He was less of an artist, however, than Prescott
, the eldest and in some ways the finest figure of the well-known Prescott
group of Boston
All of these men, together with their friend George Ticknor
, who wrote the History of Spanish literature
and whose own Life and letters
pictures a whole generation, had the professional advantages of inherited wealth, and the opportunity to make deliberate choice of a historical field which offered freshness and picturesqueness of theme.
All were tireless workers in spite of every physical handicap; all enjoyed social security and the rich reward of full recognition by their contemporaries.
They had their world as in their time, as Chaucer
makes the Wife of Bath
say of herself, and it was a pleasant world to live in.
Grandson of “Prescott the brave” of Bunker Hill
, and son of the rich Judge Prescott
, William Hickling Prescott
was born in 1796, and was graduated from Harvard in 1814.
An accident in college destroyed the sight of one eye, and left him but a precarious use of the other.
Nevertheless he resolved to emulate Gibbon
, whose Autobiography
had impressed him, and to make himself “an historian in the best sense of the term.”