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ment of my grounds, house, etc.; and I long to have a "crack" with
I cannot afford a new saddle to my new horse. I am getting my old saddle furbished up, which must serve until I can recover from the ruin brought upon me by the improvement of my house. You see, I am growing economical, and saving my candle now that I have burnt it down to an end..
I am surprised and delighted at the windfall from Milwaukie, and shall now not despair of the sky's falling and our catching larks. Toledo, too, begins to crawl. There's life in a muscle! The screw, however, is the boy for my money. The dividends there are like the skimmings of the pots at Camacho's wedding.
For some weeks past he had been engaged in close literary application. "That you may not be frightened my extravagance, and cut off supplies," says a letter to me, "I must tell you that I have lately been working up some old stuff which had lain for years lumbering like rubbish in one of my trunks, and which, I trust, will more than pay the expense of my new building."
I close this chapter with the following allusion to the new addition, of which he speaks in a letter as forming one of the most striking and picturesque features of his little edifice. It is in reply to Gouverneur Kemble, who had banteringly asked him the meaning of the pagoda, which he had noticed in passing up the river in the boat:
MY DEAR KEMBLE :
I have long been looking out for your promised visit, but now your letter throws it quite into uncertainty. I should have come to you before
this, for I long to take you once more by the hand; but I have been detained at home by building and repairing, and the necessity of fighting off, by baths and prescriptions, the return of a malady which beset me in Spain, and which endeavors to keep possession of one of my ankles. However, I trust to finish all my buildings and improvements before long, and then I shall endeavor to look in upon you at Cold Spring.
As to the pagoda about which you speak, it is one of the most useful additions that ever was made to a house, besides being so ornamental. It gives me laundry, store-rooms, pantries, servants' rooms, coal cellar, etc., etc., etc., converting what was once rather a make-shift little mansion into one of the most complete snuggeries in the country, as you will confess when you come to see and inspect it. The only part of it that is not adapted to some valuable purpose is the cupola, which has no bell in it, and is about as serviceable as the feather in one's cap; though, by the way, it has its purpose, for it supports a weathercock brought from Holland by Gill Davis (the King of Coney Island), who says he got it from a windmill which they were demolishing at the gate of Rotterdam, which windmill has been mentioned in Knickerbocker. I hope, therefore, I may be permitted to wear my feather unmolested.
Ever, my dear Kemble, affectionately yours,
A LITERARY FREAK.-THE OLD MOORISH CHRONICLES.-THE SADDLE-HORSE.— COMPLETION OF HIS IMPROVEMENTS.-NEW YORK AS IT WAS AND IS.-HIS LAST JOB.-HARD AT WORK ON THE "LIFE OF WASHINGTON."-LETTER TO MISS CATHERINE IRVING.
R. IRVING had for some time had it in contemplation to publish a revised and uniform edition of his works, to which he had been strongly urged. He was apt to be dilatory, however, in the execution of his literary purposes; and the intimation thrown out to me in his late letter, quoted in the last chapter, of the "rubbish" he had been working up to pay for his new building, had awakened some concern lest he should be losing sight of this object. I replied to it therefore, that, though glad to learn he had been at work with his pen in any way, I was chiefly anxious at present to have him commence with the uniform edition of his works, for which there was an expectation and demand. "You lost the Conquest of Mexico,'" I remark in the letter now before me, "by not acting upon the motto of Carpe diem; and I am a little afraid you may let slip the present opportunity for a favorable sale of a uni
form edition of your works, by suffering your pen to be diverted in a new direction. A literary harvest is before you from this source, on which you could reckon with confidence now, but which might turn to barrenness under a future pressure in the money market, of which many are not without misgivings at this moment. Therefore
He writes, in reply, April 14th:
Don't snub me about my late literary freak. I am not letting my pen be diverted in a new direction. I am, by a little agreeable exertion, turning to account a mass of matter that has been lying like lumber in my trunks for years. When I was in Madrid, in 1826-27, just after I had finished "Columbus," I commenced a series of Chronicles illustrative of the wars between the Spaniards and the Moors; to be given as the productions of a monk, Fray Antonio Agapida. The "Conquest of Granada" was the only one I finished, though I roughly sketched out parts of some others. Your uncle Peter was always anxious for me to carry out my plan, but, somehow or other, I let it grow cool. The " Chronicle of the Conquest of Granada" was not so immediately successful as I had anticipated, though it has held its way better than many other of my works which were more taking at first. I am apt to get out of conceit of anything I do; and I suffered the manuscript of these Chronicles to lie in my trunks like waste paper. About four or five weeks since, I was tired, one day, of muddling over my printed works, and yet wanted occupation. I don't know how the idea of one of these Chronicles came into my head. It was the "Chronicle of Count Fernan Gonzalez," one of the early Counts of Castile. It makes about sixty or eighty pages of my writing. I took it up, was amused with it, and found I had hit the
right vein in my management of it. I went to work and rewrote it, and got so in the spirit of the thing, that I went to work, con amore, at two or three fragmentary Chronicles, filling up the chasms, rewriting parts. In a word, I have now complete, though not thoroughly finished off, "The Chronicle of Pelayo;" "The Chronicle of Count Fernan Gonzalez;" "The Chronicle of the Dynasty of the Ommiades in Spain," giving the succession of those brilliant sovereigns, from the time that the Moslem empire in Spain was united under the first, and fell to pieces at the death of the last of them; also the "Chronicle of Fernando the Saint," with the reconquest of Seville. I may add others to the ries; but if I do not, these, with additions, illustrations, etc., will make a couple of volumes; and I feel confident that I can make the work a taking one-giving a picture of Spain at various periods of the Moorish domination, and giving illustrations of the places of noted events, from what I myself have seen 'in my rambles about Spain. Some parts of these Chronicles run into a quiet, drolling vein, especially in treating of miracles and miraculous events; on which occasion Fray Antonio Agapida comes to my assistance, with his zeal for the faith, and his pious hatred of the infidels. You see, all this has cost me but a very few weeks of amusing occupation, and has put me quite in heart again, as well as in literary vein. The poring over my published works was rather muddling me, and making me feel as if the true literary vein was extinct. I think, therefore, you will agree with me that my time for the last five weeks has been well employed. I have secured the frame and part of the finish of an entire new work, and can now put it by to be dressed off at leisure.
Before I received this letter, having heard from a relative who was staying with him that he had been busy with some of his old Moorish Chronicles, I wrote him that I had a very agreeable though indistinct recollection of the manuscripts, and had no doubt of his working them up with effect, but still suggested a suspension of