and as for generalization he abhorred it
His accumulations in after years were more in the direction of details, and much of this class of matter, in the getting of which he spent the last thirty-five years of his life, would doubtless be considered as unimportant by most historical writers imbued with the modern philosophizing spirit. Draper, however, considered no detail regarding his heroes as too trivial for collection and preservation. He design was to be encylopaedic; he would have his biographies embrace every scrap of attainable information, regardless of its relative merit. He has confessed to me, with some sadness, more than once, that he felt himself quite lacking in the sense of proportion, could not understand the principles of historical perspective or historical philosophy, and as for generalization he abhorred it. Yet his literary style was incisive, and he sometimes shone in controversy.
“I have wasted my life in puttering,” he once lamented, “but I see no help for it...”
Unfortunately for himself, he had accumulated so vast a flood of material that at last it was beyond his control, and although ever hopeful of soon commencing in earnest, he could but contemplate his work with awe. He thenceforth made no important progress.
“Still puttering,” he often mournfully replied, when I would inquire as to what he was doing; but his countenance would at once lighten as he cheerfully continued, “Well, I’m really going to commence on George Rogers Clark in a few days, as soon as I hear from the letters I sent to Kentucky this morning...” It was ever the same story — always planning, never doing.
— Reuben Gold Thwaites, “Lyman Copeland Draper — A Memoir,” in Proceedings of the Thirty-Ninth Annual Meeting of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, held September 10, 1891 (1892) : 74-95