James Fenimore Cooper.

The crater, or, Vulcan's peak : a tale of the Pacific online

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The Glenn Negley Collection
of Utopian Literature

■ ««

» ■






Digitized by the Internet Archive
in 2010 with funding from
Duke University Libraries









u Thus arise
Races of living things, glorious in strength,
And perish, as the quickening breath of God
Fills them, or is withdrawn.



<f. ©. C. farlcg.


dtambrllae: S&ibevsftie 13vess

Entered, according to the Act of Congress, in the year lS6t by


In the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Southern District of New Tork.




The reader of this book will very naturally be disposed
to ask the question, why the geographies, histories, and
other works of a similar character, have never male any
mention of the regions and events that compose its sub-
ject. The answer is obvious enough, and ought to satis-
fy every mind, however " inquiring." The fact is, that
the authors of the different works to which there is any
allusion, most probably never heard there were any such
places as the Reef, Rancocus Island, Vulcan's Peak, the
Crater, and the other islands of which so much is said in
our pages. In other words, they knew nothing about

We shall very freely admit that, under ordinary cir-
cumstances, it would be prima facie evidence against
the existence of any spot on the face of this earth, that
the geographies took no notice of it. It will be re-
membered, however, that the time was, and that only
three centuries and a half since, when the geographies


did not contain a syllable about the whole of the Ameri-
can continent ; that it is not a century since they began
to describe New Zealand, New Holland, Tahiti, Oahu,
and a vast number of other places, that are now con-
stantly alluded to, even in the daily journals. Very lit-
tle is said in the largest geographies, of Japan, for in-
stance ; and it may be questioned if they might not just
as well be altogether silent on the subject, as for any ac- .
curate information they do convey. In a word, much
as is now known of the globe, a great deal still remains
to be told, and we do not see why the "inquiring mind"
should not seek for information in our pages, as well as
in some that are ushered into public notice by a nourish
of literary trumpets, that are blown by presidents, vice-
presidents, and secretaries of various learned bodies.

One thing we shall ever maintain, and that in the
face of all who may be disposed to underrate the value of
our labors, which is this: there is not a word in these
volumes which we now lay before the reader, as grave
matter of fact, that is not entitled to the most implicit
credit. We scorn deception. Lest, however, some cavillers
may be found, we will present a few of those reasons
which occur to our mind, on the spur of the moment, as
tending to show that every thing related here might be
just as true as Cook's voyages themselves. In the first
place, this earth is large, and has sufficient surface to
contain, not only all the islands mentioned in our pages,
but a great many more. Something is established when


the possibility of any hypothetical point is placed beyond
dispute. Then, not one half as much was known of the
islands of the Pacific, at the close of the last, and at the
commencement of the present century, as is known to-
day. In such a dearth of precise information, it may
very well have happened that many things occurred
touching which we have not said even one word. Again,
it should never be forgotten that generations were born,
lived their time, died, and have been forgotten, among
those remote groups, about which no civilized man ever
has, or ever will hear any thing. If such be admitted to
be the facts, why may not all that is here related have
haj^pened, and equally escape the knowledge of the rest
of the civilized world ? During the wars of the French
Revolution, trifling events attracted but little of the gen-
eral attention, and we are not to think of interests of this
nature, in that day, as one would think of them now.

Whatever may be thought of the authenticity of its
incidents., we hope this book will be found not to be to-
tally without a moral. Truth is not absolutely necessary
to the illustration of a principle, the imaginary some-
times doing ' ; quite as effectually as the actual.

