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A STORY FROM
EDITED BY GEORGE H. BROWNE, A.M.
THE BROWNE AND NICHOLS SCHOOL, CAMBRIDGE, MASS.
WITH FORTY-TWO ILLUSTRATIONS AND MAPS
DOLPH HEYLIGER is one of the stories contained in the volume entitled “Bracebridge Hall or The Humorists,” a medley by Geoffrey Crayon, Gentleman, which Washington Irving published in 1822. It consists of a series of brief papers descriptive of English country life and character as he himself saw, knew, and loved it, intermingled with stories that are supposed to be told by the visitors at the Hall, which is a typical old English homestead, or by members of the family living there; the whole volume reminding us very much of the Roger de Coverley Papers in the “Spectator,” which were written one hundred and ten years before.
Dolph Heyliger is one of the stories which the author describes himself as telling to the assembled family and their guests. It belongs to the group of legendary tales of the Dutch settlers in New York State, with which Irving's name will be forever associated. It contains some of Irving's best writing, and supplies admirable models for imitation by students of narrative and description.
Although Washington Irving had a tendency in his youth to a fatal disease, he lived beyond the allotted .span of three score years and ten, for he was born'in 1,783 and died in 1859, thus illustrating the old saying that óf créaking doors last longest on their hinges.”
He was never married, but remained faithful to the love of his youth, a beautiful girl, who was taken from him by death. He was full of chivalry and delicacy in his attitude toward the other sex, and he often refers to them in his writings in language of commiserative tenderness, mingled sometimes with a tendency to banter their weaknesses good-humoredly.
He was born and brought up in New York State, and knew the River Hudson, its history and legend, better than any one who has ever written of it. His ill health interfered with his early studies, but travel and residence of many years abroad gave him what mere book learning could never have offered. When he was twenty-one he travelled in Europe for two years, and returning became a lawyer ; but as briefs did not “ come trooping gaily," he soon after began his literary career by publishing the “Salmagundi,” in conjunction with his brother William and J. K. Paulding. His first real literary work, however, and the one by which he is best known, is a “History of New York by Diedrich Knickerbocker," published in 1809, of which it has been said that though but a burlesque, it is as real to every American as Pilgrim's Progress." Several extracts have been used in the appendix as illustrative material and specimens of Irving's humor.
In the midst of his career, reverses in business compelled him to devote his attention seriously to literature as a means of gaining his livelihood; and for many years he supported himself, two of his brothers, and five of his nieces by the proceeds of his pen.
The “Sketch Book” was the next work by Irving which captivated the public fancy, and it was as enthusiastically received in England as in America. A residence in Spain for six years furnished him with the material for those more serious works, in which he first revealed to the English-speaking peoples the rich stores of Spanish history and romance. : His work in this field not unnaturally led him to collecť materials for å history of the Conquest of Mexico; but, on discovering that Prescott had already a similar work in hand, Irving generously relinquished his project in favor of that other famous historian,
During his long residencès abroad, Washington Irving was United States Minister to the courts both of England and of Spain. When he finally settled in his native country, he remodelled an old Dutch house in Tarrytown, near the scene of the legend of Sleepy Hollow, which was known for long years after as Sunnyside. There he died. The house still exists, and is care