Imágenes de páginas

lisher. Their connection, thus far, had been most advantageous to both, but other enterprises swept from the upright and liberal pubTisher the

profits realized from the sale of Irving's works. On sending a statement of his sales and receipts from July, 1848, when he made his first agreement for the publication of a new edition of all Irving's previously published works, to December, 1857; it appeared thero had been three hundred and fifty thousand volumes sold, realizing a profit of eighty thousand dollars. Mr. Putnam made a full settlement of their business to this time Irving receiving what was equivalent to twenty-five thousand dollars, and purchasing from him the stereotype plates of all his works- Mr. Putnam acting henceforth in the capacity of his agent. The infirmities attending advanced age were now creeping upon Irving, and early in 1858, his hearing failed, and he was anxiously endeavouring to rid himself of an obstinate catarrh which had been for some time very troublesome. In March, and April, he was better, and passed his seventy-fifth birthday very pleasantly in the midst of his family circle at Sunnyside, which had now become the rallying place of the family, some of his nieces being always inmates. As the year advanced, his cough became more troublesome again, and interfered sadly with his rest at nights. To an inquiry of one of his nieces, how he had rested the previous night, he replied : “So, so; I am apt to be rather fatigued by my night's rest." From this period he gradually declined, but with the assistance of his nephew and biographer, Pierre E. Irving, and working at intervals as his strength permitted, he was enabled to complete the fifth volume of “ The Life of Washington," on the eve of his seventy-sixth birthday, and from this time his literary work ceased. Occasionally, he wrote to his friends, and his letters are most delightfully written, with a geniality entirely his own. Restless nights, and a nervous dread of inability to sleep, too often realized, marked the closing of his career. On the 27th November, 1859, he attended church for the last time. On the following day he took a short walk, retired for the night at half-past ten, his niece accompanying him to his room to arrange his medicines and place them within easy reach. “ Well,” he exclaimed, “I must arrange my pil. lows for another weary night,” and then as it half to himself,“ When will this end ?" or something like it, when he suddenly uttered a slight exclamation as if from pain, pressed his hand to his left side, attempted to support himself by the bedstead, failed to grasp it, fell backward to the floor, and—he was dead! On the following morning, when intelligence of his decease had reached his native city, the flags on the shipping and all the public offices were hoisted half-mast high. The Common Council, and all other public bodies, passed resolutions testifying their respect to his memory. On the day of his funeral, the various Courts of the city adjourned, to give the members opportunity to attend his funeral. The railroad station at which passengers from New York were to arrive, the hotels, the public buildings, and many of the private residences in the principal streets, were draped with black; the shops and places of business of the village through which the procession was to pass, were closed, and mourniug festoons were suspended across the road. Indeed, all classes vied in showing respect to his memory. He was interred on the 1st of December, in the cemetery of Tarrytown, within view of Sleepy Hollow.

The merits of Washington Irving were freely recognized in this country. He had, indeed, a claim on the good feeling of England, for he ever strove to perform the blessed office of a peacemaker in any difficulties between her and his own country. One of the most agreeable characteristics of his works is the generous, conciliating, and courageous tone, with which, on all fit occasions, he alluded to the political animosities which so frequently disturbed the intercourse between Great Britain and the United States. He did not hesitate to tell us that we encouraged most absurd prejudices with regard to his fellowcountrymen, lamented that we should bave such imperfect knowledge of their good qualities, and earnestly exhorted both nations, by an exercise of mutual forbearance and charity, to arrive at a better understanding. The recollection of this sound and delicately proffered advice, will make all thinking Englishmen regret that it never again can be repeated by the man of long-enduring fame, who so often gave it. In his own country he was greatly beloved. Among the

many tributes paid to his memory, the following, written by a young author, George William Curtis, is especially worthy of record :—“With Irving, the man and the author were one. The same twinkling humour, untouched by personal venom—the same sweetness, geniality, and grace —which endeared the writer to his readers, endeared the man to his friends. Gifted with a happy temperament, with that cheerful balance of thought and feeling which begets the sympathy which prevents bitter animosity, he lived through the sharpest struggles of our politics, not without interest, but without bitterness, and with the tenderest respect of every party. His tastes, and talents, and habits, were all those of the literary man; and it was given to him—first of our authors—to invest the American landscape with the charm of imagination and tradition.”

Pancras Lane,









Thou wilt learn from this letter, most illustrious disciple of Mahomet, that I have for some time resided in New York, the most polished, vast, and magnificent city of the United States of America.—But what to me are its delights! I wander a captive through its splendid strcets ; I turn a heavy eye on every rising day that beholds me banished from my country. The Christian husbands here lament most bitterly any short absence from home, though they leave but one wife behind to lament their departure ;-what then must be the feelings of thy unhappy kins'nan, while thus lingering at an immeasurable


« AnteriorContinuar »