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LIFE AND LETTERS
LETTER TO MISS CATHERINE IRVING. - PASSAGES FROM LETTERS TO MRS. PARIS. THE QUEEN GIVING AUDIENCE.-DIPLOMATIC CONVERSATION WITH ROYALTY.-INSURRECTION IN BARCELONA.-DEPARTURE OF THE REGENT.THE SOLITARY RAVEN.-ATTACKS OF THE SOUTHERN LITERARY MESSENGER" AND "GRAHAM'S MAGAZINE."-LETTERS ON THE SUBJECT.-LITERARY OCCUPATION.
HERE is a vein of drollery in a portion of the following, to one of the youthful members of his home establishment, quite in character:
[To Miss Catherine Irving.]
MADRID, November 15, 1842.
MY DEAR KATE:
Your letter of October 1st reached me a few days since, and gave me a very sunshiny account of affairs at pleasant little Sunnyside. I thus enjoy, by reflection, the bright days which pass at that brightest of little homes. My present home is enlivened by the return of the young trav
ellers from their tour in Andalusia, which has been a very satisfactory one, excepting that they have not been robbed, at which they appear rather disappointed, an adventure with robbers being looked upon as essential to the interest and romance of a tour in Spain. They have a world of travelling anecdotes to relate about Granada, and Malaga, and Gibraltar, and Seville, which make our repasts quite instructive as well as convivial. They are all in fine health and spirits, and, from their good tempers, good sense, good breeding, and perfect harmony, make a very pleasant household.
You seem to pity the poor little Queen, shut up, with her sister, like two princesses in fairy tale, in a great, grand, dreary palace, and "wonder whether she would not like to change her situation for a nice little cottage on the Hudson." Perhaps she would, Kate, if she knew anything of the gayeties of cottage life; if she had ever been with us at a picnic, or driven out in the Shandry-dran, with the two roans, and James, in his slip-shod hat, for a coachman, or yotted in the Dream, or sang in the Tarrytown choir, or shopped at Tommy Dean's; but, poor thing! she would not know how to set about enjoying herself. She would never think of appearing at church without a whole train of the Miss and the Misss, and the Miss -s, as maids of honor, nor drive through Sleepy Hollow except in a coach and six, with a cloud of dust and a troop of horsemen in glittering armor. So I think, Kate, we must be content with pitying her, and leaving her in ignorance of the comparative desolateness of her situation.
The last time I saw the little Queen was about ten days since, at the opera, with her sister. Espartero, the Regent, sat on her right hand. She is fond of theatricals, and appeared to take great interest in the performance. She is growing fast, and will soon be quite womanly in appearance. I cannot say that she is strictly handsome, for which I am sorry, on account of your aunt; but you may console the latter, by assuring her that the Queen's sister is decidedly pretty enough to answer her notions of a princess. I shall give your aunt another diplomatic chapter on royalty and its concerns as soon as I can find leisure from my diplomatic communications to government; but she must not let it go to Mr.
Webster's ears how communicative I am to her on these subjects; he may not be disposed to admit her into our secrets.
God bless you, my excellent, noble-hearted little girl! I can never enough express how deeply I feel the affection I have experienced and daily experience from you all. It constitutes the great happiness of my life.
After relating a second interview with the Queen, on her saint's day, the day of St. Isabella,-in which she received congratulatory deputations from the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies at two o'clock, and from the Corps Diplomatique at three, and giving an account of her setting forth, followed by her sister, "on her awful journey along the diplomatic line," to receive and reply to a speech from each, "with the terrors of a school-girl," a letter to his sister remarks:
I believe, at first, I felt almost as much fluttered as herself. I entered so much into the novelty and peculiarity of her task-a mere child having to give audience to the official representatives of nations. Mr. Asten first addressed her. She had been accustomed to see him on other occasions, and that served to put her more at her ease. It was the same case with Count Lima; and by the time she had finished with him, she began to smile. You will want to know what discourse I held with her, as my turn came next. I do not know whether I ought to impart these diplomatic conversations with royalty, as these are the verbal links that connect the destinies of nations. However, for once, I'll venture confiding in your secrecy. I had been so interested in contemplating the little sovereign, that I had absolutely forgotten to arrange anything to say; and when she stood before me, I was, as usual with me on public occasions, at a loss. However, something must be said; so I expressed my regret that my want of fluency in the Spanish language rendered it so VOL. III.-2
difficult for me to address her as I could wish. "But you speak it very well," said she, with a smile, and a little flirt of her fan. I shook my head negatively. "Do you like Spain ?" said she. "Very much," replied I, and I spoke sincerely. She smiled again, gave another little clack of her fan, bowed, and passed on. Her sister followed. She had not the womanly carriage of the Queen, being still more the child. I told her I hoped she had been pleased at the opera, where I had had the honor of seeing her a few nights before. She said "Yes; she liked the theatre,' and then glided on after her sister. When they had passed on down the line, they returned to their places, and again, on being prompted, bowed to us; upon which we made respectful reverences, and retired, taking care, as we withdrew, not to turn our backs upon royalty.
I have thus, my dear sister, given you another peep into court scenes, and shown you the petty machinery of the great world. I can imagine you smiling in the serene wisdom of your elbow chair, at this picture of a row of dignified diplomatic personages, some of them well stricken in years, and all of them sage representatives of governments, bowing with profound reverence, and conjuring up nothings to say to a couple of little girls. However, this is all the whipt syllabub of diplomacy. If I were to take you into one of our conferences with Cabinet Ministers, then you would know the solid wisdom required by our station; but this department of our official functions is a sealed book!
It was not long after this audience that a popular paroxysm occurred, of which Mr. Irving gives this account, under date of November 25th:
An insurrection has taken place in Barcelona. This is the next city in importance to Madrid. It is the capital of the province of Catalonia, the most active and industrious province in Spain. The Catalans are to Spain what the New England people are to the United States. Wherever money is to be made, there is a Catalan. They are pushing, scheming, enterprising, hardy, and litigious. Catalonia is one of the most restless