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FROM THE OLD DUTCH DAYS OF
EDITED WITH INTRODUCTION AND NOTES
EDWARD EVERETT HALE, JR., Ph.D.
The following collection gives several of Washington Irving's sketches of Dutch life in the valley of the Hudson. These stories we associate with Irving just as we associate stories of Californian life with Bret Harte, or stories of Creole life in Louisiana with Mr. Cable. Irving was one of the first to perceive the possibilities offered to the imagination by the varied phases of American life. But his sketches are scattered about in half a dozen volumes. It has seemed worth while to gather a number together and to call attention to some of their chief characteristics.
The Introduction is mainly on literary and historical points. The map on page 10 gives the situation of the places mentioned on the lower Hudson. For some hints on the study of Irving's style, the teacher is referred to the Introduction to “The Sketch Book” in this series.
EDWARD E. HALE, JR.
I. BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.
WASHINGTON IRVING is famous as our first great man of letters. He was bred to the law, and was at one time connected with the business enterprises of his brothers. But neither occupation was congenial to him. He followed his true bent when he gave himself up to literary pursuits. He was early regarded in America as the greatest genius in letters that the country had produced. He was recognized and warmly welcomed in England also. It was in recognition of his literary reputation that he was chosen to represent the United States in Spain, a country which, as we shall see, his work had greatly celebrated.
Irving was born in New York City April 3, 1783. He was not sent to Columbia College with his brothers, but at the age of sixteen entered a law office to read for the bar. He was of delicate health, however, and could not pursue his studies very vigorously. In 1804 he was sent abroad to gain strength, and passed almost two years in travel on the Continent and in England. Shortly after his return he was admitted to the bar, and took a place in the office of his brother John.
He had already become devoted to literature, learning first the pleasures of reading ; but shortly, through the columns of the “Morning Chronicle," edited by his brother Peter, he tasted the pleasures of writing and publishing. It was by his pen that he became known. In 1807 he joined with his brother William and an old friend and associate, James K. Paulding, in the production of a jaunty little sheet called “Salmagundi,” a bright periodical comment on the fashions and follies of the town. The paper was naturally somewhat juvenile, as Irving said later, but it caused a