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founded, they could not but command the warm sympathy of the people of this country. Well-known circumstances in their history, indeed their whole history, have made them the representatives of purely popular principles of government. In this light they now stand before the world. They could not, if they would, conceal their character, their condition, or their destiny. They could not, if they so desired, shut out from the view of mankind the causes which have placed them, in so short a national career, in the station which they now hold among the civilized states of the world. They could not, if they desired it, suppress either the thoughts or the hopes which arise in men's minds, in other countries, from contemplating their successful example of free government. That very intelligent and distinguished personage, the Emperor Joseph the Second, was among the first to discern this necessary consequence of the American Revolution on the sentiments and opinions of the people of Europe. In a letter to his minister in the Netherlands in 1787, he observes, that “it is remarkable that France, by the assistance which she afforded to the Americans, gave birth to reflections on freedom.” This fact, which the sagacity of that monarch perceived at so early a day, is now known and admitted by intelligent powers all over the world. True, indeed, it is, that the prevalence on the other continent of sentiments favorable to republican liberty is the result of the reaction of America upon Europe ; and the source and centre of this reaction has doubtless been, and now is, in these United States.
The position thus belonging to the United States is a fact as inseparable from their history, their constitutional organization, and their character, as the opposite position of the powers composing the European alliance is from the history and constitutional organization of the government of those powers. The sovereigns who form that alliance have not unfrequently felt it their right to interfere with the political movements of foreign states; and have, in their manifestoes and declarations, denounced the popular ideas of the age in terms so comprehensive as of necessity to include the United States, and their forms of government. It is well known that one of the leading principles announced by the allied sovereigns, after the restoration of the Bourbons, is, that all popular
or constitutional rights are holden no otherwise than as grants and indulgences from crowned heads. “Useful and necessary changes in legislation and administration,” says the Laybach Circular of May, 1821, “ought only to emanate from the free will and intelligent conviction of those whom God has rendered responsible for power; all that deviates from this line necessarily leads to disorder, commotions, and evils far more insufferable than those which they pretend to remedy.” And his late Austrian Majesty, Francis the First, is reported to have declared, in an address to the Hungarian Diet, in 1820, that "the whole world had become foolish, and, leaving their ancient laws, were in search of imaginary constitutions." These declarations amount to nothing less than a denial of the lawfulness of the origin of the government of the United States, since it is certain that that government was established in consequence of a change which did not proceed from thrones, or the permission of crowned heads. But the government of the United States heard these denunciations of its fundamental principles without remonstrance, or the disturbance of its equanimity. This was thirty years ago.
The power of this republic, at the present moment, is spread over a region one of the richest and most fertile on the globe, and of an extent in comparison with which the possessions of the house of Hapsburg are but as a patch on the earth's surface. Its population, already twenty-five millions, will exceed that of the Austrian empire within the period during which it may be hoped that Mr. Hülsemann may yet remain in the honorable discharge of his duties to his government. Its navigation and commerce are hardly exceeded by the oldest and most commercial nations ; its maritime means and its maritime power may be seen by Austria herself, in all seas where she has ports, as well as they may be seen, also, in all other quarters of the globe. Life, liberty, property, and all personal rights, are amply secured to all citizens, and protected by just and stable laws; and credit, public and private, is as well established as in any government of Continental Europe ; and the country, in all its interests and concerns, partakes most largely in all the improvements and progress which distinguish the age. Certainly, the United States may be pardoned, even by those who profess adherence to the principle of absolute government, if
they entertain an ardent affection for those popular forms of political organization which have so rapidly advanced their own prosperity and happiness, and enabled them, in so short a period, to bring their country, and the hemisphere to which it belongs, to the notice and respectful regard, not to say the admiration, of the civilized world. Nevertheless, the United States have abstained, at all times, from acts of interference with the political changes of Europe. They cannot, however, fail to cherish always a lively interest in the fortunes of nations struggling for institutions like their own. But this sympathy, so far from being necessarily a hostile feeling toward any of the parties to these great national struggles, is quite consistent with amicable relations with them all. The Hungarian people are three or four times as numerous as the inhabitants of these United States were when the American Revolution broke out. They possess, in a distinct language, and in other respects, important elements of a separate nationality, which the AngloSaxon race in this country did not possess; and if the United States wish success to countries contending for popular constitutions and national independence, it is only because they regard such constitutions and such national independence, not as imaginary, but as real blessings. They claim no right, however, to take part in the struggles of foreign powers in order to promote these ends. It is only in defence of his own government, and its principles and character, that the undersigned has now expressed himself on this subject. But when the people of the United States behold the people of foreign countries, without any such interference, spontaneously moving toward the adoption of institutions like their own, it surely cannot be expected of them to remain wholly indifferent spectators.
