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care of myself, for asthma is constantly dogging at my heels, and watching every opportunity to get the mastery over me.
In my present precarious state of health, I can make no engagement that would take me far from home; and can therefore make you no promise of accompanying you to the mountains, or even of visiting you at Ellicott's Mills. In fact, I have been but once to New York since last Christmas, and that was only a few days since; and have not been able to jollify even at little parties in my immediate neighborhood.
Give my affectionate remembrances to Mrs. Kennedy and Miss Gray, and believe me, my dear Kennedy, ever, very truly, yours,
May 13th.-Received a very kind and delightful letter from Professor C. C. Felton, of Cambridge, Mass., who had just been reading his fifth volume of the "Life of Washington," and expressed great pleasure in the perusal. Read the letter aloud, and said it was particularly gratifying to get such testimonials from such men, as he had found it impossible to repress great misgivings with regard to the last volume, which he had never been able to look at since it was finished. His illness came on the very next day. Indeed, he was then unfit to write; and he had constantly had in his mind the recollection of the Archbishop of Granada, in "Gil Blas," whose Homilies were thought to smell of the apoplexy. His old love of fun revived with the recollection, and he went to his library for the book, and read the story aloud with great zest.
About this time, the papers had announced the death of Baron Alexander Humboldt, at the age of ninety-one,
with the following published card from him, dated Berlin, March 15th, 1859, curiously illustrating some of the penalties of celebrity :
Laboring under extreme depression of spirits, the result of a correspondence which daily increases, and which makes a yearly average of from sixteen hundred to two thousand letters and pamphlets on things entirely foreign to me-manuscripts on which my advice is demanded, schemes of emigration and colonization, invoices of models, machinery, and objects of natural history, inquiries on balloons, demands for autographs, offers to nurse or amuse me-I once more publicly invite all those who desire my welfare, to try and persuade the people of the two continents not to be so busy about me, and not to take my house for the office of a directory, in order that, with the decay of my physical and intellectual strength, I may enjoy some leisure, and have time to work. Let not this appeal, to which I only resorted with reluctance, be interpreted with malevolence.
ALEXANDER VON HUMBOLDT.
"I met Humboldt often in society in Paris. A very amiable man. A great deal of bonhommie."
May 17th.-Mr. Irving had a very severe attack of shortness of breath, and was so sadly nervous in the evening, that I resumed, for the nonce, my station in his room at bed-time. The difficulty of breathing continued by turns through the night. He got up and sat in his chair at daybreak, when it subsided. He then read me an interesting and touching letter just received from William C. Preston, ex-Senator of the United States, his old travelling companion in Scotland, now paralytic, but with all his brilliant powers yet unimpaired.
Those nights, when I look back upon them, seem a strange mingling; for, between the paroxysms of distress, he would seize on anything to divert his own thoughts, or to relieve what he feared must be the weariness of those who were watching with him. He would read or relate anything that interested him at the moment, and so endeavor to cheat the hours till day. I give the letter:-
Seeing, in yesterday's National Intelligencer (the only paper that I now read), that you had been ill, but were recovered, I was prompted to write to you at once what an unabated interest I cherish for you. My last communication with you was an act of kindness to me, in sending some letters of introduction for my friend Hampton, to Europe. Hampton did wiser than to go to Europe; he got married, and keeps your letters as precious autographs. Those that I have had from you have long since been begged or stolen from me by piecemeal, and I have often had an enhanced consideration, when it was known that I had been an acquaintance of Washington Irving; for I don't believe that any man, in any country, has ever had a more affectionate admiration for him than that given to you in America. I believe that we have had but one man who is so much in the popular heart.
On reading this notice in the "Intelligencer," I found in my memory (what, for aught I know, may be common to old men) a sort of mirage, which made distant objects rise above those more near. My mind at once recalled Jones of the Brinn and Loch Katrine, and it was only upon reflection that I recalled your visit to me in the War of Nullification, and subsequently, during our war in the Senate against General Jackson. In VOL. III.-23
those tumultuary scenes I was an excited actor, and fretted my hour amid them. The curtain fell; new scenes were brought forward, and I have sat exhausted in the dark recesses of the theatre, the pageant gone, and sad realities about me-sickness and sorrow.
I had not thought you so old as the paper announces you to be. I knew you were somewhat my senior forty years ago, but, for some years, I have felt older than anybody seemed to me to be. A paralytic stroke may well be counted for twenty years, which makes me eighty-five.
What a noble capital your "Life of Washington" makes to your literary column! The paper says you are busily at work. I am sorry to think that you are vexing yourself with further labors; you have fairly won the privilege of rest. Your honorable labors have been crowned with most honorable rewards. Whatever your country's love and admiration can give, has been bestowed. I indulge the wish, therefore, that the "Life of Washington," which inseparably connects your name with his, may have no interposing object, and that your labors may be mere amendments in minute touches, giving a more perfect polish, where, although the public eye may perceive no want of it, your own delicate perception may suspect it.
I am, my dear sir, ever, your affectionate friend,
WM. C. PRESTON.
I anticipate, to give Mr. Irving's reply in this place, though it was delayed nearly three months:
MY DEAR PRESTON :
[To William C. Preston.]
SUNNYSIDE, August 9, 1859.
I have suffered a long time to elapse without a reply to your most kind and welcome letter, but the state of my health must plead my apology. For many months I have been harassed by an attack of asthma, accompanied by sleepless nights, which deranged my whole nervous system. 1 have had to give up all literary occupation, and to abstain as much as
possible from the exercise of my pen even in letter writing. I am slowly recovering, but will have to be very careful of myself. Fortunately, I have finished the "Life of Washington," about which you speak so kindly, and now I shall no more tax myself with authorship.
Your allusions to Jones of the Brinn and Loch Katrine, brought up a host of recollections of pleasant scenes and of pleasant adventures which we enjoyed together in our peregrinations in England and Scotland, in our younger days. I often recur in thought to those ramblings, which furnish some of the most agreeable day-dreams of past times, and, if I dared to indulge my pen, could call up many an amusing incident in which you figured conspicuously. But this scribbling I must postpone to some future day, when I am less under the thraldom of nerves and the asthma. At present, I merely scrawl these few lines to assure you of my constant and affectionate remembrance.
I believe our present Minister in Spain is a cousin of yours. I am glad to hear he is likely to prove popular there. A lady correspondent in Madrid, well acquainted with the Court circle, speaks in very favorable terms both of the Minister and his lady.
Farewell, my dear Preston. correspondent, yet, as ever,
Believe me, though at present a very lame
Yours, very faithfully,
May 23d.-Mr. Irving went to the city, by special invitation, to see Church's picture of the "Heart of the Andes." It was the last day of the exhibition and the room was crowded. Delighted with it. Pronounced it glorious-magnificent!-such grandeur of general effect with such minuteness of detail-minute without hardness; a painting to stamp the reputation of an artist at
The next night woke at two, in great distress from