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Ten days later, he writes to his niece, at Paris: . . . . "I found Mr. Hamilton in good health and good looks on my return. He has conducted the legation extremely well during my absence, and given it up into my hands in complete order.” "I was cordially welcomed back by my brother diplomatists, and really had a home feeling on finding myself once more among them. I miss my old crony, Mr. Asten, however, sadly, and fear it will be difficult to supply his loss."
Mr. Asten, the British Minister, was succeeded by Henry Lytton Bulwer, who had not yet made his appearance in the diplomatic circle. After mentioning some accessions to that body during his absence, he adds
We have here, also, Mr. Calderon, formerly Minister to the United States, and his wife. The latter recently wrote a very lively work on a residence in Mexico. She is originally Scotch, but has resided for some time in the United States. I am highly pleased with her. She is intelligent, sprightly, and full of agreeable talent. I fear, however, she will not remain here long, as Mr. Calderon is likely to be appointed to some diplomatic post. Madame Calderon is a constant correspondent of Mr. Prescott. By the by, she has just lent me a copy of his "Conquest of Mexico," in sheets. I have read a great part of the introductory chapters, treating of Aztec manners, customs, etc., and am deeply interested in it.
I close the year with a few extracts from a letter, dated December 29th, to Mrs. M. H. Grinnell, in answer to some account of changes and improvements in her residence in the city of New York:
Your account of the wonderful additions and alterations in the house in College Place quite astonishes me. G. certainly must have the bump of constructiveness strongly developed, particularly in that department of architecture which appertains to dining-rooms, butlers' pantries, and wine cellars. I have no doubt that, in consequence of his increased facilities, he now gives two dinners where he formerly gave one; though that can hardly be, as he formerly, in general, gave one dinner and a half per diem, the latter being smuggled into the household economy under the name of a supper. . God bless his bounteous heart! I have no doubt that, had he been in the place of his great namesake of Holy Writ, when he smote the rock, there would have spouted out wine instead of water.
I perfectly agree with you in your idea of ▬▬▬▬▬ and- ――――. I feel deeply my separation from them; they both seemed to take the place of others dear to my heart, whom I had lost and deplored. my side when I was grieving over the loss of my dear brother Peter, who had so long been the companion of my thoughts, and I found in him many of the qualities which made that brother so invaluable to me as a bosom friend; while in the delightful variety of her character, so affectionate, so tender, so playful at times, and at other times so serious and elevated, and always so intelligent and sensitive, continually brought to mind her mother, who was one of the tenderest friends of my childhood, and the delight of my youthful years. God bless and prosper them both! ..
The letter concludes with a fervent wish that he could return and be once more with his "little flock":
My heart yearns for home; and as I have now probably turned the last corner in life, and my remaining years are growing scanty in number, I begrudge every one that I am obliged to pass separated from my cottage and my
EXTRACTS FROM VARIOUS LETTERS. -THE PAST YEAR A LITERARY BLANK.THE QUEEN'S ENTRANCE UPON HER REIGN.-PREPARATIONS FOR THE ARRIVAL OF THE QUEEN-MOTHER.-HER RETURN.-LETTER TO MRS. PARIS.THE ROYAL MEETING.-ENTRANCE OF QUEEN CHRISTINA INTO MADRID.BESA MANOS AT THE ROYAL PALACE.
HOUGH Mr. Irving had the advantage of one of the most eminent physicians in Paris, he still brought back to Madrid the malady with which he had been so long tormented; a malady the more annoying, as it robbed him of the free use of his pen, and prevented him from being agreeably employed. The following extracts from various letters at this period are all more or less tinged with a depression arising from this drawback upon his literary plans :
[To Mrs. Storrow.]
January 7th, 1844.says my visit to Paris has done me no good in one respect, that I am less content with Madrid since my return; but, in fact, I am at times disheartened by the continuance of my malady, which obliges me to abstain from all literary occupations, and half disables me for social intercourse. If I could only exercise my pen, I should be quite another being.
I am preparing to give a diplomatic dinner, which is something of an undertaking in my present nerveless condition.
I fear I am growing miserly over the
January 14th.remnant of existence, and cannot bear to have any of the few years that remain to me wasted as the last has been. I hope this year I may live more to the purpose; otherwise it is a heavy tax to pay for mere exist
[To the Same.]
To his niece, Sarah Irving, at the cottage, he writes:
January 19th.I hope you will all make your contemplated visits to New York in the course of the winter; it will serve to break up the monotony of the season, though, for my part, if I could only be in my little cottage, looking out from its snug, warm shelter, upon the broad expanse of the Tappan Sea, all brilliant with snow, and ice, and sunshine, I think I should be loath to leave it for the city; but then what would suit a philosophic old gentleman, who has seen enough of the world, and grown too wise for its gayeties, would hardly be to the taste of a bevy of young ladies, for whom the world has still some novelty.
[To Pierre M. Irving.]
I feel sadly th loss of the past year,
January 20th, 1844.-. which has disconcerted all those literary plans I formed on leaving home.
However, I still hope the opening year, or at least a part of it, may be more profitably employed.
The following letter unfolds another page in Spanish affairs:
[To Mrs. Paris.]
MADRID, March 16, 1844.
MY DEAR SISTER :
We are preparing for great ceremonies and festivities on the arrival of the Queen-mother, who has lately entered from France, and is slowly making her way to the capital, to be restored to her children. The little Queen and her sister departed from Madrid some time since, to meet her mother on the road according to Spanish usage. The meeting is to take place a little beyond the royal sitio, or country residence of Aranjuez, between that place and Ocaña. A temporary structure has been put up in the road for the purpose. The corps diplomatique, and all the court and nobility, are invited to attend on the occasion, and Aranjuez is already crowded. This place is about twenty-seven miles from Madrid, situated in a narrow valley watered by the Tagus. It is a small town, or rather village, in which are some indifferent hotels, and large barracks of houses, and is almost deserted, excepting when visited by the sovereign in the spring. The royal palace is spacious, but not magnificent. The great attractions are delicious gardens, with shady walks and bowers, refreshing fountains, and thousands of nightingales: also noble avenues of trees, and fine shady drives. All these render it a paradise in this arid, naked country; and you come upon it by surprise, after traversing dreary plains, for it lies sunk in a narrow, green valley scooped out of the desert by the Tagus. As I have not yet sufficiently the use of my legs to enjoy the gardens and promenades, I shall not go to Aranjuez, this time, until the day before the Queen is expected to arrive.
The return of the Queen-mother is quite an event in the royal romance of the palace, and the circumstances of her journey have really a touching interest for me. She returns by the very way by which she left the kingdom in 1840, when the whole world seemed to be roused against her, and she was followed by clamor and execrations. What is the case at present? The cities that were then almost in arms against her, now receive her with fêtes and rejoicings. Arches of triumph are erected in the streets; Te Deums are chanted in the cathedrals; processions issue forth to escort her; the streets ring with shouts and acclamations; homage