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[127] Mably as a guide, having read his √Čtude de l'histoire ten times. He would think out a chapter on the same structural plan as for a romance or a drama, letting the events develop towards some obvious point or conclusion. Count d'haussonville thinks this tendency to group transactions artistically a defect in historical narration, but other critics are more lenient, finding the result very readable. For six years the author worked on. Everything pertinent to his subject, and accessible at that time, that could be taken out of Spain, was imported in original or in transcript and digested very slowly. Prescott worked his direct quotations into his text, as a rule, instead of giving excerpts thrown or jerked into the narrative. At the same time, his references are precise and accurate. When the three volumes were concluded, the author again reaped an advantage from his full purse. No typewriting was available to break the fall from handwriting to the pitiless printed page, and to read handwriting was forbidden to Prescott. Feeling the need of meeting his copy face to face, he had four copies printed in large type on one side of the page. Then he was able to go over the whole, little by little, with his own sight. Submitted to the criticism of various friends, the book excited only delighted approval and stimulating comment, encouraging the author to have 1250 copies printed at his own expense by the American Stationers' Company (1836-37). Such a success America had never before seen or heard of. The edition was exhausted in five weeks. It was not surprising that the American reviews were favourable. There was no one capable of passing upon the sources. That the style was easy and the story illuminating was sufficient to make people gratefully acknowledge the introduction to Spanish history at a moment when Spanish eyes were turned anxiously towards the west. But in England there were at least two scholars who knew the subject and could pass a competent opinion on the American's work: Don Pascual de Gayangos, Spaniard and archivist in London, and Richard Forest, author of a handbook on Spain. Both accepted the new book with some puzzled queries as to how it could emanate from America. Basil Hall and Mrs. Trollope had given forth their impressions of the United States, and their readers were not prepared for scholarly yet graceful and novel historical work.

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