out of
ten make their errors. One may be more or less certain of
organized forces; one can never be certain of men. He belonged to
the eighteenth century, and the eighteenth century upset all his
plans. For the moment, America was more eighteenth century than
himself; it reverted to the stone age. 

  As education -- of a certain sort -- the story had probably a
certain value, though he could never see it. One seldom can see
much education in the buck of a broncho; even less in the kick of
a mule. The lesson it teaches is only that of getting out of the
animal's way. This was the lesson that Henry Adams had learned
over and over again in politics since 1860.

  At least four-fifths of the American people -- Adams among the
rest -- had united in the election of General Grant to the
Presidency, and probably had been more or less affected in their
choice by the parallel they felt between Grant and Washington.
Nothing could be more obvious. Grant represented order. He was a
great soldier, and the soldier always represented order. He might
be as partisan as he pleased, but a general who had organized and
commanded half a million or a million men in the field, must know
how to administer. Even Washington, who was, in education and
experience, a mere cave-dweller, had known how to organize a
government, and had found Jeffersons and Hamiltons to organize
his departments. The task of bringing the Government back to
regular practices, and of restoring moral and mechanical order to
administration, was not very difficult; it was ready to do it
itself, with a little encouragement. No doubt the confusion,
especially in the old slave States and in the currency, was
considerable, but, the general disposition was good, and every
one had echoed that famous phrase: "Let us have peace."

  Adams was young and easily deceived, in spite of his diplomatic
adventures, but even at twice his age he could not see that this
reliance on Grant was unreasonable. Had Grant been a Congressman
one would have been on one's guard, for one knew the type. One
never expected from a Congressman more than good intentions and
public spirit. Newspaper-men as a rule had no great respect for
the lower House; Senators had less; and Cabinet officers had none
at all. Indeed, one day when Adams was pleading with a Cabinet
officer for patience and tact in dealing with Representatives,
the Secretary impatiently broke out: "You can't use tact with a
Congressman! A Congressman is a hog! You must take a stick and
hit him on the snout!" Adams knew far too little, compared with
the Secretary, to contradict him, though he thought the phrase
somewhat harsh even as applied to the average Congressman of 1869
-- he saw little or nothing of later ones -- but he knew a
shorter way of silencing criticism. He had but to ask: "If a
Congressman is a hog, what is a Senator?" This innocent question,
put in a candid spirit, petrified any executive officer that ever
sat a week in his office. Even Adams admitted that Senators
passed belief. The comic side of their egotism partly disguised
its extravagance, but faction had gone so far under Andrew
Johnson that at times the whole Senate seemed to catch hysterics
of nervous bucking without apparent reason. Great leaders, like
Sumner and Conkling, could not be burlesqued; they were more
grotesque than ridicule could make them; even Grant, who rarely
sparkled in epigram, became witty on their account; but their
egotism and factiousness were no laughing matter. They did
permanent and terrible mischief, as Garfield and Blaine, and even
McKinley and John Hay, were to feel. The most troublesome task of
a reform President was that of bringing the Senate back to

  Therefore no one, and Henry Adams less than most, felt hope
that any President chosen from the ranks of politics or
politicians would raise the character of government; and by
instinct if not by reason, all the world united on Grant. The
Senate understood what the world expected, and waited in silence
for a struggle with Grant more serious than that with Andrew
Johnson. Newspaper-men were alive with eagerness to support the
President against the Senate. The newspaper-man is, more than
most men, a double personality; and his person feels best
satisfied in its double instincts when writing in one sense and
thinking in another. All newspaper-men, whatever they wrote, felt
alike about the Senate. Adams floated with the stream. He was
eager to join in the fight which he foresaw as sooner or later
inevitable. He meant to support the Executive in attacking the
Senate and taking away its two-thirds vote and power of
confirmation, nor did he much care how it should be done, for he
thought it safer to effect the revolution in 1870 than to wait
till 1920.. 

  With this thought in his mind, he went to the Capitol to hear
the names announced which should reveal the carefully guarded
secret of Grant's Cabinet. To the end of his life, he wondered at
the suddenness of the revolution which actually, within five
minutes, changed his intended future into an absurdity so
laughable as to make him ashamed of it. He was to hear a long
list of Cabinet announcements not much weaker or more futile than
that of Grant, and none of them made him blush, while Grant's
nominations had the singular effect of making the hearer ashamed,
not so much of Grant, as of himself. He had made another total
misconception of life -- another inconceivable false start. Yet,
unlikely as it seemed, he had missed his motive narrowly, and his
intention had been more than sound, for the Senators made no
secret of saying with senatorial frankness that Grant's
nominations betrayed his intent as plainly as they betrayed his
incompetence. A great soldier might be a baby politician.

  Adams left the Capitol, much in the same misty mental condition
that he recalled as marking his railway journey to London on May
13, 1861; he felt in himself what Gladstone bewailed so sadly,
"the incapacity of viewing things all round." He knew, without
absolutely saying it, that Grant had cut short the life which
Adams had laid out for himself in the future. After such a
miscarriage, no thought of effectual reform could revive for at
least one generation, and he had no fancy for ineffectual
politics. What course could he sail next? He had tried so many,
and society had barred them all! For the moment, he saw no hope
but in following the stream on which he had launched himself. The
new Cabinet, as individuals, were not hostile. Subsequently Grant
made changes in the list which were mostly welcome to a Bostonian
-- or should have been -- although fatal to Adams. The name of
Hamilton Fish, as Secretary of State, suggested extreme
conservatism and probable deference to Sumner. The name of George
S. Boutwell, as Secretary of the Treasury, suggested only a
somewhat lugubrious joke; Mr. Boutwell could be described only as
the opposite of Mr. McCulloch, and meant inertia; or, in plain
words, total extinction for any one resembling Henry Adams. On
the other hand, the name of Jacob D. Cox, as Secretary of the
Interior, suggested help and comfort; while that of Judge Hoar,
as Attorney-General, promised friendship. On the whole, the
personal outlook, merely for literary purposes, seemed fairly
cheerful, and the political outlook, though hazy, still depended
on Grant himself. No one doubted that Grant's intention had been
one of reform; that his aim had been to place his administration
above politics; and until he should actually drive his supporters
away, one might hope to support him. One's little lantern must
therefore be turned on Grant. One seemed to know him so well, and
really knew so little.

  By chance it happened that Adam Badeau took the lower suite of
rooms at Dohna's, and, as it was convenient to have one table,
the two men dined together and became intimate. Badeau was
exceedingly social, though not in appearance imposing. He was
stout; his face was red, and his habits were regularly irregular;
but he was very intelligent, a good newspaper-man, and an
excellent military historian. His life of Grant was no ordinary
book. Unlike most newspaper-men, he was a friendly critic of
Grant, as suited an officer who had been on the General's staff.
As a rule, the newspaper correspondents in Washington were
unfriendly, and the lobby sceptical. From that side one heard
tales that made one's hair stand on end, and the old West Point
army officers were no more flattering. All described him as
vicious, narrow, dull, and vindictive. Badeau, who had come to
Washington for a consulate which was slow to reach him, resorted
more or less to whiskey for encouragement, and became irritable,
besides being loquacious. He talked much about Grant, and showed
a certain artistic feeling for analysis of character, as a true
literary critic would naturally do. Loyal to Grant, and still
more so to Mrs. Grant, who acted as his patroness, he said
nothing, even when far gone, that was offensive about either, but
he held that no one except himself and Rawlins understood the
General. To him, Grant appeared as an intermittent energy,
immensely powerful when awake, but passive and plastic in repose.
He said that neither he nor the rest of the staff knew why Grant
succeeded; they believed in him because of his success. For
stretches of time, his mind seemed torpid. Rawlins and the others
would systematically talk their ideas into it, for weeks, not
directly, but by discussion among themselves, in his presence. In
the end, he would announce the idea as his own, without seeming
conscious of the discussion; and would give the orders to carry
it out with all the energy that belonged to his nature. They
could never measure his character or be sure when he would act.
They could never follow a mental process in his thought. They
were not sure that he did think. 

  In all this, Adams took deep interest, for although he was not,
like Badeau, waiting for Mrs. Grant's power of suggestion to act
on the General's mind in order to germinate in a consulate or a
legation, his portrait gallery of great men was becoming large,
and it amused him to add an authentic likeness of the greatest
general the world had seen since Napoleon. Badeau's analysis was
rather delicate; infinitely superior to that of Sam Ward or
Charles Nordhoff. 

  Badeau took Adams to the White House one evening and introduced
him to the President and Mrs. Grant. First and last, he saw a
dozen Presidents at the White House, and the most famous were by
no means the most agreeable, but he found Grant the most curious
object of study among them all. About no one did opinions differ
so widely. Adams had no opinion, or occasion to make one. A
single word with Grant satisfied him that, for his own good, the
fewer words he risked, the better. Thus far in life he had met
with but one man of the same intellectual or unintellectual type
-- Garibaldi. Of the two, Garibaldi seemed to him a trifle the
more intellectual, but, in both, the intellect counted for
nothing; only the energy counted. The type was pre-intellectual,
archaic, and would have seemed so even to the cave-dwellers.
Adam, according to legend, was such a man. 

  In time one came to recognize the type in other men, with
differences and variations, as normal; men whose energies were
the greater, the less they wasted on thought; men who sprang from
the soil to power; apt to be distrustful of themselves and of
others; shy; jealous; sometimes vindictive; more or less dull in
outward appearance; always needing stimulants, but for whom
action was the highest stimulant -- the instinct of fight. Such
men were forces of nature, energies of the prime, like the
Pteraspis , but they made short work of scholars. They had
commanded thousands of such and saw no more in them than in
others. The fact was certain; it crushed argument and intellect
at once. 

  Adams did not feel Grant as a hostile force; like Badeau he saw
only an uncertain one. When in action he was superb and safe to
follow; only when torpid he was dangerous. To deal with him one
must stand near, like Rawlins, and practice more or less
sympathetic habits. Simple-minded beyond the experience of Wall
Street or State Street, he resorted, like most men of the same
intellectual calibre, to commonplaces when at a loss for
expression: "Let us have peace!" or, "The best way to treat a bad
law is to execute it"; or a score of such reversible sentences
generally to be gauged by their sententiousness; but sometimes he
made one doubt his good faith; as when he seriously remarked to a
particularly bright young woman that Venice would be a fine city
if it were drained. In Mark Twain, this suggestion would have
taken rank among his best witticisms; in Grant it was a measure
of simplicity not singular. Robert E. Lee betrayed the same
intellectual commonplace, in a Virginian form, not to the same
degree, but quite distinctly enough for one who knew the
American. What worried Adams was not the commonplace; it was, as
usual, his own education. Grant fretted and irritated him, like
the Terebratula, as a defiance of first principles. He had no
right to exist. He should have been extinct for ages. The idea
that, as society grew older, it grew one-sided, upset evolution,
and made of education a fraud. That, two thousand years after
Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar, a man like Grant should be
called -- and should actually and truly be -- the highest product
of the most advanced evolution, made evolution ludicrous. One
must be as commonplace as Grant's own commonplaces to maintain
such an absurdity. The progress of evolution from President
Washington to President Grant, was alone evidence enough to upset

  Education became more perplexing at every phase. No theory was
worth the pen that wrote it. America had no use for Adams because
he was eighteenth-century, and yet it worshipped Grant because he
was archaic and should have lived in a cave and worn skins.
Darwinists ought to conclude that America was reverting to the
stone age, but the theory of reversion was more absurd than that
of evolution. Grant's administration reverted to nothing. One
could not catch a trait of the past, still less of the future. It
was not even sensibly American. Not an official in it, except
perhaps Rawlins whom Adams never met, and who died in September,
suggested an American idea. 

  Yet this administration, which upset Adams's whole life, was
not unfriendly; it was made up largely of friends. Secretary Fish
was almost kind; he kept the tradition of New York social values;
he was human and took no pleasure in giving pain. Adams felt no
prejudice whatever in his favor, and he had nothing in mind or
person to attract regard; his social gifts were not remarkable;
he was not in the least magnetic; he was far from young; but he
won confidence from the start and remained a friend to the
finish. As far as concerned Mr. Fish, one felt rather happily
suited, and one was still better off in the Interior Department
with J. D. Cox. Indeed, if Cox had been in the Treasury and
Boutwell in the Interior, one would have been quite satisfied as
far as personal relations went, while, in the Attorney-General's
Office, Judge Hoar seemed to fill every possible ideal, both
personal and political. 

  The difficulty was not the want of friends, and had the whole
government been filled with them, it would have helped little
without the President and the Treasury. Grant avowed from the
start a policy of drift; and a policy of drift attaches only
barnacles. At thirty, one has no interest in becoming a barnacle,
but even in that character Henry Adams would have been ill-seen.
His friends were reformers, critics, doubtful in party
allegiance, and he was himself an object of suspicion. Grant had
no objects, wanted no help, wished for no champions. The
Executive asked only to be let alone. This was his meaning when
he said: "Let us have peace! "

  No one wanted to go into opposition. As for Adams, all his
hopes of success in life turned on his finding an administration
to support. He knew well enough the rules of self-interest. He
was for sale. He wanted to be bought. His price was excessively
cheap, for he did not even ask an office, and had his eye, not on
the Government, but on New York. All he wanted was something to
support; something that would let itself be supported. Luck went
dead against him. For once, he was fifty years in advance of his


FREE FIGHT (1869-1870)

  THE old New Englander was apt to be a solitary animal, but the
young New Englander was sometimes human. Judge Hoar brought his
son Sam to Washington, and Sam Hoar loved largely and well. He
taught Adams the charm of Washington spring. Education for
education, none ever compared with the delight of this. The
Potomac and its tributaries squandered beauty. Rock Creek was as
wild as the Rocky Mountains. Here and there a negro log cabin
alone disturbed the dogwood and the judas-tree, the azalea and
the laurel. The tulip and the chestnut gave no sense of struggle
against a stingy nature. The soft, full outlines of the landscape
carried no hidden horror of glaciers in its bosom. The brooding
heat of the profligate vegetation; the cool charm of the running
water; the terrific splendor of the June thunder-gust in the deep
and solitary woods, were all sensual, animal, elemental. No
European spring had shown him the same intermixture of delicate
grace and passionate depravity that marked the Maryland May. He
loved it too much, as though it were Greek and half human. He
could not leave it, but loitered on into July, falling into the
Southern ways of the summer village about La Fayette Square, as
one whose rights of inheritance could not be questioned. Few
Americans were so poor as to question them. 

  In spite of the fatal deception -- or undeception -- about
Grant's political character, Adams's first winter in Washington
had so much amused him that he had not a thought of change. He
loved it too much to question its value. What did he know about
its value, or what did any one know? His father knew more about
it than any one else in Boston, and he was amused to find that
his father, whose recollections went back to 1820, betrayed for
Washington much the same sentimental weakness, and described the
society about President Monroe much as his son felt the society
about President Johnson. He feared its effect on young men, with
some justice, since it had been fatal to two of his brothers; but
he understood the charm, and he knew that a life in Quincy or
Boston was not likely to deaden it.

  Henry was in a savage humor on the subject of Boston. He saw
Boutwells at every counter. He found a personal grief in every
tree. Fifteen or twenty years afterwards, Clarence King used to
amuse him by mourning over the narrow escape that nature had made
in attaining perfection. Except for two mistakes, the earth would
have been a success. One of these errors was the inclination of
the ecliptic; the other was the differentiation of the sexes, and
the saddest thought about the last was that it should have been
so modern. Adams, in his splenetic temper, held that both these
unnecessary evils had wreaked their worst on Boston. The climate
made eternal war on society, and sex was a species of crime. The
ecliptic had inclined itself beyond recovery till life was as
thin as the elm trees. Of course he was in the wrong. The
thinness was in himself, not in Boston; but this is a story of
education, and Adams was struggling to shape himself to his time.
Boston was trying to do the same thing. Everywhere, except in
Washington, Americans were toiling for the same object. Every one
complained of surroundings, except where, as at Washington, there
were no surroundings to complain of. Boston kept its head better
than its neighbors did, and very little time was needed to prove
it, even to Adams's confusion.

  Before he got back to Quincy, the summer was already half over,
and in another six weeks the effects of President Grant's
character showed themselves. They were startling -- astounding --
terrifying. The mystery that shrouded the famous, classical
attempt of Jay Gould to corner gold in September, 1869, has never
been cleared up -- at least so far as to make it intelligible to
Adams. Gould was led, by the change at Washington, into the
belief that he could safely corner gold without interference from
the Government. He took a number of precautions, which he
admitted; and he spent a large sum of money, as he also
testified, to obtain assurances which were not sufficient to have
satisfied so astute a gambler; yet he made the venture. Any
criminal lawyer must have begun investigation by insisting,
rigorously, that no such man, in such a position, could be
permitted to plead that he had taken, and pursued, such a course,
without assurances which did satisfy him. The plea was
professionally inadmissible. 

  This meant that any criminal lawyer would have been bound to
start an investigation by insisting that Gould had assurances
from the White House or the Treasury, since none other could have
satisfied him. To young men wasting their summer at Quincy for
want of some one to hire their services at three dollars a day,
such a dramatic scandal was Heaven-sent. Charles and Henry Adams
jumped at it like salmon at a fly, with as much voracity as Jay
Gould, or his ame damnee Jim Fisk, had ever shown for Erie; and
with as little fear of consequences. They risked something; no
one could say what; but the people about the Erie office were not
regarded as lambs.

  The unravelling a skein so tangled as that of the Erie Railway
was a task that might have given months of labor to the most
efficient District Attorney, with all his official tools to work
with. Charles took the railway history; Henry took the so-called
Gold Conspiracy; and they went to New York to work it up. The
surface was in full view. They had no trouble in Wall Street, and
they paid their respects in person to the famous Jim Fisk in his
Opera-House Palace; but the New York side of the story helped
Henry little. He needed to penetrate the political mystery, and
for this purpose he had to wait for Congress to meet. At first he
feared that Congress would suppress the scandal, but the
Congressional Investigation was ordered and took place. He soon
knew all that was to be known; the material for his essay was
furnished by the Government. 

  Material furnished by a government seldom satisfies critics or
historians, for it lies always under suspicion. Here was a
mystery, and as usual, the chief mystery was the means of making
sure that any mystery existed. All Adams's great friends -- Fish,
Cox, Hoar, Evarts, Sumner, and their surroundings -- were
precisely the persons most mystified. They knew less than Adams
did; they sought information, and frankly admitted that their
relations with the White House and the Treasury were not
confidential. No one volunteered advice. No one offered
suggestion. One got no light, even from the press, although press
agents expressed in private the most damning convictions with
their usual cynical frankness. The Congressional Committee took a
quantity of evidence which it dared not probe, and refused to
analyze. Although the fault lay somewhere on the Administration,
and could lie nowhere else, the trail always faded and died out
at the point where any member of the Administration became
visible. Every one dreaded to press inquiry. Adams himself feared
finding out too much. He found out too much already, when he saw
in evidence that Jay Gould had actually succeeded in stretching
his net over Grant's closest surroundings, and that Boutwell's
incompetence was the bottom of Gould's calculation. With the
conventional air of assumed confidence, every one in public
assured every one else that the President himself was the savior
of the situation, and in private assured each other that if the
President had not been caught this time, he was sure to be
trapped the next, for the ways of Wall Street were dark and
double. All this was wildly exciting to Adams. That Grant should
have fallen, within six months, into such a morass -- or should
have let Boutwell drop him into it -- rendered the outlook for
the next four years -- probably eight -- possibly twelve --
mysterious, or frankly opaque, to a young man who had hitched his
wagon, as Emerson told him, to the star of reform. The country
might outlive it, but not he. The worst scandals of the
eighteenth century were relatively harmless by the side of this,
which smirched executive, judiciary, banks, corporate systems,
professions, and people, all the great active forces of society,
in one dirty cesspool of vulgar corruption. Only six months
before, this innocent young man, fresh from the cynicism of
European diplomacy, had expected to enter an honorable career in
the press as the champion and confidant of a new Washington, and
already he foresaw a life of wasted energy, sweeping the stables
of American society clear of the endless corruption which his
second Washington was quite certain to breed.

  By vigorously shutting one's eyes, as though one were an
Assistant Secretary, a writer for the press might ignore the Erie
scandal, and still help his friends or allies in the Government
who were doing their best to give it an air of decency; but a few
weeks showed that the Erie scandal was a mere incident, a rather
vulgar Wall Street trap, into which, according to one's point of
view Grant had been drawn by Jay Gould, or Jay Gould had been
misled by Grant. One could hardly doubt that both of them were
astonished and disgusted by the result; but neither Jay Gould nor
any other astute American mind -- still less the complex Jew --
could ever have accustomed itself to the incredible and
inexplicable lapses of Grant's intelligence; and perhaps, on the
whole, Gould was the less mischievous victim, if victims they
both were. The same laxity that led Gould into a trap which might
easily have become the penitentiary, led the United States
Senate, the Executive departments and the Judiciary into
confusion, cross-purposes, and ill-temper that would have been
scandalous in a boarding-school of girls. For satirists or
comedians, the study was rich and endless, and they exploited its
corners with happy results, but a young man fresh from the rustic
simplicity of London noticed with horror that the grossest
satires on the American Senator and politician never failed to
excite the laughter and applause of every audience. Rich and poor
joined in throwing contempt on their own representatives. Society
laughed a vacant and meaningless derision over its own failure.
Nothing remained for a young man without position or power except
to laugh too. 

  Yet the spectacle was no laughing matter to him, whatever it
might be to the public. Society is immoral and immortal; it can
afford to commit any kind of folly, and indulge in any sort of
vice; it cannot be killed, and the fragments that survive can
always laugh at the dead; but a young man has only one chance,
and brief time to seize it. Any one in power above him can
extinguish the chance. He is horribly at the mercy of fools and
cowards. One dull administration can rapidly drive out every
active subordinate. At Washington, in 1869-70, every intelligent
man about the Government prepared to go. The people would have
liked to go too, for they stood helpless before the chaos; some
laughed and some raved; all were disgusted; but they had to
content themselves by turning their backs and going to work
harder than ever on their railroads and foundries. They were
strong enough to carry even their politics. Only the helpless
remained stranded in Washington.

  The shrewdest statesman of all was Mr. Boutwell, who showed how
he understood the situation by turning out of the Treasury every
one who could interfere with his repose, and then locking himself
up in it, alone. What he did there, no one knew. His colleagues
asked him in vain. Not a word could they get from him, either in
the Cabinet or out of it, of suggestion or information on matters
even of vital interest. The Treasury as an active influence
ceased to exist. Mr. Boutwell waited with confidence for society
to drag his department out of the mire, as it was sure to do if
he waited long enough. 

  Warned by his friends in the Cabinet as well as in the Treasury
that Mr. Boutwell meant to invite no support, and cared to
receive none, Adams had only the State and Interior Departments
left to serve. He wanted no better than to serve them. Opposition
was his horror; pure waste of energy; a union with Northern
Democrats and Southern rebels who never had much in common with
any Adams, and had never shown any warm interest about them
except to drive them from public life. If Mr. Boutwell turned him
out of the Treasury with the indifference or contempt that made
even a beetle helpless, Mr. Fish opened the State Department
freely, and seemed to talk with as much openness as any
newspaper-man could ask. At all events, Adams could cling to this
last plank of salvation, and make himself perhaps the recognized
champion of Mr. Fish in the New York press. He never once thought
of his disaster between Seward and Sumner in 1861. Such an
accident could not occur again. Fish and Sumner were inseparable,
and their policy was sure to be safe enough for support. No
mosquito could be so unlucky as to be caught a second time
between a Secretary and a Senator who were both his friends. 

  This dream of security lasted hardly longer than that of 1861.
Adams saw Sumner take possession of the Department, and he
approved; he saw Sumner seize the British mission for Motley, and
he was delighted; but when he renewed his relations with Sumner
in the winter of 1869-70, he began slowly to grasp the idea that
Sumner had a foreign policy of his own which he proposed also to
force on the Department. This was not all. Secretary Fish seemed
to have vanished. Besides the Department of State over which he
nominally presided in the Infant Asylum on Fourteenth Street,
there had risen a Department of Foreign Relations over which
Senator Sumner ruled with a high hand at the Capitol; and,
finally, one clearly made out a third Foreign Office in the War
Department, with President Grant himself for chief, pressing a
policy of extension in the West Indies which no Northeastern man
ever approved. For his life, Adams could not learn where to place
himself among all these forces. Officially he would have followed
the responsible Secretary of State, but he could not find the
Secretary. Fish seemed to be friendly towards Sumner, and docile
towards Grant, but he asserted as yet no policy of his own. As
for Grant's policy, Adams never had a chance to know fully what
it was, but, as far as he did know, he was ready to give it
ardent support. The difficulty came only when he heard Sumner's
views, which, as he had reason to know, were always commands, to
be disregarded only by traitors. 

  Little by little, Sumner unfolded his foreign policy, and Adams
gasped with fresh astonishment at every new article of the creed.
To his profound regret he heard Sumner begin by imposing his veto
on all extension within the tropics; which cost the island of St.
Thomas to the United States, besides the Bay of Samana as an
alternative, and ruined Grant's policy. Then he listened with
incredulous stupor while Sumner unfolded his plan for
concentrating and pressing every possible American claim against
England, with a view of compelling the cession of Canada to the
United States. 

  Adams did not then know -- in fact, he never knew, or could
find any one to tell him -- what was going on behind the doors of
the White House. He doubted whether Mr. Fish or Bancroft Davis
knew much more than he. The game of cross-purposes was as
impenetrable in Foreign Affairs as in the Gold Conspiracy.
President Grant let every one go on, but whom he supported, Adams
could not be expected to divine. One point alone seemed clear to
a man -- no longer so very young -- who had lately come from a
seven years' residence in London. He thought he knew as much as
any one in Washington about England, and he listened with the
more perplexity to Mr. Sumner's talk, because it opened the
gravest doubts of Sumner's sanity. If war was his object, and
Canada were worth it, Sumner's scheme showed genius, and Adams
was ready to treat it seriously; but if he thought he could
obtain Canada from England as a voluntary set-off to the Alabama
Claims, he drivelled. On the point of fact, Adams was as
peremptory as Sumner on the point of policy, but he could only
wonder whether Mr. Fish would dare say it. When at last Mr. Fish
did say it, a year later, Sumner publicly cut his acquaintance. 
Adams was the more puzzled because he could not believe Sumner so
mad as to quarrel both with Fish and with Grant. A quarrel with
Seward and Andrew Johnson was bad enough, and had profited no
one; but a quarrel with General Grant was lunacy. Grant might be
whatever one liked, as far as morals or temper or intellect were
concerned, but he was not a man whom a light-weight cared to
challenge for a fight; and Sumner, whether he knew it or not, was
a very light weight in the Republican Party, if separated from
his Committee of Foreign Relations. As a party manager he had not
the weight of half-a-dozen men whose very names were unknown to

  Between these great forces, where was the Administration and
how was one to support it? One must first find it, and even then
it was not easily caught. Grant's simplicity was more
disconcerting than the complexity of a Talleyrand. Mr. Fish
afterwards told Adams, with the rather grim humor he sometimes
indulged in, that Grant took a dislike to Motley because he
parted his hair in the middle. Adams repeated the story to
Godkin, who made much play with it in the Nation, till it was
denied. Adams saw no reason why it should be denied. Grant had as
good a right to dislike the hair as the head, if the hair seemed
to him a part of it. Very shrewd men have formed very sound
judgments on less material than hair -- on clothes, for example,
according to Mr. Carlyle, or on a pen, according to Cardinal de
Retz -- and nine men in ten could hardly give as good a reason as
hair for their likes or dislikes. In truth, Grant disliked Motley
at sight, because they had nothing in common; and for the same
reason he disliked Sumner. For the same reason he would be sure
to dislike Adams if Adams gave him a chance. Even Fish could not
be quite sure of Grant, except for the powerful effect which
wealth had, or appeared to have, on Grant's imagination. 

  The quarrel that lowered over the State Department did not
break in storm till July, 1870, after Adams had vanished, but
another quarrel, almost as fatal to Adams as that between Fish
and Sumner, worried him even more. Of all members of the Cabinet,
the one whom he had most personal interest in cultivating was
Attorney General Hoar. The Legal Tender decision, which had been
the first stumbling-block to Adams at Washington, grew in
interest till it threatened to become something more serious than
a block; it fell on one's head like a plaster ceiling, and could
not be escaped. The impending battle between Fish and Sumner was
nothing like so serious as the outbreak between Hoar and Chief
Justice Chase. Adams had come to Washington hoping to support the
Executive in a policy of breaking down the Senate, but he never
dreamed that he would be required to help in breaking down the
Supreme Court. Although, step by step, he had been driven, like
the rest of the world, to admit that American society had
outgrown most of its institutions, he still clung to the Supreme
Court, much as a churchman clings to his bishops, because they
are his only symbol of unity; his last rag of Right. Between the
Executive and the Legislature, citizens could have no Rights;
they were at the mercy of Power. They had created the Court to
protect them from unlimited Power, and it was little enough
protection at best. Adams wanted to save the independence of the
Court at least for his lifetime, and could not conceive that the
Executive should wish to overthrow it. 

  Frank Walker shared this feeling, and, by way of helping the
Court, he had promised Adams for the North American Review an
article on the history of the Legal Tender Act, founded on a
volume just then published by Spaulding, the putative father of
the legal-tender clause in 1861. Secretary Jacob D. Cox, who
alone sympathized with reform, saved from Boutwell's decree of
banishment such reformers as he could find place for, and he
saved Walker for a time by giving him the Census of 1870. Walker
was obliged to abandon his article for the North American in
order to devote himself to the Census. He gave Adams his notes,
and Adams completed the article.

  He had not toiled in vain over the Bank of England Restriction.
He knew enough about Legal Tender to leave it alone. If the banks
and bankers wanted fiat money, fiat money was good enough for a
newspaper-man; and if they changed about and wanted "intrinsic"
value, gold and silver came equally welcome to a writer who was
paid half the wages of an ordinary mechanic. He had no notion of
attacking or defending Legal Tender; his object was to defend the
Chief Justice and the Court. Walker argued that, whatever might
afterwards have been the necessity for legal tender, there was no
necessity for it at the time the Act was passed. With the help of
the Chief Justice's recollections, Adams completed the article,
which appeared in the April number of the North American. Its
ferocity was Walker's, for Adams never cared to abandon the knife
for the hatchet, but Walker reeked of the army and the
Springfield Republican, and his energy ran away with Adams's
restraint. The unfortunate Spaulding complained loudly of this
treatment, not without justice, but the article itself had
serious historical value, for Walker demolished every shred of
Spaulding's contention that legal tender was necessary at the
time; and the Chief Justice told his part of the story with
conviction. The Chief Justice seemed to be pleased. The Attorney
General, pleased or not, made no sign. The article had enough
historical interest to induce Adams to reprint it in a volume of
Essays twenty years afterwards; but its historical value was not
its point in education. The point was that, in spite of the best
intentions, the plainest self-interest, and the strongest wish to
escape further trouble, the article threw Adams into opposition.
Judge Hoar, like Boutwell, was implacable.

  Hoar went on to demolish the Chief Justice; while Henry Adams
went on, drifting further and further from the Administration. He
did this in common with all the world, including Hoar himself.
Scarcely a newspaper in the country kept discipline. The New York
Tribune was one of the most criminal. Dissolution of ties in
every direction marked the dissolution of temper, and the Senate
Chamber became again a scene of irritated egotism that passed
ridicule. Senators quarrelled with each other, and no one
objected, but they picked quarrels also with the Executive and
threw every Department into confusion. Among others they
quarrelled with Hoar, and drove him from office.

  That Sumner and Hoar, the two New Englanders in great position
who happened to be the two persons most necessary for his success
at Washington, should be the first victims of Grant's lax rule,
must have had some meaning for Adams's education, if Adams could
only have understood what it was. He studied, but failed.
Sympathy with him was not their weakness. Directly, in the form
of help, he knew he could hope as little from them as from
Boutwell. So far from inviting attachment they, like other New
Englanders, blushed to own a friend. Not one of the whole
delegation would ever, of his own accord, try to help Adams or
any other young man who did not beg for it, although they would
always accept whatever services they had not to pay for. The
lesson of education was not there. The selfishness of politics
was the earliest of all political education, and Adams had
nothing to learn from its study; but the situation struck him as
curious -- so curious that he devoted years to reflecting upon
it. His four most powerful friends had matched themselves, two
and two, and were fighting in pairs to a finish; Sumner-Fish;
Chase-Hoar; with foreign affairs and the judiciary as prizes!
What value had the fight in education? 

  Adams was puzzled, and was not the only puzzled bystander. The
stage-type of statesman was amusing, whether as Roscoe Conkling
or Colonel Mulberry Sellers, but what was his value? The
statesmen of the old type, whether Sumners or Conklings or Hoars
or Lamars, were personally as honest as human nature could
produce. They trod with lofty contempt on other people's jobs,
especially when there was good in them. Yet the public thought
that Sumner and Conkling cost the country a hundred times more
than all the jobs they ever trod on; just as Lamar and the old
Southern statesmen, who were also honest in money-matters, cost
the country a civil war. This painful moral doubt worried Adams
less than it worried his friends and the public, but it affected
the whole field of politics for twenty years. The newspapers
discussed little else than the alleged moral laxity of Grant,
Garfield, and Blaine. If the press were taken seriously, politics
turned on jobs, and some of Adams's best friends, like Godkin,
ruined their influence by their insistence on points of morals.
Society hesitated, wavered, oscillated between harshness and
laxity, pitilessly sacrificing the weak, and deferentially
following the strong. In spite of all such criticism, the public
nominated Grant, Garfield, and Blaine for the Presidency, and
voted for them afterwards, not seeming to care for the question;
until young men were forced to see that either some new standard
must be created, or none could be upheld. The moral law had
expired -- like the Constitution. 

  Grant's administration outraged every rule of ordinary decency,
but scores of promising men, whom the country could not well
spare, were ruined in saying so. The world cared little for
decency. What it wanted, it did not know; probably a system that
would work, and men who could work it; but it found neither.
Adams had tried his own little hands on it, and had failed. His
friends had been driven out of Washington or had taken to
fisticuffs. He himself sat down and stared helplessly into the

  The result was a review of the Session for the July North
American into which he crammed and condensed everything he
thought he had observed and all he had been told. He thought it
good history then, and he thought it better twenty years
afterwards; he thought it even good enough to reprint. As it
happened, in the process of his devious education, this "Session"
of 1869-70 proved to be his last study in current politics, and
his last dying testament as a humble member of the press. As
such, he stood by it. He could have said no more, had he gone on
reviewing every session in the rest of the century. The political
dilemma was as clear in 1870 as it was likely to be in 1970 The
system of 1789 had broken down, and with it the
eighteenth-century fabric of a priori, or moral, principles.
Politicians had tacitly given it up. Grant's administration
marked the avowal. Nine-tenths of men's political energies must
henceforth be wasted on expedients to piece out -- to patch --
or, in vulgar language, to tinker -- the political machine as
often as it broke down. Such a system, or want of system, might
last centuries, if tempered by an occasional revolution or civil
war; but as a machine, it was, or soon would be, the poorest in
the world -- the clumsiest -- the most inefficient 

  Here again was an education, but what it was worth he could not
guess. Indeed, when he raised his eyes to the loftiest and most
triumphant results of politics -- to Mr. Boutwell, Mr. Conkling
or even Mr. Sumner -- he could not honestly say that such an
education, even when it carried one up to these unattainable
heights, was worth anything. There were men, as yet standing on
lower levels -- clever and amusing men like Garfield and Blaine
-- who took no little pleasure in making fun of the senatorial
demi-gods, and who used language about Grant himself which the
North American Review would not have admitted. One asked
doubtfully what was likely to become of these men in their turn.
What kind of political ambition was to result from this
destructive political education? 

  Yet the sum of political life was, or should have been, the
attainment of a working political system. Society needed to reach
it. If moral standards broke down, and machinery stopped working,
new morals and machinery of some sort had to be invented. An
eternity of Grants, or even of Garfields or of Conklings or of
Jay Goulds, refused to be conceived as possible. Practical
Americans laughed, and went their way. Society paid them to be
practical. Whenever society cared to pay Adams, he too would be
practical, take his pay, and hold his tongue; but meanwhile he
was driven to associate with Democratic Congressmen and educate
them. He served David Wells as an active assistant professor of
revenue reform, and turned his rooms into a college. The
Administration drove him, and thousands of other young men, into
active enmity, not only to Grant, but to the system or want of
system, which took possession of the President. Every hope or
thought which had brought Adams to Washington proved to be
absurd. No one wanted him; no one wanted any of his friends in
reform; the blackmailer alone was the normal product of politics
as of business.

  All this was excessively amusing. Adams never had been so busy,
so interested, so much in the thick of the crowd. He knew
Congressmen by scores and newspaper-men by the dozen. He wrote
for his various organs all sorts of attacks and defences. He
enjoyed the life enormously, and found himself as happy as Sam
Ward or Sunset Cox; much happier than his friends Fish or J. D.
Cox, or Chief Justice Chase or Attorney General Hoar or Charles
Sumner. When spring came, he took to the woods, which were best
of all, for after the first of April, what Maurice de Guerin
called "the vast maternity" of nature showed charms more
voluptuous than the vast paternity of the United States Senate.
Senators were less ornamental than the dogwood or even the
judas-tree. They were, as a rule, less good company. Adams
astonished himself by remarking what a purified charm was lent to
the Capitol by the greatest possible distance, as one caught
glimpses of the dome over miles of forest foliage. At such
moments he pondered on the distant beauty of St. Peter's and the
steps of Ara Coeli. 

  Yet he shortened his spring, for he needed to get back to
London for the season. He had finished his New York "Gold
Conspiracy," which he meant for his friend Henry Reeve and the
Edinburgh Review. It was the best piece of work he had done, but
this was not his reason for publishing it in England. The Erie
scandal had provoked a sort of revolt among respectable New
Yorkers, as well as among some who were not so respectable; and
the attack on Erie was beginning to promise success. London was a
sensitive spot for the Erie management, and it was thought well
to strike them there, where they were socially and financially
exposed. The tactics suited him in another way, for any
expression about America in an English review attracted ten times
the attention in America that the same article would attract in
the North American. Habitually the American dailies reprinted
such articles in full. Adams wanted to escape the terrors of
copyright, his highest ambition was to be pirated and advertised
free of charge, since in any case, his pay was nothing. Under the
excitement of chase he was becoming a pirate himself, and liked


CHAOS (1870)

  ONE fine May afternoon in 1870 Adams drove again up St. James's
Street wondering more than ever at the marvels of life. Nine
years had passed since the historic entrance of May, 1861.
Outwardly London was the same. Outwardly Europe showed no great
change. Palmerston and Russell were forgotten; but Disraeli and
Gladstone were still much alive. One's friends were more than
ever prominent. John Bright was in the Cabinet; W. E. Forster was
about to enter it; reform ran riot. Never had the sun of progress
shone so fair. Evolution from lower to higher raged like an
epidemic. Darwin was the greatest of prophets in the most
evolutionary of worlds. Gladstone had overthrown the Irish
Church; was overthrowing the Irish landlords; was trying to pass
an Education Act. Improvement, prosperity, power, were leaping
and bounding over every country road. Even America, with her Erie
scandals and Alabama Claims, hardly made a discordant note.

  At the Legation, Motley ruled; the long Adams reign was
forgotten; the rebellion had passed into history. In society no
one cared to recall the years before the Prince of Wales. The
smart set had come to their own. Half the houses that Adams had
frequented, from 1861 to 1865, were closed or closing in 1870.
Death had ravaged one's circle of friends. Mrs. Milnes Gaskell
and her sister Miss Charlotte Wynn were both dead, and Mr. James
Milnes Gaskell was no longer in Parliament. That field of
education seemed closed too.

  One found one's self in a singular frame of mind -- more
eighteenth-century than ever -- almost rococo -- and unable to
catch anywhere the cog-wheels of evolution. Experience ceased to
educate. London taught less freely than of old. That one bad
style was leading to another -- that the older men were more
amusing than the younger -- that Lord Houghton's breakfast-table
showed gaps hard to fill -- that there were fewer men one wanted
to meet -- these, and a hundred more such remarks, helped little
towards a quicker and more intelligent activity. For English
reforms Adams cared nothing. The reforms were themselves
mediaeval. The Education Bill of his friend W. E. Forster seemed
to him a guaranty against all education he had use for. He
resented change. He would have kept the Pope in the Vatican and
the Queen at Windsor Castle as historical monuments. He did not
care to Americanize Europe. The Bastille or the Ghetto was a
curiosity worth a great deal of money, if preserved; and so was a
Bishop; so was Napoleon III. The tourist was the great
conservative who hated novelty and adored dirt. Adams came back
to London without a thought of revolution or restlessness or
reform. He wanted amusement, quiet, and gaiety. 

  Had he not been born in 1838 under the shadow of Boston State
House, and been brought up in the Early Victorian epoch, he would
have cast off his old skin, and made his court to Marlborough
House, in partnership with the American woman and the Jew banker.
Common-sense dictated it; but Adams and his friends were
unfashionable by some law of Anglo-Saxon custom -- some innate
atrophy of mind. Figuring himself as already a man of action, and
rather far up towards the front, he had no idea of making a new
effort or catching up with a new world. He saw nothing ahead of
him. The world was never more calm. He wanted to talk with
Ministers about the Alabama Claims, because he looked on the
Claims as his own special creation, discussed between him and his
father long before they had been discussed by Government; he
wanted to make notes for his next year's articles; but he had not
a thought that, within three months, his world was to be upset,
and he under it. Frank Palgrave came one day, more contentious,
contemptuous, and paradoxical than ever, because Napoleon III
seemed to be threatening war with Germany. Palgrave said that
"Germany would beat France into scraps" if there was war. Adams
thought not. The chances were always against catastrophes. No one
else expected great changes in Europe. Palgrave was always
extreme; his language was incautious -- violent! 

  In this year of all years, Adams lost sight of education.
Things began smoothly, and London glowed with the pleasant sense
of familiarity and dinners. He sniffed with voluptuous delight
the coal-smoke of Cheapside and revelled in the architecture of
Oxford Street. May Fair never shone so fair to Arthur Pendennis
as it did to the returned American. The country never smiled its
velvet smile of trained and easy hostess as it did when he was so
lucky as to be asked on a country visit. He loved it all --
everything -- had always loved it! He felt almost attached to the
Royal Exchange. He thought he owned the St. James's Club. He
patronized the Legation.

  The first shock came lightly, as though Nature were playing
tricks on her spoiled child, though she had thus far not exerted
herself to spoil him. Reeve refused the Gold Conspiracy. Adams
had become used to the idea that he was free of the Quarterlies,
and that his writing would be printed of course; but he was
stunned by the reason of refusal. Reeve said it would bring
half-a-dozen libel suits on him. One knew that the power of Erie
was almost as great in England as in America, but one was hardly
prepared to find it controlling the Quarterlies. The English
press professed to be shocked in 1870 by the Erie scandal, as it
had professed in 1860 to be shocked by the scandal of slavery,
but when invited to support those who were trying to abate these
scandals, the English press said it was afraid. To Adams, Reeve's
refusal seemed portentous. He and his brother and the North
American Review were running greater risks every day, and no one
thought of fear. That a notorious story, taken bodily from an
official document, should scare the Endinburgh Review into
silence for fear of Jay Gould and Jim Fisk, passed even Adams's
experience of English eccentricity, though it was large. 

  He gladly set down Reeve's refusal of the Gold Conspiracy to
respectability and editorial law, but when he sent the manuscript
on to the Quarterly, the editor of the Quarterly also refused it.
The literary standard of the two Quarterlies was not so high as
to suggest that the article was illiterate beyond the power of an
active and willing editor to redeem it. Adams had no choice but
to realize that he had to deal in 1870 with the same old English
character of 1860, and the same inability in himself to
understand it. As usual, when an ally was needed, the American
was driven into the arms of the radicals. Respectability,
everywhere and always, turned its back the moment one asked to do
it a favor. Called suddenly away from England, he despatched the
article, at the last moment, to the Westminster Review and heard
no more about it for nearly six months. 

  He had been some weeks in London when he received a telegram
from his brother-in-law at the Bagni di Lucca telling him that
his sister had been thrown from a cab and injured, and that he
had better come on. He started that night, and reached the Bagni
di Lucca on the second day. Tetanus had already set in. 

  The last lesson -- the sum and term of education -- began then.
He had passed through thirty years of rather varied experience
without having once felt the shell of custom broken. He had never
seen Nature -- only her surface -- the sugar-coating that she
shows to youth. Flung suddenly in his face, with the harsh
brutality of chance, the terror of the blow stayed by him
thenceforth for life, until repetition made it more than the will
could struggle with; more than he could call on himself to bear.
He found his sister, a woman of forty, as gay and brilliant in
the terrors of lockjaw as she had been in the careless fun of
1859, lying in bed in consequence of a miserable cab-accident
that had bruised her foot. Hour by hour the muscles grew rigid,
while the mind remained bright, until after ten days of fiendish
torture she died in convulsion.

  One had heard and read a great deal about death, and even seen
a little of it, and knew by heart the thousand commonplaces of
religion and poetry which seemed to deaden one's senses and veil
the horror. Society being immortal, could put on immortality at
will. Adams being mortal, felt only the mortality. Death took
features altogether new to him, in these rich and sensuous
surroundings. Nature enjoyed it, played with it, the horror added
to her charm, she liked the torture, and smothered her victim
with caresses. Never had one seen her so winning. The hot Italian
summer brooded outside, over the market-place and the picturesque
peasants, and, in the singular color of the Tuscan atmosphere,
the hills and vineyards of the Apennines seemed bursting with
mid-summer blood. The sick-room itself glowed with the Italian
joy of life; friends filled it; no harsh northern lights pierced
the soft shadows; even the dying women shared the sense of the
Italian summer, the soft, velvet air, the humor, the courage, the
sensual fulness of Nature and man. She faced death, as women
mostly do, bravely and even gaily, racked slowly to
unconsciousness, but yielding only to violence, as a soldier
sabred in battle. For many thousands of years, on these hills and
plains, Nature had gone on sabring men and women with the same
air of sensual pleasure. 

  Impressions like these are not reasoned or catalogued in the
mind; they are felt as part of violent emotion; and the mind that
feels them is a different one from that which reasons; it is
thought of a different power and a different person. The first
serious consciousness of Nature's gesture -- her attitude towards
life -- took form then as a phantasm, a nightmare, an insanity of
force. For the first time, the stage-scenery of the senses
collapsed; the human mind felt itself stripped naked, vibrating
in a void of shapeless energies, with resistless mass, colliding,
crushing, wasting, and destroying what these same energies had
created and labored from eternity to perfect. Society became
fantastic, a vision of pantomime with a mechanical motion; and
its so-called thought merged in the mere sense of life, and
pleasure in the sense. The usual anodynes of social medicine
became evident artifice. Stoicism was perhaps the best; religion
was the most human; but the idea that any personal deity could
find pleasure or profit in torturing a poor woman, by accident,
with a fiendish cruelty known to man only in perverted and insane
temperaments, could not be held for a moment. For pure blasphemy,
it made pure atheism a comfort. God might be, as the Church said,
a Substance, but He could not be a Person.

  With nerves strained for the first time beyond their power of
tension, he slowly travelled northwards with his friends, and
stopped for a few days at Ouchy to recover his balance in a new
world; for the fantastic mystery of coincidences had made the
world, which he thought real, mimic and reproduce the distorted
nightmare of his personal horror. He did not yet know it, and he
was twenty years in finding it out; but he had need of all the
beauty of the Lake below and of the Alps above, to restore the
finite to its place. For the first time in his life, Mont Blanc
for a moment looked to him what it was -- a chaos of anarchic and
purposeless forces -- and he needed days of repose to see it
clothe itself again with the illusions of his senses, the white
purity of its snows, the splendor of its light, and the infinity
of its heavenly peace. Nature was kind; Lake Geneva was beautiful
beyond itself, and the Alps put on charms real as terrors; but
man became chaotic, and before the illusions of Nature were
wholly restored, the illusions of Europe suddenly vanished,
leaving a new world to learn. 

