The Education of Henry Adams: An Autobiography

By Henry Adams | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VI

ROME (1859-1860)

THE tramp in Thüringen 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

Ruhest 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 light‐ hearted 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 Beet

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