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Once more he put up the glittering weathercocks and hung his "great goosegun" over the fireplace. Here the venerable Diedrich Knickerbocker found him tilling his broad acres and smoking his pipe contentedly in the chimney corner. His last days were lighted up by the golden visions of the past, and his great Dutch heart beat its last patriotic beat beside the river of his fathers.
On the return of Mr. Irving from the Court of Spain, he seems to have felt himself cramped in his little “snuggery” of which he was so proud. He therefore procured plans for an addition from George Harvey, his former architect. His addition was at the northeast corner of the house. He writes, April 13th, 1847: “I cannot afford a new saddle to my new horse. I am getting my old saddle furbished up, which must serve until I can recover from the ruin brought upon me by the improvement of my house." This annex, built of brick, nearly square, was surmounted by a roof which appeared to combine Swiss and Chinese ideas of architecture, which created some amusement among his friends. His old companion-inarms Kemble banteringly quizzed him about “that pagoda” he had noticed in passing up the river by boat. “ As to the pagoda," Mr. Irving answered, “ about which you speak, it is one of the most useful additions that was ever made to a house, besides being ornamental; it gives me laundry, store-rooms, pantries, servant's room, coal cellar, &c., &c., converting what was once rather a makeshift little mansion into one of the most complete snuggeries in the country, as you will confess when you see and visit it. The only part that is not adapted to some valuable purpose is the cupola, which has no bell in it, and is about as serviceable as the feather in one's cap; though, by the way, it has its purpose, for it supports a weathercock brought from Holland by Gill Davis (the King of Coney Island), who says he got it from a windmill which they were demolishing at the gate of Rotterdam, which windmill has been mentioned in Knickerbocker. I hope, therefore, I may be permitted to wear my feather unmolested."
“Sunnyside" shows at every turn the exquisite taste of Washington Irving. One of the choicest of the interesting objects is a large ivy clinging to an eastern gable, which grew from a slip brought from Abbotsford. Abbotsford and Sunnyside! What a contrast superficially, yet what a similar interest they awaken! Did ever more congenial spirits meet than Walter Scott and Washington Irving ?
A large variety of trees and shrubs surround the house. “As to my grounds," says Mr. Irving, “I have cut down and transplanted enough trees to furnish two ordinary places, and still there are, if anything, too many; but I have opened beautiful views and given room for the air to circulate.” The elm and locust preponderate. A tall cherry, directly west of the house, is a most beautiful sight in April and May. Hemlocks, maples and chestnuts are scattered in appropriate places, under whose wide-spread boughs are winding walks and cosy resting-places with the Hudson ever in view. Writing in August, the owner said : “My own place
has never been so pleasant as at present. I have made more openings by pruning and cutting down trees, so that from the piazza I have several charming views of the Tappan Hill and the hills beyond, all set as it were, in verdant frames; and I am never tired sitting there in my old Voltaire chair of a long summer morning with a book in my hand, sometimes reading, sometimes musing, and sometimes dozing, and mixing all up in a pleasant dream.”
In early spring violets are plentifully scattered over the bank. At its base there is an iron ring fastened to the foot of a large elm, by which skiffs used to be secured, although now several rods from the water. This change was brought about by the building of the Hudson River Railroad, which passes immediately in front of the house, a few rods west of the old high-water mark. The intervening space has been filled in with earth and is now a thrifty meadow. The construction of this railroad was a source of many misgivings to Mr. Irving. To have his little paradise thus rudely invaded led him to affirm that, “ if the garden of Eden were now on earth, they would not hesitate to run a railroad through it.” It was this same incident that provoked that more famous wish that “ he had been born when the world was finished.” But he submitted gracefully to the inevitable, and afterwards learned to appreciate the utility and pleasure of rapid travel. He received $3,500, in lieu of the loss sustained by this intrusion, yet he was not quite at ease on the subject. In a letter he says: “Excuse my not sooner answering your kind letter. It found me in a terrible state of shattered nerves, having been startled out of my first sleep at midnight on Saturday night last by the infernal alarm of your railroad steam trumpet.”
The interior of “Sunnyside,” as one would surmise from the outside, is full of corners and crannies. The dining-room, sitting-room and library take up nearly all the lower floor; and the second story under the eaves is not more extensive. The library, or “workshop," as he insisted upon calling it, is a cosy little room at the southeast corner. The number of the books is not large. Choice editions of authors whom he knew personally, occupy prominent places. The study table presented to him by his publishers stands in the center of the room; scattered through the house are interesting pictures, among which are several choice portraits of the author, representing him at the various stages of his career.
