William Hickling Prescott

By C. Harvey Gardiner | Go to book overview

XI
The triumph of moral power over the physical ...

THE NEW YEAR BROUGHT GIFTS, a heavy cold and a work delay for William H. Prescott. For a time Dr. Jackson, guardian of the health of the Prescotts for more than three decades, vetoed any idea of literary labor. Unable to do more, the historian sat back and listened to portions of Lord Brougham's works concerning English culture in the eighteenth century. Throwing off the cold and laying aside Brougham, he enthusiastically turned to his work. Incident to getting up steam, he once more reminded himself that the chief ingredient in his recipe for happiness was literary activity.

In mid-January he resumed the history which had gathered dust for three months. Although he could not give himself over completely to history—rents, leases and other property interests crowded upon him at that season—he stuck doggedly with it. By mid-February he was well into that section which dealt with the civil wars among the victorious Spaniards. Little interested in that unprofitable and repetitious military confusion, he reduced the details, increased the generalizations, and kept his narrative moving. To safeguard his momentum, he enunciated more rules.

"Be out to loungers—not go down to tea, in evening—and in short keep up unbroken thought—till work of the day ended,"
he jotted in

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