previous next


[137] obliged to take his own risks, and The rise of the Dutch republic was published at the author's expense by John Chapman in London, and by Harpers in New York. The sale of fifteen thousand copies in two years proved the fallibility of human judgment. The reviews were not, however, as uniformly favourable as in Prescott's case. The Saturday review1 brought heavy artillery to bear on the ambitious American in the same number with a censorious attack upon Browning's Men and women and three columns upon the lack of interest in Miss Yonge's unpretentious domestic tale, The Daisy Chain. The Review's slashing denunciation of his flashy chapter headings was peculiarly annoying to Motley, because he had disapproved of their adoption. He comments upon this in a letter to his father, in connection with the remark that every book notice had condemned them unequivocally. The literary Gazette2 found virtues in the volumes, but added: ‘The book is far too ponderous both in matter and style to be popular,’ and commiserated Motley because his literary skill fell so far short of his diligence and learning that other writers would enter into the fruits of his labours and write more popular histories out of his store. The sequence of the prophecy proved singularly true. Motley's Rise of the Dutch republic has been quarried and retold in every conceivable form. One has only to glance along the shelves in the Library of Congress to see how many books are based on Motley, with due credit to him, while many more volumes, serious and romantic, less frankly owe their being to his pages. At the same time, this use of fragments has not been due to the unpopular character of the full work, as is proved by the continued sales of the three volumes.

As a compensation for the Saturday's strictures on his work, The Westminster review for the month following (April, 1856), had as its leading article a comprehensive paper by J. A. Froude which did full justice to the unknown American writer.

A history as complete as industry and genius can make it now lies before us of the first twenty years of the Revolt of the United Provinces. . . . It has been the result of many years of silent

1 23 March, 1856.

2 19 April, 1856.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Westminster (Massachusetts, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Mary Benjamin Motley (4)
Miss Yonge (1)
William Hickling Prescott (1)
Harpers (1)
J. A. Froude (1)
John Chapman (1)
Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
April 19th, 1856 AD (1)
April, 1856 AD (1)
March 23rd, 1856 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: