Imagens das páginas

riage, and though a seven-months' boy, was the sturdiest of the flock. The rest were all born in the ordinary course of time.

“The story of the enchanted soldier remains one of the popular traditions of Granada, though told in a variety of ways; the common people affirm that he still mounts guard on mid-summer eve, beside the gigantic stone pomegranate on the bridge of the Darro; but remains invisible excepting to such lucky mortal as may possess the seal of Solomon.”

These passages from the most characteristic of Irving's books, do not by any means exhaust his variety, but they afford a fair measure of his purely literary skill, upon which his reputation must rest. To my apprehension this “charm" in literature is as necessary to the amelioration and enjoyment' of human life as the more solid achievements of scholarship. That Irving should find it in the prosaic and materialistic conditions of the New World as well as in the tradition-laden atmosphere of the Old, is evidence that he possessed genius of a refined and subtle quality if not of the most robust order.



THE last years of Irving's life, although full of activity and enjoyment, — abated only by the malady which had so long tormented him, - offer little new in the development of his character, and need not much longer detain us. The calls of friendship and of honor were many, his correspondence was large, he made many excursions to scenes that were filled with pleasant memories, going even as far south as Virginia, and he labored assiduously at the “Life of Washington,” — attracted however now and then by some other tempting theme. But his delight was in the domestic circle at Sunnyside. It was not possible that his occasional melancholy vein should not be deepened by change and death and the lengthening shade of old age. Yet I do not know the closing days of any

other author of note that were more cheerful, serene, and happy than his. Of our author, in these latter days, Mr. George William Curtis put recently into his “Easy Chair" papers an artistically-touched little portrait: “Irving was as quaint a figure,” he says, “as the Diedrich Knickerbocker in the preliminary advertisement of the ‘History of New York.’ Thirty years ago he might have been seen on an autumnal afternoon tripping with an elastic step along Broadway, with ‘low-quartered’ shoes neatly tied, and a Talma cloak —a short garment that hung from the shoulders like the cape of a coat. There was a chirping, cheery, old-school air in his appearance which was undeniably Dutch, and most harmonious with the associations of his writing. He seemed, indeed, to have stepped out of his own books; and the cordial grace and humor of his address, if he stopped for a passing chat, were delightfully characteristic. He was then our most famous man of letters, but he was simply free from all selfconsciousness and assumption and dogmatism.” Congenial occupation was one secret of Irving's cheerfulness and contentment, no doubt. And he was called away as soon as his task was done, very soon after the last volume of the “Washington ’’ issued from the press. Yet he lived long enough to receive the hearty approval of it from the literary men whose familiarity with the Revolutionary period made them the best judges of its merits. He had time also to revise his works. It is perhaps worthy of note that for several years, while he was at the height of his popularity, his books had very little sale. From 1842 to 1848 they were out of print, with the exception of some stray copies of a cheap Philadelphia edition, and a Paris collection (a volume of this, at my hand, is one of a series entitled a “Collection of Ancient and Modern British Authors”), they were not to be found. The Philadelphia publishers did not think there was sufficient demand to warrant a new edition. Mr. Irving and his friends judged the market more wisely, and a young New York publisher offered to assume the responsibility. This was Mr. George P. Putnam. The event justified his sagacity and his liberal enterprise; from July, 1848, to November, 1859, the author received on his copyright over eighty-eight thousand dollars. And it should be added that the relations between author and publisher, both in prosperity and in times of business disaster, reflect the highest credit upon both. If the like relations always obtained we should not have to say: “May the Lord pity the authors in this world, and the publishers in the next.”

I have outlined the life of Washington Irving in vain, if we have not already come to a tolerably clear conception of the character of the man and of his books. If I were exactly to follow his literary method I should do nothing more. The idiosyncrasies of the man are the strength and weakness of his works. I do not know any other author whose writings so perfectly reproduce his character, or whose character may be more certainly measured by his writings. His character is perfectly transparent: his predominant traits were humor and sentiment; his temperament was gay with a dash of melancholy; his inner life and his mental operations were the reverse of complex, and

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