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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH IRVING In his day Washington Irving enjoyed a
greater popularity than any other American writer, and he was the
first, and for some time the only American who had a reputation in
Europe as a man of letters. He was the youngest son of William
Irving, a Scotchman and a descendant of the Covenanters, and was
born on William Street in New York City, April 3, 1783. His mother
named him for the first President of the United States, whose seat
of government was then in New York. Irving's education was as good
as the schools of those days afforded, but was confined chiefly to
Latin, English and music, and was finished when he was sixteen. He
read much more than most boys, however, especially Romance, for
which he had a great fondness. The Arabian Nights and Robinson
Crusoe were his particular favorites, and many a time he stole away
to the theatre in John Street, whose forbidden pleasures were very
sweet, in spite of the disfavor with which his stern father
regarded them. In 1802, the young man became a law clerk in the
office of Josiah Ogden Hoffman, but he managed to relieve his
studies, which were not very congenial, by reading many delightful
books and taking rambling journeys along the Hudson River through
the Catskill Mountains and the quiet regions of Sleepy Hollow.
These trips were for health as well as for pleasure, for Irving was
always delicate. About this time, too, he made his first literary
venture in the form of essays in imitation of the Spectator and the
Tatter, written over the signature of Jonathan Oldstyle, and
contributed to the Morning Chronicle, a paper recently established
by his brother, Peter Irving. Irving's health continued to decline,
and in 1804 his brothers determined to send him abroad. This first
experience of Europ...
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