1859. AEt. 45.
Letter to Mr. Francis H. Underwood.—Plan of Mr. Motley’s historical works.—Second great work, “History of the united Netherlands.”
I am enabled by the kindness of Mr. Francis H. Underwood to avail myself of a letter addressed to him by Mr. Motley in the year before the publication of this second work, which gives us an insight into his mode of working and the plan he proposed to follow. It begins with an allusion which recalls a literary event interesting to many of his American friends.
Rome, March 4, 1859.
F. H. Underwood, ESQ.
My dear Sir,—. . . I am delighted to hear of the great success of “The Atlantic Monthly.” In this remote region I have not the chance of reading it as often as I should like, but from the specimens which I have seen I am quite sure it deserves its wide circulation. A serial publication, the contents of which are purely original and of such remarkable merit, is a novelty in our country, and I am delighted to find that it has already taken so prominent a position before the reading world. . .
The whole work [his history], of
which the three volumes already
published form a part, will be called “The Eighty Years’ War for
Epoch I. is the Rise of the Dutch Republic.
Epoch II. Independence Achieved.
From the Death of William the
Silent till the Twelve Years’ Truce. 1584-1609.
Epoch III. Independence Recognized.
From the Twelve Years’ Truce
to the Peace of Westphalia. 1609-1648.
My subject is a very vast one, for the struggle of the United Provinces with Spain was one in which all the leading states of Europe were more or less involved. After the death of William the Silent, the history assumes world-wide proportions. Thus the volume which I am just about terminating . . . is almost as much English history as Dutch. The Earl of Leicester, very soon after the death of Orange, was appointed governor of the provinces, and the alliance between the two countries almost amounted to a political union. I shall try to get the whole of the Leicester administration, terminating with the grand drama of the Invincible Armada, into one volume; but I doubt, my materials are so enormous. I have been personally very hard at work, nearly two years, ransacking the British State Paper Office, the British Museum, and the Holland archives, and I have had two copyists constantly engaged in London, and two others at the Hague. Besides this, I passed the whole of last winter at Brussels, where, by special favor of the Belgian Government, I was allowed to read what no one else has ever been permitted to see,—the great mass of copies