The Letters of John Fiske

By John Fiske; Ethel F. Fisk | Go to book overview

XVIII

Cambridge, June 30, 1892.

Dear Martha:

I know you will be much interested in the enclosed extracts from a review of my "Discovery of America" which appeared in the "New York Sun", written by Mayo Williamson Hazeltine, a literary critic who has an exceptionally fine knowledge of Spanish literature, and is well versed in the facts of Spanish-American history.

"What will invest this book with a strange charm for the general reader is the fact that there is not one of its twelve chapters in which the author, though he evinces no proclivities to paradox, does not arrive at conclusions more or less divergent from the commonly received opinions, so that the work gains from its treatment something of the same fascination of novelty which the subject had for the contemporaries of Columbus. Where the statements and deductions made by preceding historians are reaffirmed, it is always plain that the evidence has been subjected to independent scrutiny, and often confirmatory testimony is added.

"When we bear in mind the scope of this narrative and the multitude of details which the author is led to touch, the accuracy exhibited is surprising, not to say amazing! We have scrutinized the book from the first page to the last, and with the deliberate purpose of detecting mistakes if we could—especially in reference to the history of Spain with which we happen to be somewhat conversant, we supposed that a slip might be discernible. We have been unable to discover a single inadvertence, much less a distinct misstatement of facts. A dozen minor errors, had they been disclosed, would not have availed to efface or even cloud the general impression of exactitude. Homer sometimes nods, but in this instance, so far as we can see, there is no deduction to be made on the score of momentary negligence.

"We do not hesitate to pronounce this book—and we speak with distinct recognition of our indebtedness to Bancroft and Prescott—the most valuable contribution to history that has been made by an American. It is a book of which the author's countrymen may well be proud, whether they consider the range and variety of the topics discussed, or the patience, sagacity, and thoroughness with which each branch of enquiry is pursued, or the clearness and soundness of the judgments ultimately reached. Viewed as it should be, with due heed to all that went before and after, the discovery of America is a theme which might well tax the

-610-

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The Letters of John Fiske
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The Letters of John Fiske *
  • Illustrations *
  • I 1
  • II 35
  • III 67
  • IV 132
  • V 143
  • VI 194
  • VII 224
  • VIII 333
  • IX 380
  • X 416
  • XI 435
  • XII 449
  • XIII 482
  • XIV 501
  • XV 536
  • XVI 549
  • XVII 592
  • XVIII 610
  • XIX 627
  • XX 646
  • XXI 666
  • XXII 696
  • XXIII 704
  • Addenda 706
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