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man may justly aspire to such a title. It may, nevertheless, perish in an hour, by the folly, or corruption, or negligence of its only keepers, THE PEOPLE. Republics are created by the virtue, public spirit, and intelligence of the citizens. They fall when the wise are banished from the public councils because they dare to be honest, and the profligate are rewarded because they flatter the people in order to betray them. Conclusion of his Exposition of the Constitution.
“What! Irving! thrice welcome, warm heart and fine brain
• Throw in all of Addison minus the cluill,
James Russell Lowell's Puble for the Critics.
This most justly celebrated and widely-known of all American prose-writers was born in the city of New York, on the 3d of April, 1783. After receiving an ordinary school-education, he commenced, at the age of sixteen, the study of the law. In 1804, in consequence of ill health, he sailed for Bordeaux, and thence roamed over the most beautiful portions of Southern Europe, visited Switzerland, sojourned in Paris, passed through Holland to England, and returned home in 1806 and again resumed the study of the law. He was admitted to the bar in November of that year, but never practised. Shortly after, he joined Mr. Paulding in writing Salmagundi, the first number of which appeared in 1807. It was a miscellany full of humor and fun, which captivated the town, and decided the fortunes of the authors. In December of the following year, he published The History of New York, by Diedrich Knickerbocker, a most original and humorous work; and, a few years after, he edited the “Analectic Magazine.” In the autumn of 1814, he joined the military staff of the Governor of New York, as aidde-camp, and secretary, with the title of colonel. At the close of the war, he embarked for Liverpool, with a view of making a second tour of Europe; but, financial troubles intervening, and the remarkable success which attended his literary enterprises being an encouragement to pursue a vocation which necessity, no less than taste, now urged him to follow, he embarked in the career of authorship. In 1818 appeared the papers called the Sketch-Book, transmitted from London, where he wrote them, to New York, which at once attracted universal admiration, not here only, but in England, where they were republished in 1820. After residing a few years in England, Mr. Irving again visited Paris, and returned to England to bring out Bracebridge Hall, in London, May, 1822. The next winter he passed in Dresden, and in the following spring put Tales of a Trateller to press. He soon after went to Madrid, and wrote The Life of Columbus, Twhich appeared in 1828. In the spring of that year, he visited the south of Spain, and the result was the Chronicles of the Conquest of Grenada, which was published in 1829. The same year, he revisited that region, and collected the inaterials for his Alhambra. In July, he went to England, being appointed Secretary of Legation to the American Embassy in London, which office he held until the return of Mr. McLane, in 1831. While in England, Mr. Irving received one of the twenty-guinea gold medals provided by George IV. for eminence in historical composition, and the degree of LL.D. from the University of Oxford. His return to New York, in 1832, was greeted by a festival, at which were gathered his surviving friends, and all the illustrious men of his native metropolis. The following summer, he accompanied one of the commissioners for removing the Indian tribes west of the Mississippi. The fruit of this excursion was his graphic Tour of the Prairies. Soon after appeared Abbotsford and Newstead Abbey, and Legends of the Conquest of Spain. In 1836, he published Astoria, and in 1837, The Adventures of Captain Bonneville. In 1839, he entered into an engagement, which lasted two years, with the proprietors of the Knickerbocker Magazine, to furnish, monthly, articles for that periodical. Early in 1842, he was appointed minister to Spain; and on his return to this country, in 1846, he began the publication of a revised edition of his works, to the list of which he afterwards added a Life of Goldsmith. He has recently published a Life of Washington, in "five volumes, which promises to be the most popular life of that illustrious statesman whose name he wears. After the genial lines of James Russell Lowell, above quoted, so happily descriptive of Mr. Irving's style, we will add nothing but a short quotation from a beautifully-written and appreciative sketch of his life, in the “Homes of American Authors:”—“The eminent success which has attended the late republication of Irving's works teaches a lesson that we hope will not be lost on the cultivators of literature. It proves a truth which all men of enlightened taste intuitively feel, but which is constantly forgotten by aspirants for literary fame, and that is, —the permanent value of a direct, simple, and natural style. It is not only the genial philosophy, the humane spirit, the humor and pathos, of Irving, which endear his writings and secure for them an habitual interest, but it is in the refreshment afforded by a constant recurrence to the unalloyed, unaffected, clear, flowing style in which he invariably expresses himself.”
1 Read “Homes of American Authors;” “North American Review," ix. 322, xxviii. 103, xxix. 293, xxxv. 265, xli. 1, xliv. 200; “Edinburgh Review,” xxxiv. 160, xxxvii. 337. But for a full account of Irving's writings, with well-selected criticisms upon his works, both from English and American Reviews, consult that admirable book, Allibone's Critical Dictionary of English Literature and British and American Authors. See p. 771 of this book.
COLUMBUS FIRST DISCOVERS LAND IN THE NEW WORLD.
