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[136] more normal powers makes his public appearance. But Motley began to show himself in another light than that of romancer or legislator; his essays were proving that he could conquer some of the glaring faults of his style and write on sober themes. His articles on Peter the Great, on Balzac, and on Talvi's Geschichte der Colonisation von New England were scholarly and original. He had no desire, however, to dissipate his store of energy in ephemeral reviews. Before the publication of his half-historical Merry Mount he had selected the theme of the contest between the Netherlands and Spain for an extensive work, had been checked momentarily by the news of Prescott's projected Philip II, had been spurred on by the kindly words of the elder American, and had then devoted himself to going to the foundations of the story of the events. He says in reference to hearing of Prescott's work:
It seemed to me that I had nothing to do but to renounce authorship. For I had not at first made up my mind to write a history and then cast about to take up a subject. My subject had taken me up, drawn me on, and absorbed me into itself. It was necessary for me, it seemed, to write the book I had been thinking much of, even if it were destined to fall dead from the press, and I had no inclination or interest to write any other.

Thus Prescott's courtesy did as much service to Motley as Washington Irving's did to the author of The Conquest of Mexico. To the world, too, it would have been a loss had The rise of the Dutch republic never come to light. It was indeed a work of love. Motley gave up every other thought and worked to one end only. He made no such preliminary preparation as did Prescott. Yet in a way, his whole career had been leading up to it. He had burned to express himself. He planted source-material in his mind, and the story flowered from it, naturally. For nearly ten years he plodded on, at first in Boston and then in archives abroad, in Berlin, Dresden, The Hague, and Brussels. He bathed in local colour. In 1855 he had his three volumes ready for the printer. Then came a difficulty. No publisher would look at the formidable mass of manuscript with the slightest interest. No one would believe in the chances of returns from such an expensive undertaking as its publication. Like his compatriot, Motley was

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