The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XVI. Early National Literature, Part II; Later National Literature, Part I.

XVIII. Prescott and Motley.

§ 14. The Rise of the Dutch Republic.

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 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.