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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21). rn VOLUME XVII. Later National Literature, Part II.

XV. Later Historians

§ 17. Edward Gaylord Bourne

Professor Bourne was the son of a village minister in New England. Unlike Winsor, his life was always overcast with the problem of earning a living. Lameness from childhood handicapped his efforts and eventually resulted in his death when he had just demonstrated his capacity for historical work of the first class. Wide information, good judgment, and a keen eye for inaccuracies characterized his work. A sense of proportion is ever found in the structure of his books, and his language is clear and sometimes graceful. In the latter part of his life he came under the sway of “the great subject,” and when he died he was the leading Americanist in the United States. One small book, Spain in America (1905), remains as an expression of this phase of his activity; but it is so well done that it is not likely to be superseded as long as we hold our present views on the period of the explorers. In his Essays in Historical Criticism he gave the student and general reader a model of sound historical analysis and showed how to test historical statement in a practical way. Most of the Essays had previously been published in various places. The most notable was the paper called The Legend of Marcus Whitman, which was received with angry protest from those to whom the legend had become dear.