James Fenimore Cooper.

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_Clark University_


118 N.W. 26TH STREET








On 1 February 1823 Charles Wiley published in New York _The Pioneers_, a
new book by the author of _The Spy_; by noon he had sold 3,500 copies - a
record-making sale by the bookselling standards of the time. On 26 June,
almost five months later, Wiley quietly offered, as we know from a
notice in The Patriot, a New York newspaper, "_Tales for Fifteen, or
Imagination and Heart_, an original work in one volume, by Jane Morgan,
price 75c." The actual author was the author of _The Spy_; and the two
stories, "Imagination" and "Heart," were obviously imitations of Mrs.
Amelia Opie's popular moral tales, published, as the paper cover noted,
when _The Spy_ was in its fourth edition, _The Pioneers_ in its third,
and _The Pilot_ in press. The sale was so small that only four copies
are known to be extant. Why, one may ask, did James Cooper, who was in
1823 a writer of national and international reputation, publish this
volume of imitative stories for adolescent girls, even though his
identity was carefully concealed?

According to Cooper's own account, _Tales for Fifteen_ was written and
given to Charles Wiley as a gesture of friendship to help the publisher
out of financial difficulties. This explanation was echoed by the
novelist's daughter Susan in a letter reprinted from the Cooperstown
_Freeman's Journal_ in _The Critic_ on 12 October 1889. It is true that
Wiley was having financial troubles in 1823, and Cooper undoubtedly gave
him the proceeds from _Tales for Fifteen_; but to suppose, as full
acceptance of this explanation requires, that Cooper reverted, even
momentarily, to the repudiated literary models of his first book
_Precaution_ after the phenomenal success of _The Spy_ would be to infer
in him an almost total want of critical judgment and common sense. The
real explanation, which Cooper might have been embarrassed to furnish
and which the chronology of publication has obscured, lies in a hitherto
unsuspected phase of the curious story of Cooper's entrance to

Cooper wrote Andrew Thompson Goodrich, his first publisher, on 31 May
1820, that _Precaution_ had been preceded by an experimental effort to
write a short moral tale. Mrs. Opie's _Simple Tales_ (1807) and _Tales
of Real Life_ (1813) would have been among the obvious models. Finding
the tale "swell to a rather unwieldy size," Cooper explained, "I
destroy'd the manuscript and changed it to a novel." _Precaution_, which
was completed on 12 June 1820, was probably written within a month; and
before the novel had begun its tortuous way through the press, Cooper
commenced the writing of _The Spy_. By 28 June he had completed "about
sixty pages," presumably manuscript pages; and as the writing proceeded
and his enthusiasm for the new work mounted, his expectations for the
success of _Precaution_ diminished. He wrote Goodrich on 12 July: "The
'Spy' goes on slowly and will not be finish'd until late in the fall - I
take more pains with it - as it is to be an American novel professedly."
In fact, The Spy was completed only a short time before its publication
in New York on 22 December 1821.

During the eighteen months between the inception and publication of _The
Spy_ Cooper saw _Precaution_ through the press, joined the New York
literary circle which frequented Charles Wiley's bookshop, transferred
his publishing business to Wiley, wrote three or four long book reviews
for his friend Charles K. Gardner's _Literary and Scientific
Repository_, finished _The Spy_, and commenced _The Pioneers_. While the
period was, thus, not devoid of literary activity, it was, as the 1831
Preface to _The Spy_ confessed, a period of acute uncertainty. Having
discovered his literary talent, Cooper had yet to discover how to use it
profitably, had indeed to be reassured of its true direction. He could
not afford to write at all unless he could make his new profession pay
handsomely. _Precaution_ had been a deliberate attempt to produce a
bestseller, and it succeeded only moderately. As the Preface to the
first edition of _The Spy_ indicates, Cooper experienced severe
self-doubts and self-questionings about this experiment. For an extended
period, most probably during the first six months of 1821, he abandoned
work on _The Spy_, which had been noticed as in press in the January
issue of the _Repository_, fearing that the book could not succeed. It
was almost certainly during this time that he conceived and partly
executed another literary project of which _Tales for Fifteen_ is the
abortive remains.

