“A kind heart is a fountain of gladness, making everything in its vicinity freshen into smiles.” – Washington Irving
Wise words for Sunday from one of America’s premiere 19th century writers who was born on this date in 1783 and wrote his wonderful body of work from 1820 up until just before his death in 1859. In fact, just eight months before his death (at age 76, in Tarrytown, New York), he completed a definitive five-volume biography of George Washington.
Irving, along with James Fenimore Cooper, was among the first American writers to earn acclaim in Europe, and through his kindness and support, he encouraged American authors such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Edgar Allan Poe, really leading the development of “American” literature.
Besides his writing, Irving was one of America’s leading diplomats and his thoughtful attention to other cultures and religions made him one of our young nation’s best assets in becoming a key member of the world community. Today’s politicians would be well-served to take a page from Irving’s advice to his fellow diplomats and writers.
“Remember, an inexhaustible good nature is one of the most precious gifts of heaven,” he advised, “spreading itself like oil over the troubled sea of thought, and keeping the mind smooth and equable in even the roughest weather.” To that, I say, Amen.
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