The reader may next wish to know why the wonderful
events related in these volumes have so long been hid-
den from the world. In answer to this we would ask if
any one can tell how many thousands of years the waters
have tumbled down the cliffs at Niagara, or why it was
that civilized men heard of the existence of this wonder-

ful cataract so lately as only three centuries since. The
fact is, there must be a beginning to every thing ; and
now there is a beginning to the world's knowing the his-
tory of Vulcan's Peak, and the Crater. Lest the reader,
however, should feel disposed to reproach the past age
with having been negligent in its collection of historical
and geological incidents, we would again remind him of
the magnitude of the events that so naturally occupied
its attention. It is scarcely possible, for instance, for one
who did not live forty years ago to have any notion how
completely the world was engaged in wondering at Na-
poleon and his marvellous career, which last contained
even more extraordinary features than any thing related
here ; though certainly of a very different character.
All wondering, for near a quarter of a century, was
monopolized by the French Revolution and its con-

There are a few explanations, however, which are of
a very humble nature compared with the principal
events of our history, but which may as well be given
here. The Woolston family still exists in Pennsylvania,
and that, by the way, is something toward corroborating
the truth of our narrative. Its most distinguished mem-
ber is recently dead, and his journal has been the author-
ity for most of the truths here related. He died at a
good old age, having seen his three-score years and ten,
leaving behind him, in addition to a very ample estate,
not only a good character — which means neither more

nor less than what " tlie "neighbors," amid their igno-
rance, envy, love of detraction, jealousy, and other similar
qualities, might think proper to say of him— but the odor
of a well-spent life, in which he struggled hard to live
more in favor with God, than in favor with man. It
was remarked in him, for the last forty years of his life,
or after his return to Bucks, that he regarded all popular
demonstrations with distaste, and, as some of his enemies
pretended, with contempt. Nevertheless, he strictly ac-
quitted himself of all his public duties, and never neglect-
ed to vote. It is believed that his hopes for the future,
meaning in a social and earthly sense, were not very
vivid, and he was often heard to repeat that warning
text of Scripture which tells us, " Let him that thinketh
he standeth, take heed lest he fall."

The faithful, and once lovely partner of this principal
personage of our history is also dead. It would seem
that it was not intended they should be long asunder. But
their time was come, and they might almost be said to
have departed in company. The same is true of Friends
Robert and Martha, who have also filled their time, and
gone hence, it is to be hoped, to a better world. Some
few of the younger persons of our drama still exist, but
it has been remarked of them, that they avoid convers-
ing of the events < >f their younger days. Youth is the sea-
son of hope, and hope disappointed has little to induce us
to dwell on its deceptive p'ietures.

If those who now live in this republic, can see any


grounds for a timely warning in the events here re-
corded, it may happen that the mercy of a divine Creator
may still preserve that which he has hitherto cherished
and protected.

It remains only to say that we have endeavored to
imitate the simplicity of Captain Woolston's journal,
in writing this book, and should any homeliness of style
be discovered, we trust it will be imputed to that cir-




"'Twas a commodity lay fretting by you;
'Twill bring you gain, or perish on the seas."

Taming or the Shrew.

There is nothing in which American liberty, not always as
much restrained as it might be, has manifested a more decided
tendency to run riot, than in the use of names. As for Chris-
tian names, the heathen mythology, the Bible, ancient history,
and all the classics, have long since been exhausted, and the
organ of invention nas been at work, with an exuberance of
imagination that is really wonderful for such a matter-of-fact
people. Whence all the strange sounds have been derived
which have thus been pressed into the service of this human
nomenclature, it would puzzle the most ingenious philologist to
say. The days of the Kates, and Dollys, and Pattys, and
Bettys, have passed away, and in their stead we hear of Low-
inys, and Orchistrys, Philenys, Alminys, Cytherys, Sarahlettvs,
Amindys, Marindys, etc., etc., etc. All these last appellations
terminate properly with an a, but this unfortunate vowel, when
a final letter, being popularly pronounced like y, we have adapt-
ed our spelling to the sound, which produces a complete bathos
to all these flights in taste.

