Open main menu
This page needs to be proofread.

Adventures of Captain Bonneville (London and Philadelphia, 18 37), based upon the unpublished memoirs of a veteran explorer, was another work of the same class. In 1842 Irving was appointed ambassador to Spain. He spent four years in the country, without this time turning his residence to literary account; and it was not until two years after his return that Forster's life of Goldsmith, by reminding him of a slight essay of his own which he now thought too imperfect by comparison to be included among his collected writings, stimulated him to the production of his LU'e of Oliver Goldsmith, with Selections from his Writings (2 vols., New York, 1849). Without pretensions to original research, the book displays an admirable talent for employing existing material to the best effect. The same may be said of The Lives of M ahomet and his Snccessors (New York, 2 vols., 184O~I8§ O). Here as elsewhere Irving correctly discriminated the biographer's province from the historian's, and leaving the philosophical investigation of cause and effect to writers of Gibbon's calibre, applied himself to represent the picturesque features of the age as embodied in the actions and utterances of its most characteristic representatives. His last days were devoted to his Life of George Washington (5 vols., 1855-1850. New York and London), undertaken in an enthusiastic spirit, but which the author found exhausting and his readers tame. His genius required a more poetical theme, and indeed the biographer of Washington must be at least a potential soldier and statesman. Irving just lived to complete this work, dying of heart disease at Sunnyside, on the 28th of November 1859.

Although one of the chief ornaments of American literature, Irving is not characteristically American. But he is one of the few authors of his period who really manifest traces of a vein of national peculiarity which might under other circumstances have been productive. “ Knickerbocker's” History of New York, although the air of mock solemnity which constitutes the staple of its humour is peculiar to no literature, manifests nevertheless a power of reproducing a distinct national type. Had circumstances taken Irving to the West, and placed him amid a society teeming with quaint and genial eccentricity, he might possibly have been the first Western humorist, and his humour might have gained in depth and richness. In England, on the other hand, everything encouraged his natural fastidiousness; he became a refined writer, but by no means a robust one. His biographies bear the stamp of genuine artistic intelligence, equally remote from compilation and disquisition. In execution they are almost faultless; the narrative is easy, the style pellucid, and the writer's judgment nearly always in accordance with the general verdict of history. Without ostentation or affectation, he was exquisite in all things, a mirror of loyalty, courtesy and good taste in all his literary connexions, and exemplary in all the relations of domestic life. He never married, remaining true to the memory of an early att.achment blighted by death.

The principal edition of Irving's works is the “Geoffrey Crayon, ” published at New York in 1880 in 26 vols. His Life and Letters was published by his nephew Pierre M. Irving (London, 1862—1864, 4 vols.; German abridgment by Adolf Laun, Berlin, 1870, 2 vols.) There is a good deal of miscellaneous information in a compilation entitled Irvingiana (New York, 1860); and W. C. Bryant's memorial oration, though somewhat too uniformly laudatory, may be consulted with advantage. It was republished in Studies of Irving (1880) along with C. Dudley Warner's introduction to the “ Geofirey (frayon " edition and Mr G. P. Putnam's perwnal reminiscences of Irving, which originally appeared in the Atlantic llnnthly. See also lf'axh1'ngton Irving (1881), by C. D. Warner, in the “ American Men of Letters " series; H. R. Haweis, American Hnnzonrists (London, 1883).

(R. G.)

IRVINGTON, a town of Essex county, New IL-rsey, U.S.A., bordering on the S.W. side of Newark. Pop. (tooo) 5255, of whom oo3 were foreign-born; (1005) 7180; (roto) ]l,8'f7. Irvington is served by the Lehigh valley railroad and by electric railway to Newark. It is principally a residential suburb of Newark. but it has a small smelter (for gold and silver), and various manufactures, including textile working machinery, measuring rules and artisans' tools. There are large strawberry farms here. Irvington was settled near the close of the 17th century, and was called Camptown until 1852, when the present name was adopted in honour of Washington Irving. It was incorporated as a village in 1874, and as a town in 1898.

