James Fenimore Cooper.

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The Chase


James Fenimore Cooper

Dana Estes & Company








ON REACHING THE CABIN . , . . . Frontispiece
Photogravure from Darley steel plate


Photogravure from Darley steel plate


Photogravure from a photograph


IN one respect, this book is a parallel to Franklin s well-
known apologue of the hatter and his sign. It was com
menced with a sole view to exhibit the present state of so
ciety in the United States, through the agency, in part, of a
set of characters with different peculiarities, who had freshly
arrived from Europe, and to whom the distinctive features
of the country would be apt to present themselves with
greater force, than to those who had never lived beyond the
influence of the things portrayed. By the original plan, the
work was to open at the threshold of the country, or with the
arrival of the travellers at Sandy Hook, from which point
the tale was to have been carried regularly forward to its
conclusion. But a consultation with others has left little
more of this plan than the hatter s friends left of his sign.
As a vessel was introduced in the first chapter, the cry was
for " more ship," until the work has become " all ship" ; it
actually closing at, or near, the spot where it was originally
intended it should commence. Owing to this diversion from
the author s design a design that lay at the bottom of all
his projects a necessity has been created of running the
tale through two separate works, or of making a hurried
and insufficient conclusion. The former scheme has, conse
quently, been adopted.

It is hoped that the interest of t"ie narrative will not be
essentially diminished by this arrangement

There will be, very likely, certain imaginative persons,
who will feel disposed to deiy tiat every minute eve it men
tioned in these volumes ever befell one and the same ship,


though ready enough to admit that they may very well have
occurred to several different ships ; a mode of commenting
that is much in favor with your small critic. To this ob
jection, we shall make but a single answer. The caviller,
if any there should prove to be, is challenged to produce
the log-book of the Montauk London packet, and if it should
be found to contain a single sentence to controvert any one
of our statements or facts, a frank recantation shall be made.
Captain Truck is quite as well known in New York as in
London or Portsmouth, and to him also we refer with confi
dence, for a confirmation of all we have said, with the excep
tion, perhaps, of the little occasional touches of character
that may allude directly to himself. In relation to the lat
ter, Mr. Leach, and particularly Mr. Saunders, are both in
voked as unimpeachable witnesses.

Most of our readers will probably know that all which
appears in a New York journal is not necessarily as true as
the Gospel. As some slight deviations from the facts acci
dentally occur, though doubtless at very long intervals, it
should not be surprising that they sometimes omit circum
stances that are quite as veracious as anything they do actu
ally utter to the world. No argument, therefore, can justly
be urged against the incidents of this story, on account of
the circumstance of their not being embodied in the regular
marine news of the day.

Another serious objection on the part of the American
reader to this work is foreseen. The author has endeavored
to interest his readers in occurrences of a date as antiquated
as two years can make them, when he is quite aware that, in
order to keep pace with a state of society in which there was
no yesterday, it would have been much safer to anticipate
things, by laying his scene two years in advance. It is
hoped, however, that the public sentiment will not be out
raged by this glimpse at antiquity, and this the more so, as
the sequel of the tale will bring down events within a year
of the present moment.


Previously to the appearance of that sequel, however, it
may be well to say a few words concerning the fortunes of
some of our characters, as it might be en attendant.

To commence with the most important : the Montauk her
self, once deemed so " splendid" and convenient, is already
supplanted in the public favor by a new ship; the reign of a
popular packet, a popular preacher, or a popular anything
else, in America, being limited, by a national esprit de corps,
to a time materially shorter than that of a lustre. This,
however, is no more than just; rotation in favor being as
evidently a matter of constitutional necessity, as rotation in

Captain Truck, for a novelty, continues popular a cir
cumstance that he himself ascribes to the fact of his being
still a bachelor.

