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Washington Irving by Charles Dudley Warner

Part 3 out of 3

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"The Swedish garrison, ordered by the cunning Risingh not to fire
until they could distinguish the whites of their assailants' eyes,
stood in horrid silence on the covert-way, until the eager Dutchmen
had ascended the glacis. Then did they pour into them such a
tremendous volley, that the very hills quaked around, and were
terrified even unto an incontinence of water, insomuch that certain
springs burst forth from their sides, which continue to run unto the
present day. Not a Dutchman but would have bitten the dust beneath
that dreadful fire, had not the protecting Minerva kindly taken care
that the Swedes should, one and all, observe their usual custom of
shutting their eyes and turning away their heads at the moment of

"The Swedes followed up their fire by leaping the counterscarp, and
falling tooth and nail upon the foe with curious outcries. And now
might be seen prodigies of valor, unmatched in history or song.
Here was the sturdy Stoffel Brinkerhoff brandishing his quarter-
staff, like the giant Blanderon his oak-tree (for he scorned to
carry any other weapon), and drumming a horrific tune upon the hard
heads of the Swedish soldiery. There were the Van Kortlandts,
posted at a distance, like the Locrian archers of yore, and plying
it most potently with the long-bow, for which they were so justly
renowned. On a rising knoll were gathered the valiant men of Sing-
Sing, assisting marvelously in the fight by chanting the great song
of St. Nicholas; but as to the Gardeniers of Hudson, they were
absent on a marauding party, laying waste the neighboring water-
melon patches.

"In a different part of the field were the Van Grolls of Antony's
Nose, struggling to get to the thickest of the fight, but horribly
perplexed in a defile between two hills, by reason of the length of
their noses. So also the Van Bunschotens of Nyack and Kakiat, so
renowned for kicking with the left foot, were brought to a stand for
want of wind, in consequence of the hearty dinner they had eaten,
and would have been put to utter rout but for the arrival of a
gallant corps of voltigeurs, composed of the Hoppers, who advanced
nimbly to their assistance on one foot. Nor must I omit to mention
the valiant achievements of Antony Van Corlear, who, for a good
quarter of an hour, waged stubborn fight with a little pursy Swedish
drummer, whose hide he drummed most magnificently, and whom he would
infallibly have annihilated on the spot, but that he had come into
the battle with no other weapon but his trumpet.

"But now the combat thickened. On came the mighty Jacobus Varra
Vanger and the fighting-men of the Wallabout; after them thundered
the Van Pelts of Esopus, together with the Van Rippers and the Van
Brunts, bearing down all before them; then the Suy Dams, and the Van
Dams, pressing forward with many a blustering oath, at the head of
the warriors of Hell-gate, clad in their thunder-and-lightning
gaberdines; and lastly, the standard-bearers and body-guard of Peter
Stuyvesant, bearing the great beaver of the Manhattoes.

"And now commenced the horrid din, the desperate struggle, the
maddening ferocity, the frantic desperation, the confusion and self-
abandonment of war. Dutchman and Swede commingled, tugged, panted,
and blowed. The heavens were darkened with a tempest of missives.
Bang! went the guns; whack! went the broad-swords; thump went the
cudgels; crash! went the musket-stocks; blows, kicks, cuffs;
scratches, black eyes and bloody noses swelling the horrors of the
scene! Thick thwack, cut and hack, helter-skelter, higgledy-
piggledy, hurly-burly, head-over-heels, rough-and-tumble! Dunder
and blixum! swore the Dutchmen; splitter and splutter! cried the
Swedes. Storm the works! shouted Hardkoppig Peter. Fire the mine
roared stout Risingh. Tanta-rar-ra-ra! twanged the trumpet of
Antony Van Corlear;--until all voice and sound became
unintelligible,--grunts of pain, yells of fury, and shouts of
triumph mingling in one hideous clamor. The earth shook as if
struck with a paralytic stroke; trees shrunk aghast, and withered at
the sight; rocks burrowed in the ground like rabbits; and even
Christina Creek turned from its course and ran up a hill in
breathless terror.

"Long hung the contest doubtful; for though a heavy shower of rain,
sent by the 'cloud-compelling Jove,' in some measure cooled their
ardor, as doth a bucket of water thrown on a group of fighting
mastiffs, yet did they but pause for a moment, to return with
tenfold fury to the charge. Just at this juncture a vast and dense
column of smoke was seen slowly rolling toward the scene of battle.
The combatants paused for a moment, gazing in mute astonishment,
until the wind, dispelling the murky cloud, revealed the flaunting
banner of Michael Paw, the Patroon of Communipaw. That valiant
chieftain came fearlessly on at the head of a phalanx of oyster-fed
Pavonians and a corps de reserve of the Van Arsdales and Van
Bummels, who had remained behind to digest the enormous dinner they
had eaten. These now trudged manfully forward, smoking their pipes
with outrageous vigor, so as to raise the awful cloud that has been
mentioned, but marching exceedingly slow, being short of leg, and of
great rotundity in the belt.

"And now the deities who watched over the fortunes of the
Nederlanders having unthinkingly left the field, and stepped into a
neighboring tavern to refresh themselves with a pot of beer, a
direful catastrophe had well-nigh ensued. Scarce had the myrmidons
of Michael Paw attained the front of battle, when the Swedes,
instructed by the cunning Risingh, leveled a shower of blows full at
their tobacco-pipes. Astounded at this assault, and dismayed at the
havoc of their pipes, these ponderous warriors gave way, and like a
drove of frightened elephants broke through the ranks of their own
army. The little Hoppers were borne down in the surge; the sacred
banner emblazoned with the gigantic oyster of Communipaw was
trampled in the dirt; on blundered and thundered the heavy-sterned
fugitives, the Swedes pressing on their rear and applying their feet
a parte poste of the Van Arsdales and the Van Bummels with a vigor
that prodigiously accelerated their movements; nor did the renowned
Michael Paw himself fail to receive divers grievous and dishonorable
visitations of shoe-leather.

"But what, oh Muse! was the rage of Peter Stuyvesant, when from afar
he saw his army giving way! In the transports of his wrath he sent
forth a roar, enough to shake the very hills. The men of the
Manhattoes plucked up new courage at the sound, or, rather, they
rallied at the voice of their leader, of whom they stood more in awe
than of all the Swedes in Christendom. Without waiting for their
aid, the daring Peter dashed, sword in hand, into the thickest of
the foe. Then might be seen achievements worthy of the days of the
giants. Wherever he went the enemy shrank before him; the Swedes
fled to right and left, or were driven, like dogs, into their own
ditch; but as he pushed forward, singly with headlong courage, the
foe closed behind and hung upon his rear. One aimed a blow full at
his heart; but the protecting power which watches over the great and
good turned aside the hostile blade and directed it to a side-
pocket, where reposed an enormous iron tobacco-box, endowed, like
the shield of Achilles, with supernatural powers, doubtless from
bearing the portrait of the blessed St. Nicholas. Peter Stuyvesant
turned like an angry bear upon the foe, and seizing him, as he fled,
by an immeasurable queue, 'Ah, whoreson caterpillar,' roared he,
'here's what shall make worms' meat of thee!' so saying he whirled
his sword and dealt a blow that would have decapitated the varlet,
but that the pitying steel struck short and shaved the queue forever
from his crown. At this moment an arquebusier leveled his piece
from a neighboring mound, with deadly aim; but the watchful Minerva,
who had just stopped to tie up her garter, seeing the peril of her
favorite hero, sent old Boreas with his bellows, who, as the match
descended to the pan, gave a blast that blew the priming from the

"Thus waged the fight, when the stout Risingh, surveying the field
from the top of a little ravelin, perceived his troops banged,
beaten, and kicked by the invincible Peter. Drawing his falchion,
and uttering a thousand anathemas, he strode down to the scene of
combat with some such thundering strides as Jupiter is said by
Hesiod to have taken when he strode down the spheres to hurl his
thunder-bolts at the Titans.

"When the rival heroes came face to face, each made a prodigious
start in the style of a veteran stage-champion. Then did they
regard each other for a moment with the bitter aspect of two furious
ram-cats on the point of a clapper-clawing. Then did they throw
themselves into one attitude, then into another, striking their
swords on the ground, first on the right side, then on the left: at
last at it they went with incredible ferocity. Words cannot tell
the prodigies of strength and valor displayed in this direful
encounter,--an encounter compared to which the far-famed battles of
Ajax with Hector, of AEneas with Turnus, Orlando with Rodomont, Guy
of Warwick with Colbrand the Dane, or of that renowned Welsh knight,
Sir Owen of the Mountains, with the giant Guylon, were all gentle
sports and holiday recreations. At length the valiant Peter,
watching his opportunity, aimed a blow enough to cleave his
adversary to the very chine; but Risingh, nimbly raising his sword,
warded it off so narrowly, that, glancing on one side, it shaved
away a huge canteen in which he carried his liquor,--thence pursuing
its trenchant course, it severed off a deep coat-pocket, stored with
bread and cheese,--which provant, rolling among the armies,
occasioned a fearful scrambling between the Swedes and Dutchmen, and
made the general battle to wax more furious than ever.

"Enraged to see his military stores laid waste, the stout Risingh,
collecting all his forces, aimed a mighty blow full at the hero's
crest. In vain did his fierce little cocked hat oppose its course.
The biting steel clove through the stubborn ram beaver, and would
have cracked the crown of any one not endowed with supernatural
hardness of head; but the brittle weapon shivered in pieces on the
skull of Hardkoppig Piet, shedding a thousand sparks, like beams of
glory, round his grizzly visage.

"The good Peter reeled with the blow, and turning up his eyes beheld
a thousand suns, besides moons and stars, dancing about the
firmament; at length, missing his footing, by reason of his wooden
leg, down he came on his seat of honor with a crash which shook the
surrounding hills, and might have wrecked his frame, had he not been
received into a cushion softer than velvet, which Providence, or
Minerva, or St. Nicholas, or some cow, had benevolently prepared for
his reception.

"The furious Risingh, in despite of the maxim, cherished by all true
knights, that 'fair play is a jewel,' hastened to take advantage of
the hero's fall; but, as he stooped to give a fatal blow, Peter
Stuyvesant dealt him a thwack over the sconce with his wooden leg,
which set a chime of bells ringing triple bob-majors in his
cerebellum. The bewildered Swede staggered with the blow, and the
wary Peter seizing a pocket-pistol, which lay hard by, discharged it
full at the head of the reeling Risingh. Let not my reader mistake;
it was not a murderous weapon loaded with powder and ball, but a
little sturdy stone pottle charged to the muzzle with a double dram
of true Dutch courage, which the knowing Antony Van Corlear carried
about him by way of replenishing his valor, and which had dropped
from his wallet during his furious encounter with the drummer. The
hideous weapon sang through the air, and true to its course as was
the fragment of a rock discharged at Hector by bully Ajax,
encountered the head of the gigantic Swede with matchless violence.

"This heaven-directed blow decided the battle. The ponderous
pericranium of General Jan Risingh sank upon his breast; his knees
tottered under him; a deathlike torpor seized upon his frame, and he
tumbled to the earth with such violence that old Pluto started with
affright, lest he should have broken through the roof of his
infernal palace.

