5 December 1886
1603 H. Street.

My dear Friend

Your letter of Novr. 22
reached me here two days ago. As
I returned from my father's funeral.
By the way, please overlook any
slight signs of flagging gaiety
you may notice in my style.
During the last eighteen months
I have not had the good luck
to attend my own funeral, but
with that exception I have buried
pretty nearly everything I lived
for; and at times I have had
to make some effort in order
to be as gay as one would wish.
I think it is because you are
one of the rare lunatics who
have a sense of the relation

between the ridiculous and the
desperate that I choose this day
of all others to answer your letter
telling me that you have a
small Marian. I have pretty
well got over the rage and fury
of my condition, and can man-
age to keep steady now, within
as well as without; but your
letter gave me wrench. I
am more than grateful to you
for your loyalty to Clover, and
I shall love the fresh Marian
dearly; but I shall be stricken
with panic until I am sure that
the imp has inherited her mother's
sense of the ridiculous, which is
the only sense I find worth
having in those about us.
Can I do nothing to ensure
it? Ought I not to send her a silver mug? But would such
a gift answer in the least my
real wishes for her, and would
it help to develop her mind in
the direction I am looking?
Please give me counsel! Bring
her north soon where I can
see her; or I shall come south.
I assure you I shall be bitterly
disappointed if the child turns
out only amiable and good.
Do you think she will be ready
to show her true character by
next march? Or shall I wait
a month or two? Mrs. Don
Cameron's baby, which was
also properly a Marian though
she let it be made a Martha,
already shows a Pennsylvanian
form of humor; and I am sure your Marian is more
advanced.

Do not regard my some-
what untutored notions as
other than serious. Though glad
to laugh at everything or anything,
I am solemn on this subject. I
want a monthly report of the
progress made by your infant.
I want to know what I can
send her; but I will send her
nothing that will do her what
the world regards as good. If
she is like her mother on her
namesake, I will invite her to
plunder me without reserve even
of my history in eight volumes;
but I cannot bear a disappoint-
ment in my old age; and I
cannot wait more than ten
years.

I shudder to think how
much I should have to say to
her twenty years hence; but after
all, nothing is much worth say-
ing between man and woman
except the single phrase that c on-
centrates the whole relation in
three words; and, at seventy, one
is supposed no longer to use
that formula. I will wait, but
I will never forgive you if she
does not understand me. If
I were in your place, I should
be overwhelmed by anxiety. The
idea of a daughter who might
not see everything at once, without
explanation, would be intolerable.
Even in my position I think
the suspense hardly fair to me.

I am really glad that the
rider and its incidents keep their

charm, but why should they not?
As for me, I have struggled
like a drowning pig to keep my
head above water. I took John
La Farge with me to Japan.
He and I wandered five months
over the earth, laughing at every-
thing we saw, and amused
as two children would be with
a new baby-house. Japan is most
entertaining, being a categorical
contradiction, from the cradle to
the grave, of America, and every
thing, thought, and act Ameri-
can. We found it suit us per-
fectly. For the time, I felt as
though the world had some-
thing new - or old - in it,
which was really amusing.Unluckily I thought myself
called upon to come back to
the old life, which was a ra-
pid blunder, and I am
paying for it. As for my
house, it is yours. I hate it,
or should hate it, if I cared
enough about it to feel so
strong an emotion; but I
have brought one of my nieces
here to make it a little less
empty, and I have established
my amiable friend Theodore
Dwight in it, to make it a
little less lonely. We manage
to get on, from day to day, and
I mean to make myself stand
it as long as one can stand
toothache. One additional mo-tive will be the prospect of open-
ing its doors some day to you.

Of course I know next to
nothing about anybody, or any-
thing, though my friends are
devotedly true to me, and even
the married ones defy Mrs Grun-
dy and come to the house al-
most as much as ever. Some-
how I do not feel an acute
interest in politics, and I find
history a bore beyond eloquence
to describe; but time will no
doubt restore the illusion that
the world is real, and takes
a share in my literary rubbish.

This letter is for you, and
not for general perusal. Please
keep it to yourself, as you would
be done by. Commend me to
[This text goes up the page on the left had side.] your husband, and believe me ever truly yrs

Henry Adams

19.9 cm x 12.3 cm

From Henry Adams letters to Anne (Palmer) Fell