  On July 4, all Europe had been in peace; on July 14, Europe was
in full chaos of war. One felt helpless and ignorant, but one
might have been king or kaiser without feeling stronger to deal
with the chaos. Mr. Gladstone was as much astounded as Adams; the
Emperor Napoleon was nearly as stupefied as either, and Bismarck:
himself hardly knew how he did it. As education, the out-break of
the war was wholly lost on a man dealing with death hand-to-hand,
who could not throw it aside to look at it across the Rhine. Only
when he got up to Paris, he began to feel the approach of
catastrophe. Providence set up no affiches to announce the
tragedy. Under one's eyes France cut herself adrift, and floated
off, on an unknown stream, towards a less known ocean. Standing
on the curb of the Boulevard, one could see as much as though one
stood by the side of the Emperor or in command of an army corps.
The effect was lurid. The public seemed to look on the war, as it
had looked on the wars of Louis XIV and Francis I, as a branch of
decorative art. The French, like true artists, always regarded
war as one of the fine arts. Louis XIV practiced it; Napoleon I
perfected it; and Napoleon III had till then pursued it in the
same spirit with singular success. In Paris, in July, 1870, the
war was brought out like an opera of Meyerbeer. One felt one's
self a supernumerary hired to fill the scene. Every evening at
the theatre the comedy was interrupted by order, and one stood up
by order, to join in singing the Marseillaise to order. For
nearly twenty years one had been forbidden to sing the
Marseillaise under any circumstances, but at last regiment after
regiment marched through the streets shouting "Marchons!" while
the bystanders cared not enough to join. Patriotism seemed to
have been brought out of the Government stores, and distributed
by grammes per capita. One had seen one's own people dragged
unwillingly into a war, and had watched one's own regiments march
to the front without sign of enthusiasm; on the contrary, most
serious, anxious, and conscious of the whole weight of the
crisis; but in Paris every one conspired to ignore the crisis,
which every one felt at hand. Here was education for the million,
but the lesson was intricate. Superficially Napoleon and his
Ministers and marshals were playing a game against Thiers and
Gambetta. A bystander knew almost as little as they did about the
result. How could Adams prophesy that in another year or two,
when he spoke of his Paris and its tastes, people would smile at
his dotage?

  As soon as he could, he fled to England and once more took
refuge in the profound peace of Wenlock Abbey. Only the few
remaining monks, undisturbed by the brutalities of Henry VIII --
three or four young Englishmen -- survived there, with Milnes
Gaskell acting as Prior. The August sun was warm; the calm of the
Abbey was ten times secular; not a discordant sound -- hardly a
sound of any sort except the cawing of the ancient rookery at
sunset -- broke the stillness; and, after the excitement of the
last month, one felt a palpable haze of peace brooding over the
Edge and the Welsh Marches. Since the reign of Pterspis, nothing
had greatly changed; nothing except the monks. Lying on the turf
the ground littered with newspapers, the monks studied the war
correspondence. In one respect Adams had succeeded in educating
himself; he had learned to follow a campaign. 

  While at Wenlock, he received a letter from President Eliot
inviting him to take an Assistant Professorship of History, to be
created shortly at Harvard College. After waiting ten or a dozen
years for some one to show consciousness of his existence, even a
Terabratula would be pleased and grateful for a compliment which
implied that the new President of Harvard College wanted his
help; but Adams knew nothing about history, and much less about
teaching, while he knew more than enough about Harvard College;
and wrote at once to thank President Eliot, with much regret that
the honor should be above his powers. His mind was full of other
matters. The summer, from which he had expected only amusement
and social relations with new people, had ended in the most
intimate personal tragedy, and the most terrific political
convulsion he had ever known or was likely to know. He had failed
in every object of his trip. The Quarterlies had refused his best
essay. He had made no acquaintances and hardly picked up the old
ones. He sailed from Liverpool, on September 1, to begin again
where he had started two years before, but with no longer a hope
of attaching himself to a President or a party or a press. He was
a free lance and no other career stood in sight or mind. To that
point education had brought him. 

  Yet he found, on reaching home, that he had not done quite so
badly as he feared. His article on the Session in the July North
American had made a success. Though he could not quite see what
partisan object it served, he heard with flattered astonishment
that it had been reprinted by the Democratic National Committee
and circulated as a campaign document by the hundred thousand
copies. He was henceforth in opposition, do what he might; and a
Massachusetts Democrat, say what he pleased; while his only
reward or return for this partisan service consisted in being
formally answered by Senator Timothy Howe, of Wisconsin, in a
Republican campaign document, presumed to be also freely
circulated, in which the Senator, besides refuting his opinions,
did him the honor -- most unusual and picturesque in a Senator's
rhetoric -- of likening him to a begonia. 

  The begonia is, or then was, a plant of such senatorial
qualities as to make the simile, in intention, most flattering.
Far from charming in its refinement, the begonia was remarkable
for curious and showy foliage; it was conspicuous; it seemed to
have no useful purpose; and it insisted on standing always in the
most prominent positions. Adams would have greatly liked to be a
begonia in Washington, for this was rather his ideal of the
successful statesman, and he thought about it still more when the
Westminster Review for October brought him his article on the
Gold Conspiracy, which was also instantly pirated on a great
scale. Piratical he was himself henceforth driven to be, and he
asked only to be pirated, for he was sure not to be paid; but the
honors of piracy resemble the colors of the begonia; they are
showy but not useful. Here was a tour de force he had never
dreamed himself equal to performing: two long, dry, quarterly,
thirty or forty page articles, appearing in quick succession, and
pirated for audiences running well into the hundred thousands;
and not one person, man or woman, offering him so much as a
congratulation, except to call him a begonia. 

  Had this been all, life might have gone on very happily as
before, but the ways of America to a young person of literary and
political tastes were such as the so-called evolution of
civilized man had not before evolved. No sooner had Adams made at
Washington what he modestly hoped was a sufficient success, than
his whole family set on him to drag him away. For the first time
since 1861 his father interposed; his mother entreated; and his
brother Charles argued and urged that he should come to Harvard
College. Charles had views of further joint operations in a new
field. He said that Henry had done at Washington all he could
possibly do; that his position there wanted solidity; that he
was, after all, an adventurer; that a few years in Cambridge
would give him personal weight; that his chief function was not
to be that of teacher, but that of editing the North American
Review which was to be coupled with the professorship, and would
lead to the daily press. In short, that he needed the university
more than the university needed him. 

  Henry knew the university well enough to know that the
department of history was controlled by one of the most astute
and ideal administrators in the world -- Professor Gurney -- and
that it was Gurney who had established the new professorship, and
had cast his net over Adams to carry the double load of mediaeval
history and the Review. He could see no relation whatever between
himself and a professorship. He sought education; he did not sell
it. He knew no history; he knew only a few historians; his
ignorance was mischievous because it was literary, accidental,
indifferent. On the other hand he knew Gurney, and felt much
influenced by his advice. One cannot take one's self quite
seriously in such matters; it could not much affect the sum of
solar energies whether one went on dancing with girls in
Washington, or began talking to boys at Cambridge. The good
people who thought it did matter had a sort of right to guide.
One could not reject their advice; still less disregard their

  The sum of the matter was that Henry went out to Cambridge and
had a few words with President Eliot which seemed to him almost
as American as the talk about diplomacy with his father ten years
before. "But, Mr. President," urged Adams, "I know nothing about
Mediaeval History." With the courteous manner and bland smile so
familiar for the next generation of Americans Mr. Eliot mildly
but firmly replied, "If you will point out to me any one who
knows more, Mr. Adams, I will appoint him." The answer was
neither logical nor convincing, but Adams could not meet it
without overstepping his privileges. He could not say that, under
the circumstances, the appointment of any professor at all seemed
to him unnecessary. 

  So, at twenty-four hours' notice, he broke his life in halves
again in order to begin a new education, on lines he had not
chosen, in subjects for which he cared less than nothing; in a
place he did not love, and before a future which repelled.
Thousands of men have to do the same thing, but his case was
peculiar because he had no need to do it. He did it because his
best and wisest friends urged it, and he never could make up his
mind whether they were right or not. To him this kind of
education was always false. For himself he had no doubts. He
thought it a mistake; but his opinion did not prove that it was
one, since, in all probability, whatever he did would be more or
less a mistake. He had reached cross-roads of education which all
led astray. What he could gain at Harvard College he did not
know, but in any case it was nothing he wanted. What he lost at
Washington he could partly see, but in any case it was not
fortune. Grant's administration wrecked men by thousands, but
profited few. Perhaps Mr. Fish was the solitary exception. One
might search the whole list of Congress, Judiciary, and Executive
during the twenty-five years 1870 to 1895, and find little but
damaged reputation. The period was poor in purpose and barren in

  Henry Adams, if not the rose, lived as near it as any
politician, and knew, more or less, all the men in any way
prominent at Washington, or knew all about them. Among them, in
his opinion, the best equipped, the most active-minded, and most
industrious was Abram Hewitt, who sat in Congress for a dozen
years, between 1874 and 1886, sometimes leading the House and
always wielding influence second to none. With nobody did Adams
form closer or longer relations than with Mr. Hewitt, whom he
regarded as the most useful public man in Washington; and he was
the more struck by Hewitt's saying, at the end of his laborious
career as legislator, that he left behind him no permanent result
except the Act consolidating the Surveys. Adams knew no other man
who had done so much, unless Mr. Sherman's legislation is
accepted as an instance of success. Hewitt's nearest rival would
probably have been Senator Pendleton who stood father to civil
service reform in 1882, an attempt to correct a vice that should
never have been allowed to be born. These were the men who

  The press stood in much the same light. No editor, no political
writer, and no public administrator achieved enough good
reputation to preserve his memory for twenty years. A number of
them achieved bad reputations, or damaged good ones that had been
gained in the Civil War. On the whole, even for Senators,
diplomats, and Cabinet officers, the period was wearisome and

  None of Adams's generation profited by public activity unless
it were William C. Whitney, and even he could not be induced to
return to it. Such ambitions as these were out of one's reach,
but supposing one tried for what was feasible, attached one's
self closely to the Garfields, Arthurs, Frelinghuysens, Blaines,
Bayards, or Whitneys, who happened to hold office; and supposing
one asked for the mission to Belgium or Portugal, and obtained
it; supposing one served a term as Assistant Secretary or Chief
of Bureau; or, finally, supposing one had gone as sub-editor on
the New York Tribune or Times -- how much more education would
one have gained than by going to Harvard College? These questions
seemed better worth an answer than most of the questions on
examination papers at college or in the civil service; all the
more because one never found an answer to them, then or
afterwards, and because, to his mind, the value of American
society altogether was mixed up with the value of Washington.

  At first, the simple beginner, struggling with principles,
wanted throw off responsibility on the American people, whose
bare and toiling shoulders had to carry the load of every social
or political stupidity; but the American people had no more to do
with it than with the customs of Peking. American character might
perhaps account for it, but what accounted for American
character? All Boston, all New England, and all respectable New
York, including Charles Francis Adams the father and Charles
Francis Adams the son, agreed that Washington was no place for a
respectable young man. All Washington, including Presidents,
Cabinet officers, Judiciary, Senators, Congressmen, and clerks,
expressed the same opinion, and conspired to drive away every
young man who happened to be there or tried to approach. Not one
young man of promise remained in the Government service. All
drifted into opposition. The Government did not want them in
Washington. Adams's case was perhaps the strongest because he
thought he had done well. He was forced to guess it, since he
knew no one who would have risked so extravagant a step as that
of encouraging a young man in a literary career, or even in a
political one; society forbade it, as well as residence in a
political capital; but Harvard College must have seen some hope
for him, since it made him professor against his will; even the
publishers and editors of the North American Review must have
felt a certain amount of confidence in him, since they put the
Review in his hands. After all, the Review was the first literary
power in America, even though it paid almost as little in gold as
the United States Treasury. The degree of Harvard College might
bear a value as ephemeral as the commission of a President of the
United States; but the government of the college, measured by
money alone, and patronage, was a matter of more importance than
that of some branches of the national service. In social
position, the college was the superior of them all put together.
In knowledge, she could assert no superiority, since the
Government made no claims, and prided itself on ignorance. The
service of Harvard College was distinctly honorable; perhaps the
most honorable in America; and if Harvard College thought Henry
Adams worth employing at four dollars a day, why should
Washington decline his services when he asked nothing? Why should
he be dragged from a career he liked in a place he loved, into a
career he detested, in a place and climate he shunned? Was it
enough to satisfy him, that all America should call Washington
barren and dangerous? What made Washington more dangerous than
New York?

  The American character showed singular limitations which
sometimes drove the student of civilized man to despair. Crushed
by his own ignorance -- lost in the darkness of his own gropings
-- the scholar finds himself jostled of a sudden by a crowd of
men who seem to him ignorant that there is a thing called
ignorance; who have forgotten how to amuse themselves; who cannot
even understand that they are bored. The American thought of
himself as a restless, pushing, energetic, ingenious person,
always awake and trying to get ahead of his neighbors. Perhaps
this idea of the national character might be correct for New York
or Chicago; it was not correct for Washington. There the American
showed himself, four times in five, as a quiet, peaceful, shy
figure, rather in the mould of Abraham Lincoln, somewhat sad,
sometimes pathetic, once tragic; or like Grant, inarticulate,
uncertain, distrustful of himself, still more distrustful of
others, and awed by money. That the American, by temperament,
worked to excess, was true; work and whiskey were his stimulants;
work was a form of vice; but he never cared much for money or
power after he earned them. The amusement of the pursuit was all
the amusement he got from it; he had no use for wealth. Jim Fisk
alone seemed to know what he wanted; Jay Gould never did. At
Washington one met mostly such true Americans, but if one wanted
to know them better, one went to study them in Europe. Bored,
patient, helpless; pathetically dependent on his wife and
daughters; indulgent to excess; mostly a modest, decent,
excellent, valuable citizen; the American was to be met at every
railway station in Europe, carefully explaining to every listener
that the happiest day of his life would be the day he should land
on the pier at New York. He was ashamed to be amused; his mind no
longer answered to the stimulus of variety; he could not face a
new thought. All his immense strength his intense nervous energy,
his keen analytic perceptions, were oriented in one direction,
and he could not change it. Congress was full of such men; in the
Senate, Sumner was almost the only exception; in the Executive,
Grant and Boutwell were varieties of the type -- political
specimens -- pathetic in their helplessness to do anything with
power when it came to them. They knew not how to amuse
themselves; they could not conceive how other people were amused.
Work, whiskey, and cards were life. The atmosphere of political
Washington was theirs -- or was supposed by the outside world to
be in their control -- and this was the reason why the outside
world judged that Washington was fatal even for a young man of
thirty-two, who had passed through the whole variety of
temptations, in every capital of Europe, for a dozen years; who
never played cards, and who loathed whiskey.


FAILURE (1871)

FAR back in childhood, among its earliest memories, Henry Adams
could recall his first visit to Harvard College. He must have
been nine years old when on one of the singularly gloomy winter
afternoons which beguiled Cambridgeport, his mother drove him out
to visit his aunt, Mrs. Everett. Edward Everett was then
President of the college and lived in the old President's House
on Harvard Square. The boy remembered the drawing-room, on the
left of the hall door, in which Mrs. Everett received them. He
remembered a marble greyhound in the corner. The house had an air
of colonial self-respect that impressed even a nine-year-old

  When Adams closed his interview with President Eliot, he asked
the Bursar about his aunt's old drawing-room, for the house had
been turned to base uses. The room and the deserted kitchen
adjacent to it were to let. He took them. Above him, his brother
Brooks, then a law student, had rooms, with a private staircase.
Opposite was J. R. Dennett, a young instructor almost as literary
as Adams himself, and more rebellious to conventions. Inquiry
revealed a boarding-table, somewhere in the neighborhood, also
supposed to be superior in its class. Chauncey Wright, Francis
Wharton, Dennett, John Fiske, or their equivalents in learning
and lecture, were seen there, among three or four law students
like Brooks Adams. With these primitive arrangements, all of them
had to be satisfied. The standard was below that of Washington,
but it was, for the moment, the best. 

  For the next nine months the Assistant Professor had no time to
waste on comforts or amusements. He exhausted all his strength in
trying to keep one day ahead of his duties. Often the stint ran
on, till night and sleep ran short. He could not stop to think
whether he were doing the work rightly. He could not get it done
to please him, rightly or wrongly, for he never could satisfy
himself what to do. 

  The fault he had found with Harvard College as an undergraduate
must have been more or less just, for the college was making a
great effort to meet these self-criticisms, and had elected
President Eliot in 1869 to carry out its reforms. Professor
Gurney was one of the leading reformers, and had tried his hand
on his own department of History. The two full Professors of
History -- Torrey and Gurney, charming men both -- could not
cover the ground. Between Gurney's classical courses and Torrey's
modern ones, lay a gap of a thousand years, which Adams was
expected to fill. The students had already elected courses
numbered 1, 2, and 3, without knowing what was to be taught or
who was to teach. If their new professor had asked what idea was
in their minds, they must have replied that nothing at all was in
their minds, since their professor had nothing in his, and down
to the moment he took his chair and looked his scholars in the
face, he had given, as far as he could remember, an hour, more or
less, to the Middle Ages. 

  Not that his ignorance troubled him! He knew enough to be
ignorant. His course had led him through oceans of ignorance; he
had tumbled from one ocean into another till he had learned to
swim; but even to him education was a serious thing. A parent
gives life, but as parent, gives no more. A murderer takes life,
but his deed stops there. A teacher affects eternity; he can
never tell where his influence stops. A teacher is expected to
teach truth, and may perhaps flatter himself that he does so, if
he stops with the alphabet or the multiplication table, as a
mother teaches truth by making her child eat with a spoon; but
morals are quite another truth and philosophy is more complex
still. A teacher must either treat history as a catalogue, a
record, a romance, or as an evolution; and whether he affirms or
denies evolution, he falls into all the burning faggots of the
pit. He makes of his scholars either priests or atheists,
plutocrats or socialists, judges or anarchists, almost in spite
of himself. In essence incoherent and immoral, history had either
to be taught as such -- or falsified. 

  Adams wanted to do neither. He had no theory of evolution to
teach, and could not make the facts fit one. He had no fancy for
telling agreeable tales to amuse sluggish-minded boys, in order
to publish them afterwards as lectures. He could still less
compel his students to learn the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and the
Venerable Bede by heart. He saw no relation whatever between his
students and the Middle Ages unless it were the Church, and there
the ground was particularly dangerous. He knew better than though
he were a professional historian that the man who should solve
the riddle of the Middle Ages and bring them into the line of
evolution from past to present, would be a greater man than
Lamarck or Linnaeus; but history had nowhere broken down so
pitiably, or avowed itself so hopelessly bankrupt, as there.
Since Gibbon, the spectacle was almost a scandal. History had
lost even the sense of shame. It was a hundred years behind the
experimental sciences. For all serious purpose, it was less
instructive than Walter Scott and Alexandre Dumas. 

  All this was without offence to Sir Henry Maine, Tyler,
McLennan, Buckle, Auguste Comte, and the various philosophers
who, from time to time, stirred the scandal, and made it more
scandalous. No doubt, a teacher might make some use of these
writers or their theories; but Adams could fit them into no
theory of his own. The college expected him to pass at least half
his time teaching the boys a few elementary dates and relations,
that they might not be a disgrace to the university. This was
formal; and he could frankly tell the boys that, provided they
passed their examinations, they might get their facts where they
liked, and use the teacher only for questions. The only privilege
a student had that was worth his claiming, was that of talking to
the professor, and the professor was bound to encourage it. His
only difficulty on that side was to get them to talk at all. He
had to devise schemes to find what they were thinking about, and
induce them to risk criticism from their fellows. Any large body
of students stifles the student. No man can instruct more than
half-a-dozen students at once. The whole problem of education is
one of its cost in money.

  The lecture system to classes of hundreds, which was very much
that of the twelfth century, suited Adams not at all. Barred from
philosophy and bored by facts, he wanted to teach his students
something not wholly useless. The number of students whose minds
were of an order above the average was, in his experience, barely
one in ten; the rest could not be much stimulated by any
inducements a teacher could suggest. All were respectable, and in
seven years of contact, Adams never had cause to complain of one;
but nine minds in ten take polish passively, like a hard surface;
only the tenth sensibly reacts. 

  Adams thought that, as no one seemed to care what he did, he
would try to cultivate this tenth mind, though necessarily at the
expense of the other nine. He frankly acted on the rule that a
teacher, who knew nothing of his subject, should not pretend to
teach his scholars what he did not know, but should join them in
trying to find the best way of learning it. The rather
pretentious name of historical method was sometimes given to this
process of instruction, but the name smacked of German pedagogy,
and a young professor who respected neither history nor method,
and whose sole object of interest was his students' minds, fell
into trouble enough without adding to it a German parentage. 

  The task was doomed to failure for a reason which he could not
control. Nothing is easier than to teach historical method, but,
when learned, it has little use. History is a tangled skein that
one may take up at any point, and break when one has unravelled
enough; but complexity precedes evolution. The Pteraspis grins
horribly from the closed entrance. One may not begin at the
beginning, and one has but the loosest relative truths to follow
up. Adams found himself obliged to force his material into some
shape to which a method could be applied. He could think only of
law as subject; the Law School as end; and he took, as victims of
his experiment, half-a-dozen highly intelligent young men who
seemed willing to work. The course began with the beginning, as
far as the books showed a beginning in primitive man, and came
down through the Salic Franks to the Norman English. Since no
textbooks existed, the professor refused to profess, knowing no
more than his students, and the students read what they pleased
and compared their results. As pedagogy, nothing could be more
triumphant. The boys worked like rabbits, and dug holes all over
the field of archaic society; no difficulty stopped them; unknown
languages yielded before their attack, and customary law became
familiar as the police court; undoubtedly they learned, after a
fashion, to chase an idea, like a hare, through as dense a
thicket of obscure facts as they were likely to meet at the bar;
but their teacher knew from his own experience that his wonderful
method led nowhere, and they would have to exert themselves to
get rid of it in the Law School even more than they exerted
themselves to acquire it in the college. Their science had no
system, and could have none, since its subject was merely
antiquarian. Try as hard as he might, the professor could not
make it actual. 

  What was the use of training an active mind to waste its
energy? The experiments might in time train Adams as a professor,
but this result was still less to his taste. He wanted to help
the boys to a career, but not one of his many devices to
stimulate the intellectual reaction of the student's mind
satisfied either him or the students. For himself he was clear
that the fault lay in the system, which could lead only to
inertia. Such little knowledge of himself as he possessed
warranted him in affirming that his mind required conflict,
competition, contradiction even more than that of the student. He
too wanted a rank-list to set his name upon. His reform of the
system would have begun in the lecture-room at his own desk. He
would have seated a rival assistant professor opposite him, whose
business should be strictly limited to expressing opposite views.
Nothing short of this would ever interest either the professor or
the student; but of all university freaks, no irregularity
shocked the intellectual atmosphere so much as contradiction or
competition between teachers. In that respect the
thirteenth-century university system was worth the whole teaching
of the modern school. 

  All his pretty efforts to create conflicts of thought among his
students failed for want of system. None met the needs of
instruction. In spite of President Eliot's reforms and his
steady, generous, liberal support, the system remained costly,
clumsy and futile. The university -- as far as it was represented
by Henry Adams -- produced at great waste of time and money
results not worth reaching. 

  He made use of his lost two years of German schooling to
inflict their results on his students, and by a happy chance he
was in the full tide of fashion. The Germans were crowning their
new emperor at Versailles, and surrounding his head with a halo
of Pepins and Merwigs, Othos and Barbarossas. James Bryce had
even discovered the Holy Roman Empire. Germany was never so
powerful, and the Assistant Professor of History had nothing else
as his stock in trade. He imposed Germany on his scholars with a
heavy hand. He was rejoiced; but he sometimes doubted whether
they should be grateful. On the whole, he was content neither
with what he had taught nor with the way he had taught it. The
seven years he passed in teaching seemed to him lost. 

  The uses of adversity are beyond measure strange. As a
professor, he regarded himself as a failure. Without false
modesty he thought he knew what he meant. He had tried a great
many experiments, and wholly succeeded in none. He had succumbed
to the weight of the system. He had accomplished nothing that he
tried to do. He regarded the system as wrong; more mischievous to
the teachers than to the students; fallacious from the beginning
to end. He quitted the university at last, in 1877, with a
feeling. that, if it had not been for the invariable courtesy and
kindness shown by every one in it, from the President to the
injured students, he should be sore at his failure.

  These were his own feelings, but they seemed not to be felt in
the college. With the same perplexing impartiality that had so
much disconcerted him in his undergraduate days, the college
insisted on expressing an opposite view. John Fiske went so far
in his notice of the family in "Appleton's Cyclopedia," as to say
that Henry had left a great reputation at Harvard College; which
was a proof of John Fiske's personal regard that Adams heartily
returned; and set the kind expression down to camaraderie. The
case was different when President Eliot himself hinted that
Adams's services merited recognition. Adams could have wept on
his shoulder in hysterics, so grateful was he for the rare
good-will that inspired the compliment; but he could not allow
the college to think that he esteemed himself entitled to
distinction. He knew better, and his was among the failures which
were respectable enough to deserve self-respect. Yet nothing in
the vanity of life struck him as more humiliating than that
Harvard College, which he had persistently criticised, abused,
abandoned, and neglected, should alone have offered him a dollar,
an office, an encouragement, or a kindness. Harvard College might
have its faults, but at least it redeemed America, since it was
true to its own.

  The only part of education that the professor thought a success
was the students. He found them excellent company. Cast more or
less in the same mould, without violent emotions or sentiment,
and, except for the veneer of American habits, ignorant of all
that man had ever thought or hoped, their minds burst open like
flowers at the sunlight of a suggestion. They were quick to
respond; plastic to a mould; and incapable of fatigue. Their
faith in education was so full of pathos that one dared not ask
them what they thought they could do with education when they got
it. Adams did put the question to one of them, and was surprised
at the answer: "The degree of Harvard College is worth money to
me in Chicago." This reply upset his experience; for the degree
of Harvard College had been rather a drawback to a young man in
Boston and Washington. So far as it went, the answer was good,
and settled one's doubts. Adams knew no better, although he had
given twenty years to pursuing the same education, and was no
nearer a result than they. He still had to take for granted many
things that they need not -- among the rest, that his teaching
did them more good than harm. In his own opinion the greatest
good he could do them was to hold his tongue. They needed much
faith then; they were likely to need more if they lived long. 

  He never knew whether his colleagues shared his doubts about
their own utility. Unlike himself, they knew more or less their
business. He could not tell his scholars that history glowed with
social virtue; the Professor of Chemistry cared not a chemical
atom whether society was virtuous or not. Adams could not pretend
that mediaeval society proved evolution; the Professor of Physics
smiled at evolution. Adams was glad to dwell on the virtues of
the Church and the triumphs of its art: the Professor of
Political Economy had to treat them as waste of force. They knew
what they had to teach; he did not. They might perhaps be frauds
without knowing it; but he knew certainly nothing else of
himself. He could teach his students nothing; he was only
educating himself at their cost. 

  Education, like politics, is a rough affair, and every
instructor has to shut his eyes and hold his tongue as though he
were a priest. The students alone satisfied. They thought they
gained something. Perhaps they did, for even in America and in
the twentieth century, life could not be wholly industrial. Adams
fervently hoped that they might remain content; but supposing
twenty years more to pass, and they should turn on him as
fiercely as he had turned on his old instructors -- what answer
could he make? The college had pleaded guilty, and tried to
reform. He had pleaded guilty from the start, and his reforms had
failed before those of the college.

  The lecture-room was futile enough, but the faculty-room was
worse. American society feared total wreck in the maelstrom of
political and corporate administration, but it could not look for
help to college dons. Adams knew, in that capacity, both
Congressmen and professors, and he preferred Congressmen. The
same failure marked the society of a college. Several score of
the best- educated, most agreeable, and personally the most
sociable people in America united in Cambridge to make a social
desert that would have starved a polar bear. The liveliest and
most agreeable of men -- James Russell Lowell, Francis J. Child,
Louis Agassiz, his son Alexander, Gurney, John Fiske, William
James and a dozen others, who would have made the joy of London
or Paris -- tried their best to break out and be like other men
in Cambridge and Boston, but society called them professors, and
professors they had to be. While all these brilliant men were
greedy for companionship, all were famished for want of it.
Society was a faculty-meeting without business. The elements were
there; but society cannot be made up of elements -- people who
are expected to be silent unless they have observations to make
-- and all the elements are bound to remain apart if required to
make observations.

  Thus it turned out that of all his many educations, Adams
thought that of school-teacher the thinnest. Yet he was forced to
admit that the education of an editor, in some ways, was thinner
still. The editor had barely time to edit; he had none to write.
If copy fell short, he was obliged to scribble a book-review on
the virtues of the Anglo-Saxons or the vices of the Popes; for he
knew more about Edward the Confessor or Boniface VIII than he did
about President Grant. For seven years he wrote nothing; the
Review lived on his brother Charles's railway articles. The
editor could help others, but could do nothing for himself. As a
writer, he was totally forgotten by the time he had been an
editor for twelve months. As editor he could find no writer to
take his place for politics and affairs of current concern. The
Review became chiefly historical. Russell Lowell and Frank
Palgrave helped him to keep it literary. The editor was a
helpless drudge whose successes, if he made any, belonged to his
writers; but whose failures might easily bankrupt himself. Such a
Review may be made a sink of money with captivating ease. The
secrets of success as an editor were easily learned; the highest
was that of getting advertisements. Ten pages of advertising made
an editor a success; five marked him as a failure. The merits or
demerits of his literature had little to do with his results
except when they led to adversity. 

  A year or two of education as editor satiated most of his
appetite for that career as a profession. After a very slight
experience, he said no more on the subject. He felt willing to
let any one edit, if he himself might write. Vulgarly speaking,
it was a dog's life when it did not succeed, and little better
when it did. A professor had at least the pleasure of associating
with his students; an editor lived the life of an owl. A
professor commonly became a pedagogue or a pedant; an editor
became an authority on advertising. On the whole, Adams preferred
his attic in Washington. He was educated enough. Ignorance paid
better, for at least it earned fifty dollars a month.

  With this result Henry Adams's education, at his entry into
life, stopped, and his life began. He had to take that life as he
best could, with such accidental education as luck had given him;
but he held that it was wrong, and that, if he were to begin
again, he would do it on a better system. He thought he knew
nearly what system to pursue. At that time Alexander Agassiz had
not yet got his head above water so far as to serve for a model,
as he did twenty or thirty years afterwards; but the editorship
of the North American Review had one solitary merit; it made the
editor acquainted at a distance with almost every one in the
country who could write or who could be the cause of writing.
Adams was vastly pleased to be received among these clever people
as one of themselves, and felt always a little surprised at their
treating him as an equal, for they all had education; but among
them, only one stood out in extraordinary prominence as the type
and model of what Adams would have liked to be, and of what the
American, as he conceived, should have been and was not. 

  Thanks to the article on Sir Charles Lyell, Adams passed for a
friend of geologists, and the extent of his knowledge mattered
much less to them than the extent of his friendship, for
geologists were as a class not much better off than himself, and
friends were sorely few. One of his friends from earliest
childhood, and nearest neighbor in Quincy, Frank Emmons, had
become a geologist and joined the Fortieth Parallel Survey under
Government. At Washington in the winter of 1869-70, Emmons had
invited Adams to go out with him on one of the field-parties in
summer. Of course when Adams took the Review he put it at the
service of the Survey, and regretted only that he could not do
more. When the first year of professing and editing was at last
over, and his July North American appeared, he drew a long breath
of relief, and took the next train for the West. Of his year's
work he was no judge. He had become a small spring in a large
mechanism, and his work counted only in the sum; but he had been
treated civilly by everybody, and he felt at home even in Boston.
Putting in his pocket the July number of the North American, with
a notice of the Fortieth Parallel Survey by Professor J. D.
Whitney, he started for the plains and the Rocky Mountains. 

  In the year 1871, the West was still fresh, and the Union
Pacific was young. Beyond the Missouri River, one felt the
atmosphere of Indians and buffaloes. One saw the last vestiges of
an old education, worth studying if one would; but it was not
that which Adams sought; rather, he came out to spy upon the land
of the future. The Survey occasionally borrowed troopers from the
nearest station in case of happening on hostile Indians, but
otherwise the topographers and geologists thought more about
minerals than about Sioux. They held under their hammers a
thousand miles of mineral country with all its riddles to solve,
and its stores of possible wealth to mark. They felt the future
in their hands. 

  Emmons's party was out of reach in the Uintahs, but Arnold
Hague's had come in to Laramie for supplies, and they took charge
of Adams for a time. Their wanderings or adventures matter
nothing to the story of education. They were all hardened
mountaineers and surveyors who took everything for granted, and
spared each other the most wearisome bore of English and Scotch
life, the stories of the big game they killed. A bear was an
occasional amusement; a wapiti was a constant necessity; but the
only wild animal dangerous to man was a rattlesnake or a skunk.
One shot for amusement, but one had other matters to talk about.

  Adams enjoyed killing big game, but loathed the labor of
cutting it up; so that he rarely unslung the little carbine he
was in a manner required to carry. On the other hand, he liked to
wander off alone on his mule, and pass the day fishing a mountain
stream or exploring a valley. One morning when the party was
camped high above Estes Park, on the flank of Long's Peak, he
borrowed a rod, and rode down over a rough trail into Estes Park,
for some trout. The day was fine, and hazy with the smoke of
forest fires a thousand miles away; the park stretched its
English beauties off to the base of its bordering mountains in
natural landscape and archaic peace; the stream was just fishy
enough to tempt lingering along its banks. Hour after hour the
sun moved westward and the fish moved eastward, or disappeared
altogether, until at last when the fisherman cinched his mule,
sunset was nearer than he thought. Darkness caught him before he
could catch his trail. Not caring to tumble into some fifty-foot
hole, he "allowed" he was lost, and turned back. In half-an-hour
he was out of the hills, and under the stars of Estes Park, but
he saw no prospect of supper or of bed. 

  Estes Park was large enough to serve for a bed on a summer
night for an army of professors, but the supper question offered
difficulties. There was but one cabin in the Park, near its
entrance, and he felt no great confidence in finding it, but he
thought his mule cleverer than himself, and the dim lines of
mountain crest against the stars fenced his range of error. The
patient mule plodded on without other road than the gentle slope
of the ground, and some two hours must have passed before a light
showed in the distance. As the mule came up to the cabin door,
two or three men came out to see the stranger. 

  One of these men was Clarence King on his way up to the camp.
Adams fell into his arms. As with most friendships, it was never
a matter of growth or doubt. Friends are born in archaic
horizons; they were shaped with the Pteraspis in Siluria; they
have nothing to do with the accident of space. King had come up
that day from Greeley in a light four-wheeled buggy, over a trail
hardly fit for a commissariat mule, as Adams had reason to know
since he went back in the buggy. In the cabin, luxury provided a
room and one bed for guests. They shared the room and the bed,
and talked till far towards dawn. 

  King had everything to interest and delight Adams. He knew more
than Adams did of art and poetry; he knew America, especially
west of the hundredth meridian, better than any one; he knew the
professor by heart, and he knew the Congressman better than he
did the professor. He knew even women; even the American woman;
even the New York woman, which is saying much. Incidentally he
knew more practical geology than was good for him, and saw ahead
at least one generation further than the text-books. That he saw
right was a different matter. Since the beginning of time no man
has lived who is known to have seen right; the charm of King was
that he saw what others did and a great deal more. His wit and
humor; his bubbling energy which swept every one into the current
of his interest; his personal charm of youth and manners; his
faculty of giving and taking, profusely, lavishly, whether in
thought or in money as though he were Nature herself, marked him
almost alone among Americans. He had in him something of the
Greek -- a touch of Alcibiades or Alexander. One Clarence King
only existed in the world.

  A new friend is always a miracle, but at thirty-three years
old, such a bird of paradise rising in the sage-brush was an
avatar. One friend in a lifetime is much; two are many; three are
hardly possible. Friendship needs a certain parallelism of life,
a community of thought, a rivalry of aim. King, like Adams, and
all their generation, was at that moment passing the critical
point of his career. The one, coming from the west, saturated
with the sunshine of the Sierras, met the other, drifting from
the east, drenched in the fogs of London, and both had the same
problems to handle -- the same stock of implements -- the same
field to work in; above all, the same obstacles to overcome.

As a companion, King's charm was great, but this was not the
quality that so much attracted Adams, nor could he affect even
distant rivalry on this ground. Adams could never tell a story,
chiefly because he always forgot it; and he was never guilty of a
witticism, unless by accident. King and the Fortieth Parallel
influenced him in a way far more vital. The lines of their lives
converged, but King had moulded and directed his life logically,
scientifically, as Adams thought American life should be
directed. He had given himself education all of a piece, yet
broad. Standing in the middle of his career, where their paths at
last came together, he could look back and look forward on a
straight line, with scientific knowledge for its base. Adams's
life, past or future, was a succession of violent breaks or
waves, with no base at all. King's abnormal energy had already
won him great success. None of his contemporaries had done so
much, single-handed, or were likely to leave so deep a trail. He
had managed to induce Congress to adopt almost its first modern
act of legislation. He had organized, as a civil -- not military
-- measure, a Government Survey. He had paralleled the
Continental Railway in Geology; a feat as yet unequalled by other
governments which had as a rule no continents to survey. He was
creating one of the classic scientific works of the century. The
chances were great that he could, whenever he chose to quit the
Government service, take the pick of the gold and silver, copper
or coal, and build up his fortune as he pleased. Whatever prize
he wanted lay ready for him -- scientific social, literary,
political -- and he knew how to take them in turn. With ordinary
luck he would die at eighty the richest and most many-sided
genius of his day.

  So little egoistic he was that none of his friends felt envy of
his extraordinary superiority, but rather grovelled before it, so
that women were jealous of the power he had over men; but women
were many and Kings were one. The men worshipped not so much
their friend, as the ideal American they all wanted to be. The
women were jealous because, at heart, King had no faith in the
American woman; he loved types more robust. 

  The young men of the Fortieth Parallel had Californian
instincts; they were brothers of Bret Harte. They felt no
leanings towards the simple uniformities of Lyell and Darwin;
they saw little proof of slight and imperceptible changes; to
them, catastrophe was the law of change; they cared little for
simplicity and much for complexity; but it was the complexity of
Nature, not of New York or even of the Mississippi Valley. King
loved paradox; he started them like rabbits, and cared for them
no longer, when caught or lost; but they delighted Adams, for
they helped, among other things, to persuade him that history was
more amusing than science. The only question left open to doubt
was their relative money value. 

  In Emmons's camp, far up in the Uintahs, these talks were
continued till the frosts became sharp in the mountains. History
and science spread out in personal horizons towards goals no
longer far away. No more education was possible for either man.
Such as they were, they had got to stand the chances of the world
they lived in; and when Adams started back to Cambridge, to take
up again the humble tasks of schoolmaster and editor he was
harnessed to his cart. Education, systematic or accidental, had
done its worst. Henceforth, he went on, submissive. 



  ONCE more! this is a story of education, not of adventure! It
is meant to help young men -- or such as have intelligence enough
to seek help -- but it is not meant to amuse them. What one did
-- or did not do -- with one's education, after getting it, need
trouble the inquirer in no way; it is a personal matter only
which would confuse him. Perhaps Henry Adams was not worth
educating; most keen judges incline to think that barely one man
in a hundred owns a mind capable of reacting to any purpose on
the forces that surround him, and fully half of these react
wrongly. The object of education for that mind should be the
teaching itself how to react with vigor and economy. No doubt the
world at large will always lag so far behind the active mind as
to make a soft cushion of inertia to drop upon, as it did for
Henry Adams; but education should try to lessen the obstacles,
diminish the friction, invigorate the energy, and should train
minds to react, not at haphazard, but by choice, on the lines of
force that attract their world. What one knows is, in youth, of
little moment; they know enough who know how to learn. Throughout
human history the waste of mind has been appalling, and, as this
story is meant to show, society has conspired to promote it. No
doubt the teacher is the worst criminal, but the world stands
behind him and drags the student from his course. The moral is
stentorian. Only the most energetic, the most highly fitted, and
the most favored have overcome the friction or the viscosity of
inertia, and these were compelled to waste three-fourths of their
energy in doing it.

  Fit or unfit, Henry Adams stopped his own education in 1871,
and began to apply it for practical uses, like his neighbors. At
the end of twenty years, he found that he had finished, and could
sum up the result. He had no complaint to make against man or
woman. They had all treated him kindly; he had never met with
ill-will, ill-temper, or even ill-manners, or known a quarrel. He
had never seen serious dishonesty or ingratitude. He had found a
readiness in the young to respond to suggestion that seemed to
him far beyond all he had reason to expect. Considering the stock
complaints against the world, he could not understand why he had
nothing to complain of.

  During these twenty years he had done as much work, in
quantity, as his neighbors wanted; more than they would ever stop
to look at, and more than his share. Merely in print, he thought
altogether ridiculous the number of volumes he counted on the
shelves of public libraries. He had no notion whether they served
a useful purpose; he had worked in the dark; but so had most of
his friends, even the artists, none of whom held any lofty
opinion of their success in raising the standards of society, or
felt profound respect for the methods or manners of their time,
at home or abroad, but all of whom had tried, in a way, to hold
the standard up. The effort had been, for the older generation,
exhausting, as one could see in the Hunts; but the generation
after 1870 made more figure, not in proportion to public wealth
or in the census, but in their own self-assertion. A fair number
of the men who were born in the thirties had won names --
Phillips Brooks; Bret Harte; Henry James; H. H. Richardson; John
La Farge; and the list might be made fairly long if it were worth
while; but from their school had sprung others, like Augustus St.
Gaudens, McKim, Stanford White, and scores born in the forties,
who counted as force even in the mental inertia of sixty or
eighty million people. Among all these Clarence King, John Hay,
and Henry Adams had led modest existences, trying to fill in the
social gaps of a class which, as yet, showed but thin ranks and
little cohesion. The combination offered no very glittering
prizes, but they pursued it for twenty years with as much
patience and effort as though it led to fame or power, until, at
last, Henry Adams thought his own duties sufficiently performed
and his account with society settled. He had enjoyed his life
amazingly, and would not have exchanged it for any other that
came in his way; he was, or thought he was, perfectly satisfied
with it; but for reasons that had nothing to do with education,
he was tired; his nervous energy ran low; and, like a horse that
wears out, he quitted the race-course, left the stable, and
sought pastures as far as possible from the old. Education had
ended in 1871; life was complete in 1890; the rest mattered so

  As had happened so often, he found himself in London when the
question of return imposed its verdict on him after much
fruitless effort to rest elsewhere. The time was the month of
January, 1892; he was alone, in hospital, in the gloom of
midwinter. He was close on his fifty-fourth birthday, and Pall
Mall had forgotten him as completely as it had forgotten his
elders. He had not seen London for a dozen years, and was rather
amused to have only a bed for a world and a familiar black fog
for horizon. The coal-fire smelt homelike; the fog had a fruity
taste of youth; anything was better than being turned out into
the wastes of Wigmore Street. He could always amuse himself by
living over his youth, and driving once more down Oxford Street
in 1858, with life before him to imagine far less amusing than it
had turned out to be.

  The future attracted him less. Lying there for a week he
reflected on what he could do next. He had just come up from the
South Seas with John La Farge, who had reluctantly crawled away
towards New York to resume the grinding routine of studio-work at
an age when life runs low. Adams would rather, as choice, have
gone back to the east, if it were only to sleep forever in the
trade-winds under the southern stars, wandering over the dark
purple ocean, with its purple sense of solitude and void. Not
that he liked the sensation, but that it was the most unearthly
he had felt. He had not yet happened on Rudyard Kipling's
"Mandalay," but he knew the poetry before he knew the poem, like
millions of wanderers, who have perhaps alone felt the world
exactly as it is. Nothing attracted him less than the idea of
beginning a new education. The old one had been poor enough; any
new one could only add to its faults. Life had been cut in
halves, and the old half had passed away, education and all,
leaving no stock to graft on. 

  The new world he faced in Paris and London seemed to him
fantastic Willing to admit it real in the sense of having some
kind of existence outside his own mind, he could not admit it
reasonable. In Paris, his heart sank to mere pulp before the
dismal ballets at the Grand Opera and the eternal vaudeville at
the old Palais Royal; but, except for them, his own Paris of the
Second Empire was as extinct as that of the first Napoleon. At
the galleries and exhibitions, he was racked by the effort of art
to be original, and when one day, after much reflection, John La
Farge asked whether there might not still be room for something
simple in art, Adams shook his head. As he saw the world, it was
no longer simple and could not express itself simply. It should
express what it was; and this was something that neither Adams
nor La Farge understood.

  Under the first blast of this furnace-heat, the lights seemed
fairly to go out. He felt nothing in common with the world as it
promised to be. He was ready to quit it, and the easiest path led
back to the east; but he could not venture alone, and the rarest
of animals is a companion. He must return to America to get one.
Perhaps, while waiting, he might write more history, and on the
chance as a last resource, he gave orders for copying everything
he could reach in archives, but this was mere habit. He went home
as a horse goes back to his stable, because he knew nowhere else
to go. 

  Home was Washington. As soon as Grant's administration ended,
in 1877, and Evarts became Secretary of State, Adams went back
there, partly to write history, but chiefly because his seven
years of laborious banishment, in Boston, convinced him that, as
far as he had a function in life, it was as stable-companion to
statesmen, whether they liked it or not. At about the same time,
old George Bancroft did the same thing, and presently John Hay
came on to be Assistant Secretary of State for Mr. Evarts, and
stayed there to write the "Life" of Lincoln. In 1884 Adams joined
him in employing Richardson to build them adjoining houses on La
Fayette Square. As far as Adams had a home this was it. To the
house on La Fayette Square he must turn, for he had no other
status -- no position in the world.

  Never did he make a decision more reluctantly than this of
going back to his manger. His father and mother were dead. All
his family led settled lives of their own. Except for two or
three friends in Washington, who were themselves uncertain of
stay, no one cared whether he came or went, and he cared least.
There was nothing to care about. Every one was busy; nearly every
one seemed contented. Since 1871 nothing had ruffled the surface
of the American world, and even the progress of Europe in her
side-way track to dis-Europeaning herself had ceased to be
After a dreary January in Paris, at last when no excuse could be
persuaded to offer itself for further delay, he crossed the
channel and passed a week with his old friend, Milnes Gaskell, at
Thornes, in Yorkshire, while the westerly gales raved a warning
against going home. Yorkshire in January is not an island in the
South Seas. It has few points of resemblance to Tahiti; not many
to Fiji or Samoa; but, as so often before, it was a rest between
past and future, and Adams was grateful for it.

  At last, on February 3, he drove, after a fashion, down the
Irish Channel, on board the Teutonic. He had not crossed the
Atlantic for a dozen years, and had never seen an ocean steamer
of the new type. He had seen nothing new of any sort, or much
changed in France or England. The railways made quicker time, but
were no more comfortable. The scale was the same. The Channel
service was hardly improved since 1858, or so little as to make
no impression. Europe seemed to have been stationary for twenty
years. To a man who had been stationary like Europe, the Teutonic
was a marvel. That he should be able to eat his dinner through a
week of howling winter gales was a miracle. That he should have a
deck stateroom, with fresh air, and read all night, if he chose,
by electric light, was matter for more wonder than life had yet
supplied, in its old forms. Wonder may be double -- even treble.
Adams's wonder ran off into figures. As the Niagara was to the
Teutonic -- as 1860 was to 1890 -- so the Teutonic and 1890 must
be to the next term -- and then? Apparently the question
concerned only America. Western Europe offered no such conundrum.
There one might double scale and speed indefinitely without
passing bounds. 

  Fate was kind on that voyage. Rudyard Kipling, on his wedding
trip to America, thanks to the mediation of Henry James, dashed
over the passenger his exuberant fountain of gaiety and wit -- as
though playing a garden hose on a thirsty and faded begonia.
Kipling could never know what peace of mind he gave, for he could
hardly ever need it himself so much; and yet, in the full delight
of his endless fun and variety; one felt the old conundrum repeat
itself. Somehow, somewhere, Kipling and the American were not
one, but two, and could not be glued together. The American felt
that the defect, if defect it were, was in himself; he had felt
it when he was with Swinburne, and, again, with Robert Louis
Stevenson, even under the palms of Vailima; but he did not carry
self-abasement to the point of thinking himself singular.
Whatever the defect might be, it was American; it belonged to the
type; it lived in the blood. Whatever the quality might be that
held him apart, it was English; it lived also in the blood; one
felt it little if at all, with Celts, and one yearned
reciprocally among Fiji cannibals. Clarence King used to say that
it was due to discord between the wave-lengths of the man-atoms;
but the theory offered difficulties in measurement. Perhaps,
after all, it was only that genius soars; but this theory, too,
had its dark corners. All through life, one had seen the American
on his literary knees to the European; and all through many lives
back for some two centuries, one had seen the European snub or
patronize the American; not always intentionally, but
effectually. It was in the nature of things. Kipling neither
snubbed nor patronized; he was all gaiety and good-nature; but he
would have been first to feel what one meant. Genius has to pay
itself that unwilling self-respect. 

  Towards the middle of February, 1892, Adams found himself again
in Washington. In Paris and London he had seen nothing to make a
return to life worth while; in Washington he saw plenty of
reasons for staying dead. Changes had taken place there;
improvements had been made; with time -- much time -- the city
might become habitable according to some fashionable standard;
but all one's friends had died or disappeared several times over,
leaving one almost as strange as in Boston or London. Slowly, a
certain society had built itself up about the Government; houses
had been opened and there was much dining; much calling; much
leaving of cards; but a solitary man counted for less than in
1868. Society seemed hardly more at home than he. Both Executive
and Congress held it aloof. No one in society seemed to have the
ear of anybody in Government. No one in Government knew any
reason for consulting any one in society. The world had ceased to
be wholly political, but politics had become less social. A
survivor of the Civil War -- like George Bancroft, or John Hay --
tried to keep footing, but without brilliant success. They were
free to say or do what they liked; but no one took much notice of
anything said or done. 

