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[179] studied arduously in Europe, with the help of secretaries, and by 1826, after a long hesitation, decided upon a History of the Reign of Ferdinand and Isabella. In ten years the three volumes were finished. “Pursuing the work in this quiet, leisurely way, without over-exertion or fatigue,” wrote Prescott, “or any sense of obligation to complete it in a given time, I have found it a continual source of pleasure.” It was published at his own expense on Christmas Day, 1837, and met with instantaneous success. “My market and my reputation rest principally with England,” he wrote in 1838--a curious footnote, by the way, to Emerson's Phi Beta Kappa Address of the year before. But America joined with England, in praising the new book. Then Prescott turned to the Conquest of Mexico, the Conquest of Peru, and finally to his unfinished History of the Reign of Philip II. He had, as Dean Milman wrote him, “the judgment to choose noble subjects.” He wrote with serenity and dignity, with fine balance and proportion. Some of the Spanish documents upon which he relied have been proved less trustworthy than he thought, but this unsuspected defect in his materials scarcely impaired the skill with which this unhasting, unresting

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