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but decided, rejection of his addresses. Still, this early attachment, if not quite so exclusive as romance would fain have pictured, exercised, no doubt, a lifelong influence on his character.
We have dwelt the rather on this episode in Irving's life-the permanent impression made by the passing away of an unknown and short-lived girl on the character and genius of a man whose fate was to mix largely in society, and acquire literary preeminence— because it seems to us to furnish also the real keynote of one of the most beautiful and popular passages in the • Sketch-Book.' The • Broken Heart,' suggested by the well known story of Miss Curran and Robert Emmett, tells in part his own tale also. It is true that he attributes the faculty of nourishing those inveterate memories of the heart to women only; but Irving's was in many respects a feminine, not effeminate, disposition, and no doubt he sate to himself for some traits in the picture.
• It is a common practice with those who have outlived the susceptibility of early feeling, or have been brought up in the gay heartlessness of dissipated life, to laugh at all love stories, and to treat the tales of romantic passion as mere fictions of novelists and poets. My observations on human nature have induced me to think otherwise. They have convinced me, that however the surface of the character may be chilled and frozen by the cares of the world, or cultivated into mere smiles by the arts of society, still there are dormant fires lurking in the depths of the coldest bosom, which, when once enkindled, become impetuous, and are sometimes desolating in their effects. Indeed, I am a true believer in the blind deity, and go to the full extent of his doctrines. Shall I confess it? I believe in broken hearts, and the possibility of dying of disappointed love. I do not, however, consider it a malady often fatal to my own sex; but I firmly believe that it withers down many a lovely woman into an early grave.
Man is the creature of interest and ambition. His nature leads him forth into the struggle and bustle of the world. Love is but the embellishment of his early life, or a song piped in the intervals of the acts. He seeks for fame, for fortune, for space in the world's thought, and dominion over his fellow men. But a woman's whole life is a history of the affections. The heart is her world : it is there her ambition strives for empire ; it is there her avarice seeks for hidden treasures. She sends forth her sympathies on adventure; she embarks her whole soul in the traffic of affection; and if shipwrecked, her case is hopeless—for it is a bankruptcy of the heart.
"To a man the disappointment of love may occasion some bitter pangs: it wounds some feelings of tenderness—it blasts some prospects of felicity; but he is an active being-he can dissipate his thoughts in the whirl of varied occupation, or can plunge into the tide of pleasure ; or if the scene of disappointment be too full of painful Vol. 114.–No. 227.
associations, associations, he can shift his abode at will, and taking as it were the wings of the morning, can "fly to the uttermost parts of the earth and be at rest.”
• But woman's is comparatively a fixed, a secluded, and a meditative life. She is more the companion of her own thoughts and feelings; and if they are turned to ministers of sorrow, where shall she look for consolation ? Her lot is to be wooed and won ; and if unhappy in her love, her heart is like some fortress that has been captured, and sacked, and abandoned, and left desolate.
We do not know whether the strange and suspicious resemblance between this passage and the well known lines in Don Juan,'—
•Man's love is of man's life a thing apart,' and so forth, has ever been remarked on. It is so great that, on all ordinary calculation of probabilities, plagiarism would be supposed : and Lord Byron was of all converters to their own use of other men's intellectual goods, after Shakespeare, the most daringly unconcerned. Moore, in his edition of · Don Juan,' quotes as a parallel passage a few sentences in Corinne ;' but they are not so near by an enormous distance. And yet it does so happen that the clearest possible case of literary alibi seems to be proveable in favour of both writers. Lord Byron wrote the first canto of “Don Juan’ in Italy, in the summer of 1818. It was privately printed early in 1819, and published in September of that year. Irving sent the MS. of No. 2 of the SketchBook' (in which the ‘Broken Heart' occurs) from England, where he wrote it, to America, in April, 1819. It was printed in America that summer, and first appeared, in England, in the • Literary Gazette' in September that year, the same month with “Don Juan. It is all but mathematically impossible that either could have borrowed from the other. And yet many an author has been pilloried (metaphorically) on less cogent internal evidence, as a close comparison of the passages will show.
We have said that Matilda Hoffman's catastrophe decided Irving's destiny. He had, indeed, as we have seen, a natural predilection for the Gipsy or “Bohemian’ mode of existence. But this might have been counteracted by strong domestic instinct and family affection. His whole life bears evidence to the conflict in his disposition between the two opposing tendencies. He never could remain long in any fixed condition. His life was a succession of varying schemes and shifting localities. And yet his works are full of passages evincing a passion for quiet homes and steady Penates. The best remembered and most picturesque portions of the 'Sketch-Book' and its successors describe the habits and enjoyments of a stationary, old-fashioned,
', (in which in sent the M's, and published
rustic population. And it is plain from his letters and journals how intensely he enjoyed the repose and warmth of the family circles in which he became at different times accidentally domesticated, and how highly his own presence in them was appreciated in return. But whenever he seems likely to take root in any spot, the whirlwind seizes on him as on Béranger's Wandering Jew, and drives him devious over the world.