  A presidential election was to take place in November, and no
one showed much interest in the result. The two candidates were
singular persons, of whom it was the common saying that one of
them had no friends; the other, only enemies. Calvin Brice, who
was at that time altogether the wittiest and cleverest member of
the Senate, was in the habit of describing Mr. Cleveland in
glowing terms and at great length, as one of the loftiest natures
and noblest characters of ancient or modern time; "but," he
concluded, "in future I prefer to look on at his proceedings from
the safe summit of some neighboring hill." The same remark
applied to Mr. Harrison. In this respect, they were the greatest
of Presidents, for, whatever harm they might do their enemies,
was as nothing when compared to the mortality they inflicted on
their friends. Men fled them as though they had the evil eye. To
the American people, the two candidates and the two parties were
so evenly balanced that the scales showed hardly a perceptible
difference. Mr. Harrison was an excellent President, a man of
ability and force; perhaps the best President the Republican
Party had put forward since Lincoln's death; yet, on the whole,
Adams felt a shade of preference for President Cleveland, not so
much personally as because the Democrats represented to him the
last remnants of the eighteenth century; the survivors of Hosea
Biglow's Cornwallis; the sole remaining protestants against a
banker's Olympus which had become, for five-and-twenty years,
more and more despotic over Esop's frog-empire. One might no
longer croak except to vote for King Log, or -- failing storks --
for Grover Cleveland; and even then could not be sure where King
Banker lurked behind. The costly education in politics had led to
political torpor. Every one did not share it. Clarence King and
John Hay were loyal Republicans who never for a moment conceived
that there could be merit in other ideals. With King, the feeling
was chiefly love of archaic races; sympathy with the negro and
Indian and corresponding dislike of their enemies; but with Hay,
party loyalty became a phase of being, a little like the loyalty
of a highly cultivated churchman to his Church. He saw all the
failings of the party, and still more keenly those of the
partisans; but he could not live outside. To Adams a Western
Democrat or a Western Republican, a city Democrat or a city
Republican, a W. C. Whitney or a J. G. Blaine, were actually the
same man, as far as their usefulness to the objects of King, Hay,
or Adams was concerned. They graded themselves as friends or
enemies not as Republicans or Democrats. To Hay, the difference
was that of being respectable or not.

  Since 1879, King, Hay, and Adams had been inseparable. Step by
step, they had gone on in the closest sympathy, rather shunning
than inviting public position, until, in 1892, none of them held
any post at all. With great effort, in Hayes's administration,
all King's friends, including Abram Hewitt and Carl Schurz, had
carried the bill for uniting the Surveys and had placed King at
the head of the Bureau; but King waited only to organize the
service, and then resigned, in order to seek his private fortune
in the West. Hay, after serving as Assistant Secretary of State
under Secretary Evarts during a part of Hayes's administration,
then also insisted on going out, in order to write with Nicolay
the "Life" of Lincoln. Adams had held no office, and when his
friends asked the reason, he could not go into long explanations,
but preferred to answer simply that no President had ever invited
him to fill one. The reason was good, and was also conveniently
true, but left open an awkward doubt of his morals or capacity.
Why had no President ever cared to employ him? The question
needed a volume of intricate explanation. There never was a day
when he would have refused to perform any duty that the
Government imposed on him, but the American Government never to
his knowledge imposed duties. The point was never raised with
regard to him, or to any one else. The Government required
candidates to offer; the business of the Executive began and
ended with the consent or refusal to confer. The social formula
carried this passive attitude a shade further. Any public man who
may for years have used some other man's house as his own, when
promoted to a position of patronage commonly feels himself
obliged to inquire, directly or indirectly, whether his friend
wants anything; which is equivalent to a civil act of divorce,
since he feels awkward in the old relation. The handsomest
formula, in an impartial choice, was the grandly courteous
Southern phrase of Lamar: "Of course Mr. Adams knows that
anything in my power is at his service." A la disposicion de
Usted! The form must have been correct since it released both
parties. He was right; Mr. Adams did know all about it; a bow and
a conventional smile closed the subject forever, and every one
felt flattered. 

  Such an intimate, promoted to power, was always lost. His
duties and cares absorbed him and affected his balance of mind.
Unless his friend served some political purpose, friendship was
an effort. Men who neither wrote for newspapers nor made campaign
speeches, who rarely subscribed to the campaign fund, and who
entered the White House as seldom as possible, placed themselves
outside the sphere of usefulness, and did so with entirely
adequate knowledge of what they were doing. They never expected
the President to ask for their services, and saw no reason why he
should do so. As for Henry Adams, in fifty years that he knew
Washington, no one would have been more surprised than himself
had any President ever asked him to perform so much of a service
as to cross the square. Only Texan Congressmen imagined that the
President needed their services in some remote consulate after
worrying him for months to find one. 

  In Washington this law or custom is universally understood, and
no one's character necessarily suffered because he held no
office. No one took office unless he wanted it; and in turn the
outsider was never asked to do work or subscribe money. Adams saw
no office that he wanted, and he gravely thought that, from his
point of view, in the long run, he was likely to be a more useful
citizen without office. He could at least act as audience, and,
in those days, a Washington audience seldom filled even a small
theatre. He felt quite well satisfied to look on, and from time
to time he thought he might risk a criticism of the players; but
though he found his own position regular, he never quite
understood that of John Hay. The Republican leaders treated Hay
as one of themselves; they asked his services and took his money
with a freedom that staggered even a hardened observer; but they
never needed him in equivalent office. In Washington Hay was the
only competent man in the party for diplomatic work. He
corresponded in his powers of usefulness exactly with Lord
Granville in London, who had been for forty years the saving
grace of every Liberal administration in turn. Had usefulness to
the public service been ever a question, Hay should have had a
first-class mission under Hayes; should have been placed in the
Cabinet by Garfield, and should have been restored to it by
Harrison. These gentlemen were always using him; always invited
his services, and always took his money. 

  Adams's opinion of politics and politicians, as he frankly
admitted, lacked enthusiasm, although never, in his severest
temper, did he apply to them the terms they freely applied to
each other; and he explained everything by his old explanation of
Grant's character as more or less a general type; but what roused
in his mind more rebellion was the patience and good-nature with
which Hay allowed himself to be used. The trait was not confined
to politics. Hay seemed to like to be used, and this was one of
his many charms; but in politics this sort of good-nature demands
supernatural patience. Whatever astonishing lapses of social
convention the politicians betrayed, Hay laughed equally
heartily, and told the stories with constant amusement, at his
own expense. Like most Americans, he liked to play at making
Presidents, but, unlike most, he laughed not only at the
Presidents he helped to make, but also at himself for laughing. 

  One must be rich, and come from Ohio or New York, to gratify an
expensive taste like this. Other men, on both political flanks,
did the same thing, and did it well, less for selfish objects
than for the amusement of the game; but Hay alone lived in
Washington and in the centre of the Ohio influences that ruled
the Republican Party during thirty years. On the whole, these
influences were respectable, and although Adams could not, under
any circumstances, have had any value, even financially, for Ohio
politicians, Hay might have much, as he showed, if they only knew
enough to appreciate him. The American politician was
occasionally an amusing object; Hay laughed, and, for want of
other resource, Adams laughed too; but perhaps it was partly
irritation at seeing how President Harrison dealt his cards that
made Adams welcome President Cleveland back to the White House. 

  At all events, neither Hay nor King nor Adams had much to gain
by reelecting Mr. Harrison in 1892, or by defeating him, as far
as he was concerned; and as far as concerned Mr. Cleveland, they
seemed to have even less personal concern. The whole country, to
outward appearance, stood in much the same frame of mind.
Everywhere was slack-water. Hay himself was almost as languid and
indifferent as Adams. Neither had occupation. Both had finished
their literary work. The "Life" of Lincoln had been begun,
completed, and published hand in hand with the "History" of
Jefferson and Madison, so that between them they had written
nearly all the American history there was to write. The
intermediate period needed intermediate treatment; the gap
between James Madison and Abraham Lincoln could not be judicially
filled by either of them. Both were heartily tired of the
subject, and America seemed as tired as they. What was worse, the
redeeming energy of Americans which had generally served as the
resource of minds otherwise vacant, the creation of new force,
the application of expanding power, showed signs of check. Even
the year before, in 1891, far off in the Pacific, one had met
everywhere in the East a sort of stagnation -- a creeping
paralysis -- complaints of shipping and producers -- that spread
throughout the whole southern hemisphere. Questions of exchange
and silver-production loomed large. Credit was shaken, and a
change of party government might shake it even in Washington. The
matter did not concern Adams, who had no credit, and was always
richest when the rich were poor; but it helped to dull the
vibration of society. 

  However they studied it, the balance of profit and loss, on the
last twenty years, for the three friends, King, Hay, and Adams,
was exceedingly obscure in 1892. They had lost twenty years, but
what had they gained? They often discussed the question. Hay had
a singular faculty for remembering faces, and would break off
suddenly the thread of his talk, as he looked out of the window
on La Fayette Square, to notice an old corps commander or admiral
of the Civil War, tottering along to the club for his cards or
his cocktail: "There is old Dash who broke the rebel lines at
Blankburg! Think of his having been a thunderbolt of war!" Or
what drew Adams's closer attention: "There goes old Boutwell
gambolling like the gambolling kid!" There they went! Men who had
swayed the course of empire as well as the course of Hay, King,
and Adams, less valued than the ephemeral Congressman behind
them, who could not have told whether the general was a Boutwell
or Boutwell a general. Theirs was the highest known success, and
one asked what it was worth to them. Apart from personal vanity,
what would they sell it for? Would any one of them, from
President downwards, refuse ten thousand a year in place of all
the consideration he received from the world on account of his

  Yet consideration had value, and at that time Adams enjoyed
lecturing Augustus St. Gaudens, in hours of depression, on its
economics: "Honestly you must admit that even if you don't pay
your expenses you get a certain amount of advantage from doing
the best work. Very likely some of the really successful
Americans would be willing you should come to dinner sometimes,
if you did not come too often, while they would think twice about
Hay, and would never stand me." The forgotten statesman had no
value at all; the general and admiral not much; the historian but
little; on the whole, the artist stood best, and of course,
wealth rested outside the question, since it was acting as judge;
but, in the last resort, the judge certainly admitted that
consideration had some value as an asset, though hardly as much
as ten -- or five -- thousand a year. 

  Hay and Adams had the advantage of looking out of their windows
on the antiquities of La Fayette Square, with the sense of having
all that any one had; all that the world had to offer; all that
they wanted in life, including their names on scores of
title-pages and in one or two biographical dictionaries; but this
had nothing to do with consideration, and they knew no more than
Boutwell or St. Gaudens whether to call it success. Hay had
passed ten years in writing the "Life" of Lincoln, and perhaps
President Lincoln was the better for it, but what Hay got from it
was not so easy to see, except the privilege of seeing popular
book-makers steal from his book and cover the theft by abusing
the author. Adams had given ten or a dozen years to Jefferson and
Madison, with expenses which, in any mercantile business, could
hardly have been reckoned at less than a hundred thousand
dollars, on a salary of five thousand a year; and when he asked
what return he got from this expenditure, rather more extravagant
in proportion to his means than a racing-stable, he could see
none whatever. Such works never return money. Even Frank Parkman
never printed a first edition of his relatively cheap and popular
volumes, numbering more than seven hundred copies, until quite at
the end of his life. A thousand copies of a book that cost twenty
dollars or more was as much as any author could expect; two
thousand copies was a visionary estimate unless it were canvassed
for subscription. As far as Adams knew, he had but three serious
readers -- Abram Hewitt, Wayne McVeagh, and Hay himself. He was
amply satisfied with their consideration, and could dispense with
that of the other fifty-nine million, nine hundred and
ninety-nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety-seven; but neither
he nor Hay was better off in any other respect, and their chief
title to consideration was their right to look out of their
windows on great men, alive or dead, in La Fayette Square, a
privilege which had nothing to do with their writings. 

  The world was always good-natured; civil; glad to be amused;
open-armed to any one who amused it; patient with every one who
did not insist on putting himself in its way, or costing it
money; but this was not consideration, still less power in any of
its concrete forms, and applied as well or better to a comic
actor. Certainly a rare soprano or tenor voice earned infinitely
more applause as it gave infinitely more pleasure, even in
America; but one does what one can with one's means, and casting
up one's balance sheet, one expects only a reasonable return on
one's capital. Hay and Adams had risked nothing and never played
for high stakes. King had followed the ambitious course. He had
played for many millions. He had more than once come close to a
great success, but the result was still in doubt, and meanwhile
he was passing the best years of his life underground. For
companionship he was mostly lost. 

  Thus, in 1892, neither Hay, King, nor Adams knew whether they
had attained success, or how to estimate it, or what to call it;
and the American people seemed to have no clearer idea than they.
Indeed, the American people had no idea at all; they were
wandering in a wilderness much more sandy than the Hebrews had
ever trodden about Sinai; they had neither serpents nor golden
calves to worship. They had lost the sense of worship; for the
idea that they worshipped money seemed a delusion. Worship of
money was an old-world trait; a healthy appetite akin to worship
of the Gods, or to worship of power in any concrete shape; but
the American wasted money more recklessly than any one ever did
before; he spent more to less purpose than any extravagant court
aristocracy; he had no sense of relative values, and knew not
what to do with his money when he got it, except use it to make
more, or throw it away. Probably, since human society began, it
had seen no such curious spectacle as the houses of the San
Francisco millionaires on Nob Hill. Except for the railway
system, the enormous wealth taken out of the ground since 1840,
had disappeared. West of the Alleghenies, the whole country might
have been swept clean, and could have been replaced in better
form within one or two years. The American mind had less respect
for money than the European or Asiatic mind, and bore its loss
more easily; but it had been deflected by its pursuit till it
could turn in no other direction. It shunned, distrusted,
disliked, the dangerous attraction of ideals, and stood alone in
history for its ignorance of the past.

  Personal contact brought this American trait close to Adams's
notice. His first step, on returning to Washington, took him out
to the cemetery known as Rock Creek, to see the bronze figure
which St. Gaudens had made for him in his absence. Naturally
every detail interested him; every line; every touch of the
artist; every change of light and shade; every point of relation;
every possible doubt of St. Gaudens's correctness of taste or
feeling; so that, as the spring approached, he was apt to stop
there often to see what the figure had to tell him that was new;
but, in all that it had to say, he never once thought of
questioning what it meant. He supposed its meaning to be the one
commonplace about it -- the oldest idea known to human thought.
He knew that if he asked an Asiatic its meaning, not a man,
woman, or child from Cairo to Kamtchatka would have needed more
than a glance to reply. From the Egyptian Sphinx to the Kamakura
Daibuts; from Prometheus to Christ; from Michael Angelo to
Shelley, art had wrought on this eternal figure almost as though
it had nothing else to say. The interest of the figure was not in
its meaning, but in the response of the observer. As Adams sat
there, numbers of people came, for the figure seemed to have
become a tourist fashion, and all wanted to know its meaning.
Most took it for a portrait-statue, and the remnant were
vacant-minded in the absence of a personal guide. None felt what
would have been a nursery-instinct to a Hindu baby or a Japanese
jinricksha-runner. The only exceptions were the clergy, who
taught a lesson even deeper. One after another brought companions
there, and, apparently fascinated by their own reflection, broke
out passionately against the expression they felt in the figure
of despair, of atheism, of denial. Like the others, the priest
saw only what he brought. Like all great artists, St. Gaudens
held up the mirror and no more. The American layman had lost
sight of ideals; the American priest had lost sight of faith.
Both were more American than the old, half-witted soldiers who
denounced the wasting, on a mere grave, of money which should
have been given for drink. 

  Landed, lost, and forgotten, in the centre of this vast plain
of self-content, Adams could see but one active interest, to
which all others were subservient, and which absorbed the
energies of some sixty million people to the exclusion of every
other force, real or imaginary. The power of the railway system
had enormously increased since 1870. Already the coal output of
160,000,000 tons closely approached the 180,000,000 of the
British Empire, and one held one's breath at the nearness of what
one had never expected to see, the crossing of courses, and the
lead of American energies. The moment was deeply exciting to a
historian, but the railway system itself interested one less than
in 1868, since it offered less chance for future profit. Adams
had been born with the railway system; had grown up with it; had
been over pretty nearly every mile of it with curious eyes, and
knew as much about it as his neighbors; but not there could he
look for a new education. Incomplete though it was, the system
seemed on the whole to satisfy the wants of society better than
any other part of the social machine, and society was content
with its creation, for the time, and with itself for creating it.
Nothing new was to be done or learned there, and the world
hurried on to its telephones, bicycles, and electric trams. At
past fifty, Adams solemnly and painfully learned to ride the

  Nothing else occurred to him as a means of new life. Nothing
else offered itself, however carefully he sought. He looked for
no change. He lingered in Washington till near July without
noticing a new idea. Then he went back to England to pass his
summer on the Deeside. In October he returned to Washington and
there awaited the reelection of Mr. Cleveland, which led to no
deeper thought than that of taking up some small notes that
happened to be outstanding. He had seen enough of the world to be
a coward, and above all he had an uneasy distrust of bankers.
Even dead men allow themselves a few narrow prejudices. 


CHICAGO (1893)

  DRIFTING in the dead-water of the fin-de-siecle -- and during
this last decade every one talked, and seemed to feel
fin-de-siecle -- where not a breath stirred the idle air of
education or fretted the mental torpor of self-content, one lived
alone. Adams had long ceased going into society. For years he had
not dined out of his own house, and in public his face was as
unknown as that of an extinct statesman. He had often noticed
that six months' oblivion amounts to newspaper-death, and that
resurrection is rare. Nothing is easier, if a man wants it, than
rest, profound as the grave. 

  His friends sometimes took pity on him, and came to share a
meal or pass a night on their passage south or northwards, but
existence was, on the whole, exceedingly solitary, or seemed so
to him. Of the society favorites who made the life of every
dinner- table and of the halls of Congress -- Tom Reed, Bourke
Cockran, Edward Wolcott -- he knew not one. Although Calvin Brice
was his next neighbor for six years, entertaining lavishly as no
one had ever entertained before in Washington, Adams never
entered his house. W. C. Whitney rivalled Senator Brice in
hospitality, and was besides an old acquaintance of the reforming
era, but Adams saw him as little as he saw his chief, President
Cleveland, or President Harrison or Secretary Bayard or Blaine or
Olney. One has no choice but to go everywhere or nowhere. No one
may pick and choose between houses, or accept hospitality without
returning it. He loved solitude as little as others did; but he
was unfit for social work, and he sank under the surface. 

  Luckily for such helpless animals as solitary men, the world is
not only good-natured but even friendly and generous; it loves to
pardon if pardon is not demanded as a right. Adams's social
offences were many, and no one was more sensitive to it than
himself; but a few houses always remained which he could enter
without being asked, and quit without being noticed. One was John
Hay's; another was Cabot Lodge's; a third led to an intimacy
which had the singular effect of educating him in knowledge of
the very class of American politician who had done most to block
his intended path in life. Senator Cameron of Pennsylvania had
married in 1880 a young niece of Senator John Sherman of Ohio,
thus making an alliance of dynastic importance in politics, and
in society a reign of sixteen years, during which Mrs. Cameron
and Mrs. Lodge led a career, without precedent and without
succession, as the dispensers of sunshine over Washington. Both
of them had been kind to Adams, and a dozen years of this
intimacy had made him one of their habitual household, as he was
of Hay's. In a small society, such ties between houses become
political and social force. Without intention or consciousness,
they fix one's status in the world. Whatever one's preferences in
politics might be, one's house was bound to the Republican
interest when sandwiched between Senator Cameron, John Hay, and
Cabot Lodge, with Theodore Roosevelt equally at home in them all,
and Cecil Spring-Rice to unite them by impartial variety. The
relation was daily, and the alliance undisturbed by power or
patronage, since Mr. Harrison, in those respects, showed little
more taste than Mr. Cleveland for the society and interests of
this particular band of followers, whose relations with the White
House were sometimes comic, but never intimate. 

  In February, 1893, Senator Cameron took his family to South
Carolina, where he had bought an old plantation at Coffin's Point
on St. Helena Island, and Adams, as one of the family, was taken,
with the rest, to open the new experience. From there he went on
to Havana, and came back to Coffin's Point to linger till near
April. In May the Senator took his family to Chicago to see the
Exposition, and Adams went with them. Early in June, all sailed
for England together, and at last, in the middle of July, all
found themselves in Switzerland, at Prangins, Chamounix, and
Zermatt. On July 22 they drove across the Furka Pass and went
down by rail to Lucerne.

  Months of close contact teach character, if character has
interest; and to Adams the Cameron type had keen interest, ever
since it had shipwrecked his career in the person of President
Grant. Perhaps it owed life to Scotch blood; perhaps to the blood
of Adam and Eve, the primitive strain of man; perhaps only to the
blood of the cottager working against the blood of the townsman;
but whatever it was, one liked it for its simplicity. The
Pennsylvania mind, as minds go, was not complex; it reasoned
little and never talked; but in practical matters it was the
steadiest of all American types; perhaps the most efficient;
certainly the safest.

  Adams had printed as much as this in his books, but had never
been able to find a type to describe, the two great historical
Pennsylvanians having been, as every one had so often heard,
Benjamin Franklin of Boston and Albert Gallatin of Geneva. Of
Albert Gallatin, indeed, he had made a voluminous study and an
elaborate picture, only to show that he was, if American at all,
a New Yorker, with a Calvinistic strain -- rather Connecticut
than Pennsylvanian. The true Pennsylvanian was a narrower type;
as narrow as the kirk; as shy of other people's narrowness as a
Yankee; as self-limited as a Puritan farmer. To him, none but
Pennsylvanians were white. Chinaman, negro, Dago, Italian,
Englishman, Yankee -- all was one in the depths of Pennsylvanian
consciousness. The mental machine could run only on what it took
for American lines. This was familiar, ever since one's study of
President Grant in 1869; but in 1893, as then, the type was
admirably strong and useful if one wanted only to run on the same
lines. Practically the Pennsylvanian forgot his prejudices when
he allied his interests. He then became supple in action and
large in motive, whatever he thought of his colleagues. When he
happened to be right -- which was, of course, whenever one agreed
with him -- he was the strongest American in America. As an ally
he was worth all the rest, because he understood his own class,
who were always a majority; and knew how to deal with them as no
New Englander could. If one wanted work done in Congress, one did
wisely to avoid asking a New Englander to do it. A Pennsylvanian
not only could do it, but did it willingly, practically, and

  Never in the range of human possibilities had a Cameron
believed in an Adams -- or an Adams in a Cameron -- but they had
curiously enough, almost always worked together. The Camerons had
what the Adamses thought the political vice of reaching their
objects without much regard to their methods. The loftiest virtue
of the Pennsylvania machine had never been its scrupulous purity
or sparkling professions. The machine worked by coarse means on
coarse interests, but its practical success had been the most
curious subject of study in American history. When one summed up
the results of Pennsylvanian influence, one inclined to think
that Pennsylvania set up the Government in 1789; saved it in
1861; created the American system; developed its iron and coal
power; and invented its great railways. Following up the same
line, in his studies of American character, Adams reached the
result -- to him altogether paradoxical -- that Cameron's
qualities and defects united in equal share to make him the most
useful member of the Senate. 

  In the interest of studying, at last, a perfect and favorable
specimen of this American type which had so persistently
suppressed his own, Adams was slow to notice that Cameron
strongly influenced him, but he could not see a trace of any
influence which he exercised on Cameron. Not an opinion or a view
of his on any subject was ever reflected back on him from
Cameron's mind; not even an expression or a fact. Yet the
difference in age was trifling, and in education slight. On the
other hand, Cameron made deep impression on Adams, and in nothing
so much as on the great subject of discussion that year -- the
question of silver.

  Adams had taken no interest in the matter, and knew nothing
about it, except as a very tedious hobby of his friend Dana
Horton; but inevitably, from the moment he was forced to choose
sides, he was sure to choose silver. Every political idea and
personal prejudice he ever dallied with held him to the silver
standard, and made a barrier between him and gold. He knew well
enough all that was to be said for the gold standard as economy,
but he had never in his life taken politics for a pursuit of
economy. One might have a political or an economical policy; one
could not have both at the same time. This was heresy in the
English school, but it had always been law in the American.
Equally he knew all that was to be said on the moral side of the
question, and he admitted that his interests were, as Boston
maintained, wholly on the side of gold; but, had they been ten
times as great as they were, he could not have helped his bankers
or croupiers to load the dice and pack the cards to make sure his
winning the stakes. At least he was bound to profess disapproval
-- or thought he was. From early childhood his moral principles
had struggled blindly with his interests, but he was certain of
one law that ruled all others -- masses of men invariably follow
interests in deciding morals. Morality is a private and costly
luxury. The morality of the silver or gold standards was to be
decided by popular vote, and the popular vote would be decided by
interests; but on which side lay the larger interest? To him the
interest was political; he thought it probably his last chance of
standing up for his eighteenth-century principles, strict
construction, limited powers, George Washington, John Adams, and
the rest. He had, in a half-hearted way, struggled all his life
against State Street, banks, capitalism altogether, as he knew it
in old England or new England, and he was fated to make his last
resistance behind the silver standard.

  For him this result was clear, and if he erred, he erred in
company with nine men out of ten in Washington, for there was
little difference on the merits. Adams was sure to learn
backwards, but the case seemed entirely different with Cameron, a
typical Pennsylvanian, a practical politician, whom all the
reformers, including all the Adamses. had abused for a lifetime
for subservience to moneyed interests and political jobbery. He
was sure to go with the banks and corporations which had made and
sustained him. On the contrary, he stood out obstinately as the
leading champion of silver in the East. The reformers,
represented by the Evening Post and Godkin, whose personal
interests lay with the gold standard, at once assumed that
Senator Cameron had a personal interest in silver, and denounced
his corruption as hotly as though he had been convicted of taking
a bribe. 

  More than silver and gold, the moral standard interested Adams.
His own interests were with gold, but he supported silver; the
Evening Post's and Godkin's interests were with gold, and they
frankly said so, yet they avowedly pursued their interests even
into politics; Cameron's interests had always been with the
corporations, yet he supported silver. Thus morality required
that Adams should be condemned for going against his interests;
that Godkin was virtuous in following his interests; and that
Cameron was a scoundrel whatever he did. 

  Granting that one of the three was a moral idiot, which was it:
-- Adams or Godkin or Cameron? Until a Council or a Pope or a
Congress or the newspapers or a popular election has decided a
question of doubtful morality, individuals are apt to err,
especially when putting money into their own pockets; but in
democracies, the majority alone gives law. To any one who knew
the relative popularity of Cameron and Godkin, the idea of a
popular vote between them seemed excessively humorous; yet the
popular vote in the end did decide against Cameron, for Godkin. 

  The Boston moralist and reformer went on, as always, like Dr.
Johnson, impatiently stamping his foot and following his
interests, or his antipathies; but the true American, slow to
grasp new and complicated ideas, groped in the dark to discover
where his greater interest lay. As usual, the banks taught him.
In the course of fifty years the banks taught one many wise
lessons for which an insect had to be grateful whether it liked
them or not; but of all the lessons Adams learned from them, none
compared in dramatic effect with that of July 22, 1893, when,
after talking silver all the morning with Senator Cameron on the
top of their travelling-carriage crossing the Furka Pass, they
reached Lucerne in the afternoon, where Adams found letters from
his brothers requesting his immediate return to Boston because
the community was bankrupt and he was probably a beggar. 

  If he wanted education, he knew no quicker mode of learning a
lesson than that of being struck on the head by it; and yet he
was himself surprised at his own slowness to understand what had
struck him. For several years a sufferer from insomnia, his first
thought was of beggary of nerves, and he made ready to face a
sleepless night, but although his mind tried to wrestle with the
problem how any man could be ruined who had, months before, paid
off every dollar of debt he knew himself to owe, he gave up that
insoluble riddle in order to fall back on the larger principle
that beggary could be no more for him than it was for others who
were more valuable members of society, and, with that, he went to
sleep like a good citizen, and the next day started for Quincy
where he arrived August 7. 

  As a starting-point for a new education at fifty-five years
old, the shock of finding one's self suspended, for several
months, over the edge of bankruptcy, without knowing how one got
there, or how to get away, is to be strongly recommended. By slow
degrees the situation dawned on him that the banks had lent him,
among others, some money -- thousands of millions were -- as
bankruptcy -- the same -- for which he, among others, was
responsible and of which he knew no more than they. The humor of
this situation seemed to him so much more pointed than the
terror, as to make him laugh at himself with a sincerity he had
been long strange to. As far as he could comprehend, he had
nothing to lose that he cared about, but the banks stood to lose
their existence. Money mattered as little to him as to anybody,
but money was their life. For the first time he had the banks in
his power; he could afford to laugh; and the whole community was
in the same position, though few laughed. All sat down on the
banks and asked what the banks were going to do about it. To
Adams the situation seemed farcical, but the more he saw of it,
the less he understood it. He was quite sure that nobody
understood it much better. Blindly some very powerful energy was
at work, doing something that nobody wanted done. When Adams went
to his bank to draw a hundred dollars of his own money on
deposit, the cashier refused to let him have more than fifty, and
Adams accepted the fifty without complaint because he was himself
refusing to let the banks have some hundreds or thousands that
belonged to them. Each wanted to help the other, yet both refused
to pay their debts, and he could find no answer to the question
which was responsible for getting the other into the situation,
since lenders and borrowers were the same interest and socially
the same person. Evidently the force was one; its operation was
mechanical; its effect must be proportional to its power; but no
one knew what it meant, and most people dismissed it as an
emotion -- a panic -- that meant nothing.

  Men died like flies under the strain, and Boston grew suddenly
old, haggard, and thin. Adams alone waxed fat and was happy, for
at last he had got hold of his world and could finish his
education, interrupted for twenty years. He cared not whether it
were worth finishing, if only it amused; but he seemed, for the
first time since 1870, to feel that something new and curious was
about to happen to the world. Great changes had taken place since
1870 in the forces at work; the old machine ran far behind its
duty; somewhere -- somehow -- it was bound to break down, and if
it happened to break precisely over one's head, it gave the
better chance for study.

  For the first time in several years he saw much of his brother
Brooks in Quincy, and was surprised to find him absorbed in the
same perplexities. Brooks was then a man of forty-five years old;
a strong writer and a vigorous thinker who irritated too many
Boston conventions ever to suit the atmosphere; but the two
brothers could talk to each other without atmosphere and were
used to audiences of one. Brooks had discovered or developed a
law of history that civilization followed the exchanges, and
having worked it out for the Mediterranean was working it out for
the Atlantic. Everything American, as well as most things
European and Asiatic, became unstable by this law, seeking new
equilibrium and compelled to find it. Loving paradox, Brooks,
with the advantages of ten years' study, had swept away much
rubbish in the effort to build up a new line of thought for
himself, but he found that no paradox compared with that of daily
events. The facts were constantly outrunning his thoughts. The
instability was greater than he calculated; the speed of
acceleration passed bounds. Among other general rules he laid
down the paradox that, in the social disequilibrium between
capital and labor, the logical outcome was not collectivism, but
anarchism; and Henry made note of it for study.

  By the time he got back to Washington on September 19, the
storm having partly blown over, life had taken on a new face, and
one so interesting that he set off to Chicago to study the
Exposition again, and stayed there a fortnight absorbed in it. He
found matter of study to fill a hundred years, and his education
spread over chaos. Indeed, it seemed to him as though, this year,
education went mad. The silver question, thorny as it was, fell
into relations as simple as words of one syllable, compared with
the problems of credit and exchange that came to complicate it;
and when one sought rest at Chicago, educational game started
like rabbits from every building, and ran out of sight among
thousands of its kind before one could mark its burrow. The
Exposition itself defied philosophy. One might find fault till
the last gate closed, one could still explain nothing that needed
explanation. As a scenic display, Paris had never approached it,
but the inconceivable scenic display consisted in its being there
at all -- more surprising, as it was, than anything else on the
continent, Niagara Falls, the Yellowstone Geysers, and the whole
railway system thrown in, since these were all natural products
in their place; while, since Noah's Ark, no such Babel of loose
and ill joined, such vague and ill-defined and unrelated thoughts
and half-thoughts and experimental outcries as the Exposition,
had ever ruffled the surface of the Lakes.

  The first astonishment became greater every day. That the
Exposition should be a natural growth and product of the
Northwest offered a step in evolution to startle Darwin; but that
it should be anything else seemed an idea more startling still;
and even granting it were not -- admitting it to be a sort of
industrial, speculative growth and product of the Beaux Arts
artistically induced to pass the summer on the shore of Lake
Michigan -- could it be made to seem at home there? Was the
American made to seem at home in it? Honestly, he had the air of
enjoying it as though it were all his own; he felt it was good;
he was proud of it; for the most part, he acted as though he had
passed his life in landscape gardening and architectural
decoration. If he had not done it himself, he had known how to
get it done to suit him, as he knew how to get his wives and
daughters dressed at Worth's or Paquin's. Perhaps he could not do
it again; the next time he would want to do it himself and would
show his own faults; but for the moment he seemed to have leaped
directly from Corinth and Syracuse and Venice, over the heads of
London and New York, to impose classical standards on plastic
Chicago. Critics had no trouble in criticising the classicism,
but all trading cities had always shown traders' taste, and, to
the stern purist of religious faith, no art was thinner than
Venetian Gothic. All trader's taste smelt of bric-a-brac; Chicago
tried at least to give her taste a look of unity.

  One sat down to ponder on the steps beneath Richard Hunt's dome
almost as deeply as on the steps of Ara Coeli, and much to the
same purpose. Here was a breach of continuity -- a rupture in
historical sequence! Was it real, or only apparent? One's
personal universe hung on the answer, for, if the rupture was
real and the new American world could take this sharp and
conscious twist towards ideals, one's personal friends would come
in, at last, as winners in the great American chariot-race for
fame. If the people of the Northwest actually knew what was good
when they saw it, they would some day talk about Hunt and
Richardson, La Farge and St. Gaudens, Burnham and McKim, and
Stanford White when their politicians and millionaires were
otherwise forgotten. The artists and architects who had done the
work offered little encouragement to hope it; they talked freely
enough, but not in terms that one cared to quote; and to them the
Northwest refused to look artistic. They talked as though they
worked only for themselves; as though art, to the Western people,
was a stage decoration; a diamond shirt-stud; a paper collar; but
possibly the architects of Paestum and Girgenti had talked in the
same way, and the Greek had said the same thing of Semitic
Carthage two thousand years ago.

  Jostled by these hopes and doubts, one turned to the exhibits
for help, and found it. The industrial schools tried to teach so
much and so quickly that the instruction ran to waste. Some
millions of other people felt the same helplessness, but few of
them were seeking education, and to them helplessness seemed
natural and normal, for they had grown up in the habit of
thinking a steam-engine or a dynamo as natural as the sun, and
expected to understand one as little as the other. For the
historian alone the Exposition made a serious effort. Historical
exhibits were common, but they never went far enough; none were
thoroughly worked out. One of the best was that of the Cunard
steamers, but still a student hungry for results found himself
obliged to waste a pencil and several sheets of paper trying to
calculate exactly when, according to the given increase of power,
tonnage, and speed, the growth of the ocean steamer would reach
its limits. His figures brought him, he thought, to the year
1927; another generation to spare before force, space, and time
should meet. The ocean steamer ran the surest line of
triangulation into the future, because it was the nearest of
man's products to a unity; railroads taught less because they
seemed already finished except for mere increase in number;
explosives taught most, but needed a tribe of chemists,
physicists, and mathematicians to explain; the dynamo taught
least because it had barely reached infancy, and, if its progress
was to be constant at the rate of the last ten years, it would
result in infinite costless energy within a generation. One
lingered long among the dynamos, for they were new, and they gave
to history a new phase. Men of science could never understand the
ignorance and naivete; of the historian, who, when he came
suddenly on a new power, asked naturally what it was; did it pull
or did it push? Was it a screw or thrust? Did it flow or vibrate?
Was it a wire or a mathematical line? And a score of such
questions to which he expected answers and was astonished to get

  Education ran riot at Chicago, at least for retarded minds
which had never faced in concrete form so many matters of which
they were ignorant. Men who knew nothing whatever -- who had
never run a steam-engine, the simplest of forces -- who had never
put their hands on a lever -- had never touched an electric
battery -- never talked through a telephone, and had not the
shadow of a notion what amount of force was meant by a watt or an
ampere or an erg, or any other term of measurement introduced
within a hundred years -- had no choice but to sit down on the
steps and brood as they had never brooded on the benches of
Harvard College, either as student or professor, aghast at what
they had said and done in all these years, and still more ashamed
of the childlike ignorance and babbling futility of the society
that let them say and do it. The historical mind can think only
in historical processes, and probably this was the first time
since historians existed, that any of them had sat down helpless
before a mechanical sequence. Before a metaphysical or a
theological or a political sequence, most historians had felt
helpless, but the single clue to which they had hitherto trusted
was the unity of natural force. 

  Did he himself quite know what he meant? Certainly not! If he
had known enough to state his problem, his education would have
been complete at once. Chicago asked in 1893 for the first time
the question whether the American people knew where they were
driving. Adams answered, for one, that he did not know, but would
try to find out. On reflecting sufficiently deeply, under the
shadow of Richard Hunt's architecture, he decided that the
American people probably knew no more than he did; but that they
might still be driving or drifting unconsciously to some point in
thought, as their solar system was said to be drifting towards
some point in space; and that, possibly, if relations enough
could be observed, this point might be fixed. Chicago was the
first expression of American thought as a unity; one must start

  Washington was the second. When he got back there, he fell
headlong into the extra session of Congress called to repeal the
Silver Act. The silver minority made an obstinate attempt to
prevent it, and most of the majority had little heart in the
creation of a single gold standard. The banks alone, and the
dealers in exchange, insisted upon it; the political parties
divided according to capitalistic geographical lines, Senator
Cameron offering almost the only exception; but they mixed with
unusual good-temper, and made liberal allowance for each others'
actions and motives. The struggle was rather less irritable than
such struggles generally were, and it ended like a comedy. On the
evening of the final vote, Senator Cameron came back from the
Capitol with Senator Brice, Senator Jones, Senator Lodge, and
Moreton Frewen, all in the gayest of humors as though they were
rid of a heavy responsibility. Adams, too, in a bystander's
spirit, felt light in mind. He had stood up for his eighteenth
century, his Constitution of 1789, his George Washington, his
Harvard College, his Quincy, and his Plymouth Pilgrims, as long
as any one would stand up with him. He had said it was hopeless
twenty years before, but he had kept on, in the same old
attitude, by habit and taste, until he found himself altogether
alone. He had hugged his antiquated dislike of bankers and
capitalistic society until he had become little better than a
crank. He had known for years that he must accept the regime, but
he had known a great many other disagreeable certainties -- like
age, senility, and death -- against which one made what little
resistance one could. The matter was settled at last by the
people. For a hundred years, between 1793 and 1893, the American
people had hesitated, vacillated, swayed forward and back,
between two forces, one simply industrial, the other
capitalistic, centralizing, and mechanical. In 1893, the issue
came on the single gold standard, and the majority at last
declared itself, once for all, in favor of the capitalistic
system with all its necessary machinery. All one's friends, all
one's best citizens, reformers, churches, colleges, educated
classes, had joined the banks to force submission to capitalism;
a submission long foreseen by the mere law of mass. Of all forms
of society or government, this was the one he liked least, but
his likes or dislikes were as antiquated as the rebel doctrine of
State rights. A capitalistic system had been adopted, and if it
were to be run at all, it must be run by capital and by
capitalistic methods; for nothing could surpass the nonsensity of
trying to run so complex and so concentrated a machine by
Southern and Western farmers in grotesque alliance with city
day-laborers, as had been tried in 1800 and 1828, and had failed
even under simple conditions. 

  There, education in domestic politics stopped. The rest was
question of gear; of running machinery; of economy; and involved
no disputed principle. Once admitted that the machine must be
efficient, society might dispute in what social interest it
should be run, but in any case it must work concentration. Such
great revolutions commonly leave some bitterness behind, but
nothing in politics ever surprised Henry Adams more than the ease
with which he and his silver friends slipped across the chasm,
and alighted on the single gold standard and the capitalistic
system with its methods; the protective tariff; the corporations
and trusts; the trades-unions and socialistic paternalism which
necessarily made their complement; the whole mechanical
consolidation of force, which ruthlessly stamped out the life of
the class into which Adams was born, but created monopolies
capable of controlling the new energies that America adored. 

  Society rested, after sweeping into the ash-heap these cinders
of a misdirected education. After this vigorous impulse, nothing
remained for a historian but to ask -- how long and how far!


SILENCE (1894-1898)

The convulsion of 1893 left its victims in dead-water, and closed
much education. While the country braced itself up to an effort
such as no one had thought within its powers, the individual
crawled as he best could, through the wreck, and found many
values of life upset. But for connecting the nineteenth and
twentieth centuries, the four years, 1893 to 1897, had no value
in the drama of education, and might be left out. Much that had
made life pleasant between 1870 and 1890 perished in the ruin,
and among the earliest wreckage had been the fortunes of Clarence
King. The lesson taught whatever the bystander chose to read in
it; but to Adams it seemed singularly full of moral, if he could
but understand it. In 1871 he had thought King's education ideal,
and his personal fitness unrivalled. No other young American
approached him for the combination of chances -- physical energy,
social standing, mental scope and training, wit, geniality, and
science, that seemed superlatively American and irresistibly
strong. His nearest rival was Alexander Agassiz, and, as far as
their friends knew, no one else could be classed with them in the
running. The result of twenty years' effort proved that the
theory of scientific education failed where most theory fails --
for want of money. Even Henry Adams, who kept himself, as he
thought, quite outside of every possible financial risk, had been
caught in the cogs, and held for months over the gulf of
bankruptcy, saved only by the chance that the whole class of
millionaires were more or less bankrupt too, and the banks were
forced to let the mice escape with the rats; but, in sum,
education without capital could always be taken by the throat and
forced to disgorge its gains, nor was it helped by the knowledge
that no one intended it, but that all alike suffered. Whether
voluntary or mechanical the result for education was the same.
The failure of the scientific scheme, without money to back it,
was flagrant. 

  The scientific scheme in theory was alone sound, for science
should be equivalent to money; in practice science was helpless
without money. The weak holder was, in his own language, sure to
be frozen out. Education must fit the complex conditions of a new
society, always accelerating its movement, and its fitness could
be known only from success. One looked about for examples of
success among the educated of one's time -- the men born in the
thirties, and trained to professions. Within one's immediate
acquaintance, three were typical: John Hay, Whitelaw Reid, and
William C. Whitney; all of whom owed their free hand to marriage,
education serving only for ornament, but among whom, in 1893,
William C. Whitney was far and away the most popular type. 

  Newspapers might prate about wealth till commonplace print was
exhausted, but as matter of habit, few Americans envied the very
rich for anything the most of them got out of money. New York
might occasionally fear them, but more often laughed or sneered
at them, and never showed them respect. Scarcely one of the very
rich men held any position in society by virtue of his wealth, or
could have been elected to an office, or even into a good club.
Setting aside the few, like Pierpont Morgan, whose social
position had little to do with greater or less wealth, riches
were in New York no object of envy on account of the joys they
brought in their train, and Whitney was not even one of the very
rich; yet in his case the envy was palpable. There was reason for
it. Already in 1893 Whitney had finished with politics after
having gratified every ambition, and swung the country almost at
his will; he had thrown away the usual objects of political
ambition like the ashes of smoked cigarettes; had turned to other
amusements, satiated every taste, gorged every appetite, won
every object that New York afforded, and, not yet satisfied, had
carried his field of activity abroad, until New York no longer
knew what most to envy, his horses or his houses. He had
succeeded precisely where Clarence King had failed.

  Barely forty years had passed since all these men started in a
bunch to race for power, and the results were fixed beyond
reversal; but one knew no better in 1894 than in 1854 what an
American education ought to be in order to count as success. Even
granting that it counted as money, its value could not be called
general. America contained scores of men worth five millions or
upwards, whose lives were no more worth living than those of
their cooks, and to whom the task of making money equivalent to
education offered more difficulties than to Adams the task of
making education equivalent to money. Social position seemed to
have value still, while education counted for nothing. A
mathematician, linguist, chemist, electrician, engineer, if
fortunate might average a value of ten dollars a day in the open
market. An administrator, organizer, manager, with mediaeval
qualities of energy and will, but no education beyond his special
branch, would probably be worth at least ten times as much. 
Society had failed to discover what sort of education suited it
best. Wealth valued social position and classical education as
highly as either of these valued wealth, and the women still
tended to keep the scales even. For anything Adams could see he
was himself as contented as though he had been educated; while
Clarence King, whose education was exactly suited to theory, had
failed; and Whitney, who was no better educated than Adams, had
achieved phenomenal success.

  Had Adams in 1894 been starting in life as he did in 1854, he
must have repeated that all he asked of education was the facile
use of the four old tools: Mathematics, French, German, and
Spanish. With these he could still make his way to any object
within his vision, and would have a decisive advantage over nine
rivals in ten. Statesman or lawyer, chemist or electrician,
priest or professor, native or foreign, he would fear none. 

  King's breakdown, physical as well as financial, brought the
indirect gain to Adams that, on recovering strength, King induced
him to go to Cuba, where, in January, 1894, they drifted into the
little town of Santiago. The picturesque Cuban society, which
King knew well, was more amusing than any other that one had yet
discovered in the whole broad world, but made no profession of
teaching anything unless it were Cuban Spanish or the danza; and
neither on his own nor on King's account did the visitor ask any
loftier study than that of the buzzards floating on the
trade-wind down the valley to Dos Bocas, or the colors of sea and
shore at sunrise from the height of the Gran Piedra; but, as
though they were still twenty years old and revolution were as
young as they, the decaying fabric, which had never been solid,
fell on their heads and drew them with it into an ocean of
mischief. In the half-century between 1850 and 1900, empires were
always falling on one's head, and, of all lessons, these constant
political convulsions taught least. Since the time of Rameses,
revolutions have raised more doubts than they solved, but they
have sometimes the merit of changing one's point of view, and the
Cuban rebellion served to sever the last tie that attached Adams
to a Democratic administration. He thought that President
Cleveland could have settled the Cuban question, without war, had
he chosen to do his duty, and this feeling, generally held by the
Democratic Party, joined with the stress of economical needs and
the gold standard to break into bits the old organization and to
leave no choice between parties. The new American, whether
consciously or not, had turned his back on the nineteenth century
before he was done with it; the gold standard, the protective
system, and the laws of mass could have no other outcome, and, as
so often before, the movement, once accelerated by attempting to
impede it, had the additional, brutal consequence of crushing
equally the good and the bad that stood in its way. 

  The lesson was old -- so old that it became tedious. One had
studied nothing else since childhood, and wearied of it. For yet
another year Adams lingered on these outskirts of the vortex,
among the picturesque, primitive types of a world which had never
been fairly involved in the general motion, and were the more
amusing for their torpor. After passing the winter with King in
the West Indies, he passed the summer with Hay in the
Yellowstone, and found there little to study. The Geysers were an
old story; the Snake River posed no vital statistics except in
its fordings; even the Tetons were as calm as they were lovely;
while the wapiti and bear, innocent of strikes and corners, laid
no traps. In return the party treated them with affection. Never
did a band less bloody or bloodthirsty wander over the roof of
the continent. Hay loved as little as Adams did, the labor of
skinning and butchering big game; he had even outgrown the
sedate, middle-aged, meditative joy of duck-shooting, and found
the trout of the Yellowstone too easy a prey. Hallett Phillips
himself, who managed the party loved to play Indian hunter
without hunting so much as a fieldmouse; Iddings the geologist
was reduced to shooting only for the table, and the guileless
prattle of Billy Hofer alone taught the simple life. Compared
with the Rockies of 1871, the sense of wildness had vanished; one
saw no possible adventures except to break one's neck as in
chasing an aniseed fox. Only the more intelligent ponies scented
an occasional friendly and sociable bear. 

  When the party came out of the Yellowstone, Adams went on alone
to Seattle and Vancouver to inspect the last American railway
systems yet untried. They, too, offered little new learning, and
no sooner had he finished this debauch of Northwestern geography
than with desperate thirst for exhausting the American field, he
set out for Mexico and the Gulf, making a sweep of the Caribbean
and clearing up, in these six or eight months, at least twenty
thousand miles of American land and water.

  He was beginning to think, when he got back to Washington in
April, 1895, that he knew enough about the edges of life --
tropical islands, mountain solitudes, archaic law, and retrograde
types. Infinitely more amusing and incomparably more picturesque
than civilization, they educated only artists, and, as one's
sixtieth year approached, the artist began to die; only a certain
intense cerebral restlessness survived which no longer responded
to sensual stimulants; one was driven from beauty to beauty as
though art were a trotting-match. For this, one was in some
degree prepared, for the old man had been a stage-type since
drama began; but one felt some perplexity to account for failure
on the opposite or mechanical side, where nothing but cerebral
action was needed. 

