Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

horn spoon to make shift with. You see what danger there is in domesticating me. I am sadly prone to take root where I find myself happy. It was some consolation to me, in parting, that I had Mrs. H— and the gentle Horseshoe for fellow-travellers. Without their company, I should have been completely downhearted. The former was bright, intelligent, and amiable as usual; and as to "John," you know he is a sympathizing soul. He saw I needed soothing, so he cracked some of his best jokes, and I was comforted.

I was rejoiced to find your father down-stairs, and seemingly almost, if not quite as well as when I left him. My reception by him and your sister made me feel that I was in another home-or rather in another part of the family circle, in which for some time past I had been flourishing so happily. . .

I arrived in New York too late for the Hudson River Railroad cars, so I had to remain in the city until morning. Yesterday I alighted at the station, within ten minutes' walk of home. The walk was along the railroad, in full sight of the house. I saw female forms in the porch, and I knew the spy-glass was in hand. In a moment there was a waving of handkerchiefs, and a hurrying hither and thither. Never did old bachelor come to such a loving home, so gladdened by blessed womankind. In fact, I doubt whether many married men receive such a heartfelt welcome. My friend Horseshoe, and one or two others of my acquaintance, may; but there are not many as well off in domestic life as I. However, let me be humbly thankful, and repress all vain-glory.

I sallied forth to inspect my domains, welcomed home by my prime minister, Robert, and my master of the horse, Thomas, and my keeper of the poultry-yard, William. Everything was in good order; all had been faithful in the discharge of their duties. My fields had been manured, my trees trimmed, the fences repaired and painted. I really believe more had been done in my absence than would have been done had I been home. My horses were in good condition. Dandy and Billy, the coach-horses, were as sleek as seals. Gentleman Dick, my saddle-horse, showed manifest pleasure at seeing me; put his cheek against mine, laid his head on my shoulder, and would have nibbled at my ear had I per

[ocr errors]

mitted it. One of my Chinese geese was sitting on eggs; the rest were sailing like frigates the pond, with a whole fleet of white topknot ducks. The hens were vying with each other which could bring out the earliest brood of chickens. Taffy and Tony, two pet dogs of a dandy race, kept more for show than use, received me with well-bred though rather cool civility; while my little terrier slut Ginger bounded about me almost crazy with delight, having five little Gingers toddling at her heels, with which she had enriched me during my absence.

I forbear to say anything about my cows, my durham heifer, or my pigeons, having gone as far with these rural matters as may be agreeable. Suffice it to say, everything was just as heart could wish; so, having visited every part of my empire, I settled down for the evening, in my elbow-chair, and entertained the family circle with all the wonders I had seen at Washington.

To-day I have dropped back into all my old habits. I have resumed my seat at the table in the study, where I am scribbling this letter, while an unseasonable snow-storm is prevailing out of doors.

This letter will no doubt find you once more at your happy home in Baltimore, all fussing and bustling at an end, with time to nurse yourself, and get rid of that cold which has been hanging about you for so many days.

VOL. III.-15

[ocr errors]

Ever yours, most truly,

[ocr errors]

And now let me express how much I feel obliged to you and Kennedy for drawing me forth out of my little country nest, and setting me once more in circulation. This has grown out of our fortunate meeting and sojourn together at Saratoga last summer, and I count these occurrences as among the most pleasant events of my life. They have brought me into domestic communion with yourselves, your family connections and dearest intimacies, and have opened to me a little world of friendship and kindness, in which I have enjoyed myself with a full heart.

God bless you all, and make you as happy as you delight to make others.

WASHINGTON IRVING,

[ocr errors]

CHAPTER XVII.

LETTER TO MRS.

STORROW.-LOUIS NAPOLEON AND EUGENIE MONTIJO.— SEVENTIETH BIRTHDAY.-LETTER TO HON, ROBERT C. WINTHROP.-WILKIE'S SKETCH.-LETTER TO MR. GRAY.-TO MRS. KENNEDY.-SECOND LETTER TO MR. WINTHROP.-LETTER TO MISS MARY E. KENNEDY.-LEAVES SUNNYSIDE ON AN EXCURSION.-LETTERS DURING HIS ABSENCE.-LETTER ON HIS RETURN.

