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[To Moses Thomas.]
SUNNYSIDE, December 15, 1855.
MY DEAR THOMAS :
I thank you heartily for your kind and hospitable invitation to your house, which I should be glad to accept did I propose attending the Godey Complimentary Dinner; but the annoyance I suffer at dinners of the kind, in having to attempt speeches, or bear compliments in silence, has made me abjure them altogether. The Publishers' Festival, at which I had the great pleasure of meeting you, was an exception to my rule, but only made on condition that I would not be molested by extra civilities.
I regret that on that occasion we were separated from each other, and could not sit together and talk over old times. However, I trust we shall have a future opportunity of so doing. I wish, when you visit New York, you would take a run up to Sunnyside. The cars set you down within ten minutes' walk of my house, where my "womenkind" will receive you (figuratively speaking) with open arms; and my dogs will not dare to bark at you.
Yours ever, very truly,
The following is addressed to his old friend and literary compeer, at his residence on the east bank of the Hudson, about eight miles above Poughkeepsie, where he had been living since his retirement from public life, as Secretary of the Navy, in 1841. In this picturesque seclusion, which he had left to visit the city but once since it became his abode, he resumed his literary activity; and here the veteran author, the senior of Mr. Irving by more than four and a half years, gave to the press two novels, "The Old Continental," in 1846, and "The Puritan's Daughter," in 1850, at the ripe age of
seventy-two. At the date of his application to Mr. Irving for his autograph, to be presented to a peerless beauty, he had passed his seventy-seventh year-a circumstance to be borne in mind in reading the reply:—
[To James K. Paulding.]
SUNNYSIDE, December 24, 1855.
MY DEAR PAULDING :
I enclose an autograph for the " paragon of a young lady," whose beauty you extol beyond the stars. It is a good sign that your heart is yet so inflammable.
I am glad to receive such good accounts as you give of yourself and your brother, "jogging on together in good humor with each other and with the world." Happy is he who can grow smooth as an old shilling as he wears out; he has endured the rubs of life to some purpose.
You hope I am "sliding smoothly down the hill." I thank you for the hope. I am better off than most old bachelors are, or deserve to be. I have a happy home; the happier for being always well stocked with womenkind, without whom an old bachelor is a forlorn, dreary animal. My brother, the "General," is wearing out the serene evening of life with me; almost entirely deaf, but in good health and good spirits, more and more immersed in the study of newspapers (with which I keep him copiously supplied), and, through them, better acquainted with what is going on in the world than I am, who mingle with it occasionally, and have ears as well as eyes open.
I have had many vivid enjoyments in the course of my life, yet no portion of it has been more equably and serenely happy than that which I have passed in my little nest in the country. I am just near enough to town to dip into it occasionally for a day or two, give my mind an airing, keep my notions a little up to the fashion of the times, and then return to my quiet little home with redoubled relish.
I have now my house full for the Christmas holidays, which I trust you also keep up in the good old style. Wishing a merry Christmas and a happy New Year to you and yours, I remain, my dear Paulding, Yours ever, very truly,
PUBLICATION OF VOL. II. OF "LIFE OF WASHINGTON."
- LETTER FROM PRESCOTT.-LETTER TO HENRY T. TUCKERMAN.-LETTER OF CHARLES L. BRACE ON VOL. II,— LETTER TO BANCROFT. —LETTER TO JOHN P. KENNEDY. — LETTER TO GOUVERNEUR KEMBLE.—PUBLICATION OF VOL. III.-MRS. EMILY FULLER TO WASHINGTON IRVING. - REPLY. LETTER FROM DICKENS.LETTER TO MRS. STORROW.
HE second volume of the "Life of Washington," which brings the history down from the period of his taking command of the army-a year before the Declaration of Independence to the close of the successful campaign in New Jersey in January, 1777, was issued in December, 1855.
The following letter from Prescott, who had just received a copy, will be read with interest. In the opening paragraph, the distinguished historian alludes to a complimentary letter from Mr. Irving on his "Philip the Second." Henry Brevoort, so touchingly referred to at the close, had been dead some years.
[From W. H. Prescott.]
BOSTON, January 3, 1856.
MY DEAR FRIEND
Since the publication of "Philip the Second," I may truly say nothing has given me greater pleasure than your kind note, and the cordial man
ner in which you speak of my labors. Ever since I have been old enough to distinguish good from evil in literary composition, your writings have been my familiar study. And if I have done anything that deserves half the commendation you bestow on me, it is in a great measure from the study I have made of you, and two or three others of the great masters of our language. Every one who knows me, knows that this is true. You may understand, then, how well I am pleased to obtain your unsolicited approval.
I have been gladdened by the sight of the second volume of your great work, which came to us a few days since. You are a good deal quicker on the trigger than I can be. You must have had a quantity of the material already potted down for posterity. It is very tantalizing to the reader, this fashion of publishing by installments of a volume or two at a time, and people complain if they are not turned out as rapidly as romances. Macaulay used to tell the story of a young lady of his acquaintance whom he met the week after his first two volumes appeared, who said to him: "I have just finished your volumes, Mr. Macaulay, and now we are all ready for another two!"
You have done with Washington just as I thought you would, and, instead of a cold, marble statue of a demigod, you have made him a being of flesh and blood, like ourselves-one with whom we can have sympathy. The general sentiment of the country has been too decidedly expressed for you to doubt for a moment that this is the portrait of him which is to hold a permanent place in the national gallery.
What naturally was of especial interest to me in your first volume, was that pons asinorum, over which so many have stumbled-the battle of Bunker Hill.* You have gone over it in a way which must satisfy the most captious critic. The silly question as to the command has been a much vexed question in New England, as you are aware. I don't know whether you ever heard of the amusing fact of three folio volumes of affidavits of survivors having been taken by the late William Sullivan,
*It had been a moot point, in New England, whether General Putnam or Colonel William Prescott, the grandfather of the historian, had the chief command at the battle of Bunker Hill.