  Taking for granted that the alternative to art was arithmetic,
plunged deep into statistics, fancying that education would find
the surest bottom there; and the study proved the easiest he had
ever approached. Even the Government volunteered unlimited
statistics, endless columns of figures, bottomless averages
merely for the asking. At the Statistical Bureau, Worthington
Ford supplied any material that curiosity could imagine for
filling the vast gaps of ignorance, and methods for applying the
plasters of fact. One seemed for a while to be winning ground,
and one's averages projected themselves as laws into the future.
Perhaps the most perplexing part of the study lay in the attitude
of the statisticians, who showed no enthusiastic confidence in
their own figures. They should have reached certainty, but they
talked like other men who knew less. The method did not result
faith. Indeed, every increase of mass -- of volume and velocity
-- seemed to bring in new elements, and, at last, a scholar,
fresh in arithmetic and ignorant of algebra, fell into a
superstitious terror of complexity as the sink of facts. Nothing
came out as it should. In principle, according to figures, any
one could set up or pull down a society. One could frame no sort
of satisfactory answer to the constructive doctrines of Adam
Smith, or to the destructive criticisms of Karl Marx or to the
anarchistic imprecations of Elisee Reclus. One revelled at will
in the ruin of every society in the past, and rejoiced in proving
the prospective overthrow of every society that seemed possible
in the future; but meanwhile these societies which violated every
law, moral, arithmetical, and economical, not only propagated
each other, but produced also fresh complexities with every
propagation and developed mass with every complexity.

  The human factor was worse still. Since the stupefying
discovery of Pteraspis in 1867, nothing had so confused the
student as the conduct of mankind in the fin-de-siecle. No one
seemed very much concerned about this world or the future, unless
it might be the anarchists, and they only because they disliked
the present. Adams disliked the present as much as they did, and
his interest in future society was becoming slight, yet he was
kept alive by irritation at finding his life so thin and
fruitless. Meanwhile he watched mankind march on, like a train of
pack-horses on the Snake River, tumbling from one morass into
another, and at short intervals, for no reason but temper,
falling to butchery, like Cain. Since 1850, massacres had become
so common that society scarcely noticed them unless they summed
up hundreds of thousands, as in Armenia; wars had been almost
continuous, and were beginning again in Cuba, threatening in
South Africa, and possible in Manchuria; yet impartial judges
thought them all not merely unnecessary, but foolish -- induced
by greed of the coarsest class, as though the Pharaohs or the
Romans were still robbing their neighbors. The robbery might be
natural and inevitable, but the murder seemed altogether archaic. 

  At one moment of perplexity to account for this trait of
Pteraspis, or shark, which seemed to have survived every moral
improvement of society, he took to study of the religious press.
Possibly growth m human nature might show itself there. He found
no need to speak unkindly of it; but, as an agent of motion, he
preferred on the whole the vigor of the shark, with its chances
of betterment; and he very gravely doubted, from his aching
consciousness of religious void, whether any large fraction of
society cared for a future life, or even for the present one,
thirty years hence. Not an act, or an expression, or an image,
showed depth of faith or hope.

  The object of education, therefore, was changed. For many years
it had lost itself in studying what the world had ceased to care
for; if it were to begin again, it must try to find out what the
mass of mankind did care for, and why. Religion, politics,
statistics, travel had thus far led to nothing. Even the Chicago
Fair had only confused the roads. Accidental education could go
no further, for one's mind was already littered and stuffed
beyond hope with the millions of chance images stored away
without order in the memory. One might as well try to educate a
gravel-pit. The task was futile, which disturbed a student less
than the discovery that, in pursuing it, he was becoming himself
ridiculous. Nothing is more tiresome than a superannuated

  For the moment he was rescued, as often before, by a woman.
Towards midsummer, 1895, Mrs. Cabot Lodge bade him follow her to
Europe with the Senator and her two sons. The study of history is
useful to the historian by teaching him his ignorance of women;
and the mass of this ignorance crushes one who is familiar enough
with what are called historical sources to realize how few women
have ever been known. The woman who is known only through a man
is known wrong, and excepting one or two like Mme. de Sevigne, no
woman has pictured herself. The American woman of the nineteenth
century will live only as the man saw her; probably she will be
less known than the woman of the eighteenth; none of the female
descendants of Abigail Adams can ever be nearly so familiar as
her letters have made her; and all this is pure loss to history,
for the American woman of the nineteenth century was much better
company than the American man; she was probably much better
company than her grandmothers. With Mrs. Lodge and her husband,
Senator since 1893, Adams's relations had been those of elder
brother or uncle since 1871 when Cabot Lodge had left his
examination-papers on Assistant Professor Adams's desk, and
crossed the street to Christ Church in Cambridge to get married.
With Lodge himself, as scholar, fellow instructor, co-editor of
the North American Review, and political reformer from 1873 to
1878, he had worked intimately, but with him afterwards as
politician he had not much relation; and since Lodge had suffered
what Adams thought the misfortune of becoming not only a Senator
but a Senator from Massachusetts -- a singular social relation
which Adams had known only as fatal to friends -- a superstitious
student, intimate with the laws of historical fatality, would
rather have recognized him only as an enemy; but apart from this
accident he valued Lodge highly, and in the waste places of
average humanity had been greatly dependent on his house.
Senators can never be approached with safety, but a Senator who
has a very superior wife and several superior children who feel
no deference for Senators as such, may be approached at times
with relative impunity while they keep him under restraint.

Where Mrs. Lodge summoned, one followed with gratitude, and so it
chanced that in August one found one's self for the first time at
Caen, Coutances, and Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy. If history
had a chapter with which he thought himself familiar, it was the
twelfth and thirteenth centuries; yet so little has labor to do
with knowledge that these bare playgrounds of the lecture system
turned into green and verdurous virgin forests merely through the
medium of younger eyes and fresher minds. His German bias must
have given his youth a terrible twist, for the Lodges saw at a
glance what he had thought unessential because un-German. They
breathed native air in the Normandy of 1200, a compliment which
would have seemed to the Senator lacking in taste or even in
sense when addressed to one of a class of men who passed life in
trying to persuade themselves and the public that they breathed
nothing less American than a blizzard; but this atmosphere, in
the touch of a real emotion, betrayed the unconscious humor of
the senatorial mind. In the thirteenth century, by an unusual
chance, even a Senator became natural, simple, interested,
cultivated, artistic, liberal -- genial. 

  Through the Lodge eyes the old problem became new and personal;
it threw off all association with the German lecture-room. One
could not at first see what this novelty meant; it had the air of
mere antiquarian emotion like Wenlock Abbey and Pteraspis; but it
expelled archaic law and antiquarianism once for all, without
seeming conscious of it; and Adams drifted back to Washington
with a new sense of history. Again he wandered south, and in
April returned to Mexico with the Camerons to study the charms of
pulque and Churriguerresque architecture. In May he ran through
Europe again with Hay, as far south as Ravenna. There came the
end of the passage. After thus covering once more, in 1896, many
thousand miles of the old trails, Adams went home October, with
every one else, to elect McKinley President and start the world

  For the old world of public men and measures since 1870, Adams
wept no tears. Within or without, during or after it, as partisan
or historian, he never saw anything to admire in it, or anything
he wanted to save; and in this respect he reflected only the
public mind which balanced itself so exactly between the
unpopularity of both parties as to express no sympathy with
either. Even among the most powerful men of that generation he
knew none who had a good word to say for it. No period so
thoroughly ordinary had been known in American politics since
Christopher Columbus first disturbed the balance of American
society; but the natural result of such lack of interest in
public affairs, in a small society like that of Washington, led
an idle bystander to depend abjectly on intimacy of private
relation. One dragged one's self down the long vista of
Pennsylvania Avenue, by leaning heavily on one's friends, and
avoiding to look at anything else. Thus life had grown narrow
with years, more and more concentrated on the circle of houses
round La Fayette Square, which had no direct or personal share in
power except in the case of Mr. Blaine whose tumultuous struggle
for existence held him apart. Suddenly Mr. McKinley entered the
White House and laid his hand heavily on this special group. In a
moment the whole nest so slowly constructed, was torn to pieces
and scattered over the world. Adams found himself alone. John Hay
took his orders for London. Rockhill departed to Athens. Cecil
Spring-Rice had been buried in Persia. Cameron refused to remain
in public life either at home or abroad, and broke up his house
on the Square. Only the Lodges and Roosevelts remained, but even
they were at once absorbed in the interests of power. Since 1861,
no such social convulsion had occurred. 

  Even this was not quite the worst. To one whose interests lay
chiefly in foreign affairs, and who, at this moment, felt most
strongly the nightmare of Cuban, Hawaiian, and Nicaraguan chaos,
the man in the State Department seemed more important than the
man in the White House. Adams knew no one in the United States
fit to manage these matters in the face of a hostile Europe, and
had no candidate to propose; but he was shocked beyond all
restraints of expression to learn that the President meant to put
Senator John Sherman in the State Department in order to make a
place for Mr. Hanna in the Senate. Grant himself had done nothing
that seemed so bad as this to one who had lived long enough to
distinguish between the ways of presidential jobbery, if not
between the jobs. John Sherman, otherwise admirably fitted for
the place, a friendly influence for nearly forty years, was
notoriously feeble and quite senile, so that the intrigue seemed
to Adams the betrayal of an old friend as well as of the State
Department. One might have shrugged one's shoulders had the
President named Mr. Hanna his Secretary of State, for Mr. Hanna
was a man of force if not of experience, and selections much
worse than this had often turned out well enough; but John
Sherman must inevitably and tragically break down.

  The prospect for once was not less vile than the men. One can
bear coldly the jobbery of enemies, but not that of friends, and
to Adams this kind of jobbery seemed always infinitely worse than
all the petty money bribes ever exploited by the newspapers. Nor
was the matter improved by hints that the President might call
John Hay to the Department whenever John Sherman should retire.
Indeed, had Hay been even unconsciously party to such an
intrigue, he would have put an end, once for all, to further
concern in public affairs on his friend's part; but even without
this last disaster, one felt that Washington had become no longer
habitable. Nothing was left there but solitary contemplation of
Mr. McKinley's ways which were not likely to be more amusing than
the ways of his predecessors; or of senatorial ways, which
offered no novelty of what the French language expressively calls
embetement; or of poor Mr. Sherman's ways which would surely
cause anguish to his friends. Once more, one must go! 

  Nothing was easier! On and off, one had done the same thing
since the year 1858, at frequent intervals, and had now reached
the month of March, 1897; yet, as the whole result of six years'
dogged effort to begin a new education, one could not recommend
it to the young. The outlook lacked hope. The object of travel
had become more and more dim, ever since the gibbering ghost of
the Civil Law had been locked in its dark closet, as far back as
1860. Noah's dove had not searched the earth for resting-places
so carefully, or with so little success. Any spot on land or
water satisfies a dove who wants and finds rest; but no perch
suits a dove of sixty years old, alone and uneducated, who has
lost his taste even for olives. To this, also, the young may be
driven, as education, end the lesson fails in humor; but it may
be worth knowing to some of them that the planet offers hardly a
dozen places where an elderly man can pass a week alone without
ennui, and none at all where he can pass a year.

  Irritated by such complaints, the world naturally answers that
no man of sixty should live, which is doubtless true, though not
original. The man of sixty, with a certain irritability proper to
his years, retorts that the world has no business to throw on him
the task of removing its carrion, and that while he remains he
has a right to require amusement -- or at least education, since
this costs nothing to any one -- and that a world which cannot
educate, will not amuse, and is ugly besides, has even less right
to exist than he. Both views seem sound; but the world wearily
objects to be called by epithets what society always admits in
practice; for no one likes to be told that he is a bore, or
ignorant, or even ugly; and having nothing to say in its defence,
it rejoins that, whatever license is pardonable in youth, the man
of sixty who wishes consideration had better hold his tongue.
This truth also has the defect of being too true. The rule holds
equally for men of half that age Only the very young have the
right to betray their ignorance or ill-breeding. Elderly people
commonly know enough not to betray themselves.

  Exceptions are plenty on both sides, as the Senate knew to its
acute suffering; but young or old, women or men, seemed agreed on
one point with singular unanimity; each praised silence in
others. Of all characteristics in human nature, this has been one
of the most abiding. Mere superficial gleaning of what, in the
long history of human expression, has been said by the fool or
unsaid by the wise, shows that, for once, no difference of
opinion has ever existed on this. "Even a fool," said the wisest
of men, "when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise," and still
more often, the wisest of men, when he spoke the highest wisdom,
has been counted a fool. They agreed only on the merits of
silence in others. Socrates made remarks in its favor, which
should have struck the Athenians as new to them; but of late the
repetition had grown tiresome. Thomas Carlyle vociferated his
admiration of it. Matthew Arnold thought it the best form of
expression; and Adams thought Matthew Arnold the best form of
expression in his time. Algernon Swinburne called it the most
noble to the end. Alfred de Vigny's dying wolf remarked: --

  "A voir ce que l'on fut sur terre et ce qu'on laisse,
   Seul le silence est grand; tout le reste est faiblesse." 
  "When one thinks what one leaves in the world when one dies,   
Only silence is strong, -- all the rest is but lies."

Even Byron, whom a more brilliant era of genius seemed to have
decided to be but an indifferent poet, had ventured to affirm
that -- 

  "The Alp's snow summit nearer heaven is seen
   Than the volcano's fierce eruptive crest;" 

with other verses, to the effect that words are but a "temporary
torturing flame"; of which no one knew more than himself. The
evidence of the poets could not be more emphatic: --

  "Silent, while years engrave the brow!
   Silent, -- the best are silent now!" 

  Although none of these great geniuses had shown faith in
silence as a cure for their own ills or ignorance, all of them,
and all philosophy after them, affirmed that no man, even at
sixty, had ever been known to attain knowledge; but that a very
few were believed to have attained ignorance, which was in result
the same. More than this, in every society worth the name, the
man of sixty had been encouraged to ride this hobby -- the
Pursuit of Ignorance in Silence -- as though it were the easiest
way to get rid of him. In America the silence was more oppressive
than the ignorance; but perhaps elsewhere the world might still
hide some haunt of futilitarian silence where content reigned --
although long search had not revealed it -- and so the pilgrimage
began anew! 

  The first step led to London where John Hay was to be
established. One had seen so many American Ministers received in
London that the Lord Chamberlain himself scarcely knew more about
it; education could not be expected there; but there Adams
arrived, April 21, 1897, as though thirty-six years were so many
days, for Queen Victoria still reigned and one saw little change
in St. James's Street. True, Carlton House Terrace, like the
streets of Rome, actually squeaked and gibbered with ghosts, till
one felt like Odysseus before the press of shadows, daunted by a
"bloodless fear"; but in spring London is pleasant, and it was
more cheery than ever in May, 1897, when every one was welcoming
the return of life after the long winter since 1893. One's
fortunes, or one's friends' fortunes, were again in flood.

  This amusement could not be prolonged, for one found one's self
the oldest Englishman in England, much too familiar with family
jars better forgotten, and old traditions better unknown. No
wrinkled Tannhauser, returning to the Wartburg, needed a wrinkled
Venus to show him that he was no longer at home, and that even
penitence was a sort of impertinence. He slipped away to Paris,
and set up a household at St. Germain where he taught and learned
French history for nieces who swarmed under the venerable cedars
of the Pavillon d'Angouleme, and rode about the green
forest-alleys of St. Germain and Marly. From time to time Hay
wrote humorous laments, but nothing occurred to break the
summer-peace of the stranded Tannhauser, who slowly began to feel
at home in France as in other countries he had thought more
homelike. At length, like other dead Americans, he went to Paris
because he could go nowhere else, and lingered there till the
Hays came by, in January, 1898; and Mrs. Hay, who had been a
stanch and strong ally for twenty years, bade him go with them to

  Adams cared little to see Egypt again, but he was glad to see
Hay, and readily drifted after him to the Nile. What they saw and
what they said had as little to do with education as possible,
until one evening, as they were looking at the sun set across the
Nile from Assouan, Spencer Eddy brought them a telegram to
announce the sinking of the Maine in Havana Harbor. This was the
greatest stride in education since 1865, but what did it teach?
One leant on a fragment of column in the great hall at Karnak and
watched a jackal creep down the debris of ruin. The jackal's
ancestors had surely crept up the same wall when it was building.
What was his view about the value of silence? One lay in the
sands and watched the expression of the Sphinx. Brooks Adams had
taught him that the relation between civilizations was that of
trade. Henry wandered, or was storm-driven, down the coast. He
tried to trace out the ancient harbor of Ephesus. He went over to
Athens, picked up Rockhill, and searched for the harbor of
Tiryns; together they went on to Constantinople and studied the
great walls of Constantine and the greater domes of Justinian.
His hobby had turned into a camel, and he hoped, if he rode long
enough in silence, that at last he might come on a city of
thought along the great highways of exchange. 


INDIAN SUMMER (1898-1899)

  The summer of the Spanish War began the Indian summer of life
to one who had reached sixty years of age, and cared only to reap
in peace such harvest as these sixty years had yielded. He had
reason to be more than content with it. Since 1864 he had felt no
such sense of power and momentum, and had seen no such number of
personal friends wielding it. The sense of solidarity counts for
much in one's contentment, but the sense of winning one's game
counts for more; and in London, in 1898, the scene was singularly
interesting to the last survivor of the Legation of 1861. He
thought himself perhaps the only person living who could get full
enjoyment of the drama. He carried every scene of it, in a
century and a half since the Stamp Act, quite alive in his mind
-- all the interminable disputes of his disputatious ancestors as
far back as the year 1750 -- as well as his own insignificance in
the Civil War, every step in which had the object of bringing
England into an American system. For this they had written
libraries of argument and remonstrance, and had piled war on war,
losing their tempers for life, and souring the gentle and patient
Puritan nature of their descendants, until even their private
secretaries at times used language almost intemperate; and
suddenly, by pure chance, the blessing fell on Hay. After two
hundred years of stupid and greedy blundering, which no argument
and no violence affected, the people of England learned their
lesson just at the moment when Hay would otherwise have faced a
flood of the old anxieties. Hay himself scarcely knew how
grateful he should be, for to him the change came almost of
course. He saw only the necessary stages that had led to it, and
to him they seemed natural; but to Adams, still living in the
atmosphere of Palmerston and John Russell, the sudden appearance
of Germany as the grizzly terror which, in twenty years effected
what Adamses had tried for two hundred in vain -- frightened
England into America's arms -- seemed as melodramatic as any plot
of Napoleon the Great. He could feel only the sense of
satisfaction at seeing the diplomatic triumph of all his family,
since the breed existed, at last realized under his own eyes for
the advantage of his oldest and closest ally.

  This was history, not education, yet it taught something
exceedingly serious, if not ultimate, could one trust the lesson.
For the first time in his life, he felt a sense of possible
purpose working itself out in history. Probably no one else on
this earthly planet -- not even Hay -- could have come out on
precisely such extreme personal satisfaction, but as he sat at
Hay's table, listening to any member of the British Cabinet, for
all were alike now, discuss the Philippines as a question of
balance of power in the East, he could see that the family work
of a hundred and fifty years fell at once into the grand
perspective of true empire-building, which Hay's work set off
with artistic skill. The roughness of the archaic foundations
looked stronger and larger in scale for the refinement and
certainty of the arcade. In the long list of famous American
Ministers in London, none could have given the work quite the
completeness, the harmony, the perfect ease of Hay.

  Never before had Adams been able to discern the working of law
in history, which was the reason of his failure in teaching it,
for chaos cannot be taught; but he thought he had a personal
property by inheritance in this proof of sequence and
intelligence in the affairs of man -- a property which no one
else had right to dispute; and this personal triumph left him a
little cold towards the other diplomatic results of the war. He
knew that Porto Rico must be taken, but he would have been glad
to escape the Philippines. Apart from too intimate an
acquaintance with the value of islands in the South Seas, he knew
the West Indies well enough to be assured that, whatever the
American people might think or say about it, they would sooner or
later have to police those islands, not against Europe, but for
Europe, and America too. Education on the outskirts of civilized
life teaches not very much, but it taught this; and one felt no
call to shoulder the load of archipelagoes in the antipodes when
one was trying painfully to pluck up courage to face the labor of
shouldering archipelagoes at home. The country decided otherwise,
and one acquiesced readily enough since the matter concerned only
the public willingness to carry loads; in London, the balance of
power in the East came alone into discussion; and in every point
of view one had as much reason to be gratified with the result as
though one had shared in the danger, instead of being vigorously
employed in looking on from a great distance. After all, friends
had done the work, if not one's self, and he too serves a certain
purpose who only stands and cheers.

  In June, at the crisis of interest, the Camerons came over, and
took the fine old house of Surrenden Dering in Kent which they
made a sort of country house to the Embassy. Kent has charms
rivalling those of Shropshire, and, even compared with the many
beautiful places scattered along the Welsh border, few are nobler
or more genial than Surrenden with its unbroken descent from the
Saxons, its avenues, its terraces, its deer-park, its large
repose on the Kentish hillside, and its broad outlook over whet
was once the forest of Anderida. Filled with a constant stream of
guests, the house seemed to wait for the chance to show its
charms to the American, with whose activity the whole world was
resounding; and never since the battle of Hastings could the
little telegraph office of the Kentish village have done such
work. There, on a hot July 4, 1898, to an expectant group under
the shady trees, came the telegram announcing the destruction of
the Spanish Armada, as it might have come to Queen Elizabeth in
1588; and there, later in the season, came the order summoning
Hay to the State Department.

  Hay had no wish to be Secretary of State. He much preferred to
remain Ambassador, and his friends were quite as cold about it as
he. No one knew so well what sort of strain falls on Secretaries
of State, or how little strength he had in reserve against it.
Even at Surrenden he showed none too much endurance, and he would
gladly have found a valid excuse for refusing. The discussion on
both sides was earnest, but the decided voice of the conclave was
that, though if he were a mere office-seeker he might certainly
decline promotion, if he were a member of the Government he could
not. No serious statesman could accept a favor and refuse a
service. Doubtless he might refuse, but in that case he must
resign. The amusement of making Presidents has keen fascination
for idle American hands, but these black arts have the old
drawback of all deviltry; one must serve the spirit one evokes,
even though the service were perdition to body and soul. For him,
no doubt, the service, though hard, might bring some share of
profit, but for the friends who gave this unselfish decision, all
would prove loss. For one, Adams on that subject had become a
little daft. No one in his experience had ever passed unscathed
through that malarious marsh. In his fancy, office was poison; it
killed -- body and soul -- physically and socially. Office was
more poisonous than priestcraft or pedagogy in proportion as it
held more power; but the poison he complained of was not
ambition; he shared none of Cardinal Wolsey's belated penitence
for that healthy stimulant, as he had shared none of the fruits;
his poison was that of the will -- the distortion of sight -- the
warping of mind -- the degradation of tissue -- the coarsening of
taste -- the narrowing of sympathy to the emotions of a caged
rat. Hay needed no office in order to wield influence. For him,
influence lay about the streets, waiting for him to stoop to it;
he enjoyed more than enough power without office; no one of his
position, wealth, and political experience, living at the centre
of politics in contact with the active party managers, could
escape influence. His only ambition was to escape annoyance, and
no one knew better than he that, at sixty years of age, sensitive
to physical strain, still more sensitive to brutality,
vindictiveness, or betrayal, he took office at cost of life. 

  Neither he nor any of the Surrenden circle made presence of
gladness at the new dignity for, with all his gaiety of manner
and lightness of wit, he took dark views of himself, none the
lighter for their humor, and his obedience to the President's
order was the gloomiest acquiescence he had ever smiled. Adams
took dark views, too, not so much on Hay's account as on his own,
for, while Hay had at least the honors of office, his friends
would share only the ennuis of it; but, as usual with Hay,
nothing was gained by taking such matters solemnly, and old
habits of the Civil War left their mark of military drill on
every one who lived through it. He shouldered his pack and
started for home. Adams had no mind to lose his friend without a
struggle, though he had never known such sort of struggle to
avail. The chance was desperate, but he could not afford to throw
it away; so, as soon as the Surrenden establishment broke up, on
October 17, he prepared for return home, and on November 13, none
too gladly, found himself again gazing into La Fayette Square. 

  He had made another false start and lost two years more of
education; nor had he excuse; for, this time, neither politics
nor society drew him away from his trail. He had nothing to do
with Hay's politics at home or abroad, and never affected
agreement with his views or his methods, nor did Hay care whether
his friends agreed or disagreed. They all united in trying to
help each other to get along the best way they could, and all
they tried to save was the personal relation. Even there, Adams
would have been beaten had he not been helped by Mrs. Hay, who
saw the necessity of distraction, and led her husband into the
habit of stopping every afternoon to take his friend off for an
hour's walk, followed by a cup of tea with Mrs. Hay afterwards,
and a chat with any one who called. 

  For the moment, therefore, the situation was saved, at least in
outward appearance, and Adams could go back to his own pursuits
which were slowly taking a direction. Perhaps they had no right
to be called pursuits, for in truth one consciously pursued
nothing, but drifted as attraction offered itself. The short
session broke up the Washington circle, so that, on March 22,
Adams was able to sail with the Lodges for Europe and to pass
April in Sicily and Rome. 

  With the Lodges, education always began afresh. Forty years had
left little of the Palermo that Garibaldi had shown to the boy of
1860, but Sicily in all ages seems to have taught only
catastrophe and violence, running riot on that theme ever since
Ulysses began its study on the eye of Cyclops. For a lesson in
anarchy, without a shade of sequence, Sicily stands alone and
defies evolution. Syracuse teaches more than Rome. Yet even Rome
was not mute, and the church of Ara Coeli seemed more and more to
draw all the threads of thought to a centre, for every new
journey led back to its steps -- Karnak, Ephesus, Delphi,
Mycencae, Constantinople, Syracuse -- all lying on the road to
the Capitol. What they had to bring by way of intellectual riches
could not yet be discerned, but they carried camel-loads of
moral; and New York sent most of all, for, in forty years,
America had made so vast a stride to empire that the world of
1860 stood already on a distant horizon somewhere on the same
plane with the republic of Brutus and Cato, while schoolboys read
of Abraham Lincoln as they did of Julius Caesar. Vast swarms of
Americans knew the Civil War only by school history, as they knew
the story of Cromwell or Cicero, and were as familiar with
political assassination as though they had lived under Nero. The
climax of empire could be seen approaching, year after year, as
though Sulla were a President or McKinley a Consul.

  Nothing annoyed Americans more than to be told this simple and
obvious -- in no way unpleasant -- truth; therefore one sat
silent as ever on the Capitol; but, by way of completing the
lesson, the Lodges added a pilgrimage to Assisi and an interview
with St. Francis, whose solution of historical riddles seemed the
most satisfactory -- or sufficient -- ever offered; worth fully
forty years' more study, and better worth it than Gibbon himself,
or even St. Augustine, St. Ambrose, or St. Jerome. The most
bewildering effect of all these fresh cross-lights on the old
Assistant Professor of 1874 was due to the astonishing contrast
between what he had taught then and what he found himself
confusedly trying to learn five-and-twenty years afterwards --
between the twelfth century of his thirtieth and that of his
sixtieth years. At Harvard College, weary of spirit in the wastes
of Anglo-Saxon law, he had occasionally given way to outbursts of
derision at shedding his life-blood for the sublime truths of Sac
and Soc: --


  The Latin was as twelfth-century as the law, and he meant as
satire the claim that he had been first to explain the legal
meaning of Sac and Soc, although any German professor would have
scorned it as a shameless and presumptuous bid for immortality;
but the whole point of view had vanished in 1900. Not he, but Sir
Henry Maine and Rudolph Sohm, were the parents or creators of Sac
and Soc. Convinced that the clue of religion led to nothing, and
that politics led to chaos, one had turned to the law, as one's
scholars turned to the Law School, because one could see no other
path to a profession. 

  The law had proved as futile as politics or religion, or any
other single thread spun by the human spider; it offered no more
continuity than architecture or coinage, and no more force of its
own. St. Francis expressed supreme contempt for them all, and
solved the whole problem by rejecting it altogether. Adams
returned to Paris with a broken and contrite spirit, prepared to
admit that his life had no meaning, and conscious that in any
case it no longer mattered. He passed a summer of solitude
contrasting sadly with the last at Surrenden; but the solitude
did what the society did not -- it forced and drove him into the
study of his ignorance in silence. Here at last he entered the
practice of his final profession. Hunted by ennui, he could no
longer escape, and, by way of a summer school, he began a
methodical survey -- a triangulation -- of the twelfth century.
The pursuit had a singular French charm which France had long
lost -- a calmness, lucidity, simplicity of expression, vigor of
action, complexity of local color, that made Paris flat. In the
long summer days one found a sort of saturated green pleasure in
the forests, and gray infinity of rest in the little
twelfth-century churches that lined them, as unassuming as their
own mosses, and as sure of their purpose as their round arches;
but churches were many and summer was short, so that he was at
last driven back to the quays and photographs. For weeks he lived
in silence.

  His solitude was broken in November by the chance arrival of
John La Farge. At that moment, contact with La Farge had a new
value. Of all the men who had deeply affected their friends since
1850 John La Farge was certainly the foremost, and for Henry
Adams, who had sat at his feet since 1872, the question how much
he owed to La Farge could be answered only by admitting that he
had no standard to measure it by. Of all his friends La Farge
alone owned a mind complex enough to contrast against the
commonplaces of American uniformity, and in the process had
vastly perplexed most Americans who came in contact with it. The
American mind -- the Bostonian as well as the Southern or Western
-- likes to walk straight up to its object, and assert or deny
something that it takes for a fact; it has a conventional
approach, a conventional analysis, and a conventional conclusion,
as well as a conventional expression, all the time loudly
asserting its unconventionality. The most disconcerting trait of
John La Farge was his reversal of the process. His approach was
quiet and indirect; he moved round an object, and never separated
it from its surroundings; he prided himself on faithfulness to
tradition and convention; he was never abrupt and abhorred
dispute. His manners and attitude towards the universe were the
same, whether tossing in the middle of the Pacific Ocean
sketching the trade-wind from a whale-boat in the blast of
sea-sickness, or drinking the cha-no-yu in the formal rites of
Japan, or sipping his cocoanut cup of kava in the ceremonial of
Samoan chiefs, or reflecting under the sacred bo-tree at

  One was never quite sure of his whole meaning until too late to
respond, for he had no difficulty in carrying different shades of
contradiction in his mind. As he said of his friend Okakura, his
thought ran as a stream runs through grass, hidden perhaps but
always there; and one felt often uncertain in what direction it
flowed, for even a contradiction was to him only a shade of
difference, a complementary color, about which no intelligent
artist would dispute. Constantly he repulsed argument: "Adams,
you reason too much!" was one of his standing reproaches even in
the mild discussion of rice and mangoes in the warm night of
Tahiti dinners. He should have blamed Adams for being born in
Boston. The mind resorts to reason for want of training, and
Adams had never met a perfectly trained mind.

  To La Farge, eccentricity meant convention; a mind really
eccentric never betrayed it. True eccentricity was a tone -- a
shade -- a nuance -- and the finer the tone, the truer the
eccentricity. Of course all artists hold more or less the same
point of view in their art, but few carry it into daily life, and
often the contrast is excessive between their art and their talk.
One evening Humphreys Johnston, who was devoted to La Farge,
asked him to meet Whistler at dinner. La Farge was ill -- more
ill than usual even for him -- but he admired and liked Whistler,
and insisted on going. By chance, Adams was so placed as to
overhear the conversation of both, and had no choice but to hear
that of Whistler, which engrossed the table. At that moment the
Boer War was raging, and, as every one knows, on that subject
Whistler raged worse than the Boers. For two hours he declaimed
against England -- witty, declamatory, extravagant, bitter,
amusing, and noisy; but in substance what he said was not merely
commonplace -- it was true! That is to say, his hearers,
including Adams and, as far as he knew, La Farge, agreed with it
all, and mostly as a matter of course; yet La Farge was silent,
and this difference of expression was a difference of art.
Whistler in his art carried the sense of nuance and tone far
beyond any point reached by La Farge, or even attempted; but in
talk he showed, above or below his color-instinct, a willingness
to seem eccentric where no real eccentricity, unless perhaps of
temper, existed. 

  This vehemence, which Whistler never betrayed in his painting,
La Farge seemed to lavish on his glass. With the relative value
of La Farge's glass in the history of glass-decoration, Adams was
too ignorant to meddle, and as a rule artists were if possible
more ignorant than he; but whatever it was, it led him back to
the twelfth century and to Chartres where La Farge not only felt
at home, but felt a sort of ownership. No other American had a
right there, unless he too were a member of the Church and worked
in glass. Adams himself was an interloper, but long habit led La
Farge to resign himself to Adams as one who meant well, though
deplorably Bostonian; while Adams, though near sixty years old
before he knew anything either of glass or of Chartres, asked no
better than to learn, and only La Farge could help him, for he
knew enough at least to see that La Farge alone could use glass
like a thirteenth-century artist. In Europe the art had been dead
for centuries, and modern glass was pitiable. Even La Farge felt
the early glass rather as a document than as a historical
emotion, and in hundreds of windows at Chartres and Bourges and
Paris, Adams knew barely one or two that were meant to hold their
own against a color-scheme so strong as his. In conversation La
Farge's mind was opaline with infinite shades and refractions of
light, and with color toned down to the finest gradations. In
glass it was insubordinate; it was renaissance; it asserted his
personal force with depth and vehemence of tone never before
seen. He seemed bent on crushing rivalry. 

  Even the gloom of a Paris December at the Elysee Palace Hotel
was somewhat relieved by this companionship, and education made a
step backwards towards Chartres, but La Farge's health became
more and more alarming, and Adams was glad to get him safely back
to New York, January 15, 1900, while he himself went at once to
Washington to find out what had become of Hay. Nothing good could
be hoped, for Hay's troubles had begun, and were quite as great
as he had foreseen. Adams saw as little encouragement as Hay
himself did, though he dared not say so. He doubted Hay's
endurance, the President's firmness in supporting him, and the
loyalty of his party friends; but all this worry on Hay's account
fretted him not nearly so much as the Boer War did on his own.
Here was a problem in his political education that passed all
experience since the Treason winter of 1860-61! Much to his
astonishment, very few Americans seemed to share his point of
view; their hostility to England seemed mere temper; but to Adams
the war became almost a personal outrage. He had been taught from
childhood, even in England, that his forbears and their
associates in 1776 had settled, once for all, the liberties of
the British free colonies, and he very strongly objected to being
thrown on the defensive again, and forced to sit down, a hundred
and fifty years after John Adams had begun the task, to prove, by
appeal to law and fact, that George Washington was not a felon,
whatever might be the case with George III. For reasons still
more personal, he declined peremptorily to entertain question of
the felony of John Adams. He felt obliged to go even further, and
avow the opinion that if at any time England should take towards
Canada the position she took towards her Boer colonies, the
United States would be bound, by their record, to interpose, and
to insist on the application of the principles of 1776. To him
the attitude of Mr. Chamberlain and his colleagues seemed
exceedingly un-American, and terribly embarrassing to Hay. 

  Trained early, in the stress of civil war, to hold his tongue,
and to help make the political machine run somehow, since it
could never be made to run well, he would not bother Hay with
theoretical objections which were every day fretting him in
practical forms. Hay's chance lay in patience and good-temper
till the luck should turn, and to him the only object was time;
but as political education the point seemed vital to Adams, who
never liked shutting his eyes or denying an evident fact.
Practical politics consists in ignoring facts, but education and
politics are two different and often contradictory things. In
this case, the contradiction seemed crude.

  With Hay's politics, at home or abroad, Adams had nothing
whatever to do. Hay belonged to the New York school, like Abram
Hewitt, Evarts, W. C. Whitney, Samuel J. Tilden -- men who played
the game for ambition or amusement, and played it, as a rule,
much better than the professionals, but whose aims were
considerably larger than those of the usual player, and who felt
no great love for the cheap drudgery of the work. In return, the
professionals felt no great love for them, and set them aside
when they could. Only their control of money made them
inevitable, and even this did not always carry their points. The
story of Abram Hewitt would offer one type of this statesman
series, and that of Hay another. President Cleveland set aside
the one; President Harrison set aside the other. "There is no
politics in it," was his comment on Hay's appointment to office.
Hay held a different opinion and turned to McKinley whose
judgment of men was finer than common in Presidents. Mr. McKinley
brought to the problem of American government a solution which
lay very far outside of Henry Adams's education, but which seemed
to be at least practical and American. He undertook to pool
interests in a general trust into which every interest should be
taken, more or less at its own valuation, and whose mass should,
under his management, create efficiency. He achieved very
remarkable results. How much they cost was another matter; if the
public is ever driven to its last resources and the usual
remedies of chaos, the result will probably cost more. 

  Himself a marvellous manager of men, McKinley found several
manipulators to help him, almost as remarkable as himself, one of
whom was Hay; but unfortunately Hay's strength was weakest and
his task hardest. At home, interests could be easily combined by
simply paying their price; but abroad whatever helped on one
side, hurt him on another. Hay thought England must be brought
first into the combine; but at that time Germany, Russia, and
France were all combining against England, and the Boer War
helped them. For the moment Hay had no ally, abroad or at home,
except Pauncefote, and Adams always maintained that Pauncefote
alone pulled him through.

  Yet the difficulty abroad was far less troublesome than the
obstacles at home. The Senate had grown more and more
unmanageable, even since the time of Andrew Johnson, and this was
less the fault of the Senate than of the system. "A treaty of
peace, in any normal state of things," said Hay, "ought to be
ratified with unanimity in twenty-four hours. They wasted six
weeks in wrangling over this one, and ratified it with one vote
to spare. We have five or six matters now demanding settlement. I
can settle them all, honorably and advantageously to our own
side; and I am assured by leading men in the Senate that not one
of these treaties, if negotiated, will pass the Senate. I should
have a majority in every case, but a malcontent third would
certainly dish every one of them. To such monstrous shape has the
original mistake of the Constitution grown in the evolution of
our politics. You must understand, it is not merely my solution
the Senate will reject. They will reject, for instance, any
treaty, whatever, on any subject, with England. I doubt if they
would accept any treaty of consequence with Russia or Germany.
The recalcitrant third would be differently composed, but it
would be on hand. So that the real duties of a Secretary of State
seem to be three: to fight claims upon us by other States; to
press more or less fraudulent claims of our own citizens upon
other countries; to find offices for the friends of Senators when
there are none. Is it worth while -- for me -- to keep up this
useless labor?" 

  To Adams, who, like Hay, had seen a dozen acquaintances
struggling with the same enemies, the question had scarcely the
interest of a new study. He had said all he had to say about it
in a dozen or more volumes relating to the politics of a hundred
years before. To him, the spectacle was so familiar as to be
humorous. The intrigue was too open to be interesting. The
interference of the German and Russian legations, and of the
Clan-na-Gael, with the press and the Senate was innocently
undisguised. The charming Russian Minister, Count Cassini, the
ideal of diplomatic manners and training, let few days pass
without appealing through the press to the public against the
government. The German Minister, Von Holleben, more cautiously
did the same thing, and of course every whisper of theirs was
brought instantly to the Department. These three forces, acting
with the regular opposition and the natural obstructionists,
could always stop action in the Senate. The fathers had intended
to neutralize the energy of government and had succeeded, but
their machine was never meant to do the work of a twenty-million
horse-power society in the twentieth century, where much work
needed to be quickly and efficiently done. The only defence of
the system was that, as Government did nothing well, it had best
do nothing; but the Government, in truth, did perfectly well all
it was given to do; and even if the charge were true, it applied
equally to human society altogether, if one chose to treat
mankind from that point of view. As a matter of mechanics, so
much work must be done; bad machinery merely added to friction.

  Always unselfish, generous, easy, patient, and loyal, Hay had
treated the world as something to be taken in block without
pulling it to pieces to get rid of its defects; he liked it all:
he laughed and accepted; he had never known unhappiness and would
have gladly lived his entire life over again exactly as it
happened. In the whole New York school, one met a similar dash of
humor and cynicism more or less pronounced but seldom bitter. Yet
even the gayest of tempers succumbs at last to constant friction
The old friend was rapidly fading. The habit remained, but the
easy intimacy, the careless gaiety, the casual humor, the
equality of indifference, were sinking into the routine of
office; the mind lingered in the Department; the thought failed
to react; the wit and humor shrank within the blank walls of
politics, and the irritations multiplied. To a head of bureau,
the result seemed ennobling. 

  Although, as education, this branch of study was more familiar
and older than the twelfth century, the task of bringing the two
periods into a common relation was new. Ignorance required that
these political and social and scientific values of the twelfth
and twentieth centuries should be correlated in some relation of
movement that could be expressed in mathematics, nor did one care
in the least that all the world said it could not be done, or
that one knew not enough mathematics even to figure a formula
beyond the schoolboy s = gt^2/2. If Kepler and Newton could take
liberties with the sun and moon, an obscure person in a remote
wilderness like La Fayette Square could take liberties with
Congress, and venture to multiply half its attraction into the
square of its time. He had only to find a value, even
infinitesimal, for its attraction at any given time. A historical
formula that should satisfy the conditions of the stellar
universe weighed heavily on his mind; but a trifling matter like
this was one in which he could look for no help from anybody --
he could look only for derision at best. 

  All his associates in history condemned such an attempt as
futile and almost immoral -- certainly hostile to sound
historical system. Adams tried it only because of its hostility
to all that he had taught for history, since he started afresh
from the new point that, whatever was right, all he had ever
taught was wrong. He had pursued ignorance thus far with success,
and had swept his mind clear of knowledge. In beginning again,
from the starting-point of Sir Isaac Newton, he looked about him
in vain for a teacher. Few men in Washington cared to overstep
the school conventions, and the most distinguished of them, Simon
Newcomb, was too sound a mathematician to treat such a scheme
seriously. The greatest of Americans, judged by his rank in
science, Willard Gibbs, never came to Washington, and Adams never
enjoyed a chance to meet him. After Gibbs, one of the most
distinguished was Langley, of the Smithsonian, who was more
accessible, to whom Adams had been much in the habit of turning
whenever he wanted an outlet for his vast reservoirs of
ignorance. Langley listened with outward patience to his
disputatious questionings; but he too nourished a scientific
passion for doubt, and sentimental attachment for its avowal. He
had the physicist's heinous fault of professing to know nothing
between flashes of intense perception. Like so many other great
observers, Langley was not a mathematician, and like most
physicists, he believed in physics. Rigidly denying himself the
amusement of philosophy, which consists chiefly in suggesting
unintelligible answers to insoluble problems, he still knew the
problems, and liked to wander past them in a courteous temper,
even bowing to them distantly as though recognizing their
existence, while doubting their respectability. He generously let
others doubt what he felt obliged to affirm; and early put into
Adams's hands the "Concepts of Modern Science," a volume by Judge
Stallo, which had been treated for a dozen years by the schools
with a conspiracy of silence such as inevitably meets every
revolutionary work that upsets the stock and machinery of
instruction. Adams read and failed to understand; then he asked
questions and failed to get answers.

  Probably this was education. Perhaps it was the only scientific
education open to a student sixty-odd years old, who asked to be
as ignorant as an astronomer. For him the details of science
meant nothing: he wanted to know its mass. Solar heat was not
enough, or was too much. Kinetic atoms led only to motion; never
to direction or progress. History had no use for multiplicity; it
needed unity; it could study only motion, direction, attraction,
relation. Everything must be made to move together; one must seek
new worlds to measure; and so, like Rasselas, Adams set out once
more, and found himself on May 12 settled in rooms at the very
door of the Trocadero.



  UNTIL the Great Exposition of 1900 closed its doors in
November, Adams haunted it, aching to absorb knowledge, and
helpless to find it. He would have liked to know how much of it
could have been grasped by the best-informed man in the world.
While he was thus meditating chaos, Langley came by, and showed
it to him. At Langley's behest, the Exhibition dropped its
superfluous rags and stripped itself to the skin, for Langley
knew what to study, and why, and how; while Adams might as well
have stood outside in the night, staring at the Milky Way. Yet
Langley said nothing new, and taught nothing that one might not
have learned from Lord Bacon, three hundred years before; but
though one should have known the "Advancement of Science" as well
as one knew the "Comedy of Errors," the literary knowledge
counted for nothing until some teacher should show how to apply
it. Bacon took a vast deal of trouble in teaching King James I
and his subjects, American or other, towards the year 1620, that
true science was the development or economy of forces; yet an
elderly American in 1900 knew neither the formula nor the forces;
or even so much as to say to himself that his historical business
in the Exposition concerned only the economies or developments of
force since 1893, when he began the study at Chicago. 

  Nothing in education is so astonishing as the amount of
ignorance it accumulates in the form of inert facts. Adams had
looked at most of the accumulations of art in the storehouses
called Art Museums; yet he did not know how to look at the art
exhibits of 1900. He had studied Karl Marx and his doctrines of
history with profound attention, yet he could not apply them at
Paris. Langley, with the ease of a great master of experiment,
threw out of the field every exhibit that did not reveal a new
application of force, and naturally threw out, to begin with,
almost the whole art exhibit. Equally, he ignored almost the
whole industrial exhibit. He led his pupil directly to the
forces. His chief interest was in new motors to make his airship
feasible, and he taught Adams the astonishing complexities of the
new Daimler motor, and of the automobile, which, since 1893, had
become a nightmare at a hundred kilometres an hour, almost as
destructive as the electric tram which was only ten years older;
and threatening to become as terrible as the locomotive
steam-engine itself, which was almost exactly Adams's own age.

  Then he showed his scholar the great hall of dynamos, and
explained how little he knew about electricity or force of any
kind, even of his own special sun, which spouted heat in
inconceivable volume, but which, as far as he knew, might spout
less or more, at any time, for all the certainty he felt in it.
To him, the dynamo itself was but an ingenious channel for
conveying somewhere the heat latent in a few tons of poor coal
hidden in a dirty engine-house carefully kept out of sight; but
to Adams the dynamo became a symbol of infinity. As he grew
accustomed to the great gallery of machines, he began to feel the
forty-foot dynamos as a moral force, much as the early Christians
felt the Cross. The planet itself seemed less impressive, in its
old-fashioned, deliberate, annual or daily revolution, than this
huge wheel, revolving within arm's length at some vertiginous
speed, and barely murmuring -- scarcely humming an audible
warning to stand a hair's-breadth further for respect of power --
while it would not wake the baby lying close against its frame.
Before the end, one began to pray to it; inherited instinct
taught the natural expression of man before silent and infinite
force. Among the thousand symbols of ultimate energy the dynamo
was not so human as some, but it was the most expressive.

  Yet the dynamo, next to the steam-engine, was the most familiar
of exhibits. For Adams's objects its value lay chiefly in its
occult mechanism. Between the dynamo in the gallery of machines
and the engine-house outside, the break of continuity amounted to
abysmal fracture for a historian's objects. No more relation
could he discover between the steam and the electric current than
between the Cross and the cathedral. The forces were
interchangeable if not reversible, but he could see only an
absolute fiat in electricity as in faith. Langley could not help
him. Indeed, Langley seemed to be worried by the same trouble,
for he constantly repeated that the new forces were anarchical,
and especially that he was not responsible for the new rays, that
were little short of parricidal in their wicked spirit towards
science. His own rays, with which he had doubled the solar
spectrum, were altogether harmless and beneficent; but Radium
denied its God -- or, what was to Langley the same thing, denied
the truths of his Science. The force was wholly new. 

  A historian who asked only to learn enough to be as futile as
Langley or Kelvin, made rapid progress under this teaching, and
mixed himself up in the tangle of ideas until he achieved a sort
of Paradise of ignorance vastly consoling to his fatigued senses.
He wrapped himself in vibrations and rays which were new, and he
would have hugged Marconi and Branly had he met them, as he
hugged the dynamo; while he lost his arithmetic in trying to
figure out the equation between the discoveries and the economies
of force. The economies, like the discoveries, were absolute,
supersensual, occult; incapable of expression in horse-power.
What mathematical equivalent could he suggest as the value of a
Branly coherer? Frozen air, or the electric furnace, had some
scale of measurement, no doubt, if somebody could invent a
thermometer adequate to the purpose; but X-rays had played no
part whatever in man's consciousness, and the atom itself had
figured only as a fiction of thought. In these seven years man
had translated himself into a new universe which had no common
scale of measurement with the old. He had entered a supersensual
world, in which he could measure nothing except by chance
collisions of movements imperceptible to his senses, perhaps even
imperceptible to his instruments, but perceptible to each other,
and so to some known ray at the end of the scale. Langley seemed
prepared for anything, even for an indeterminable number of
universes interfused -- physics stark mad in metaphysics. 

