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Chapter 12:

During all the years since his return from Europe, Mr. Ticknor had been steadily occupied with the preparation of the chief work of his life; that on which his reputation as a scholar, and his widest claim to distinction, must rest,—the ‘History of Spanish Literature.’ He devoted himself to this labor, as was his wont, with noiseless but unflagging industry, building his edifice, from the foundation, with solidity and precision; and while, of course, it was founded on the studies of twenty previous years, he threw aside, without hesitation, all that he had composed, during that period, in the form of lectures.

For a long time no trace appears in his correspondence, of this his principal occupation, and, until very shortly before the publication of the book, it is mentioned only in those letters through which he sought materials and information. The friends on whom he had no demands to make for this object were not required to share in an interest which did not naturally coincide with their habits of mind, and in his correspondence, as in his daily life, he kept the even tenor of his way, meeting the claims of others on his time and thoughts, without exacting the sympathy which did not flow from a common enthusiasm.

The subject he had chosen attracted him wonderfully. Indeed, it must be said, as preface to all else on this theme, that rarely has a man of letters fallen upon a subject which more entirely

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