As Cooper's hopes for _The Spy_ faded, his confidence in the viability
of the type of imitative writing he had attempted in _Precaution_
appears to have revived. _Precaution_ was reviewed in a most laudatory
manner in the _Repository_ for January 1821, and the comment
accompanying the notice of publication in the _Repository_ was: "We only
regret that the scene of this novel was not laid in America." Whether
Cooper persuaded himself or allowed himself to be persuaded by Wiley,
Gardner, and other friends, he seems to have decided that his mistake in
_Precaution_ was not so much the choice of models as the choice of
setting. Why not employ an American setting and continue his imitation
of the British women? During 1820 Wiley, Goodrich, and William B. Gilley
had jointly published a collection of Mrs. Opie's stories called _Tales
of the Heart_; apparently they found it profitable. Accordingly, Cooper
planned a series of stories which Wiley noticed as in press in the
_Repository_ for May 1822 and which he described as "_American Tales_,
by a Lady, viz. Imagination - Heart - Matter - Manner - Matter and Manner. 2
vols. 18 mo. Wiley and Halsted, New York." A briefer announcement had
appeared earlier, in the October 1821 issue of the _Repository_,
although _The Spy_, which was certainly in press, was not noticed. In
his letter of 7 January 1822 congratulating Cooper on the great success
of _The Spy_, Wiley observed: "You speak of being engaged about 'the
Pioneer.' - Have you forgotten 'the American Tales,' which were commenced
by a certain lady a long time ago?"

What happened, evidently, was that Cooper's interest in _The Spy_ had
revived with such force that he had gone on to complete that book and to
begin _The Pioneers_. Wiley's problem was then to persuade his reluctant
author to complete a work in which he had lost interest but which was in
press. Wiley was not successful. The three final tales, "Manner,"
"Matter," and "Manner and Matter," were never written. Eventually the
publisher prevailed on Cooper to bring "Heart," the second of the
stories, to a hurried conclusion. The author, probably happy to settle
the matter, then wrote a coy Preface alluding mysteriously to
"unforeseen circumstances" which had prevented the completion of the
series, and gave the two stories to Wiley on the condition that their
authorship be concealed. Thus _The American Tales_ became _Tales for
Fifteen_. A more eloquent criticism by the author could hardly be

When Cooper permitted "Imagination" and "Heart" to be reprinted in 1841,
he was again conferring a favor on a publisher. Towards the close of
1840 George Roberts, publisher and proprietor of the _Boston Notion_,
subtitled without exaggeration "The Mammoth Sheet of the World," sent
Cooper a circular letter in the hand of a clerk to request a short
contribution suitable for his new publication, _Roberts' Semi-Monthly
Magazine_. Normally, Cooper refused all such requests: but he was under
the erroneous impression that Roberts had forwarded to him some Danish
translations of his works which Longfellow had sent to America for him a
few years before. Remembering these early stories, he replied to Roberts
on 2 January 1841: "Some fifteen or twenty years since my publisher
became embarrassed, and I wrote two short tales to aid him. He printed
them, under the title of _Tales for Fifteen_, by Jane Morgan. One of
these stories, rather a feeble one I fear, was called Heart - the other
Imagination. This tale was written one rainy day, half asleep and half
awake, but I retain rather a favorable impression of it. If you can find
a copy of the book, you might think Imagination worth reprinting, and I
suppose there can _now_ be no objection to it. It would have the
freshness of novelty, and would be American enough, Heaven knows. It
would fill three or four of your columns."

