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[117] the task of collecting and reprinting successively the correspondence of Washington and of Franklin. He was intimate at my mother's house and used to bring whole basketfuls of letters there; and I remember well studying over and comparing the separate signatures of Washington, as well as the variety of curves that he would extract from the letters Geo. of his baptismal name. Sparks was the honestest of men, and has been unfairly censured for revising and remodeling the letters of Washington as he did. His critics overlooked the fact that in the first place it was the habit of the time, and all editors in his day felt free to do it; and again that Washington did it freely himself, and often entered in his letter book something quite different from what he had originally written and sent out, which was in fact falsifying the whole correspondence.

Then followed George Bancroft, with a style in that day thought eloquent, but now felt to be overstrained and inflated; William H. Prescott, with attractive but colorless style and rather superficial interpretation; Ticknor, dull and accurate; Hildreth, extremely dry; Palfrey, more graceful, but one-sided;

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