3(a) HENRY ADAMS, a descendant of two Presidents of the United States and son of Charles Francis Adams (in the sixties American Minister to England), describes a dinner party at the home of Richard Monckton Milnes, soon to be known as Lord Houghton. A passage preceding the following extract mentions the three men present besides Swinburne and Adams—Milnes, ‘Stirling of Keir’, and Laurence Oliphant.
The Education of Henry Adams (1918), 139-41, by permission of Houghton Mifflin, the publisher.
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 humour, 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