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drop the Smith. Mr. Jones should discard the Jones.
No one would ever think of taking Socrates Socrates
solely to the watchhouse; and there is not a bully
living who would venture to cowskin Napoleon Buona
parte per se. And the reason is plain. With nine
individuals out of ten, as the world is at present hap
pily constituted, Mr. Socrates (without the Smith)
would be taken for the veritable philosopher of whom
we have heard so much, and Mr. Napoleon Buonaparte
(without the Jones) would be received implicitly as the
hero of Austerlitz. And should Mr. Napoleon Buona
parte (without the Jones) give an opinion upon mili
tary strategy, it would be heard with the profoundest
respect. And should Mr. Socrates (without the Smith)
deliver a lecture or write a book, what critic so bold as
not to pronounce it more luminous than the logic of
Emerson, and more profound than the Orphicism of
Alcott ? In fact, both Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones, in
the case we have imagined, would derive, through
their own ingenuity, a very material advantage. But


William Ellery Channing

no such ingenuity has been needed in the case of Mr.
William Ellery Channing, who has been befriended by
Fate, or the foresight of his sponsors, and who has no
Jones or Smith at the end of his name.

And here, too, a question occurs. There are many
people hi the world silly enough to be deceived by ap
pearances. There are individuals so crude in intellect,
so green (if we may be permitted to employ a word
which answers our purpose much better than any
other hi the language), so green, we say, as to imagine,
hi the absence of any indication to the contrary, that
a volume bearing upon its title-page the name of
William Ellery Channing must necessarily be the post
humous work of that truly illustrious author, the sole
William Ellery Channing of whom anybody in the
world ever heard. There are a vast number of unin
formed young persons prowling about our bookshops,
who will be raw enough to buy, and even to read half
through this pretty little book, (God preserve and for
give them!) mistaking it for the composition of an
other. But what then ? Are not books made, as
well as razors, to sell ? The poet's name is William
Ellery Channing, is it not ? And if a man has not a
right to the use of his own name, to the use of what
has he a right ? And could the poet have reconciled
it to his conscience to have injured the sale of his
own volume by any uncalled-for announcement upon
the title-page, or in a preface, to the effect that he is


William Ellery Channing

not his father, but only his father's very intelligent
son? To put the case more clearly by reference to
our old friends, Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones: Is either
Mr. Smith, when mistaken for Socrates, or Mr. Jones,
when accosted as Napoleon, bound by any conceivable
species of honor to inform the whole world the one,
that he is not Socrates, but only Socrates Smith; the
other, that he is by no means Napoleon Buonaparte,
but only Napoleon Buonaparte Jones ?


J. Fenimore Cooper

YANDOTTEf or, The Hutted Knoll, is, in its
general features, precisely similar to the
novels enumerated in the title. 1 It is a
forest subject ; and, when we say this, we give assur
ance that the story is a good one ; for Mr. Cooper has
never been known to fail, either in the forest or upon
the sea. The interest, as usual, has no reference to
plot, of which, indeed, our novelist seems altogether
regardless, or incapable, but depends, first, upon the
nature of the theme; secondly, upon a Robinson-
Crusoe-like detail in its management; and, thirdly,
upon the frequently repeated portraiture of the half-
civilized Indian. In saying that the interest depends,
first, upon the nature of the theme, we mean to sug-

1 Wyandotte i ot, The Hutted Knoll. A tale, by the author of The Pathfinder.
Deerslayer, Last of the Mohicans, Pioneers, Prairie, etc. Philadelphia: Lea &


J. Fenimore Cooper

gest that this theme life in the wilderness is one of
intrinsic and universal interest, appealing to the heart
of man in all phases ; a theme, like that of life upon
the ocean, so unfailingly omniprevalent in its power
of arresting and absorbing attention, that while suc
cess or popularity is, with such a subject, expected as a
matter of course, a failure might be properly regarded
as conclusive evidence of imbecility on the part of
the author. The two theses in question have been
handled usque ad nauseam, and this through the in
stinctive perception of the universal interest which
appertains to them. A writer distrustful of his powers
can scarcely do better than discuss either one or the
other. A man of genius will rarely, and should never,
undertake either; first, because both are excessively
hackneyed; and, secondly, because the reader never
fails, in forming his opinion of a book, to make dis
count, either wittingly or unwittingly, for that intrinsic
interest which is inseparable from the subject and in
dependent of the manner in which it is treated. Very
few and very dull indeed are those who do not instan
taneously perceive the distinction ; and thus there are
two great classes of fictions: a popular and widely
circulated class read with pleasure, but without ad
miration, in which the author is lost or forgotten, or
remembered, if at all, with something very nearly
akin to contempt; and then, a class not so popular,
nor so widely diffused, in which, at every paragraph,