Toast is promoted, figuring at the head of a pantry quite
equal to that of his great master, who regards his improve
ment with some such eyes as Charles the Twelfth of Sweden
regarded that of his great rival Peter, after the affair of Pul-

Mr. Leach now smokes his own cigar, and issues his own
orders from a monkey rail, his place in the line being sup
plied by his former " Dickey." He already speaks of his
great model, as of one a little antiquated, it is true, but as
a man who had merit in his time, though it was not the par
ticular merit that is in fashion to-day.

Notwithstanding these little changes, which are perhaps
inseparable from the events of a period so long as two years
in a country so energetic as America, and in which nothing
seems to be stationary but the ages of Tontine nominees and
three-life leases, a cordial esteem was created among the
principal actors in the events of this book, which is likely
to outlast the passage, and which will not fail to bring most
of them together again in the sequel.

April, 1838.



" An inner room I have,

Where thou shall rest and some refreshment take,
And then we will more fully talk of this."


THE coast of England, though infinitely finer than our own,
is more remarkable for its verdure, and for a general ap
pearance of civilization than for its natural beauties. The
chalky cliffs may seem bold and noble to the American,
though compared to the granite piles that buttress the Medi
terranean they are but molehills; and the travelled eye
seeks beauties instead, in the retiring vales, the leafy hedges,
and the clustering towns that dot the teeming island. Neither
is Portsmouth a very favorable specimen of a British port,
considered solely in reference to the picturesque. A town
situated on a humble point, and fortified after the manner of
the Low Countries, with an excellent haven, suggests more
images of the useful than of the pleasing; while a back
ground of modest receding hills offers little beyond the ver
dant swales of the country. In this respect England itself
has the fresh beauty of youth, rather than the mellowed hues
of a more advanced period of life ; or it might be better to
say, it has the young freshness and retiring sweetness that
distinguish her females, as compared with the warmer tints
of Spain and Italy, and which, women and landscape alike,
need the near view to be appreciated.

Some such thoughts as these passed through the mind of
the traveller who stood on the deck of the packet Montauk,


resting an elbow on the quarter-deck rail, as he contem
plated the view of the coast that stretched before him, east
and west, for leagues. The manner in which this gentle
man, whose temples were sprinkled with gray hairs, re
garded the scene, denoted more of the thoughtfulness of ex
perience, and of tastes improved by observation, than it is
usual to meet amid the bustling and commonplace charac
ters that compose the majority in almost every situation of
life. The calmness of his exterior, an air removed equally
from the admiration of the novice and the superciliousness
of the tyro, had, indeed, so strongly distinguished him from
the moment he embarked in London to that in which he was
now seen in the position mentioned, that several of the sea
men swore he was a man-of-war s-man in disguise. The
fair-haired, lovely, blue-eyed girl at his side, too, seemed a
softened reflection of all his sentiment, intelligence, knowl
edge, tastes, and cultivation, united to the artlessness and
simplicity that became her sex and years.

" We have seen nobler coasts, Eve," said the gentleman,
pressing the arm that leaned on his own ; " but, after all,
England will always be fair to American eyes."

" More particularly so if those eyes first opened to the
light in the eighteenth century, father."

"You, at least, my child, have been educated beyond the
reach of national foibles, whatever may have been my own
evil fortune; and still, I think even you have seen a great
deal to admire in this country, as well as in this coast."

Eve Effingham glanced a moment toward the eye of her
father, and, perceiving that he spoke in playfulness, without
suffering a cloud to shadow a countenance that usually va
ried with her emotions, she continued the discourse, which
had, in fact, only oeen resumed by the remark first men

" I have been- educated, as it is termed, in so many differ
ent places and countries," returned Eve, smiling, "that I
sometimes fancy I was born a woman, like my great prede-


cessor and namesake, the mother of Abel. If a congress
of nations, in the way of masters, can make one indepen
dent of prejudice, I may claim to possess the advantage.
My greatest fear is that, in acquiring liberality, I have
acquired nothing else."

Mr. Effingham turned a look of parental fondness, in
which parental pride was clearly mingled, on the face of his
daughter, and said with his eyes, though his tongue did not
second the expression : " This is a fear, sweet one, that none
beside thyself would feel."

