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never so happy of an evening as when I have passed the whole morning in my study, hard at work, and have earned the evening's recrea tion.
Farewell, my dear Mrs. Fuller. If any of those of your family whom I ever knew and valued are at hand, assure them that I ever retain them in cordial remembrance; and believe me, ever, my dear Emily Foster, your affectionate friend,
My next letter is one from Dickens to Mr. Irving, introducing a relative, glancing at a capital story of Mr. Irving of a dinner at Holland House, in which a clergyman's leg was a feature, and giving a comic yet touching anecdote of poor Rogers in his eclipse:
[From Charles Dickens.]
TAVISTOCK HOUSE, LONDON, July 5, 1856.
MY DEAR IRVING :
If you knew how often I write to you, individually and personally, in my books, you would be no more surprised in seeing this note than you were in seeing me do my duty by that flowery julep (in what I dreamily apprehend to have been a former state of existence) at Baltimore.
Will you let me present to you a cousin of mine, Mr. B, who is associated with a merchant's house in New York? Of course, he wants to see you, and know you. How can I wonder at that? How can anybody?
I had a long talk with Leslie at the last Academy dinner (having previously been with him in Paris), and he told me that you were flourishing. I suppose you know that he wears a moustache-so do I, for the matter of that, and a beard too-and that he looks like a portrait of Don Quixote. Holland House has four-and-twenty youthful pages in it now-twelve
for my lord, and twelve for my lady; and no clergyman coils his leg up under his chair all dinner tim and begins to uncurve it when the hostess goes. No wheeled chair runs smoothly in, with that beaming face in it; and -'s little cotton pocket handkerchief helped to make (I believe) this very sheet of paper. A half-sad, half-ludicrous story of Rogers is all I will sully it with. You know, I dare say, that, for a year or so before his death, he wandered, and lost himself, like one of the Children in the Wood, grown up there and grown down again. He had Mrs. Procter and Mrs. Carlyle to breakfast with him, one morning-only those two. Both excessively talkative, very quick and clever, and bent on entertaining him. When Mrs. Carlyle had flashed and shone before him for about three quarters of an hour on one subject, he turned his poor old eyes on Mrs. Procter, and, pointing to the brilliant discourser with his poor old finger, said (indignantly), "Who is she?" Upon this, Mrs. Procter, cutting in, delivered-(it is her own story)-a neat oration on the life and writings of Carlyle, and enlightened him in her happiest and airiest manner; all of which he heard, staring in the dreariest silence, and then said (indignantly as before), "And who are you?".
Ever, my dear Irving, most affectionately and truly, yours,
While engrossed, as far as incessant interruptions would permit, by the task of preparing his fourth volume of the "Life of Washington" for the press, he writes a letter to his niece, at Paris, of which I extract some interesting passages. The "Pierre" mentioned in the first extract is not the biographer, but the eldest son of the author's brother Ebenezer, Pierre Paris Irving, an Episcopal clergyman, who had recently returned to his parochial duties from a brief excursion in Europe, which had extended to the Orkneys.
[To Mrs. Storrow.]
SUNNYSIDE, October 27, 1856.
After Pierre's return from France to England, he made an expedition to the end of the world—in other words, to the Orkneys! It was in those islands that the branch of the Irving family from which we are descended vegetated for centuries; once having great landed possessions, ultimately losing them.
Pierre found a highly intelligent circle of society existing at Kirkwall, the capital of the Orkneys, principally composed of persons from Edinburgh, holding official stations. He was hospitably entertained by them, in a style of elegance which he had not expected in that remote region.
At Shapinsha, the island whence my father came, Pierre was shown the house in which he was born, and whence he emigrated about a century since. It is a house of modest pretensions, and still bears its old name of Quholme (pronounced Home). In the flourishing days of our family, it must have owned the greater part of Shapinsha. Mr. Balfour, the present proprietor, received Pierre very hospitably in his noble residence of Balfour Castle, and submitted to his inspection a chest full of deeds and documents of several generations, showing how, by piecemeal, the landed property passed out of the hands of the Irvings, and centered in those of the family which at present hold it. Pierre brought home one of those documents, given to him by Mr. Balfour, three or four centuries old, bearing the name of one of our ancestors, with the old family arms of Three Holly Leaves. He also brought home a genealogy of the family, which some official gentleman, curious in antiquarian research, had digested from deeds and other documents existing at the Orkneys, and in the public archives at Edinburgh. This genealogical table, which is officially certified, establishes the fact of our being descended from the Irving of Bonshaw, who gave shelter to Robert the Bruce in the day of his adversity.
You are going to pass the winter at a city I never visited— Florence. At the time I was in Italy, a cordon of troops was drawn round Tuscany, on account of a malignant fever prevalent there, and I
was obliged to omit the whole of it in my Italian tour. I also failed to see Venice, which I have ever regretted.
Your letter of last June mentions your being just returned from an excursion of four days at Touraine. It recalled a tour I once made there with your uncle Peter, in which, besides visiting the places you speak of, we passed a day or two in the beautiful old chateau of Ussy, belonging to the Duke of Duras, the Duchess having given me a letter to the concierge which put the chateau and its domains at my disposition. Our sojourn was very interesting. The chateau had a half-deserted character. The Duke had not fortune enough to keep it up in style, and only visited it occasionally in the hunting season. There were no traces of former gayety and splendor-a private theatre, all in decay and disorder; an old chapel turned into a granary; state apartments, with stately family portraits in quaint, antiquated costumes, but some of them mouldering in their frames. I found, afterward, that the Duchess had hoped I might be excited to write something about the old chateau in the style of 'Bracebridge Hall;" and it would indeed have been a fine subject.
"LIFE OF WASHING-
HE letter which follows is addressed to a young author, to whom Mr. Irving had before written encouragingly in acknowledgment of the presentation of his first work:
[To Mr. Charles Lanman.]
SUNNYSIDE, March 2, 1857.
MY DEAR MR. LANMAN :
I am suffering a long time to elapse without acknowledging the receipt of the copy of your work* which you have had the kindness to send me, and expressing to you the great delight I take in the perusal of it. But when I remind you that I am approaching my seventy-fourth birthday, that I am laboring to launch the fourth volume of my "Life of Washington," and that my table is loaded with a continually increasing multitude of unanswered letters, which I vainly endeavor to cope with, I am sure that you will excuse the tardiness of my correspondence.
*Adventures in the Wilds of America.