J. Fenimore Cooper

arises a distinctive and highly pleasurable interest,
springing from our perception and appreciation of the
skill employed, or the genius evinced, in the composi
tion. After perusal of the one class, we think solely
of the book; after reading the other, chiefly of the
author. The former class leads to popularity; the
latter, to fame. In the former case, the books some
times live, while the authors usually die ; in the latter,
even when the works perish, the man survives.
Among American writers of the less generally cir
culated, but more worthy and more artistical, fictions,
we may mention Mr. Brockden Brown, Mr. John Neal,
Mr. Simms, Mr. Hawthorne ; at the head of the more
popular division we may place Mr. Cooper.

The Hutted Knoll, without pretending to detail facts,
gives a narrative of fictitious events, similar, in nearly
all respects, to occurrences which actually happened
during the opening scenes of the Revolution, and at
other epochs of our history. It pictures the dangers,
difficulties, and distresses of a large family, living,
completely insulated, in the forest. The tale com
mences with a description of the " region which lies
in the angle formed by the junction of the Mohawk
with the Hudson, extending as far south as the line of
Pennsylvania, and west to the verge of that vast rolling
plain which composes Western New York," a region
of which the novelist has already frequently written,
and the whole of which, with a trivial exception, was


~nimore Cooper


m our perception and apprtctatiut] ^ the
or the ftaitts evinced, to the cumpoti-
After perusal of the one class, we thmk solely
H* fcMfc; after reading the other, chiefly fit the
The former class leads to popularity; the
kilter, to fane. In the former case, the hooks some
times live, while the author* usually die ; in the latter,
even when the world firtefc, the man survives.
Among American writers of the less generally cir
culated, but more worth* *ad mr*re artistical, fictions,
we may mention Mr. JJWljdta Brown, Mr. John Neal,
Mr. Simms, Mr. HIT* Femmore j^jp^ ^ more

popular division w my pl*c Mr. Cooper.

TTjc Hf/f?e<f ItaoK fl^tui findMiiint to detail facts,
gives a narrative of MMm CMMfe, cuxiilar, in nearly
all respects, to occurrence* w%ic> actually iMfpMft
during the opraiaf tceoea of th ltii>lii^t% ^MJ at
other epochs of our hiatorv^ It ptetWM *.fe ^
difficulties, and dwtrtMOf of a ktffB fm***
completely insulated, in the lOMt A M> com
mences with a description of tfe* ** ligliii which lies
in the angle formed by the juacttess >f the Mohawk
with the Hudson, extending as fr iB^tfc as the line of
Ptaasylvania, and west to tte verge of that vast rolling
fMft which composes Wttni Mew York," a region
of which the novelist has already frequently written,
and the whole of which, with s trivial exception, was

J. Fenimore Cooper

a wilderness before the Revolution. Within this dis
trict, and on a creek running into the Unadilla, a
certain Captain Willoughby purchases an estate or
" patent," and there retires, with his family and de
pendents, to pass the close of his life in agricultural
pursuits. He has been an officer in the British army,
but, after serving many years, has sold his commission,
and purchased one for his only son, Robert, who alone
does not accompany the party into the forest. This
party consists of the captain himself, his wife, his
daughter, Beulah, an adopted daughter, Maud Mere
dith, an invalid sergeant, Joyce, who had served under
the captain, a Presbyterian preacher, Mr. Woods, a
Scotch mason, Jamie Allen, an Irish laborer, Michael
O'Hearn, a Connecticut man, Joel Strides, four ne
groes, Old Plin and Young Plin, Big Smash and Little
Smash, eight axemen, a house-carpenter, a mill
wright, etc., etc. Besides these, a Tuscarora Indian
called Nick, or Wyandotte, accompanies the expe
dition. This Indian, who figures largely in the story,
and gives it its title, may be considered as the principal
character the one chiefly elaborated. He is an out
cast from his tribe, has been known to Captain Wil
loughby for thirty years, and is a compound of all the
good and bad qualities which make up the character
of the half-civilized Indian. He does not remain with
the settlers, but appears and reappears at intervals
upon the scene.


