« AnteriorContinuar »
the congregation, and they were moved at it. They exerted themselves to render her situation more comfortable, and to lighten her afflictions. It was, however, but smoothing a few steps to the grave. In the course of a Sunday or two after, she was missed from her usual seat at church, and before I left the neighborhood, I heard, with a feeling of satisfaction, that she had quietly breathed her last, and gone to rejoin those she loved, in that world where sorrow is never known, and friends are never parted.
IRVING. WASHINGTON IRVING, who has delighted the readers of the English langnage for more than half a century, was born in the city of New York, on the third of April, 1783. His father, a respectable merchant, originally from Scotland, died wbile he was quite young, and his education was superintended by his elder brothers, some of whom have gained considerable reputation for acquirements and literature. His first essays were a series of letters under the signature of Jonathan Oldstyle, Gent., published in the Morning Chronicle, of which one of his brothers was editor, in 1802. In 1806, after his return from a European tour, he joined Mr. Paulding in writing “Salmagundi," a whimsical miscellany, which captivated the town and decided the fortunes of its authors. Soon after, he produced "The History of New York, by Diedrick Knickerbocker," the most original and humorous work of the age. After the appearance of this work, he wrote but little for several years, having engaged with his brothers in foreign commerce; but, fortunately for American literature, while in England, in 1815, a reverse of fortune changed the whole tenor of his life, causing him to resort to literature, which had hitherto been his amusement, for solace and support. The first fruit of this change was “The Sketch Book,” which was published in New York and London in 1819 and 1820, and which met a success never before received by a book of unconnected tales and essays. Mr. Irving subsequently published “ Bracebridge Hall," the “History of the Life and Voyages of Columbus," "The Alhambra," &c., &c. He received one of the gold medals of fifty guineas in value, provided by George the Fourth, for eminence in historical composition. In 1832, after an absence of seventeen years, he returned to the United States. His admirable "Life of Washington" is his last literary production. He died Nov.28, 1859. His style has the ease and purity, and more than the grace and polish of Franklin. His carefully selected words, his variously constructed periods, his remarkable elegance, sustained sweetness, and distinct and delicate painting, place him in the very front rank of the masters of our language.
I. 15. BIOGRAPHY OF JACOB HAYS. THERE the subject of the present memoir (měm'war)
was born, can be but of little consequence ; who were his father and mother, of still less; and how he was bred and
educated, of none at all. I shall therefore' pass over this division of his existence in eloquent silence, and come at once to the period when he attained the ăc'mē of constabulary power and dignity by being created high constable of this city and its suburbs : and it may be remarked, in passing, that the honorable the corporation, during their long and unsatisfactory career, never made an appointment more creditable to themselves, more beneficial to the city, more honorable to the country at large, more imposing in the eye of foreign nations, more disagreeable to all rogues, nor more gratifying to honèst men, than that of the gentleman whom we are biographizing, to the high office he now holds.
2. His ăcūtenèss and vigilance have become proverbial ; and there is not a misdeed committed by any member of this community, but he is speedily admonished that he will “ have old Hays (as he is affectionately and familiarly termed) after him.” Indeed, it is supposed by many that he is gifted with supernatural attributes, and can see things that are hid from mortal ken; or how, it is contended, is it possible that he should, as he does, “ bring forth the secret'st man of blood ? That he can discover “undivulged crime"—that when a store has been robbed, he, without hesitation, can march directly to the house where the goods are concealed, and say, “These are they"-or, when a gentleman's pocket has been picked, that, from a crowd of unsavory miscreants he can, with uněrring judgment, lay his hand upon one and exclaim, “ You're wanted !” –or, how is it that he is gifted with that strānge principle of ubịquitý“ that makes him “here and there, and everywhere” at the same moment? No matter how, so long as the public reap the benefit; and well may that public apostrophize him in the words of the poet
Lõng may he live! our city's pride!
Where lives the rogue, but flies before him!
And staff of office waving o'er him. 3. But it is principally as a literary man that we would speak of Mr. Hays. True, his poetry is "unwritten,” as is also his prose; and he has invariably expressed a decided contempt for Therefore, ther'for.)
a constable, or to a police-officer. 2 Ac' mē, the summit; the top or
Ubiquity, (yu bik' wï tf), existhighest point.
ence in all places, or every where, at • Con stă b' ū la rý, pertaining to the same time.
philosophy, music, rhetoric, the belles-lettres,' the fine arts, and in fact all species of composition excepting bailiffs' warrants and bills of indictment: but what of that? The constitution of his mind is, even unknown to himself, decidedly poetical. And here I may be allowed to avail myself of another peculiarity of modern bīög'raphy, namely, that of describing a man by what he is not.
4. Mr. Hays has not the graphic' power or antiquarian' lore of Sir Walter Scott-nor the glittering imagery or voluptuous tenderness of Moore-nor the delicacy and polish of Rogersnor the spirit of Campbell—nor the sentimentalism of Miss Landon-nor the depth and purity of thought and intimate acquaintance with nature of Bryant-nor the brilliant style and playful humor of Halleck : no, he is more in the petit larceny manner of Crabbe, with a slight touch of Byronic power and gloom. He is familiarly acquainted with all those in'teresting scenes of vice and poverty so fondly dwelt upon by that reverend chronicler of little villainy, and if ever he can be prevailed upon to publish, there will doubtless be found a remarkable similarity in their works.