Cooper owned no copy of _Tales for Fifteen_; but the resourceful
publisher found a copy in New York, and "Imagination" filled almost the
whole of the front page (approximately 60 by 34-1/2 inches) of the
_Boston Notion_ on 30 January 1841. It was reprinted in what was
apparently a second edition of _Roberts' Semi-Monthly Magazine_ for 1
and 15 February 1841 and in London in William Hazlitt's _Romanticist and
Novelist's Library_. A subsequent request brought permission for the
reprinting of "Heart," which appeared in the _Boston Notion_ for 13 and
20 March 1841 and in _Roberts' Semi-Monthly Magazine_ for 1 and 15 April
1841. Roberts expressed his gratitude by defending Cooper in his paper
from the charge of aristocratic bias which some New York journalists had
brought against _Home As Found_. Doubtless the publisher would have been
pleased to find other American writers sufficiently democratic to
provide free copy.

_Tales for Fifteen_ owes most of its interest today to its crucial
position in the Cooper canon. The literary value of "Imagination" and
"Heart," as their author realized, is slight. They were essentially
experiments in which he sought to deploy indigenous materials within the
conventions of British domestic fiction. "Imagination," with its
sprightly observation of American middle-class vulgarities, betrays a
satiric awareness that Cooper did later develop; but "Heart" is a forced
sentimental indulgence of a sort he never permitted by preference in
later works, though he sometimes tolerated it as a concession to
feminine readers. For Cooper the chief significance of these stories was
that they demonstrated forcibly, if demonstration was necessary, that
neither the characteristic materials nor the characteristic forms
employed by the British women were congenial to his imagination. His
failure was altogether fortunate; for had _The American Tales_ been
completed and published instead of _The Spy_, Cooper's career and the
course of much of American literature might have been different.

First editions of _Tales for Fifteen_ are the rarest of all Cooper
"firsts." The four copies presently known are in the Cooper Collection
of the Yale University Library, the American Antiquarian Society, the J.
K. Lilly Collection of Indiana University, and the New York Society


_Clark University_





J. Seymour, printer

_Southern District of New-York._

Be it remembered, That on the thirteenth day of June, in the
forty-seventh year of the Independence of the United States of
America, Charles Wiley, of the said District, hath deposited in this
office the title of a Book, the right whereof he claims as
proprietor, in the words and figures following, to wit:

"Tales for Fifteen; or Imagination and Heart.
By Jane Morgan."

In conformity to the Act of Congress of the United States entitled,
"An Act for the encouragement of Learning, by securing the copies of
Maps, Charts, and Books, to the authors and proprietors of such
copies, during the times therein mentioned." And also to an Act,
entitled "an Act, supplementary to an Act, entitled an Act for the
encouragement of Learning, by securing the copies of Maps, Charts,
and Books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the
times therein mentioned, and extending the benefits thereof to the
arts of designing, engraving, and etching historical and other

_Clerk of the Southern District of New-York_


When the author of these little tales commenced them, it was her
intention to form a short series of such stories as, it was hoped, might
not be entirely without moral advantage; but unforeseen circumstances
have prevented their completion, and, unwilling to delay the publication
any longer, she commits them to the world in their present unfinished
state, without any flattering anticipations of their reception. They are
intended for the perusal of young women, at that tender age when the
feelings of their nature begin to act on them most insidiously, and when
their minds are least prepared by reason and experience to contend with
their passions.

"Heart" was intended for a much longer tale, and is unavoidably
incomplete; but it is unnecessary to point out defects that even the
juvenile reader will soon detect. The author only hopes that if they do
no good, her tales will, at least, do no harm.


I pray thee, gentle mortal, sing again:
Mine ear is much enamoured of thy note,
So is mine eye enthralled to thy shape;
And thy fair virtue's force perforce doth move me,
On the first view, to say, to swear, I love thee.


"Do - do write to me often, my dear Anna!" said the weeping Julia Warren,
on parting, for the first time since their acquaintance, with the young
lady whom she had honoured with the highest place in her affections.
"Think how dreadfully solitary and miserable I shall be here, without a
single companion, or a soul to converse with, now you are to be removed
two hundred miles into the wilderness."