J. Fenimore Cooper

Nearly the whole of the first volume is occupied with
a detailed account of the estate purchased (which is
termed " The Hutted Knoll," from a natural mound
upon which the principal house is built), and of the
progressive arrangements and improvements. To
ward the close of the volume the Revolution com
mences ; and the party at the " Knoll " are besieged
by a band of savages and " rebels," with whom an
understanding exists on the part of Joel Strides, the
Yankee. This traitor, instigated by the hope of pos
sessing Captain Willoughby's estate, should it be con
fiscated, brings about a series of defections from the
party of the settlers, and finally, deserting himself, re
duces the whole number to six or seven capable of
bearing arms. Captain Willoughby resolves, how
ever, to defend his post. His son, at this juncture,
pays him a clandestine visit, and, endeavoring to re
connoitre the position of the Indians, is made captive.
The captain, in an attempt at rescue, is murdered by
Wyandotte, whose vindictive passions had been
aroused by ill-timed allusions, on the part of Wil
loughby, to floggings previously inflicted, by his or
ders, upon the Indian. Wyandotte, however, having
satisfied his personal vengeance, is still an ally of the
settlers. He guides Maud, who is beloved by Robert,
to the hut in which the latter is confined, and effects
his escape. Aroused by this escape, the Indians pre
cipitate their attack upon the " Knoll," which, through


J. Fenimore Cooper

the previous treachery of Strides in ill-hanging a gate,
is immediately carried. Mrs. Willoughby, Beulah,
and others of the party are killed. Maud is secreted
and thus saved by Wyandotte. At the last moment,
when all is apparently lost, a reinforcement appears,
under command of Evert Beekman, the husband of
Beulah, and the completion of the massacre is pre
vented. Woods, the preacher, had left the " Knoll,"
and made his way through the enemy, to inform Beek
man of the dilemma of his friends. Maud and Robert
Willoughby are, of course, happily married. The con
cluding scene of the novel shows us Wyandotte re
penting the murder of Willoughby, and converted to
Christianity through the agency of Woods.

It will be at once seen that there is nothing original
in this story. On the contrary, it is even excessively
commonplace. The lover, for example, rescued from
captivity by the mistress ; the " Knoll " carried through
the treachery of an inmate; and the salvation of the
besieged, at the very last moment, by a reinforce
ment arriving, in consequence of a message borne to
a friend by one of the besieged, without the cognizance
of the others ; these, we say, are incidents which have
been the common property of every novelist since the
invention of letters. And as for plot, there has been
no attempt at anything of the kind. The tale is a
mere succession of events, scarcely any one of which
has any necessary dependence upon any one other.


J. Fenimore Cooper

Plot, however, is at best, an artificial effect, requir
ing, like music, not only a natural bias, but long culti
vation of taste for its full appreciation; some of the
finest narratives in the world Gil ''Bias and Robinson
Crusoe, for example have been written without its
employment ; and The Hutted Knoll, like all the sea
and forest novels of Cooper, has been made deeply
interesting, although depending upon this peculiar
source of interest not at all. Thus the absence of
plot can never be critically regarded as a defect;
although its judicious use, in all cases aiding and in
no case injuring other effects, must be regarded as of
a very high order of merit.

There are one or two points, however, in the mere
conduct of the story now before us, which may, per
haps, be considered as defective. For instance, there
is too much obviousness in all that appertains to the
hanging of the large gate. In more than a dozen
instances Mrs. Willoughby is made to allude to the
delay in the hanging; so that the reader is too posi
tively and pointedly forced to perceive that this delay
is to result in the capture of the " Knoll." As we are
never in doubt of the fact, we feel diminished interest
when it actually happens. A single vague allusion,
well managed, would have been in the true artistical

Again: we see too plainly, from the first, that Beek-
man is to marry Beulah, and that Robert Willoughby


