Gayangos: Prescott’s Most Indispensable Aide<sup>[*]</sup>

C. Harvey Gardiner

in Pascual de Gayangos

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print November 2008 | ISBN: 9780748635474
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748653140 | DOI:
Gayangos: Prescott’s Most Indispensable Aide[*]

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In pursuit of historical scholarship, William Hickling Prescott was peculiarly independent. His dependent nature sprang from three basic circumstances: the state of Spanish and Spanish American historical studies in the United States, wherein his trail-blazing contributions antedated the existence of public collections; the state of his physical being, which found him blind in one eye and able to employ the other one in an occasional and erratic fashion only; and the inner nature of the man who was so enamoured of family, friends, Boston, a personal comforts, and fashionable society that the very thought of foreign travel in search of historical materials never received serious consideration in the course of his entire career. To counter these intellectual, physical and social-psychological obstacles, Prescott cultivated his financial well-being which permitted him to move ahead with his historical studies. In doing so, he depended upon many for a lot of things. This chapter focuses on Prescott's dependence on Pascual de Gayangos. Over the years, Gayangos served as Prescott's critic, adviser and provider of relevant materials to the latter's intellectual endeavours. Among Prescott's books and manuscripts with which Gayangos played a crucial role were: Ferdinand and Isabella, Conquest of Mexico, Phillip the Second and The Conquest of Peru. Living at the time when Spain slipped from the category of great powers, Gayangos defined the illiberal smallness of mind and action which characterised nineteenth-century Spanish life and he lived to be one of Spain's intellectual giants. In doing so, he contributed to some classic accounts of Spanish greatness. He lent his time, knowledge and resources to several Anglo-American writers, such as Prescott. So long as Prescott towers as the finest nineteenth-century English language interpreter of Spanish culture, Gayangos deserves to be recalled as his finest and his most indispensable aide.

Keywords: William Hickling Prescott; Pascual de Gayangos; Ferdinand and Isabella; Conquest of Mexico; Phillip the Second; The Conquest of Peru

Chapter.  11684 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture

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