HE following letter is addressed to Mrs. Storrow, at Paris:

SUNNYSIDE, March 28, 1853.

MY DEAR SARAH :

A letter received from you while I was at Washington, gave an account of the marriage procession of Louis Napoleon and his bride to the Church of Notre Dame, which you saw from a window near the Hôtel de Ville. One of your recent letters, I am told, speaks of your having been presented to the Empress. I shall see it when I go to town. Louis Napoleon and Eugenie Montijo, Emperor and Empress of France !—one of whom I have had a guest at my cottage on the Hudson; the other, whom, when a child, I have had on my knee at Granada! It seems to cap the climax of the strange dramas of which Paris has been the theatre during my life-time.

I have repeatedly thought that each grand coup de theatre would be the last that would occur in my time; but each has been succeeded by another equally striking, and what will be the next, who can conjecture?

The last I saw of Eugenie Montijo, she was one of the reigning belles of Madrid; and she and her giddy circle had swept away my charm

[ocr errors]

ing young friend, the beautiful and accomplished

into their

career of fashionable dissipation. Now Eugenie is upon a throne, and a voluntary recluse in a convent of one of the most rigorous orders! Poor - Perhaps, however, her fate may ultimately be the happiest of the two. "The storm," with her, "is o'er, and she's at rest;" but the other is launched upon a returnless shore on a dangerous sea, infamous for its tremendous shipwrecks.

Am I to live to see the catastrophe of her career, and the end of this suddenly conjured-up empire, which seems to be of "such stuff as dreams are made of ?"

[ocr errors]

I confess my personal acquaintance with the individuals who figure in this historical romance gives me uncommon interest in it; but I consider it stamped with danger and instability, and as liable to extravagant vicissitudes as one of Dumas's novels. You do right to witness the grand features of this passing pageant. You are probably reading one of the most peculiar and eventful pages of history, and may live to look back upon it as a romantic tale.

[ocr errors]

I have passed part of the winter at Washington, delightfully situated in the house of my friend Kennedy, who was Secretary of the Navy. .

I was present at the going out of one Administration and the coming in of another; was acquainted with both Presidents and most of the members of both Cabinets, and witnessed the inauguration of General Pierce. It was admirable to see the quiet and courtesy with which this great transition of power and rule from one party to another took place. I was at festive meetings where the members of the opposite parties mingled socially together, and have seen the two Presidents arm in arm, as if the sway of an immense empire was not passing from one to the other.

At the last of this week I expect some of the family up here to my birthday, the 3d of April, when I come of age—of full age seventy years! I never could have hoped, at such an advanced period of life, to be in such full health, such activity of mind and body, and such capacity for enjoyment as I find myself at present. But I have reached the allotted limit of existence; all beyond is especial indulgence. So long as I

can retain my present health and spirits, I am happy to live, for I think my life is important to the happiness of others; but as soon as my life becomes useless to others, and joyless to myself, I hope I may be relieved from the burden; and I shall lay it down with heartfelt thanks to that Almighty Power which has guided my incautious steps through so many uncertain and dangerous ways, and enabled me to close my career in serenity and peace, surrounded by my family and friends, in the little home I have formed for myself, among the scenes of my boyhood.

With affectionate remembrances to Mr. Storrow, and love to the dear little folks,

Your affectionate uncle,
WASHINGTON IRVING.

The following letter also touches upon his threescore and ten. It is addressed to the Hon. Robert C. Winthrop, of Boston, who had just sent him a volume of his writings, and with whom he had recently become acquainted under Mr. Kennedy's roof, at Washington, where they sojourned together for a week. It has allusion also to a sketch of him by Wilkie. Of this last Mr. Winthrop writes: "Do you remember my telling you that I had a sketch of you, by Wilkie, in one of his published volumes? I have found it, since my return, in a volume which I purchased in London, and which was just out when I was there, in 1847. The sketch is entitled, "Washington Irving consulting the Archives of Cordova," and is dated 25th April, 1828. It forms the frontispiece of a large volume dedicated to Lord Lansdowne. The original of the sketch of you is said to be in the possession of Sir William Knighton, Bart."

« AnteriorContinuar »