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observer of the scene than a lawyer. He did not share the prevalent opinion of Burr's treason, and regarded him as a man so fallen as to be shorn of the power to injure the country, one for whom he could feel nothing but compassion. That compassion, however, he received only from the ladies of the city, and the traits of female goodness manifested then sunk deep into Irving's heart. Without pretending, he says, to decide on Burr's innocence or guilt, “his situation is such as should appeal eloquently to the feelings of every generous bosom. Sorry am I to say the reverse has been the fact: fallen, proscribed, pre-judged, the cup of bitterness has been administered to him with an unsparing hand. It has almost been considered as culpable to evince toward him the least sympathy or support; and many a hollowhearted caitiff have I seen, who basked in the sunshine of his bounty while in power, who now skulked from his side, and even mingled among the most clamorous of his enemies. . . . I bid him farewell with a heavy heart, and he expressed with peculiar warmth and feeling his sense of the interest I had taken in his fate. I never felt in a
more melancholy mood than when I rode from his solitary prison.” This is a good illustration of Irving's tender-heartedness; but considering Burr's whole character, it is altogether a womanish case of misplaced
THE KNICKERBOCKER PERIOD.
Not long after the discontinuance of “Salmagundi,” Irving in connection with his brother Peter projected the work that was to make him famous. At first nothing more was intended than a satire upon the “Picture of New York,” by Dr. Samuel Mitchell, just then published. It was begun as a mere burlesque upon pedantry and erudition, and was well advanced, when Peter was called by his business to Europe, and its completion was fortunately left to Washington. In his mind the idea expanded into a different conception. He condensed the mass of affected learning, which was their joint work, into five introductory chapters, – subsequently he said it would have been improved if it had been reduced to one, and it seems to me it would have been better if that one had been thrown away, - and finished “A History of New York,” by Diedrich Knickerbocker, substantially as we now have it. This was in 1809, when Irving was twenty-six years old. But before this humorous creation was completed, the author endured the terrible bereavement which was to color all his life. He had formed a deep and tender passion for Matilda Hoffman, the second daughter of Jeremiah Ogden Hoffman, in whose family he had long been on a footing of the most perfect intimacy, and his ardent love was fully reciprocated. He was restlessly casting about for some assured means of livelihood which would enable him to marry, and perhaps his distrust of a literary career was connected with this desire, when after a short illness Miss Hoffman died, in the eighteenth year of her age. Without being a dazzling beauty, she was lovely in person and mind, with most engaging manners, a refined sensibility, and a delicate and playful humor. The loss was a crushing blow to Irving, from the effects of which he never recovered, although time softened the bitterness of his grief into a tender and sacred memory. He could never bear to hear her name spoken even by his most intimate friends, or any allusion to her. Thirty years after her death, it happened one evening at the house of Mr. Hoffman, her father, that a granddaughter was playing for Mr. Irving, and in taking her music from the drawer, a faded piece of embroidery was brought forth. “Washington,” said Mr. Hoffman, picking it up, “this is a piece of poor Matilda's workmanship.” The effect was electric. He had been talking in the sprightliest mood before, but he sunk at once into utter silence, and in a few moments got up and left the house. After his death, in a private repository of which he always kept the key, was found a lovely miniature, a braid of fair hair, and a slip of paper, on which was written in his own hand, “Matilda Hoffman; ” and with these treasures were several pages of a memorandum in ink long since faded. He kept through life her Bible and Prayer Book; they were placed nightly under his pillow in the first days of anguish that followed her loss, and ever after they were the inseparable companions of all his wanderings. In this memorandum — which was