  Historians undertake to arrange sequences, -- called stories,
or histories -- assuming in silence a relation of cause and
effect. These assumptions, hidden in the depths of dusty
libraries, have been astounding, but commonly unconscious and
childlike; so much so, that if any captious critic were to drag
them to light, historians would probably reply, with one voice,
that they had never supposed themselves required to know what
they were talking about. Adams, for one, had toiled in vain to
find out what he meant. He had even published a dozen volumes of
American history for no other purpose than to satisfy himself
whether, by severest process of stating, with the least possible
comment, such facts as seemed sure, in such order as seemed
rigorously consequent, he could fix for a familiar moment a
necessary sequence of human movement. The result had satisfied
him as little as at Harvard College. Where he saw sequence, other
men saw something quite different, and no one saw the same unit
of measure. He cared little about his experiments and less about
his statesmen, who seemed to him quite as ignorant as himself
and, as a rule, no more honest; but he insisted on a relation of
sequence, and if he could not reach it by one method, he would
try as many methods as science knew. Satisfied that the sequence
of men led to nothing and that the sequence of their society
could lead no further, while the mere sequence of time was
artificial, and the sequence of thought was chaos, he turned at
last to the sequence of force; and thus it happened that, after
ten years' pursuit, he found himself lying in the Gallery of
Machines at the Great Exposition of 1900, his historical neck
broken by the sudden irruption of forces totally new.

  Since no one else showed much concern, an elderly person
without other cares had no need to betray alarm. The year 1900
was not the first to upset schoolmasters. Copernicus and Galileo
had broken many professorial necks about 1600; Columbus had stood
the world on its head towards 1500; but the nearest approach to
the revolution of 1900 was that of 310, when Constantine set up
the Cross. The rays that Langley disowned, as well as those which
he fathered, were occult, supersensual, irrational; they were a
revelation of mysterious energy like that of the Cross; they were
what, in terms of mediaeval science, were called immediate modes
of the divine substance.

  The historian was thus reduced to his last resources. Clearly
if he was bound to reduce all these forces to a common value,
this common value could have no measure but that of their
attraction on his own mind. He must treat them as they had been
felt; as convertible, reversible, interchangeable attractions on
thought. He made up his mind to venture it; he would risk
translating rays into faith. Such a reversible process would
vastly amuse a chemist, but the chemist could not deny that he,
or some of his fellow physicists, could feel the force of both.
When Adams was a boy in Boston, the best chemist in the place had
probably never heard of Venus except by way of scandal, or of the
Virgin except as idolatry; neither had he heard of dynamos or
automobiles or radium; yet his mind was ready to feel the force
of all, though the rays were unborn and the women were dead. 

  Here opened another totally new education, which promised to be
by far the most hazardous of all. The knife-edge along which he
must crawl, like Sir Lancelot in the twelfth century, divided two
kingdoms of force which had nothing in common but attraction.
They were as different as a magnet is from gravitation, supposing
one knew what a magnet was, or gravitation, or love. The force of
the Virgin was still felt at Lourdes, and seemed to be as potent
as X-rays; but in America neither Venus nor Virgin ever had value
as force -- at most as sentiment. No American had ever been truly
afraid of either. 

  This problem in dynamics gravely perplexed an American
historian. The Woman had once been supreme; in France she still
seemed potent, not merely as a sentiment, but as a force. Why was
she unknown in America? For evidently America was ashamed of her,
and she was ashamed of herself, otherwise they would not have
strewn fig-leaves so profusely all over her. When she was a true
force, she was ignorant of fig-leaves, but the
monthly-magazine-made American female had not a feature that
would have been recognized by Adam. The trait was notorious, and
often humorous, but any one brought up among Puritans knew that
sex was sin. In any previous age, sex was strength. Neither art
nor beauty was needed. Every one, even among Puritans, knew that
neither Diana of the Ephesians nor any of the Oriental goddesses
was worshipped for her beauty. She was goddess because of her
force; she was the animated dynamo; she was reproduction -- the
greatest and most mysterious of all energies; all she needed was
to be fecund. Singularly enough, not one of Adams's many schools
of education had ever drawn his attention to the opening lines of
Lucretius, though they were perhaps the finest in all Latin
literature, where the poet invoked Venus exactly as Dante invoked
the Virgin: --

  "Quae quondam rerum naturam sola gubernas."

The Venus of Epicurean philosophy survived in the Virgin of the
Schools: -- 

  "Donna, sei tanto grande, e tanto vali,
   Che qual vuol grazia, e a te non ricorre,
   Sua disianza vuol volar senz' ali." 

  All this was to American thought as though it had never
existed. The true American knew something of the facts, but
nothing of the feelings; he read the letter, but he never felt
the law. Before this historical chasm, a mind like that of Adams
felt itself helpless; he turned from the Virgin to the Dynamo as
though he were a Branly coherer. On one side, at the Louvre and
at Chartres, as he knew by the record of work actually done and
still before his eyes, was the highest energy ever known to man,
the creator four-fifths of his noblest art, exercising vastly
more attraction over the human mind than all the steam-engines
and dynamos ever dreamed of; and yet this energy was unknown to
the American mind. An American Virgin would never dare command;
an American Venus would never dare exist.

  The question, which to any plain American of the nineteenth
century seemed as remote as it did to Adams, drew him almost
violently to study, once it was posed; and on this point Langleys
were as useless as though they were Herbert Spencers or dynamos.
The idea survived only as art. There one turned as naturally as
though the artist were himself a woman. Adams began to ponder,
asking himself whether he knew of any American artist who had
ever insisted on the power of sex, as every classic had always
done; but he could think only of Walt Whitman; Bret Harte, as far
as the magazines would let him venture; and one or two painters,
for the flesh-tones. All the rest had used sex for sentiment,
never for force; to them, Eve was a tender flower, and Herodias
an unfeminine horror. American art, like the American language
and American education, was as far as possible sexless. Society
regarded this victory over sex as its greatest triumph, and the
historian readily admitted it, since the moral issue, for the
moment, did not concern one who was studying the relations of
unmoral force. He cared nothing for the sex of the dynamo until
he could measure its energy. 

  Vaguely seeking a clue, he wandered through the art exhibit,
and, in his stroll, stopped almost every day before St. Gaudens's
General Sherman, which had been given the central post of honor.
St. Gaudens himself was in Paris, putting on the work his usual
interminable last touches, and listening to the usual
contradictory suggestions of brother sculptors. Of all the
American artists who gave to American art whatever life it
breathed in the seventies, St. Gaudens was perhaps the most
sympathetic, but certainly the most inarticulate. General Grant
or Don Cameron had scarcely less instinct of rhetoric than he.
All the others -- the Hunts, Richardson, John La Farge, Stanford
White -- were exuberant; only St. Gaudens could never discuss or
dilate on an emotion, or suggest artistic arguments for giving to
his work the forms that he felt. He never laid down the law, or
affected the despot, or became brutalized like Whistler by the
brutalities of his world. He required no incense; he was no
egoist; his simplicity of thought was excessive; he could not
imitate, or give any form but his own to the creations of his
hand. No one felt more strongly than he the strength of other
men, but the idea that they could affect him never stirred an
image in his mind. 

  This summer his health was poor and his spirits were low. For
such a temper, Adams was not the best companion, since his own
gaiety was not folle; but he risked going now and then to the
studio on Mont Parnasse to draw him out for a stroll in the Bois
de Boulogne, or dinner as pleased his moods, and in return St.
Gaudens sometimes let Adams go about in his company.

  Once St. Gaudens took him down to Amiens, with a party of
Frenchmen, to see the cathedral. Not until they found themselves
actually studying the sculpture of the western portal, did it
dawn on Adams's mind that, for his purposes, St. Gaudens on that
spot had more interest to him than the cathedral itself. Great
men before great monuments express great truths, provided they
are not taken too solemnly. Adams never tired of quoting the
supreme phrase of his idol Gibbon, before the Gothic cathedrals:
"I darted a contemptuous look on the stately monuments of
supersition." Even in the footnotes of his history, Gibbon had
never inserted a bit of humor more human than this, and one would
have paid largely for a photograph of the fat little historian,
on the background of Notre Dame of Amiens, trying to persuade his
readers -- perhaps himself -- that he was darting a contemptuous
look on the stately monument, for which he felt in fact the
respect which every man of his vast study and active mind always
feels before objects worthy of it; but besides the humor, one
felt also the relation. Gibbon ignored the Virgin, because in
1789 religious monuments were out of fashion. In 1900 his remark
sounded fresh and simple as the green fields to ears that had
heard a hundred years of other remarks, mostly no more fresh and
certainly less simple. Without malice, one might find it more
instructive than a whole lecture of Ruskin. One sees what one
brings, and at that moment Gibbon brought the French Revolution.
Ruskin brought reaction against the Revolution. St. Gaudens had
passed beyond all. He liked the stately monuments much more than
he liked Gibbon or Ruskin; he loved their dignity; their unity;
their scale; their lines; their lights and shadows; their
decorative sculpture; but he was even less conscious than they of
the force that created it all -- the Virgin, the Woman -- by
whose genius "the stately monuments of superstition" were built,
through which she was expressed. He would have seen more meaning
in Isis with the cow's horns, at Edfoo, who expressed the same
thought. The art remained, but the energy was lost even upon the

  Yet in mind and person St. Gaudens was a survival of the 1500;
he bore the stamp of the Renaissance, and should have carried an
image of the Virgin round his neck, or stuck in his hat, like
Louis XI. In mere time he was a lost soul that had strayed by
chance to the twentieth century, and forgotten where it came
from. He writhed and cursed at his ignorance, much as Adams did
at his own, but in the opposite sense. St. Gaudens was a child of
Benvenuto Cellini, smothered in an American cradle. Adams was a
quintessence of Boston, devoured by curiosity to think like
Benvenuto. St. Gaudens's art was starved from birth, and Adams's
instinct was blighted from babyhood. Each had but half of a
nature, and when they came together before the Virgin of Amiens
they ought both to have felt in her the force that made them one;
but it was not so. To Adams she became more than ever a channel
of force; to St. Gaudens she remained as before a channel of

  For a symbol of power, St. Gaudens instinctively preferred the
horse, as was plain in his horse and Victory of the Sherman
monument. Doubtless Sherman also felt it so. The attitude was so
American that, for at least forty years, Adams had never realized
that any other could be in sound taste. How many years had he
taken to admit a notion of what Michael Angelo and Rubens were
driving at? He could not say; but he knew that only since 1895
had he begun to feel the Virgin or Venus as force, and not
everywhere even so. At Chartres -- perhaps at Lourdes -- possibly
at Cnidos if one could still find there the divinely naked
Aphrodite of Praxiteles -- but otherwise one must look for force
to the goddesses of Indian mythology. The idea died out long ago
in the German and English stock. St. Gaudens at Amiens was hardly
less sensitive to the force of the female energy than Matthew
Arnold at the Grande Chartreuse. Neither of them felt goddesses
as power -- only as reflected emotion, human expression, beauty,
purity, taste, scarcely even as sympathy. They felt a railway
train as power, yet they, and all other artists, constantly
complained that the power embodied in a railway train could never
be embodied in art. All the steam in the world could not, like
the Virgin, build Chartres.

  Yet in mechanics, whatever the mechanicians might think, both
energies acted as interchangeable force on man, and by action on
man all known force may be measured. Indeed, few men of science
measured force in any other way. After once admitting that a
straight line was the shortest distance between two points, no
serious mathematician cared to deny anything that suited his
convenience, and rejected no symbol, unproved or unproveable,
that helped him to accomplish work. The symbol was force, as a
compass-needle or a triangle was force, as the mechanist might
prove by losing it, and nothing could be gained by ignoring their
value. Symbol or energy, the Virgin had acted as the greatest
force the Western world ever felt, and had drawn man's activities
to herself more strongly than any other power, natural or
supernatural, had ever done; the historian's business was to
follow the track of the energy; to find where it came from and
where it went to; its complex source and shifting channels; its
values, equivalents, conversions. It could scarcely be more
complex than radium; it could hardly be deflected, diverted,
polarized, absorbed more perplexingly than other radiant matter.
Adams knew nothing about any of them, but as a mathematical
problem of influence on human progress, though all were occult,
all reacted on his mind, and he rather inclined to think the
Virgin easiest to handle. 

  The pursuit turned out to be long and tortuous, leading at last
to the vast forests of scholastic science. From Zeno to
Descartes, hand in hand with Thomas Aquinas, Montaigne, and
Pascal, one stumbled as stupidly as though one were still a
German student of 1860. Only with the instinct of despair could
one force one's self into this old thicket of ignorance after
having been repulsed a score of entrances more promising and more
popular. Thus far, no path had led anywhere, unless perhaps to an
exceedingly modest living. Forty-five years of study had proved
to be quite futile for the pursuit of power; one controlled no
more force in 1900 than in 1850, although the amount of force
controlled by society had enormously increased. The secret of
education still hid itself somewhere behind ignorance, and one
fumbled over it as feebly as ever. In such labyrinths, the staff
is a force almost more necessary than the legs; the pen becomes a
sort of blind-man's dog, to keep him from falling into the
gutters. The pen works for itself, and acts like a hand,
modelling the plastic material over and over again to the form
that suits it best. The form is never arbitrary, but is a sort of
growth like crystallization, as any artist knows too well; for
often the pencil or pen runs into side-paths and shapelessness,
loses its relations, stops or is bogged. Then it has to return on
its trail, and recover, if it can, its line of force. The result
of a year's work depends more on what is struck out than on what
is left in; on the sequence of the main lines of thought, than on
their play or variety. Compelled once more to lean heavily on
this support, Adams covered more thousands of pages with figures
as formal as though they were algebra, laboriously striking out,
altering, burning, experimenting, until the year had expired, the
Exposition had long been closed, and winter drawing to its end,
before he sailed from Cherbourg, on January 19, 1901, for home.



  WHILE the world that thought itself frivolous, and submitted
meekly to hearing itself decried as vain, fluttered through the
Paris Exposition, jogging the futilities of St. Gaudens, Rodin,
and Besnard, the world that thought itself serious, and showed
other infallible marks of coming mental paroxysm, was engaged in
weird doings at Peking and elsewhere such as startled even
itself. Of all branches of education, the science of gauging
people and events by their relative importance defies study most
insolently. For three or four generations, society has united in
withering with contempt and opprobrium the shameless futility of
Mme. de Pompadour and Mme. du Barry; yet, if one bid at an
auction for some object that had been approved by the taste of
either lady, one quickly found that it were better to buy
half-a-dozen Napoleons or Frederics, or Maria Theresas, or all
the philosophy and science of their time, than to bid for a
cane-bottomed chair that either of these two ladies had adorned.
The same thing might be said, in a different sense, of Voltaire;
while, as every one knows, the money-value of any hand-stroke of
Watteau or Hogarth, Nattier or Sir Joshua, is out of all
proportion to the importance of the men. Society seemed to
delight in talking with solemn conviction about serious values,
and in paying fantastic prices for nothing but the most futile.
The drama acted at Peking, in the summer of 1900, was, in the
eyes of a student, the most serious that could be offered for his
study, since it brought him suddenly to the inevitable struggle
for the control of China, which, in his view, must decide the
control of the world; yet, as a money-value, the fall of China
was chiefly studied in Paris and London as a calamity to Chinese
porcelain. The value of a Ming vase was more serious than
universal war. 

  The drama of the Legations interested the public much as though
it were a novel of Alexandre Dumas, but the bearing of the drama
on future history offered an interest vastly greater. Adams knew
no more about it than though he were the best-informed statesman
in Europe. Like them all, he took for granted that the Legations
were massacred, and that John Hay, who alone championed China's
"administrative entity," would be massacred too, since he must
henceforth look on, in impotence, while Russia and Germany
dismembered China, and shut up America at home. Nine statesmen
out of ten, in Europe, accepted this result in advance, seeing no
way to prevent it. Adams saw none, and laughed at Hay for his

  When Hay suddenly ignored European leadership, took the lead
himself, rescued the Legations and saved China, Adams looked on,
as incredulous as Europe, though not quite so stupid, since, on
that branch of education, he knew enough for his purpose. Nothing
so meteoric had ever been done in American diplomacy. On
returning to Washington, January 30, 1901, he found most of the
world as astonished as himself, but less stupid than usual. For a
moment, indeed, the world had been struck dumb at seeing Hay put
Europe aside and set the Washington Government at the head of
civilization so quietly that civilization submitted, by mere
instinct of docility, to receive and obey his orders; but, after
the first shock of silence, society felt the force of the stroke
through its fineness, and burst into almost tumultuous applause.
Instantly the diplomacy of the nineteenth century, with all its
painful scuffles and struggles, was forgotten, and the American
blushed to be told of his submissions in the past. History broke
in halves. 

  Hay was too good an artist not to feel the artistic skill of
his own work, and the success reacted on his health, giving him
fresh life, for with him as with most men, success was a tonic,
and depression a specific poison; but as usual, his troubles
nested at home. Success doubles strain. President McKinley's
diplomatic court had become the largest in the world, and the
diplomatic relations required far more work than ever before,
while the staff of the Department was little more efficient, and
the friction in the Senate had become coagulated. Hay took to
studying the "Diary" of John Quincy Adams eighty years before,
and calculated that the resistance had increased about ten times,
as measured by waste of days and increase of effort, although
Secretary of State J. Q. Adams thought himself very hardly
treated. Hay cheerfully noted that it was killing him, and proved
it, for the effort of the afternoon walk became sometimes

  For the moment, things were going fairly well, and Hay's unruly
team were less fidgety, but Pauncefote still pulled the whole
load and turned the dangerous corners safely, while Cassini and
Holleben helped the Senate to make what trouble they could,
without serious offence, and the Irish, after the genial Celtic
nature, obstructed even themselves. The fortunate Irish, thanks
to their sympathetic qualities, never made lasting enmities; but
the Germans seemed in a fair way to rouse ill-will and even ugly
temper in the spirit of politics, which was by no means a part of
Hay's plans. He had as much as he could do to overcome domestic
friction, and felt no wish to alienate foreign powers. Yet so
much could be said in favor of the foreigners that they commonly
knew why they made trouble, and were steady to a motive. Cassini
had for years pursued, in Peking as in Washington, a policy of
his own, never disguised, and as little in harmony with his chief
as with Hay; he made his opposition on fixed lines for notorious
objects; but Senators could seldom give a reason for obstruction.
In every hundred men, a certain number obstruct by instinct, and
try to invent reasons to explain it afterwards. The Senate was no
worse than the board of a university; but incorporators as a rule
have not made this class of men dictators on purpose to prevent
action. In the Senate, a single vote commonly stopped
legislation, or, in committee, stifled discussion.

  Hay's policy of removing, one after another, all irritations,
and closing all discussions with foreign countries, roused
incessant obstruction, which could be overcome only by patience
and bargaining in executive patronage, if indeed it could be
overcome at all. The price actually paid was not very great
except in the physical exhaustion of Hay and Pauncefote, Root and
McKinley. No serious bargaining of equivalents could be
attempted; Senators would not sacrifice five dollars in their own
States to gain five hundred thousand in another; but whenever a
foreign country was willing to surrender an advantage without an
equivalent, Hay had a chance to offer the Senate a treaty. In all
such cases the price paid for the treaty was paid wholly to the
Senate, and amounted to nothing very serious except in waste of
time and wear of strength. "Life is so gay and horrid!" laughed
Hay; "the Major will have promised all the consulates in the
service; the Senators will all come to me and refuse to believe
me dis-consulate; I shall see all my treaties slaughtered, one by
one, by the thirty-four per cent of kickers and strikers; the
only mitigation I can foresee is being sick a good part of the
time; I am nearing my grand climacteric, and the great culbute is

  He was thinking of his friend Blaine, and might have thought of
all his predecessors, for all had suffered alike, and to Adams as
historian their sufferings had been a long delight -- the
solitary picturesque and tragic element in politics --
incidentally requiring character-studies like Aaron Burr and
William B. Giles, Calhoun and Webster and Sumner, with Sir
Forcible Feebles like James M. Mason and stage exaggerations like
Roscoe Conkling. The Senate took the place of Shakespeare, and
offered real Brutuses and Bolingbrokes, Jack Cades, Falstaffs,
and Malvolios -- endless varieties of human nature nowhere else
to be studied, and none the less amusing because they killed, or
because they were like schoolboys in their simplicity. "Life is
so gay and horrid!" Hay still felt the humor, though more and
more rarely, but what he felt most was the enormous complexity
and friction of the vast mass he was trying to guide. He bitterly
complained that it had made him a bore -- of all things the most
senatorial, and to him the most obnoxious. The old friend was
lost, and only the teacher remained, driven to madness by the
complexities and multiplicities of his new world. 

  To one who, at past sixty years old, is still passionately
seeking education, these small, or large, annoyances had no great
value except as measures of mass and motion. For him the
practical interest and the practical man were such as looked
forward to the next election, or perhaps, in corporations, five
or ten years. Scarcely half-a-dozen men in America could be named
who were known to have looked a dozen years ahead; while any
historian who means to keep his alignment with past and future
must cover a horizon of two generations at least. If he seeks to
align himself with the future, he must assume a condition of some
sort for a world fifty years beyond his own. Every historian --
sometimes unconsciously, but always inevitably -- must have put
to himself the question: How long could such-or-such an outworn
system last? He can never give himself less than one generation
to show the full effects of a changed condition. His object is to
triangulate from the widest possible base to the furthest point
he thinks he can see, which is always far beyond the curvature of
the horizon. 

  To the practical man, such an attempt is idiotic, and probably
the practical man is in the right to-day; but, whichever is right
-- if the question of right or wrong enters at all into the
matter -- the historian has no choice but to go on alone. Even in
his own profession few companions offer help, and his walk soon
becomes solitary, leading further and further into a wilderness
where twilight is short and the shadows are dense. Already Hay
literally staggered in his tracks for weariness. More worn than
he, Clarence King dropped. One day in the spring he stopped an
hour in Washington to bid good-bye, cheerily and simply telling
how his doctors had condemned him to Arizona for his lungs. All
three friends knew that they were nearing the end, and that if it
were not the one it would be the other; but the affectation of
readiness for death is a stage role, and stoicism is a stupid
resource, though the only one. Non doles, Paete! One is ashamed
of it even in the acting.

  The sunshine of life had not been so dazzling of late but that
a share of it flickered out for Adams and Hay when King
disappeared from their lives; but Hay had still his family and
ambition, while Adams could only blunder back alone, helplessly,
wearily, his eyes rather dim with tears, to his vague trail
across the darkening prairie of education, without a motive, big
or small, except curiosity to reach, before he too should drop,
some point that would give him a far look ahead. He was morbidly
curious to see some light at the end of the passage, as though
thirty years were a shadow, and he were again to fall into King's
arms at the door of the last and only log cabin left in life.
Time had become terribly short, and the sense of knowing so
little when others knew so much, crushed out hope.

  He knew not in what new direction to turn, and sat at his desk,
idly pulling threads out of the tangled skein of science, to see
whether or why they aligned themselves. The commonest and oldest
toy he knew was the child's magnet, with which he had played
since babyhood, the most familiar of puzzles. He covered his desk
with magnets, and mapped out their lines of force by compass.
Then he read all the books he could find, and tried in vain to
makes his lines of force agree with theirs. The books confounded
him. He could not credit his own understanding. Here was
literally the most concrete fact in nature, next to gravitation
which it defied; a force which must have radiated lines of energy
without stop, since time began, if not longer, and which might
probably go on radiating after the sun should fall into the
earth, since no one knew why -- or how -- or what it radiated --
or even whether it radiated at all. Perhaps the earliest known of
all natural forces after the solar energies, it seemed to have
suggested no idea to any one until some mariner bethought himself
that it might serve for a pointer. Another thousand years passed
when it taught some other intelligent man to use it as a pump,
supply-pipe, sieve, or reservoir for collecting electricity,
still without knowing how it worked or what it was. For a
historian, the story of Faraday's experiments and the invention
of the dynamo passed belief; it revealed a condition of human
ignorance and helplessness before the commonest forces, such as
his mind refused to credit. He could not conceive but that some
one, somewhere, could tell him all about the magnet, if one could
but find the book -- although he had been forced to admit the
same helplessness in the face of gravitation, phosphorescence,
and odors; and he could imagine no reason why society should
treat radium as revolutionary in science when every infant, for
ages past, had seen the magnet doing what radium did; for surely
the kind of radiation mattered nothing compared with the energy
that radiated and the matter supplied for radiation. He dared not
venture into the complexities of chemistry, or microbes, so long
as this child's toy offered complexities that befogged his mind
beyond X-rays, and turned the atom into an endless variety of
pumps endlessly pumping an endless variety of ethers. He wanted
to ask Mme. Curie to invent a motor attachable to her salt of
radium, and pump its forces through it, as Faraday did with a
magnet. He figured the human mind itself as another radiating
matter through which man had always pumped a subtler fluid. 

  In all this futility, it was not the magnet or the rays or the
microbes that troubled him, or even his helplessness before the
forces. To that he was used from childhood. The magnet in its new
relation staggered his new education by its evidence of growing
complexity, and multiplicity, and even contradiction, in life. He
could not escape it; politics or science, the lesson was the
same, and at every step it blocked his path whichever way he
turned. He found it in politics; he ran against it in science; he
struck it in everyday life, as though he were still Adam in the
Garden of Eden between God who was unity, and Satan who was
complexity, with no means of deciding which was truth. The
problem was the same for McKinley as for Adam, and for the Senate
as for Satan. Hay was going to wreck on it, like King and Adams.

  All one's life, one had struggled for unity, and unity had
always won. The National Government and the national unity had
overcome every resistance, and the Darwinian evolutionists were
triumphant over all the curates; yet the greater the unity and
the momentum, the worse became the complexity and the friction.
One had in vain bowed one's neck to railways, banks,
corporations, trusts, and even to the popular will as far as one
could understand it -- or even further; the multiplicity of unity
had steadily increased, was increasing, and threatened to
increase beyond reason. He had surrendered all his favorite
prejudices, and foresworn even the forms of criticism -- except
for his pet amusement, the Senate, which was a tonic or stimulant
necessary to healthy life; he had accepted uniformity and
Pteraspis and ice age and tramways and telephones; and now --
just when he was ready to hang the crowning garland on the brow
of a completed education -- science itself warned him to begin it
again from the beginning. 

  Maundering among the magnets he bethought himself that once, a
full generation earlier, he had begun active life by writing a
confession of geological faith at the bidding of Sir Charles
Lyell, and that it might be worth looking at if only to steady
his vision. He read it again, and thought it better than he could
do at sixty-three; but elderly minds always work loose. He saw
his doubts grown larger, and became curious to know what had been
said about them since 1870. The Geological Survey supplied stacks
of volumes, and reading for steady months; while, the longer he
read, the more he wondered, pondered, doubted what his delightful
old friend Sir Charles Lyell would have said about it. 

  Truly the animal that is to be trained to unity must be caught
young. Unity is vision; it must have been part of the process of
learning to see. The older the mind, the older its complexities,
and the further it looks, the more it sees, until even the stars
resolve themselves into multiples; yet the child will always see
but one. Adams asked whether geology since 1867 had drifted
towards unity or multiplicity, and he felt that the drift would
depend on the age of the man who drifted. 

  Seeking some impersonal point for measure, he turned to see
what had happened to his oldest friend and cousin the ganoid
fish, the Pteraspis of Ludlow and Wenlock, with whom he had
sported when geological life was young; as though they had all
remained together in time to act the Mask of Comus at Ludlow
Castle, and repeat "how charming is divine philosophy!" He felt
almost aggrieved to find Walcott so vigorously acting the part of
Comus as to have flung the ganoid all the way off to Colorado and
far back into the Lower Trenton limestone, making the Pteraspis
as modern as a Mississippi gar-pike by spawning an ancestry for
him, indefinitely more remote, in the dawn of known organic life.
A few thousand feet, more or less, of limestone were the
liveliest amusement to the ganoid, but they buried the
uniformitarian alive, under the weight of his own uniformity. Not
for all the ganoid fish that ever swam, would a discreet
historian dare to hazard even in secret an opinion about the
value of Natural Selection by Minute Changes under Uniform
Conditions, for he could know no more about it than most of his
neighbors who knew nothing; but natural selection that did not
select -- evolution finished before it began -- minute changes
that refused to change anything during the whole geological
record - survival of the highest order in a fauna which had no
origin -- uniformity under conditions which had disturbed
everything else in creation -- to an honest-meaning though
ignorant student who needed to prove Natural Selection and not
assume it, such sequence brought no peace. He wished to be shown
that changes in form caused evolution in force; that chemical or
mechanical energy had by natural selection and minute changes,
under uniform conditions, converted itself into thought. The
ganoid fish seemed to prove -- to him -- that it had selected
neither new form nor new force, but that the curates were right
in thinking that force could be increased in volume or raised in
intensity only by help of outside force. To him, the ganoid was a
huge perplexity, none the less because neither he nor the ganoid
troubled Darwinians, but the more because it helped to reveal
that Darwinism seemed to survive only in England. In vain he
asked what sort of evolution had taken its place. Almost any
doctrine seemed orthodox. Even sudden conversions due to mere
vital force acting on its own lines quite beyond mechanical
explanation, had cropped up again. A little more, and he would be
driven back on the old independence of species.

  What the ontologist thought about it was his own affair, like
the theologist's views on theology, for complexity was nothing to
them; but to the historian who sought only the direction of
thought and had begun as the confident child of Darwin and Lyell
in 1867, the matter of direction seemed vital. Then he had
entered gaily the door of the glacial epoch, and had surveyed a
universe of unities and uniformities. In 1900 he entered a far
vaster universe, where all the old roads ran about in every
direction, overrunning, dividing, subdividing, stopping abruptly,
vanishing slowly, with side-paths that led nowhere, and sequences
that could not be proved. The active geologists had mostly become
specialists dealing with complexities far too technical for an
amateur, but the old formulas still seemed to serve for
beginners, as they had served when new. 

  So the cause of the glacial epoch remained at the mercy of
Lyell and Croll, although Geikie had split up the period into
half-a-dozen intermittent chills in recent geology and in the
northern hemisphere alone, while no geologist had ventured to
assert that the glaciation of the southern hemisphere could
possibly be referred to a horizon more remote. Continents still
rose wildly and wildly sank, though Professor Suess of Vienna had
written an epoch-making work, showing that continents were
anchored like crystals, and only oceans rose and sank. Lyell's
genial uniformity seemed genial still, for nothing had taken its
place, though, in the interval, granite had grown young, nothing
had been explained, and a bewildering system of huge overthrusts
had upset geological mechanics. The textbooks refused even to
discuss theories, frankly throwing up their hands and avowing
that progress depended on studying each rock as a law to itself. 

  Adams had no more to do with the correctness of the science
than the gar-pike or the Port Jackson shark, for its correctness
in no way concerned him, and only impertinence could lead him to
dispute or discuss the principles of any science; but the history
of the mind concerned the historian alone, and the historian had
no vital concern in anything else, for he found no change to
record in the body. In thought the Schools, like the Church,
raised ignorance to a faith and degraded dogma to heresy.
Evolution survived like the trilobites without evolving, and yet
the evolutionists held the whole field, and had even plucked up
courage to rebel against the Cossack ukase of Lord Kelvin
forbidding them to ask more than twenty million years for their
experiments. No doubt the geologists had always submitted sadly
to this last and utmost violence inflicted on them by the Pontiff
of Physical Religion in the effort to force unification of the
universe; they had protested with mild conviction that they could
not state the geological record in terms of time; they had
murmured Ignoramus under their breath; but they had never dared
to assert the Ignorabimus that lay on the tips of their tongues. 

  Yet the admission seemed close at hand. Evolution was becoming
change of form broken by freaks of force, and warped at times by
attractions affecting intelligence, twisted and tortured at other
times by sheer violence, cosmic, chemical, solar, supersensual,
electrolytic -- who knew what? -- defying science, if not denying
known law; and the wisest of men could but imitate the Church,
and invoke a "larger synthesis" to unify the anarchy again.
Historians have got into far too much trouble by following
schools of theology in their efforts to enlarge their synthesis,
that they should willingly repeat the process in science. For
human purposes a point must always be soon reached where larger
synthesis is suicide. 

 Politics and geology pointed alike to the larger synthesis of
rapidly increasing complexity; but still an elderly man knew that
the change might be only in himself. The admission cost nothing.
Any student, of any age, thinking only of a thought and not of
his thought, should delight in turning about and trying the
opposite motion, as he delights in the spring which brings even
to a tired and irritated statesman the larger synthesis of
peach-blooms, cherry-blossoms, and dogwood, to prove the folly of
fret. Every schoolboy knows that this sum of all knowledge never
saved him from whipping; mere years help nothing; King and Hay
and Adams could neither of them escape floundering through the
corridors of chaos that opened as they passed to the end; but
they could at least float with the stream if they only knew which
way the current ran. Adams would have liked to begin afresh with
the Limulus and Lepidosteus in the waters of Braintree, side by
side with Adamses and Quincys and Harvard College, all unchanged
and unchangeable since archaic time; but what purpose would it
serve? A seeker of truth -- or illusion -- would be none the less
restless, though a shark! 



  INEVITABLE Paris beckoned, and resistance became more and more
futile as the store of years grew less; for the world contains no
other spot than Paris where education can be pursued from every
side. Even more vigorously than in the twelfth century, Paris
taught in the twentieth, with no other school approaching it for
variety of direction and energy of mind. Of the teaching in
detail, a man who knew only what accident had taught him in the
nineteenth century, could know next to nothing, since science had
got quite beyond his horizon, and mathematics had become the only
necessary language of thought; but one could play with the toys
of childhood, including Ming porcelain, salons of painting,
operas and theatres, beaux-arts and Gothic architecture, theology
and anarchy, in any jumble of time; or totter about with Joe
Stickney, talking Greek philosophy or recent poetry, or studying
"Louise" at the Opera Comique, or discussing the charm of youth
and the Seine with Bay Lodge and his exquisite young wife. Paris
remained Parisian in spite of change, mistress of herself though
China fell. Scores of artists -- sculptors and painters, poets
and dramatists, workers in gems and metals, designers in stuffs
and furniture -- hundreds of chemists, physicists, even
philosophers, philologists, physicians, and historians -- were at
work, a thousand times as actively as ever before, and the mass
and originality of their product would have swamped any previous
age, as it very nearly swamped its own; but the effect was one of
chaos, and Adams stood as helpless before it as before the chaos
of New York. His single thought was to keep in front of the
movement, and, if necessary, lead it to chaos, but never fall
behind. Only the young have time to linger in the rear.

  The amusements of youth had to be abandoned, for not even
pugilism needs more staying-power than the labors of the
pale-faced student of the Latin Quarter in the haunts of
Montparnasse or Montmartre, where one must feel no fatigue at two
o'clock in the morning in a beer- garden even after four hours of
Mounet Sully at the Theatre Francais. In those branches,
education might be called closed. Fashion, too, could no longer
teach anything worth knowing to a man who, holding open the door
into the next world, regarded himself as merely looking round to
take a last glance of this. The glance was more amusing than any
he had known in his active life, but it was more -- infinitely
more -- chaotic and complex. 

  Still something remained to be done for education beyond the
chaos, and as usual the woman helped. For thirty years or
there-abouts, he had been repeating that he really must go to
Baireuth. Suddenly Mrs. Lodge appeared on the horizon and bade
him come. He joined them, parents and children, alert and eager
and appreciative as ever, at the little old town of
Rothenburg-on-the Taube, and they went on to the Baireuth
festival together. 

  Thirty years earlier, a Baireuth festival would have made an
immense stride in education, and the spirit of the master would
have opened a vast new world. In 1901 the effect was altogether
different from the spirit of the master. In 1876 the rococo
setting of Baireuth seemed the correct atmosphere for Siegfried
and Brunhilde, perhaps even for Parsifal. Baireuth was out of the
world, calm, contemplative, and remote. In 1901 the world had
altogether changed, and Wagner had become a part of it, as
familiar as Shakespeare or Bret Harte. The rococo element jarred.
Even the Hudson and the Susquehanna -- perhaps the Potomac itself
-- had often risen to drown out the gods of Walhalla, and one
could hardly listen to the "Gotterdammerung" in New York, among
throngs of intense young enthusiasts, without paroxysms of
nervous excitement that toned down to musical philistinism at
Baireuth, as though the gods were Bavarian composers. New York or
Paris might be whatever one pleased -- venal, sordid, vulgar --
but society nursed there, in the rottenness of its decay, certain
anarchistic ferments, and thought them proof of art. Perhaps they
were; and at all events, Wagner was chiefly responsible for them
as artistic emotion. New York knew better than Baireuth what
Wagner meant, and the frivolities of Paris had more than once
included the rising of the Seine to drown out the Etoile or
Montmartre, as well as the sorcery of ambition that casts spells
of enchantment on the hero. Paris still felt a subtile flattery
in the thought that the last great tragedy of gods and men would
surely happen there, while no one could conceive of its happening
at Baireuth, or would care if it did. Paris coquetted with
catastrophe as though it were an old mistress -- faced it almost
gaily as she had done so often, for they were acquainted since
Rome began to ravage Europe; while New York met it with a glow of
fascinated horror, like an inevitable earthquake, and heard
Ternina announce it with conviction that made nerves quiver and
thrill as they had long ceased to do under the accents of popular
oratory proclaiming popular virtue. Flattery had lost its charm,
but the Fluch-motif went home. 

  Adams had been carried with the tide till Brunhilde had become
a habit and Ternina an ally. He too had played with anarchy;
though not with socialism, which, to young men who nourished
artistic emotions under the dome of the Pantheon, seemed
hopelessly bourgeois, and lowest middle-class. Bay Lodge and Joe
Stickney had given birth to the wholly new and original party of
Conservative Christian Anarchists, to restore true poetry under
the inspiration of the "Gotterdammerung." Such a party saw no
inspiration in Baireuth, where landscape, history, and audience
were -- relatively -- stodgy, and where the only emotion was a
musical dilettantism that the master had abhorred. 

  Yet Baireuth still amused even a conservative Christian
anarchist who cared as little as "Grane, mein Ross," whether the
singers sang false, and who came only to learn what Wagner had
supposed himself to mean. This end attained as pleased Frau
Wagner and the Heiliger Geist, he was ready to go on; and the
Senator, yearning for sterner study, pointed to a haven at
Moscow. For years Adams had taught American youth never to travel
without a Senator who was useful even in America at times, but
indispensable in Russia where, in 1901, anarchists, even though
conservative and Christian, were ill-seen. 

  This wing of the anarchistic party consisted rigorously of but
two members, Adams and Bay Lodge. The conservative Christian
anarchist, as a party, drew life from Hegel and Schopenhauer
rightly understood. By the necessity of their philosophical
descent, each member of the fraternity denounced the other as
unequal to his lofty task and inadequate to grasp it. Of course,
no third member could be so much as considered, since the great
principle of contradiction could be expressed only by opposites;
and no agreement could be conceived, because anarchy, by
definition, must be chaos and collision, as in the kinetic theory
of a perfect gas. Doubtless this law of contradiction was itself
agreement, a restriction of personal liberty inconsistent with
freedom; but the "larger synthesis" admitted a limited agreement
provided it were strictly confined to the end of larger
contradiction. Thus the great end of all philosophy -- the
"larger synthesis" -- was attained, but the process was arduous,
and while Adams, as the older member, assumed to declare the
principle, Bay Lodge necessarily denied both the assumption and
the principle in order to assure its truth. 

  Adams proclaimed that in the last synthesis, order and anarchy
were one, but that the unity was chaos. As anarchist,
conservative and Christian, he had no motive or duty but to
attain the end; and, to hasten it, he was bound to accelerate
progress; to concentrate energy; to accumulate power; to multiply
and intensify forces; to reduce friction, increase velocity and
magnify momentum, partly because this was the mechanical law of
the universe as science explained it; but partly also in order to
get done with the present which artists and some others
complained of; and finally -- and chiefly -- because a rigorous
philosophy required it, in order to penetrate the beyond, and
satisfy man's destiny by reaching the largest synthesis in its
ultimate contradiction. 

  Of course the untaught critic instantly objected that this
scheme was neither conservative, Christian, nor anarchic, but
such objection meant only that the critic should begin his
education in any infant school in order to learn that anarchy
which should be logical would cease to be anarchic. To the
conservative Christian anarchist, the amiable doctrines of
Kropotkin were sentimental ideas of Russian mental inertia
covered with the name of anarchy merely to disguise their
innocence; and the outpourings of Elisee Reclus were ideals of
the French ouvrier, diluted with absinthe, resulting in a
bourgeois dream of order and inertia. Neither made a pretence of
anarchy except as a momentary stage towards order and unity.
Neither of them had formed any other conception of the universe
than what they had inherited from the priestly class to which
their minds obviously belonged. With them, as with the socialist,
communist, or collectivist, the mind that followed nature had no
relation; if anarchists needed order, they must go back to the
twelfth century where their thought had enjoyed its thousand
years of reign. The conservative Christian anarchist could have
no associate, no object, no faith except the nature of nature
itself; and his "larger synthesis" had only the fault of being so
supremely true that even the highest obligation of duty could
scarcely oblige Bay Lodge to deny it in order to prove it. Only
the self-evident truth that no philosophy of order -- except the
Church -- had ever satisfied the philosopher reconciled the
conservative Christian anarchist to prove his own. 

  Naturally these ideas were so far in advance of the age that
hardly more people could understand them than understood Wagner
or Hegel; for that matter, since the time of Socrates, wise men
have been mostly shy of claiming to understand anything; but such
refinements were Greek or German, and affected the practical
American but little. He admitted that, for the moment, the
darkness was dense. He could not affirm with confidence, even to
himself, that his "largest synthesis" would certainly turn out to
be chaos, since he would be equally obliged to deny the chaos.
The poet groped blindly for an emotion. The play of thought for
thought's sake had mostly ceased. The throb of fifty or a hundred
million steam horse-power, doubling every ten years, and already
more despotic than all the horses that ever lived, and all the
riders they ever carried, drowned rhyme and reason. No one was to
blame, for all were equally servants of the power, and worked
merely to increase it; but the conservative Christian anarchist
saw light. 

  Thus the student of Hegel prepared himself for a visit to
Russia in order to enlarge his "synthesis" -- and much he needed
it! In America all were conservative Christian anarchists; the
faith was national, racial, geographic. The true American had
never seen such supreme virtue in any of the innumerable shades
between social anarchy and social order as to mark it for
exclusively human and his own. He never had known a complete
union either in Church or State or thought, and had never seen
any need for it. The freedom gave him courage to meet any
contradiction, and intelligence enough to ignore it. Exactly the
opposite condition had marked Russian growth. The Czar's empire
was a phase of conservative Christian anarchy more interesting to
history than all the complex variety of American newspapers,
schools, trusts, sects, frauds, and Congressmen. These were
Nature -- pure and anarchic as the conservative Christian
anarchist saw Nature -- active, vibrating, mostly unconscious,
and quickly reacting on force; but, from the first glimpse one
caught from the sleeping-car window, in the early morning, of the
Polish Jew at the accidental railway station, in all his weird
horror, to the last vision of the Russian peasant, lighting his
candle and kissing his ikon before the railway Virgin in the
station at St. Petersburg, all was logical, conservative,
Christian and anarchic. Russia had nothing in common with any
ancient or modern world that history knew; she had been the
oldest source of all civilization in Europe, and had kept none
for herself; neither Europe nor Asia had ever known such a phase,
which seemed to fall into no line of evolution whatever, and was
as wonderful to the student of Gothic architecture in the twelfth
century, as to the student of the dynamo in the twentieth.
Studied in the dry light of conservative Christian anarchy,
Russia became luminous like the salt of radium; but with a
negative luminosity as though she were a substance whose energies
had been sucked out -- an inert residuum -- with movement of pure
inertia. From the car window one seemed to float past undulations
of nomad life -- herders deserted by their leaders and herds --
wandering waves stopped in their wanderings -- waiting for their
winds or warriors to return and lead them westward; tribes that
had camped, like Khirgis, for the season, and had lost the means
of motion without acquiring the habit of permanence. They waited
and suffered. As they stood they were out of place, and could
never have been normal. Their country acted as a sink of energy
like the Caspian Sea, and its surface kept the uniformity of ice
and snow. One Russian peasant kissing an ikon on a saint's day,
in the Kremlin, served for a hundred million. The student had no
need to study Wallace, or re-read Tolstoy or Tourguenieff or
Dostoiewski to refresh his memory of the most poignant analysis
of human inertia ever put in words; Gorky was more than enough:
Kropotkin answered every purpose. 

  The Russian people could never have changed -- could they ever
be changed? Could inertia of race, on such a scale, be broken up,
or take new form? Even in America, on an infinitely smaller
scale, the question was old and unanswered. All the so-called
primitive races, and some nearer survivals, had raised doubts
which persisted against the most obstinate convictions of
evolution. The Senator himself shook his head, and after
surveying Warsaw and Moscow to his content, went on to St.
Petersburg to ask questions of Mr. de Witte and Prince Khilkoff.
Their conversation added new doubts; for their efforts had been
immense, their expenditure enormous, and their results on the
people seemed to be uncertain as yet, even to themselves. Ten or
fifteen years of violent stimulus seemed resulting in nothing,
for, since 1898, Russia lagged. 

  The tourist-student, having duly reflected, asked the Senator
whether he should allow three generations, or more, to swing the
Russian people into the Western movement. The Senator seemed
disposed to ask for more. The student had nothing to say. For
him, all opinion founded on fact must be error, because the facts
can never be complete, and their relations must be always
infinite. Very likely, Russia would instantly become the most
brilliant constellation of human progress through all the ordered
stages of good; but meanwhile one might give a value as movement
of inertia to the mass, and assume a slow acceleration that
would, at the end of a generation, leave the gap between east and
west relatively the same. 
This result reached, the Lodges thought their moral improvement
required a visit to Berlin; but forty years of varied emotions
had not deadened Adams's memories of Berlin, and he preferred, at
any cost, to escape new ones. When the Lodges started for
Germany, Adams took steamer for Sweden and landed happily, in a
day or two, at Stockholm.

Until the student is fairly sure that his problem is soluble, he
gains little by obstinately insisting on solving it. One might
doubt whether Mr. de Witte himself, or Prince Khilkoff, or any
Grand Duke, or the Emperor, knew much more about it than their
neighbors; and Adams was quite sure that, even in America, he
should listen with uncertain confidence to the views of any
Secretary of the Treasury, or railway president, or President of
the United States whom he had ever known, that should concern the
America of the next generation. The mere fact that any man should
dare to offer them would prove his incompetence to judge. Yet
Russia was too vast a force to be treated as an object of
unconcern. As inertia, if in no other way, she represented three-
fourths of the human race, and her movement might be the true
movement of the future, against the hasty and unsure acceleration
of America. No one could yet know what would best suit humanity,
and the tourist who carried his La Fontaine in mind, caught
himself talking as bear or as monkey according to the mirror he
held before him. "Am I satisfied? " he asked: --

                          "Moi? pourquoi non? 
  N'ai-je pas quatre pieds aussi bien que les autres?
  Mon portrait jusqu'ici ne m'a rien reproche;
  Mais pour mon frere l'ours, on ne l'a qu'ebauche;
  Jamais, s'il me veut croire, il ne se fera peindre."

  Granting that his brother the bear lacked perfection in
details, his own figure as monkey was not necessarily ideal or
decorative, nor was he in the least sure what form it might take
even in one generation. He had himself never ventured to dream of
three. No man could guess what the Daimler motor and X-rays would
do to him; but so much was sure; the monkey and motor were
terribly afraid of the bear; how much,- only a man close to their
foreign departments knew. As the monkey looked back across the
Baltic from the safe battlements of Stockholm, Russia looked more
portentous than from the Kremlin. 

  The image was that of the retreating ice-cap -- a wall of
archaic glacier, as fixed, as ancient, as eternal, as the wall of
archaic ice that blocked the ocean a few hundred miles to the
northward, and more likely to advance. Scandinavia had been ever
at its mercy. Europe had never changed. The imaginary line that
crossed the level continent from the Baltic to the Black Sea,
merely extended the northern barrier-line. The Hungarians and
Poles on one side still struggled against the Russian inertia of
race, and retained their own energies under the same conditions
that caused inertia across the frontier. Race ruled the
conditions; conditions hardly affected race; and yet no one could
tell the patient tourist what race was, or how it should be
known. History offered a feeble and delusive smile at the sound
of the word; evolutionists and ethnologists disputed its very
existence; no one knew what to make of it; yet, without the clue,
history was a nursery tale. 

