« AnteriorContinuar »
ing domestic and foreign affairs subordinate to the delincation of his great subject, the harmony, unity, and clear significance of the biography are admirably preserved.
By the Preface, we learn that, more than thirty years ago, the "Life of Washington" was suggested to Mr. Irving by a famous Edinburgh publisher. Its execution was postponed, but the period which sees the work complete could not be more favorable for its useful influence and its successful achievement.
It is a graceful and noble consummation of a literary career of half a century a high service both to our national literature and our civic wants the greatest of which is to keep fresh to eye, mind, and heart the matchless example herein unfolded in a spirit and with a candor parallel with its own purity and truth.
To the letter with the above inclosure, Mr. Irving made the following reply :
[To Mr. H. T. Tuckerman.]
SUNNYSIDE, June 8, 1859.
MY DEAR MR. TUCKERMAN :—
I have suffered a long time to elapse without acknowledging the receipt of your letter inclosing a printed notice of my fifth volume, which you had furnished to the press. My only excuse is, that, since I have got out of regular harness, I find it exceedingly difficult to bring myself to the slightest exercise of the pen.
I cannot sufficiently express to you, my dear Mr. Tuckerman, how deeply I have felt obliged by the kind interest you have manifested on various occasions, and in a variety of ways, in me and my literary concerns. It is truly gratifying to be able to inspire such interest in the mind of a person of your stamp and intellectual character.
Your remarks on my last volume were especially inspiriting. Unnerved, as I was, by a tedious indisposition, I had come to regard this
volume with a dubious and almost desponding eye. Having nothing of the drum and trumpet which gave bustle and animation to the earlier volumes, I feared it might be considered a falling off. Your letter has contributed to put me in heart, and I accept with gratitude your congratulations on what you pronounce a "happy termination" of my undertaking.
Ever, my dear Mr. Tuckerman, with great regard, your truly obliged friend,
LAST DAYS.-A FORMIDABLE VISIT THREATENED.-A STRANGE VISITOR.-LONGFELLOW AND THE ACROSTIC.-BURR.-THE TRAVEL TO ALBANY IN FORMER DAYS.-POE.-CLAY.-THE CAMP-MEETING.- GEORGE SUMNER.-THE IRISHWOMAN'S SIXPENCE.-VISIT OF N. P. WILLIS.-OF THEODORE TILTON. -LAST INTERVIEW WITH A STRANGER.-DEATH AND FUNERAL.
RECUR to my notes taken at the time for a brief record of the last months of the author's existence.
June 13th.-A lowering day, but Mr. Irving again improving. His days, of late, have presented quite a contrast to that wretched 3d of June, and he has apparently been gaining ever since.
Received a note from General V. P. Van Antwerp, of Iowa, and Colonel John T. Heard, of Massachusetts, two of the Board of Visitors, consisting of sixteen, now in session at the United States Military Academy, at West Point, inclosing a highly complimentary resolution to himself, and proposing, if agreeable, to call on him in a body the next day, when they should adjourn, to tender to him, in their collective capacity, "the homage due to one whose long life had been distinguished by sterling
virtues, and who wore with becoming gracefulness the laurels which labors successfully devoted to literature had placed upon his brow."
Such a mark of consideration, from a body consisting of members from the different States of the Union, could not but be deeply gratifying, yet he was all in a flutter about it. "I must stop this at once!" he exclaimed, and immediately went to the library and wrote a letter to General Van Antwerp, expressive of his very high sense of the intended compliment, but pleading his inability to cope with the visit, from long ill health and nervous
General Van Antwerp had intimated, in his note, that some of the Board had expressed fear that this "simple demonstration, not intended for publicity," might be an annoyance, and that if, for any reason, it should be either distasteful or inconvenient, a private note to him would suffice to explain the reason.
Mr. Irving was quite relieved when he had written his note, and got our approval. All dreaded the threatened visit, as likely to bring back or rather aggravate his ner
June 19th.-Gentle and playful-something almost childlike in his manner. Asked whose the passage that was running in his head, "Fair laughs the morn," etc. I showed it to him in Gray's "Bard." Inquired, then, if I could recollect the author of two lines that had lingered -disconnectedly-in his memory for years :
"She asked of each wave, as it reached the shore,
I had never met them. Very cheerful at dinner. Walked round the brook lot in the afternoon. In the evening took his seat in the parlor, and opened a book to read. Had been some time at a loss for a pleasant book. "I'm reduced to my favorite author." "What is it?" is asked. "The fifth volume of the 'Life of Washington.' I think I'll read it now. I have not looked at it since it was put to press.
June 22d.-Mr. Irving wretchedly nervous. I went to town, to bring up Dr. Peters in the afternoon train. The doctor found him looking much better than he expected. As usual, he appeared better while the doctor was there, but more nervous again after he left. He had a wretched night. I remained with him till three o'clock, when I retired for an hour. On my return, I found him struggling with one of those strange hallucinations he could not easily dispel. Had started up from sleep with an impression of some poor family he had to take care of. The impression, or the effect of it, seemed to cling to him, though he knew it was a fallacy. He had his mind and consciousness perfectly, as he said, and yet he could not shake it off. The effect of it continued for an hour. Very singular.
June 23d.-A necessary engagement taking four of the inmates to town, H- remarked to him, before break