IRVING (WASHINGTON) Autograph letter signed, to his friend and fellow author Bayard Taylor, 1854
Lot 93
IRVING (WASHINGTON) Autograph letter signed, to his friend and fellow author Bayard Taylor, 1854
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Autograph letter signed, to his friend and fellow author Bayard Taylor: "I am quite grieved that I was from home when you visited Sunnyside last Saturday, and that you did not make yourself at home notwithstanding my absence. Why did you not take command of my little library, such as it is, or while away the sultry day under the trees? My womenkind would have been happy to give you the best entertainment the house afforded. One of my nieces hastened downstairs to welcome you and was extremely disappointed at finding you had gone. I trust you will act better on any future occasion, and will feel assured that whoever is in the house will be happy to receive you, and should nobody be at home, that the house itself is at your service"; adding: "I feel very much obliged to you for the volume you were so kind as to leave, and promise myself great pleasure in once more accompanying you in your African travels", 2 pages, 8vo, integral blank, one corner repaired, short tear to blank margin, Sunnyside, 12 September 1854


  • WASHINGTON IRVING, BAYARD TAYLOR AND LANDS OF THE SARACENS. In this genial, witty and friendly letter Irving thanks the younger author for an advance copy of A Journey to Central Africa; or, Life and Landscapes from Egypt to the Negro Kingdoms of the White Nile (1854). This was then a few days away from publication. Bayard Taylor was to write on the 15th to Mary Russell Mitford: 'My work on Africa will be published in a few days, and I will send you a copy by the first opportunity. It may serve to divert the tedium of your imprisonment. I have tried to fix the sunshine of the East on its pages' (The Life and Letters of Bayard Taylor, 1885, i, p. 281). He was then hard at work on its sequel, telling Miss Mitford in the same letter: 'I am busily engaged upon another, to be called "The Lands of the Saracen," embracing my travels in Syria, Asia Minor, Sicily, and Spain'.

    Bayard Taylor's The Lands of the Saracen: Pictures of Palestine, Asia Minor, Sicily, and Spain (1855) is the book for which he is now best remembered. This he finished the following month with its dedication to Washington Irving, whose Tales of the Alhambra (1832) had proved such an inspiration. The dedication can perhaps be seen as Bayard's reply to our letter; or at least as a response to the friendly spirit contained within it. Bayard's preface is dated October 1854 – a month after our letter – and the dedication reads: 'This book – the chronicle of my travels through lands once occupied by the Saracens – naturally dedicates itself to you, who, more than any other American author, have revived the traditions, restored the history, and illustrated the character of that brilliant and heroic people. Your cordial encouragement confirmed me in my design of visiting the East, and making myself familiar with Oriental life; and though I bring you now but imperfect returns, I can at least unite with you in admiration of a field so rich in romantic interest, and indulge the hope that I may one day pluck from it fruit instead of blossoms. In Spain, I came upon your track, and I should hesitate to exhibit my own gleanings where you have harvested, were it not for the belief that the rapid sketches I have given will but enhance, by the contrast, the charm of your finished picture' (from the first edition, 1855). Our letter was published in Taylor's Life and Letters, i, p. 282.
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