In 1814 we find Washington Irving, notwithstanding his constitutional aversion to politics, inspired by the war with England with patriotic ardour. He served for some time on the staff of the civic army of those days, while his brother William represented New York in Congress. He docs not appear, however, to have been engaged in actual fighting. Some years afterwards an endeavour was made to draw him into the public service. His countrymen, however they may be chargeable with making official situations in general the mere prizes of party zeal, have never been wanting in affording this kind of encouragement to literary merit. His friend, the celebrated Commodore Decatur, now obtained for him the promise of the office of · First Clerk in the Navy Department, which is similar to that of Under-Secretary in England. The salary' (adds his informant) 'is equal to 2400 dollars per annum, which, as the Commodore says, is sufficient to enable you to live in Washington like a prince. To the great chagrin of his brothers, and contrary to their expectations' (says his biographer), “Washington declined this offer. The principal reason which he assigned was, 'I do not wish to take any situation that must involve me in such a routine of duties as to prevent my attending to literary pursuits.' He was so disturbed, however, .by the responsibility he had taken in refusing such a situation, and trusting to the uncertain chances of literary success, that for two months he could scarcely write a line.' Probably the old wound
—that inflicted by the death of Matilda Hoffman—was not yet scarred over, and he shrank from the dreariness of steady routine employment in solitude as men so hit often do. In after life he chose to regard this as a mistake. The following letter, addressed in 1824 to his nephew, Pierre Paris Irving, seems like an unburdening of his conscience :
I hope your literary vein has been but a transient one, and that you are preparing to establish your fortune and reputation on a better basis than literary success. I hope none of those whose interest and happiness are dear to me will be induced to follow my footsteps, and wander into the seductive but treacherous paths of literature. There is no life more precarious in its profits and fallacious in its enjoyments than that of an author. I speak from an experience which may be considered a favourable and prosperous one; and I would earnestly dissuade all those with whom my voice has any effect from trusting their fortunes to the pen : for my part, I look forward with impatience to the time when a moderate competency will place me above the necessity of writing for the press. I have long since discovered that it is indeed vanity and vexation of spirit. ... I feel myself called upon to urge these matters : because, from some passages in your letter, it would seem that some idle writing of mine had caught your fancy, and awakened a desire to follow my footsteps. If you think my path has been a flowery one, you are greatly mistaken: it has too often lain among thorns and brambles, and been darkened by care and despondency. Many and many a time have I regretted that at my early outset in life I had not been imperiously bound down to some regular and useful mode of life, and been thoroughly inured to habits of business; and I have a thousand times regretted with bitterness that I was ever led away by my imagination. Believe me, the man who earns his bread by the sweat of his brow, eats often a sweeter morsel, however coarse, than he who procures it by the labour of his brains. . . . I am anxious to hear of your making a valuable practical man of business, whatever profession and mode of life you adopt. ... Our country is a glorious one for merit to make its way in; and wherever talents are properly matured, and are supported by honourable principle and amiable manners, they are sure to succeed. As for the talk about modest merit being neglected, it is too often a cant, by which indolent and irresolute men seek to lay their want of success at the door of the public. Modest merit is too apt to be inactive, or negligent, or uninstructed merit. Well matured and well disciplined talent is always sure of a market, provided it exerts itself; but it must not cower at home and expect to be sought for. There is a good deal of cant, too, in the whining about the success of forward and impudent men, while men of retiring worth are passed over with neglect. But it happens often that those forward men have that valuable quality of promptness and activity, without which worth is a mere inoperative property. A barking dog is often more useful than a sleeping lion.'— Vol. ij., p. 393.
This is all very sound doctrine, and well preached, but if it had been acted on, the world would have lost an accomplished and agreeable author, and the author himself a life which seems on the whole to have been an enjoyable as well as a successful one ; while the duties of · First Clerk in the Navy Board' were probably much better performed by some one else.
We are, however, anticipating, in carrying the reader forward to the circumstances of this offer. It was in 1815, immediately on the conclusion of peace between America and Great Britain, that Irving revisited the old world. No very special motive for this journey appears in his biography, beyond the ordinary desire for a temporary change of scene. But that change proved a pro
tracted one. He little dreamt that the ocean he was about to cross would roll its waters for seventeen years between him and his home,' or that the close of those seventeen years would find him an adopted Englishman, familiar to the homes and hearts of his new countrymen as one of the most popular authors of his time,
At this period two of Washington's brothers, Ebenezer and Peter, were established in business at Birmingham, where his brother-in-law, Mr. Van Wart, was also a merchant. He made his home with them on his arrival, and was in course of time persuaded into joining them as a partner. As this constitutes a mere episode in Washington's life, it is sufficient here to say that the partnership was a constant source of anxiety ; the house of the brothers Irving got into difficulties, owing to the commercial reaction which followed the peace of 1815, and became ultimately bankrupt in 1818. The matter was of little consequence to Washington—who had no capital to embark in the concernexcept that it stimulated him to action, from the necessity of relying on his pen as a regular means of support. And the house of Van Wart, compromised for a time in the failure, soon recovered its position.
Washington's intimacies, on his arrival in England, were chiefly among Americans, and especially the artists, his old friend Allston, Leslie, and Newton. With Leslie in particular he lived on terms of brotherly affection; and there are abundant notices of their companionship in Mr. Tom Taylor's biography of the simple-minded painter. We extract one, though a little in anticipation of another portion of his career :
* Towards the close of the summer of 1821,' says Leslie, 'I made a delightful excursion with Washington Irving to Birmingham, and thence into Derbyshire. We mounted the top of one of the Oxford coaches at threo o'clock in the afternoon, intending only to go as far as Henley that night; but the evening was so fine, and the fields, filled with labourers gathering in the corn by the light of a full moon, presented so animated an appearance, that although we had not dined we determined to proceed to Oxford, which we reached about eleven o'clock, and then sat down to a hot supper. The next day it rained unceasingly, and we were confined to the inn, like the nervous traveller whom Irving has described as spending a day in endeavouring to penetrate the mystery of the “Stout Gentleman.” This wet Sunday at Oxford did in fact suggest to him that capital story, if story it can be called. The next morning, as we mounted the coach, I said something about a stout gentleman who had come from London with us the day before : and Irving remarked that “the Stout Gentleman” would not be a bad title for a tale. As soon as the coach stopped he began writing with his pencil, and went on at every