The breeze had been fresh all day, with more sea than usual, and they had made great progress. At sunset they had stood again to the west, and were ploughing the waves at a rapid rate, the Pinta keeping the head, from her superior sailing. The greatest animation prevailed throughout the ships: not an eye was closed that night. As the evening darkened, Columbus took his station on the top of the castle or cabin on the high poop of his vessel, ranging his eye along the dusky horizon, and maintaining an intense and unremitting watch. About ten o'clock, he thought he beheld a light glimmering at a great distance. Fearing his eager hopes might deceive him, he called to Pedro Gutierrez, gentleman of the king's bedchamber, and inquired whether he saw such a light; the latter replied in the affirmative. Doubtful whether it might not yet be some delusion of the fancy, Columbus called Rodrigo Sanchez, of Segovia, and made the same inquiry. By the time the latter had ascended the round-house, the light had disappeared. They saw it once or twice afterwards in sudden and passing gleams, as if it were a torch in the bark of a fisherman, rising and sinking with the waves, or in the hand of some person on shore, borne up and down as he walked from house to house. So transient and uncertain were these gleams, that few attached any importance to them ; Columbus, however, considered them as certain signs of land, and, moreover, that the land was inhabited. They continued their course until two in the morning, when a gun from the Pinta gave the joyful signal of land. It was first descried by a mariner named Rodrigo de Triana; but the reward was afterwards adjudged to the admiral for having previously perceived the light. The land was now clearly seen about two leagues distant; whereupon they took in sail, and lay to, waiting impatiently for the dawn. The thoughts and feelings of Columbus in this little space of time must have been tumultuous and intense. At length, in spite of every difficulty and danger, he had accomplished his object. The great mystery of the ocean was revealed; his theory, which had been the scoff of sages, was triumphantly established; he had secured to himself a glory durable as the world itself. It is difficult to conceive the feelings of such a man at such a moment, or the conjectures which must have thronged upon his mind as to the land before him, covered with darkness. That it was fruitful was evident from the vegetables which floated from its shores. He thought, too, that he perceived the fragrance of aromatic groves. The moving light he had beheld proved it the residence of man. But what were its inhabitants? Were they like those of the other parts of the globe; or were they some strange and monstrous race, such as the imagination was prone in those times to give to all remote and unknown regions? Had he come upon some wild island far in the Indian sea; or was this the famed Cipango itself, the object of his golden fancies? A thousand speculations of the kind must have swarmed upon him, as, with his anxious crews, he waited for the night to pass away, wondering whether the morning light would reveal a savage wilderness, or dawn upon spicy groves, and glittering fanes, and gilded cities, and all the splendor of Oriental civilization. Life of Columbus.
I sought the village church. It is an old low edifice of gray stone, on the brow of a small hill, looking over fertile fields, towards where the proud towers of Warwick Castle lift themselves against the distant horizon. A part of the churchyard is shaded by large trees. Under one of them my mother lay buried. You have no doubt thought me a light, heartless being. I thought myself so; but there are moments of adversity which let us into some feelings of our nature to which we might otherwise remain perpetual strangers. I sought my mother's grave: the weeds were already matted over it, and the tombstone was half hid among nettles. I cleared them away, and they stung my hands; but I was heedless of the pain, for my heart ached too severely. I sat down on the grave, and read over and over again the epitaph on the stone. It was simple, but it was true. I had written it myself. I had tried to write a poetical epitaph, but in vain: my feelings refused to utter themselves in rhyme. My heart had gradually been filling during my lonely wanderings; it was now charged to the brim, and overflowed. I sank upon the grave, and buried my face in the tall grass, and wept like a child. Yes, I wept in manhood upon the grave, as I had in infancy upon the bosom, of my mother. Alas! how little do we appreciate a mother's tenderness while living ! how heedless are we in youth of all her anxieties and kindness' But when she is dead and gone, when the cares and coldness of the world come withering to our hearts, when we find how hard it is to meet with true sympathy, how few love us for ourselves, how few will befriend us in our misfortunes, then it is that we think of the mother we have lost. It is true I had always loved my mother, even in my most heedless days; but I felt how inconsiderate and ineffectual had been my love. My heart melted as I retraced the days of infancy, when I was led by a mother's hand and rocked to sleep in a mother's arms, and was without care or sorrow. “O my mother ‘’’ exclaimed I,
burying my face again in the grass of the grave, “oh that I were once more by your side, sleeping, never to wake again on the cares and troubles of this world !” I am not naturally of a morbid temperament, and the violence of n y emotion gradually exhausted itself. It was a hearty, honost, natural discharge of grief which had been slowly accumulating, and gave me wonderful relief. I rose from the grave as if I had been offering up a sacrifice, and I felt as if that sacrifice had been accepted. I sat down again on the grass, and plucked, one by one, the weeds from her grave; the tears trickled more slowly down my cheeks, and ceased to be bitter. It was a comfort to think that she had died before sorrow and poverty came upon her child, and that all his great expectations were blasted. I leaned my cheek upon my hand, and looked upon the landseape. Its quiet beauty soothed me. The whistle of a peasant from an adjoining field came cheerily to my ear. I seemed to respire hope and comfort with the free air that whispered through the leaves, and played lightly with my hair, and dried the tears upon my cheek. A lark, rising from the field before me, and leaving as it were a stream of song behind him as he rose, lifted my fancy with him. He hovered in the air just above the place where the towers of Warwick Castle marked the horizon, and seemed as if fluttering with delight at his own melody. “Surely,” thought I, “if there was such a thing as transmigration of souls, this might be taken for some poet let loose from earth, but still revelling in song, and carolling about fair fields and lordly towers.” At this moment the long-forgotten feeling of poetry rose within me. A thought sprang at once into my mind. “I will become an author " said I. “I have hitherto indulged in poetry as a pleasure, and it has brought me nothing but pain: let me try what it will do when I cultivate it with devotion as a pursuit.” The resolution thus suddenly aroused within me heaved a load from off my heart. I felt a confidence in it from the very place where it was formed. It seemed as though my mother's spirit whispered it to me from the grave. “I will henceforth,” said I, “endeavor to be all that she fondly imagined me. I will endeavor to act as if she were witness of my actions; I will endeavor to acquit myself in such a manner that, when I revisit her grave, there may at least be no compunctious bitterness with my tears.” I bowed down and kissed the turf in solemn attestation of my vow. I plucked some primroses that were growing there, and laid them next my heart. I left the churchyard with my spirit once more lifted up, and set out a third time for London in the character of an author. Bracebridge IIall.