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[250] having become so much absorbed in his English sympathies as to have lost his patriotism.

In 1829, Irving was made a member of the Royal Academy of History in Madrid, and having in the same year been appointed Secretary of Legation by Louis McLane, he again took up his residence in London. Here, in 1830, the Royal Society of Literature voted to him as a recognition of his “service to history and to literature” one of its gold medals. The other medal of that year was given to Hallam for his History of the middle ages. A little later Oxford honoured Irving with the degree of Doctor of Laws. The ceremony of the installation was a serious experience for a man of his shy and retiring habits. As he sat in the Senate Hall, the students saluted him with cries of “Here comes old Knickerbocker,” “How about Ichabod Crane?” “Has Rip Van Winkle waked up yet?” and “Who discovered Columbus?”

In 1832, Irving returned to New York, having been absent from his country for seventeen years. His fellow citizens welcomed him, not a little to his own discomfiture, with a banquet given in the City Hall, where the orator of the evening addressed him as the “Dutch Herodotus.” Later in the year, he made a journey through the territory of the Southwest, an account of which he published under the title of A Tour on the Prairies (1835). His description of St. Louis as a frontier post and of the great wilderness extending to the west of the Mississippi still makes interesting reading. Returning from his journey by way of New Orleans, he visited Columbia, South Carolina, where he was the guest of Governor Hamilton. The Governor, who had just transmitted to the legislature the edict of nullification, insisted that the author must repeat his visit to the state. “Certainly,” responded the guest, “I will come with the first troops.”

In 1834, Irving declined a Democratic nomination for Congress, and in 1838 he put to one side the Tammany nomination for mayor of New York and also an offer from President Van Buren to make him Secretary of the Navy. In 1842, he accepted from President Tyler the appointment of Minister to Spain. The suggestion had come to the President from Daniel Webster, at that time Secretary of State. The succeeding five years were in large part devoted to the collection of material

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