The hero of this narrative was born fully sixty years since,
and happily before the rage for modern appellations, thc-ifb re

12 the cbater:

just escaped being named after another system which we cannot
say we altogether admire : that of using a family, for a Chris-
tian name. This business of names is a sort of science in itself,
and we do believe that it is less understood and less attended to
in this country than in almost all others. When a Spaniard
writes his name as Juan de Castro y* Muiios, we know that his
father belonged to the family of Castro, and his mother to that
of Munos. The French, and Italian, and Russian woman, etc.,
writes on her card, Madame this or that, bom so and so ; all
which tells the whole history of her individuality. Many French
women, in signing their names, prefix those of their own family
to those of their husbands, a sensible and simple usage that we
are glad to see is beginning to obtain among ourselves. The
records on tomb-stones, too, might be made much more clear
and useful than they now are, by stating distinctly who the
party was, on both sides of the house, or by father and mother;
and each married woman ought to be commemorated in some
such fashion as this: "Here lies Jane Smith, wife of John
Jones," etc., or, "Jane, daughter of Thomas Smith and wife of
John Jones." We believe that, in some countries, a woman's
name is not properly considered to be changed by marriage, but
she becomes a Mrs. only in connection with the name of her
husband. Thus, Jane Smith becomes Mrs. John Jones, but not
Mrs. Jane Jones. It is on this idea, we suppose, that our ances-
tors, the English — every Englishman, as a matter of course, be- '
ing every American's ancestor — thus it is, we suppose, therefore,
that our ancestors, who pay so much more attention to such
matters than we do ourselves, in their table of courtesy, call the
wife of Lord John Russell, Lady John, and not Lady — whatevei
her Christian name may happen to be. We suppose, moreover,
it is on this principle that Mrs. General This, Mrs. Doctor That,
and Mrs. Senator T'other, are as inaccurate as they are noto-
riously vulgar.

Mark Woolston came from a part of this great republic where

* Some few of our readers may require to be told that, in Spanish, y, pronounced aa
e, is the simple conjunction " and ;" thus this name is de Castro and Mufios.^


the names are still as simple, unpretending, and as good Saxon
English, as in the county of Kent itself. He was born in the
little town of Bristol, Bucks count)-, Pennsylvania. This is a
portion of the country that, Heaven be praised ! still retains
some of the good old-fashioned directness and simplicity. Bucks
is full of Jacks, and Bens, and Dicks, and we question if there
is such a creature, of native growth, in all that region, as an
Ithusy, or a Seneky, or a Dianthy, or an Ahtonizetty, or a
Deidamy.* The Woolstohs, in particular, were a plain family,
and very unpretending in their external appearance, but of solid
and highly respectable habits around the domestic hearth.
Knowing perfectly how to spell, they never dreamed any one
would suspect them of ignorance. They called themselves as
their forefathers were called, that is to say, Wooster, or just as
Worcester is pronounced ; though a Yaukee schoolmaster tried
for a whole summer to persuade our hero, when a child, that
he ought to be styled Wool-ston. This had no effect on Mark,
who went on talking of his uncles and aunts, " Josy Wooster,"
and "Tommy Wooster," and "Peggy Wooster," precisely as
if a New England academy did not exist on earth ; or as if
Webster had not actually put Johnson under his feet 1

The father of Mark Woolston (or Wooster) was a physician,
and, for the country and age, was a well-educated and skilful
man. Mark was born in 1777, just seventy years since, and
only ten days before the surrender of Burgoyne. A good deal
of attention was paid to his instruction, and fortunately for
himself, his servitude under the eastern pedagogue was of very
short duration, and Mark continued to speak the English lan-
guage as his fathers had spoken it before him. The difference
on the score of language, between Pennsylvania and New
Jersey and Maryland, always keeping in the counties that were
not settled by Germans or Irish, and the New England 8t

* Absurd and forced as these strange appellations may appear, they are all genuine.
The writer has collected a long list of such names from real life, which he may one day
publish — Orchistra. Philena, and Almina are among them. To all the names ending in
a, it must be remembered that the sound of a final y is given.