ISAAC (Hebrew for “ he laughs, ” on explanatory references to the name, see Abraham), the only child of Abraham and Sarah, was born when his parents were respectively a hundred and ninety years of age (Gen. xvii. 17). Like his father, Isaac lived a nomadic pastoral life, but within much narrower local limits, south of Beersheba (Gen. xxvi., on the incidents here recorded, see Abimelech). After the death of his mother, when he was forty years old, he married Rebekah the Aramaean, by whom after twenty years of married life he became the father of Esau and Jacob. He died at the age of one hundred and eighty.[1] “Isaac” is used as a synonym for “ Israel ” by Amos (vii. 9, 16), who also bears witness to the importance of Beersheba as a sanctuary. It was in this district, at the well Beer-Lahai-roi, that Isaac dwelt (Gen. xxiv. 62, xxv. rr), and the place was famous for an incident in the life of Hagar (xvi. 14). This was perhaps the original scene of the striking episode “in the land of Moriah, ” when at the last moment he was by angelic interposition released from the altar on which he was about to be sacrificed by his father in obedience to a divine command (Gen. xxii).[2] The narrative (which must be judged with due regard to the conditions of the age) shows that the sacrifice of the first-born, though not inconsistent with Yahweh's claims (Ex. xxii. 29). was neither required nor tolerated (cp. Micah vi. 6-8). See Motocn.

Isaac is by general consent of the Christian church taken as a representative of the unobtrusive, restful, piously contemplative type of human character. By later Judaism, which fixed its attention chiefly on the altar scene, he was regarded as the pattern and prototype of all martyrs. The Mahommedan legends regarding him are curious, but trifling.

The resemblance between incidents in the lives of Isaac and Abraham is noteworthy; in each case Isaac appears to be the more original. See further Ishmael, and note that the pair Isaac and Ishmael correspond to Abraham and Lot, Jacob and Esau. On general questions, see E. Meyer, Israel-iten (Index, s.v.). For attempts to find a mythological interpretation of Isaac's life, see Goldziher, Mythology of the H ebrews; W inckler, Gesch. I sraels (vol. ii.).

ISAAC I. (Comnenus), emperor of the East (IO57-1059), was the son of an officer of Basil II. named Manuel Comnenus, who on his deathbed commended his two sons Isaac and John to the emperor's care. Basil had them carefully educated at the monastery of Studion, and afterwards advanced them to high official positions. During the disturbed reigns of Basil's seven immediate successors, Isaac by his prudent conduct won the

confidence of the army; in 1057 he joined with the nobles of the capital in a conspiracy against Michael V I., and after the latter's deposition was invested with the crown, thus founding the new dynasty of the Conineni. The first care of the new emperor was to reward his noble partisans with appointments that removed them from Constantinople, and his next was to repair the beggared finances of the empire. He revoked numerous pensions and grants conferred by his predecessors upon idle courtiers, and, meeting the reproach of sacrilege made by the patriarch of Constantinople by a decree of exile, resumed a proportion of the revenues of the wealthy monasteries. Isaac's only military expedition was against the Hungarians and Petchenegs, who began to ravage the northern frontiers in 1059. Shortly after this successful campaign he was seized with an illness, and believing it mortal appointed as his successor Constantine Ducas, to the exclusion of his own brother John. Although he recovered Isaac did not resume the purple, but retired to the monastery of Studion and spent the remaining two years of his life as a monk, alternating menial offices with literary studies. His Scholia to

  1. 1 The stories, including the delightful history of the courting of Rebekah by proxy, are due to the oldest narrators. The jarring chronological notices belong to the post-exilic framework of the book (see Genesis).
  2. 2The name is hopeless] ' obscure, and the identification with the mountain of the temple in Jerusalem rests upon a late view (2 Chron. iii. I). It is otherwise called “ Yahweh-yir'eh ” (“ Y. sees ) which is analogous to “ El-ro'i ” (“ a God of Seeing ) in xvi. 13. Sec further the commentaries.