  The Germans, Scandinavians, Poles and Hungarians, energetic as
they were, had never held their own against the heterogeneous
mass of inertia called Russia, and trembled with terror whenever
Russia moved. From Stockholm one looked back on it as though it
were an ice-sheet, and so had Stockholm watched it for centuries.
In contrast with the dreary forests of Russia and the stern
streets of St. Petersburg, Stockholm seemed a southern vision,
and Sweden lured the tourist on. Through a cheerful New England
landscape and bright autumn, he rambled northwards till he found
himself at Trondhjem and discovered Norway. Education crowded
upon him in immense masses as he triangulated these vast surfaces
of history about which he had lectured and read for a life-time.
When the historian fully realizes his ignorance -- which
sometimes happens to Americans -- he becomes even more tiresome
to himself than to others, because his naivete is irrepressible.
Adams could not get over his astonishment, though he had preached
the Norse doctrine all his life against the stupid and
beer-swilling Saxon boors whom Freeman loved, and who, to the
despair of science, produced Shakespeare. Mere contact with
Norway started voyages of thought, and, under their illusions, he
took the mail steamer to the north, and on September 14, reached

  Frivolous amusement was hardly what one saw, through the
equinoctial twilight, peering at the flying tourist, down the
deep fiords, from dim patches of snow, where the last Laps and
reindeer were watching the mail-steamer thread the intricate
channels outside, as their ancestors had watched the first Norse
fishermen learn them in the succession of time; but it was not
the Laps, or the snow, or the arctic gloom, that impressed the
tourist, so much as the lights of an electro-magnetic
civilization and the stupefying contrast with Russia, which more
and more insisted on taking the first place in historical
interest. Nowhere had the new forces so vigorously corrected the
errors of the old, or so effectively redressed the balance of the
ecliptic. As one approached the end -- the spot where, seventy
years before, a futile Carlylean Teufelsdrockh had stopped to ask
futile questions of the silent infinite -- the infinite seemed to
have become loquacious, not to say familiar, chattering gossip in
one's ear. An installation of electric lighting and telephones
led tourists close up to the polar ice-cap, beyond the level of
the magnetic pole; and there the newer Teufelsdrockh sat dumb
with surprise, and glared at the permanent electric lights of

  He had good reason -- better than the Teufelsdrockh of 1830, in
his liveliest Scotch imagination, ever dreamed, or mortal man had
ever told. At best, a week in these dim Northern seas, without
means of speech, within the Arctic circle, at the equinox, lent
itself to gravity if not to gloom; but only a week before,
breakfasting in the restaurant at Stockholm, his eye had caught,
across, the neighboring table, a headline in a Swedish newspaper,
announcing an attempt on the life of President McKinley, and from
Stockholm to Trondhjem, and so up the coast to Hammerfest, day
after day the news came, telling of the President's condition,
and the doings and sayings of Hay and Roosevelt, until at last a
little journal was cried on reaching some dim haven, announcing
the President's death a few hours before. To Adams the death of
McKinley and the advent of Roosevelt were not wholly void of
personal emotion, but this was little in comparison with his
depth of wonder at hearing hourly reports from his most intimate
friends, sent to him far within the realm of night, not to please
him, but to correct the faults of the solar system. The
electro-dynamo-social universe worked better than the sun. 

  No such strange chance had ever happened to a historian before,
and it upset for the moment his whole philosophy of conservative
anarchy. The acceleration was marvellous, and wholly in the lines
of unity. To recover his grasp of chaos, he must look back across
the gulf to Russia, and the gap seemed to have suddenly become an
abyss. Russia was infinitely distant. Yet the nightmare of the
glacial ice-cap still pressed down on him from the hills, in full
vision, and no one could look out on the dusky and oily sea that
lapped these spectral islands without consciousness that only a
day's steaming to the northward would bring him to the
ice-barrier, ready at any moment to advance, which obliged
tourists to stop where Laps and reindeer and Norse fishermen had
stopped so long ago that memory of their very origin was lost.
Adams had never before met a ne plus ultra, and knew not what to
make of it; but he felt at least the emotion of his Norwegian
fishermen ancestors, doubtless numbering hundreds of thousands,
jammed with their faces to the sea, the ice on the north, the
ice-cap of Russian inertia pressing from behind, and the ice a
trifling danger compared with the inertia. From the day they
first followed the retreating ice-cap round the North Cape, down
to the present moment, their problem was the same. 

  The new Teufelsdrockh, though considerably older than the old
one, saw no clearer into past or future, but he was fully as much
perplexed. From the archaic ice-barrier to the Caspian Sea, a
long line of division, permanent since ice and inertia first took
possession, divided his lines of force, with no relation to
climate or geography or soil.

  The less a tourist knows, the fewer mistakes he need make, for
he will not expect himself to explain ignorance. A century ago he
carried letters and sought knowledge; to-day he knows that no one
knows; he needs too much and ignorance is learning. He wandered
south again, and came out at Kiel, Hamburg, Bremen, and Cologne.
A mere glance showed him that here was a Germany new to mankind.
Hamburg was almost as American as St. Louis. In forty years, the
green rusticity of Dusseldorf had taken on the sooty grime of
Birmingham. The Rhine in 1900 resembled the Rhine of 1858 much as
it resembled the Rhine of the Salic Franks. Cologne was a railway
centre that had completed its cathedral which bore an absent-
minded air of a cathedral of Chicago. The thirteenth century,
carefully strained-off, catalogued, and locked up, was visible to
tourists as a kind of Neanderthal, cave-dwelling, curiosity. The
Rhine was more modern than the Hudson, as might well be, since it
produced far more coal; but all this counted for little beside
the radical change in the lines of force. 

  In 1858 the whole plain of northern Europe, as well as the
Danube in the south, bore evident marks of being still the
prehistoric highway between Asia and the ocean. The trade-route
followed the old routes of invasion, and Cologne was a
resting-place between Warsaw and Flanders. Throughout northern
Germany, Russia was felt even more powerfully than France. In
1901 Russia had vanished, and not even France was felt; hardly
England or America. Coal alone was felt -- its stamp alone
pervaded the Rhine district and persisted to Picardy -- and the
stamp was the same as that of Birmingham and Pittsburgh. The
Rhine produced the same power, and the power produced the same
people -- the same mind -- the same impulse. For a man
sixty-three years old who had no hope of earning a living, these
three months of education were the most arduous he ever
attempted, and Russia was the most indigestible morsel he ever
met; but the sum of it, viewed from Cologne, seemed reasonable.
From Hammerfest to Cherbourg on one shore of the ocean -- from
Halifax to Norfolk on the other -- one great empire was ruled by
one great emperor -- Coal. Political and human jealousies might
tear it apart or divide it, but the power and the empire were
one. Unity had gained that ground. Beyond lay Russia, and there
an older, perhaps a surer, power, resting on the eternal law of
inertia, held its own. 

  As a personal matter, the relative value of the two powers
became more interesting every year; for the mass of Russian
inertia was moving irresistibly over China, and John Hay stood in
its path. As long as de Witte ruled, Hay was safe. Should de
Witte fall, Hay would totter. One could only sit down and watch
the doings of Mr. de Witte and Mr. de Plehve.



  AMERICA has always taken tragedy lightly. Too busy to stop the
activity of their twenty-million-horse-power society, Americans
ignore tragic motives that would have overshadowed the Middle
Ages; and the world learns to regard assassination as a form of
hysteria, and death as neurosis, to be treated by a rest-cure.
Three hideous political murders, that would have fattened the
Eumenides with horror, have thrown scarcely a shadow on the White

  The year 1901 was a year of tragedy that seemed to Hay to
centre on himself. First came, in summer, the accidental death of
his son, Del Hay. Close on the tragedy of his son, followed that
of his chief, "all the more hideous that we were so sure of his
recovery." The world turned suddenly into a graveyard. "I have
acquired the funeral habit." "Nicolay is dying. I went to see him
yesterday, and he did not know me." Among the letters of
condolence showered upon him was one from Clarence King at
Pasadena, "heart-breaking in grace and tenderness -- the old King
manner"; and King himself "simply waiting till nature and the foe
have done their struggle." The tragedy of King impressed him
intensely: "There you have it in the face!" he said -- "the best
and brightest man of his generation, with talents immeasurably
beyond any of his contemporaries; with industry that has often
sickened me to witness it; with everything in his favor but blind
luck; hounded by disaster from his cradle, with none of the joy
of life to which he was entitled, dying at last, with nameless
suffering alone and uncared-for, in a California tavern. Ca vous
amuse, la vie?"

  The first summons that met Adams, before he had even landed on
the pier at New York, December 29, was to Clarence King's
funeral, and from the funeral service he had no gayer road to
travel than that which led to Washington, where a revolution had
occurred that must in any case have made the men of his age
instantly old, but which, besides hurrying to the front the
generation that till then he had regarded as boys, could not fail
to break the social ties that had till then held them all

  Ca vous amuse, la vie? Honestly, the lessons of education were
becoming too trite. Hay himself, probably for the first time,
felt half glad that Roosevelt should want him to stay in office,
if only to save himself the trouble of quitting; but to Adams all
was pure loss. On that side, his education had been finished at
school. His friends in power were lost, and he knew life too well
to risk total wreck by trying to save them. 

  As far as concerned Roosevelt, the chance was hopeless. To them
at sixty-three, Roosevelt at forty-three could not be taken
seriously in his old character, and could not be recovered in his
new one. Power when wielded by abnormal energy is the most
serious of facts, and all Roosevelt's friends know that his
restless and combative energy was more than abnormal. Roosevelt,
more than any other man living within the range of notoriety,
showed the singular primitive quality that belongs to ultimate
matter -- the quality that mediaeval theology assigned to God --
he was pure act. With him wielding unmeasured power with
immeasurable energy, in the White House, the relation of age to
youth -- of teacher to pupil -- was altogether out of place; and
no other was possible. Even Hay's relation was a false one, while
Adams's ceased of itself. History's truths are little valuable
now; but human nature retains a few of its archaic, proverbial
laws, and the wisest courtier that ever lived -- Lucius Seneca
himself -- must have remained in some shade of doubt what
advantage he should get from the power of his friend and pupil
Nero Claudius, until, as a gentleman past sixty, he received
Nero's filial invitation to kill himself. Seneca closed the vast
circle of his knowledge by learning that a friend in power was a
friend lost -- a fact very much worth insisting upon -- while the
gray-headed moth that had fluttered through many
moth-administrations and had singed his wings more or less in
them all, though he now slept nine months out of the twelve,
acquired an instinct of self-preservation that kept him to the
north side of La Fayette Square, and, after a sufficient habitude
of Presidents and Senators, deterred him from hovering between

  Those who seek education in the paths of duty are always
deceived by the illusion that power in the hands of friends is an
advantage to them. As far as Adams could teach experience, he was
bound to warn them that he had found it an invariable disaster.
Power is poison. Its effect on Presidents had been always tragic,
chiefly as an almost insane excitement at first, and a worse
reaction afterwards; but also because no mind is so well balanced
as to bear the strain of seizing unlimited force without habit or
knowledge of it; and finding it disputed with him by hungry packs
of wolves and hounds whose lives depend on snatching the carrion.
Roosevelt enjoyed a singularly direct nature and honest intent,
but he lived naturally in restless agitation that would have worn
out most tempers in a month, and his first year of Presidency
showed chronic excitement that made a friend tremble. The effect
of unlimited power on limited mind is worth noting in Presidents
because it must represent the same process in society, and the
power of self-control must have limit somewhere in face of the
control of the infinite. 

  Here, education seemed to see its first and last lesson, but
this is a matter of psychology which lies far down in the depths
of history and of science; it will recur in other forms. The
personal lesson is different. Roosevelt was lost, but this seemed
no reason why Hay and Lodge should also be lost, yet the result
was mathematically certain. With Hay, it was only the steady
decline of strength, and the necessary economy of force; but with
Lodge it was law of politics. He could not help himself, for his
position as the President's friend and independent statesman at
once was false, and he must be unsure in both relations. 

  To a student, the importance of Cabot Lodge was great -- much
greater than that of the usual Senator -- but it hung on his
position in Massachusetts rather than on his control of Executive
patronage; and his standing in Massachusetts was highly insecure.
Nowhere in America was society so complex or change so rapid. No
doubt the Bostonian had always been noted for a certain chronic
irritability -- a sort of Bostonitis -- which, in its primitive
Puritan forms, seemed due to knowing too much of his neighbors,
and thinking too much of himself. Many years earlier William M.
Evarts had pointed out to Adams the impossibility of uniting New
England behind a New England leader. The trait led to good ends
-- such as admiration of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington --
but the virtue was exacting; for New England standards were
various, scarcely reconcilable with each other, and constantly
multiplying in number, until balance between them threatened to
become impossible. The old ones were quite difficult enough --
State Street and the banks exacted one stamp; the old
Congregational clergy another; Harvard College, poor in votes,
but rich in social influence, a third; the foreign element,
especially the Irish, held aloof, and seldom consented to approve
any one; the new socialist class, rapidly growing, promised to
become more exclusive than the Irish. New power was
disintegrating society, and setting independent centres of force
to work, until money had all it could do to hold the machine
together. No one could represent it faithfully as a whole.

  Naturally, Adams's sympathies lay strongly with Lodge, but the
task of appreciation was much more difficult in his case than in
that of his chief friend and scholar, the President. As a type
for study, or a standard for education, Lodge was the more
interesting of the two. Roosevelts are born and never can be
taught; but Lodge was a creature of teaching -- Boston incarnate
-- the child of his local parentage; and while his ambition led
him to be more, the intent, though virtuous, was -- as Adams
admitted in his own case -- restless. An excellent talker, a
voracious reader, a ready wit, an accomplished orator, with a
clear mind and a powerful memory, he could never feel perfectly
at ease whatever leg he stood on, but shifted, sometimes with
painful strain of temper, from one sensitive muscle to another,
uncertain whether to pose as an uncompromising Yankee; or a pure
American; or a patriot in the still purer atmosphere of Irish,
Germans, or Jews; or a scholar and historian of Harvard College.
English to the last fibre of his thought -- saturated with
English literature, English tradition, English taste -- revolted
by every vice and by most virtues of Frenchmen and Germans, or
any other Continental standards, but at home and happy among the
vices and extravagances of Shakespeare -- standing first on the
social, then on the political foot; now worshipping, now banning;
shocked by the wanton display of immorality, but practicing the
license of political usage; sometimes bitter, often genial,
always intelligent -- Lodge had the singular merit of
interesting. The usual statesmen flocked in swarms like crows,
black and monotonous. Lodge's plumage was varied, and, like his
flight, harked back to race. He betrayed the consciousness that
he and his people had a past, if they dared but avow it, and
might have a future, if they could but divine it. 

  Adams, too, was Bostonian, and the Bostonian's uncertainty of
attitude was as natural to him as to Lodge. Only Bostonians can
understand Bostonians and thoroughly sympathize with the
inconsequences of the Boston mind. His theory and practice were
also at variance. He professed in theory equal distrust of
English thought, and called it a huge rag-bag of bric-a-brac,
sometimes precious but never sure. For him, only the Greek, the
Italian or the French standards had claims to respect, and the
barbarism of Shakespeare was as flagrant as to Voltaire; but his
theory never affected his practice. He knew that his artistic
standard was the illusion of his own mind; that English disorder
approached nearer to truth, if truth existed, than French measure
or Italian line, or German logic; he read his Shakespeare as the
Evangel of conservative Christian anarchy, neither very
conservative nor very Christian, but stupendously anarchistic. He
loved the atrocities of English art and society, as he loved
Charles Dickens and Miss Austen, not because of their example,
but because of their humor. He made no scruple of defying
sequence and denying consistency -- but he was not a Senator. 

  Double standards are inspiration to men of letters, but they
are apt to be fatal to politicians. Adams had no reason to care
whether his standards were popular or not, and no one else cared
more than he; but Roosevelt and Lodge were playing a game in
which they were always liable to find the shifty sands of
American opinion yield suddenly under their feet. With this game
an elderly friend had long before carried acquaintance as far as
he wished. There was nothing in it for him but the amusement of
the pugilist or acrobat. The larger study was lost in the
division of interests and the ambitions of fifth-rate men; but
foreign affairs dealt only with large units, and made personal
relation possible with Hay which could not be maintained with
Roosevelt or Lodge. As an affair of pure education the point is
worth notice from young men who are drawn into politics. The work
of domestic progress is done by masses of mechanical power --
steam, electric, furnace, or other -- which have to be controlled
by a score or two of individuals who have shown capacity to
manage it. The work of internal government has become the task of
controlling these men, who are socially as remote as heathen
gods, alone worth knowing, but never known, and who could tell
nothing of political value if one skinned them alive. Most of
them have nothing to tell, but are forces as dumb as their
dynamos, absorbed in the development or economy of power. They
are trustees for the public, and whenever society assumes the
property, it must confer on them that title; but the power will
remain as before, whoever manages it, and will then control
society without appeal, as it controls its stokers and pit-men.
Modern politics is, at bottom, a struggle not of men but of
forces. The men become every year more and more creatures of
force, massed about central power-houses. The conflict is no
longer between the men, but between the motors that drive the
men, and the men tend to succumb to their own motive forces. 

  This is a moral that man strongly objects to admit, especially
in mediaeval pursuits like politics and poetry, nor is it worth
while for a teacher to insist upon it. What he insists upon is
only that in domestic politics, every one works for an immediate
object, commonly for some private job, and invariably in a near
horizon, while in foreign affairs the outlook is far ahead, over
a field as wide as the world. There the merest scholar could see
what he was doing. For history, international relations are the
only sure standards of movement; the only foundation for a map.
For this reason, Adams had always insisted that international
relation was the only sure base for a chart of history.

  He cared little to convince any one of the correctness of his
view, but as teacher he was bound to explain it, and as friend he
found it convenient. The Secretary of State has always stood as
much alone as the historian. Required to look far ahead and round
hm, he measures forces unknown to party managers, and has found
Congress more or less hostile ever since Congress first sat. The
Secretary of State exists only to recognize the existence of a
world which Congress would rather ignore; of obligations which
Congress repudiates whenever it can; of bargains which Congress
distrusts and tries to turn to its advantage or to reject. Since
the first day the Senate existed, it has always intrigued against
the Secretary of State whenever the Secretary has been obliged to
extend his functions beyond the appointment of Consuls in
Senators' service.

  This is a matter of history which any one may approve or
dispute as he will; but as education it gave new resources to an
old scholar, for it made of Hay the best schoolmaster since 1865.
Hay had become the most imposing figure ever known in the office.
He had an influence that no other Secretary of State ever
possessed, as he had a nation behind him such as history had
never imagined. He needed to write no state papers; he wanted no
help, and he stood far above counsel or advice; but he could
instruct an attentive scholar as no other teacher in the world
could do; and Adams sought only instruction -- wanted only to
chart the international channel for fifty years to come; to
triangulate the future; to obtain his dimension, and fix the
acceleration of movement in politics since the year 1200, as he
was trying to fix it in philosophy and physics; in finance and

  Hay had been so long at the head of foreign affairs that at
last the stream of events favored him. With infinite effort he
had achieved the astonishing diplomatic feat of inducing the
Senate, with only six negative votes, to permit Great Britain to
renounce, without equivalent, treaty rights which she had for
fifty years defended tooth and nail. This unprecedented triumph
in his negotiations with the Senate enabled him to carry one step
further his measures for general peace. About England the Senate
could make no further effective opposition, for England was won,
and Canada alone could give trouble. The next difficulty was with
France, and there the Senate blocked advance, but England assumed
the task, and, owing to political changes in France, effected the
object -- a combination which, as late as 1901, had been
visionary. The next, and far more difficult step, was to bring
Germany into the combine; while, at the end of the vista, most
unmanageable of all, Russia remained to be satisfied and
disarmed. This was the instinct of what might be named
McKinleyism; the system of combinations, consolidations, trusts,
realized at home, and realizable abroad. 

  With the system, a student nurtured in ideas of the eighteenth
century, had nothing to do, and made not the least presence of
meddling; but nothing forbade him to study, and he noticed to his
astonishment that this capitalistic scheme of combining
governments, like railways or furnaces, was in effect precisely
the socialist scheme of Jaures and Bebel. That John Hay, of all
men, should adopt a socialist policy seemed an idea more absurd
than conservative Christian anarchy, but paradox had become the
only orthodoxy in politics as in science. When one saw the field,
one realized that Hay could not help himself, nor could Bebel.
Either Germany must destroy England and France to create the next
inevitable unification as a system of continent against continent
-- or she must pool interests. Both schemes in turn were
attributed to the Kaiser; one or the other he would have to
choose; opinion was balanced doubtfully on their merits; but,
granting both to be feasible, Hay's and McKinley's statesmanship
turned on the point of persuading the Kaiser to join what might
be called the Coal-power combination, rather than build up the
only possible alternative, a Gun-power combination by merging
Germany in Russia. Thus Bebel and Jaures, McKinley and Hay, were

  The problem was pretty -- even fascinating -- and, to an old
Civil-War private soldier in diplomacy, as rigorous as a
geometrical demonstration. As the last possible lesson in life,
it had all sorts of ultimate values. Unless education marches on
both feet -- theory and practice -- it risks going astray; and
Hay was probably the most accomplished master of both then
living. He knew not only the forces but also the men, and he had
no other thought than his policy. 

  Probably this was the moment of highest knowledge that a
scholar could ever reach. He had under his eyes the whole
educational staff of the Government at a time when the Government
had just reached the heights of highest activity and influence.
Since 1860, education had done its worst, under the greatest
masters and at enormous expense to the world, to train these two
minds to catch and comprehend every spring of international
action, not to speak of personal influence; and the entire
machinery of politics in several great countries had little to do
but supply the last and best information. Education could be
carried no further. 

  With its effects on Hay, Adams had nothing to do; but its
effects on himself were grotesque. Never had the proportions of
his ignorance looked so appalling. He seemed to know nothing --
to be groping in darkness -- to be falling forever in space; and
the worst depth consisted in the assurance, incredible as it
seemed, that no one knew more. He had, at least, the mechanical
assurance of certain values to guide him -- like the relative
intensities of his Coal-powers, and relative inertia of his
Gun-powers -- but he conceived that had he known, besides the
mechanics, every relative value of persons, as well as he knew
the inmost thoughts of his own Government -- had the Czar and the
Kaiser and the Mikado turned schoolmasters, like Hay, and taught
him all they knew, he would still have known nothing. They knew
nothing themselves. Only by comparison of their ignorance could
the student measure his own. 



  THE years hurried past, and gave hardly time to note their
work. Three or four months, though big with change, come to an
end before the mind can catch up with it. Winter vanished; spring
burst into flower; and again Paris opened its arms, though not
for long. Mr. Cameron came over, and took the castle of
Inverlochy for three months, which he summoned his friends to
garrison. Lochaber seldom laughs, except for its children, such
as Camerons, McDonalds, Campbells and other products of the mist;
but in the summer of 1902 Scotland put on fewer airs of coquetry
than usual. Since the terrible harvest of 1879 which one had
watched sprouting on its stalks on the Shropshire hillsides,
nothing had equalled the gloom. Even when the victims fled to
Switzerland, they found the Lake of Geneva and the Rhine not much
gayer, and Carlsruhe no more restful than Paris; until at last,
in desperation, one drifted back to the Avenue of the Bois de
Boulogne, and, like the Cuckoo, dropped into the nest of a better
citizen. Diplomacy has its uses. Reynolds Hitt, transferred to
Berlin, abandoned his attic to Adams, and there, for long summers
to come, he hid in ignorance and silence. 

  Life at last managed of its own accord to settle itself into a
working arrangement. After so many years of effort to find one's
drift, the drift found the seeker, and slowly swept him forward
and back, with a steady progress oceanwards. Such lessons as
summer taught, winter tested, and one had only to watch the
apparent movement of the stars in order to guess one's
declination. The process is possible only for men who have
exhausted auto-motion. Adams never knew why, knowing nothing of
Faraday, he began to mimic Faraday's trick of seeing lines of
force all about him, where he had always seen lines of will.
Perhaps the effect of knowing no mathematics is to leave the mind
to imagine figures -- images -- phantoms; one's mind is a watery
mirror at best; but, once conceived, the image became rapidly
simple, and the lines of force presented themselves as lines of
attraction. Repulsions counted only as battle of attractions. By
this path, the mind stepped into the mechanical theory of the
universe before knowing it, and entered a distinct new phase of

  This was the work of the dynamo and the Virgin of Chartres.
Like his masters, since thought began, he was handicapped by the
eternal mystery of Force -- the sink of all science. For
thousands of years in history, he found that Force had been felt
as occult attraction -- love of God and lust for power in a
future life. After 1500, when this attraction began to decline,
philosophers fell back on some vis a tergo -- instinct of danger
from behind, like Darwin's survival of the fittest; and one of
the greatest minds, between Descartes and Newton -- Pascal -- saw
the master-motor of man in ennui, which was also scientific: "I
have often said that all the troubles of man come from his not
knowing how to sit still." Mere restlessness forces action. "So
passes the whole of life. We combat obstacles in order to get
repose, and, when got, the repose is insupportable; for we think
either of the troubles we have, or of those that threaten us; and
even if we felt safe on every side, ennui would of its own accord
spring up from the depths of the heart where it is rooted by
nature, and would fill the mind with its venom." 

   "If goodness lead him not, yet weariness 
          May toss him to My breast."

  Ennui, like Natural Selection, accounted for change, but failed
to account for direction of change. For that, an attractive force
was essential; a force from outside; a shaping influence. Pascal
and all the old philosophies called this outside force God or
Gods. Caring but little for the name, and fixed only on tracing
the Force, Adams had gone straight to the Virgin at Chartres, and
asked her to show him God, face to face, as she did for St.
Bernard. She replied, kindly as ever, as though she were still
the young mother of to-day, with a sort of patient pity for
masculine dulness: "My dear outcast, what is it you seek? This is
the Church of Christ! If you seek him through me, you are
welcome, sinner or saint; but he and I are one. We are Love! We
have little or nothing to do with God's other energies which are
infinite, and concern us the less because our interest is only in
man, and the infinite is not knowable to man. Yet if you are
troubled by your ignorance, you see how I am surrounded by the
masters of the schools! Ask them!" 

  The answer sounded singularly like the usual answer of British
science which had repeated since Bacon that one must not try to
know the unknowable, though one was quite powerless to ignore it;
but the Virgin carried more conviction, for her feminine lack of
interest in all perfections except her own was honester than the
formal phrase of science; since nothing was easier than to follow
her advice, and turn to Thomas Aquinas, who, unlike modern
physicists, answered at once and plainly: "To me," said St.
Thomas, "Christ and the Mother are one Force -- Love -- simple,
single, and sufficient for all human wants; but Love is a human
interest which acts even on man so partially that you and I, as
philosophers, need expect no share in it. Therefore we turn to
Christ and the Schools who represent all other Force. We deal
with Multiplicity and call it God. After the Virgin has redeemed
by her personal Force as Love all that is redeemable in man, the
Schools embrace the rest, and give it Form, Unity, and Motive."

  This chart of Force was more easily studied than any other
possible scheme, for one had but to do what the Church was always
promising to do -- abolish in one flash of lightning not only
man, but also the Church itself, the earth, the other planets,
and the sun, in order to clear the air; without affecting
mediaeval science. The student felt warranted in doing what the
Church threatened -- abolishing his solar system altogether -- in
order to look at God as actual; continuous movement, universal
cause, and interchangeable force. This was pantheism, but the
Schools were pantheist; at least as pantheistic as the Energetik
of the Germans; and their deity was the ultimate energy, whose
thought and act were one.

  Rid of man and his mind, the universe of Thomas Aquinas seemed
rather more scientific than that of Haeckel or Ernst Mach.
Contradiction for contradiction, Attraction for attraction,
Energy for energy, St. Thomas's idea of God had merits. Modern
science offered not a vestige of proof, or a theory of connection
between its forces, or any scheme of reconciliation between
thought and mechanics; while St. Thomas at least linked together
the joints of his machine. As far as a superficial student could
follow, the thirteenth century supposed mind to be a mode of
force directly derived from the intelligent prime motor, and the
cause of all form and sequence in the universe -- therefore the
only proof of unity. Without thought in the unit, there could be
no unity; without unity no orderly sequence or ordered society.
Thought alone was Form. Mind and Unity flourished or perished

  This education startled even a man who had dabbled in fifty
educations all over the world; for, if he were obliged to insist
on a Universe, he seemed driven to the Church. Modern science
guaranteed no unity. The student seemed to feel himself, like all
his predecessors, caught, trapped, meshed in this eternal
drag-net of religion. 

  In practice the student escapes this dilemma in two ways: the
first is that of ignoring it, as one escapes most dilemmas; the
second is that the Church rejects pantheism as worse than
atheism, and will have nothing to do with the pantheist at any
price. In wandering through the forests of ignorance, one
necessarily fell upon the famous old bear that scared children at
play; but, even had the animal shown more logic than its victim,
one had learned from Socrates to distrust, above all other traps,
the trap of logic -- the mirror of the mind. Yet the search for a
unit of force led into catacombs of thought where hundreds of
thousands of educations had found their end. Generation after
generation of painful and honest-minded scholars had been content
to stay in these labyrinths forever, pursuing ignorance in
silence, in company with the most famous teachers of all time.
Not one of them had ever found a logical highroad of escape.

  Adams cared little whether he escaped or not, but he felt clear
that he could not stop there, even to enjoy the society of
Spinoza and Thomas Aquinas. True, the Church alone had asserted
unity with any conviction, and the historian alone knew what
oceans of blood and treasure the assertion had cost; but the only
honest alternative to affirming unity was to deny it; and the
denial would require a new education. At sixty-five years old a
new education promised hardly more than the old. 
Possibly the modern legislator or magistrate might no longer know
enough to treat as the Church did the man who denied unity,
unless the denial took the form of a bomb; but no teacher would
know how to explain what he thought he meant by denying unity.
Society would certainly punish the denial if ever any one learned
enough to understand it. Philosophers, as a rule, cared little
what principles society affirmed or denied, since the philosopher
commonly held that though he might sometimes be right by good
luck on some one point, no complex of individual opinions could
possibly be anything but wrong; yet, supposing society to be
ignored, the philosopher was no further forward. Nihilism had no
bottom. For thousands of years every philosopher had stood on the
shore of this sunless sea, diving for pearls and never finding
them. All had seen that, since they could not find bottom, they
must assume it. The Church claimed to have found it, but, since
1450, motives for agreeing on some new assumption of Unity,
broader and deeper than that of the Church, had doubled in force
until even the universities and schools, like the Church and
State, seemed about to be driven into an attempt to educate,
though specially forbidden to do it.

  Like most of his generation, Adams had taken the word of
science that the new unit was as good as found. It would not be
an intelligence -- probably not even a consciousness -- but it
would serve. He passed sixty years waiting for it, and at the end
of that time, on reviewing the ground, he was led to think that
the final synthesis of science and its ultimate triumph was the
kinetic theory of gases; which seemed to cover all motion in
space, and to furnish the measure of time. So far as he
understood it, the theory asserted that any portion of space is
occupied by molecules of gas, flying in right lines at velocities
varying up to a mile in a second, and colliding with each other
at intervals varying up to 17,750,000 times in a second. To this
analysis -- if one understood it right -- all matter whatever was
reducible, and the only difference of opinion in science regarded
the doubt whether a still deeper analysis would reduce the atom
of gas to pure motion.

  Thus, unless one mistook the meaning of motion, which might
well be, the scientific synthesis commonly called Unity was the
scientific analysis commonly called Multiplicity. The two things
were the same, all forms being shifting phases of motion.
Granting this ocean of colliding atoms, the last hope of
humanity, what happened if one dropped the sounder into the abyss
-- let it go -- frankly gave up Unity altogether? What was Unity?
Why was one to be forced to affirm it? 

  Here everybody flatly refused help. Science seemed content with
its old phrase of "larger synthesis," which was well enough for
science, but meant chaos for man. One would have been glad to
stop and ask no more, but the anarchist bomb bade one go on, and
the bomb is a powerful persuader. One could not stop, even to
enjoy the charms of a perfect gas colliding seventeen million
times in a second, much like an automobile in Paris. Science
itself had been crowded so close to the edge of the abyss that
its attempts to escape were as metaphysical as the leap, while an
ignorant old man felt no motive for trying to escape, seeing that
the only escape possible lay in the form of vis a tergo commonly
called Death. He got out his Descartes again; dipped into his
Hume and Berkeley; wrestled anew with his Kant; pondered solemnly
over his Hegel and Schopenhauer and Hartmann; strayed gaily away
with his Greeks -- all merely to ask what Unity meant, and what
happened when one denied it.

  Apparently one never denied it. Every philosopher, whether sane
or insane, naturally affirmed it. The utmost flight of anarchy
seemed to have stopped with the assertion of two principles, and
even these fitted into each other, like good and evil, light and
darkness. Pessimism itself, black as it might be painted, had
been content to turn the universe of contradictions into the
human thought as one Will, and treat it as representation.
Metaphysics insisted on treating the universe as one thought or
treating thought as one universe; and philosophers agreed, like a
kinetic gas, that the universe could be known only as motion of
mind, and therefore as unity. One could know it only as one's
self; it was psychology.

  Of all forms of pessimism, the metaphysical form was, for a
historian, the least enticing. Of all studies, the one he would
rather have avoided was that of his own mind. He knew no tragedy
so heartrending as introspection, and the more, because -- as
Mephistopheles said of Marguerite -- he was not the first. Nearly
all the highest intelligence known to history had drowned itself
in the reflection of its own thought, and the bovine survivors
had rudely told the truth about it, without affecting the
intelligent. One's own time had not been exempt. Even since 1870
friends by scores had fallen victims to it. Within
five-and-twenty years, a new library had grown out of it. Harvard
College was a focus of the study; France supported hospitals for
it; England published magazines of it. Nothing was easier than to
take one's mind in one's hand, and ask one's psychological
friends what they made of it, and the more because it mattered so
little to either party, since their minds, whatever they were,
had pretty nearly ceased to reflect, and let them do what they
liked with the small remnant, they could scarcely do anything
very new with it. All one asked was to learn what they hoped to

  Unfortunately the pursuit of ignorance in silence had, by this
time, led the weary pilgrim into such mountains of ignorance that
he could no longer see any path whatever, and could not even
understand a signpost. He failed to fathom the depths of the new
psychology, which proved to him that, on that side as on the
mathematical side, his power of thought was atrophied, if,
indeed, it ever existed. Since he could not fathom the science,
he could only ask the simplest of questions: Did the new
psychology hold that the IvXn -- soul or mind -- was or was not a
unit? He gathered from the books that the psychologists had, in a
few cases, distinguished several personalities in the same mind,
each conscious and constant, individual and exclusive. The fact
seemed scarcely surprising, since it had been a habit of mind
from earliest recorded time, and equally familiar to the last
acquaintance who had taken a drug or caught a fever, or eaten a
Welsh rarebit before bed; for surely no one could follow the
action of a vivid dream, and still need to be told that the
actors evoked by his mind were not himself, but quite unknown to
all he had ever recognized as self. The new psychology went
further, and seemed convinced that it had actually split
personality not only into dualism, but also into complex groups,
like telephonic centres and systems, that might be isolated and
called up at will, and whose physical action might be occult in
the sense of strangeness to any known form of force. Dualism
seemed to have become as common as binary stars. Alternating
personalities turned up constantly, even among one's friends. The
facts seemed certain, or at least as certain as other facts; all
they needed was explanation. 

  This was not the business of the searcher of ignorance, who
felt himself in no way responsible for causes. To his mind, the
compound IvXn took at once the form of a bicycle-rider,
mechanically balancing himself by inhibiting all his inferior
personalities, and sure to fall into the sub-conscious chaos
below, if one of his inferior personalities got on top. The only
absolute truth was the sub-conscious chaos below. which every one
could feel when he sought it. 

  Whether the psychologists admitted it or not, mattered little
to the student who, by the law of his profession, was engaged in
studying his own mind. On him, the effect was surprising. He woke
up with a shudder as though he had himself fallen off his
bicycle. If his mind were really this sort of magnet,
mechanically dispersing its lines of force when it went to sleep,
and mechanically orienting them when it woke up -- which was
normal, the dispersion or orientation? The mind, like the body,
kept its unity unless it happened to lose balance, but the
professor of physics, who slipped on a pavement and hurt himself,
knew no more than an idiot what knocked him down, though he did
know -- what the idiot could hardly do -- that his normal
condition was idiocy, or want of balance, and that his sanity was
unstable artifice. His normal thought was dispersion, sleep,
dream, inconsequence; the simultaneous action of different
thought-centres without central control. His artificial balance
was acquired habit. He was an acrobat, with a dwarf on his back,
crossing a chasm on a slack-rope, and commonly breaking his neck.

  By that path of newest science, one saw no unity ahead --
nothing but a dissolving mind -- and the historian felt himself
driven back on thought as one continuous Force, without Race,
Sex, School, Country, or Church. This has been always the fate of
rigorous thinkers, and has always succeeded in making them
famous, as it did Gibbon, Buckle, and Auguste Comte. Their method
made what progress the science of history knew, which was little
enough, but they did at last fix the law that, if history ever
meant to correct the errors she made in detail, she must agree on
a scale for the whole. Every local historian might defy this law
till history ended, but its necessity would be the same for man
as for space or time or force, and without it the historian would
always remain a child in science.

  Any schoolboy could see that man as a force must be measured by
motion, from a fixed point. Psychology helped here by suggesting
a unit -- the point of history when man held the highest idea of
himself as a unit in a unified universe. Eight or ten years of
study had led Adams to think he might use the century 1150-1250,
expressed in Amiens Cathedral and the Works of Thomas Aquinas, as
the unit from which he might measure motion down to his own time,
without assuming anything as true or untrue, except relation. The
movement might be studied at once in philosophy and mechanics.
Setting himself to the task, he began a volume which he mentally
knew as "Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres: a Study of
Thirteenth-Century Unity." From that point he proposed to fix a
position for himself, which he could label: "The Education of
Henry Adams: a Study of Twentieth-Century Multiplicity." With the
help of these two points of relation, he hoped to project his
lines forward and backward indefinitely, subject to correction
from any one who should know better. Thereupon, he sailed for



  WASHINGTON was always amusing, but in 1900, as in 1800, its
chief interest lay in its distance from New York. The movement of
New York had become planetary -- beyond control -- while the task
of Washington, in 1900 as in 1800, was to control it. The success
of Washington in the past century promised ill for its success in
the next.

  To a student who had passed the best years of his life in
pondering over the political philosophy of Jefferson, Gallatin,
and Madison, the problem that Roosevelt took in hand seemed alive
with historical interest, but it would need at least another
half-century to show its results. As yet, one could not measure
the forces or their arrangement; the forces had not even aligned
themselves except in foreign affairs; and there one turned to
seek the channel of wisdom as naturally as though Washington did
not exist. The President could do nothing effectual in foreign
affairs, but at least he could see something of the field. 

  Hay had reached the summit of his career, and saw himself on
the edge of wreck. Committed to the task of keeping China "open,"
he saw China about to be shut. Almost alone in the world, he
represented the "open door," and could not escape being crushed
by it. Yet luck had been with him in full tide. Though Sir Julian
Pauncefote had died in May, 1902, after carrying out tasks that
filled an ex-private secretary of 1861 with open-mouthed
astonishment, Hay had been helped by the appointment of Michael
Herbert as his successor, who counted for double the value of an
ordinary diplomat. To reduce friction is the chief use of
friendship, and in politics the loss by friction is outrageous.
To Herbert and his wife, the small knot of houses that seemed to
give a vague unity to foreign affairs opened their doors and
their hearts, for the Herberts were already at home there; and
this personal sympathy prolonged Hay's life, for it not only
eased the effort of endurance, but it also led directly to a
revolution in Germany. Down to that moment, the Kaiser, rightly
or wrongly, had counted as the ally of the Czar in all matters
relating to the East. Holleben and Cassini were taken to be a
single force in Eastern affairs, and this supposed alliance gave
Hay no little anxiety and some trouble. Suddenly Holleben, who
seemed to have had no thought but to obey with almost agonized
anxiety the least hint of the Kaiser's will, received a telegram
ordering him to pretext illness and come home, which he obeyed
within four-and-twenty hours. The ways of the German Foreign
Office had been always abrupt, not to say ruthless, towards its
agents, and yet commonly some discontent had been shown as
excuse; but, in this case, no cause was guessed for Holleben's
disgrace except the Kaiser's wish to have a personal
representative at Washington. Breaking down all precedent, he
sent Speck von Sternburg to counterbalance Herbert.

  Welcome as Speck was in the same social intimacy, and valuable
as his presence was to Hay, the personal gain was trifling
compared with the political. Of Hay's official tasks, one knew no
more than any newspaper reporter did, but of one's own diplomatic
education the successive steps had become strides. The scholar
was studying, not on Hay's account, but on his own. He had seen
Hay, in 1898, bring England into his combine; he had seen the
steady movement which was to bring France back into an Atlantic
system; and now he saw suddenly the dramatic swing of Germany
towards the west -- the movement of all others nearest
mathematical certainty. Whether the Kaiser meant it or not, he
gave the effect of meaning to assert his independence of Russia,
and to Hay this change of front had enormous value. The least was
that it seemed to isolate Cassini, and unmask the Russian
movement which became more threatening every month as the
Manchurian scheme had to be revealed.

  Of course the student saw whole continents of study opened to
him by the Kaiser's coup d'etat. Carefully as he had tried to
follow the Kaiser's career, he had never suspected such
refinement of policy, which raised his opinion of the Kaiser's
ability to the highest point, and altogether upset the centre of
statesmanship. That Germany could be so quickly detached from
separate objects and brought into an Atlantic system seemed a
paradox more paradoxical than any that one's education had yet
offered, though it had offered little but paradox. If Germany
could be held there, a century of friction would be saved. No
price would be too great for such an object; although no price
could probably be wrung out of Congress as equivalent for it. The
Kaiser, by one personal act of energy, freed Hay's hands so
completely that he saw his problems simplified to Russia alone. 

  Naturally Russia was a problem ten times as difficult. The
history of Europe for two hundred years had accomplished little
but to state one or two sides of the Russian problem. One's year
of Berlin in youth, though it taught no Civil Law, had opened
one's eyes to the Russian enigma, and both German and French
historians had labored over its proportions with a sort of
fascinated horror. Germany, of all countries, was most vitally
concerned in it; but even a cave-dweller in La Fayette Square,
seeking only a measure of motion since the Crusades, saw before
his eyes, in the spring of 1903, a survey of future order or
anarchy that would exhaust the power of his telescopes and defy
the accuracy of his theodolites. 

  The drama had become passionately interesting and grew every
day more Byzantine; for the Russian Government itself showed
clear signs of dislocation, and the orders of Lamsdorf and de
Witte were reversed when applied in Manchuria. Historians and
students should have no sympathies or antipathies, but Adams had
private reasons for wishing well to the Czar and his people. At
much length, in several labored chapters of history, he had told
how the personal friendliness of the Czar Alexander I, in 1810,
saved the fortunes of J. Q. Adams. and opened to him the
brilliant diplomatic career that ended in the White House. Even
in his own effaced existence he had reasons, not altogether
trivial, for gratitude to the Czar Alexander II, whose firm
neutrality had saved him some terribly anxious days and nights in
1862; while he had seen enough of Russia to sympathize warmly
with Prince Khilkoff's railways and de Witte's industries. The
last and highest triumph of history would, to his mind, be the
bringing of Russia into the Atlantic combine, and the just and
fair allotment of the whole world among the regulated activities
of the universe. At the rate of unification since 1840, this end
should be possible within another sixty years; and, in foresight
of that point, Adams could already finish -- provisionally -- his
chart of international unity; but, for the moment, the gravest
doubts and ignorance covered the whole field. No one -- Czar or
diplomat, Kaiser or Mikado -- seemed to know anything. Through
individual Russians one could always see with ease, for their
diplomacy never suggested depth; and perhaps Hay protected
Cassini for the very reason that Cassini could not disguise an
emotion, and never failed to betray that, in setting the enormous
bulk of Russian inertia to roll over China, he regretted
infinitely that he should have to roll it over Hay too. He would
almost rather have rolled it over de Witte and Lamsdorf. His
political philosophy, like that of all Russians, seemed fixed in
the single idea that Russia must fatally roll -- must, by her
irresistible inertia, crush whatever stood in her way. 

  For Hay and his pooling policy, inherited from McKinley, the
fatalism of Russian inertia meant the failure of American
intensity. When Russia rolled over a neighboring people, she
absorbed their energies in her own movement of custom and race
which neither Czar nor peasant could convert, or wished to
convert, into any Western equivalent. In 1903 Hay saw Russia
knocking away the last blocks that held back the launch of this
huge mass into the China Sea. The vast force of inertia known as
China was to be united with the huge bulk of Russia in a single
mass which no amount of new force could henceforward deflect. Had
the Russian Government, with the sharpest sense of enlightenment,
employed scores of de Wittes and Khilkoffs, and borrowed all the
resources of Europe, it could not have lifted such a weight; and
had no idea of trying. 

  These were the positions charted on the map of political unity
by an insect in Washington in the spring of 1903; and they seemed
to him fixed. Russia held Europe and America in her grasp, and
Cassini held Hay in his. The Siberian Railway offered checkmate
to all possible opposition. Japan must make the best terms she
could; England must go on receding; America and Germany would
look on at the avalanche. The wall of Russian inertia that barred
Europe across the Baltic, would bar America across the Pacific;
and Hay's policy of the open door would infallibly fail. 

  Thus the game seemed lost, in spite of the Kaiser's brilliant
stroke, and the movement of Russia eastward must drag Germany
after it by its mere mass. To the humble student, the loss of
Hay's game affected only Hay; for himself, the game -- not the
stakes -- was the chief interest; and though want of habit made
him object to read his newspapers blackened -- since he liked to
blacken them himself -- he was in any case condemned to pass but
a short space of time either in Siberia or in Paris, and could
balance his endless columns of calculation equally in either
place. The figures, not the facts, concerned his chart, and he
mused deeply over his next equation. The Atlantic would have to
deal with a vast continental mass of inert motion, like a
glacier, which moved, and consciously moved, by mechanical
gravitation alone. Russia saw herself so, and so must an American
see her; he had no more to do than measure, if he could, the
mass. Was volume or intensity the stronger? What and where was
the vis nova that could hold its own before this prodigious
ice-cap of vis inertiae? What was movement of inertia, and what
its laws?

  Naturally a student knew nothing about mechanical laws, but he
took for granted that he could learn, and went to his books to
ask. He found that the force of inertia had troubled wiser men
than he. The dictionary said that inertia was a property of
matter, by which matter tends, when at rest, to remain so, and,
when in motion, to move on in a straight line. Finding that his
mind refused to imagine itself at rest or in a straight line, he
was forced, as usual, to let it imagine something else; and since
the question concerned the mind, and not matter, he decided from
personal experience that his mind was never at rest, but moved --
when normal -- about something it called a motive, and never
moved without motives to move it. So long as these motives were
habitual, and their attraction regular, the consequent result
might, for convenience, be called movement of inertia, to
distinguish it from movement caused by newer or higher
attraction; but the greater the bulk to move, the greater must be
the force to accelerate or deflect it. 

  This seemed simple as running water; but simplicity is the most
deceitful mistress that ever betrayed man. For years the student
and the professor had gone on complaining that minds were
unequally inert. The inequalities amounted to contrasts. One
class of minds responded only to habit; another only to novelty.
Race classified thought. Class-lists classified mind. No two men
thought alike, and no woman thought like a man. 

  Race-inertia seemed to be fairly constant, and made the chief
trouble in the Russian future. History looked doubtful when asked
whether race-inertia had ever been overcome without destroying
the race in order to reconstruct it; but surely sex-inertia had
never been overcome at all. Of all movements of inertia,
maternity and reproduction are the most typical, and women's
property of moving in a constant line forever is ultimate,
uniting history in its only unbroken and unbreakable sequence.
Whatever else stops, the woman must go on reproducing, as she did
in the Siluria of Pteraspis; sex is a vital condition, and race
only a local one. If the laws of inertia are to be sought
anywhere with certainty, it is in the feminine mind. The American
always ostentatiously ignored sex, and American history mentioned
hardly the name of a woman, while English history handled them as
timidly as though they were a new and undescribed species; but if
the problem of inertia summed up the difficulties of the race
question, it involved that of sex far more deeply, and to
Americans vitally. The task of accelerating or deflecting the
movement of the American woman had interest infinitely greater
than that of any race whatever, Russian or Chinese, Asiatic or

  On this subject, as on the Senate and the banks, Adams was
conscious of having been born an eighteenth-century remainder. As
he grew older, he found that Early Institutions lost their
interest, but that Early Women became a passion. Without
understanding movement of sex, history seemed to him mere
pedantry. So insistent had he become on this side of his subject
that with women he talked of little else, and -- because women's
thought is mostly subconscious and particularly sensitive to
suggestion -- he tried tricks and devices to disclose it. The
woman seldom knows her own thought; she is as curious to
understand herself as the man to understand her, and responds far
more quickly than the man to a sudden idea. Sometimes, at dinner,
one might wait till talk flagged, and then, as mildly as
possible, ask one's liveliest neighbor whether she could explain
why the American woman was a failure. Without an instant's
hesitation, she was sure to answer: "Because the American man is
a failure!" She meant it. 

