18 This number was added to the upper right corner by someone other than Henry Adams.
Cambridge. 2 June. 1872.
My dear Lodge,
Your letter of
16th. arrived safely a few days since
and gave me the pleasant sensation
of thinking that I may after all have
done good at College; if you
ever try it, you will know how very
doubtful a teacher feels of his own
success, and how much a bit of en-
couragement does for him. Poor
Simpson's death, too, seemed utterly
disheartening. What is the use of
only to die at the start!
There is only one way to look at
life, and that is the practical way.
Keep clear of mere sentiment whenever
you have to decide a practical ques-
tion. Sentiment is very attractive and
I like it as well as most people, but
nothing in the way of action is worth
much which is not practically sound.
The question is whether the
historico-literary line is practically
worth following; not whether it will
amuse or improve you. Can you
make it pay? either in money, reputa-
tion, or any other solid value.
Now you will think for a mo-
ment of the most respectable and
respected products of our town of Bos-
ton, I think you will see at once that
this profession does pay. No one has
done better and won more in any
business or pursuit, than has been
acquired by men like Prescott, Motley,
Frank Parkman, Bancroft, and so on
in historical writing; none of them men
of extraordinary gifts, or who would
have been likely to do very much in
the world if they had chosen differently.
What they did, can be done by others.
Further, there is a great opening
here at this time. Boston is running
dry of literary authorities. Anyone
self here as a species of literary lion
with ease, for there is no rival to contest
the throne. With it, comes social dig-
nity, European reputation, and a
foreign mission to close.
To do it, requires patient study,
long labor, and perseverance that
knows no limit. The Germans have
these qualities beyond all other races.
Learn to appreciate and to use the Germ-
an historical method, and your style
can be elaborated at leisure. I should
think you could do this here.
I shall be in
London, I hope, on
the 1st. August, to be heard of at Barings.
If we are there together, we will have a dinner,
and talk it over. Remember me to your wife