"His fall was the signal of defeat and victory: the Swedes gave way,
the Dutch pressed forward; the former took to their heels, the
latter hotly pursued. Some entered with them, pell-mell, through
the sally-port; others stormed the bastion, and others scrambled
over the curtain. Thus in a little while the fortress of Fort
Christina, which, like another Troy, had stood a siege of full ten
hours, was carried by assault, without the loss of a single man on
either side. Victory, in the likeness of a gigantic ox-fly, sat
perched upon the cocked hat of the gallant Stuyvesant; and it was
declared by all the writers whom he hired to write the history of
his expedition that on this memorable day he gained a sufficient
quantity of glory to immortalize a dozen of the greatest heroes in

In the "Sketch-Book," Irving set a kind of fashion in narrative essays,
in brief stories of mingled humor and pathos, which was followed for half
a century. He himself worked the same vein in" Bracebridge Hall" and
"Tales of a Traveller." And there is no doubt that some of the most
fascinating of the minor sketches of Charles Dickens, such as the story
of the Bagman's Uncle, are lineal descendants of, if they were not
suggested by, Irving's "Adventure of My Uncle," and the "Bold Dragoon."

The taste for the leisurely description and reminiscent essay of the
"Sketch-Book" does not characterize the readers of this generation, and
we have discovered that the pathos of its elaborated scenes is somewhat
"literary." The sketches of "Little Britain," and "Westminster Abbey,"
and, indeed, that of "Stratford-on-Avon," will for a long time retain
their place in selections of "good reading;" but the "Sketch-Book" is
only floated, as an original work, by two papers, the "Rip Van Winkle"
and the "Legend of Sleepy Hollow;" that is to say by the use of the Dutch
material, and the elaboration of the "Knickerbocker Legend," which was
the great achievement of Irving's life. This was broadened and deepened
and illustrated by the several stories of the "Money Diggers," of
"Wolfert Webber" and "Kidd the Pirate," in the "Tales of a Traveller,"
and by "Dolph Heyliger" in "Bracebridge Hall." Irving was never more
successful than in painting the Dutch manners and habits of the early
time, and he returned again and again to the task until he not only made
the shores of the Hudson and the islands of New York harbor and the East
River classic ground, but until his conception of Dutch life in the New
World had assumed historical solidity and become a tradition of the
highest poetic value. If in the multiplicity of books and the change of
taste the bulk of Irving's works shall go out of print, a volume made up
of his Knickerbocker history and the legends relating to the region of
New York and the Hudson would survive as long as anything that has been
produced in this country.

The philosophical student of the origin of New World society may find
food for reflection in the "materiality" of the basis of the civilization
of New York. The picture of abundance and of enjoyment of animal life is
perhaps not overdrawn in Irving's sketch of the home of the Van Tassels,
in the "Legend of Sleepy Hollow." It is all the extract we can make room
for from that careful study.

"Among the musical disciples who assembled, one evening in each
week, to receive his instructions in psalmody, was Katrina Van
Tassel, the daughter and only child of a substantial Dutch farmer.
She was a blooming lass of fresh eighteen; plump as a partridge;
ripe and melting and rosy-checked as one of her father's peaches,
and universally famed, not merely for her beauty, but her vast
expectations. She was, withal, a little of a coquette, as might be
perceived even in her dress, which was a mixture of ancient and
modern fashions, as most suited to set off her charms. She wore the
ornaments of pure yellow gold which her great-great-grandmother had
brought over from Saardam; the tempting stomacher of the olden time;
and withal a provokingly short petticoat, to display the prettiest
foot and ankle in the country round.

"Ichabod Crane had a soft and foolish heart towards the sex; and it
is not to be wondered at that so tempting a morsel soon found favor
in his eyes, more especially after he had visited her in her
paternal mansion. Old Baltus Van Tassel was a perfect picture of a
thriving, contented, liberal-hearted farmer. He seldom, it is true,
sent either his eyes or his thoughts beyond the boundaries of his
own farm; but within those everything was snug, happy, and well-
conditioned. He was satisfied with his wealth, but not proud of it;
and piqued himself upon the hearty abundance rather than the style
in which he lived. His stronghold was situated on the banks of the
Hudson, in one of those green, sheltered, fertile nooks in which the
Dutch farmers are so fond of nestling. A great elm-tree spread its
broad branches over it, at the foot of which bubbled up a spring, of
the softest and sweetest water, in a little well, formed of a
barrel, and then stole sparkling away through the grass to a
neighboring brook, that bubbled along among alders and dwarf
willows. Hard by the farm-house was a vast barn, that might have
served for a church, every window and crevice of which seemed
bursting forth with the treasures of the farm. The flail was busily
resounding within it from morning till night; swallows and martins
skimmed twittering about the eaves; and rows of pigeons, some with
one eye turned up, as if watching the weather, some with their heads
under their wings, or buried in their bosoms, and others swelling
and cooing and bowing about their dames, were enjoying the sunshine
on the roof. Sleek, unwieldy porkers were grunting in the repose
and abundance of their pens, whence sallied forth, now and then,
troops of sucking pigs, as if to snuff the air. A stately squadron
of snowy geese were riding in an adjoining pond, convoying whole
fleets of ducks; regiments of turkeys were gobbling through the
farm-yard, and guinea fowls fretting about it, like ill-tempered
housewives, with their peevish, discontented cry. Before the barn
door strutted the gallant cock, that pattern of a husband, a
warrior, and a fine gentleman, clapping his burnished wings, and
crowing in the pride and gladness of his heart--sometimes tearing up
the earth with his feet, and then generously calling his ever-hungry
family of wives and children to enjoy the rich morsel which he had

"The pedagogue's mouth watered as he looked upon this sumptuous
promise of luxurious winter fare. In his devouring mind's eye he
pictured to himself every roasting-pig running about with a pudding
in his belly, and an apple in his mouth; the pigeons were snugly put
to bed in a comfortable pie, and tucked in with a coverlet of crust;
the geese were swimming in their own gravy, and the ducks pairing
cosily in dishes, like snug married couples, with a decent
competency of onion-sauce. In the porkers he saw carved out the
future sleek side of bacon, and juicy, relishing ham; not a turkey
but he beheld daintily trussed up, with its gizzard under its wing,
and, peradventure, a necklace-of savory sausages; and even bright
chanticleer himself lay sprawling on his back, in a side-dish, with
uplifted claws, as if craving that quarter which his chivalrous
spirit disdained to ask while living.

"As the enraptured Ichabod fancied all this, and as he rolled his
great green eyes over the fat meadow-lands, the rich fields of
wheat, of rye, of buckwheat, and Indian corn, and the orchard
burdened with ruddy fruit, which surrounded the warm tenement of Van
Tassel, his heart yearned after the damsel who was to inherit these
domains, and his imagination expanded with the idea how they might
be readily turned into cash, and the money invested in immense
tracts of wild land and shingle palaces in the wilderness. Nay, his
busy fancy already realized his hopes, and presented to him the
blooming Katrina, with a whole family of children, mounted on the
top of a wagon loaded with household trumpery, with pots and kettles
dangling beneath; and he beheld himself bestriding a pacing mare,
with a colt at her heels, setting out for Kentucky, Tennessee, or
the Lord knows where.

"When he entered the house, the conquest of his heart was complete.
It was one of those spacious farm-houses, with high-ridged, but
lowly-sloping roofs, built in the style handed down from the first
Dutch settlers; the low projecting eaves forming a piazza along the
front, capable of being closed up in bad weather. Under this were
hung flails, harness, various utensils of husbandry, and nets for
fishing in the neighboring river. Benches were built along the
sides for summer use; and a great spinning-wheel at one end, and a
churn at the other, showed the various uses to which this important
porch might be devoted. From this piazza the wondering Ichabod
entered the hall, which formed the centre of the mansion and the
place of usual residence. Here, rows of resplendent pewter, ranged
on a long dresser, dazzled his eyes. In one corner stood a huge bag
of wool ready to be spun; in another a quantity of linsey-woolsey
just from the loom; ears of Indian corn, and strings of dried apples
and peaches, hung in gay festoons along the walls, mingled with the
gaud of red peppers; and a door left ajar gave him a peep into the
best parlor, where the claw-footed chairs and dark mahogany tables
shone like mirrors; and irons, with their accompanying shovel and
tongs, glistened from their covert of asparagus tops; mock-oranges
and conch-shells decorated the mantelpiece; strings of various
colored birds' eggs were suspended above it; a great ostrich egg was
hung from the centre of the room, and a corner cupboard, knowingly
left open, displayed immense treasures of old silver and well-mended

It is an abrupt transition from these homely scenes, which humor commends
to our liking, to the chivalrous pageant unrolled for us in the "Conquest
of Granada." The former are more characteristic and the more enduring of
Irving's writings, but as a literary artist his genius lent itself just
as readily to oriental and medieval romance as to the Knickerbocker
legend; and there is no doubt that the delicate perception he had of
chivalric achievements gave a refined tone to his mock heroics, which
greatly heightened their effect. It may almost be claimed that Irving
did for Granada and the Alhambra what he did, in a totally different way,
for New York and its vicinity.

The first passage I take from the "Conquest" is the description of the
advent at Cordova of the Lord Scales, Earl of Rivers, who was brother of
the queen of Henry VII, a soldier who had fought at Bosworth field, and
now volunteered to aid Ferdinand and Isabella in the extermination of the
Saracens. The description is put into the mouth of Fray Antonio
Agapidda, a fictitious chronicler invented by Irving, an unfortunate
intervention which gives to the whole book an air of unveracity:

"'This cavalier [he observes] was from the far island of England,
and brought with him a train of his vassals; men who had been
hardened in certain civil wars which raged in their country. They
were a comely race of men, but too fair and fresh for warriors, not
having the sunburnt, warlike hue of our old Castilian soldiery.
They were huge feeders also, and deep carousers, and could not
accommodate themselves to the sober diet of our troops, but must
fain eat and drink after the manner of their own country. They were
often noisy and unruly, also, in their wassail; and their quarter of
the camp was prone to be a scene of loud revel and sudden brawl.
They were, withal, of great pride, yet it was not like our
inflammable Spanish pride: they stood not much upon the 'pundonor,'
the high punctilio, and rarely drew the stiletto in their disputes;
but their pride was silent and contumelious. Though from a remote
and somewhat barbarous island, they believed themselves the most
perfect men upon earth, and magnified their chieftain, the Lord
Scales, beyond the greatest of their grandees. With all this, it
must be said of them that they were marvelous good men in the field,
dexterous archers, and powerful with the battleaxe. In their great
pride and self-will, they always sought to press in the advance and
take the post of danger, trying to outvie our Spanish chivalry.
They did not rush on fiercely to the fight, nor make a brilliant
onset like the Moorish and Spanish troops, but they went into the
fight deliberately, and persisted obstinately, and were slow to find
out when they were beaten. Withal they were much esteemed yet
little liked by our soldiery, who considered them staunch companions
in the field, yet coveted but little fellowship with them in the

"'Their commander, the Lord Scales, was an accomplished cavalier, of
gracious and noble presence and fair speech; it was a marvel to see
so much courtesy in a knight brought up so far from our Castilian
court. He was much honored by the king and queen, and found great
favor with the fair dames about the court, who indeed are rather
prone to be pleased with foreign cavaliers. He went always in
costly state, attended by pages and esquires, and accompanied by
noble young cavaliers of his country, who had enrolled themselves
under his banner, to learn the gentle exercise of arms. In all
pageants and festivals, the eyes of the populace were attracted by
the singular bearing and rich array of the English earl and his
train, who prided themselves in always appearing in the garb and
manner of their country-and were indeed something very magnificent,
delectable, and strange to behold.'

