American Writers, Volume 1 by Leonard Unger

By Leonard Unger

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Adams' obsession with the mystery of the universe deflected him from the true path on which Mrs. Lodge had set him when they toured the Gothic cathedrals of northern France. Who today would give up Mont-SaintMichel for "Rule of Phase"? With old age he gave in more and more to the nervous habit of questioning everything which had so irritated his friend Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes. The latter wrote this description of him to Lewis Einstein, eight years after Adams' death: "He was very keen and a thinker, but seems to me to have allowed himself to be satisfied too easily that there was no instruction for him in the branches in which he dabbled.

In Mont-Saint-Michel the party encountered large numbers of tourists. Adams described them petulantly as pigs and the meals that he had to eat as hogpens. He does not seem to have run into many tourists in the other places, and one shudders to think what his reaction would have been had he traveled today. What struck him most in the Mount was that its character was more military than religious. He was fascinated by Senator Lodge's enthusiasm for it. Adams had not anticipated much from his friend as a sightseer.

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.

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