"Oh! trust me, my love, I shall not forget you now or ever," replied her
friend, embracing the other slightly, and, perhaps, rather hastily for
so tender an adieu; at the same time glancing her eye on the figure of a
youth, who stood in silent contemplation of the scene. "And doubt not
but I shall soon tire you with my correspondence, especially as I more
than suspect it will be subjected to the criticisms of Mr. Charles
Weston." As she concluded, the young lady curtisied to the youth in a
manner that contradicted, by its flattery, the forced irony of her

"Never, my dear girl!" exclaimed Miss Warren with extreme fervour. "The
confidence of our friendship is sacred with me, and nothing, no,
nothing, could ever tempt me to violate such a trust. Charles is very
kind and very indulgent to all my whims, but he never could obtain such
an influence over me as to become the depositary of my secrets. Nothing
but a friend, like yourself, can do that, my dear Anna."

"Never! Miss Warren," said the youth with a lip that betrayed by its
tremulous motion the interest he took in her speech - "never includes a
long period of time. But," he added with a smile of good-humoured
pleasantry, "if admitted to such a distinction, I should not feel myself
competent to the task of commenting on so much innocence and purity, as
I know I should find in your correspondence."

"Yes," said Anna, with a little of the energy of her friend's manner,
"you may with truth say so, Mr. Weston. The imagination of my Julia is
as pure as - as - - " but turning her eyes from the countenance of Julia
to that of the youth, rather suddenly, the animated pleasure she saw
delineated in his expressive, though plain features, drove the remainder
of the speech from her recollection.

"As her heart!" cried Charles Weston with emphasis.

"As her heart, Sir," repeated the young lady coldly.

The last adieus were hastily exchanged, and Anna Miller was handed into
her father's gig by Charles Weston in profound silence. Miss Emmerson,
the maiden aunt of Julia, withdrew from the door, where she had been
conversing with Mr. Miller, and the travellers departed. Julia followed
the vehicle with her eyes until it was hid by the trees and shrubbery
that covered the lawn, and then withdrew to her room to give vent to a
sorrow that had sensibly touched her affectionate heart, and in no
trifling degree haunted her lively imagination.

As Miss Emmerson by no means held the good qualities of the guest, who
had just left them, in so high an estimation as did her niece, she
proceeded quietly and with great composure in the exercise of her daily
duties; not in the least suspecting the real distress that, from a
variety of causes, this sudden separation had caused to her ward.

The only sister of this good lady had died in giving birth to a female
infant, and the fever of 1805 had, within a very few years of the death
of the mother, deprived the youthful orphan of her remaining parent. Her
father was a merchant, just commencing the foundations of what would, in
time, have been a large estate; and as both Miss Emmerson and her sister
were possessed of genteel independencies, and the aunt had long declared
her intention of remaining single, the fortune of Julia, if not
brilliant, was thought rather large than otherwise. Miss Emmerson had
been educated immediately after the war of the revolution, and at a time
when the intellect of the women of this country by no means received
that attention it is thought necessary to bestow on the minds of the
future mothers of our families at the present hour; and when, indeed,
the country itself required too much of the care of her rulers and
patriots to admit of the consideration of lesser objects. With the best
of hearts and affections devoted to the welfare of her niece, Miss
Emmerson had early discovered her own incompetency to the labour of
fitting Julia for the world in which she was to live, and shrunk with
timid modesty from the arduous task of preparing herself, by application
and study, for this sacred duty. The fashions of the day were rapidly
running into the attainment of accomplishments among the young of her
own sex, and the piano forte was already sending forth its sonorous
harmony from one end of the Union to the other, while the glittering
usefulness of the tambour-frame was discarded for the pallet and brush.
The walls of our mansions were beginning to groan with the sickly green
of imaginary fields, that caricatured the beauties of nature; and skies
of sunny brightness, that mocked the golden hues of even an American
sun. The experience of Miss Emmerson went no further than the simple
evolutions of the country dance, or the deliberate and dignified
procession of the minuet. No wonder, therefore, that her faculties were
bewildered by the complex movements of the cotillion: and, in short, as
the good lady daily contemplated the improvements of the female youth
around her, she became each hour more convinced of her own inability to
control, or in any manner to superintend, the education of her orphan
niece. Julia was, consequently, entrusted to the government of a select
boarding-school; and, as even the morals of the day were, in some
degree, tinctured with the existing fashions, her mind as well as her
manners were absolutely submitted to the discretion of an hireling.
Notwithstanding this willing concession of power on the part of Miss
Emmerson, there was no deficiency in ability to judge between right and
wrong in her character; but the homely nature of her good sense,
unassisted by any confidence in her own powers, was unable to compete
with the dazzling display of accomplishments which met her in every
house where she visited; and if she sometimes thought that she could not
always discover much of the useful amid this excess of the agreeable,
she rather attributed the deficiency to her own ignorance than to any
error in the new system of instruction. From the age of six to that of
sixteen, Julia had no other communications with Miss Emmerson than those
endearments which neither could suppress, and a constant and assiduous
attention on the part of the aunt to the health and attire of her niece.

