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[126] latter answered in some detail that his one chance of success was to work even with limited resources at home rather than to jeopardize his future by groping with half sight in archives abroad. The explanation, written by his own hand, brought on an access of misery to his eye, and he recovered lost ground very slowly.

Under fresh limitations, but now with his scene firmly set, he began a systematic course of international and legal history, in addition to a general survey of Spain, geographically, economically, ecclesiastically, and civilly, especially with reference to fifteenth-century conditions. This necessitated the consultation of several hundred volumes in working days of about four hours each, with actual reading power of an hour a day at best, a few minutes or nothing, at worst. The imported sources arrived, but the author lingered on at the threshold before plunging into Spanish details. He recurred to Montesquieu's Ésprit des lois, to Voltaire, and to other philosophical considerations of history and human conditions; he heard governmental, theological, and chivalric works, many biographies and the classics, the last now in translation that they might be read aloud. Much of this was, of course, mere intellectual pabulum, never to be concretely adapted to his expressed results. By this time he had acquired a capacity of holding firmly in his mind the portions he saw he could use, while putting aside the non-essential. Such methods have rarely been applied so deliberately and consciously by an historical writer.

Having decided that he would use secondary material when a phase of his subject had been adequately treated by French or Spanish writers, Prescott began original work by mastering the chronicles of Andres Bernaldez as a first-hand source. Luckily the secretary devoted to his service was an able young Harvard graduate, a Mr. English, capable of supplementing the author's eyes, and sympathetic with his methods. The copy of Bernaldez obtained was in manuscript of no easy style.

The actual composition of Ferdinand and Isabella began in 1829, after eight years of preliminary reading, both general and special, at large and with the goal in mind. When it came to the literary form of the narrative, Prescott followed

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