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dwell on their pleasures and their triumphs. Irving was fortunate in his friendships. He knew Scott, Campbell, Moore, and Jeffrey, and had the amusement on one occasion of seeing his visiting list revised by Rogers. He met Mrs. Siddons, marvelled at Belzoni, was amused by the antics of Lady Caroline Lamb, breakfasted at Holland House, and visited Thomas Hope at his country seat. In Paris he was presented to Talma by John Howard Payne, the young American Roscius of
' « former days,' who had now outgrown all tragic
symmetry. He became (in time) persona gratissima to John Murray, his English publisher; and to be dear to one's publisher must always be accounted among the great rewards of literature.
At the instance of Alexander Everett, the American Minister to Spain, Irving, in February, 1826, went to Madrid to translate Navarrete's forthcoming collection of documents relating to Columbus. He presently abandoned the plan for a more grateful task, the writing of an independent account of the discovery of America, based on Navarrete, and on ample materials supplied by the library of Rich, the American consul at Madrid. To this he devoted himself with immense energy. The work was published in 1828, and was soon followed by the Conquest of Granada and Voyages of the Companions of Columbus.
In 1829 Irving became Secretary of the American Legation in London. The Royal Society of Literature voted him one of their fifty guinea gold medals, in recognition of his services to the study of history. The honor, distinguished in itself, became doubly so to the recipient because the other of the two awards for that year was bestowed on Hallam. In June, 1830, the University of Oxford conferred on Irving the degree of LL. D. In April, 1832, he sailed for America. He had been absent seventeen years.
After travels in various parts of the United States, including a long journey to the far West with the commissioner to the Indian tribes, Irving settled near Tarrytown. His home was a little Dutch cottage 'all made up of gable ends, and 'as full of angles and corners as an old cocked ‘hat.' Familiarly called “The Roost' by its inmates, this ‘doughty and valorous little pile' is known to the world as 'Sunnyside.' With the exception of the four years (1842–46) he passed in Spain as Minister Plenipotentiary, “Sunnyside' was Irving's abiding-place until his death.
His later writings are: The Alhambra, 1832 ; The Crayon Miscellany (comprising A Tour on the Prairies, Abbotsford and Newstead Abbey, and Legends of the Conquest of Spain), 1835; Astoria (with Pierre M. Irving), 1836; Adventures of Captain Bonneville, U. S. A. (edited), 1837; Life of Goldsmith, 1849; Mahomet and his Successors, 1849-50; The Chronicles of Wolfert's Roost, 1855; The Life of Washington, 1855-59.
Attempts were made to draw Irving into political life. He was offered a nomination for Congress; Tammany Hall ‘unanimously and vociferously declared him its candidate for mayor of New York;
; and President Van Buren would have made him Secretary of the Navy. All these honors he felt himself obliged to refuse. He accepted the Spanish mission (offered by President Tyler at the instance of his Secretary of State, Daniel Webster), because he believed himself not wholly unfitted for the charge, and because it honored in him the profession of letters.
Irving's intellectual powers were at perfect command up to the beginning of the last year of his life. Then his health began to fail markedly, and the final volume of his Washington cost him effort he could ill afford. He died suddenly on November 28, 1859, and was buried in the cemetery at Sleepy Hollow.
IRVING was broad-minded, tolerant, amiable, incapable of envy, quick to forget an affront, and always willing to think the best of humanity. His tactfulness was due in part to his large experience of life, but more to the possession of a nature that was sweet, serene, frank, and unsophisticated. For Irving was no courtier; he could as little flatter as practise the more odious forms of deceit. His gifts of irony and ridicule, supplemented with an extraordinary power of humorous delineation, were never abused. It might be said of him, as of another great satirist, that he never inflicted a wound.'
His modesty was excessive. It is impossible to find in his writings or his correspondence any hint that he was inclined to put unusual value on his work. Grateful as he was for praise, it would never have occurred to him that he had a right to it. With all his knowledge of the world he was singularly diffident. Moore hit off this trait when he said that Geoffrey Crayon was ‘not strong as a ‘lion, but delightful as a domestic animal.'
Not his least admirable virtue was a spirit of helpfulness where his brother authors were concerned. Irving was officious' in the good old sense of the word, glad to be of service to his fellows, untiring in efforts to promote their welfare. He could praise their work, too, without disheartening qualifications. The good he enjoyed, the bad he put to one side. And he never forgot a kindness. A publisher who had once befriended him, though fallen on evil days, found himself still able to command some of Irving's best manuscripts.
Criticism never angered Irving. Personal attacks (of which he had his share) were suffered with quiet
dignity. He rarely defended himself, and then only when the attack was outrageous. He could speak pointedly if the need were. His reply to William Leggett, who accused him in ‘The Plain Dealer' of ‘literary pusillanimity' and double dealing, is a model of effectiveness. One paragraph will show its quality. Imputing no malevolence to Leggett, who doubtless acted from honest feelings hastily excited by a misapprehension of the facts, Irving says: ‘You have been a little too eager to give an 'instance of that“ plain dealing” which you
have recently adopted as your war-cry. Plain dealing, 'sir, is a great merit when accompanied by mag'nanimity, and exercised with a just and generous
, 'spirit ; but if pushed too far, and made the ex
cuse for indulging every impulse of passion or 'prejudice, it may render a man, especially in your situation, a very offensive, if not a very mischievous member of the community.'
Something may be known of a man by observing his attitude at the approach of old age. Irving's beautiful serenity was characteristic. People were kind to him, but he thought their kindness extraordinary. He wondered whether old gentlemen were becoming fashionable.