Miss Emmerson had a brother residing in the city of New-York, who was a
man of eminence at the bar, and who, having been educated fifty years
ago, was, from that circumstance, just so much superior to his
successors of his own sex by twenty years, as his sisters were the
losers from the same cause. The family of Mr. Emmerson was large, and,
besides several sons, he had two daughters, one of whom remained still
unmarried in the house of her father. Katherine Emmerson was but
eighteen months the senior of Julia Warren; but her father had adopted
a different course from that which was ordinarily pursued with girls of
her expectations. He had married a woman of sense, and now reaped the
richest blessing of such a connexion in her ability to superintend the
education of her daughter. A mother's care was employed to correct
errors that a mother's tenderness could only discover; and in the place
of general systems, and comprehensive theories, was substituted the
close and rigorous watchfulness which adapted the remedy to the disease;
which studied the disposition; and which knew the failings or merits of
the pupil, and could best tell when to reward, and how to punish. The
consequences were easily to be seen in the manners and character of
their daughter. Her accomplishments, even where a master had been
employed in their attainment, were naturally displayed, and suited to
her powers. Her manners, instead of the artificial movements of
prescribed rules, exhibited the chaste and delicate modesty of
refinement, mingled with good principles - such as were not worn in order
to be in character as a woman and a lady, but were deeply seated, and
formed part, not only of her habits, but, if we may use the expression,
of her nature also. Miss Emmerson had good sense enough to perceive the
value of such an acquaintance for her ward; but, unfortunately for her
wish to establish an intimacy between her nieces, Julia had already
formed a friendship at school, and did not conceive her heart was large
enough to admit two at the same time to its sanctuary. How much Julia
was mistaken the sequel of our tale will show.

So long as Anna Miller was the inmate of the school, Julia was satisfied
to remain also, but the father of Anna having determined to remove to an
estate in the interior of the country, his daughter was taken from
school; and while the arrangements were making for the reception of the
family on the banks of the Gennessee, Anna was permitted to taste, for a
short time, the pleasures of the world, at the residence of Miss
Emmerson on the banks of the Hudson.

Charles Weston was a distant relative of the good aunt, and was, like
Julia, an orphan, who was moderately endowed with the goods of fortune.
He was a student in the office of her uncle, and being a great favourite
with Miss Emmerson, spent many of his leisure hours, during the heats of
the summer, in the retirement of her country residence.

Whatever might be the composure of the maiden aunt, while Julia was
weeping in her chamber over the long separation that was now to exist
between herself and her friend, young Weston by no means displayed the
same philosophic indifference. He paced the hall of the building with
rapid steps, cast many a longing glance at the door of his cousin's
room, and then seated himself with an apparent intention to read the
volume he held in his hands; nor did he in any degree recover his
composure until Julia re-appeared on the landing of the stairs, moving
slowly towards their bottom, when, taking one long look at her lovely
face, which was glowing with youthful beauty, and if possible more

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Online LibraryJames Fenimore CooperTales for Fifteen, or, Imagination and Heart → online text (page 1 of 10)