about town when New York was only a big slovenly village, this light-hearted scribbler of satire and sentiment, was a gentleman born.
His boyhood and youth were passed in that period of Post-Revolutionary reaction which exhibits the United States
in some of its most unlovely aspects.
like Henry Adams
have painted in detail the low estate of education, religion, and art as the new century began.
The bitter feeling of the nascent nation toward Great Britain
was intensified by the War
The Napoleonic Wars had threatened to break the last threads of our friendship for France
, and suspicion of the Holy Alliance
led to an era of national selfassertion of which the Monroe Doctrine
was only one expression.
The raw Jacksonism
of the West
seemed to be gaining upon the older civilizations represented by Virginia
The self-made type of man began to pose as the genuine American
And at this moment came forward a man of natural lucidity and serenity of mind, of perfect poise and good temper, who knew both Europe
and felt that they ought to know one another better and to like one another more.
That was Irving
's service as an international mediator.
He diffused sweetness and