"A congress of nations, truly!" muttered another male
voice near the father and daughter. " You have been taught
music in general, by seven masters of as many different
states, besides the touch of the guitar by a Spaniard; Greek
by a German ; the living tongues by the European powers ;
and philosophy by seeing the world; and now, with a brain
full of learning, ringers full of touches, eyes full of tints,
and a person full of grace, your father is taking you back to
America, to * waste your sweetness on the desert air/ "

"Poetically expressed, if not justly imagined, Cousin
Jack," returned the laughing Eve ; " but you have forgot to
add, and a heart full of feeling for the land of my birth."

" We shall see, in the end."

" In the end, as in the beginning, now and forevermore."

"All love is eternal in the commencement."

" Do you make no allowance for the constancy of woman?
Think you that a girl of twenty can forget the country of
her birth, the land of her forefathers or, as you call it your
self, when in a good humor, the land of liberty?"

" A pretty specimen you will have of its liberty !" returned
the cousin sarcastically. " After having passed a girlhood
of wholesome restraint in the rational society of Europe, you
are about to return home to the slavery of American female
life, just as you are about to be married!"

" Married ! Mr. Effingham ?"

" I suppose the catastrophe will arrive, sooner or later,


and it is more likely to occur to a girl of twenty than to a
girl of ten."

" Mr. John Effingham never lost an argument for the want
of a convenient fact, my love," the father observed, by way
of bringing the brief discussion to a close. " But here are
the boats approaching; let us withdraw a little, and examine
the chance medley of faces with which we are to become
familiar by the intercourse of a month."

" You will be much more likely to agree on a verdict of
murder," muttered the kinsman.

Mr. Effinghan led his daughter into the hurricane-house
- -or, as the packet-men quaintly term it, the toac/i-house,
where they stood watching the movements on the quarter
deck for the next half-hour; an interval of which we shall
take advantage to touch in a few of the stronger lights of
our picture, leaving the softer tints and the shadows to be
discovered by the manner in which the artist "tells the

Edward and John Effingham were brothers children; were
born on the same day; had passionately loved the same
woman, who had preferred the first named, and died soon
after Eve was born ; had, notwithstanding this collision in
feeling, remained sincere friends, and this the more so,
probably, from a mutual and natural sympathy in their com
mon loss; had lived much together at home, and travelled
much together abroad, and were now about to return in com
pany to the land of their birth, after what might be termed
an absence of twelve years ; though both had visited America
for short periods in the intervals John not less than five

There was a strong family likeness between the cousins,
their persons and even features being almost identical;
though it was scarcely possible for two human beings to
leave more opposite impressions on mere casual spectators
when seen separately. Both were tall, of commanding pres
ence, and handsome; while one was winning in appearance,


and the other, if not positively forbidding, at least distant
and repulsive. The noble outline of face in Edward Effing-
ham had got to be cold severity in that of John ; the aqui
line nose of the latter seeming to possess an eagle-like and
hostile curvature his compressed lip, sarcastic and cold
expression, and the fine classical chin, a feature in which
so many of the Saxon race fail, a haughty scorn that caused
strangers usually to avoid him. Eve drew with great facil
ity and truth ; and she had an eye, as her cousin had rightly
said, "full of tints." Often and often had she sketched
both of these loved faces, and never without wondering
wherein that strong difference existed in nature which she
had never been able to impart to her drawings. The truth
is, that the subtle character of John Effingham s face would
have puzzled the skill of one who had made the art his
study for a life, and it utterly set the graceful but scarcely
profound knowledge of the beautiful young painter at defi
ance. All the points of character that rendered her father
so amiable and so winning, and which were rather felt than
perceived, in his cousin were salient and bold, and if it
may be thus expressed, had become indurated by mental
suffering and disappointment.