"The worthy chronicler is no less elaborate in his description of
the masters of Santiago, Calatrava, and Alcantara, and their valiant
knights, armed at all points, and decorated with the badges of their
orders. These, he affirms, were the flower of Christian chivalry;
being constantly in service they became more steadfast and
accomplished in discipline than the irregular and temporary levies
of feudal nobles. Calm, solemn, and stately, they sat like towers
upon their powerful chargers. On parades they manifested none of
the show and ostentation of the other troops: neither, in battle,
did they endeavor to signalize themselves by any fiery vivacity, or
desperate and vainglorious exploit,--everything, with them, was
measured and sedate; yet it was observed that none were more warlike
in their appearance in the camp, or more terrible for their
achievements in the field.

"The gorgeous magnificence of the Spanish nobles found but little
favor in the eyes of the sovereigns. They saw that it caused a
competition in expense ruinous to cavaliers of moderate fortune; and
they feared that a softness and effeminacy might thus be introduced,
incompatible with the stern nature of the war. They signified their
disapprobation to several of the principal noblemen, and recommended
a more sober and soldier-like display while in actual service.

"'These are rare troops for a tourney, my lord [said Ferdinand to
the Duke of Infantado, as he beheld his retainers glittering in gold
and embroidery]; but gold, though gorgeous, is soft and yielding:
iron is the metal for the field.'

"'Sire replied the duke, if my men parade in gold, your majesty will
find they fight with steel.' The king smiled, but shook his head,
and the duke treasured up his speech in his heart."

Our author excels in such descriptions as that of the progress of
Isabella to the camp of Ferdinand after the capture of Loxa, and of the
picturesque pageantry which imparted something of gayety to the brutal
pastime of war:

"It was in the early part of June that the queen departed from
Cordova, with the Princess Isabella and numerous ladies of her
court. She had a glorious attendance of cavaliers and pages, with
many guards and domestics. There were forty mules for the use of
the queen, the princess, and their train.

"As this courtly cavalcade approached the Rock of the Lovers, on the
banks of the river Yeguas, they beheld a splendid train of knights
advancing to meet them. It was headed by that accomplished cavalier
the Marques Duke de Cadiz, accompanied by the adelantado of
Andalusia. He had left the camp the day after the capture of
Illora, and advanced thus far to receive the queen and escort her
over the borders. The queen received the marques with distinguished
honor, for he was esteemed the mirror of chivalry. His actions in
this war had become the theme of every tongue, and many hesitated
not to compare him in prowess with the immortal Cid.

"Thus gallantly attended, the queen entered the vanquished frontier
of Granada, journeying securely along the pleasant banks of the
Xenel, so lately subject to the scourings of the Moors. She stopped
at Loxa, where she administered aid and consolation to the wounded,
distributing money among them for their support, according to their

"The king, after the capture of Illora, had removed his camp before
the fortress of Moclin, with an intention of besieging it. Thither
the queen proceeded, still escorted through the mountain roads by
the Marques of Cadiz. As Isabella drew near to the camp, the Duke
del Infantado issued forth a league and a half to receive her,
magnificently arrayed, and followed by all his chivalry in glorious
attire. With him came the standard of Seville, borne by the men-at-
arms of that renowned city, and the Prior of St. Juan, with his
followers. They ranged themselves in order of battle, on the left
of the road by which the queen was to pass.

"The worthy Agapida is loyally minute in his description of the
state and grandeur of the Catholic sovereigns. The queen rode a
chestnut mule, seated in a magnificent saddle-chair, decorated with
silver gilt. The housings of the mule were of fine crimson cloth;
the borders embroidered with gold; the reins and head-piece were of
satin, curiously embossed with needlework of silk, and wrought with
golden letters. The queen wore a brial or regal skirt of velvet,
under which were others of brocade; a scarlet mantle, ornamented in
the Moresco fashion; and a black hat, embroidered round the crown
and brim.

"The infanta was likewise mounted on a chestnut mule, richly
caparisoned. She wore a brial or skirt of black brocade, and a
black mantle ornamented like that of the queen.

"When the royal cavalcade passed by the chivalry of the Duke del
Infantado, which was drawn out in battle array, the queen made a
reverence to the standard of Seville, and ordered it to pass to the
right hand. When she approached the camp, the multitude ran forth
to meet her, with great demonstrations of joy; for she was
universally beloved by her subjects. All the battalions sallied
forth in military array, bearing the various standards and banners
of the camp, which were lowered in salutation as she passed.

"The king now came forth in royal state, mounted on a superb
chestnut horse, and attended by many grandees of Castile. He wore a
jubon or close vest of crimson cloth, with cuisses or short skirts
of yellow satin, a loose cassock of brocade, a rich Moorish
scimiter, and a hat with plumes. The grandees who attended him were
arrayed with wonderful magnificence, each according to his taste and

"These high and mighty princes [says Antonio Agapida] regarded each
other with great deference, as allied sovereigns rather than with
connubial familiarity, as mere husband and wife. When they
approached each other, therefore, before embracing, they made three
profound reverences, the queen taking off her hat, and remaining in
a silk net or cawl, with her face uncovered. The king then
approached and embraced her, and kissed her respectfully on the
cheek. He also embraced his daughter the princess; and, making the
sign of the cross, he blessed her, and kissed her on the lips.

"The good Agapida seems scarcely to have been more struck with the
appearance of the sovereigns than with that of the English earl. He
followed [says he] immediately after the king, with great pomp, and,
in an extraordinary manner, taking precedence of all the rest. He
was mounted 'a la guisa,' or with long stirrups, on a superb
chestnut horse, with trappings of azure silk which reached to the
ground. The housings were of mulberry, powdered with stars of gold.
He was armed in proof, and wore over his armor a short French mantle
of black brocade; he had a white French hat with plumes, and carried
on his left arm a small round buckler, banded with gold. Five pages
attended him, appareled in silk and brocade, and mounted on horses
sumptuously caparisoned; he had also a train of followers, bravely
attired after the fashion of his country.

"He advanced in a chivalrous and courteous manner, making his
reverences first to the queen and infanta, and afterwards to the
king. Queen Isabella received him graciously, complimenting him on
his courageous conduct at Loxa, and condoling with him on the loss
of his teeth. The earl, however, made light of his disfiguring
wound, saying that your blessed Lord, who had built all that house,
had opened a window there, that he might see more readily what
passed within; whereupon the worthy Fray Antonio Agapida is more
than ever astonished at the pregnant wit of this island cavalier.
The earl continued some little distance by the side of the royal
family, complimenting them all with courteous speeches, his horse
curveting and caracoling, but being managed with great grace and
dexterity, leaving the grandees and the people at large not more
filled with admiration at the strangeness and magnificence of his
state than at the excellence of his horsemanship.

"To testify her sense of the gallantry and services of this noble
English knight, who had come from so far to assist in their wars,
the queen sent him the next day presents of twelve horses, with
stately tents, fine linen, two beds with coverings of gold brocade,
and many other articles of great value."

The protracted siege of the city of Granada was the occasion of feats of
arms and hostile courtesies which rival in brilliancy any in the romances
of chivalry. Irving's pen is never more congenially employed than in
describing these desperate but romantic encounters. One of the most
picturesque of these was known as "the queen's skirmish." The royal
encampment was situated so far from Granada that only the general aspect
of the city could be seen as it rose from the vega, covering the sides of
the hills with its palaces and towers. Queen Isabella expressed a desire
for a nearer view of the city, whose beauty was renowned throughout the
world, and the courteous Marques of Cadiz proposed to give her this
perilous gratification.

"On the morning of June the 18th, a magnificent and powerful train
issued from the Christian camp. The advanced guard was composed of
legions of cavalry, heavily armed, looking like moving masses of
polished steel. Then came the king and queen, with the prince and
princesses, and the ladies of the court, surrounded by the royal
bodyguard, sumptuously arrayed, composed of the sons of the most
illustrious houses of Spain; after these was the rearguard, a
powerful force of horse and foot; for the flower of the army sallied
forth that day. The Moors gazed with fearful admiration at this
glorious pageant, wherein the pomp of the court was mingled with the
terrors of the camp. It moved along in radiant line, across the
vega, to the melodious thunders of martial music, while banner and
plume, and silken scarf, and rich brocade, gave a gay and gorgeous
relief to the grim visage of iron war that lurked beneath.

"The army moved towards the hamlet of Zubia, built on the skirts of
the mountain to the left of Granada, and commanding a view of the
Alhambra, and the most beautiful quarter of the city. As they
approached the hamlet, the Marques of Villena, the Count Urena, and
Don Alonzo de Aguilar filed off with their battalions, and were soon
seen glittering along, the side of the mountain above the village.
In the mean time the Marques of Cadiz, the Count de Tendilla, the
Count de Cabra, and Don Alonzo Fernandez, senior of Alcaudrete and
Montemayor, drew up their forges in battle array on the plain below
the hamlet, presenting a living barrier of loyal chivalry between
the sovereigns and the city.

"Thus securely guarded, the royal party alighted, and, entering one
of the houses of the hamlet, which had been prepared for their
reception, enjoyed a full view which the city from its terraced
roof. The ladies of the court gazed with delight at the red towers
of the Alhambra, rising from amid shady groves, anticipating the
time when the Catholic sovereigns should be enthroned within its
walls, and its courts shine with the splendor of Spanish chivalry.
'The reverend prelates and holy friars, who always surrounded the
queen, looked with serene satisfaction,' says Fray Antonio Agapida,
at this modern Babylon, enjoying the triumph that awaited them, when
those mosques and minarets should be converted into churches, and
goodly priests and bishops should succeed to the infidel alfaquis.'

"When the Moors beheld the Christians thus drawn forth in full array
in the plain, they supposed it was to offer battle, and hesitated
not to accept it. In a little while the queen beheld a body of
Moorish cavalry pouring into the vega, the riders managing their
fleet and fiery steeds with admirable address. They were richly
armed, and clothed in the most brilliant colors, and the caparisons
of their steeds flamed with gold and embroidery. This was the
favorite squadron of Muza, composed of the flower of the youthful
cavaliers of Granada. Others succeeded, some heavily armed, others
a la gineta, with lance and buckler; and lastly came the legions of
foot-soldiers, with arquebus and crossbow, and spear and scimiter.

"When the queen saw this army issuing from the city, she sent to the
Marques of Cadiz, and forbade any attack upon the enemy, or the
acceptance of any challenge to a skirmish; for she was loth that her
curiosity should cost the life of a single human being.

