A Fable of the Seasons
Library of Alexandria
I had been personally presented to Mr. Irving for the first time, only a year before, under the introduction of my good friend, Mr. Clark (the veteran Editor of the old Knickerbocker in its palmy days). Thereafter I had met him from time to time, and had paid a charming visit to his delightful home of Sunnyside. But it was after the date of the publication of this book and during the summer of 1852, that I saw Mr. Irving more familiarly, and came to appreciate more fully that charming bonhomie and geniality in his character which we all recognize so constantly in his writings. And if I set down here a few recollections of that pleasant intercourse, they will, I am sure, more than make good the place of the old letter of Dedication, and will serve to keep alive the association I wish to cherish between my little book and the name of the distinguished author who so kindly showed me his favor. For the first time, after many years, Mr. Irving made a stay of a few weeks at Saratoga, in the summer of 1852. By good fortune, I chanced to occupy a room upon the same corridor of the hotel, within a few doors of his, and shared very many of his early morning walks to the "Spring." What at once struck me very forcibly in the course of these walks, was the rare alertness and minuteness of his observation: not a fair young face could dash past us in its drapery of muslin, but the eye of the old gentleman drank in all its freshness and beauty with the keen appetite and the grateful admiration of a boy; not a dowager brushed past us bedizened with finery, but he fastened the apparition in my memory with some piquant remark,—as the pin of an entomologist fastens a gaudy fly. No rheumatic old hero-invalid, battered in long wars with the doctors,—no droll marplot of a boy, could appear within range, but I could see in the changeful expression of my companion the admeasurement and quiet adjustment of the appeal which either made upon his sympathy or his humor. A flower, a tree, a burst of music, a country market-man hoisted upon his wagon of cabbages,—all these by turns caught and engaged his attention, however little they might interrupt the flow of his talk.