The cousins were both rich, though in ways as opposite
as their dispositions and habits of thought. Edward Effing-
ham possessed a large hereditary property, that brought a
good income, and which attached him to this world of ours
by kindly feelings toward its land and water; while John,
much the wealthier of the two, having inherited a large
commercial fortune, did not own ground enough to bury
him. As he sometimes deridingly said, he " kept his gold
in corporations, that were as soulless as himself."

Still, John Effingham was a man of cultivated mind, of
extensive intercourse with the world, and of manners that
varied with the occasion ; or perhaps it were better to say,
with his humors. In all these particulars but the latter
the cousins were alike ; Edward Efnngham s deportment be-


ing as equal as his temper, though he was also distinguished
for a knowledge of society.

These gentlemen had embarked at London, on their fif
tieth birthday, in the packet of the ist of October, bound to
New York; the lands and family residence of the proprietor
lying in the State of that name, of which all of the parties
were natives. It is not usual for the cabin passengers of
the London packets to embark in the docks ; but Mr. Effing-
ham as we shall call the father in general, to distinguish
him from the bachelor, John as an old and experienced
traveller, had determined to make his daughter familiar with
the peculiar odors of the vessel in smooth water, as a protec
tion against seasickness; a malady, however, from which
she proved to be singularly exempt in the end. They had,
accordingly, been on board three days, when the ship came
to an anchor off Portsmouth, the point where the remainder
of the passengers were to join her on that particular day
when the scene of this tale commences.

At this precise moment, then, the Montauk was lying at a
single anchor, not less than a league from the land, in a flat
calm, with her three topsails loose, the courses in the brails,
and with all those signs of preparation about her that are so
bewildering to landsmen, but which seamen comprehend as
clearly as words. The captain had no other business there
than to take on board the wayfarers, and to renew his sup
ply of fresh meat and vegetables; things of so familiar im
port on shore as to be seldom thought of until missed, but
which swell into importance during a passage of a month s
duration. Eve had employed her three days of* probation
quite usefully, having, with the exception of the two gentle
men, the officers of the vessel, and one other person, been in
quiet possession of all the ample, not to say luxurious cab
ins. It is true, she had a female attendant ; but to her she
had been accustomed from childhood, and Nanny Sidley, as
her quondam nurse and actual lady s-maid was termed, ap
peared so much a part of herself, that, while her absence


would be missed almost as greatly as that of a limb, her
presence was as much a matter of course as a hand or foot.
Nor will a passing word concerning this excellent and faith
ful domestic be thrown away, in the brief preliminary ex
planations we are making.

Ann Sidley was one of those excellent creatures who, it
is the custom with the European travellers to say, do not
exist at all in America, and who, while they are certainly
less numerous than could be wished, have no superiors in
the world, in their way. She had been born a servant,
lived a servant, and was quite content to die a servant and
this, too, in one and the same family. We shall not enter
into a philosophical examination of the reasons that had in
duced old Ann to feel certain she was in the precise situa
tion to render her more happy than any other that to her was
attainable; but feel it she did, as John Effingham used to
express it, " from the crown of her head to the sole of her
foot." She had passed through infancy, childhood, girl
hood, up to womanhood, part passu, with the mother of Eve,
having been the daughter of a gardener, who died in the
service of the family, and had heart enough to feel that the
mixed relations of civilized society, when properly under
stood and appreciated, are more pregnant of happiness than
the vulgar scramble and heart-burnings, that, in the melee of
a migrating and unsettled population, are so injurious to the
grace and principles of American life. At the death of
Eve s mother, she had transferred her affections to the child;
and twenty years of assiduity and care had brought her to
feel as much tenderness for her lovely young charge as if
she had been her natural parent. But Nanny Sidley was
better fitted to care for the body than the mind of Eve ; and
when, at the age of ten, the latter was placed under the con
trol of an accomplished governess, the good woman had
meekly and quietly sunk the duties of the nurse in those of
the maid.