  Adams owed more to the American woman than to all the American
men he ever heard of, and felt not the smallest call to defend
his sex who seemed able to take care of themselves; but from the
point of view of sex he felt much curiosity to know how far the
woman was right, and, in pursuing this inquiry, he caught the
trick of affirming that the woman was the superior. Apart from
truth, he owed her at least that compliment. The habit led
sometimes to perilous personalities in the sudden give-and-take
of table-talk. This spring, just before sailing for Europe in
May, 1903, he had a message from his sister-in-law, Mrs. Brooks
Adams, to say that she and her sister. Mrs. Lodge, and the
Senator were coming to dinner by way of farewell; Bay Lodge and
his lovely young wife sent word to the same effect; Mrs.
Roosevelt joined the party; and Michael Herbert shyly slipped
down to escape the solitude of his wife's absence. The party were
too intimate for reserve, and they soon fell on Adams's hobby
with derision which stung him to pungent rejoinder: "The American
man is a failure! You are all failures!" he said. "Has not my
sister here more sense than my brother Brooks? Is not Bessie
worth two of Bay? Wouldn't we all elect Mrs. Lodge Senator
against Cabot? Would the President have a ghost of a chance if
Mrs. Roosevelt ran against him? Do you want to stop at the
Embassy, on your way home, and ask which would run it best --
Herbert or his wife?" The men laughed a little -- not much! Each
probably made allowance for his own wife as an unusually superior
woman. Some one afterwards remarked that these half-dozen women
were not a fair average. Adams replied that the half-dozen men
were above all possible average; he could not lay his hands on
another half-dozen their equals. 

  Gay or serious, the question never failed to stir feeling. The
cleverer the woman, the less she denied the failure. She was
bitter at heart about it. She had failed even to hold the family
together, and her children ran away like chickens with their
first feathers; the family was extinct like chivalry. She had
failed not only to create a new society that satisfied her, but
even to hold her own in the old society of Church or State; and
was left, for the most part, with no place but the theatre or
streets to decorate. She might glitter with historical diamonds
and sparkle with wit as brilliant as the gems, in rooms as
splendid as any in Rome at its best; but she saw no one except
her own sex who knew enough to be worth dazzling, or was
competent to pay her intelligent homage. She might have her own
way, without restraint or limit, but she knew not what to do with
herself when free. Never had the world known a more capable or
devoted mother, but at forty her task was over, and she was left
with no stage except that of her old duties, or of Washington
society where she had enjoyed for a hundred years every
advantage, but had created only a medley where nine men out of
ten refused her request to be civilized, and the tenth bored her. 

  On most subjects, one's opinions must defer to science, but on
this, the opinion of a Senator or a Professor, a chairman of a
State Central Committee or a Railway President, is worth less
than that of any woman on Fifth Avenue. The inferiority of man on
this, the most important of all social subjects, is manifest.
Adams had here no occasion to deprecate scientific opinion, since
no woman in the world would have paid the smallest respect to the
opinions of all professors since the serpent. His own object had
little to do with theirs. He was studying the laws of motion, and
had struck two large questions of vital importance to America --
inertia of race and inertia of sex. He had seen Mr. de Witte and
Prince Khilkoff turn artificial energy to the value of three
thousand million dollars, more or less, upon Russian inertia, in
the last twenty years, and he needed to get some idea of the
effects. He had seen artificial energy to the amount of twenty or
five-and-twenty million steam horse-power created in America
since 1840, and as much more economized, which had been socially
turned over to the American woman, she being the chief object of
social expenditure, and the household the only considerable
object of American extravagance. According to scientific notions
of inertia and force, what ought to be the result? 

  In Russia, because of race and bulk, no result had yet shown
itself, but in America the results were evident and undisputed.
The woman had been set free -- volatilized like Clerk Maxwell's
perfect gas; almost brought to the point of explosion, like
steam. One had but to pass a week in Florida, or on any of a
hundred huge ocean steamers, or walk through the Place Vendome,
or join a party of Cook's tourists to Jerusalem, to see that the
woman had been set free; but these swarms were ephemeral like
clouds of butterflies in season, blown away and lost, while the
reproductive sources lay hidden. At Washington, one saw other
swarms as grave gatherings of Dames or Daughters, taking
themselves seriously, or brides fluttering fresh pinions; but all
these shifting visions, unknown before 1840, touched the true
problem slightly and superficially. Behind them, in every city,
town, and farmhouse, were myriads of new types -- or type-writers
-- telephone and telegraph-girls, shop-clerks, factory-hands,
running into millions of millions, and, as classes, unknown to
themselves as to historians. Even the schoolmistresses were
inarticulate. All these new women had been created since 1840;
all were to show their meaning before 1940. 

  Whatever they were, they were not content, as the ephemera
proved; and they were hungry for illusions as ever in the fourth
century of the Church; but this was probably survival, and gave
no hint of the future. The problem remained -- to find out
whether movement of inertia, inherent in function, could take
direction except in lines of inertia. This problem needed to be
solved in one generation of American women, and was the most
vital of all problems of force. 

  The American woman at her best -- like most other women --
exerted great charm on the man, but not the charm of a primitive
type. She appeared as the result of a long series of discards,
and her chief interest lay in what she had discarded. When
closely watched, she seemed making a violent effort to follow the
man, who had turned his mind and hand to mechanics. The typical
American man had his hand on a lever and his eye on a curve in
his road; his living depended on keeping up an average speed of
forty miles an hour, tending always to become sixty, eighty, or a
hundred, and he could not admit emotions or anxieties or
subconscious distractions, more than he could admit whiskey or
drugs, without breaking his neck. He could not run his machine
and a woman too; he must leave her; even though his wife, to find
her own way, and all the world saw her trying to find her way by
imitating him. 

  The result was often tragic, but that was no new thing in
feminine history. Tragedy had been woman's lot since Eve. Her
problem had been always one of physical strength and it was as
physical perfection of force that her Venus had governed nature.
The woman's force had counted as inertia of rotation, and her
axis of rotation had been the cradle and the family. The idea
that she was weak revolted all history; it was a palaeontological
falsehood that even an Eocene female monkey would have laughed
at; but it was surely true that, if her force were to be diverted
from its axis, it must find a new field, and the family must pay
for it. So far as she succeeded, she must become sexless like the
bees, and must leave the old energy of inertia to carry on the

  The story was not new. For thousands of years women had
rebelled. They had made a fortress of religion -- had buried
themselves in the cloister, in self-sacrifice, in good works --
or even in bad. One's studies in the twelfth century, like one's
studies in the fourth, as in Homeric and archaic time, showed her
always busy in the illusions of heaven or of hell -- ambition,
intrigue, jealousy, magic -- but the American woman had no
illusions or ambitions or new resources, and nothing to rebel
against, except her own maternity; yet the rebels increased by
millions from year to year till they blocked the path of
rebellion. Even her field of good works was narrower than in the
twelfth century. Socialism, communism, collectivism,
philosophical anarchism, which promised paradise on earth for
every male, cut off the few avenues of escape which capitalism
had opened to the woman, and she saw before her only the future
reserved for machine-made, collectivist females.

  From the male, she could look for no help; his instinct of
power was blind. The Church had known more about women than
science will ever know, and the historian who studied the sources
of Christianity felt sometimes convinced that the Church had been
made by the woman chiefly as her protest against man. At times,
the historian would have been almost willing to maintain that the
man had overthrown the Church chiefly because it was feminine.
After the overthrow of the Church, the woman had no refuge except
such as the man created for himself. She was free; she had no
illusions; she was sexless; she had discarded all that the male
disliked; and although she secretly regretted the discard, she
knew that she could not go backward. She must, like the man,
marry machinery. Already the American man sometimes felt surprise
at finding himself regarded as sexless; the American woman was
oftener surprised at finding herself regarded as sexual.

  No honest historian can take part with -- or against -- the
forces he has to study. To him even the extinction of the human
race should be merely a fact to be grouped with other vital
statistics. No doubt every one in society discussed the subject,
impelled by President Roosevelt if by nothing else, and the
surface current of social opinion seemed set as strongly in one
direction as the silent undercurrent of social action ran in the
other; but the truth lay somewhere unconscious in the woman's
breast. An elderly man, trying only to learn the law of social
inertia and the limits of social divergence could not compel the
Superintendent of the Census to ask every young woman whether she
wanted children, and how many; he could not even require of an
octogenarian Senate the passage of a law obliging every woman,
married or not, to bear one baby -- at the expense of the
Treasury -- before she was thirty years old, under penalty of
solitary confinement for life; yet these were vital statistics in
more senses than all that bore the name, and tended more directly
to the foundation of a serious society in the future. He could
draw no conclusions whatever except from the birth-rate. He could
not frankly discuss the matter with the young women themselves,
although they would have gladly discussed it, because Faust was
helpless in the tragedy of woman. He could suggest nothing. The
Marguerite of the future could alone decide whether she were
better off than the Marguerite of the past; whether she would
rather be victim to a man, a church, or a machine. 

  Between these various forms of inevitable inertia -- sex and
race -- the student of multiplicity felt inclined to admit that
-- ignorance against ignorance -- the Russian problem seemed to
him somewhat easier of treatment than the American. Inertia of
race and bulk would require an immense force to overcome it, but
in time it might perhaps be partially overcome. Inertia of sex
could not be overcome without extinguishing the race, yet an
immense force, doubling every few years, was working irresistibly
to overcome it. One gazed mute before this ocean of darkest
ignorance that had already engulfed society. Few centres of great
energy lived in illusion more complete or archaic than Washington
with its simple-minded standards of the field and farm, its
Southern and Western habits of life and manners, its assumptions
of ethics and history; but even in Washington, society was uneasy
enough to need no further fretting. One was almost glad to act
the part of horseshoe crab in Quincy Bay, and admit that all was
uniform -- that nothing ever changed -- and that the woman would
swim about the ocean of future time, as she had swum in the past,
with the gar-fish and the shark, unable to change. 



  OF all the travels made by man since the voyages of Dante, this
new exploration along the shores of Multiplicity and Complexity
promised to be the longest, though as yet it had barely touched
two familiar regions -- race and sex. Even within these narrow
seas the navigator lost his bearings and followed the winds as
they blew. By chance it happened that Raphael Pumpelly helped the
winds; for, being in Washington on his way to Central Asia he
fell to talking with Adams about these matters, and said that
Willard Gibbs thought he got most help from a book called the
"Grammar of Science," by Karl Pearson. To Adams's vision, Willard
Gibbs stood on the same plane with the three or four greatest
minds of his century, and the idea that a man so incomparably
superior should find help anywhere filled him with wonder. He
sent for the volume and read it. From the time he sailed for
Europe and reached his den on the Avenue du Bois until he took
his return steamer at Cherbourg on December 26, he did little but
try to kind out what Karl Pearson could have taught Willard

  Here came in, more than ever, the fatal handicap of ignorance
in mathematics. Not so much the actual tool was needed, as the
right to judge the product of the tool. Ignorant as one was of
the finer values of French or German, and often deceived by the
intricacies of thought hidden in the muddiness of the medium, one
could sometimes catch a tendency to intelligible meaning even in
Kant or Hegel; but one had not the right to a suspicion of error
where the tool of thought was algebra. Adams could see in such
parts of the "Grammar" as he could understand, little more than
an enlargement of Stallo's book already twenty years old. He
never found out what it could have taught a master like Willard
Gibbs. Yet the book had a historical value out of all proportion
to its science. No such stride had any Englishman before taken in
the lines of English thought. The progress of science was
measured by the success of the "Grammar," when, for twenty years
past, Stallo had been deliberately ignored under the usual
conspiracy of silence inevitable to all thought which demands new
thought-machinery. Science needs time to reconstruct its
instruments, to follow a revolution in space; a certain lag is
inevitable; the most active mind cannot instantly swerve from its
path; but such revolutions are portentous, and the fall or rise
of half-a-dozen empires interested a student of history less than
the rise of the "Grammar of Science," the more pressingly
because, under the silent influence of Langley, he was prepared
to expect it. 

  For a number of years Langley had published in his Smithsonian
Reports the revolutionary papers that foretold the overthrow of
nineteenth-century dogma, and among the first was the famous
address of Sir William Crookes on psychical research, followed by
a series of papers on Roentgen and Curie, which had steadily
driven the scientific lawgivers of Unity into the open; but Karl
Pearson was the first to pen them up for slaughter in the
schools. The phrase is not stronger than that with which the
"Grammar of Science" challenged the fight: "Anything more
hopelessly illogical than the statements with regard to Force and
Matter current in elementary textbooks of science, it is
difficult to imagine," opened Mr. Pearson, and the responsible
author of the "elementary textbook," as he went on to explain,
was Lord Kelvin himself. Pearson shut out of science everything
which the nineteenth century had brought into it. He told his
scholars that they must put up with a fraction of the universe,
and a very small fraction at that -- the circle reached by the
senses, where sequence could be taken for granted -- much as the
deep-sea fish takes for granted the circle of light which he
generates. "Order and reason, beauty and benevolence, are
characteristics and conceptions which we find solely associated
with the mind of man." The assertion, as a broad truth, left
one's mind in some doubt of its bearing, for order and beauty
seemed to be associated also in the mind of a crystal, if one's
senses were to be admitted as judge; but the historian had no
interest in the universal truth of Pearson's or Kelvin's or
Newton's laws; he sought only their relative drift or direction,
and Pearson went on to say that these conceptions must stop:
"Into the chaos beyond sense-impressions we cannot scientifically
project them." We cannot even infer them: "In the chaos behind
sensations, in the 'beyond' of sense-impressions, we cannot infer
necessity, order or routine, for these are concepts formed by the
mind of man on this side of sense-impressions"; but we must infer
chaos: "Briefly chaos is all that science can logically assert of
the supersensuous." The kinetic theory of gas is an assertion of
ultimate chaos. In plain words, Chaos was the law of nature;
Order was the dream of man.

  No one means all he says, and yet very few say all they mean,
for words are slippery and thought is viscous; but since Bacon
and Newton, English thought had gone on impatiently protesting
that no one must try to know the unknowable at the same time that
every one went on thinking about it. The result was as chaotic as
kinetic gas; but with the thought a historian had nothing to do.
He sought only its direction. For himself he knew, that, in spite
of all the Englishmen that ever lived, he would be forced to
enter supersensual chaos if he meant to find out what became of
British science -- or indeed of any other science. From
Pythagoras to Herbert Spencer, every one had done it, although
commonly science had explored an ocean which it preferred to
regard as Unity or a Universe, and called Order. Even Hegel, who
taught that every notion included its own negation, used the
negation only to reach a "larger synthesis," till he reached the
universal which thinks itself, contradiction and all. The Church
alone had constantly protested that anarchy was not order, that
Satan was not God, that pantheism was worse than atheism, and
that Unity could not be proved as a contradiction. Karl Pearson
seemed to agree with the Church, but every one else, including
Newton, Darwin and Clerk Maxwell, had sailed gaily into the
supersensual, calling it: -- 

  "One God, one Law, one Element,
   And one far-off, divine event,
   To which the whole creation moves."

  Suddenly, in 1900, science raised its head and denied.

  Yet, perhaps, after all, the change had not been so sudden as
it seemed. Real and actual, it certainly was, and every newspaper
betrayed it, but sequence could scarcely be denied by one who had
watched its steady approach, thinking the change far more
interesting to history than the thought. When he reflected about
it, he recalled that the flow of tide had shown itself at least
twenty years before; that it had become marked as early as 1893;
and that the man of science must have been sleepy indeed who did
not jump from his chair like a scared dog when, in 1898, Mme.
Curie threw on his desk the metaphysical bomb she called radium.
There remained no hole to hide in. Even metaphysics swept back
over science with the green water of the deep-sea ocean and no
one could longer hope to bar out the unknowable, for the
unknowable was known.

  The fact was admitted that the uniformitarians of one's youth
had wound about their universe a tangle of contradictions meant
only for temporary support to be merged in "larger synthesis,"
and had waited for the larger synthesis in silence and in vain.
They had refused to hear Stallo. They had betrayed little
interest in Crookes. At last their universe had been wrecked by
rays, and Karl Pearson undertook to cut the wreck loose with an
axe, leaving science adrift on a sensual raft in the midst of a
supersensual chaos. The confusion seemed, to a mere passenger,
worse than that of 1600 when the astronomers upset the world; it
resembled rather the convulsion of 310 when the Civitas Dei cut
itself loose from the Civitas Romae, and the Cross took the place
of the legions; but the historian accepted it all alike; he knew
that his opinion was worthless; only, in this case, he found
himself on the raft, personally and economically concerned in its

  English thought had always been chaos and multiplicity itself,
in which the new step of Karl Pearson marked only a consistent
progress; but German thought had affected system, unity, and
abstract truth, to a point that fretted the most patient
foreigner, and to Germany the voyager in strange seas of thought
alone might resort with confident hope of renewing his youth.
Turning his back on Karl Pearson and England, he plunged into
Germany, and had scarcely crossed the Rhine when he fell into
libraries of new works bearing the names of Ostwald, Ernst Mach,
Ernst Haeckel, and others less familiar, among whom Haeckel was
easiest to approach, not only because of being the oldest and
clearest and steadiest spokesman of nineteenth-century mechanical
convictions, but also because in 1902 he had published a vehement
renewal of his faith. The volume contained only one paragraph
that concerned a historian; it was that in which Haeckel sank his
voice almost to a religious whisper in avowing with evident
effort, that the "proper essence of substance appeared to him
more and more marvellous and enigmatic as he penetrated further
into the knowledge of its attributes -- matter and energy -- and
as he learned to know their innumerable phenomena and their
evolution." Since Haeckel seemed to have begun the voyage into
multiplicity that Pearson had forbidden to Englishmen, he should
have been a safe pilot to the point, at least, of a "proper
essence of substance" in its attributes of matter and energy: but
Ernst Mach seemed to go yet one step further, for he rejected
matter altogether, and admitted but two processes in nature --
change of place and interconversion of forms. Matter was Motion
-- Motion was Matter -- the thing moved.

  A student of history had no need to understand these scientific
ideas of very great men; he sought only the relation with the
ideas of their grandfathers, and their common direction towards
the ideas of their grandsons. He had long ago reached, with
Hegel, the limits of contradiction; and Ernst Mach scarcely added
a shade of variety to the identity of opposites; but both of them
seemed to be in agreement with Karl Pearson on the facts of the
supersensual universe which could be known only as unknowable.

  With a deep sigh of relief, the traveller turned back to
France. There he felt safe. No Frenchman except Rabelais and
Montaigne had ever taught anarchy other than as path to order.
Chaos would be unity in Paris even if child of the guillotine. To
make this assurance mathematically sure, the highest scientific
authority in France was a great mathematician, M. Poincare of the
Institut, who published in 1902 a small volume called "La Science
et l'Hypothese," which purported to be relatively readable.
Trusting to its external appearance, the traveller timidly bought
it, and greedily devoured it, without understanding a single
consecutive page, but catching here and there a period that
startled him to the depths of his ignorance, for they seemed to
show that M. Poincare was troubled by the same historical
landmarks which guided or deluded Adams himself: "[In science] we
are led," said M. Poincare, " to act as though a simple law, when
other things were equal, must be more probable than a complicated
law. Half a century ago one frankly confessed it, and proclaimed
that nature loves simplicity. She has since given us too often
the lie. To-day this tendency is no longer avowed, and only as
much of it is preserved as is indispensable so that science shall
not become impossible." 

  Here at last was a fixed point beyond the chance of confusion
with self-suggestion. History and mathematics agreed. Had M.
Poincare shown anarchistic tastes, his evidence would have
weighed less heavily; but he seemed to be the only authority in
science who felt what a historian felt so strongly -- the need of
unity in a universe. "Considering everything we have made some
approach towards unity. We have not gone as fast as we hoped
fifty years ago; we have not always taken the intended road; but
definitely we have gained much ground." This was the most clear
and convincing evidence of progress yet offered to the navigator
of ignorance; but suddenly he fell on another view which seemed
to him quite irreconcilable with the first: "Doubtless if our
means of investigation should become more and more penetrating,
we should discover the simple under the complex; then the complex
under the simple; then anew the simple under the complex; and so
on without ever being able to foresee the last term."

  A mathematical paradise of endless displacement promised
eternal bliss to the mathematician, but turned the historian
green with horror. Made miserable by the thought that he knew no
mathematics, he burned to ask whether M. Poincare knew any
history, since he began by begging the historical question
altogether, and assuming that the past showed alternating phases
of simple and complex -- the precise point that Adams, after
fifty years of effort, found himself forced to surrender; and
then going on to assume alternating phases for the future which,
for the weary Titan of Unity, differed in nothing essential from
the kinetic theory of a perfect gas.

  Since monkeys first began to chatter in trees, neither man nor
beast had ever denied or doubted Multiplicity, Diversity,
Complexity, Anarchy, Chaos. Always and everywhere the Complex had
been true and the Contradiction had been certain. Thought started
by it. Mathematics itself began by counting one -- two -- three;
then imagining their continuity, which M. Poincare was still
exhausting his wits to explain or defend; and this was his
explanation: "In short, the mind has the faculty of creating
symbols, and it is thus that it has constructed mathematical
continuity which is only a particular system of symbols." With
the same light touch, more destructive in its artistic measure
than the heaviest-handed brutality of Englishmen or Germans, he
went on to upset relative truth itself: "How should I answer the
question whether Euclidian Geometry is true? It has no sense! . .
. Euclidian Geometry is, and will remain, the most convenient."

  Chaos was a primary fact even in Paris -- especially in Paris
-- as it was in the Book of Genesis; but every thinking being in
Paris or out of it had exhausted thought in the effort to prove
Unity, Continuity, Purpose, Order, Law, Truth, the Universe, God,
after having begun by taking it for granted, and discovering, to
their profound dismay, that some minds denied it. The direction
of mind, as a single force of nature, had been constant since
history began. Its own unity had created a universe the essence
of which was abstract Truth; the Absolute; God! To Thomas
Aquinas, the universe was still a person; to Spinoza, a
substance; to Kant, Truth was the essence of the "I"; an innate
conviction; a categorical imperative; to Poincare, it was a
convenience; and to Karl Pearson, a medium of exchange.

  The historian never stopped repeating to himself that he knew
nothing about it; that he was a mere instrument of measure, a
barometer, pedometer, radiometer; and that his whole share in the
matter was restricted to the measurement of thought-motion as
marked by the accepted thinkers. He took their facts for granted.
He knew no more than a firefly about rays -- or about race -- or
sex -- or ennui -- or a bar of music -- or a pang of love -- or a
grain of musk -- or of phosphorus -- or conscience -- or duty --
or the force of Euclidian geometry -- or non-Euclidian -- or heat
-- or light -- or osmosis -- or electrolysis -- or the magnet --
or ether -- or vis inertiae -- or gravitation -- or cohesion --
or elasticity -- or surface tension -- or capillary attraction --
or Brownian motion -- or of some scores, or thousands, or
millions of chemical attractions, repulsions or indifferences
which were busy within and without him; or, in brief, of Force
itself, which, he was credibly informed, bore some dozen
definitions in the textbooks, mostly contradictory, and all, as
he was assured, beyond his intelligence; but summed up in the
dictum of the last and highest science, that Motion seems to be
Matter and Matter seems to be Motion, yet "we are probably
incapable of discovering" what either is. History had no need to
ask what either might be; all it needed to know was the admission
of ignorance; the mere fact of multiplicity baffling science.
Even as to the fact, science disputed, but radium happened to
radiate something that seemed to explode the scientific magazine,
bringing thought, for the time, to a standstill; though, in the
line of thought-movement in history, radium was merely the next
position, familiar and inexplicable since Zeno and his arrow:
continuous from the beginning of time, and discontinuous at each
successive point. History set it down on the record -- pricked
its position on the chart -- and waited to be led, or misled,
once more. 

  The historian must not try to know what is truth, if he values
his honesty; for, if he cares for his truths, he is certain to
falsify his facts. The laws of history only repeat the lines of
force or thought. Yet though his will be iron, he cannot help now
and then resuming his humanity or simianity in face of a fear.
The motion of thought had the same value as the motion of a
cannon-ball seen approaching the observer on a direct line
through the air. One could watch its curve for five thousand
years. Its first violent acceleration in historical times had
ended in the catastrophe of 310. The next swerve of direction
occurred towards 1500. Galileo and Bacon gave a still newer curve
to it, which altered its values; but all these changes had never
altered the continuity. Only in 1900, the continuity snapped.

  Vaguely conscious of the cataclysm, the world sometimes dated
it from 1893, by the Roentgen rays, or from 1898, by the Curie's
radium; but in 1904, Arthur Balfour announced on the part of
British science that the human race without exception had lived
and died in a world of illusion until the last year of the
century. The date was convenient, and convenience was truth.

  The child born in 1900 would, then, be born into a new world
which would not be a unity but a multiple. Adams tried to imagine
it, and an education that would fit it. He found himself in a
land where no one had ever penetrated before; where order was an
accidental relation obnoxious to nature; artificial compulsion
imposed on motion; against which every free energy of the
universe revolted; and which, being merely occasional, resolved
itself back into anarchy at last. He could not deny that the law
of the new multiverse explained much that had been most obscure,
especially the persistently fiendish treatment of man by man; the
perpetual effort of society to establish law, and the perpetual
revolt of society against the law it had established; the
perpetual building up of authority by force, and the perpetual
appeal to force to overthrow it; the perpetual symbolism of a
higher law, and the perpetual relapse to a lower one; the
perpetual victory of the principles of freedom, and their
perpetual conversion into principles of power; but the staggering
problem was the outlook ahead into the despotism of artificial
order which nature abhorred. The physicists had a phrase for it,
unintelligible to the vulgar: "All that we win is a battle --
lost in advance -- with the irreversible phenomena in the
background of nature." 

  All that a historian won was a vehement wish to escape. He saw
his education complete; and was sorry he ever began it. As a
matter of taste, he greatly preferred his eighteenth-century
education when God was a father and nature a mother, and all was
for the best in a scientific universe. He repudiated all share in
the world as it was to be, and yet he could not detect the point
where his responsibility began or ended.

  As history unveiled itself in the new order, man's mind had
behaved like a young pearl oyster, secreting its universe to suit
its conditions until it had built up a shell of nacre that
embodied all its notions of the perfect. Man knew it was true
because he made it, and he loved it for the same reason. He
sacrificed millions of lives to acquire his unity, but he
achieved it, and justly thought it a work of art. The woman
especially did great things, creating her deities on a higher
level than the male, and, in the end, compelling the man to
accept the Virgin as guardian of the man's God. The man's part in
his Universe was secondary, but the woman was at home there, and
sacrificed herself without limit to make it habitable, when man
permitted it, as sometimes happened for brief intervals of war
and famine; but she could not provide protection against forces
of nature. She did not think of her universe as a raft to which
the limpets stuck for life in the surge of a supersensual chaos;
she conceived herself and her family as the centre and flower of
an ordered universe which she knew to be unity because she had
made it after the image of her own fecundity; and this creation
of hers was surrounded by beauties and perfections which she knew
to be real because she herself had imagined them.

  Even the masculine philosopher admired and loved and celebrated
her triumph, and the greatest of them sang it in the noblest of
his verses: -- 

  "Alma Venus, coeli subter labentia signa
   Quae mare navigerum, quae terras frugiferenteis
   Concelebras . . . . . . . 
   Quae quondam rerum naturam sola gubernas,
   Nec sine te quidquam dias in luminis oras 
   Exoritur, neque fit laetum neque amabile quidquam;
   Te sociam studeo!"

  Neither man nor woman ever wanted to quit this Eden of their
own invention, and could no more have done it of their own accord
than the pearl oyster could quit its shell; but although the
oyster might perhaps assimilate or embalm a grain of sand forced
into its aperture, it could only perish in face of the cyclonic
hurricane or the volcanic upheaval of its bed. Her supersensual
chaos killed her. 

  Such seemed the theory of history to be imposed by science on
the generation born after 1900. For this theory, Adams felt
himself in no way responsible. Even as historian he had made it
his duty always to speak with respect of everything that had ever
been thought respectable -- except an occasional statesman; but
he had submitted to force all his life, and he meant to accept it
for the future as for the past. All his efforts had been turned
only to the search for its channel. He never invented his facts;
they were furnished him by the only authorities he could find. As
for himself, according to Helmholz, Ernst Mach, and Arthur
Balfour, he was henceforth to be a conscious ball of vibrating
motions, traversed in every direction by infinite lines of
rotation or vibration, rolling at the feet of the Virgin at
Chartres or of M. Poincare in an attic at Paris, a centre of
supersensual chaos. The discovery did not distress him. A
solitary man of sixty-five years or more, alone in a Gothic
cathedral or a Paris apartment, need fret himself little about a
few illusions more or less. He should have learned his lesson
fifty years earlier; the times had long passed when a student
could stop before chaos or order; he had no choice but to march
with his world.

  Nevertheless, he could not pretend that his mind felt flattered
by this scientific outlook. Every fabulist has told how the human
mind has always struggled like a frightened bird to escape the
chaos which caged it; how -- appearing suddenly and inexplicably
out of some unknown and unimaginable void; passing half its known
life in the mental chaos of sleep; victim even when awake, to its
own ill-adjustment, to disease, to age, to external suggestion,
to nature's compulsion; doubting its sensations, and, in the last
resort, trusting only to instruments and averages -- after sixty
or seventy years of growing astonishment, the mind wakes to find
itself looking blankly into the void of death. That it should
profess itself pleased by this performance was all that the
highest rules of good breeding could ask; but that it should
actually be satisfied would prove that it existed only as idiocy. 

  Satisfied, the future generation could scarcely think itself,
for even when the mind existed in a universe of its own creation,
it had never been quite at ease. As far as one ventured to
interpret actual science, the mind had thus far adjusted itself
by an infinite series of infinitely delicate adjustments forced
on it by the infinite motion of an infinite chaos of motion;
dragged at one moment into the unknowable and unthinkable, then
trying to scramble back within its senses and to bar the chaos
out, but always assimilating bits of it, until at last, in 1900,
a new avalanche of unknown forces had fallen on it, which
required new mental powers to control. If this view was correct,
the mind could gain nothing by flight or by fight; it must merge
in its supersensual multiverse, or succumb to it.


VIS NOVA (1903-1904)

PARIS after midsummer is a place where only the industrious poor
remain, unless they can get away; but Adams knew no spot where
history would be better off, and the calm of the Champs Elysees
was so deep that when Mr. de Witte was promoted to a powerless
dignity, no one whispered that the promotion was disgrace, while
one might have supposed, from the silence, that the Viceroy
Alexeieff had reoccupied Manchuria as a fulfilment of
treaty-obligation. For once, the conspiracy of silence became
crime. Never had so modern and so vital a riddle been put before
Western society, but society shut its eyes. Manchuria knew every
step into war; Japan had completed every preparation; Alexeieff
had collected his army and fleet at Port Arthur, mounting his
siege guns and laying in enormous stores, ready for the expected
attack; from Yokohama to Irkutsk, the whole East was under war
conditions; but Europe knew nothing. The banks would allow no
disturbance; the press said not a word, and even the embassies
were silent. Every anarchist in Europe buzzed excitement and
began to collect in groups, but the Hotel Ritz was calm, and the
Grand Dukes who swarmed there professed to know directly from the
Winter Palace that there would be no war.

  As usual, Adams felt as ignorant as the best-informed
statesman, and though the sense was familiar, for once he could
see that the ignorance was assumed. After nearly fifty years of
experience, he could not understand how the comedy could be so
well acted. Even as late as November, diplomats were gravely
asking every passer-by for his opinion, and avowed none of their
own except what was directly authorized at St. Petersburg. He
could make nothing of it. He found himself in face of his new
problem -- the workings of Russian inertia -- and he could
conceive no way of forming an opinion how much was real and how
much was comedy had he been in the Winter Palace himself. At
times he doubted whether the Grand Dukes or the Czar knew, but
old diplomatic training forbade him to admit such innocence. 

  This was the situation at Christmas when he left Paris. On
January 6, 1904, he reached Washington, where the contrast of
atmosphere astonished him, for he had never before seen his
country think as a world-power. No doubt, Japanese diplomacy had
much to do with this alertness, but the immense superiority of
Japanese diplomacy should have been more evident in Europe than
in America, and in any case, could not account for the total
disappearance of Russian diplomacy. A government by inertia
greatly disconcerted study. One was led to suspect that Cassini
never heard from his Government, and that Lamsdorf knew nothing
of his own department; yet no such suspicion could be admitted.
Cassini resorted to transparent blague: "Japan seemed infatuated
even to the point of war! But what can the Japanese do? As usual,
sit on their heels and pray to Buddha!" One of the oldest and
most accomplished diplomatists in the service could never show
his hand so empty as this if he held a card to play; but he never
betrayed stronger resource behind. "If any Japanese succeed in
entering Manchuria, they will never get out of it alive." The
inertia of Cassini, who was naturally the most energetic of
diplomatists, deeply interested a student of race-inertia, whose
mind had lost itself in the attempt to invent scales of force.

  The air of official Russia seemed most dramatic in the air of
the White House, by contrast with the outspoken candor of the
President. Reticence had no place there. Every one in America saw
that, whether Russia or Japan were victim, one of the decisive
struggles in American history was pending, and any presence of
secrecy or indifference was absurd. Interest was acute, and
curiosity intense, for no one knew what the Russian Government
meant or wanted, while war had become a question of days. To an
impartial student who gravely doubted whether the Czar himself
acted as a conscious force or an inert weight, the
straight-forward avowals of Roosevelt had singular value as a
standard of measure. By chance it happened that Adams was obliged
to take the place of his brother Brooks at the Diplomatic
Reception immediately after his return home, and the part of
proxy included his supping at the President's table, with
Secretary Root on one side, the President opposite, and Miss
Chamberlain between them. Naturally the President talked and the
guests listened; which seemed, to one who had just escaped from
the European conspiracy of silence, like drawing a free breath
after stifling. Roosevelt, as every one knew, was always an
amusing talker, and had the reputation of being indiscreet beyond
any other man of great importance in the world, except the Kaiser
Wilhelm and Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, the father of his guest at
table; and this evening he spared none. With the usual abuse of
the quos ego, common to vigorous statesmen, he said all that he
thought about Russians and Japanese, as well as about Boers and
British, without restraint, in full hearing of twenty people, to
the entire satisfaction of his listener; and concluded by
declaring that war was imminent; that it ought to be stopped;
that it could be stopped: " I could do it myself; I could stop it
to-morrow!" and he went on to explain his reasons for restraint.

  That he was right, and that, within another generation, his
successor would do what he would have liked to do, made no shadow
of doubt in the mind of his hearer, though it would have been
folly when he last supped at the White House in the dynasty of
President Hayes; but the listener cared less for the assertion of
power, than for the vigor of view. The truth was evident enough,
ordinary, even commonplace if one liked, but it was not a truth
of inertia, nor was the method to be mistaken for inert.

  Nor could the force of Japan be mistaken for a moment as a
force of inertia, although its aggressive was taken as
methodically -- as mathematically -- as a demonstration of
Euclid, and Adams thought that as against any but Russians it
would have lost its opening. Each day counted as a measure of
relative energy on the historical scale, and the whole story made
a Grammar of new Science quite as instructive as that of Pearson.

  The forces thus launched were bound to reach some new
equilibrium which would prove the problem in one sense or
another, and the war had no personal value for Adams except that
it gave Hay his last great triumph. He had carried on his long
contest with Cassini so skillfully that no one knew enough to
understand the diplomatic perfection of his work, which contained
no error; but such success is complete only when it is invisible,
and his victory at last was victory of judgment, not of act. He
could do nothing, and the whole country would have sprung on him
had he tried. Japan and England saved his "open door" and fought
his battle. All that remained for him was to make the peace, and
Adams set his heart on getting the peace quickly in hand, for
Hay's sake as well as for that of Russia. He thought then that it
could be done in one campaign, for he knew that, in a military
sense, the fall of Port Arthur must lead to negotiation, and
every one felt that Hay would inevitably direct it; but the race
was close, and while the war grew every day in proportions, Hay's
strength every day declined.

  St. Gaudens came on to model his head, and Sargent painted his
portrait, two steps essential to immortality which he bore with a
certain degree of resignation, but he grumbled when the President
made him go to St. Louis to address some gathering at the
Exposition; and Mrs. Hay bade Adams go with them, for whatever
use he could suppose himself to serve. He professed the religion
of World's Fairs, without which he held education to be a blind
impossibility; and obeyed Mrs. Hay's bidding the more readily
because it united his two educations in one; but theory and
practice were put to equally severe test at St. Louis. Ten years
had passed since he last crossed the Mississippi, and he found
everything new. In this great region from Pittsburgh through Ohio
and Indiana, agriculture had made way for steam; tall chimneys
reeked smoke on every horizon, and dirty suburbs filled with
scrap-iron, scrap-paper and cinders, formed the setting of every
town. Evidently, cleanliness was not to be the birthmark of the
new American, but this matter of discards concerned the measure
of force little, while the chimneys and cinders concerned it so
much that Adams thought the Secretary of State should have rushed
to the platform at every station to ask who were the people; for
the American of the prime seemed to be extinct with the Shawnee
and the buffalo.

  The subject grew quickly delicate. History told little about
these millions of Germans and Slavs, or whatever their
race-names, who had overflowed these regions as though the Rhine
and the Danube had turned their floods into the Ohio. John Hay
was as strange to the Mississippi River as though he had not been
bred on its shores, and the city of St. Louis had turned its back
on the noblest work of nature, leaving it bankrupt between its
own banks. The new American showed his parentage proudly; he was
the child of steam and the brother of the dynamo, and already,
within less than thirty years, this mass of mixed humanities,
brought together by steam, was squeezed and welded into approach
to shape; a product of so much mechanical power, and bearing no
distinctive marks but that of its pressure. The new American,
like the new European, was the servant of the powerhouse, as the
European of the twelfth century was the servant of the Church,
and the features would follow the parentage.

  The St. Louis Exposition was its first creation in the
twentieth century, and, for that reason, acutely interesting. One
saw here a third-rate town of half-a-million people without
history, education, unity, or art, and with little capital --
without even an element of natural interest except the river
which it studiously ignored -- but doing what London, Paris, or
New York would have shrunk from attempting. This new social
conglomerate, with no tie but its steam-power and not much of
that, threw away thirty or forty million dollars on a pageant as
ephemeral as a stage flat. The world had never witnessed so
marvellous a phantasm by night Arabia's crimson sands had never
returned a glow half so astonishing, as one wandered among long
lines of white palaces, exquisitely lighted by thousands on
thousands of electric candles, soft, rich, shadowy, palpable in
their sensuous depths; all in deep silence, profound solitude,
listening for a voice or a foot-fall or the plash of an oar, as
though the Emir Mirza were displaying the beauties of this City
of Brass, which could show nothing half so beautiful as this
illumination, with its vast, white, monumental solitude, bathed
in the pure light of setting suns. One enjoyed it with iniquitous
rapture, not because of exhibits but rather because of their
want. Here was a paradox like the stellar universe that fitted
one's mental faults. Had there been no exhibits at all, and no
visitors, one would have enjoyed it only the more. 

  Here education found new forage. That the power was wasted, the
art indiflerent, the economic failure complete, added just so
much to the interest. The chaos of education approached a dream.
One asked one's self whether this extravagance reflected the past
or imaged the future; whether it was a creation of the old
American or a promise of the new one. No prophet could be
believed, but a pilgrim of power, without constituency to
flatter, might allow himself to hope. The prospect from the
Exposition was pleasant; one seemed to see almost an adequate
motive for power; almost a scheme for progress. In another
half-century, the people of the central valleys should have
hundreds of millions to throw away more easily than in 1900 they
could throw away tens; and by that time they might know what they
wanted. Possibly they might even have learned how to reach it.

  This was an optimist's hope, shared by few except pilgrims of
World's Fairs, and frankly dropped by the multitude, for, east of
the Mississippi, the St. Louis Exposition met a deliberate
conspiracy of silence, discouraging, beyond measure, to an
optimistic dream of future strength in American expression. The
party got back to Washington on May 24, and before sailing for
Europe, Adams went over, one warm evening, to bid good-bye on the
garden-porch of the White House. He found himself the first
person who urged Mrs. Roosevelt to visit the Exposition for its
beauty, and, as far as he ever knew, the last.

  He left St. Louis May 22, 1904, and on Sunday, June 5, found
himself again in the town of Coutances, where the people of
Normandy had built, towards the year 1250, an Exposition which
architects still admired and tourists visited, for it was thought
singularly expressive of force as well as of grace in the Virgin.
On this Sunday, the Norman world was celebrating a pretty
church-feast -- the Fete Dieu -- and the streets were filled with
altars to the Virgin, covered with flowers and foliage; the
pavements strewn with paths of leaves and the spring handiwork of
nature; the cathedral densely thronged at mass. The scene was
graceful. The Virgin did not shut her costly Exposition on
Sunday, or any other day, even to American senators who had shut
the St. Louis Exposition to her -- or for her; and a historical
tramp would gladly have offered a candle, or even a candle-stick
in her honor, if she would have taught him her relation with the
deity of the Senators. The power of the Virgin had been plainly
One, embracing all human activity; while the power of the Senate,
or its deity, seemed -- might one say -- to be more or less
ashamed of man and his work. The matter had no great interest as
far as it concerned the somewhat obscure mental processes of
Senators who could probably have given no clearer idea than
priests of the deity they supposed themselves to honor -- if that
was indeed their purpose; but it interested a student of force,
curious to measure its manifestations. Apparently the Virgin --
or her Son -- had no longer the force to build expositions that
one cared to visit, but had the force to close them. The force
was still real, serious, and, at St. Louis, had been anxiously
measured in actual money-value.

  That it was actual and serious in France as in the Senate
Chamber at Washington, proved itself at once by forcing Adams to
buy an automobile, which was a supreme demonstration because this
was the form of force which Adams most abominated. He had set
aside the summer for study of the Virgin, not as a sentiment but
as a motive power, which had left monuments widely scattered and
not easily reached. The automobile alone could unite them in any
reasonable sequence, and although the force of the automobile,
for the purposes of a commercial traveller, seemed to have no
relation whatever to the force that inspired a Gothic cathedral,
the Virgin in the twelfth century would have guided and
controlled both bag-man and architect, as she controlled the
seeker of history. In his mind the problem offered itself as to
Newton; it was a matter of mutual attraction, and he knew it, in
his own case, to be a formula as precise as s = gt^2/2, if he
could but experimentally prove it. Of the attraction he needed no
proof on his own account; the costs of his automobile were more
than sufficient: but as teacher he needed to speak for others
than himself. For him, the Virgin was an adorable mistress, who
led the automobile and its owner where she would, to her
wonderful palaces and chateaux, from Chartres to Rouen, and
thence to Amiens and Laon, and a score of others, kindly
receiving, amusing, charming and dazzling her lover, as though
she were Aphrodite herself, worth all else that man ever dreamed.
He never doubted her force, since he felt it to the last fibre of
his being, and could not more dispute its mastery than he could
dispute the force of gravitation of which he knew nothing but the
formula. He was only too glad to yield himself entirely, not to
her charm or to any sentimentality of religion, but to her mental
and physical energy of creation which had built up these World's
Fairs of thirteenth-century force that turned Chicago and St.
Louis pale. 

  "Both were faiths and both are gone," said Matthew Arnold of
the Greek and Norse divinities; but the business of a student was
to ask where they had gone. The Virgin had not even altogether
gone; her fading away had been excessively slow. Her adorer had
pursued her too long, too far, and into too many manifestations
of her power, to admit that she had any equivalent either of
quantity or kind, in the actual world, but he could still less
admit her annihilation as energy. 

  So he went on wooing, happy in the thought that at last he had
found a mistress who could see no difference in the age of her
lovers. Her own age had no time-measure. For years past, incited
by John La Farge, Adams had devoted his summer schooling to the
study of her glass at Chartres and elsewhere, and if the
automobile had one vitesse more useful than another, it was that
of a century a minute; that of passing from one century to
another without break. The centuries dropped like autumn leaves
in one's road, and one was not fined for running over them too
fast. When the thirteenth lost breath, the fourteenth caught on,
and the sixteenth ran close ahead. The hunt for the Virgin's
glass opened rich preserves. Especially the sixteenth century ran
riot in sensuous worship. Then the ocean of religion, which had
flooded France, broke into Shelley's light dissolved in
star-showers thrown, which had left every remote village strewn
with fragments that flashed like jewels, and were tossed into
hidden clefts of peace and forgetfulness. One dared not pass a
parish church in Champagne or Touraine without stopping to look
for its window of fragments, where one's glass discovered the
Christ-child in his manger, nursed by the head of a fragmentary
donkey, with a Cupid playing into its long ears from the
balustrade of a Venetian palace, guarded by a legless Flemish
leibwache, standing on his head with a broken halbert; all
invoked in prayer by remnants of the donors and their children
that might have been drawn by Fouquet or Pinturicchio, in colors
as fresh and living as the day they were burned in, and with
feeling that still consoled the faithful for the paradise they
had paid for and lost. France abounds in sixteenth-century glass.
Paris alone contains acres of it, and the neighborhood within
fifty miles contains scores of churches where the student may
still imagine himself three hundred years old, kneeling before
the Virgin's window in the silent solitude of an empty faith,
crying his culp, beating his breast, confessing his historical
sins, weighed down by the rubbish of sixty-six years' education,
and still desperately hoping to understand. 

  He understood a little, though not much. The sixteenth century
had a value of its own, as though the ONE had become several, and
Unity had counted more than Three, though the Multiple still
showed modest numbers. The glass had gone back to the Roman
Empire and forward to the American continent; it betrayed
sympathy with Montaigne and Shakespeare; but the Virgin was still
supreme. At Beauvais in the Church of St. Stephen was a superb
tree of Jesse, famous as the work of Engrand le Prince, about
1570 or 1580, in whose branches, among the fourteen ancestors of
the Virgin, three-fourths bore features of the Kings of France,
among them Francis I and Henry II, who were hardly more edifying
than Kings of Israel, and at least unusual as sources of divine
purity. Compared with the still more famous Tree of Jesse at
Chartres, dating from 1150 or thereabouts, must one declare that
Engrand le Prince proved progress? and in what direction?
Complexity, Multiplicity, even a step towards Anarchy, it might
suggest, but what step towards perfection? 

  One late afternoon, at midsummer, the Virgin's pilgrim was
wandering through the streets of Troyes in close and intimate
conversation with Thibaut of Champagne and his highly intelligent
seneschal, the Sieur de Joinville, when he noticed one or two men
looking at a bit of paper stuck in a window. Approaching, he read
that M. de Plehve had been assassinated at St. Petersburg. The
mad mixture of Russia and the Crusades, of the Hippodrome and the
Renaissance, drove him for refuge into the fascinating Church of
St. Pantaleon near by. Martyrs, murderers, Caesars, saints and
assassins -- half in glass and half in telegram; chaos of time,
place, morals, forces and motive -- gave him vertigo. Had one sat
all one's life on the steps of Ara Coeli for this? Was
assassination forever to be the last word of Progress? No one in
the street had shown a sign of protest; he himself felt none; the
charming Church with its delightful windows, in its exquisite
absence of other tourists, took a keener expression of celestial
peace than could have been given it by any contrast short of
explosive murder; the conservative Christian anarchist had come
to his own, but which was he -- the murderer or the murdered ?

  The Virgin herself never looked so winning -- so One -- as in
this scandalous failure of her Grace. To what purpose had she
existed, if, after nineteen hundred years, the world was bloodier
than when she was born? The stupendous failure of Christianity
tortured history. The effort for Unity could not be a partial
success; even alternating Unity resolved itself into meaningless
motion at last. To the tired student, the idea that he must give
it up seemed sheer senility. As long as he could whisper, he
would go on as he had begun, bluntly refusing to meet his creator
with the admission that the creation had taught him nothing
except that the square of the hypothenuse of a right-angled
triangle might for convenience be taken as equal to something
else. Every man with self-respect enough to become effective, if
only as a machine, has had to account to himself for himself
somehow, and to invent a formula of his own for his universe, if
the standard formulas failed. There, whether finished or not,
education stopped. The formula, once made, could be but verified. 

  The effort must begin at once, for time pressed. The old
formulas had failed, and a new one had to be made, but, after
all, the object was not extravagant or eccentric. One sought no
absolute truth. One sought only a spool on which to wind the
thread of history without breaking it. Among indefinite possible
orbits, one sought the orbit which would best satisfy the
observed movement of the runaway star Groombridge, 1838, commonly
called Henry Adams. As term of a nineteenth-century education,
one sought a common factor for certain definite historical
fractions. Any schoolboy could work out the problem if he were
given the right to state it in his own terms.  

  Therefore, when the fogs and frosts stopped his slaughter of
the centuries, and shut him up again in his garret, he sat down
as though he were again a boy at school to shape after his own
needs the values of a Dynamic Theory of History. 



  A DYNAMIC theory, like most theories, begins by begging the
question: it defines Progress as the development and economy of
Forces. Further, it defines force as anything that does, or helps
to do work. Man is a force; so is the sun; so is a mathematical
point, though without dimensions or known existence. 

  Man commonly begs the question again taking for granted that he
captures the forces. A dynamic theory, assigning attractive force
to opposing bodies in proportion to the law of mass, takes for
granted that the forces of nature capture man. The sum of force
attracts; the feeble atom or molecule called man is attracted; he
suffers education or growth; he is the sum of the forces that
attract him; his body and his thought are alike their product;
the movement of the forces controls the progress of his mind,
since he can know nothing but the motions which impinge on his
senses, whose sum makes education.

