“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 mid-summer 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 Solomon.”
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.
LAST YEARS: THE CHARACTER OF HIS LITERATURE.
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,