"The marques promised to obey, though sorely against his will; and
it grieved the spirit of the Spanish cavaliers to be obliged to
remain with sheathed swords while bearded by the foe. The Moors
could not comprehend the meaning of this inaction of the Christians,
after having apparently invited a battle. They sallied several
times from their ranks, and approached near enough to discharge
their arrows; but the Christians were immovable. Many of the
Moorish horsemen galloped close to the Christian ranks, brandishing
their lances and scimiters, and defying various cavaliers to single
combat; but Ferdinand had rigorously prohibited all duels of this
kind, and they dared not transgress his orders under his very eye.

"Here, however, the worthy Fray Antonio Agapida, in his enthusiasm
for the triumphs of the faith, records the following incident, which
we fear is not sustained by any grave chronicler of the times, but
rests merely on tradition, or the authority of certain poets and
dramatic writers, who have perpetuated the tradition in their works.
While this grim and reluctant tranquillity prevailed along the
Christian line, says Agapida, there rose a mingled shout and sound
of laughter near the gate of the city. A Moorish horseman, armed at
all points, issued forth, followed by a rabble, who drew back as he
approached the scene of danger. The Moor was more robust and brawny
than was common with his countrymen. His visor was closed; he bore
a huge buckler and a ponderous lance; his scimiter was of a Damascus
blade, and his richly ornamented dagger was wrought by an artificer
of Fez. He was known by his device to be Tarfe, the most insolent,
yet valiant, of the Moslem warriors--the same who had hurled into
the royal camp his lance, inscribed to the queen. As he rode slowly
along in front of the army, his very steed, prancing with fiery eye
and distended nostril, seemed to breathe defiance to the Christians.

"But what were the feelings of the Spanish cavaliers when they
beheld, tied to the tail of his steed, and dragged in the dust, the
very inscription, 'AVE MARIA,' which Hernan Perez del Pulgar had
affixed to the door of the mosque! A burst of horror and
indignation broke forth from the army. Hernan was not at hand, to
maintain his previous achievement; but one of his young companions
in arms, Garcilasso de la Vega by name, putting spurs to his horse,
galloped to the hamlet of Zubia, threw himself on his knees before
the king, and besought permission to accept the defiance of this
insolent infidel, and to revenge the insult offered to our Blessed
Lady. The request was too pious to be refused. Garcilasso
remounted his steed, closed his helmet, graced by four sable plumes,
grasped his buckler of Flemish workmanship, and his lance of
matchless temper, and defied the haughty Moor in the midst of his
career. A combat took place in view of the two armies and of the
Castilian court. The Moor was powerful in wielding his weapons, and
dexterous in managing his steed. He was of larger frame than
Garcilasso, and more completely aimed, and the Christians trembled
for their champion. The shock of their encounter was dreadful;
their lances were shivered, and sent up splinters in the air.
Garcilasso was thrown back in his saddle--his horse made a wide
career before he could recover, gather up the reins, and return to
the conflict. They now encountered each other with swords. The
Moor circled round his opponent, as a hawk circles when about to
make a swoop; his steed obeyed his rider with matchless quickness;
at every attack of the infidel, it seemed as if the Christian knight
must sink beneath his flashing scimiter. But if Garcilasso was
inferior to him in power, he was superior in agility; many of his
blows he parried; others he received upon his Flemish shield, which
was proof against the Damascus blade. The blood streamed from
numerous wounds received by either warrior. The Moor, seeing his
antagonist exhausted, availed himself of his superior force, and,
grappling, endeavored to wrest him from his saddle. They both fell
to earth; the Moor placed his knee upon the breast of his victim,
and, brandishing his dagger, aimed a blow at his throat. A cry of
despair was uttered by the Christian warriors, when suddenly they
beheld the Moor rolling lifeless in the dust. Garcilasso had
shortened his sword, and, as his adversary raised his arm to strike,
had pierced him to the heart. It was a singular and miraculous
victory,' says Fray Antonio Agapida; 'but the Christian knight was
armed by the sacred nature of his cause, and the Holy Virgin gave
him strength, like another David, to slay this gigantic champion of
the Gentiles.'

"The laws of chivalry were observed throughout the combat--no one
interfered on either side. Garcilasso now despoiled his adversary;
then, rescuing the holy inscription of 'AVE MARIA' from its
degrading situation, he elevated it on the point of his sword, and
bore it off as a signal of triumph, amidst the rapturous shouts of
the Christian army.

"The sun had now reached the meridian, and the hot blood of the
Moors was inflamed by its rays, and by the sight of the defeat of
their champion. Muza ordered two pieces of ordnance to open a fire
upon the Christians. A confusion was produced in one part of their
ranks: Muza called to the chiefs of the army, 'Let us waste no more
time in empty challenges--let us charge upon the enemy: he who
assaults has always an advantage in the combat.' So saying, he
rushed forward, followed by a large body of horse and foot, and
charged so furiously upon the advance guard of the Christians, that
he drove it in upon the battalion of the Marques of Cadiz.

"The gallant marques now considered himself absolved from all
further obedience to the queen's commands. He gave the signal to
attack. 'Santiago!' was shouted along the line; and he pressed
forward to the encounter, with his battalion of twelve hundred
lances. The other cavaliers followed his example, and the battle
instantly became general.

"When the king and queen beheld the armies thus rushing to the
combat, they threw themselves on their knees, and implored the Holy
Virgin to protect her faithful warriors. The prince and princess,
the ladies of the court, and the prelates and friars who were
present, did the same; and the effect of the prayers of these
illustrious and saintly persons was immediately apparent. The
fierceness with which the Moors had rushed to the attack was
suddenly cooled; they were bold and adroit for a skirmish, but
unequal to the veteran Spaniards in the open field. A panic seized
upon the foot-soldiers--they turned and took to flight. Muza and
his cavaliers in vain endeavored to rally them. Some took refuge in
the mountains; but the greater part fled to the city, in such
confusion that they overturned and trampled upon each other. The
Christians pursued them to the very gates. Upwards of two thousand
were either killed, wounded, or taken prisoners; and the two pieces
of ordnance were brought off as trophies of the victory. Not a
Christian lance but was bathed that day in the blood of an infidel.

"Such was the brief but bloody action which was known among the
Christian warriors by the name of 'The Queen's Skirmish;' for when
the Marques of Cadiz waited upon her majesty to apologize for
breaking her commands, he attributed the victory entirely to her
presence. The queen, however, insisted that it was all owing to her
troops being led on by so valiant a commander. Her majesty had not
yet recovered from her agitation at beholding so terrible a scene of
bloodshed, though certain veterans present pronounced it as gay and
gentle a skirmish as they had ever witnessed."

The charm of the "Alhambra" is largely in the leisurely, loitering,
dreamy spirit in which the temporary American resident of the ancient
palace-fortress entered into its moldering beauties and romantic
associations, and in the artistic skill with which he wove the
commonplace daily life of his attendant: there into the more brilliant
woof of its past. The book abounds in delightful legends, and yet then
are all so touched with the author's airy humor that our credulity is
never overtaxed; we imbibe all the romantic interest of the place without
for a moment losing our hold upon reality. The enchantment of this
Moorish paradise become part of our mental possessions, without the least
shock to our common sense. After a few days of residence in the part of
the Alhambra occupied by Dame Tia Antonia and her family, of which the
handmaid Dolores was the most fascinating member, Irving succeeded in
establishing himself in a remote and vacant part of the vast pile, in a
suite of delicate and elegant chambers with secluded gardens and
fountains, that had once been occupied by the beautiful Elizabeth of
Farnese, daughter of the Duke of Parma, and more than four centuries ago
by a Moorish beauty named Lindaraxa, who flourished in the court of
Muhamed the Left-Handed. These solitary and ruined chambers had their
own terrors and enchantments, and for the first nights gave the author
little but sinister suggestions and grotesque food for his imagination.
But familiarity dispersed the gloom and the superstitious fancies.

"In the course of a few evenings a thorough change took place in the
scene and its associations. The moon, which, when I took possession
of my new apartments, was invisible, gradually gained each evening
upon the darkness of the night, and at length rolled in full
splendor above the towers, pouring a flood of tempered light into
every court and hall. The garden beneath my window, before wrapped
in gloom, was gently lighted up; the orange and citron trees were
tipped with silver; the fountain sparkled in the moonbeams, and even
the blush of the rose was faintly visible.

"I now felt the poetic merit of the Arabic inscription on the walls:
'How beauteous is this garden; where the flowers of the earth vie
with the stars of heaven. What can compare with the vase of yon
alabaster fountain filled with crystal water? nothing but the moon
in her fullness, shining in the midst of an unclouded sky!'

"On such heavenly nights I would sit for hours at my window inhaling
the sweetness of the garden, and musing on the checkered fortunes of
those whose history was dimly shadowed out in the elegant memorials
around. Sometimes, when all was quiet, and the clock from the
distant cathedral of Granada struck the midnight hour, I have
sallied out on another tour and wandered over the whole building;
but how different from my first tour! No longer dark and
mysterious; no longer peopled with shadowy foes; no longer recalling
scenes of violence and murder; all was open, spacious, beautiful;
everything called up pleasing and romantic fancies; Lindaraxa once
more walked in her garden; the gay chivalry of Moslem Granada once
more glittered about the Court of Lions! Who can do justice to a
moonlight night in such a climate and such a place? The temperature
of a summer midnight in Andalusia is perfectly ethereal. We seem
lifted up into a purer atmosphere; we feel a serenity of soul, a
buoyancy of spirits, an elasticity of frame, which render mere
existence happiness. But when moonlight is added to all this, the
effect is like enchantment. Under its plastic sway the Alhambra
seems to regain its pristine glories. Every rent and chasm of time,
every mouldering tint and weather-stain, is gone; the marble resumes
its original whiteness; the long colonnades brighten in the
moonbeams; the halls are illuminated with a softened radiance,
we tread the enchanted palace of an Arabian tale.

"What a delight, at such a time, to ascend to the little airy
pavilion of the queen's toilet (el tocador de la reyna), which, like
a bird-cage, overhangs the valley of the Darro, and gaze from its
light arcades upon the moonlight prospect! To the right, the
swelling mountains of the Sierra Nevada, robbed of their ruggedness
and softened into a fairy land, with their snowy summits gleaming
like silver clouds against the deep blue sky. And then to lean over
the parapet of the Tocador and gaze down upon Granada and the
Albaycin spread out like a map below; all buried in deep repose; the
white palaces and convents sleeping in the moonshine, and beyond all
these the vapory vega fading away like a dreamland in the distance.

"Sometimes the faint click of castanets rises from the Alameda,
where some gay Andalusians are dancing away the summer night.
Sometimes the dubious tones of a guitar and the notes of an amorous
voice, tell perchance the whereabout of some moonstruck lover
serenading his lady's window.

"Such is a faint picture of the moonlight nights I have passed
loitering about the courts and halls and balconies of this most
suggestive pile; 'feeding my fancy with sugared suppositions,' and
enjoying that mixture of reverie and sensation which steals away
existence in a southern climate; so that it has been almost morning
before I have retired to bed, and been lulled to sleep by the
falling waters of the fountain of Lindaraxa."

