Page images

ensign of the republic, now known and honored throughout the earth, still full high advanced, its arms and trophies * streaming in their original lustre, not a stripe erased or polluted, nor a single star obscured ; bearing for its motto, no such miserable inter-200 rogatory as “ What is all this worth ?” nor those other words of delusion and folly, “ Liberty first, and Union afterwards ;" but everywhere, spread all over in characters of living light, blazing on all its ample folds, as they float over the sea and over the land, and in every wind under the whole heavens, that other 205 sentiment, dear to every true American heart — Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable !

[merged small][merged small][merged small][graphic][merged small][merged small]

1. Irving was the first ambassador whom the New World of letters sent to the Old.' He was born almost with the repub

Irving preceded nearly all the authors whose works we think of as constituting American literatureBryant, Cooper, Longfellow, Channing, Emerson,

lic;' the pater patriæ’ had laid his hand on the child's head. He bore Washington's name ; he came among us bringing the kindest sympathy, the most artless, smiling good-will.

2. His new country (which -some people here might be disposed to regard rather superciliously) could send us, as he showed in his own person, a gentleman who, though himself born in no very high sphere, was most finished, polished, easy, witty, quiet, and socially the equal of the most refined Europeans. If Irving's welcome in England was a kind one, was it not also gratefully remembered ? If he ate our salt, did he not pay us with a thankful heart ?

3. In America the love and regard for Irving was a national sentiment. It seemed to me, during a year's travel in the country, as if no one ever aimed a blow at Irving. All men held their hands from that harmless, friendly peace-maker. I had the good fortune to see him at New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, and remarked how in every place he was honored and welcomed. Every large city has its “Irving House.” The country takes pride in the fame of its men of letters.

4. The gate of his own charming little domain on the beautiful Hudson River + was forever swinging before visitors who came to him. He shut no one out. I had seen many pictures of his house, and read descriptions of it, in both of which it was treated with a not unusual American exaggeration. It was but a pretty little cabin of a place ; the gentleman of the press who took notes of it, while his kind old host was sleeping, might have visited the house in a couple of minutes.

5. And how came it that this house was so small, when Mr.

Whittier, Hawthorne, Holmes, and the rest. Two great writers, and two only, appeared during the colonial period— Benjamin Franklin and Jonathan Edwards ; but the one was a philosopher, the other a theologian, and neither belonged to the literary guild in the strict sense of the term. Irving was a year younger than Daniel Webster.

? Born April 3, 1783 ; on the 19th of the same month Washington proclaimed the news of peace in his camp at Newburgh, N. Y.

2 « The father of his country.” 3 That is, in England.

*“Sunnyside:” the railroad station is called Irvington, about twenty-five miles from New York city.

Irving's books were sold by hundreds of thousands-nay, millions; when his profits were known to be large, and the habits of life of the good old bachelor were notoriously modest and simple ? He had loved once in his life. The lady he loved died; and he, whom all the world loved, never sought to replace her.

6. I can't say how much the thought of that fidelity has touched me. Does not the very cheerfulness of his after-life add to the pathos of that untold story? To grieve always was not in his nature ; or, when he had his sorrow, to bring all the world in to condole with him and bemoan it. Deep and quiet he lays the love of his heart, and buries it, and grass and flowers grow over the scarred ground in due time.

7. Irving had such a small house and such narrow rooms because there was a great number of people to occupy them. He could only live very modestly because the wifeless, childless man had a number of children to whom he was as a father. He had as many as nine nieces, I am told—I saw two of these ladies at his house—with all of whom the dear old man had shared the produce of his labor and genius. “Be a good man, my dear.One can't but think of these last words of the veteran Chief of Letters, who had tasted and tested the value of worldly success, admiration, prosperity. Was Irving not good ? and of his works, was not his life the best part ?

8. In his family, gentle, generous, good-humored, affectionate, self-denying; in society, a delightful example of complete gentlemanhood ; quite unspoiled by prosperity ; never obsequious to the great (or, worse still, to the base and mean, as some public men are forced to be in his and other countries); eager to acknowledge every contemporary's merit; always kind and affable with the young members of his calling; in his professional bargains and mercantile dealings delicately honest and grateful. He was, at the same time, one of the most charming masters of our lighter language; the constant friend to us and our nation ; to men of letters doubly dear, not for his wit and genius merely, but as an exemplar of goodness, probity, and a pure life.


[INTRODUCTION.-The paper here given is from the Sketch Book, a collec. tion of essays written in England during Irving's second visit to that country (1815). These were sent home, and, during 1818-19, were published in parts in New York.)

1. On one of those sober and rather melancholy days in the latter part of autumn, when the shadows of morning and evening almost mingle together, and throw a gloom over the decline of the year, I passed several hours in rambling about Westminster Abbey. There was something congenial * to the season in the s mournful magnificence of the old pile ; and as I passed its threshold, it seemed like stepping back into the regions of antiquity, and losing myself among the shades of former ages.

2. I entered from the inner court of Westminster School, through a long, low, vaulted passage, that had an almost sub- 10 terranean look, being dimly lighted in one part by circular perforations in the massive walls. Through this dark avenue I

Notes.—Lines 4, 5. Westminster Abbey. |

See Addison's paper, page 138,
note 2. (For “minster” and

“abbey,” see Glossary.)
9. Westminster School. In the reign

of Queen Elizabeth, Westmin-1

ster Abbey was made a “colle. giate church.” Westminster School is a part of the colle. giate establishment, and is endowed out of the revenues of the former abbey.

LITERARY ANALYSIS. -1-8. The student will observe the beautiful simplicity with which the introduction to this paper is made in two sentences.

1-5. On one ... Abbey. Grammatically, what kind of sentence? Rhetori. cally, period or loose sentence ? - What two epithets are applied to "days?" Is this a literal or a figurative use of these words ?- What fault may be found with the expression “mingle together?”

5-8. There was ... ages. Point out an instance of alliteration in this sentence. - Point out a simile.

9-27. I entered ... decay. Notice the admirable variety of sentences (as to kind and length) in paragraph 2.-How many sentences ? How many simple? Complex? Compound? — What kind of sentence (and that of how many members) rounds off the paragraph ?-- Which sentence brings before the mind a vivid picture, and hence is picturesque ?

11, 12. Substitute Anglo-Saxon words for the italicized words of Latin origin in the phrase "by circular perforations in the massive walls."

« PreviousContinue »