Amid such scenes as these our author spent his “golden age.” Quite as interesting as any of his delightful books is this spot of earth which felt the molding influence of his fine taste. One can hardly be said to have thoroughly mastered Washington Irving until he has read this living book which brought out on every page the delicate harmonies of his nature. It is the proper setting. The jewel shows its full, rich luster. As one of his last birthdays approached he wrote characteristically to a friend : “At the last of the week I expect some of the family up here at my birthday, the 3d of April, when I come of age-of full age-seventy years. I never could have hoped at such an advanced period of life to be in such full health and activity of mind and body, and such capacity of enjoyment as I find myself at present. But I have reached the allotted limit of existence; all beyond is especial indulgence. So long as I can retain my present health and spirits, I am happy to live, for I think my life is important to the happiness of others, but as soon as my life becomes useless to others and joyless to myself, I hope I may be relieved from the burden ; and I shall lay it down with the heartfelt thanks to that Almighty Power which has guided my incautious footsteps through so many uncertain and dangerous ways, and enabled me to close my career in security and peace, surrounded by my family and friends in the little home I have formed for myself among the scenes of my boyhood.”
“Sunnyside” and its neighborhood is already classic soil. As each season recurs uncounted pilgrims visit its delightful precincts. The winding lane, shaded by magnificent elms and chestnuts, through whose foliage the sunlight at intervals finds its way; the tumbling brooklet chasing along grassy slopes, under steep banks and down the rocky ravine; the noble Hudson, sweeping in grandeur past bold promontories and thriving villages, bearing on its bosom the commerce of a thriving country; the quaint little ivy-covered cottage itself, with white walls and antique weather-vanes—all these combine to please the taste and to feed the imagination; and, far more than the simple marble slab that marks his last resting-place on the slope of Sleepy Hollow, form the enduring monument of the man who introduced American letters and literature to the notice of the world.
SIR HENRY CLINTON'S ORIGINAL SECRET RECORD OF PRIVATE DAILY INTELLIGENCE
Contributed by Dr. Thomas Addis Emmet
WITH AN INTRODUCTION AND NOTES BY EDWARD F. DELANCEY
(Concluded from page 79, Vol. XII.)
From Cap! Marquard, 15th July 1781. 6 o'clock P. M. Sir
Three French officers took a survey of the ground behind Phillipse's * the day before yesterday. They put to every house the name of an officer to be quartered in it. The commanding general to be at Ebert Brown's.
The works at Dobb's ferry on this side the W. River, opposite the block-house, t still carrying on. Heavy cannon are expected to be put in the works there. I Their out-posts on the Sawmill River, and Sprain S roads, further advanced this way. Waterbury, reinforced by some Militia, arrived the 13th at Van Harts, at Scarsdale, a District between White-plains & Mamaroneck. ||
E: B: thinks Washington would soon take another position on Phillipse's, and
* The upper Manor House, the Manor of Phillipseburgh, near Tarrytown, is probably meant here.
At Sneeden's Landing, before described in entry of 27th June, and note thereto.
# This work was begun by Washington's orders on July 8, “with a view to establish a communi. cation there for the transportation of provisions and stores from Pennsylvania," was not finished on the 15th, but was so on the 19th, when it was armed with “2 eighteen and 2 twelve pounders.” - Washington's Journals under these dates, VI. Mar. Am. Hist. 119, 120.
& The Sprain is an affluent of the Sawmill or Neperan River, which falls into the Hudson at the city of Yonkers. The roads then and now follow the two streams.
| This “District " was the Manor of Scarsdale, which embraced the present townships of Mamaroneck and Scarsdale, and a very little of the township of Harrison (all three erected after the Revolutionary War), and extended from Long Island Sound to the Bronx River. The Manor was granted to Col. Caleb Heathcote in 1701, and in 1781 belonged to his grandchildren, the children of his two daughters and co-heiresses, Anne, the elder, the widow of James de Lancey, Chief Justice and Lieut. Governor of New York, who died in 1760, and Martha, the younger, the wife of Lewis Johnston, M.D., of Perth Amboy, New Jersey. “Van Harts" was a farm in the present town of Greenburgh adjoining the Manor, at its extreme northwestern end on the Bronx, a place afterward known as “Hart's Corners," and recently changed to “Hartsdale." It is about four miles south of White Plains, nine northwest of the village of Mamaroneck which lies on the Sound, and is now a station on the Harlem Railroad.