Washington Irving and Herman Melville

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Washington Irving, and Herman Melville.
Washington Irving was born in New York City as the youngest of 11 children. His father was a wealthy merchant, and his mother, an English woman, was the granddaughter of a clergyman. According to a story, George Washington met Irving, named after him, and gave his blessing. In the years to come Irving would write one of his greatest works, THE LIFE OF GEORGE WASHINGTON (1855-59). Early in his life Irving developed a passion for books. He read Robinson Crusoe, Sinbad the Sailor, and The World Displayed (stories about voyages and travels). He studied law privately in the offices of Henry Masterton (1798), Brockholst Livingston (1801), and John Ogde Hoffman (1802), but practiced only briefly. From 1804 to 1806 he traveled widely Europe. He visited Marseilles, Genoa, Sicily, where he saw the famous English naval officer, Nelson, and met Washington Allston, the painter, in Rome. After return to the United States, Irving was admitted to New York bar in 1806. He was a partner with his brothers in the family hardware business, New York and Liverpool, England, and representative of the business in England until it collapsed in 1818. During the war of 1812 Irving was a military aide to New York Governor Tompkins in the U.S. Army. Irving's career as a writer started in journals and newspapers. He contributed to Morning Chronicle (1802-03), which was edited by his brother Peter, and published Salmagundi (1807-08), writing in collaboration with his brother William and James Kirke Paulding. From 1812 to 1814 he was an editor of Analeptic magazine in Philadelphia and New York. Irving's success in social life and literature was shadowed by a personal tragedy. He was engaged to be married to Matilda Hoffmann who died at the age of seventeen, in 1809. Later he wrote in a private letter, addressed to Mrs. Forster, as an answer to her inquiry why he had not been married: "For years I could not talk on the subject of this hopeless regret; I...
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