14 the crater:

and through them, New York, is really so obvious as to de-
serve a passing word. In the states first named, taverns, for
instance, are still called the Dun Cow, the Indian Queen, or the
Anchor ; whereas such a thing would be hard to find, at this
day, among the six millions of people who dwell in the latter.
We question if there be such a thing as a coffee-house in all
Philadelphia, though, we admit it with grief, the respectable
town of Brotherly Love has, in some respects, become infected
with the spirit of innovation. Thus it is that good old " State
House Yard'''' has been changed into " Independence Square."
This certainly is not as bad as the tour deforce of the alder
men of Manhattan when they altered " Bear Market" into
" Washington Market !" for it is not a prostitution of the name
of a great man, in the first place, and there is a direct historical
allusion in the new name that everybody can understand.
Still, it is to be regretted ; and we hope this will be the last
thing of the sort that will ever occur, though we confess our
confidence in Philadelphian stability and consistency is a good
deal lessened, since we have learned, by means of a late law-
suit, that there are fifty or sixty aldermen in the place ; a num-
ber of those worthies that is quite sufficient to upset the pro-
prieties, in Athens itself !

Doctor Woolston had a competitor in another physician, who
lived within a mile of him, and whose name was Yardley. Doc-
tor Yardley was a very respectable person, had about the same
degree of talents and knowledge as his neighbor and rival, but
was much the richest man of the two. Doctor Yardley, however,
had but one child, a daughter, whereas Doctor Woolston, with
much less of means, had sons and daughters. Mark was the
eldest of the family, and it was probably owing to this circum-
stance that he was so well educated, since the expense was not
yet to be shared with that of keeping his brothers and sisters at
schools of the same character.

In 1777 an American college was little better than a high
school. It could not be called, in strictness, a grammar school,
inasmuch as all the sciences were glanced at, if not studied ;

or, vulcan's peak. 15

but, as respects the classics, more than a grammar school it was
not, nor that of a very high order. It was a consequence of
the light nature of the studies, that mere boys graduated in
those institutions. Such was the ense with Mark Woolston,
who would have taken his degree as a Bachelor of Arts, at
Nassau Hall, Princeton, had not an event occurred, in his six-
teenth year, which produced an entire change in his plan of life,
and nipped his academical honors in the bud.

Although it is unusual for square-rigged vessels of any size to
ascend the Delaware higher than Philadelphia, the river is, in
truth, navigable for such craft almost to Trenton bridge. In
the year 1*793, when Mark Woolston was just sixteen, a full-
rigged ship actually came up, and lay at the end of the wharf
in Burlington— the little town nearly opposite to Bristol— where
she attracted a great deal of the attention of all the youths of
the vicinity. Mark was at home, in a vacation, and he passed
half his time in and about that ship, crossing the river in a skiff,
of which he was the owner, in order to do so. From that hour
young Mark affected the sea, and aW the tears of his mother and
eldest sister — the latter a pretty girl only two years his junior —
and the more sober advice of his father, could not induce him to
change his mind. A six weeks' vacation was passed in the dis-
cussion of this subject, when the doctor yielded to his son's im-
portunities, probably foreseeing he should have his hands
full to educate his other children, 'and not unwilling to put this
child, as early as possible, in the way of supporting himself.

The commerce of America, in 1793, was already flourishing,
and Philadelphia was then much the most important place in the
country. Its East India trade, in particular, was very large and
growing, and Doctor Woolston knew that fortunes were rapidly
made by many engaged in it. After turning the thing well
over in his mind, he determined to consult Mark's inclinations,
and to make a sailor of him. He had a cousin married to the
sister of an East India, or rather of a Canton ship-master, and
to this person the father applied for advice and assistance. I Jap-
tain Crutchely very willingly consented to receive Mark in his

16 .' the crater:

own vessel, the Kancocus, and promised " to make a man and
an officer of him."

The very day Mark first saw the ocean he was sixteen years
old. He had got his height, five feet eleven, and was strong
for his years, and active. In fact, it would not have been easy
to find a lad every way so well adapted to his new calling, as
young Mark Woolston. The three years of his college life, if
they had not made him a Newton, or a Bacon, had done him
no harm, filling his mind with the germs of ideas that were des-
tined afterward to become extremely useful to him. The
young man was already, indeed, a sort of factotum, being clever
and handy at so many things and in so many different ways, as
early to attract the attention of the officers. Long before the
vessel reached the Capes, he was at home in her, from her truck
to her keelson, and Captain Crutchely remarked to his chief
mate, the day they got to sea, that " young Mark Woolston
was likely to turn up a trump."