One of the writer's vantage points of observation was a balcony of the
central window of the Hall of Ambassadors, from which he had a
magnificent prospect of mountain, valley, and vega, and could look down
upon a busy scene of human life in an alameda, or public walk, at the
foot of the hill, and the suburb of the city, filling the narrow gorge
below. Here the author used to sit for hours, weaving histories out of
the casual incidents passing under his eye, and the occupations of the
busy mortals below. The following passage exhibits his power in
transmuting the commonplace life of the present into material perfectly
in keeping with the romantic associations of the place:

"There was scarce a pretty face or a striking figure that I daily
saw, about which I had not thus gradually framed a dramatic story,
though some of my characters would occasionally act in direct
opposition to the part assigned them, and disconcert the whole
drama. Reconnoitring one day with my glass the streets of the
Albaycin, I beheld the procession of a novice about to take the
veil; and remarked several circumstances which excited the strongest
sympathy in the fate of the youthful being thus about to be
consigned to a living tomb. I ascertained to my satisfaction that
she was beautiful, and, from the paleness of her cheek, that she was
a victim rather than a votary. She was arrayed in bridal garments,
and decked with a chaplet of white flowers, but her heart evidently
revolted at this mockery of a spiritual union, and yearned after its
earthly loves. A tall, stern-looking man walked near her in the
procession: it was, of course, the tyrannical father, who, from some
bigoted or sordid motive, had compelled this sacrifice. Amid the
crowd was a dark, handsome youth, in Andalusian garb, who seemed to
fix on her an eye of agony. It was doubtless the secret lover from
whom she was forever to be separated. My indignation rose as I
noted the malignant expression painted on the countenances of the
attendant monks and friars. The procession arrived at the chapel of
the convent; the sun gleamed for the last time upon the chaplet of
the poor novice, as she crossed the fatal threshold and disappeared
within the building. The throng poured in with cowl, and cross, and
minstrelsy; the lover paused for a moment at the door. I could
divine the tumult of his feelings; but he mastered them, and
entered. There was a long interval. I pictured to myself the scene
passing within: the poor novice despoiled of her transient finery,
and clothed in the conventual garb; the bridal chaplet taken from
her brow, and her beautiful head shorn of its long silken tresses.
I heard her murmur the irrevocable vow. I saw her extended on a
bier; the death-pall spread over her; the funeral service performed
that proclaimed her dead to the world; her sighs were drowned in the
deep tones of the organ, and the plaintive requiem of the nuns; the
father looked on, unmoved, without a tear; the lover--no my
imagination refused to portray the anguish of the lover--there the
picture remained a blank.

"After a time the throng again poured forth and dispersed various
ways, to enjoy the light of the sun and mingle with the stirring
scenes of life; but the victim, with her bridal chaplet, was no
longer there. The door of the convent closed that severed her from
the world forever. I saw the father and the lover issue forth; they
were in earnest conversation. The latter was vehement in his
gesticulations; I expected some violent termination to my drama; but
an angle of a building interfered and closed the scene. My eye
afterwards was frequently turned to that convent with painful
interest. I remarked late at night a solitary light twinkling from
a remote lattice of one of its towers. 'There,' said I, the unhappy
nun sits weeping in her cell, while perhaps her lover paces the
street below in unavailing anguish.' . . .

"The officious Mateo interrupted my meditations and destroyed in an
instant the cobweb tissue of my fancy. With his usual zeal he had
gathered facts concerning the scene, which put my fictions all to
flight. The heroine of my romance was neither young nor handsome;
she had no lover; she had entered the convent of her own free will,
as a respectable asylum, and was one of the most cheerful residents
within its walls.

"It was some little while before I could forgive the wrong done me
by the nun in being thus happy in her cell, in contradiction to all
the rules of romance; I diverted my spleen, however, by watching,
for a day or two, the pretty coquetries of a dark-eyed brunette,
who, from the covert of a balcony shrouded with flowering shrubs and
a silken awning, was carrying on a mysterious correspondence with a
handsome, dark, well-whiskered cavalier, who lurked frequently in
the street beneath her window. Sometimes I saw him at an early
hour, stealing forth wrapped to the eyes in a mantle. Sometimes he
loitered at a corner, in various disguises, apparently waiting for a
private signal to slip into the house. Then there was the tinkling
of a guitar at night, and a lantern shifted from place to place in
the balcony. I imagined another intrigue like that of Almaviva, but
was again disconcerted in all my suppositions. The supposed lover
turned out to be the husband of the lady, and a noted
contrabandista; and all his mysterious signs and movements had
doubtless some smuggling scheme in view . . . .

"I occasionally amused myself with noting from this balcony the
gradual changes of the scenes below, according to the different
stages of the day.

"Scarce has the gray dawn streaked the sky, and the earliest cock
crowed from the cottages of the hill-side, when the suburbs give
sign of reviving animation; for the fresh hours of dawning are
precious in the summer season in a sultry climate. All are anxious
to get the start of the sun, in the business of the day. The
muleteer drives forth his loaded train for the journey; the traveler
slings his carbine behind his saddle, and mounts his steed at the
gate of the hostel; the brown peasant from the country urges forward
his loitering beasts, laden with panniers of sunny fruit and fresh
dewy vegetables, for already the thrifty housewives are hastening to
the market.

"The sun is up and sparkles along the valley, tipping the
transparent foliage of the groves. The matin bells resound
melodiously through the pure bright air, announcing the hour of
devotion. The muleteer halts his burdened animals before the
chapel, thrusts his staff through his belt behind, and enters with
hat in hand, smoothing his coal-black hair, to hear a mass, and to
put up a prayer for a prosperous wayfaring across the sierra. And
now steals forth on fairy foot the gentle Senora, in trim basquina,
with restless fan in hand, and dark eye flashing from beneath the
gracefully folded mantilla; she seeks some well-frequented church to
offer up her morning orisons; but the nicely adjusted dress, the
dainty shoe and cobweb stocking, the raven tresses exquisitely
braided, the fresh-plucked rose, gleaming among them like a gem,
show that earth divides with Heaven the empire of her thoughts.
Keep an eye upon her, careful mother, or virgin aunt, or vigilant
duenna, whichever you may be, that walk behind!

"As the morning advances, the din of labor augments on every side;
the streets are thronged with man, and steed, and beast of burden,
and there is a hum and murmur, like the surges of the ocean. As the
sun ascends to his meridian, the hum and bustle gradually decline;
at the height of noon there is a pause. The panting city sinks into
lassitude, and for several hours there is a general repose. The
windows are closed, the curtains drawn, the inhabitants retired into
the coolest recesses of their mansions; the full-fed monk snores in
his dormitory; the brawny porter lies stretched on the pavement
beside his burden; the peasant and the laborer sleep beneath the
trees of the Alameda, lulled by the sultry chirping of the locust.
The streets are deserted, except by the water-carrier, who refreshes
the ear by proclaiming the merits of his sparkling beverage, 'colder
than the mountain snow (mas fria que la nieve).'

"As the sun declines, there is again a gradual reviving, and when
the vesper bell rings out his sinking knell, all nature seems to
rejoice that the tyrant of the day has fallen. Now begins the
bustle of enjoyment, when the citizens pour forth to breathe the
evening air, and revel away the brief twilight in the walks and
gardens of the Darro and Xenil.

"As night closes, the capricious scene assumes new features. Light
after light gradually twinkles forth; here a taper from a balconied
window; there a votive lamp before the image of a saint. Thus, by
degrees, the city emerges the banners of the haughty chiefs of
Spain, and flaunted in triumph through these Moslem halls. I
picture to myself Columbus, the future discoverer of a world, taking
his modest stand in a remote corner, the humble and neglected
spectator of the pageant. I see in imagination the Catholic
sovereigns prostrating themselves before the altar, and pouring
forth thanks for their victory; while the vaults resound with sacred
minstrelsy and the deep-toned Te Deum.

"The transient illusion is over,--the pageant melts from the fancy,
--monarch, priest, and warrior return into oblivion with the poor
Moslems over whom they exulted. The hall of their triumph is waste
and desolate. The bat flits about its twilight vault, and the owl
hoots from the neighboring tower of Comares."

It is a Moslem tradition that the court and army of Boabdil the
Unfortunate, the last Moorish king of Granada, are shut up in the
mountain by a powerful enchantment, and that it is written in the book of
fate that when the enchantment is broken, Boabdil will descend from the
mountain at the head of his army, resume his throne in the Alhambra, and,
gathering together the enchanted warriors from all parts of Spain,
reconquer the peninsula. Nothing in this volume is more amusing and at
the same time more poetic and romantic than the story of "Governor Manco
and the Soldier," in which this legend is used to cover the exploit of a
dare-devil contrabandista. But it is too long to quote. I take,
therefore, another story, which has something of the same elements, that
of a merry mendicant student of Salamanca, Don Vicente by name, who
wandered from village to village, and picked up a living by playing the
guitar for the peasants, among whom he was sure of a hearty welcome.
In the course of his wandering he had found a seal-ring, having for its
device the cabalistic sign invented by King Solomon the Wise, and of
mighty power in all cases of enchantment.

"At length he arrived at the great object of his musical
vagabondizing, the far-famed city of Granada, and hailed with wonder
and delight its Moorish towers, its lovely vega, and its snowy
mountains glistening through a summer atmosphere. It is needless to
say with what eager curiosity he entered its gates and wandered
through its streets, and gazed upon its Oriental monuments. Every
female face peering through a window or beaming from a balcony was
to him a Zorayda or a Zelinda, nor could he meet a stately dame on
the Alameda but he was ready to fancy her a Moorish princess, and to
spread his student's robe beneath her feet.

"His musical talent, his happy humor, his youth and his good looks,
won him a universal welcome in spite of his ragged robes, and for
several days he led a gay life in the old Moorish capital and its
environs. One of his occasional haunts was the fountain of
Avellanos, in the valley of Darro. It is one of the popular resorts
of Granada, and has been so since the days of the Moors; and here
the student had an opportunity of pursuing his studies of female
beauty; a branch of study to which he was a little prone.

"Here he would take his seat with his guitar, improvise love-ditties
to admiring groups of majos and majas, or prompt with his music the
ever-ready dance. He was thus engaged one evening when he beheld a
padre of the church advancing, at whose approach every one touched
the hat. He was evidently a man of consequence; he certainly was a
mirror of good if not of holy living; robust and rosy-faced, and
breathing at every pore with the warmth of the weather and the
exercise of the walk. As he passed along he would every now and
then draw a maravedi out of his pocket and bestow it on a beggar,
with an air of signal beneficence. 'Ah, the blessed father!' would
be the cry; long life to him, and may he soon be a bishop!'

"To aid his steps in ascending the hill he leaned gently now and
then on the arm of a handmaid, evidently the pet-lamb of this
kindest of pastors. Ah, such a damsel! Andalus from head to foot;
from the rose in her hair, to the fairy shoe and lacework stocking;
Andalus in every movement; in every undulation of the body:--ripe,
melting Andalus! But then so modest!--so shy!--ever, with downcast
eyes, listening to the words of the padre; or, if by chance she let
flash a side glance, it was suddenly checked and her eyes once more
cast to the ground.

