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of its inmates. To Mrs. Storrow, who had now returned to Paris from a visit of some months to her native country, he writes, October 18th: "I am making preparations to commence, in the course of a day or two, the addition to the cottage. I have a plan from Mr. Harvey which harmonizes with the rest of the building, and will not be expensive enough to ruin me.”
While occupied with his new building, Mr. Irving was engaged, whenever he could find mood and leisure, in preparing a complete edition of his works, with corrections, alterations, and additions, with a view to make an arrangement for the whole, either by disposing of the copyrights, or by farming them out collectively for a term of years at a yearly consideration. It was important to him to get his literary property in train to yield an income, which had been unproductive ever since he embarked on his foreign mission. In the exigency of his official engagements, he was obliged to depart without having been able to make any arrangement with his Philadelphia publishers, Messrs. Lea & Blanchard, for a renewal of the old agreement for the exclusive publication of his works, or receiving from them any proposal by which he might continue to derive profit from them during his absence. They had probably grown timid during the long depression of the literary market, and did not feel confident that his works were capable of a renewed and active circulation. Their former contract comprised Knickerbocker's "History of New York,” the
"Sketch Book," "Bracebridge Hall," "Tales of a Traveller," the "Life and Voyages of Columbus" (excepting the Abridgment), the "Companions of Columbus," the "Conquest of Granada," and the "Alhambra." Before he left, he sought to make a new arrangement with them, including his subsequent writings, at the rate of three thousand dollars a year. "You see," he writes to me from Sunnyside, on the 31st of December, 1846, in mentioning this particular, "I asked higher than the sum you proposed to ask; indeed, much higher than they could have afforded to give with advantage. I think, however, a similar arrangement for my works would be much more profitable at present than it would have been at that time." If Lea & Blanchard held back, other publishers, who believed his works might be made a source of emolument to him as well as to them, were pressing forward with liberal overtures. It was difficult for him, however, to bring himself resolutely to the task of preparing his works for a republication, while engaged in superintending the building of the new part of his house. "I was greatly disappointed at not seeing you at Christmas," he writes to me from Sunnyside, at the close of the year. "I wished much to talk to you about my literary affairs. I am growing a sad laggard in literature, and need some one to bolster me up occasionally. I am too ready to do anything else rather than write."
On the 6th of January, I wrote to Mr. Irving that the
Screw Dock Company, in which he had an interest, had
SUNNYSIDE, January 6, 1847.
MY DEAR PIERRE :
I am glad to hear you are receiving such a snug little bag of money from the Screw Dock. In faith, the Dock deserves its name. I fancy there must be a set of Jews at the windlasses to screw the ships so handsomely. Tell them to screw on, and spare not! These are building times, when all the world wants money.
Since I was so "flush of money on his account," he then proceeds to specify three outstanding debts which I could pay, and adds:
You now know the full extent of all my "indebtedness," what relates to my new building, and to domestic expenses.
I know I am "burning the candle at both ends" this year, but it must be so until I get my house in order, after which expenses will return to their ordinary channel, and I trust my income will expand, as I hope to get my literary property in a productive train.
I give one or two further extracts, which afford glimpses of the tenor of his life and feelings for a few months after his return. At the date of the first, his old malady had seized again upon one of his ankles, and had become
aggravated by his standing too much out of doors in cold and wet weather, superintending the new building.
[To Mrs. Pierre M. Irving.]
SUNNYSIDE, February 14.
MY DEAR HELEN :
Your letter was like manna in the wilderness to me, finding me mewed up in this little warm oven of a house, where, if I remain much longer without getting out of doors occasionally, I shall grow quite rusty and crusty. Fortunately, I was troubled for two or three days with an inflammation in my eyes, which made me fear I was about to be blind; that has passed away, and you cannot think what a cause of self-gratulation it is to me to find that I am only lame. We have all abundant reason to be thankful for the dispensations of Providence, if we only knew when and why.
Still it is some little annoyance to me that I cannot get about and find some means of spending that sum of money which you tell me Pierre has been making for me. I think he takes advantage of my crippled condition, which prevents my going on with my improvements; and I fear, if I do not get in a disbursing condition soon, he will get the weather gage of me, and make me rich in spite of myself.
He was still cut off from recreations out of doors, and confined to the house by his unlucky ankle when he wrote the following, to the same correspondent :
SUNNYSIDE, March 12, 1847.
We were in hopes, a day or two since, that we had got rid of winter. The frost was out of the ground, and the roads were beginning to settle; but cold weather has suddenly returned upon us, and everything is again frozen up. This keeps me back in the finishing of my new building, for I was on the point of putting the workmen upon it. I
am impatient to complete the job. I want to get my study in order, and my books arranged. I feel rather cramped for room, now that I have resumed literary occupations, and am at the same time an invalid. Besides, the interior of my household wants some different arrangement, as you must be aware. . But the fact is, I am growing a confounded old fellow; I begin to be so studious of my convenience, and to have such a craving desire to be comfortable.
A few days later, he writes to me :
I am getting on well with my delinquent ankle, and am able, now the snow is gone, to take a turn occasionally out of doors, and visit the garden and poultry yard, which is very refreshing. I hope, by the time Helen gets through her "spring arrangements," disposes of her bandbox and carpetbag, and comes up here, she will find me—
I expect the carpenters this morning, to resume operations on the new building, and I shall keep all hands at work until the job is finished.
The following is in reply to a letter in which I had informed him of two small remittances from the West, the offer at cost of an English saddle and bridle, and another quarterly dividend of five per cent. from the Screw Dock:
SUNNYSIDE, April 13, 1847.
MY DEAR PIERRE :
I was just setting off for town, this morning, to meet Mr. Prescott at dinner at Mr. Cary's, when a few drops of rain and the prognostications of the weatherwise made me draw back. I regret it now, as I hardly know when I shall be able to get away from superintending the arrange