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among the hills before winter sets in, and should be rejoiced to take them with the female chivalry of Tillietudlem.
Yours very truly,
The day after the date of this letter, Mr. Irving came to town to attend Jenny Lind's morning concert of that day, expecting seats to have been taken. Finding that none had been procured, he returned home to make the attempt another day. Meanwhile, a party was arranged for Friday evening, to include Mr. Irving and all his household, who were to come down for the occasion. On arriving in the city, however, finding that another lady had been added to the party, which would make up the number without him, and being withal a little out of mood, he suddenly decamped for home, to the great surprise and regret of his nieces, who had locked up the silver preparatory to leaving, and were fearful that he would not be able to make himself comfortable. The next morning one of the party wrote, expressing her regret and uneasiness at his sudden and unexpected departure, informing him of "a nice arrangement" she had made for lodging him for the night, and "fancying him sitting alone and desolate, and, worse than all, without teaspoon or fork." This is his characteristic reply:
SUNNYSIDE, November 17, 1850.
MY DEAR HELEN:
I am sorry to find my hegira from town caused you so much regret and uneasiness. It was a sudden move, on finding that the party for the concert would be complete without me, and that, if I stayed, I should have
to look about for quarters, and put others to inconvenience. Besides, I find myself growing more and more indisposed to cope with the bustle and confusion of the town, and more and more in love with the quiet of the country. While tossing about, therefore, on the troubled sea of the city, without a port at hand, I bethought myself of the snug, quiet little port I had left, and determined to "bout ship," and run back to it.
You seem to have pictured my move as a desperate one, and my evening as solitary and forlorn; but.you are mistaken. I took a snug dinner at Frederick's, where I met A— H—. He was bound to Staatsburg, to rejoin his wife. We went up in the four o'clock train together. I endeavored to persuade him to stop and pass the night at the cottage, when we would break open the storeroom and cellar, rummage out everything that the girls had locked up, and have “high jinks" together. He was strongly inclined to yield to my temptation, but the thought of his wife overawed him. He is evidently under petticoat government, like other married men, and dare not indulge in a spree, like we free and independent bachelors.
Toby barked at me as if
When I arrived at the cottage, all was dark. I were a housebreaker. I rang at the front door. There was a stir and commotion within. A light gleamed through the fanlight. The door was cautiously opened by Bernard; behind him was Sophia, and behind her Hannah, while Peter and the cook stood ready as a corps de reserve in the kitchen passage. I believe, for a moment, they doubted whether it was myself or my ghost.
My arrival caused no little perplexity, everything being locked up. However, by furbishing up the kitchen plate and china, the tea-table was set out after a fashion by Sophia, and I made a very cozy though somewhat queer repast.
My evening passed very serenely, dozing over a book, and dreaming that the girls, as usual, were all silently sewing around me. I passed a comfortable night; had a cozy bachelor breakfast the next morning, took a ride on gentleman Dick, and, in fact, led a life of single blessedness, until my womankind returned, about two o'clock, to put an end to my dream of sovereignty.
APPLICATION FOR AN ORIGINAL THOUGHT. — BORING LETTERS. -LETTER TO
HE following letter was written to a young lady, who proposed to come to him and ask his counsel about the publication of some poems of a brother who had graduated with distinction, and been cut off in the bloom of his youth:
SUNNYSIDE, February 18, 1851.
While I sincerely sympathize with you in the affliction caused by your great bereavement, and have no doubt your brother was worthy of the praise bestowed on his memory, I must most respectfully excuse myself from the very delicate and responsible task of giving an opinion of his poems. I have no confidence in the coolness and correctness of my own judgment in matters of the kind, and have repeatedly found the exercise of it, in compliance with solicitations like the present, so productive of
dissatisfaction to others, and poignant regret to myself that I have long since been driven to the necessity of declining it altogether.
Trusting you will receive this apology in the frank and friendly spirit in which it is made, I remain, with great respect, your obedient servant. WASHINGTON IRVING.
Here is a reply to a modest application from an unknown admirer to "pen (him) just one original thought" :
I would be happy to furnish you with the "original thought" you require; but it is a coinage of the brain not always at my command, and certainly not at present. So I hope you will be content with my sincere thanks in return for the kind and complimentary expressions of your letter.
No man could be more bored than Mr. Irving, by, as he once expressed it, "all sorts of letters from all sorts of persons. I remember his once showing me a letter asking him to subscribe to some particular book. "Now," he said, turning to me, "this must be answered. Every letter to be answered is a trifle; but your life in this way is exhausted in trifles. You are entangled in a network of cobwebs. Each letter is a cobweb across your nose. The bores of this world are endless."
The following letter is addressed to Jesse Merwin, a schoolmaster whom he had met long years before at Judge Van Ness's, at Kinderhook. Merwin had called on him at New York, but, not finding him, had afterward written to him, and, among various allusions to the olden
time, had mentioned the death of Dominie Van Nest, a clergyman whom they had both known at that period. To Mr. Irving's surprise, the letter appeared in print a few days after. Jesse Merwin's letter is indorsed in Mr. Irving's own handwriting: "From Jesse Merwin, the original of Ichabod Crane."
SUNNYSIDE, February 12, 18:1.
You must excuse me, my good friend Merwin, for suffering your letter to remain so long unanswered. You can have no idea how many letters I have to answer, besides fagging with my pen at my own literary tasks, so that it is impossible for me to avoid being behind hand in my correspondence. Your letter was indeed most welcome-calling up, as it did, the recollection of pleasant scenes and pleasant days passed together in times long since at Judge Van Ness's, in Kinderhook. Your mention of the death of good old Dominie Van Nest recalls the apostolic zeal with which he took our little sinful community in hand, when he put up for a day or two at the Judge's; and the wholesome castigation he gave us all, one Sunday, beginning with the two country belles who came fluttering into the school-house during the sermon, decked out in their city finery, and ending with the Judge himself, in the stronghold of his own mansion. How soundly he gave it to us! How he peeled off every rag of self-righteousness with which we tried to cover ourselves, and laid the rod on the bare backs of our consciences! The good, plain-spoken, honest old man! How I honored him for his simple, straightforward earnestness, his homely sincerity! He certainly handled us without mittens; but I trust we are all the better for it. How different he was from the brisk, dapper, self-sufficient little apostle who cantered up to the Judge's door a day or two after; who was so full of himself that he had no thought to bestow on our religious delinquencies; who did nothing but boast of his public trials of skill in argument with rival preachers of other denominations, and how he had driven them off the field, and crowed over them! You must remember the bustling, self-confident little man, with a tin trumpet