5. His height is about five feet seven inches, but who makes his clothes we have as yet been unable to ascertain. His countenance is strongly marked, and forcibly brings to mind the lines of Byron when describing his Corsair
There was a laughing devil in his sneer
Hope withering fled, and mercy sighed, farewell ! 6. Yět with all his great qualities, it is to be doubted whether he is much to be envied. His situation certainly has its disadvantages. Pure and blameless as his life is, his society is not courted—no man boasts of his friendship, and few indeed like even to own him for an intimate acquaintance. Wherever he goes his slightest action is watched and criticised ; and if he happen carelessly to lay his hand upon a gentleman's shoulder and whisper something in his ear, even that man, as if there
* Belles-lettres, (bel-lét' ter), polite * Petit larceny, (pét' it lår' ce ni), or elegant literature.
small thefts. In England, the steal° Grăph' ic, written; clearly and ing of any thing of the value of twelve vividly described.
pence, or under that amount; and * An'ti qua' ri an, pertaining to in the State of New York, under antiquity, or former ages.
were contamination in his touch, is seldom or never seen afterward in decent society. Such things can not fail to prey upon his feelings. But when did ever greatness exist without some penalty attached to it?
7. The first time that ever Hays was pointed out to me, was one summer afternoon, when acting in his official capacity in the City Hall. The room was crowded in every part, and as he entered with a luckless wretch in his grīpe, a low suppressed murmur ran through the hall, as if some superior being had alighted in the midst of them. He placed the prisoner at the bar—a poor coatlèss individual, with scarcely any edging and no roof to his hat-to stand his trial for bigamy,' and then, in a loud, authoritative tone, called out for "silence," and there was silence. Again he spoke—“Hats off there!" and the multitude became uncovered ; after which he took his handkerchief out of his left-hand coat-pocket, wiped his face, put it back again, looked sternly around, and then sat down.
8. The scene was awful and impressive ; but the odor was disagreeable in consequence of the heat, acting upon a large quantity of animal matter congregated together. My olfactory organs were always lăm'entably acute : I was obliged to retire, and from that time to this, I have seen nothing, though I have heard much of the subject of this brief and imperfect, but, I trust, honest and impartial mémoir.
9. Health and happiness be with thee, thou prince of constables—thou guardian of innocence—thou terror of evil-doers and little boys! May thy years be many and thy sorrows few—may thy life be like a long and cloudless summer's day, and may thy salary be increased! And when at last the summons comes from which there is no escaping-when the warrant arrives upon which no bail can be put in—when thou thyself, that hast “wanted” so many, art in turn “wanted, and must go,"
Mayest thou fall
WILLIAM Cox. WILLIAM Cox, author of two volumes, entitled “ Crayon Sketches," published
1 Big a my, the crime of having ; 01 făc' to ry, two wives or two husbands at the smelling. same time.
at New York, in 1833, an Englishman by birth, came to America at an carly ago to practice his calling of a printer. He was employed on the “Mirror,” conducted by General Morris, and gained a literary reputation by contributing a series of essays to its columns. These, in a happy vein of humor and criticism, satirizing the literary infirmities of the times, pleased men oftaste and good sense. The above sketch, " written during an awful prevalence of biographies, " gained great celebrity at the time. His“ Crayon Sketches” are full of originality, pleasantry, and wit, alternately reminding the reader of the poetical eloquence of Hazlitt, and the quaint humor and eccentric tastes of Charles Lamb. After writing a number of years for the Mirror, he returned to England, where he died in 1851,
16. PETER POUNCE AND PARSON ADAMS.1
ETER POUNCE, being desirous of having some one to
whom he might communicate his grandeur, told the parson he would convey him home in his chariot. This favor was, by Adams, with many bows and acknowledgments, accepted, though he afterward said he ascended the chariot rather that he might not offend, than from any desire of riding in it, for that in his heart he preferred the pedestrian even to the vehicular expedition. The chariot had not proceeded far, before Mr. Adams observed it was a věry fine day. “Ay,' and a very fine country, too," answered Pounce.
2. “I should think so more,” returned Adams, “if I had not lately traveled over the Downs, which I take to exceed this, and all other prospects in the universe." "A fig for prospects," answered Pounce ; one acre here is worth ten there : for my part, I have no delight in the prospect of any land but my own."
3. “Sir," said Adams," "you can indulge yourself in many fine prospects of that kind.” “I thank God I have a little,” replied the other, “with which I am content, and envy no man. I have a little, Mr. Adams, with which I do as much good as I can.”
4. Adams answered, “that riches, without charity, were nothing worth ; for that they were a blessing only to him who made them a blessing to others.” “You and I," said Peter,
* In the following conversation, virtuous and manly parson, on the which is one of the most exquisite in other hand, rising and becoming gloall novel-writing, the reader experi- rious out of the depths of his humences a delightful triumph in seeing ble honesty. This and the following how a vulgar upstart is led to betray two lessons are admirable exercises his baseness while he thinks he is in Personation—see p. 69. most exalting himself;
but ? Ay, (dl), yea ; yes.