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weep.” The author was so disconcerted that he said not a word, and retreated in confusion. After the publication of “Bracebridge Hall ” he met her in company again, and was persuaded to go through the ordeal of another presentation. The stately woman fixed her eyes on him as before, and slowly said, “You’ve made me weep again.” This time the bashful author acquitted himself with more honor.
This first sojourn abroad was not immediately fruitful in a literary way, and need not further detain us. It was the irresolute pilgrimage of a man who had not yet received his vocation. Everywhere he was received in the best society, and the charm of his manner and his ingenuous nature made him everywhere a favorite. He carried that indefinable passport which society recognizes and which needs no visé. He saw the people who were famous, the women whose recognition is a social reputation; he made many valuable friends; he frequented the theatre, he indulged his passion for the opera; he learned how to dine, and to appreciate the delights of a brilliant salon; he was picking up languages; he was observing nature and men, and especially women. That he profited by his loitering experience is plain enough afterward, but thus far there is little to prophesy that Irving would be anything more in life than a charming fláneur.
SOCIETY AND “SALMAGUNDI.”
ON Irving's return to America in February, 1806, with reëstablished health, life did not at first take on a more serious purpose. He was admitted to the bar, but he still halted. Society more than ever attracted him and devoured his time. He willingly accepted the office of “champion at the tea-parties;” he was one of a knot of young fellows of literary tastes and convivial habits, who delighted to be known as “The Nine Worthies,” or “Lads of Kilkenny.” In his letters of this period I detect a kind of callowness and affectation which is not discernible in his foreign letters and journal. These social worthies had jolly suppers at the humble taverns of the city, and wilder revelries in an old country house on the Passaic, which is celebrated in the “Salmagundi” papers as Cockloft Hall. We are reminded of the change of manners by a letter of Mr. Paulding, one of his comrades, written twenty years after, who recalls to mind the keeper of a porter house, “who whilom wore a long coat, in the pockets whereof he jingled two bushels of sixpenny pieces, and whose daughter played the piano to the accompaniment of broiled oysters.” There was some affectation of roystering in all this; but it was a time of social good-fellowship, and easy freedom of manners in both sexes. At the dinners there was much sentimental and bacchanalian singing; it was scarcely good manners not to get a little tipsy; and to be laid under the table by the compulsory bumper was not to the discredit of a guest. Irving
1 Irving once illustrated his legal acquirements at this time by the relation of the following anecdote to his nephew: Josiah Ogden Hoffman and Martin Wilkins, an effective and witty advocate, had been appointed to examine students for admission. One student acquitted himself very lamely, and at the supper which it was the custom for the candidates to give to the examiners, when they passed upon their several merits, Hoffman paused in coming to this one, and turning to Wilkins said, as if in hesitation, though all the while intending to admit him, “Martin, I think he knows a little law.” “Make it stronger, Jo,” was the reply; “d—d little.”
used to like to repeat an anecdote of one of . his early friends, Henry Ogden, who had been at one of these festive meetings. He told Irving the next day that in going home he had fallen through a grating which had been carelessly left open, into a vault bemeath. The solitude, he said, was rather dismal at first, but several other of the guests fell in, in the course of the evening, and they had on the whole a pleasant night of it. These young gentlemen liked to be thought “sad dogs.” That they were less abandoned than they pretended to be the sequel of their lives shows: among Irving's associates at this time who attained honorable consideration were John and Gouverneur Kemble, Henry Brevoort, Henry Ogden, James K. Paulding, and Peter Irving. The saving influence for all of them was the refined households they frequented and the association of women who were high-spirited without prudery, and who united purity and simplicity with wit, vivacity, and charm of manner. There is some pleasant correspondence between Irving and Miss Mary Fairlie, a belle of the time, who married the