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Britain in the last half-century, and were still incessantly employed in the development of their enormous territory, and of the political and social constitutions of their new Republic. There was plenty of hard work for all, and little leisure or energy for culture. It did not seem probable that a people so situated would offer a sufficient market for an author of purely literary work.

Failing America, Irving could only turn to England, but the sixth essay in this volume, English Writers on America, shows accurately and clearly the state of English opinion about things American. Irving was a man of a peaceful temperament, and certainly without bias against the English, and the consequent presumption that he has not exaggerated the antipathy is confirmed by Jeffrey's approval of this article in his criticism of the Sketch Book in the Edinburgh Review. As Irving himself wrote later, in his preface to Bracebridge Hall, which is to a large extent a continuation of the Christmas Essays in the Sketch Book, 'It has been a matter of marvel, that a man from the "wilds of America should express himself in tolerable English. I was looked upon as something new and strange in literature, a kind of demi-savage, with a feather in his hand instead of on his head.' Irving`s prospect in England was even less encouraging than in America.

Nevertheless he determined to make the venture.

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The American success of his History of New York had proved that there was a sufficient body of readers in the States to give an author fame; and perhaps he relied upon the greater prosperity which succeeded the end of the Napoleonic wars, to develop this more leisured and cultivated class. But ultimately, as he recognized, his fortune must depend upon his success in capturing the British public. For this enterprise he trained himself, and it is this ulterior object, much more than his grief for Matilda Hoffman, which determined the change from the sometimes boisterous humour of Diedrich Knickerbocker to the restrained and cultivated tones of Geoffrey Crayon.

The firstfruits of his professional authorship was the Sketch Book, and the first portion of it, containing a prospectus, “The Author's Account of Himself,' and the four succeeding sketches, was dispatched from England in March 1819, and published in America in May. The remaining six portions were sent across at irregular intervals, the last being published in September 1820. Their contents appeared in England in 1820 in two anonymous volumes, entitled The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent., under circumstances which are sufficiently detailed in the Author's Preface of 1848. The former of these volumes contained the first four American numbers, ending with The Spectre Bridegroom, and the latter the remaining

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three, supplemented by the 'Traits of Indian Character' and 'Philip of Pokanoket', which had appeared originally in The Analectic Magazine of Philadelphia, to which Irving had made various contributions in 1813 and 1814.

Turning from the circumstances of publication to the book itself, we find that the Sketch Book is a collection of miscellaneous stories and essays, numbering thirty-three in all, which can be divided roughly into five classes.

(1) Introductory: The Author's Account of Himself, The Voyage, and L'Envoy. These three together serve as a preface to the sketches, giving the reader some account of the aims and tastes of the author, and of the circumstances under which he wrote. The preface of 1848. gives a more detailed account of his first appearance before the British public.

(2) Descriptions of contemporary habits, &c. : Rural Life in England, The Country Church, and Sunday in London. These are superficial views of our social system, as it appeared at that time to a stranger. Rural Life in England, which is the most ambitious, is a highly idealized picture of the interdependence of classes in the English country. It reads almost as pages from some Utopia, where every one has his proper station, and is perfectly content with it. There are no signs of the growing unrest, which marked the decades following the

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French Revolution, and ended in the break-up of our aristocratic polity. Irving here, as in his excessive praise of Roscoe, reveals the American disposition to see no blemish whatsoever in any person or institution which he admires.

(3) Sentimental tales of contemporary life: The Wife, The Broken Heart, The Widow and her Son, and The Pride of the Village. Sentimentality is sentiment misapplied to abstract creations of our own minds. The aunt who loves a nephew of whom she sees little and knows less is a sentimentalist because she loves him not for his own characteristics, which may be worthy or not of love, but for an idealized portrait of him wearing a halo of 'nephewhood', which is chiefly a creation of her own. In all sentimentality there is this abstraction from reality, this element of make-believe; and nowhere is it more conspicuous than in these stories. Very few of the Sketches are altogether untainted by this vice, but it is only in these, in which Irving has first created mere personifications of a single situation, such as Childless Widowhood or Betrayed Maidenhood, and then deluged his creations with floods of pity, that the vice becomes conspicuous and insupportable. The situations are pitiable enough, but it needed some further relation to concrete and individual sufferers to save this emotion from mawkishness and self-indulgence.

The appearance of this quality in Irving's work may be imputed to two causes, firstly to the natural sensitiveness of his temperament exaggerated by Miss Hoffman's death, and secondly, and more directly to his growing interest in England and the English public. The popular literature of the period, especially its three-volume novels, was obsessed by an immaculate and nerveless phantom, which was supposed to be the English Gentleman. Irving appears to have been deceived as to the reality of this phantom, and even to have modelled himself upon it. The exquisite sensibility, the tranquil sense of effortless superiority', the detachment from all original ideas or violent emotions, the priggishness, in short, which marked the genteel hero, appealed to a man who had found commerce and his native land too harrowing for his nerves. 'Exquisite in all things,' as Richard Garnett said of him, mirror of loyalty, courtesy, and good taste in all his literary connexions, and exemplary in all the relations of domestic life,' he placed himself on a high secluded stage, from which he could drop a gentleman's tears of sensibility' on purely imaginary mortals.

(4) Essays mainly antiquarian, inspired by Irving's delight in rummaging among old books :

(a) Purely literary: The Art of Book-making and The Mutability of Literature. The former describes

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