"The good padre looked benignantly on the company about the
fountain, and took his seat with some emphasis on a stone bench,
while the handmaid hastened to bring him a glass of sparkling water.
He sipped it deliberately and with a relish, tempering it with one
of those spongy pieces of frosted eggs and sugar so dear to Spanish
epicures, and on returning the glass to the hand of the damsel
pinched her cheek with infinite loving-kindness.

"'Ah, the good pastor!' whispered the student to himself; 'what a
happiness would it be to be gathered into his fold with such a pet-
lamb for a companion!'

"But no such good fare was likely to befall him. In vain he essayed
those powers of pleasing which he had found so irresistible with
country curates and country lasses. Never had he touched his guitar
with such skill; never had he poured forth more soul-moving ditties,
but he had no longer a country curate or country lass to deal with.
The worthy priest evidently did not relish music, and the modest
damsel never raised her eyes from the ground. They remained but a
short time at the fountain; the good padre hastened their return to
Granada. The damsel gave the student one shy glance in retiring;
but it plucked the heart out of his bosom!

"He inquired about them after they had gone. Padre Tomas was one of
the saints of Granada, a model of regularity; punctual in his hour
of rising; his hour of taking a paseo for an appetite; his hours of
eating; his hour of taking his siesta; his hour of playing his game
of tresillo, of an evening, with some of the dames of the cathedral
circle; his hour of supping, and his hour of retiring to rest, to
gather fresh strength for another day's round of similar duties.
He had an easy sleek mule for his riding; a matronly housekeeper
skilled in preparing tidbits for his table; and the pet-lamb, to
smooth his pillow at night and bring him his chocolate in the

"Adieu now to the gay, thoughtless life of the student; the side-
glance of a bright eye had been the undoing of him. Day and night
he could not get the image of this most modest damsel out of his
mind. He sought the mansion of the padre. Alas! it was above the
class of houses accessible to a strolling student like himself.
The worthy padre had no sympathy with him; he had never been
Estudiante sopista, obliged to sing for his supper. He blockaded
the house by day, catching a glance of the damsel now and then as
she appeared at a casement; but these glances only fed his flame
without encouraging his hope. He serenaded her balcony at night,
and at one time was flattered by the appearance of something white
at a window. Alas, it was only the nightcap of the padre.

"Never was lover more devoted; never damsel more shy: the poor
student was reduced to despair. At length arrived the eve of St.
John, when the lower classes of Granada swarm into the country,
dance away the afternoon, and pass midsummer's night on the banks of
the Darro and the Xenil. Happy are they who on this eventful night
can wash their faces in those waters just as the cathedral bell
tells midnight; for at that precise moment they have a beautifying
power. The student, having nothing to do, suffered himself to be
carried away by the holiday-seeking throng until he found himself in
the narrow valley of the Darro, below the lofty hill and ruddy
towers of the Alhambra. The dry bed of the river; the rocks which
border it; the terraced gardens which overhang it, were alive with
variegated groups, dancing under the vines and fig-trees to the
sound of the guitar and castanets.

"The student remained for some time in doleful dumps, leaning
against one of the huge misshapen stone pomegranates which adorn the
ends of the little bridge over the Darro. He cast a wistful glance
upon the merry scene, where every cavalier had his dame; or, to
speak more appropriately, every Jack his Jill; sighed at his own
solitary state, a victim to the black eye of the most unapproachable
of damsels, and repined at his ragged garb, which seemed to shut the
gate of hope against him.

"By degrees his attention was attracted to a neighbor equally
solitary with himself. This was a tall soldier, of a stern aspect
and grizzled beard, who seemed posted as a sentry at the opposite
pomegranate. His face was bronzed by time; he was arrayed in
ancient Spanish armor, with buckler and lance, and stood immovable
as a statue. What surprised the student was, that though thus
strangely equipped, he was totally unnoticed by the passing throng,
albeit that many almost brushed against him.

"'This is a city of old time peculiarities,' thought the student, I
and doubtless this is one of them with which the inhabitants are too
familiar to be surprised.' His own curiosity, however, was
awakened, and being of a social disposition, he accosted the

"'A rare old suit of armor that which you wear, comrade. May I ask
what corps you belong to?'

"The soldier gasped out a reply from a pair of jaws which seemed to
have rusted on their hinges.

"'The royal guard of Ferdinand and Isabella.'

"'Santa Maria! Why, it is three centuries since that corps was in

"'And for three centuries have I been mounting guard. Now I trust
my tour of duty draws to a close. Dost thou desire fortune?'

"The student held up his tattered cloak in reply.

"'I understand thee. If thou hast faith and courage, follow me, and
thy fortune is made.'

"'Softly, comrade; to follow thee would require small courage in one
who has nothing to lose but life and an old guitar, neither of much
value; but my faith is of a different matter, and not to be put in
temptation. If it be any criminal act by which I am to mend my
fortune, think not my ragged coat will make me undertake it.'

"The soldier turned on him a look of high displeasure. 'My sword,'
said he, 'has never been drawn but in the cause of the faith and the
throne. I am a 'Cristiano viejo;' trust in me and fear no evil.'

"The student followed him wondering. He observed that no one heeded
their conversation, and that the soldier made his way through the
various groups of idlers unnoticed, as if invisible.

"Crossing the bridge, the soldier led the way by a narrow and steep
path past a Moorish mill and aqueduct, and up the ravine which
separates the domains of the Generalife from those of the Alhambra.
The last ray of the sun shone upon the red battlements of the
latter, which beetled far above; and the convent-bells were
proclaiming the festival of the ensuing day. The ravine was
overshadowed by fig-trees, vines, and myrtles, and the outer towers
and walls of the fortress. It was dark and lonely, and the
twilight-loving bats began to flit about. At length the soldier
halted at a remote and ruined tower apparently intended to guard a
Moorish aqueduct. He struck the foundation with the buttend of his
spear. A rumbling sound was heard, and the solid stones yawned
apart, leaving an opening as wide as a door.

"'Enter in the name of the Holy Trinity,' said the soldier, 'and
fear nothing.' The student's heart quaked, but he made the sign of
the cross, muttered his Ave Maria, and followed his mysterious guide
into a deep vault cut out of the solid rock under the tower, and
covered with Arabic inscriptions. The soldier pointed to a stone
seat hewn along one side of the vault. 'Behold,' said he, 'my couch
for three hundred years.' The bewildered student tried to force a
joke. 'By the blessed St. Anthony,' said he, 'but you must have
slept soundly, considering the hardness of your couch.'

"'On the contrary, sleep has been a stranger to these eyes;
incessant watchfulness has been my doom. Listen to my lot. I was
one of the royal guards of Ferdinand and Isabella; but was taken
prisoner by the Moors in one of their sorties, and confined a
captive in this tower. When preparations were made to surrender the
fortress to the Christian sovereigns, I was prevailed upon by an
alfaqui, a Moorish priest, to aid him in secreting some of the
treasures of Boabdil in this vault. I was justly punished for my
fault. The alfaqui was an African necromancer, and by his infernal
arts cast a spell upon me--to guard his treasures. Something must
have happened to him, for he never returned, and here have I
remained ever since, buried alive. Years and years have rolled
away; earthquakes have shaken this hill; I have heard stone by stone
of the tower above tumbling to the ground, in the natural operation
of time; but the spell-bound walls of this vault set both time and
earthquakes at defiance.

"'Once every hundred years, on the festival of St. John, the
enchantment ceases to have thorough sway; I am permitted to go forth
and post myself upon the bridge of the Darro, where you met me,
waiting until some one shall arrive who may have power to break this
magic spell. I have hitherto mounted guard there in vain. I walk
as in a cloud, concealed from mortal sight. You are the first to
accost me for now three hundred years. I behold the reason. I see
on your finger the seal-ring of Solomon the Wise, which is proof
against all enchantment. With you it remains to deliver me from
this awful dungeon, or to leave me to keep guard here for another
hundred years.'

"The student listened to this tale in mute wonderment. He had heard
many tales of treasures shut up under strong enchantment in the
vaults of the Alhambra, but had treated them as fables. He now felt
the value of the seal-ring, which had, in a manner, been given to
him by St. Cyprian. Still, though armed by so potent a talisman, it
was an awful thing to find himself tete-a-tete in such a place with
an enchanted soldier, who, according to the laws of nature, ought to
have been quietly in his grave for nearly three centuries.

"A personage of this kind, however, was quite out of the ordinary
run, and not to be trifled with, and he assured him he might rely
upon his friendship and good will to do everything in his power for
his deliverance.

"'I trust to a motive more powerful than friendship,' said the

"He pointed to a ponderous iron coffer, secured by locks inscribed
with Arabic characters. 'That coffer,' said he, 'contains countless
treasure in gold and jewels and precious stones. Break the magic
spell by which I am enthralled, and one half of this treasure shall
be thine.'

"'But how am I to do it?'

"'The aid of a Christian priest and a Christian maid is necessary.
The priest to exorcise the powers of darkness; the damsel to touch
this chest with the seal of Solomon. This must be done at night.
But have a care. This is solemn work, and not to be effected by the
carnal-minded. The priest must be a Cristiano viejo, a model of
sanctity; and must mortify the flesh before he comes here, by a
rigorous fast of four-and-twenty hours: and as to the maiden, she
must be above reproach, and proof against temptation. Linger not in
finding such aid. In three days my furlough is at an end; if not
delivered before midnight of the third, I shall have to mount guard
for another century.'

"'Fear not,' said the student, 'I have in my eye the very priest and
damsel you describe; but how am I to regain admission to this tower?

"'The seal of Solomon will open the way for thee.'

"The student issued forth from the tower much more gayly than he had
entered. The wall closed behind him, and remained solid as before.

"The next morning he repaired boldly to the mansion of the priest,
no longer a poor strolling student, thrumming his way with a guitar;
but an ambassador from the shadowy world, with enchanted treasures
to bestow. No particulars are told of his negotiation, excepting
that the zeal of the worthy priest was easily kindled at the idea of
rescuing an old soldier of the faith and a strong-box of King Chico
from the very clutches of Satan; and then what alms might be
dispensed, what churches built, and how many poor relatives enriched
with the Moorish treasure!

"As to the immaculate handmaid, she was ready to lend her hand,
which was all that was required, to the pious work; and if a shy
glance now and then might be believed, the ambassador began to find
favor in her modest eyes.

"The greatest difficulty, however, was the fast to which the good
padre had to subject himself. Twice he attempted it, and twice the
flesh was too strong for the spirit. It was only on the third day
that he was enabled to withstand the temptations of the cupboard;
but it was still a question whether he would hold out until the
spell was broken.

"At a late hour of the night the party groped their way up the
ravine by the light of a lantern, and bearing a basket with
provisions for exorcising the demon of hunger so soon as the other
demons should be laid in the Red Sea.

