Between 1860 and 1868 he produced the four volumes of the History of the United Netherlands
During the Civil War
he served usefully as American minister to Vienna
, and in 1869 was appointed minister to London
Both of these appointments ended unhappily for him. Dr. Holmes
, his loyal admirer and biographer, does not conceal the fact that a steadier, less excitable type of public servant might have handled both the Vienna
situation and the London
situation without incurring a recall.
continued to live in England
, where his daughters had married, and where, in spite of his ardent Americanism, he felt socially at home.
His last book was The life and death of John of Barneveld
, edited after his death in 1877 by George William Curtis
, give a fascinating picture of English life among the cultivated and leisurely classes.
The Boston merchant's son was a high-hearted gentleman, and his cosmopolitan experiences used to make his stay-at-home friend, Oliver Wendell Holmes
, feel rather dull and provincial in comparison.
Both were Sons of Liberty, but Motley
had had the luck to find in “brave little Holland
” a subject which captivated the interest of Europe
and gave the historian international fame.