As for Mark himself, he did not lose sight of the land, for the
first time in his life, altogether without regrets. He had a good
deal of feeling in connection with his parents, and his brothers
and sisters ; but, as it is our aim to conceal nothing which
ought to be revealed, w r e must add there was still another who
filled his thoughts more than all the rest united. This person
was Bridget Yardley, the only child of his father's most formida-
ble professional competitor.

The two physicians were obliged to keep up a sickly in-
tercourse — not intending a pun. They were too often called
in to consult together, to maintain an open war. While the
heads of their respective families occasionally met, therefore, at
the bed-side of their patients, the families themselves had no
direct communications. It is true, that Mrs. Woolston and Mrs.
Yardley were occasionally to be seen seated at the same tea-
table, taking their hyson in company, for the recent trade with
China had expelled the bohea from most of the better parlors of
the country ; nevertheless, these good ladies could not get to
be cordial with each other. They themselves had a differenco


on religious points, that was almost as bitter as the differences
of opinions between their husbands on the subject of alteratives.
Id that distant day, homoeopathy, and allopathy, and hydrop-
athy, and all the opathies, were nearly unknown ; but men
could wrangle and abuse each other on medical points, just
as well, and as bitterly, then, as they do now. Religion, too,
quite a soften failed to bear its proper fruits, in 1793, as it proves
barren in these, our own times. On this subject of religion, we
have one word to say, and that is, simply, that it never was a
meet matter for self-gratulation and boasting. Here we have
the Americp- Anglican church, just as it has finished a blast of
trumpets, through the medium of numberless periodicals and a
thousand letters from its confiding, if not confident clergy, in
honor of its quiet, and harmony, and superior polity, suspended
on the very brink of the precipice of separation, if not of schism,
and all because it has pleased certain ultra-sublimated divines in
the other hemisphere, to write a parcel of tracts that nobody
understands, themselves included. How many even of the min-
isters of the altar fall, at the very moment they are beginning to
fancy themselves saints, anr 1 are ready to thank G-od they are
" not like the publicans !'

, Both Mrs. Woolston and Mrs. Yardley were what is called
" pious ;" that is, each said her prayers, each went to her par-
ticular church, and very particular churches they were ; each
fancied she had a sufficiency of saving faith, but neither was
charitable enough to think, in a very friendly temper, of the
other. This difference of religions opinion, added to the rival
reputations of their husbands, made these ladies any thing but
good neighbors, and, as has been intimated, years had passed
since either had entered the door of the other.

Very different was the feeling of the children. Anne Wool-
ston, the eldest sister of .Mark, and Bridget Yardley, were
nearly of an age, and they were not only school-mates, but fast
friends. To give their mothers their due, they did not lessen
this intimacy by hints, or intimations of any sort, but let the
girls obey their own tastes, as if satisfied it was quite sufficient

18 the crater:

for " professors of religion" to hate in their own persons, with-
out entailing the feeling on posterity. Anne and Bridget con-
sequently became warm friends ; the two sweet, pretty young
things both believing, In the simplicity of their hearts, that the
very circumstance which in truth caused the alienation, not to
say the hostility of the elder members of their respective fami-
lies, viz., professional identity, was an additional reason why
they should love each other so much the more. The girls
were about two and three years the juniors of Mark, but well
grown for their time of life, and frank and affectionate as inno-
cence and warm hearts could make them. Each was more
than pretty, though it was in styles so very different, as scarce-
ly to produce any of that other sort of rivalry, which is so apt
to occur even in the gentler sex. Anne had bloom, and fea
tures, and fine teeth, and, a charm that is so very common in
America, a good mouth ; but Bridget had all these added to
expression. Nothing could be more soft, gentle, and feminine,
than Bridget Yardley's countenance, in its ordinary state of
rest ; or more spirited, laughing, buoyant, or pitying than it be-

Online LibraryJames Fenimore CooperThe crater, or, Vulcan's peak : a tale of the Pacific → online text (page 1 of 42)