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[130] and in 1847 two learned societies of England, had made him a member, so that his status as a scholar was perfectly assured, and his own charm gained him permanent friendship after formal courtesy had made connecting links. During the remainder of his life, noted English scholars and statesmen kept up a correspondence with him. Perhaps the friendship accorded to him by Alexander von Humboldt on account of Mexico and Peru was one of the most grateful of the many won by the real merit of his literary labours. Fortunately he never lost the powers of enjoyment or of active occupation as death came very suddenly in 1859.

Prescott has been called a great amateur in the historical field, and in one sense, the term applies. Born only a year after Leopold Ranke, Prescott missed the influence spread abroad, eventually far beyond German university circles, by the great German scholar. The very vocabulary now used had not come into being. Prescott made his own standards. Nor did he have the incidental training that has been the strength of many an historian. Not trained in the methods of the École des Chartes, nor in the precise legal knowledge of jurisprudence, like Maitland, nor in active political service for his own state, nor in a school of philosophy, still less in the academic methods of research, Prescott simply assimilated language first and then events, and painted pictures of the past by a skilful union of the two. His style is a fine instrument of expression. His language plays him no tricks. He holds it in his own control, firmly, like a well-wrought, highly-tempered tool. His own temperament manifests itself very little in his writing. Nor is there any echo of contemporary politics in his treatment of the past. He is as aloof from the events passing in the United States as from those that he depicts. Possibly this is due to the peculiar state of affairs in those ante-bellum decades of the nineteenth century. He was a Bostonian who hated strife and felt that agitation was disagreeable. Thus nothing of his personal opinions and experience peeps out from between his lines as do those of Bancroft, Motley, and a score of French and Netherland writers whose pages are coloured by their attitude towards their immediate present. Perhaps had Prescott survived the outbreak of the Civil War his sentiments would have changed.

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