"The seal of Solomon opened their way into the tower. They found
the soldier seated on the enchanted strong-box, awaiting their
arrival. The exorcism was performed in due style. The damsel
advanced and touched the locks of the coffer with the seal of
Solomon. The lid flew open; and such treasures of gold and jewels
and precious stones as flashed upon the eye!

"'Here's cut and come again!' cried the student, exultingly, as he
proceeded to cram his pockets.

"'Fairly and softly,' exclaimed the soldier. 'Let us get the coffer
out entire, and then divide:

"They accordingly went to work with might and main; but it was a
difficult task; the chest was enormously heavy, and had been
imbedded there for centuries. While they were thus employed the
good dominie drew on one side and made a vigorous onslaught on the
basket, by way of exorcising the demon of hunger which was raging in
his entrails. In a little while a fat capon was devoured, and
washed down by a deep potation of Val de penas; and, by way of grace
after meat, he gave a kind-hearted kiss to the pet-lamb who waited
on him. It was quietly done in a corner, but the tell-tale walls
babbled it forth as if in triumph. Never was chaste salute more
awful in its effects. At the sound the soldier gave a great cry of
despair; the coffer, which was half raised, fell back in its place
and was locked once more. Priest, student, and damsel found
themselves outside of the tower, the wall of which closed with a
thundering jar. Alas! the good padre had broken his fast too soon!

"When recovered from his surprise, the student would have reentered
the tower, but learnt to his dismay that the damsel, in her fright,
had let fall the seal of Solomon; it remained within the vault.

"In a word, the cathedral bell tolled midnight; the spell was
renewed; the soldier was doomed to mount guard for another hundred
years, and there he and the treasure remain to this day--and all
because the kind-hearted padre kissed his handmaid. 'Ah, father!
father!' said the student, shaking his head ruefully, as they
returned down the ravine, 'I fear there was less of the saint than
the sinner in that kiss!'

"Thus ends the legend as far as it has been authenticated. There is
a tradition, however, that the student had brought off treasure
enough in his pocket to set him up in the world; that he prospered
in his affairs, that the worthy padre gave him the pet-lamb in
marriage, by way of amends for the blunder in the vault; that the
immaculate damsel proved a pattern for wives as she had been for
handmaids, and bore her husband a numerous progeny; that the first
was a wonder; it was born seven months after her marriage, and
though a seven months' boy, was the sturdiest of the flock. The
rest were all born in the ordinary course of time.

"The story of the enchanted soldier remains one of the popular
traditions of Granada, though told in a variety of ways; the common
people affirm that he still mounts guard on midsummer eve beside the
gigantic stone pomegranate on the bridge of the Darro; but remains
invisible excepting to such lucky mortal as may possess the seal of

These passages from the most characteristic of Irving's books do not by
any means exhaust his variety, but they afford a fair measure of his
purely literary skill, upon which his reputation must rest. To my
apprehension this "charm" in literature is as necessary to the
amelioration and enjoyment of human life as the more solid achievements
of scholarship. That Irving should find it in the prosaic and
materialistic conditions of the New World as well as in the tradition-
laden atmosphere of the Old, is evidence that he possessed genius of a
refined and subtle quality, if not of the most robust order.



The last years of Irving's life, although full of activity and
enjoyment,--abated only by the malady which had so long tormented him,
--offer little new in the development of his character, and need not much
longer detain us. The calls of friendship and of honor were many, his
correspondence was large, he made many excursions to scenes that were
filled with pleasant memories, going even as far south as Virginia, and
he labored assiduously at the "Life of Washington,"--attracted, however,
now and then, by some other tempting theme. But his delight was in the
domestic circle at Sunnyside. It was not possible that his occasional
melancholy vein should not be deepened by change and death and the
lengthening shade of old age. Yet I do not know the closing days of any
other author of note that were more cheerful, serene, and happy than his.
Of our author, in these latter days, Mr. George William Curtis put
recently into his "Easy Chair" papers an artistically touched little
portrait. "Irving was as quaint a figure," he says, "as the Diedrich
Knickerbocker in the preliminary advertisement of the 'History of New
York.' Thirty years ago he might have been seen on an autumnal afternoon
tripping with an elastic step along Broadway, with 'low-quartered' shoes
neatly tied, and a Talma cloak--a short garment that lung from the
shoulders like the cape of a coat. There was a chirping, cheery, old-
school air in his appearance which was undeniably Dutch, and most
harmonious with the associations of his writing. He seemed, indeed, to
have stepped out of his own books; and the cordial grace and humor of his
address, if he stopped for a passing chat, were delightfully
characteristic. He was then our most famous man of letters, but he was
simply free from all self-consciousness and assumption and dogmatism."
Congenial occupation was one secret of Irving's cheerfulness and
contentment, no doubt. And he was called away as soon as his task was
done, very soon after the last volume of the "Washington" issued from the
press. Yet he lived long enough to receive the hearty approval of it
from the literary men whose familiarity with the Revolutionary period
made them the best judges of its merits.

He had time also to revise his works. It is perhaps worthy of note that
for several years, while he was at the height of his popularity, his
books had very little sale. From 1842 to 1848 they were out of print;
with the exception of some stray copies of a cheap Philadelphia edition,
and a Paris collection (a volume of this, at my hand, is one of a series
entitled a "Collection of Ancient and Modern British Authors"), they were
not to be found. The Philadelphia publishers did not think there was
sufficient demand to warrant a new edition. Mr. Irving and his friends
judged the market more wisely, and a young New York publisher offered to
assume the responsibility. This was Mr. George P. Putnam. The event
justified his sagacity and his liberal enterprise. From July, 1848, to
November, 1859, the author received on his copyright over eighty-eight
thousand dollars. And it should be added that the relations between
author and publisher, both in prosperity and in times of business
disaster, reflect the highest credit upon both. If the like relations
always obtained, we should not have to say, "May the Lord pity the
authors in this world, and the publishers in the next."

I have outlined the life of Washington Irving in vain, if we have not
already come to a tolerably clear conception of the character of the man
and of his books. If I were to follow his literary method exactly, I
should do nothing more. The idiosyncrasies of the man are the strength
and weakness of his works. I do not know any other author whose writings
so perfectly reproduce his character, or whose character may be more
certainly measured by his writings. His character is perfectly
transparent: his predominant traits were humor and sentiment; his
temperament was gay with a dash of melancholy; his inner life and his
mental operations were the reverse of complex, and his literary method is
simple. He felt his subject, and he expressed his conception not so much
by direct statement or description as by almost imperceptible touches and
shadings here and there, by a diffused tone and color, with very little
show of analysis. Perhaps it is a sufficient definition to say that his
method was the sympathetic. In the end the reader is put in possession
of the luminous and complete idea upon which the author has been
brooding, though he may not be able to say exactly how the impression has
been conveyed to him; and I doubt if the author could have explained his
sympathetic process. He certainly would have lacked precision in any
philosophical or metaphysical theme, and when, in his letters, he touches
upon politics, there is a little vagueness of definition that indicates
want of mental grip in that direction. But in the region of feeling his
genius is sufficient to his purpose; either when that purpose is a highly
creative one, as in the character and achievements of his Dutch heroes,
or merely that of portraiture, as in the "Columbus" and the "Washington."
The analysis of a nature so simple and a character so transparent as
Irving's, who lived in the sunlight and had no envelope of mystery, has
not the fascination that attaches to Hawthorne.

Although the direction of his work as a man of letters was largely
determined by his early surroundings,--that is, by his birth in a land
void of traditions, and into a society without much literary life, so
that his intellectual food was of necessity a foreign literature that was
at the moment becoming a little antiquated in the land of its birth, and
his warm imagination was forced to revert to the past for that
nourishment which his crude environment did not offer,--yet he was by
nature a retrospective man. His face was set towards the past, not
towards the future. He never caught the restlessness of this century,
nor the prophetic light that shone in the faces of Coleridge, Shelley,
and Keats; if he apprehended the stir of the new spirit, he still, by
mental affiliation, belonged rather to the age of Addison than to that of
Macaulay. And his placid, retrospective, optimistic strain pleased a
public that were excited and harrowed by the mocking and lamenting of
Lord Byron, and, singularly enough, pleased even the great pessimist

His writings induce to reflection; to quiet musing, to tenderness for
tradition; they amuse, they entertain, they call a check to the
feverishness of modern life; but they are rarely stimulating or
suggestive. They are better adapted, it must be owned, to please the
many than the critical few, who demand more incisive treatment and a
deeper consideration of the problems of life. And it is very fortunate
that a writer who can reach the great public and entertain it can also
elevate and refine its tastes, set before it high ideas, instruct it
agreeably, and all this in a style that belongs to the best literature.
It is a safe model for young readers; and for young readers there is very
little in the overwhelming flood of to-day that is comparable to Irving's
books, and especially, it seems to me, because they were not written for

Irving's position in American literature, or in that of the English
tongue, will be determined only by the slow settling of opinion, which no
critic can foretell, and the operation of which no criticism seems able
to explain. I venture to believe, however, that the verdict will not be
in accord with much of the present prevalent criticism. The service that
he rendered to American letters no critic disputes; nor is there any
question of our national indebtedness to him for investing a crude and
new land with the enduring charms of romance and tradition. In this
respect, our obligation to him is that of Scotland to Scott and Burns;
and it is an obligation due only, in all history, to here and there a
fortunate creator to whose genius opportunity is kind. The Knickerbocker
Legend and the romance with which Irving has invested the Hudson are a
priceless legacy; and this would remain an imperishable possession in
popular tradition if the literature creating it were destroyed. This
sort of creation is unique in modern times. New York is the
Knickerbocker city; its whole social life remains colored by his fiction;
and the romantic background it owes to him in some measure supplies to it
what great age has given to European cities. This creation is sufficient
to secure for him an immortality, a length of earthly remembrance that
all the rest of his writings together might not give.

Irving was always the literary man; he had the habits, the
idiosyncrasies, of his small genus. I mean that he regarded life not
from the philanthropic, the economic, the political, the philosophic, the
metaphysic, the scientific, or the theologic, but purely from the
literary point of view. He belongs to that small class of which Johnson
and Goldsmith are perhaps as good types as any, and to which America has
added very few. The literary point of view is taken by few in any
generation; it may seem to the world of very little consequence in the
pressure of all the complex interests of life, and it may even seem
trivial amid the tremendous energies applied to immediate affairs; but it
is the point of view that endures; if its creations do not mold human
life, like the Roman law, they remain to charm and civilize, like the
poems of Horace. You must not ask more of them than that. This attitude
toward life is defensible on the highest grounds. A man with Irving's
gifts has the right to take the position of an observer and describer,
and not to be called on for a more active participation in affairs than
he chooses to take. He is doing the world the highest service of which
he is capable, and the most enduring it can receive from any man. It is
not a question whether the work of the literary man is higher than that
of the reformer or the statesman; it is a distinct work, and is justified
by the result, even when the work is that of the humorist only.
We recognize this in the case of the poet. Although Goethe has been
reproached for his lack of sympathy with the liberalizing movement of his
day (as if his novels were quieting social influences), it is felt by
this generation that the author of "Faust" needs no apology that he did
not spend his energies in the effervescing politics of the German states.
I mean, that while we may like or dislike the man for his sympathy or
want of sympathy, we concede to the author the right of his attitude;
if Goethe had not assumed freedom from moral responsibility, I suppose
that criticism of his aloofness would long ago have ceased. Irving did
not lack sympathy with humanity in the concrete; it colored whatever he
wrote. But he regarded the politics of his own country, the revolutions
in France, the long struggle in Spain, without heat; and he held aloof
from projects of agitation and reform, and maintained the attitude of an
observer, regarding the life about him from the point of view of the
literary artist, as he was justified in doing.

