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[257] the artistic manner with which you have handled your materials. The subject is, to be sure,—as it now appears after your book is finished,— a brilliant and romantic one; but I have read enough of literary histories to know that they are too apt to furnish a kind of Barmecide's feast, in which the reader has to play the part of Shacabac, and believe in the excellence of the lamb, stuffed with pistachio nuts, the flavor of the wines, and the perfume of the roses, upon the assertion of the entertainer, and without assistance from his own perceptions. This is not the case with your history. While reading it, one feels and recognizes the peculiar qualities of Spanish poetry and romance, which are so singularly in union with the chivalrous and romantic nation which produced them. You have given extracts enough from each prominent work to allow the reader to feel its character, and to produce upon his mind the agreeable illusion that he himself knows something of the literature to which you introduce him. You analyze enough to instruct, without wearying the reader with too elaborate details.

This I take to be the great art in composing literary history. The reader should be able to take, and to remember, a general view of the whole, and while looking down the long vista of the gallery, he should be allowed to pause at each remarkable picture long enough to study and comprehend its beauties and its individual character. . . . .

I cannot doubt that the work will always be the standard work upon the subject, and that it will turn the attention of many to a literature which has of late years been, I should think, comparatively neglected. . . . .

Spanish literature is not only an important subject in itself, but it furnishes a complete and separate episode in the history of the progress and development of the European mind. Nowhere else have poets exhibited themselves in such picturesque and startling attitude and costume. The warrior, monk, troubadour, and statesman, all in one, combining the priest's bigotry and the poet's fire with the ‘courtier's, soldier's, scholar's, eye, tongue, sword,’ exist only in that romantic literature of which you have written the history so well.

One can hardly understand the history of Europe without knowing not only the history, but the literary history, of Spain; and after the brilliant illustrations of both, furnished by yourself and Mr. Prescott, no one will have an excuse for ignorance.

Begging you to excuse this slight expression of the merits of your work, I remain

Very sincerely yours,

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