« AnteriorContinuar »
must get through with the work I have cut out for myself. I must weave my web, and then die.”
A few days afterward, the third of the series of the new edition of his works, being the first volume of "The Life and Voyages of Columbus," made its appearance; and in the preface the author took occasion to notice the accusation that he had not given sufficient credit to Don Martin Fernandez de Navarrete for the aid he had derived from his collection of documents; quoting, in refutation, a letter of Navarrete himself, and that author's own words also, in the third volume of his "Collection of Spanish Voyages."
The next volume of the revised series-"Bracebridge Hall"-was published on the 1st of December. "When we consider," says the "Evening Post," in a notice of its appearance, "that in 'Bracebridge Hall' are to be found 'Ready-Money Jack' and the 'Stout Gentleman,' as examples of Irving's comic power, and Annette Delarbre' as an instance of his command over the gentler emotions, we are tempted to ask whether he has done anything better than his 'Bracebridge Hall.””
Four volumes of the revised series were now published, and the sale, for books that were not new, was unprecedented. By many the enterprise had been pronounced a rash one; but the reception given to these volumes by the public, proved, in the language of another, "the solidity of the author's reputation, and seemed like a recognition of his works as an abiding part of his land's language.”
Forty years had gone by since "Knickerbocker" was first introduced to the public; and thirty years had wellnigh passed away since, in his original preface to the first number of the "Sketch Book," he wrote:
The following writings are published on experiment. Should they please, they may be followed by others. . . Should his exertions be well received, the author cannot conceal that it would be a source of the purest gratification; for, though he does not aspire to those high honors which are the rewards of loftier intellects, yet it is the dearest wish of his heart to have a secure and cherished, though humble corner, in the good opinions and kind feeling of his countrymen.
"Little did he then anticipate," says an anonymous contemporary, in quoting this passage, "that the Gospel
annunciation, 'He that humbleth himself shall be exalted,' would be so fully verified in his case; that the 'high honors' to which he did not aspire, would be accorded to him of right; and that the 'humble corner' he coveted in the affections of his countrymen, should prove to be the most favored spot."
UNPRECEDENTED SALE OF REVISED EDITION OF THE SKETCH BOOK."-EN-
HIS year opened most encouragingly. The issue of the seventh thousand of the "Sketch Book" was advertised on or about the 1st of February, less than four months after its republication; and Putnam gave the most flattering reports of the manner in which the illustrated edition had gone off during the holidays. The profits of this last named edition were mainly the publisher's, Mr. Irving being at no expense for the embellishments, receiving merely the twelve and a half per cent. on the retail price of so many ordinary copies. All the illustrated editions of his works were got up exclusively by his publisher.
"Bracebridge Hall," the author's last monthly publication, was followed in January by the second volume of the "Life and Voyages of Columbus," and in February by volume third, including the "Companions of Columbus." The "Tales of a Traveller" were brought out
in March, "Astoria" in April, and the "Crayon Miscellany" in May.
In noticing the appearance of this last, which comprised the "Tour on the Prairies," "Abbotsford," and "Newstead Abbey," the editor of the "Literary World" remarks:
The author's "Astoria," the last monthly publication of the series, has, from its timely issue, when men's eyes are directed to the "California Trail," met with the most distinguished success. It is appropriately followed by the "Tour on the Prairies," included in the present volume. The next, we understand, will be a republication of "Captain Bonneville's Adventures," which will complete the volumes through which Irving has so happily connected his name with the history of the Great West. The charm of the "Tour on the Prairies" is its unique, finished character. It is a little episode of the author's life, in which he has condensed the sentiment and fresh spirit of adventure consequent on his return to American life, after long familiarity with the overcultivation of Europe. It will probably be read as long as any of his writings. The sketch of "Abbotsford and its Master" is one of the most graceful and truthful of the many reminiscences of Scott. How admirably the character of Sir Walter's conversation is conveyed in a line-"The conversation of Scott was frank, hearty, picturesque, and dramatic." The anecdotes and traits of the great master, charmingly told in this narrative, are all to the point. The paper which concludes this volume of the miscellany, on "Newstead Abbey," reminds us of the best of the "Sketch Book" or 'Bracebridge Hall."
Of "The Adventures of Captain Bonneville," the next in the series of Mr. Irving's collected works, a cotemporary remarks:
This book loses none of its freshness or interest with the lapse of years. The contrast between the polished, luxuriant style of its composition, and the wild, daring adventures of forest life which it describes, gives it a peculiar charm, and leads many to prefer it to the more universally admired productions of its popular author.
On the 5th of July, soon after a return from a short visit to his niece on Cayuga Lake, Mr. Irving writes to Mrs. Storrow as follows:
For upward of a year past I have been very much from home, obliged to be for the most of the time in the city, superintending the publication of a new and revised edition of my works, making researches for other works on which I am employed, and attending to the settlement of Mr. Astor's estate, and the organization of the Astor Library. Altogether I have had more toil of head and fagging of the pen for the last eighteen months than in any other period of my life, and have been once or twice fearful my health might become deranged, but it has held out marvelously; and now I hope to be able to ease off in my toils, and to pass my time at home as usual.
In the succeeding month, he received from the Astor estate, here mentioned, his share of the commissions devolving upon the executors, amounting to ten thousand five hundred and ninety-two dollars and sixty-six cents. It was shortly before this that he called at my office, and, speaking of his fagging at the "Life of Goldsmith," two or three chapters of which he had still to write, said it had taken more time than he could afford-had plucked the heart out of his summer; and after all he could only