Edward Everett (1794–1865) during his long life was clergyman, professor, college president, congressman, governor, United States Senator, minister to Great Britain, and Vice-Presidential candidate. An ambitious and learned man who was also a moving and handsome orator, Everett was a great Boston figure who inevitably became a part of Charles Francis Adams’ Diary. And when Adams became engaged to Abigail B. Brooks, a sister of Mrs. Edward Everett, he and Everett became prospective kinsmen. “A man of shining talents and of illustrious promise,” in John Quincy Adams’ early estimation ( John Quincy Adams, Diary
, 13 February 1820), Everett took up his duties as professor of Greek Literature at Harvard after studying at Göttingen University (becoming the first American to receive its Ph.D. degree). With another German-trained scholar, George Ticknor, he helped to enrich the students’ curriculum with his lectures while he set an example of scholarship for a faculty hitherto “home-bred” and “in-bred.” Charles Francis Adams, who took Everett’s course in Greek Literature in his junior year, faithfully recorded the professor’s lectures as part of his Diary and they appear in volume one. The diarist thought that the lectures were too long and full of “dry details and ancient learning” with “nothing to interest or amuse” (vol. 1:432
), yet he seldom missed a discourse, for Everett’s erudition was like a magnet attracting Adams’ mind. When he came to comparing Everett’s course with that given by the equally eminent Ticknor on French literature, a subject Adams loved, especially since he read the works in the original, Adams preferred Everett’s. See Paul Revere Frothingham, Edward Everett: Orator and Statesman,
Boston, 1925, and
Samuel Eliot Morison, Three Centuries of Harvard, 1636–1936
, Cambridge, 1936.
The portrait of Everett is attributed to the Massachusetts-born artist Bass Otis (1784–1861), who worked in New York and Boston but spent most of his life in Philadelphia. Although he was primarily a portrait painter, he took an interest in engraving and was a pioneer in lithography in this country. The picture was given to Harvard College in 1865 by William G. Brooks. See Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, New York, 1928–1936, and Laura H. Huntsinger, Harvard Portraits: A Catalogue of Portrait Paintings at Harvard University, Cambridge, 1936, p. 54–55.