[From a letter addressed, as Secretary of State, Dec. 21, 1850, to the Chevalier Hülsemann, Chargé d'Affaires of the Emperor of Austria. Works, vol. vi, pp. 494-497.]
[Washington Irving was born in New York City, April 3, 1783, and died at Tarrytown, N.Y., Nov. 28, 1859. Irving spent his early years in New York City. In 1804 he went abroad for his health, travelling in France, Italy, and England. Returning in 1806, he resumed the study of law and was admitted to the bar, but did not practise his profession. In 1815 he went abroad again and passed five years in England, six years in travelling on the continent, and three years in Spain. In 1829 he was appointed Secretary of Legation at the Court of St. James, and remained in England until 1832, when he returned to New York. From 1842 to 1846 he was minister to Spain. The rest of his life was happily spent in New York and at Sunnyside, his little place on the banks of the Hudson at Tarrytown.
In 1802 Irving contributed to the Morning Chronicle a series of letters, signed Jonathan Oldstyle, in the manner of the Tatler and Spectator. In 1807 he joined his brother and Paulding in the production of Salmagundi, a semimonthly publication, also modelled on the Spectator and its followers. In 1809 appeared the satirical History of New York, but it was not until ten years later that reverses of fortune determined Irving to choose the profession of literature. The Sketch-Book (1819–20) achieved a remarkable success both at home and abroad. It was followed by Bracebridge Hall (1822), Tales of a Traveller (1824), and, as fruits of his first residence in Spain, Life and Voyages of Columbus (1828), The Conquest of Granada (1829), and The Alhambra (1832). During the ten years that elapsed before he went to Spain for the second time, he published Crayon Miscellanies (1835), Astoria (1836), and Adventures of Captain Bonneville (1837). His later works were largely biographical and historical: Oliver Goldsmith (1849), Mahomet and his Successors (1849), Wolfert's Roost (1855), and Life of Washington (1855-59). With great generosity he abandoned to Prescott his life-long project of writing the history of the conquest of Mexico.
The text of the extracts from Irving is, with the permission of G. P. Putnam's Sons, the publishers, that of the author's revised edition.]
It is a strange fact that the English language has no exact word for a thing frequent in English literature, one which we are forced to call by an inadequate and inaccurate French phrase vers de société, a kind of poetry more abundantly cultivated in Great Britain and the United States than in France. Mr. Austin Dobson has proposed to adopt Cowper's suggestion, familiar verse, but this is perhaps not comprehensive enough. The late Frederick
Locker-Lampson, selecting the most successful poems of this kind, entitled his enchanting anthology Lyra Elegantiarum. But whatever the name we bestow upon it, the thing itself is readily to be recognized; it is verse such as Pope often wrote, and Prior, and Praed, such as Holmes delighted us with in our own day, and Mr. Locker-Lampson, and Mr. Austin Dobson. It is the poetry of the man of the world, who has a heart, no doubt, but who does not wear it on his sleeve; it is brief and brilliant and buoyant; and it is in verse almost the exact equivalent of the prose essay of Steele and Addison.
A comparison of the Lyra Elegantiarum of Mr. Locker-Lampson with an equally skilfully edited volume, the Eighteenth Century Essays of Mr. Austin Dobson, reveals the fact that the prose form which we are forced to call the eighteenth century essay literary genre quite as distinct as the verse form which we are forced to call vers de société. Neither form has yet a name of its own, but each has an independent existence. Essay is a word of wide meaning; it may include a mere medley of pithy reflections by Montaigne or Bacon or Emerson, and it may designate also an elaborate exhibition of quaint humor by Lamb, or an ebullition of pungent wit by Lowell. The eighteenth century essay, as Steele devised it and as Addison improved it, owed something to Walton's Conversations, something to La Bruyère's Characters, and something to Horace's Epistles, but despite these predecessors, the papers of the Tatler and the Spectator were essentially original in form. No one had ever before sketched men and manners from just that point of view, and with just that easy touch. What Steele and Addison had done spontaneously and naturally, many another writer coming after them laboriously reproduced, taking their papers as his pattern, and imitating his model as closely as he could. Dr. Johnson, for example, toiled mightily to repeat the success of the Spectator, and failed lamentably; as Goldsmith suggested, Johnson could not help making little fishes talk like whales. Goldsmith himself was the sole heir of Steele and Addison ; and in his hands the eighteenth century essay was as free, as graceful, and as natural as in theirs.
Irving is often accused of being a mere copyist of Goldsmith. The charge is unjust and absurd. Irving was no more an imitator