J. Fenimore Cooper

is to marry Maud. The killing of Beulah, of Mrs.
Willoughby, and Jamie Allen produces, too, a painful
impression, which does not properly appertain to the
right fiction. Their deaths affect us as revolting and
supererogatory, since the purposes of the story are
not thereby furthered in any regard. To Willoughby's
murder, however distressing, the reader makes no
similar objection ; merely because in his decease is ful
filled a species of poetical justice. We may observe
here, nevertheless, that his repeated references to his
flogging the Indian seem unnatural, because we have
otherwise no reason to think him a fool or a mad
man, and these references, under the circumstances,
are absolutely insensate. We object, also to the
manner in which the general interest is dragged out,
or suspended. The besieging party are kept before the
" Knoll " so long, while so little is done, and so many
opportunities of action are lost, that the reader takes
it for granted that nothing of consequence will occur
that the besieged will be finally delivered. He gets
so accustomed to the presence of danger that its ex
citement at length departs. The action is not suffi
ciently rapid. There is too much procrastination.
There is too much mere talk for talk's sake. The
interminable discussions between Woods and Captain
Willoughby are, perhaps, the worst feature of the
book, for they have not even the merit of referring to
the matters on hand. In general, there is quite too


J. Fenimore Cooper

much colloquy for the purpose of manifesting char
acter, and too little for the explanation of motive.
The characters of the drama would have been better
made out by action ; while the motives to action, the
reasons for the different courses of conduct adopted
by the dramatis personx, might have been made to
proceed more satisfactorily from their own mouths
in casual conversations than from that of the author
in person. To conclude our remarks upon the head
of ill-conduct in the story, we may mention occasional
incidents of the merest melodramatic absurdity; as,
for example, at page 156, of the second volume, where
" Willoughby had an arm around the waist of Maud,
and bore her forward with a rapidity to which her own
strength was entirely unequal." We may be per
mitted to doubt whether a young lady, of sound health
and limbs, exists, within the limits of Christendom,
who could not run faster, on her own proper feet,
for any considerable distance, than she could be
carried upon one arm of either the Cretan Milo or of
the Hercules Farnese.

On the other hand, it would be easy to designate
many particulars which are admirably handled. The
love of Maud Meredith for Robert Willoughby is
painted with exquisite skill and truth. The incident
of the tress of hair and box is naturally and effectively
conceived. A fine collateral interest is thrown over the
whole narrative by the connection of the theme with


J. Fenimore Cooper

that of the Revolution; and, especially, there is an
excellent dramatic point, at page 124 of the second
volume, where Wyandotte, remembering the stripes
inflicted upon him by Captain Willoughby, is about
to betray him to his foes, when his purpose is arrested
by a casual glimpse, through the forest, of the hut
which contains Mrs. Willoughby, who had preserved
the life of the Indian by inoculation for the smallpox.
In the depicting of character, Mr. Cooper has been
unusually successful in Wyandotte, One or two
of his personages, to be sure, must be regarded as
little worth. Robert Willoughby, like most novel
heroes, is a nobody; that is to say, there is nothing
about him which may be looked upon as distinctive.
Perhaps he is rather silly than otherwise; as, for in
stance, when he confuses all his father's arrange
ments for his concealment, and bursts into the room
before Strides, afterward insisting upon accompany
ing that person to the Indian encampment, without
any possible or impossible object. Woods, the par
son, is a sad bore, upon the Dominie Sampson plan,
and is, moreover, caricatured. Of Captain Willough
by we have already spoken he is too often on stilts.
Evert Beekman and Beulah are merely episodical.
Joyce is nothing in the world but Corporal Trim ; or,
rather, Corporal Trim and water. Jamie Allen, with
his prate about Catholicism, is insufferable. But
Mrs. Willoughby, the humble, shrinking, womanly

3 1

J. Fenimore Cooper

wife, whose whole existence centres in her affections,
is worthy of Mr. Cooper. Maud Meredith is still better.
In fact, we know no female portraiture, even in Scott,
which surpasses her ; and yet the world has been given
to understand, by the enemies of the novelist, that he
is incapable of depicting a woman. Joel Strides will
be recognized by all who are conversant with his
general prototypes of Connecticut. Michael O'Hearn,
the County Leitrim man, is an Irishman all over, and
his portraiture abounds in humor; as, for example,
at page 31 of the first volume, where he has a difficulty
with a skiff, not being able to account for its revolving
upon its own axis, instead of moving forward! or
at page 132, where, during divine service, to exclude
at least a portion of the heretical doctrine, he stops
one of his ears with his thumb; or, at page 195,
where a passage occurs so much to our purpose that
we will be pardoned for quoting it in full. Captain
Willoughby is drawing his son up through a window,
from his enemies below. The assistants, placed at a
distance from this window to avoid observation from
without, are ignorant of what burthen is at the end
of the rope :

" The men did as ordered, raising their load from
the ground a foot or two at a time. In this manner
the burthen approached, yard after yard, until it was
evidently drawing near the window.