  For convenience as an image, the theory may liken man to a
spider in its web, watching for chance prey. Forces of nature
dance like flies before the net, and the spider pounces on them
when it can; but it makes many fatal mistakes, though its theory
of force is sound. The spider-mind acquires a faculty of memory,
and, with it, a singular skill of analysis and synthesis, taking
apart and putting together in different relations the meshes of
its trap. Man had in the beginning no power of analysis or
synthesis approaching that of the spider, or even of the
honey-bee; he had acute sensibility to the higher forces. Fire
taught him secrets that no other animal could learn; running
water probably taught him even more, especially in his first
lessons of mechanics; the animals helped to educate him, trusting
themselves into his hands merely for the sake of their food, and
carrying his burdens or supplying his clothing; the grasses and
grains were academies of study. With little or no effort on his
part, all these forces formed his thought, induced his action,
and even shaped his figure.

  Long before history began, his education was complete, for the
record could not have been started until he had been taught to
record. The universe that had formed him took shape in his mind
as a reflection of his own unity, containing all forces except
himself. Either separately, or in groups, or as a whole, these
forces never ceased to act on him, enlarging his mind as they
enlarged the surface foliage of a vegetable, and the mind needed
only to respond, as the forests did, to these attractions.
Susceptibility to the highest forces is the highest genius;
selection between them is the highest science; their mass is the
highest educator. Man always made, and still makes, grotesque
blunders in selecting and measuring forces, taken at random from
the heap, but he never made a mistake in the value he set on the
whole, which he symbolized as unity and worshipped as God. To
this day, his attitude towards it has never changed, though
science can no longer give to force a name. 

  Man's function as a force of nature was to assimilate other
forces as he assimilated food. He called it the love of power. He
felt his own feebleness, and he sought for an ass or a camel, a
bow or a sling, to widen his range of power, as he sough fetish
or a planet in the world beyond. He cared little to know its
immediate use, but he could afford to throw nothing away which he
could conceive to have possible value in this or any other
existence. He waited for the object to teach him its use, or want
of use, and the process was slow. He may have gone on for
hundreds of thousands of years, waiting for Nature to tell him
her secrets; and, to his rivals among the monkeys, Nature has
taught no more than at their start; but certain lines of force
were capable of acting on individual apes, and mechanically
selecting types of race or sources of variation. The individual
that responded or reacted to lines of new force then was possibly
the same individual that reacts on it now, and his conception of
the unity seems never to have changed in spite of the increasing
diversity of forces; but the theory of variation is an affair of
other science than history, and matters nothing to dynamics. The
individual or the race would be educated on the same lines of
illusion, which, according to Arthur Balfour, had not essentially
varied down to the year 1900.

  To the highest attractive energy, man gave the name of divine,
and for its control he invented the science called Religion, a
word which meant, and still means, cultivation of occult force
whether in detail or mass. Unable to define Force as a unity, man
symbolized it and pursued it, both in himself, and in the
infinite, as philosophy and theology; the mind is itself the
subtlest of all known forces, and its self-introspection
necessarily created a science which had the singular value of
lifting his education, at the start, to the finest, subtlest, and
broadest training both in analysis and synthesis, so that, if
language is a test, he must have reached his highest powers early
in his history; while the mere motive remained as simple an
appetite for power as the tribal greed which led him to trap an
elephant. Hunger, whether for food or for the infinite, sets in
motion multiplicity and infinity of thought, and the sure hope of
gaining a share of infinite power in eternal life would lift most
minds to effort.

  He had reached this completeness five thousand years ago, and
added nothing to his stock of known forces for a very long time.
The mass of nature exercised on him so feeble an attraction that
one can scarcely account for his apparent motion. Only a
historian of very exceptional knowledge would venture to say at
what date between 3000 B.C. and 1000 A.D., the momentum of Europe
was greatest; but such progress as the world made consisted in
economies of energy rather than in its development; it was proved
in mathematics, measured by names like Archimedes, Aristarchus,
Ptolemy, and Euclid; or in Civil Law, measured by a number of
names which Adams had begun life by failing to learn; or in
coinage, which was most beautiful near its beginning, and most
barbarous at its close; or it was shown in roads, or the size of
ships, or harbors; or by the use of metals, instruments, and
writing; all of them economies of force, sometimes more forceful
than the forces they helped; but the roads were still travelled
by the horse, the ass, the camel, or the slave; the ships were
still propelled by sails or oars; the lever, the spring, and the
screw bounded the region of applied mechanics. Even the metals
were old.

  Much the same thing could be said of religious or supernatural
forces. Down to the year 300 of the Christian era they were
little changed, and in spite of Plato and the sceptics were more
apparently chaotic than ever. The experience of three thousand
years had educated society to feel the vastness of Nature, and
the infinity of her resources of power, but even this increase of
attraction had not yet caused economies in its methods of

  There the Western world stood till the year A.D. 305, when the
Emperor Diocletian abdicated; and there it was that Adams broke
down on the steps of Ara Coeli, his path blocked by the
scandalous failure of civilization at the moment it had achieved
complete success. In the year 305 the empire had solved the
problems of Europe more completely than they have ever been
solved since. The Pax Romana, the Civil Law, and Free Trade
should, in four hundred years, have put Europe far in advance of
the point reached by modern society in the four hundred years
since 1500, when conditions were less simple.

  The efforts to explain, or explain away, this scandal had been
incessant, but none suited Adams unless it were the economic
theory of adverse exchanges and exhaustion of minerals; but
nations are not ruined beyond a certain point by adverse
exchanges, and Rome had by no means exhausted her resources. On
the contrary, the empire developed resources and energies quite
astounding. No other four hundred years of history before A.D.
1800 knew anything like it; and although some of these
developments, like the Civil Law, the roads, aqueducts, and
harbors, were rather economies than force, yet in northwestern
Europe alone the empire had developed three energies -- France,
England, and Germany -- competent to master the world. The
trouble seemed rather to be that the empire developed too much
energy, and too fast.

  A dynamic law requires that two masses -- nature and man --
must go on, reacting upon each other, without stop, as the sun
and a comet react on each other, and that any appearance of
stoppage is illusive. The theory seems to exact excess, rather
than deficiency, of action and reaction to account for the
dissolution of the Roman Empire, which should, as a problem of
mechanics, have been torn to pieces by acceleration. If the
student means to try the experiment of framing a dynamic law, he
must assign values to the forces of attraction that caused the
trouble; and in this case he has them in plain evidence. With the
relentless logic that stamped Roman thought, the empire, which
had established unity on earth, could not help establishing unity
in heaven. It was induced by its dynamic necessities to economize
the gods.

  The Church has never ceased to protest against the charge that
Christianity ruined the empire, and, with its usual force, has
pointed out that its reforms alone saved the State. Any dynamic
theory gladly admits it. All it asks is to find and follow the
force that attracts. The Church points out this force in the
Cross, and history needs only to follow it. The empire loudly
asserted its motive. Good taste forbids saying that Constantine
the Great speculated as audaciously as a modern stock-broker on
values of which he knew at the utmost only the volume; or that he
merged all uncertain forces into a single trust, which he
enormously overcapitalized, and forced on the market; but this is
the substance of what Constantine himself said in his Edict of
Milan in the year 313, which admitted Christianity into the Trust
of State Religions. Regarded as an Act of Congress, it runs: "We
have resolved to grant to Christians as well as all others the
liberty to practice the religion they prefer, in order that
whatever exists of divinity or celestial power may help and favor
us and all who are under our government." The empire pursued
power -- not merely spiritual but physical -- in the sense in
which Constantine issued his army order the year before, at the
battle of the Milvian Bridge: In hoc signo vinces! using the
Cross as a train of artillery, which, to his mind, it was.
Society accepted it in the same character. Eighty years
afterwards, Theodosius marched against his rival Eugene with the
Cross for physical champion; and Eugene raised the image of
Hercules to fight for the pagans; while society on both sides
looked on, as though it were a boxing-match, to decide a final
test of force between the divine powers. The Church was powerless
to raise the ideal. What is now known as religion affected the
mind of old society but little. The laity, the people, the
million, almost to a man, bet on the gods as they bet on a horse. 

  No doubt the Church did all it could to purify the process, but
society was almost wholly pagan in its point of view, and was
drawn to the Cross because, in its system of physics, the Cross
had absorbed all the old occult or fetish-power. The symbol
represented the sum of nature - the Energy of modern science -
and society believed it to be as real as X-rays; perhaps it was!
The emperors used it like gunpowder in politics; the physicians
used it like rays in medicine; the dying clung to it as the
quintessence of force, to protect them from the forces of evil on
their road to the next life.

  Throughout these four centuries the empire knew that religion
disturbed economy, for even the cost of heathen incense affected
the exchanges; but no one could afford to buy or construct a
costly and complicated machine when he could hire an occult force
at trifling expense. Fetish-power was cheap and satisfactory,
down to a certain point. Turgot and Auguste Comte long ago fixed
this stage of economy as a necessary phase of social education,
and historians seem now to accept it as the only gain yet made
towards scientific history. Great numbers of educated people --
perhaps a majority -- cling to the method still, and practice it
more or less strictly; but, until quite recently, no other was
known. The only occult power at man's disposal was fetish.
Against it, no mechanical force could compete except within
narrow limits.

  Outside of occult or fetish-power, the Roman world was
incredibly poor. It knew but one productive energy resembling a
modern machine -- the slave. No artificial force of serious value
was applied to production or transportation, and when society
developed itself so rapidly in political and social lines, it had
no other means of keeping its economy on the same level than to
extend its slave-system and its fetish-system to the utmost.

The result might have been stated in a mathematical formula as
early as the time of Archimedes, six hundred years before Rome
fell. The economic needs of a violently centralizing society
forced the empire to enlarge its slave-system until the
slave-system consumed itself and the empire too, leaving society
no resource but further enlargement of its religious system in
order to compensate for the losses and horrors of the failure.
For a vicious circle, its mathematical completeness approached
perfection. The dynamic law of attraction and reaction needed
only a Newton to fix it in algebraic form.

  At last, in 410, Alaric sacked Rome, and the slave-ridden,
agricultural, uncommercial Western Empire -- the poorer and less
Christianized half -- went to pieces. Society, though terribly
shocked by the horrors of Alaric's storm, felt still more deeply
the disappointment in its new power, the Cross, which had failed
to protect its Church. The outcry against the Cross became so
loud among Christians that its literary champion, Bishop
Augustine of Hippo -- a town between Algiers and Tunis -- was led
to write a famous treatise in defence of the Cross, familiar
still to every scholar, in which he defended feebly the
mechanical value of the symbol -- arguing only that pagan symbols
equally failed -- but insisted on its spiritual value in the
Civitas Dei which had taken the place of the Civitas Romae in
human interest. "Granted that we have lost all we had! Have we
lost faith? Have we lost piety? Have we lost the wealth of the
inner man who is rich before God? These are the wealth of
Christians!" The Civitas Dei, in its turn, became the sum of
attraction for the Western world, though it also showed the same
weakness in mechanics that had wrecked the Civitas Romae. St.
Augustine and his people perished at Hippo towards 430, leaving
society in appearance dull to new attraction. 

  Yet the attraction remained constant. The delight of
experimenting on occult force of every kind is such as to absorb
all the free thought of the human race. The gods did their work;
history has no quarrel with them; they led, educated, enlarged
the mind; taught knowledge; betrayed ignorance; stimulated
effort. So little is known about the mind -- whether social,
racial, sexual or heritable; whether material or spiritual;
whether animal, vegetable or mineral -- that history is inclined
to avoid it altogether; but nothing forbids one to admit, for
convenience, that it may assimilate food like the body, storing
new force and growing, like a forest, with the storage. The brain
has not yet revealed its mysterious mechanism of gray matter.
Never has Nature offered it so violent a stimulant as when she
opened to it the possibility of sharing infinite power in eternal
life, and it might well need a thousand years of prolonged and
intense experiment to prove the value of the motive. During these
so-called Middle Ages, the Western mind reacted in many forms, on
many sides, expressing its motives in modes, such as Romanesque
and Gothic architecture, glass windows and mosaic walls,
sculpture and poetry, war and love, which still affect some
people as the noblest work of man, so that, even to-day, great
masses of idle and ignorant tourists travel from far countries to
look at Ravenna and San Marco, Palermo and Pisa, Assisi, Cordova,
Chartres, with vague notions about the force that created them,
but with a certain surprise that a social mind of such singular
energy and unity should still lurk in their shadows.

  The tourist more rarely visits Constantinople or studies the
architecture of Sancta Sofia, but when he does, he is distinctly
conscious of forces not quite the same. Justinian has not the
simplicity of Charlemagne. The Eastern Empire showed an activity
and variety of forces that classical Europe had never possessed.
The navy of Nicephoras Phocas in the tenth century would have
annihilated in half an hour any navy that Carthage or Athens or
Rome ever set afloat. The dynamic scheme began by asserting
rather recklessly that between the Pyramids (B.C. 3000), and the
Cross (A.D. 300), no new force affected Western progress, and
antiquarians may easily dispute the fact; but in any case the
motive influence, old or new, which raised both Pyramids and
Cross was the same attraction of power in a future life that
raised the dome of Sancta Sofia and the Cathedral at Amiens,
however much it was altered, enlarged, or removed to distance in
space. Therefore, no single event has more puzzled historians
than the sudden, unexplained appearance of at least two new
natural forces of the highest educational value in mechanics, for
the first time within record of history. Literally, these two
forces seemed to drop from the sky at the precise moment when the
Cross on one side and the Crescent on the other, proclaimed the
complete triumph of the Civitas Dei. Had the Manichean doctrine
of Good and Evil as rival deities been orthodox, it would alone
have accounted for this simultaneous victory of hostile powers.

  Of the compass, as a step towards demonstration of the dynamic
law, one may confidently say that it proved, better than any
other force, the widening scope of the mind, since it widened
immensely the range of contact between nature and thought. The
compass educated. This must prove itself as needing no proof. 

  Of Greek fire and gunpowder, the same thing cannot certainly be
said, for they have the air of accidents due to the attraction of
religious motives. They belong to the spiritual world; or to the
doubtful ground of Magic which lay between Good and Evil. They
were chemical forces, mostly explosives, which acted and still
act as the most violent educators ever known to man, but they
were justly feared as diabolic, and whatever insolence man may
have risked towards the milder teachers of his infancy, he was an
abject pupil towards explosives. The Sieur de Joinville left a
record of the energy with which the relatively harmless Greek
fire educated and enlarged the French mind in a single night in
the year 1249, when the crusaders were trying to advance on
Cairo. The good king St. Louis and all his staff dropped on their
knees at every fiery flame that flew by, praying -- "God have
pity on us!" and never had man more reason to call on his gods
than they, for the battle of religion between Christian and
Saracen was trifling compared with that of education between
gunpowder and the Cross.

  The fiction that society educated itself, or aimed at a
conscious purpose, was upset by the compass and gunpowder which
dragged and drove Europe at will through frightful bogs of
learning. At first, the apparent lag for want of volume in the
new energies lasted one or two centuries, which closed the great
epochs of emotion by the Gothic cathedrals and scholastic
theology. The moment had Greek beauty and more than Greek unity,
but it was brief; and for another century or two, Western society
seemed to float in space without apparent motion. Yet the
attractive mass of nature's energy continued to attract, and
education became more rapid than ever before. Society began to
resist, but the individual showed greater and greater insistence,
without realizing what he was doing. When the Crescent drove the
Cross in ignominy from Constantinople in 1453, Gutenberg and Fust
were printing their first Bible at Mainz under the impression
that they were helping the Cross. When Columbus discovered the
West Indies in 1492, the Church looked on it as a victory of the
Cross. When Luther and Calvin upset Europe half a century later,
they were trying, like St. Augustine, to substitute the Civitas
Dei for the Civitas Romae. When the Puritans set out for New
England in 1620, they too were looking to found a Civitas Dei in
State Street; and when Bunyan made his Pilgrimage in 1678, he
repeated St. Jerome. Even when, after centuries of license, the
Church reformed its discipline, and, to prove it, burned Giordano
Bruno in 1600, besides condemning Galileo in 1630 -- as science
goes on repeating to us every day -- it condemned anarchists, not
atheists. None of the astronomers were irreligious men; all of
them made a point of magnifying God through his works; a form of
science which did their religion no credit. Neither Galileo nor
Kepler, neither Spinoza nor Descartes, neither Leibnitz nor
Newton, any more than Constantine the Great -- if so much --
doubted Unity. The utmost range of their heresies reached only
its personality. 

  This persistence of thought-inertia is the leading idea of
modern history. Except as reflected in himself, man has no reason
for assuming unity in the universe, or an ultimate substance, or
a prime-motor. The a priori insistence on this unity ended by
fatiguing the more active -- or reactive -- minds; and Lord Bacon
tried to stop it. He urged society to lay aside the idea of
evolving the universe from a thought, and to try evolving thought
from the universe. The mind should observe and register forces --
take them apart and put them together -- without assuming unity
at all. "Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed." "The
imagination must be given not wings but weights." As Galileo
reversed the action of earth and sun, Bacon reversed the relation
of thought to force. The mind was thenceforth to follow the
movement of matter, and unity must be left to shift for itself.

  The revolution in attitude seemed voluntary, but in fact was as
mechanical as the fall of a feather. Man created nothing. After
1500, the speed of progress so rapidly surpassed man's gait as to
alarm every one, as though it were the acceleration of a falling
body which the dynamic theory takes it to be. Lord Bacon was as
much astonished by it as the Church was, and with reason.
Suddenly society felt itself dragged into situations altogether
new and anarchic -- situations which it could not affect, but
which painfully affected it. Instinct taught it that the universe
in its thought must be in danger when its reflection lost itself
in space. The danger was all the greater because men of science
covered it with "larger synthesis," and poets called the undevout
astronomer mad. Society knew better. Yet the telescope held it
rigidly standing on its head; the microscope revealed a universe
that defied the senses; gunpowder killed whole races that lagged
behind; the compass coerced the most imbruted mariner to act on
the impossible idea that the earth was round; the press drenched
Europe with anarchism. Europe saw itself, violently resisting,
wrenched into false positions, drawn along new lines as a fish
that is caught on a hook; but unable to understand by what force
it was controlled. The resistance was often bloody, sometimes
humorous, always constant. Its contortions in the eighteenth
century are best studied in the wit of Voltaire, but all history
and all philosophy from Montaigne and Pascal to Schopenhauer and
Nietzsche deal with nothing else; and still, throughout it all,
the Baconian law held good; thought did not evolve nature, but
nature evolved thought. Not one considerable man of science dared
face the stream of thought; and the whole number of those who
acted, like Franklin, as electric conductors of the new forces
from nature to man, down to the year 1800, did not exceed a few
score, confined to a few towns in western Europe. Asia refused to
be touched by the stream, and America, except for Franklin, stood

  Very slowly the accretion of these new forces, chemical and
mechanical, grew in volume until they acquired sufficient mass to
take the place of the old religious science, substituting their
attraction for the attractions of the Civitas Dei, but the
process remained the same. Nature, not mind, did the work that
the sun does on the planets. Man depended more and more
absolutely on forces other than his own, and on instruments which
superseded his senses. Bacon foretold it: "Neither the naked hand
nor the understanding, left to itself, can effect much. It is by
instruments and helps that the work is done." Once done, the mind
resumed its illusion, and society forgot its impotence; but no
one better than Bacon knew its tricks, and for his true followers
science always meant self-restraint, obedience, sensitiveness to
impulse from without. "Non fingendum aut excogitandum sed
inveniendum quid Natura faciat aut ferat."

  The success of this method staggers belief, and even to-day can
be treated by history only as a miracle of growth, like the
sports of nature. Evidently a new variety of mind had appeared.
Certain men merely held out their hands -- like Newton, watched
an apple; like Franklin, flew a kite; like Watt, played with a
tea-kettle -- and great forces of nature stuck to them as though
she were playing ball. Governments did almost nothing but resist.
Even gunpowder and ordnance, the great weapon of government,
showed little development between 1400 and 1800. Society was
hostile or indifferent, as Priestley and Jenner, and even Fulton,
with reason complained in the most advanced societies in the
world, while its resistance became acute wherever the Church held
control; until all mankind seemed to draw itself out in a long
series of groups, dragged on by an attractive power in advance,
which even the leaders obeyed without understanding, as the
planets obeyed gravity, or the trees obeyed heat and light.

  The influx of new force was nearly spontaneous. The reaction of
mind on the mass of nature seemed not greater than that of a
comet on the sun; and had the spontaneous influx of force stopped
in Europe, society must have stood still, or gone backward, as in
Asia or Africa. Then only economies of process would have counted
as new force, and society would have been better pleased; for the
idea that new force must be in itself a good is only an animal or
vegetable instinct. As Nature developed her hidden energies, they
tended to become destructive. Thought itself became tortured,
suffering reluctantly, impatiently, painfully, the coercion of
new method. Easy thought had always been movement of inertia, and
mostly mere sentiment; but even the processes of mathematics
measured feebly the needs of force. 

  The stupendous acceleration after 1800 ended in 1900 with the
appearance of the new class of supersensual forces, before which
the man of science stood at first as bewildered and helpless as,
in the fourth century, a priest of Isis before the Cross of

  This, then, or something like this, would be a dynamic formula
of history. Any schoolboy knows enough to object at once that it
is the oldest and most universal of all theories. Church and
State, theology and philosophy, have always preached it,
differing only in the allotment of energy between nature and man.
Whether the attractive energy has been called God or Nature, the
mechanism has been always the same, and history is not obliged to
decide whether the Ultimate tends to a purpose or not, or whether
ultimate energy is one or many. Every one admits that the will is
a free force, habitually decided by motives. No one denies that
motives exist adequate to decide the will; even though it may not
always be conscious of them. Science has proved that forces,
sensible and occult, physical and metaphysical, simple and
complex, surround, traverse, vibrate, rotate, repel, attract,
without stop; that man's senses are conscious of few, and only in
a partial degree; but that, from the beginning of organic
existence, his consciousness has been induced, expanded, trained
in the lines of his sensitiveness; and that the rise of his
faculties from a lower power to a higher, or from a narrower to a
wider field, may be due to the function of assimilating and
storing outside force or forces. There is nothing unscientific in
the idea that, beyond the lines of force felt by the senses, the
universe may be -- as it has always been -- either a
supersensuous chaos or a divine unity, which irresistibly
attracts, and is either life or death to penetrate. Thus far,
religion, philosophy, and science seem to go hand in hand. The
schools begin their vital battle only there. In the earlier
stages of progress, the forces to be assimilated were simple and
easy to absorb, but, as the mind of man enlarged its range, it
enlarged the field of complexity, and must continue to do so,
even into chaos, until the reservoirs of sensuous or
supersensuous energies are exhausted, or cease to affect him, or
until he succumbs to their excess.

  For past history, this way of grouping its sequences may answer
for a chart of relations, although any serious student would need
to invent another, to compare or correct its errors; but past
history is only a value of relation to the future, and this value
is wholly one of convenience, which can be tested only by
experiment. Any law of movement must include, to make it a
convenience, some mechanical formula of acceleration.



  IMAGES are not arguments, rarely even lead to proof, but the
mind craves them, and, of late more than ever, the keenest
experimenters find twenty images better than one, especially if
contradictory; since the human mind has already learned to deal
in contradictions.

  The image needed here is that of a new centre, or
preponderating mass, artificially introduced on earth in the
midst of a system of attractive forces that previously made their
own equilibrium, and constantly induced to accelerate its motion
till it shall establish a new equilibrium. A dynamic theory would
begin by assuming that all history, terrestrial or cosmic,
mechanical or intellectual, would be reducible to this formula if
we knew the facts.

  For convenience, the most familiar image should come first; and
this is probably that of the comet, or meteoric streams, like the
Leonids and Perseids; a complex of minute mechanical agencies,
reacting within and without, and guided by the sum of forces
attracting or deflecting it. Nothing forbids one to assume that
the man-meteorite might grow, as an acorn does, absorbing light,
heat, electricity -- or thought; for, in recent times, such
transference of energy has become a familiar idea; but the
simplest figure, at first, is that of a perfect comet -- say that
of 1843 -- which drops from space, in a straight line, at the
regular acceleration of speed, directly into the sun, and after
wheeling sharply about it, in heat that ought to dissipate any
known substance, turns back unharmed, in defiance of law, by the
path on which it came. The mind, by analogy, may figure as such a
comet, the better because it also defies law.

  Motion is the ultimate object of science, and measures of
motion are many; but with thought as with matter, the true
measure is mass in its astronomic sense -- the sum or difference
of attractive forces. Science has quite enough trouble in
measuring its material motions without volunteering help to the
historian, but the historian needs not much help to measure some
kinds of social movement; and especially in the nineteenth
century, society by common accord agreed in measuring its
progress by the coal-output. The ratio of increase in the volume
of coal-power may serve as dynamometer.

  The coal-output of the world, speaking roughly, doubled every
ten years between 1840 and 1900, in the form of utilized power,
for the ton of coal yielded three or four times as much power in
1900 as in 1840. Rapid as this rate of acceleration in volume
seems, it may be tested in a thousand ways without greatly
reducing it. Perhaps the ocean steamer is nearest unity and
easiest to measure, for any one might hire, in 1905, for a small
sum of money, the use of 30,000 steam-horse-power to cross the
ocean, and by halving this figure every ten years, he got back to
234 horse-power for 1835, which was accuracy enough for his
purposes. In truth, his chief trouble came not from the ratio in
volume of heat, but from the intensity, since he could get no
basis for a ratio there. All ages of history have known high
intensities, like the iron-furnace, the burning-glass, the
blow-pipe; but no society has ever used high intensities on any
large scale till now, nor can a mere bystander decide what range
of temperature is now in common use. Loosely guessing that
science controls habitually the whole range from absolute zero to
3000 degrees Centigrade, one might assume, for convenience, that
the ten-year ratio for volume could be used temporarily for
intensity; and still there remained a ratio to be guessed for
other forces than heat. Since 1800 scores of new forces had been
discovered; old forces had been raised to higher powers, as could
be measured in the navy-gun; great regions of chemistry had been
opened up, and connected with other regions of physics. Within
ten years a new universe of force had been revealed in radiation.
Complexity had extended itself on immense horizons, and
arithmetical ratios were useless for any attempt at accuracy. The
force evolved seemed more like explosion than gravitation, and
followed closely the curve of steam; but, at all events, the
ten-year ratio seemed carefully conservative. Unless the
calculator was prepared to be instantly overwhelmed by physical
force and mental complexity, he must stop there.

  Thus, taking the year 1900 as the starting point for carrying
back the series, nothing was easier than to assume a ten-year
period of retardation as far back as 1820, but beyond that point
the statistician failed, and only the mathematician could help.
Laplace would have found it child's-play to fix a ratio of
progression in mathematical science between Descartes, Leibnitz,
Newton, and himself. Watt could have given in pounds the increase
of power between Newcomen's engines and his own. Volta and
Benjamin Franklin would have stated their progress as absolute
creation of power. Dalton could have measured minutely his
advance on Boerhaave. Napoleon I must have had a distinct notion
of his own numerical relation to Louis XIV. No one in 1789
doubted the progress of force, least of all those who were to
lose their heads by it.

  Pending agreement between these authorities, theory may assume
what it likes -- say a fifty, or even a five-and-twenty-year
period of reduplication for the eighteenth century, for the
period matters little until the acceleration itself is admitted.
The subject is even more amusing in the seventeenth than in the
eighteenth century, because Galileo and Kepler, Descartes,
Huygens, and Isaac Newton took vast pains to fix the laws of
acceleration for moving bodies, while Lord Bacon and William
Harvey were content with showing experimentally the fact of
acceleration in knowledge; but from their combined results a
historian might be tempted to maintain a similar rate of movement
back to 1600, subject to correction from the historians of

  The mathematicians might carry their calculations back as far
as the fourteenth century when algebra seems to have become for
the first time the standard measure of mechanical progress in
western Europe; for not only Copernicus and Tycho Brahe, but even
artists like Leonardo, Michael Angelo, and Albert Durer worked by
mathematical processes, and their testimony would probably give
results more exact than that of Montaigne or Shakespeare; but, to
save trouble, one might tentatively carry back the same ratio of
acceleration, or retardation, to the year 1400, with the help of
Columbus and Gutenberg, so taking a uniform rate during the whole
four centuries (1400-1800), and leaving to statisticians the task
of correcting it. 

  Or better, one might, for convenience, use the formula of
squares to serve for a law of mind. Any other formula would do as
well, either of chemical explosion, or electrolysis, or vegetable
growth, or of expansion or contraction in innumerable forms; but
this happens to be simple and convenient. Its force increases in
the direct ratio of its squares. As the human meteoroid
approached the sun or centre of attractive force, the attraction
of one century squared itself to give the measure of attraction
in the next.

  Behind the year 1400, the process certainly went on, but the
progress became so slight as to be hardly measurable. What was
gained in the east or elsewhere, cannot be known; but forces,
called loosely Greek fire and gunpowder, came into use in the
west in the thirteenth century, as well as instruments like the
compass, the blow-pipe, clocks and spectacles, and materials like
paper; Arabic notation and algebra were introduced, while
metaphysics and theology acted as violent stimulants to mind. An
architect might detect a sequence between the Church of St.
Peter's at Rome, the Amiens Cathedral, the Duomo at Pisa, San
Marco at Venice, Sancta Sofia at Constantinople and the churches
at Ravenna. All the historian dares affirm is that a sequence is
manifestly there, and he has a right to carry back his ratio, to
represent the fact, without assuming its numerical correctness.
On the human mind as a moving body, the break in acceleration in
the Middle Ages is only apparent; the attraction worked through
shifting forms of force, as the sun works by light or heat,
electricity, gravitation, or what not, on different organs with
different sensibilities, but with invariable law.

  The science of prehistoric man has no value except to prove
that the law went back into indefinite antiquity. A stone
arrowhead is as convincing as a steam-engine. The values were as
clear a hundred thousand years ago as now, and extended equally
over the whole world. The motion at last became infinitely
slight, but cannot be proved to have stopped. The motion of
Newton's comet at aphelion may be equally slight. To
evolutionists may be left the processes of evolution; to
historians the single interest is the law of reaction between
force and force -- between mind and nature -- the law of

  The great division of history into phases by Turgot and Comte
first affirmed this law in its outlines by asserting the unity of
progress, for a mere phase interrupts no growth, and nature shows
innumerable such phases. The development of coal-power in the
nineteenth century furnished the first means of assigning closer
values to the elements; and the appearance of supersensual forces
towards 1900 made this calculation a pressing necessity; since
the next step became infinitely serious. 

  A law of acceleration, definite and constant as any law of
mechanics, cannot be supposed to relax its energy to suit the
convenience of man. No one is likely to suggest a theory that
man's convenience had been consulted by Nature at any time, or
that Nature has consulted the convenience of any of her
creations, except perhaps the Terebratula. In every age man has
bitterly and justly complained that Nature hurried and hustled
him, for inertia almost invariably has ended in tragedy.
Resistance is its law, and resistance to superior mass is futile
and fatal. 

  Fifty years ago, science took for granted that the rate of
acceleration could not last. The world forgets quickly, but even
today the habit remains of founding statistics on the faith that
consumption will continue nearly stationary. Two generations,
with John Stuart Mill, talked of this stationary period, which
was to follow the explosion of new power. All the men who were
elderly in the forties died in this faith, and other men grew old
nursing the same conviction, and happy in it; while science, for
fifty years, permitted, or encouraged, society to think that
force would prove to be limited in supply. This mental inertia of
science lasted through the eighties before showing signs of
breaking up; and nothing short of radium fairly wakened men to
the fact, long since evident, that force was inexhaustible. Even
then the scientific authorities vehemently resisted.

  Nothing so revolutionary had happened since the year 300.
Thought had more than once been upset, but never caught and
whirled about in the vortex of infinite forces. Power leaped from
every atom, and enough of it to supply the stellar universe
showed itself running to waste at every pore of matter. Man could
no longer hold it off. Forces grasped his wrists and flung him
about as though he had hold of a live wire or a runaway
automobile; which was very nearly the exact truth for the
purposes of an elderly and timid single gentleman in Paris, who
never drove down the Champs Elysees without expecting an
accident, and commonly witnessing one; or found himself in the
neighborhood of an official without calculating the chances of a
bomb. So long as the rates of progress held good, these bombs
would double in force and number every ten years.

  Impossibilities no longer stood in the way. One's life had
fattened on impossibilities. Before the boy was six years old, he
had seen four impossibilities made actual -- the ocean-steamer,
the railway, the electric telegraph, and the Daguerreotype; nor
could he ever learn which of the four had most hurried others to
come. He had seen the coal-output of the United States grow from
nothing to three hundred million tons or more. What was far more
serious, he had seen the number of minds, engaged in pursuing
force -- the truest measure of its attraction -- increase from a
few scores or hundreds, in 1838, to many thousands in 1905,
trained to sharpness never before reached, and armed with
instruments amounting to new senses of indefinite power and
accuracy, while they chased force into hiding-places where Nature
herself had never known it to be, making analyses that
contradicted being, and syntheses that endangered the elements.
No one could say that the social mind now failed to respond to
new force, even when the new force annoyed it horribly. Every day
Nature violently revolted, causing so-called accidents with
enormous destruction of property and life, while plainly laughing
at man, who helplessly groaned and shrieked and shuddered, but
never for a single instant could stop. The railways alone
approached the carnage of war; automobiles and fire-arms ravaged
society, until an earthquake became almost a nervous relaxation.
An immense volume of force had detached itself from the unknown
universe of energy, while still vaster reservoirs, supposed to be
infinite, steadily revealed themselves, attracting mankind with
more compulsive course than all the Pontic Seas or Gods or Gold
that ever existed, and feeling still less of retiring ebb.

  In 1850, science would have smiled at such a romance as this,
but, in 1900, as far as history could learn, few men of science
thought it a laughing matter. If a perplexed but laborious
follower could venture to guess their drift, it seemed in their
minds a toss-up between anarchy and order. Unless they should be
more honest with themselves in the future than ever they were in
the past, they would be more astonished than their followers when
they reached the end. If Karl Pearson's notions of the universe
were sound, men like Galileo, Descartes, Leibnitz, and Newton
should have stopped the progress of science before 1700,
supposing them to have been honest in the religious convictions
they expressed. In 1900 they were plainly forced back; on faith
in a unity unproved and an order they had themselves disproved.
They had reduced their universe to a series of relations to
themselves. They had reduced themselves to motion in a universe
of motions, with an acceleration, in their own case of
vertiginous violence. With the correctness of their science,
history had no right to meddle, since their science now lay in a
plane where scarcely one or two hundred minds in the world could
follow its mathematical processes; but bombs educate vigorously,
and even wireless telegraphy or airships might require the
reconstruction of society. If any analogy whatever existed
between the human mind, on one side, and the laws of motion, on
the other, the mind had already entered a field of attraction so
violent that it must immediately pass beyond, into new
equilibrium, like the Comet of Newton, to suffer dissipation
altogether, like meteoroids in the earth's atmosphere. If it
behaved like an explosive, it must rapidly recover equilibrium;
if it behaved like a vegetable, it must reach its limits of
growth; and even if it acted like the earlier creations of energy
-- the saurians and sharks -- it must have nearly reached the
limits of its expansion. If science were to go on doubling or
quadrupling its complexities every ten years, even mathematics
would soon succumb. An average mind had succumbed already in
1850; it could no longer understand the problem in 1900.

  Fortunately, a student of history had no responsibility for the
problem; he took it as science gave it, and waited only to be
taught. With science or with society, he had no quarrel and
claimed no share of authority. He had never been able to acquire
knowledge, still less to impart it; and if he had, at times, felt
serious differences with the American of the nineteenth century,
he felt none with the American of the twentieth. For this new
creation, born since 1900, a historian asked no longer to be
teacher or even friend; he asked only to be a pupil, and promised
to be docile, for once, even though trodden under foot; for he
could see that the new American -- the child of incalculable
coal-power, chemical power, electric power, and radiating energy,
as well as of new forces yet undetermined -- must be a sort of
God compared with any former creation of nature. At the rate of
progress since 1800, every American who lived into the year 2000
would know how to control unlimited power. He would think in
complexities unimaginable to an earlier mind. He would deal with
problems altogether beyond the range of earlier society. To him
the nineteenth century would stand on the same plane with the
fourth -- equally childlike -- and he would only wonder how both
of them, knowing so little, and so weak in force, should have
done so much. Perhaps even he might go back, in 1964, to sit with
Gibbon on the steps of Ara Coeli.

  Meanwhile he was getting education. With that, a teacher who
had failed to educate even the generation of 1870, dared not
interfere. The new forces would educate. History saw few lessons
in the past that would be useful in the future; but one, at
least, it did see. The attempt of the American of 1800 to educate
the American of 1900 had not often been surpassed for folly; and
since 1800 the forces and their complications had increased a
thousand times or more. The attempt of the American of 1900 to
educate the American of 2000, must be even blinder than that of
the Congressman of 1800, except so far as he had learned his
ignorance. During a million or two of years, every generation in
turn had toiled with endless agony to attain and apply power, all
the while betraying the deepest alarm and horror at the power
they created. The teacher of 1900, if foolhardy, might stimulate;
if foolish, might resist; if intelligent, might balance, as wise
and foolish have often tried to do from the beginning; but the
forces would continue to educate, and the mind would continue to
react. All the teacher could hope was to teach it reaction. 

  Even there his difficulty was extreme. The most elementary
books of science betrayed the inadequacy of old implements of
thought. Chapter after chapter closed with phrases such as one
never met in older literature: "The cause of this phenomenon is
not understood"; "science no longer ventures to explain causes";
"the first step towards a causal explanation still remains to be
taken"; "opinions are very much divided"; "in spite of the
contradictions involved"; "science gets on only by adopting
different theories, sometimes contradictory." Evidently the new
American would need to think in contradictions, and instead of
Kant's famous four antinomies, the new universe would know no law
that could not be proved by its anti-law. 

  To educate -- one's self to begin with -- had been the effort
of one's life for sixty years; and the difficulties of education
had gone on doubling with the coal-output, until the prospect of
waiting another ten years, in order to face a seventh doubling of
complexities, allured one's imagination but slightly. The law of
acceleration was definite, and did not require ten years more
study except to show whether it held good. No scheme could be
suggested to the new American, and no fault needed to be found,
or complaint made; but the next great influx of new forces seemed
near at hand, and its style of education promised to be violently
coercive. The movement from unity into multiplicity, between 1200
and 1900, was unbroken in sequence, and rapid in acceleration.
Prolonged one generation longer, it would require a new social
mind. As though thought were common salt in indefinite solution
it must enter a new phase subject to new laws. Thus far, since
five or ten thousand years, the mind had successfully reacted,
and nothing yet proved that it would fail to react -- but it
would need to jump.


NUNC AGE (1905)

  NEARLY forty years had passed since the ex-private secretary
landed at New York with the ex-Ministers Adams and Motley, when
they saw American society as a long caravan stretching out
towards the plains. As he came up the bay again, November 5,
1904, an older man than either his father or Motley in 1868, he
found the approach more striking than ever -- wonderful -- unlike
anything man had ever seen -- and like nothing he had ever much
cared to see. The outline of the city became frantic in its
effort to explain something that defied meaning. Power seemed to
have outgrown its servitude and to have asserted its freedom. The
cylinder had exploded, and thrown great masses of stone and steam
against the sky. The city had the air and movement of hysteria,
and the citizens were crying, in every accent of anger and alarm,
that the new forces must at any cost be brought under control.
Prosperity never before imagined, power never yet wielded by man,
speed never reached by anything but a meteor, had made the world
irritable, nervous, querulous, unreasonable and afraid. All New
York was demanding new men, and all the new forces, condensed
into corporations, were demanding a new type of man -- a man with
ten times the endurance, energy, will and mind of the old type --
for whom they were ready to pay millions at sight. As one jolted
over the pavements or read the last week's newspapers, the new
man seemed close at hand, for the old one had plainly reached the
end of his strength, and his failure had become catastrophic.
Every one saw it, and every municipal election shrieked chaos. A
traveller in the highways of history looked out of the club
window on the turmoil of Fifth Avenue, and felt himself in Rome,
under Diocletian, witnessing the anarchy, conscious of the
compulsion, eager for the solution, but unable to conceive whence
the next impulse was to come or how it was to act. The
two-thousand-years failure of Christianity roared upward from
Broadway, and no Constantine the Great was in sight. 

  Having nothing else to do, the traveller went on to Washington
to wait the end. There Roosevelt was training Constantines and
battling Trusts. With the Battle of Trusts, a student of
mechanics felt entire sympathy, not merely as a matter of
politics or society, but also as a measure of motion. The Trusts
and Corporations stood for the larger part of the new power that
had been created since 1840, and were obnoxious because of their
vigorous and unscrupulous energy. They were revolutionary,
troubling all the old conventions and values, as the screws of
ocean steamers must trouble a school of herring. They tore
society to pieces and trampled it under foot. As one of their
earliest victims, a citizen of Quincy, born in 1838, had learned
submission and silence, for he knew that, under the laws of
mechanics, any change, within the range of the forces, must make
his situation only worse; but he was beyond measure curious to
see whether the conflict of forces would produce the new man,
since no other energies seemed left on earth to breed. The new
man could be only a child born of contact between the new and the
old energies. 

  Both had been familiar since childhood, as the story has shown,
and neither had warped the umpire's judgment by its favors. If
ever judge had reason to be impartial, it was he. The sole object
of his interest and sympathy was the new man, and the longer one
watched, the less could be seen of him. Of the forces behind the
Trusts, one could see something; they owned a complete
organization, with schools, training, wealth and purpose; but of
the forces behind Roosevelt one knew little; their cohesion was
slight; their training irregular; their objects vague. The public
had no idea what practical system it could aim at, or what sort
of men could manage it. The single problem before it was not so
much to control the Trusts as to create the society that could
manage the Trusts. The new American must be either the child of
the new forces or a chance sport of nature. The attraction of
mechanical power had already wrenched the American mind into a
crab-like process which Roosevelt was making heroic efforts to
restore to even action, and he had every right to active support
and sympathy from all the world, especially from the Trusts
themselves so far as they were human; but the doubt persisted
whether the force that educated was really man or nature -- mind
or motion. The mechanical theory, mostly accepted by science,
seemed to require that the law of mass should rule. In that case,
progress would continue as before.

  In that, or any other case, a nineteenth-century education was
as useless or misleading as an eighteenth-century education had
been to the child of 1838; but Adams had a better reason for
holding his tongue. For his dynamic theory of history he cared no
more than for the kinetic theory of gas; but, if it were an
approach to measurement of motion, it would verify or disprove
itself within thirty years. At the calculated acceleration, the
head of the meteor-stream must very soon pass perihelion.
Therefore, dispute was idle, discussion was futile, and silence,
next to good-temper, was the mark of sense. If the acceleration,
measured by the development and economy of forces, were to
continue at its rate since 1800, the mathematician of 1950 should
be able to plot the past and future orbit of the human race as
accurately as that of the November meteoroids.

  Naturally such an attitude annoyed the players in the game, as
the attitude of the umpire is apt to infuriate the spectators.
Above all, it was profoundly unmoral, and tended to discourage
effort. On the other hand, it tended to encourage foresight and
to economize waste of mind. If it was not itself education, it
pointed out the economies necessary for the education of the new
American. There, the duty stopped.

  There, too, life stopped. Nature has educated herself to a
singular sympathy for death. On the antarctic glacier, nearly
five thousand feet above sea-level, Captain Scott found carcasses
of seals, where the animals had laboriously flopped up, to die in
peace. "Unless we had actually found these remains, it would have
been past believing that a dying seal could have transported
itself over fifty miles of rough, steep, glacier-surface," but
"the seal seems often to crawl to the shore or the ice to die,
probably from its instinctive dread of its marine enemies." In
India, Purun Dass, at the end of statesmanship, sought solitude,
and died in sanctity among the deer and monkeys, rather than
remain with man. Even in America, the Indian Summer of life
should be a little sunny and a little sad, like the season, and
infinite in wealth and depth of tone -- but never hustled. For
that reason, one's own passive obscurity seemed sometimes nearer
nature than John Hay's exposure. To the normal animal the
instinct of sport is innate, and historians themselves were not
exempt from the passion of baiting their bears; but in its turn
even the seal dislikes to be worried to death in age by creatures
that have not the strength or the teeth to kill him outright. 

  On reaching Washington, November 14, 1904, Adams saw at a
glance that Hay must have rest. Already Mrs. Hay had bade him
prepare to help in taking her husband to Europe as soon as the
Session should be over, and although Hay protested that the idea
could not even be discussed, his strength failed so rapidly that
he could not effectually discuss it, and ended by yielding
without struggle. He would equally have resigned office and
retired, like Purun Dass, had not the President and the press
protested; but he often debated the subject, and his friends
could throw no light on it. Adams himself, who had set his heart
on seeing Hay close his career by making peace in the East, could
only urge that vanity for vanity, the crown of peacemaker was
worth the cross of martyrdom; but the cross was full in sight,
while the crown was still uncertain. Adams found his formula for
Russian inertia exasperatingly correct. He thought that Russia
should have negotiated instantly on the fall of Port Arthur,
January 1, 1905; he found that she had not the energy, but meant
to wait till her navy should be destroyed. The delay measured
precisely the time that Hay had to spare.

  The close of the Session on March 4 left him barely the
strength to crawl on board ship, March 18, and before his steamer
had reached half her course, he had revived, almost as gay as
when he first lighted on the Markoe house in I Street forty-four
years earlier. The clouds that gather round the setting sun do
not always take a sober coloring from eyes that have kept watch
on mortality; or, at least, the sobriety is sometimes scarcely
sad. One walks with one's friends squarely up to the portal of
life, and bids good-bye with a smile. One has done it so often!
Hay could scarcely pace the deck; he nourished no illusions; he
was convinced that he should never return to his work, and he
talked lightly of the death sentence that he might any day
expect, but he threw off the coloring of office and mortality
together, and the malaria of power left its only trace in the
sense of tasks incomplete. 

  One could honestly help him there. Laughing frankly at his
dozen treaties hung up in the Senate Committee-room like lambs in
a butcher's shop, one could still remind him of what was solidly
completed. In his eight years of office he had solved nearly
every old problem of American statesmanship, and had left little
or nothing to annoy his successor. He had brought the great
Atlantic powers into a working system, and even Russia seemed
about to be dragged into a combine of intelligent equilibrium
based on an intelligent allotment of activities. For the first
time in fifteen hundred years a true Roman pax was in sight, and
would, if it succeeded, owe its virtues to him. Except for making
peace in Manchuria, he could do no more; and if the worst should
happen, setting continent against continent in arms -- the only
apparent alternative to his scheme -- he need not repine at
missing the catastrophe. 

  This rosy view served to soothe disgusts which every parting
statesman feels, and commonly with reason. One had no need to get
out one's notebook in order to jot down the exact figures on
either side. Why add up the elements of resistance and anarchy?
The Kaiser supplied him with these figures, just as the Cretic
approached Morocco. Every one was doing it, and seemed in a panic
about it. The chaos waited only for his landing.

  Arrived at Genoa, the party hid itself for a fortnight at
Nervi, and he gained strength rapidly as long as he made no
effort and heard no call for action. Then they all went on to
Nanheim without relapse. There, after a few days, Adams left him
for the regular treatment, and came up to Paris. The medical
reports promised well, and Hay's letters were as humorous and
light-handed as ever. To the last he wrote cheerfully of his
progress, and amusingly with his usual light scepticism, of his
various doctors; but when the treatment ended, three weeks later,
and he came on to Paris, he showed, at the first glance, that he
had lost strength, and the return to affairs and interviews wore
him rapidly out. He was conscious of it, and in his last talk
before starting for London and Liverpool he took the end of his
activity for granted. "You must hold out for the peace
negotiations," was the remonstrance. "I've not time!" he replied.
"You'll need little time!" was the rejoinder. Each was correct. 

  There it ended! Shakespeare himself could use no more than the
commonplace to express what is incapable of expression. "The rest
is silence!" The few familiar words, among the simplest in the
language, conveying an idea trite beyond rivalry, served
Shakespeare, and, as yet, no one has said more. A few weeks
afterwards, one warm evening in early July, as Adams was
strolling down to dine under the trees at Armenonville, he
learned that Hay was dead. He expected it; on Hay's account, he
was even satisfied to have his friend die, as we would all die if
we could, in full fame, at home and abroad, universally
regretted, and wielding his power to the last. One had seen
scores of emperors and heroes fade into cheap obscurity even when
alive; and now, at least, one had not that to fear for one's
friend. It was not even the suddenness of the shock, or the sense
of void, that threw Adams into the depths of Hamlet's
Shakespearean silence in the full flare of Paris frivolity in its
favorite haunt where worldly vanity reached its most futile
climax in human history; it was only the quiet summons to follow
-- the assent to dismissal. It was time to go. The three friends
had begun life together; and the last of the three had no motive
-- no attraction -- to carry it on after the others had gone.
Education had ended for all three, and only beyond some remoter
horizon could its values be fixed or renewed. Perhaps some day --
say 1938, their centenary -- they might be allowed to return
together for a holiday, to see the mistakes of their own lives
made clear in the light of the mistakes of their successors; and
perhaps then, for the first time since man began his education
among the carnivores, they would find a world that sensitive and
timid natures could regard without a shudder.



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