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[129] down his recollections of the great events in which he had participated half a century back, because Gomara's official history gave Cortes undue, and his comrades insufficient, credit for the Conquest, was a delightful guide to follow. His untaught phrases are alive and Prescott makes them more so. While later judgment discounts some of the conquistadore's statements, it cannot deny the fact that it was these glowing descriptions that affected the European imagination of the sixteenth century. For the ultimate rating of the veracity of the complaisant adventurer archeology has brought its later contribution, and of that science Prescott was ignorant, as was the rest of the world when he wrote. He almost relinquished the idea of his Mexico on hearing that Washington Irving had a similar scheme in mind. This would have been a real loss, as Irving's gentle raking over of unknown ground could not have produced as good fruit as Prescott's digging certainly did. Both The Conquest of Mexico and The Conquest of Peru were important works in the development of American literature and the American attitude towards knowledge. Neither the reputation nor the libraries of New England could have spared them.

The courtesy that Irving showed to a younger aspirant in his field was repeated by Prescott himself towards Motley, the latter ready to abandon his Rise of the Dutch republic for fear lest Prescott's Philip II would fill the whole field adequately. There was a division of labour, again lucky, as Prescott's biography would have been a meagre substitute for the glowing partisan book. Count d'haussonville ranks the incomplete Philip II as Prescott's best work. That is a dictum hard to accept. The author's attitude towards his central figure is less slashing than Motley's, less appreciative than Martin Hume's. In so much it may be called just, but there is a certain meagreness in the treatment. Robertson seems to have affected his style, although his work on that author's Charles V was not done until two volumes of Philip II had seen the light in 1855.

Between Peru and Philip II Prescott made a journey to England, where he was wonderfully received and feted during his four months visit. Oxford gave him a doctorate. In 1845 the French Institute and the Royal Society of Berlin,

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