Irving had the defects of his peculiar genius, and these have no doubt
helped to fix upon him the complimentary disparagement of "genial."
He was not aggressive; in his nature he was wholly unpartisan, and full
of lenient charity; and I suspect that his kindly regard of the world,
although returned with kindly liking, cost him something of that respect
for sturdiness and force which men feel for writers who flout them as
fools in the main. Like Scott, he belonged to the idealists, and not to
the realists, whom our generation affects. Both writers stimulate the
longing for something better. Their creed was short: "Love God and honor
the King." It is a very good one for a literary man, and might do for a
Christian. The supernatural was still a reality in the age in which they
wrote. Irving's faith in God and his love of humanity were very simple;
I do not suppose he was much disturbed by the deep problems that have set
us all adrift. In every age, whatever is astir, literature, theology,
all intellectual activity, takes one and the same drift, and approximates
in color. The bent of Irving's spirit was fixed in his youth, and he
escaped the desperate realism of this generation, which has no outcome,
and is likely to produce little that is noble.

I do not know how to account, on principles of culture which we
recognize, for our author's style. His education was exceedingly
defective, nor was his want of discipline supplied by subsequent
desultory application. He seems to have been born with a rare sense of
literary proportion and form; into this, as into a mold, were run his
apparently lazy and really acute observations of life. That he
thoroughly mastered such literature as he fancied there is abundant
evidence; that his style was influenced by the purest English models is
also apparent. But there remains a large margin for wonder how, with his
want of training, he could have elaborated a style which is distinctively
his own, and is as copious, felicitous in the choice of words, flowing,
spontaneous, flexible, engaging, clear, and as little wearisome when read
continuously in quantity as any in the English tongue. This is saying a
great deal, though it is not claiming for him the compactness, nor the
robust vigor, nor the depth of thought, of many other masters in it.
It is sometimes praised for its simplicity. It is certainly lucid, but
its simplicity is not that of Benjamin Franklin's style; it is often
ornate, not seldom somewhat diffuse, and always exceedingly melodious.
It is noticeable for its metaphorical felicity. But it was not in the
sympathetic nature of the author, to which I just referred, to come
sharply to the point. It is much to have merited the eulogy of Campbell
that he had "added clarity to the English tongue." This elegance and
finish of style (which seems to have been as natural to the man as his
amiable manner) is sometimes made his reproach, as if it were his sole
merit, and as if he had concealed under this charming form a want of
substance. In literature form is vital. But his case does not rest upon
that. As an illustration his "Life of Washington" may be put in
evidence. Probably this work lost something in incisiveness and
brilliancy by being postponed till the writer's old age. But whatever
this loss, it is impossible for any biography to be less pretentious in
style, or less ambitious in proclamation. The only pretension of matter
is in the early chapters, in which a more than doubtful genealogy is
elaborated, and in which it is thought necessary to Washington's dignity
to give a fictitious importance to his family and his childhood, and to
accept the southern estimate of the hut in which he was born as a
"mansion." In much of this false estimate Irving was doubtless misled by
the fables of Weems. But while he has given us a dignified portrait of
Washington, it is as far as possible removed from that of the smileless
prig which has begun to weary even the popular fancy. The man he paints
is flesh and blood, presented, I believe, with substantial faithfulness
to his character; with a recognition of the defects of his education and
the deliberation of his mental operations; with at least a hint of that
want of breadth of culture and knowledge of the past, the possession of
which characterized many of his great associates; and with no concealment
that he had a dower of passions and a temper which only vigorous self-
watchfulness kept under. But he portrays, with an admiration not too
highly colored, the magnificent patience, the courage to bear
misconstruction, the unfailing patriotism, the practical sagacity, the
level balance of judgment combined with the wisest toleration, the
dignity of mind, and the lofty moral nature which made him the great man
of his epoch. Irving's grasp of this character; his lucid marshaling of
the scattered, often wearisome and uninteresting details of our dragging,
unpicturesque Revolutionary War; his just judgment of men; his even,
almost judicial, moderation of tone; and his admirable proportion of
space to events, render the discussion of style in reference to this work
superfluous. Another writer might have made a more brilliant
performance: descriptions sparkling with antitheses, characters projected
into startling attitudes by the use of epithets; a work more exciting and
more piquant, that would have started a thousand controversies, and
engaged the attention by daring conjectures and attempts to make a
dramatic spectacle; a book interesting and notable, but false in
philosophy, and untrue in fact.

When the "Sketch-Book" appeared, an English critic said it should have
been first published in England, for Irving was an English writer.
The idea has been more than once echoed here. The truth is, that while
Irving was intensely American in feeling, he was, first of all, a man of
letters, and in that capacity he was cosmopolitan; he certainly was not
insular. He had a rare accommodation of tone to his theme. Of England,
whose traditions kindled his susceptible fancy, he wrote as Englishmen
would like to write about it. In Spain he was saturated with the
romantic story of the people and the fascination of the clime; and he was
so true an interpreter of both as to earn from the Spaniards the title of
"the poet Irving." I chanced once, in an inn at Frascati, to take up
"The Tales of a Traveller," which I had not seen for many years.
I expected to revive the somewhat faded humor and fancy of the past
generation. But I found not only a sprightly humor and vivacity which
are modern, but a truth to Italian local color that is very rare in any
writer foreign to the soil. As to America, I do not know what can be
more characteristically American than the Knickerbocker, the Hudson River
tales, the sketches of life and adventure in the far West. But
underneath all this diversity there is one constant quality,--the flavor
of the author. Open by chance and read almost anywhere in his score of
books,--it may be the "Tour on the Prairies," the familiar dream of the
Alhambra, or the narratives of the brilliant exploits of New World
explorers; surrender yourself to the flowing current of his transparent
style, and you are conscious of a beguilement which is the crowning
excellence of all lighter literature, for which we have no word but

The consensus of opinion about Irving in England and America for thirty
years was very remarkable. He had a universal popularity rarely enjoyed
by any writer. England returned him to America medaled by the king,
honored by the university which is chary of its favors, followed by the
applause of the whole English people. In English households, in drawing-
rooms of the metropolis, in political circles no less than among the
literary coteries, in the best reviews, and in the popular newspapers the
opinion of him was pretty much the same. And even in the lapse of time
and the change of literary fashion authors so unlike as Byron and Dickens
were equally warm in admiration of him. To the English indorsement
America added her own enthusiasm, which was as universal. His readers
were the million, and all his readers were admirers. Even American
statesmen, who feed their minds on food we know not of, read Irving.
It is true that the uncritical opinion of New York was never exactly
reechoed in the cool recesses of Boston culture; but the magnates of the
"North American Review" gave him their meed of cordial praise.
The country at large put him on a pinnacle. If you attempt to account
for the position he occupied by his character, which won the love of all
men, it must be remembered that the quality which won this, whatever its
value, pervades his books also.

And yet it must be said that the total impression left upon the mind by
the man and his works is not that of the greatest intellectual force.
I have no doubt that this was the impression he made upon his ablest
contemporaries. And this fact, when I consider the effect the man
produced, makes the study of him all the more interesting. As an
intellectual personality he makes no such impression, for instance, as
Carlyle, or a dozen other writers now living who could be named. The
incisive critical faculty was almost entirely wanting in him. He had
neither the power nor the disposition to cut his way transversely across
popular opinion and prejudice that Ruskin has, nor to draw around him
disciples equally well pleased to see him fiercely demolish to-day what
they had delighted to see him set up yesterday as eternal. He evoked
neither violent partisanship nor violent opposition. He was an extremely
sensitive man, and if he had been capable of creating a conflict, he
would only have been miserable in it. The play of his mind depended upon
the sunshine of approval. And all this shows a certain want of
intellectual virility.

A recent anonymous writer has said that most of the writing of our day is
characterized by an intellectual strain. I have no doubt that this will
appear to be the case to the next generation. It is a strain to say
something new even at the risk of paradox, or to say something in a new
way at the risk of obscurity. From this Irving was entirely free. There
is no visible straining to attract attention. His mood is calm and
unexaggerated. Even in some of his pathos, which is open to the
suspicion of being "literary," there is no literary exaggeration. He
seems always writing from an internal calm, which is the necessary
condition of his production. If he wins at all by his style, by his
humor, by his portraiture of scenes or of character, it is by a gentle
force, like that of the sun in spring. There are many men now living,
or recently dead, intellectual prodigies, who have stimulated thought,
or upset opinions, created mental eras, to whom Irving stands hardly in
as fair a relation as Goldsmith to Johnson. What verdict the next
generation will put upon their achievements I do not know; but it is safe
to say that their position and that of Irving as well will depend largely
upon the affirmation or the reversal of their views of life and their
judgments of character. I think the calm work of Irving will stand when
much of the more startling and perhaps more brilliant intellectual
achievement of this age has passed away.

And this leads me to speak of Irving's moral quality, which I cannot
bring myself to exclude from a literary estimate, even in the face of the
current gospel of art for art's sake. There is something that made Scott
and Irving personally loved by the millions of their readers, who had
only the dimmest ideas of their personality. This was some quality
perceived in what they wrote. Each one can define it for himself; there
it is, and I do not see why it is not as integral a part of the authors--
an element in the estimate of their future position--as what we term
their intellect, their knowledge, their skill, or their art. However you
rate it, you cannot account for Irving's influence in the world without
it. In his tender tribute to Irving, the great-hearted Thackeray, who
saw as clearly as anybody the place of mere literary art in the sum total
of life, quoted the dying words of Scott to Lockhart,--"Be a good man, my
dear." We know well enough that the great author of "The Newcomes" and
the great author of "The Heart of Midlothian" recognized the abiding
value in literature of integrity, sincerity, purity, charity, faith.
These are beneficences; and Irving's literature, walk round it and
measure it by whatever critical instruments you will, is a beneficent
literature. The author loved good women and little children and a pure
life; he had faith in his fellow-men, a kindly sympathy with the lowest,
without any subservience to the highest; he retained a belief in the
possibility of chivalrous actions, and did not care to envelop them in a
cynical suspicion; he was an author still capable of an enthusiasm. His
books are wholesome, full of sweetness and charm, of humor without any
sting, of amusement without any stain; and their more solid qualities are
marred by neither pedantry nor pretension.

Washington Irving died on the 28th of November, 1859, at the close of a
lovely day of that Indian summer which is nowhere more full of a
melancholy charm than on the banks of the lower Hudson, and which was in
perfect accord with the ripe and peaceful close of his life. He was
buried on a little elevation overlooking Sleepy Hollow and the river he
loved, amidst the scenes which his magic pen has made classic and his
sepulcher hallows.

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