J. Fenimore Cooper

" 'It 's the captain hoisting up the big baste of a hog,
for provisioning the hoose again a saige,' whispered
Mike to the negroes, who grinned as they tugged;
' and, when the craitur squails, see to it that ye do
not squail yourselves.' At that moment the head
and shoulders of a man appeared at the window.
Mike let go the rope, seized a chair, and was about to
knock the intruder upon the head; but the captain
arrested the blow.

" ' It 's one o' the vagabone Injins that has under
mined the hog and come up in its stead,' roared Mike.

" * It 's my son,' said the captain; ' see that you
are silent and secret.' "

The negroes are, without exception, admirably
drawn. The Indian, Wyandotte, however, is the
great feature of the book, and is, in every respect,
equal to the previous Indian creations of the author
of The Pioneer, Indeed, we think this " forest gentle
man " superior to the other noted heroes of his kind,
the heroes which have been immortalized by our
novelist. His keen sense of the distinction, in his
own character, between the chief, Wyandotte, and
the drunken vagabond, Sassy Nick; his chivalrous
delicacy toward Maud, in never disclosing to her that
knowledge of her real feelings toward Robert Will-
oughby, which his own Indian intuition had discovered ;
his enduring animosity toward Captain Willoughby,


J. Fenimore Cooper

softened, and for thirty years delayed, through his
gratitude to the wife; and then, the vengeance con
summated, his pity for that wife conflicting with his
exultation at the deed, these, we say, are all traits of
a lofty excellence indeed. Perhaps the most effective
passage in the book, and that which most distinctively
brings out the character of the Tuscarora, is to be
found at pages 50, 51, 52, and 53 of the second vol
ume, where, for some trivial misdemeanor, the cap
tain threatens to make use of the whip. The manner
in which the Indian harps upon the threat, returning
to it again and again, in every variety of phrase, forms
one of the finest pieces of mere character-painting
with which we have any acquaintance.

The most obvious and most unaccountable faults
of The Hutted Knoll, are those which appertain to
the style to the mere grammatical construction ; for,
in other and more important particulars of style, Mr.
Cooper, of late days, has made a very manifest im
provement. His sentences, however, are arranged
with an awkwardness so remarkable as to be matter
of absolute astonishment, when we consider the educa
tion of the author, and his long and continual practice
with the pen. In minute descriptions of localities,
any verbal inaccuracy or confusion becomes a
source of vexation and misunderstanding, detracting
very much from the pleasure of perusal ; and in these
inaccuracies Wyandotte abounds. Although, for in-


J. Fenimore Cooper

stance, we carefully read and reread that portion of the
narrative which details the situation of the " Knoll,"
and the construction of the buildings and walls about
it, we were forced to proceed with the story without
any exact or definite impressions upon the subject.
Similar difficulties, from similar causes, occur passim
throughout the book. For example, at page 41, vol. i. :

" The Indian gazed at the house, with that fierce
intentness which sometimes glared, in a manner that
had got to be, in its ordinary aspects, dull and be
sotted." This it is utterly impossible to comprehend.
We presume, however, the intention is to say that
although the Indian's ordinary manner (of gazing)
had " got to be " dull and besotted, he occasionally
gazed with an intentness that glared, and that he
did so in the instance in question. The " got to be "
is atrocious ; the whole sentence no less so.

Here at page 9, vol. i., is something excessively
vague : " Of the latter character is the face of most of
that region which lies in the angle formed by the
junction of the Mohawk with the Hudson," etc., etc.
The Mohawk, joining the Hudson, forms two angles,
of course, an acute and an obtuse one ; and, without
further explanation, it is difficult to say which is

At page 55, vol. i., we read: " The captain, owing
to his English education, had avoided straight lines
and formal paths, giving to the little spot the


J. Fenimore Cooper

improvement on nature which is a consequence of
embellishing her works without destroying them.
On each side of this lawn was an orchard, thrifty and
young, and which were already beginning to show

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