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ing summer. The publication of this work in a revised form, seemed to revive his anxiety to complete the two manuscript volumes of "Moorish Chronicles," mentioned in a previous chapter; while at the same time he expressed the most earnest desire to begin anew upon his "Life of Washington," which had been made to give place to the "Life of Goldsmith," and the preparation of the two volumes of "Mahomet and his Successors." "All I fear," was once his language to me, "is to fail in health, and fail in completing this work at the same time. If I can only live to finish it, I would be willing to die the next moment. I think I can make it a most interesting book-can give interest and strength to many points, without any prostration of historic dignity. If I had only ten years more of life!" he exclaimed. "I never felt more able to write. I might not conceive as I did in earlier days, when I had more romance of feeling, but I could execute with more rapidity and freedom."
LETTERS TO GOUVERNEUR KEMBLE.-DURAND'S PICTURE. THE HORRORS OF THE STEAM WHISTLE.-LETter to george Ticknor.-THE "6 EMBOZADO."
-LETTER TO MRS. STORROW.-DEATH OF PRESIDENT TAYLOR.-VISIT TO JAMES K. PAULDING.-JENNY LIND.-LETTER TO MISS HAMILTON.-THE AUTHOR'S HEGIRA.
HE following is a reply of Mr. Irving to his friend Kemble, who had requested him, when in town, to call at Durand's, the artist, and tell him what he thought of a landscape he had some idea of purchasing when it was finished:
NEW YORK, April 7, 1850.
MY DEAR KEMBLE :
I have called with- -to see Durand's picture, and we were both delighted with it. It is beautiful-beautiful. Such truth of detail with such breadth; such atmosphere, such harmony, such repose, such coloring! The group of trees in the foreground is admirable; the characters of the trees so diversified and accurate; the texture and coloring of their barks; the peculiarities of their foliage. The whole picture had the effect upon me of a delightful piece of music. I think it would be a charming addition to the Kemble gallery.
I shall avail myself of the railroad, one of these days, to pay you the visit you suggest; but I must first get out of the clutches of the printers,
His friend had informed him that he could now at any time take the railroad at New York at four P. M., and dine with him at Cold Spring at six; from which it would appear that the cars were passing his door. We hear no complaint from him, however, until he became for the first subjected to the annoyance of the steam whistle during a severe fit of illness from which he was just recovering, when he breaks forth as follows, in a letter to Gouverneur Kemble, one of the directors of the company:
SUNNYSIDE, August 7, 1850.
MY DEAR KEmble :
Excuse my not answering sooner your kind letter. It found me in a terrible state of shattered nerves; having been startled out of my first sleep at midnight, on Saturday night last, by the infernal alarum of your railroad steam trumpet. It left me in a deplorable state of nervous agitation for upward of an hour. I remained sleepless until daybreak, and miserable all the following day. It seemed to me almost as if done on purpose, for the trains had ceased for several days to make their diabolical blasts opposite my house. They have not molested me in this way since, and have clearly shown, by the cautious and tempered management of their whistle, that these unearthly yells, and howls, and screams, indulged in for a mile on a stretch, and destructive to the quiet of whole neighborhoods, are carried to an unnecessary and unwarrantable excess. They form one of the greatest nuisances attending railroads, and I am surprised that, in the present state of mechanical art, some signal less coarse and brutal could not be devised.
You will laugh at all of this; but to have one's family disturbed all day, and startled from sleep at night, by such horrific sounds, amounts to a constant calamity. I feel obliged to the company for the attention that has been paid to the complaints made in this instance, and I trust to their continuing to protect my homestead from the recurrence of such an evil.
It would give me great pleasure, my dear Kemble, to come at once to you; but I am advised, as soon as I have sufficient strength to leave home, to go where I may have the benefit of a complete change of air. I intend, therefore, to pay a visit to my niece, Mrs. Gabriel Irving, at her place at Oyster Bay, where I shall have the benefit of salt air and sea breezes. My visit to you I shall defer until I feel in more companionable trim.
Ever, my dear Kemble, yours, affectionately,
The following letter is addressed to the eminent scholar, George Ticknor, who had sent him, a considerable time previous to its date, his "History of Spanish Literature,” a work in three octavo volumes, which he had early meditated, and upon which he had been long engaged. Mr. Ticknor, in the autumn of 1818, had come, from a residence of some months in Spain, to London, and here he formed the acquaintance of Mr. Irving, Leslie, and Newton, all of whom made the excursion together from London to Windsor, "which resulted," says Mr. Ticknor, in a letter to myself, "in the beautiful paper in the 'Sketch Book.' "He read to me," he continues in the same letter, "some of the other papers, and I brought out for him the first number for publication, and delivered it to Mr. Brevoort."
[To George Ticknor.]
SUNNYSIDE, February 15, 1850.
MY DEAR TICKNOR:
I ought long since to have thanked you for the copy of your work which you had the kindness to send me, but I thought it best to read it first.
This the pressure of various affairs has permitted me to do only at intervals, so that I have not yet got farther than the threshold of the third volume; but I will delay an acknowledgment no longer. I have read enough to enable me to praise it heartily and honestly. It is capital— capital! It takes me back into dear old Spain; into its libraries, its theatres; among its chronicles, its plays; among all those scenes, and characters, and customs that for years were my study and delight. No one that has not been in Spain can feel half the merit of your work; but to those who have, it is a perpetual banquet. I am glad you have brought it out during my lifetime, for it will be a vade mecum for the rest of my days. When I have once read it through, I shall keep it by me, like a Stilton cheese, to give a dig into whenever I want a relishing morsel. I began to fear it would never see the light in my day, or that it might fare with you as with that good lady who went thirteen years with child, and then brought forth a little old man, who died in the course of a month of extreme old age. But you have produced three strapping volumes, full of life, and freshness, and vigor, and that will live forever. You have laid the foundations of your work so deep that nothing can shake it; you have built it up with a care that renders it reliable in all its parts; and you have finished it off with a grace and beauty that leave nothing to be desired. It is well worth a lifetime to achieve such a work.
By the way, as you appear to have an extensive collection of the old Spanish plays, there is one which Captain Medwin mentioned to me, the story of which had made a great impression on Lord Byron. It was called "El Embozado de Cordova" (or perhaps "Encapotado "). I have sought for it in vain in all the libraries and collections in Spain. If you should have a copy of it, let me know; though I apprehend Captain Medwin has given me a wrong name, as I could find none of the dramatic antiquaries that knew anything about it.
I regret that you did not fall into the hands of my worthy publisher, Mr. Putnam, who is altogether the most satisfactory man in his line that I ever had dealings with. But I trust you have made a good arrangement with the Harpers, who command a vast circulation.