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MAYNARD'S ENGLISH CLASSIC SERIES-No. 223-224.
WITH INTRODUCTORY AND EXPLANATORY NOTES,
With grammatical notes upon two selections specially prepared to meet
the requirements of Regents of New York
MAYNARD, MERRILL, & co.
A Tour of the Prairies.
Recollections of Abbotsford and Newstead Abbey. 1836 Astoria. 1837 Adventures of Captain Bonneville. 1849 Oliver Goldsmith. 1850 Mahomet and His Successors. 1855 Wolfert's Roost.
Life of Washington, Volume I. 1859 Life of Washington, Fifth and last Volume.
BIOGRAPHY AND CRITICISM.
Pierre M. Irving. Life of Washington Irving. 4 vols. The
standard biography. Charles Dudley Warner. Life of Irving. American Men of Letters
Series. David J. Hill.
Life of Irving. American Authors' Series. Hazlitt.
Spirit of the Age. Jeffrey.
Bracebridge Hall. William C. Bryant. Address before the New York Historical
Society, 1860. H. W. Longfellow. Address before the Massachusetts Historical
Society, 1860. Curtis.
Literary and Social Essays. Howells.
My Literary Passions. Lowell.
Fable for Critics. Studies of Irving. Containing Essays and Addresses by Warner,
Bryant, and George P. Putnam. Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. XIII. An article by Richard Garnett. William Makepeace Thackeray. Nil nisi Bonum, in Roundabout Papers.
LIFE OF WASHINGTON IRVING.
WASHINGTON IRVING was born in New York City April 3, 1783, the youngest of eleven children of William and Sarah Irving. His father, a Scotch seaman, settled in New York twenty years before and was established in trade. He was a man of great probity and honor, but a strict disciplinarian. From his mother Irving inherited that géniality which distinguished him in life as well as in his writings.
Irving's father, though not a wealthy man, gave two of his sons a college education, but the youngest did not have this advantage, perhaps because of ill health. His education began when he was four years old and continued in a desultory fashion until 1799. For some years after the latter date he pursued the study of law in an irregular way. His health, however, was not of the best, and in 1804 he was sent abroad in the hope of improving it. He was successful in his search for strength, and also in the attainment of those refinements which the Old World could offer to a susceptible mind. The grandeur of Rome, the gay beauty of Paris, and the busy throngs of London all had their influence on him. He saw Nelson's fleet going to Trafalgar, and later was awed at the scene of the great admiral lying in state. The actress, Mrs. Siddons, charmed him,—the theater was a forbidden pleasure of his youth,—and by many another experience was his mind stocked with the impressions which colored his later work.
In 1806 Irving returned to New York, and with his brother William, and James K. Paulding, founded Salmagundi, a periodical of the same type as the Spectator. At
this time, too, occurred an event which had great influence on his life and gave his writings a deeper and richer note. This was the death of Miss Hoffman, daughter of his legal instructor, to whom he was attached with an affection that lasted till his death. When I became once more calm and collected,” writes Irving, “I applied myself, by way of occupation, to the finishing of my work.”
This work was the “History of New York,” by Dietrich Knickerbocker. The book is a burlesque history of New York under the dominion of the Dutch, filled with boisterous humor, and giving a lifelike picture of the town where “burgomasters were chosen by weight.” When it was published, in 1809, it met with an immediate success and established the author's reputation so well that when, in 1815, he sailed for Europe the second time, he was assured of admission to the literary circles of the Old World.
In the meantime Irving had become a partner in a commercial house established by his brother in England and New York. At the time of his arrival in Europe this business was seriously threatened. He worked with unusual energy to resuscitate the lost prosperity, but the firm failed in 1818 and Irving was thrown on his resources. He refused the offer of a position in the navy department with a salary of $2500, feeling that he could do better with his pen. His feeling was justified, for in 1819 the first papers of his “Sketch-Book” began to appear in New York and Philadelphia, and in the following year John Murray published the work in London. It was received with enthusiasm, and Irving was at once recognized as one of the leading writers of the day. All approved his kindliness, his gentle humor,more refined than in his earlier work,-and the charming fancy which, though it be not the fire of imagination possessed by the supreme writers, nevertheless imparts a lasting