One of the severest trials or " crosses," as she herself


termed it that poor Nanny had ever experienced, was en
dured when Eve began to speak in a language she could not
herself comprehend; for, in despite of the best intentions
in the world, and twelve years of use, the good woman could
never make anything of the foreign tongues her young charge
was so rapidly acquiring. One day, when Eve had been
maintaining an animated and laughing discourse in Italian
with her instructress, Nanny, unable to command herself,
had actually caught the child to her bosom, and, bursting
into tears, implored her not to estrange herself entirely from
her poor old nurse. The caresses and solicitations of Eve
soon brought the good woman to a sense of her weakness ;
but the natural feeling was so strong that it required years
of close observation to reconcile her to the thousand excel
lent qualities of Mademoiselle Viefville, the lady to whose
superintendence the education of Miss Effingham had been
finally confided.

This Mademoiselle Viefville was also among the passen
gers, and was the one other person who now occupied the
cabins in common with Eve and her friends. She was the
daughter of a French officer who had fallen in Napoleon s
campaigns, had been educated at one of those admirable
establishments which form points of relief in the ruthless
history of the conqueror, and had now lived long enough to
have educated two young persons, the last of whom was Eve
Effingham. Twelve years of close communion with her
eleve had created sufficient attachment to cause her to yield
to the solicitations of the father to accompany his daughter
to America, and to continue with her during the first year of
her probation, in a state of society that the latter felt must
be altogether novel to a young woman educated as his own
child had been.

So much has been written and said of French governesses,
that we shall not anticipate the subject, but leave this lady
to speak and act for herself in the course of the narrative.
Neither is it our intention to be very minute in these intro-


ductory remarks concerning any of our characters; but hav
ing thus traced their outlines, we shall return again to the
incidents as they occurred, trusting to make the reader bet
ter acquainted with all the parties as we proceed.


14 Lord Cram and Lord Vultur,
Sir Brandish O Cultur,
With Marshall Carouzer,
And old Lady Mouser."


THE assembling of the passengers of a packet-ship is at all
times a matter of interest to the parties concerned. During
the western passage in particular, which can never safely be
set down at less than a month, there is the prospect of being
shut up for the whole of that period, within the narrow com
pass of a ship, with those whom chance has brought togeth
er, influenced by all the accidents and caprices of personal
character, and a difference of nations, conditions in life, and
education. The quarter-deck, it is true, forms a sort of
local distinction, and the poor creatures in the steerage
seem the rejected of Providence for the time being; but all
who know life will readily comprehend that the pele-mele of
the cabins can seldom offer anything very enticing to people
of refinement and taste. Against this evil, however, there
is one particular source of relief; most persons feeling a
disposition to yield to the circumstances in which they are
placed, with the laudable and convenient desire to render
others comfortable, in order that they may be made comfort
able themselves.

A man of the world and a gentleman, Mr. Effingham had
looked forward to this passage with a good deal of concern,
on account of his daughter, while he shrank with the sensi
tiveness of his habits from the necessity of exposing one of



her delicacy and plastic simplicity to the intercourse of a
ship. Accompanied by Mademoiselle Viefville, watched
over by Nanny, and guarded by himself and his kinsman,
he had lost some of his apprehensions on the subject during
the three probationary days, and now took his stand in the
centre of his own party to observe the new arrivals, with
something of the security of a man who is intrenched in his
own doorway.

The place they occupied, at a window of the hurricane-
house, did not admit of a view of the water; but it was suffi
ciently evident from the preparations in the gangway next
the land, that boats were so near as to render that unneces

" Genus, cockney; species, bagman," muttered John Effing-
ham, as the first arrival touched the deck. " That worthy
has merely exchanged the basket of a coach for the deck of
a packet; we may now learn the price of buttons."

It did not require a naturalist to detect the species of the
stranger, in truth; though John Effingham had been a little
more minute in his description than was warranted by the

Online LibraryJames Fenimore CooperHomeward bound; or, The chase → online text (page 1 of 42)