James Fenimore Cooper.

Correspondence of James Fenimore-Cooper online

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writer I have now done, and in the event of my death,
my own daughters, who, though educated with proper
notion of economy, have the habits of their class, would
require all that both I and their mother could leave them,
for a mere maintenance. Thank God, I am still young,
and in the full vigor of both mind and body, and I do
not see but some gentlemanly and suitable competence
may yet offer to take the place of that from which I am
driven by my own country. In the last event, I can return
to Europe, and continue to write, for in that quarter of
the world I am at least treated with common decency.
It is not improbable that such will be the denouement.

I beg you will communicate to Mrs. Cooper her
authority to draw as mentioned. It is probable, however,
that I shall hand her the money myself, in the course of
the summer. This affair should not be spoken of, for it
may prevent some of her other friends from aiding her,
and surely two hundred dollars is a miserable pittance


for such a famil}^ I would gladly double it, if in my

I pray you to spare the pastry and all other eatables.
Dick and I have much business together, and I have
promised to stay with him, but I now think I shall beg
a room of Mrs. S. Cooper, as it may be a good pretext
for giving her assistance. We must quit our present resi-
dence the 1st of May, the house being sold, and, should
the weather be good, we shall go up the Hudson, I think,
immediately. The young ladies vote for Lake George,
and Mrs. Cooper for the banks of the river, but we are
quite uncertain as to our movements for the summer. I
think it must be somewhere within the range of steam-
boats or railroad. Let the family go where it may, I shall
be in Cooperstown in the course of all May, until when
I kiss your fair hands.

Yours very affectionately

J. Fenimore Cooper

Mrs. Pomeroy was Anna Cooper, daughter of Judge William
Cooper and elder sister of James Fenimore Cooper. (Cooper's
other sister, Hannah, was killed in her twenty-second year by a
fall from a horse.) Anna married George Pomeroy of Coopers-
town, in which village she lived to a very advanced age.

Mrs. S. Cooper was the widow of one of Cooper's brothers.


Paris April 14th. 1834
My dear friend

I Have not Had the pleasure to Hear directly from
You since Your arrival at New York and am Afraid
You will charge me with Remissness altho' we Have


Been, my children and myself, constantly thinking and
talking of You and family.

You may Have Heard that, after a solemn and one
of the most numerously attended Burials, on account of
My colleague and friend dulong killed in a political duel
By Gen. Bugeaud, a circumstance which was accompanied
with the greatest testimonies of popular affection in my
Behalf, I Have Been for upwards of two months con-
fined to my Bed and Room; nor Have I Hope to Be
Restored to Health under two or three weeks altho' there
is no doubt of my total recovery. What I could do in the
House, as to the affair of the treaty, Has Been com-
pleatly performed By communications with certain mem-
bers called By me. By the declaration of which the in-
closed is a copy, and By that of my son at the [illegible],
nay, some central jealousies of my influence might Have
lost a few votes without gaining one more. I think, and on
previous consultation it Has been and is still thought I
did for the Best.

My vexation and disappointment, to say no more, you
will easily conceive. Many people Have Run away with
the parliamentary idea to operate a change in administra-
tion, part of whose members. By the way. Have Been
far from giving a proper support to duke de Broglie. But
upon the past, present, and future of this Unhappy affair,
upon which several members now repeal their vote, it
Behoves me to wrap myself in the cloak of my discontent
and grief.

I would Have writen to You sooner Had I not every
day expected to Recover your Hundred dollars, the pole
french committee who are penny less Have Not yet Re-
turned that Borrowed Sum, originally appropriated By
us to poor Chodzko who Has Been obliged to leave f ranee


and is now languishing in a corner of England, as is said
to me for I Have not directly Heard from Him.
[Illegible] Has assured me He was from week to week
expecting a sum of money from poland. the probability of
which appears to me, of late, to Be greater than it Had
Been formerly. But until You are actually Repaid I shall
not cease to attend your concern.

Another publication Relative to our taxation Contest
Has Been issued By my grand son in law. it Has ap-
peared in the Revue des deux Mondes and copies dis-
tributed, namely to the members of the House. No Reply
Has Been attempted; our adversaries seem at last to con-
fess themselves Beaten.

I am Happy You took up early this matter and shall
ever rejoice to find Americans assuming the existence of
a political civilization far superior to European institu-
tions and Civic Habits. Besides the dignity of National
character, I really think that the publication of conces-
sion on those constitutional points would Render a Bad
service to countries where they Happen to Be visitors, as
it is fit that what I call the American 'Era the American
school, should Be the polar star of nations pretending to
freedom. I Have Read the memoirs of a distinguished
statesman to whose memory I am Bound By the sense
of an early friendship and affectionate gratitude for the
great services He Has rendered in the most dangerous
times, to my wife and children. Yet I cannot deny that
His communications with the Royal family, representing
me as an ultra democrat and republican even for the
meridian of the United States, were among the numerous
causes which encouraged them in their opposition to my
advice and the tide of public opinion, for my part I
Have, in the course of my long life, ever experienced that


distance, instead of Relaxing does enliven and Brace my
sentiment of American pride.

French papers of several opinions will inform you that
the liberties and quiet of this country are in an unsettled
situation, the Anti Association Bill could not But Have
a Bad effect, there Has Been at Lyons a Battle Between
the Mechanics and the Regiments of the line which Has
lasted four days. The insurrection was it is said van-
quished; a Handful of discontented people, Have ap-
peared in arms last night and this morning at paris; they
Have Been over powered By an immense superiority of
force, not without much blood shed, altho' not equal By
far to the Lyonese collision, it appears that illiberal Bills,
and measures are now preparing at Court. I am not sure
the troubles at Lyons are so entirely settled as govern-
ment tells us.

Adieu, my dear Sir, Remember us all to Your family
and Believe

me for ever Your affectionate friend

J. Fenimore Cooper, Esq., New York


May 15, 1834
My dear Sir,

I take advantage of this opportunity to recall myself
to your memory. I have always availed myself to the ut-
most of every occasion of hearing of you, and was most
pleased to know that you had had a very prosperous
voyage. Often, in imagination, I visit your land of Free-
dom, and while this dream lasts I am happy, but the
awakening is very cruel — however, there are noble hearts


still, who are determined to carry on the struggle to their
last breath.

I am working hard, trying to tinish immediately the
pediment of the Pantheon. In a few days I wish to
exhibit my statue of a little girl, which is to be placed
over the grave of Botzaritz in Greece. It has been ac-
cepted by the government. I have added something which
I believe will strengthen the symbolism, it is the Phryg-
ian cap, thus she will be the child liberty, who exalts
the great name of a hero who has died to defend her.

We shall start on our trip to Germany, after my statue
of Comeille has been unveiled at Rouen (in July).

Our brave General Lafayette recovers slowly from his
last attack, which was brought on by the emotion which
overcame him at the funeral of Dulong. I doubt if it
would be possible to witness a more powerful expression
of public opinion — there were at least a hundred thou-
sand people in the cemetery, and all the acclamations, all
the expressions of enthusiasm were for our worthy gen-
eral. It is a great lesson, and should cause certain men to

I seize the welcome opportunity which Mr. Lovering
has obtained for me to remind you of your kind promise to
write to me occasionally. You are one of the men that it
would be cruel to be forgotten by.

I beg that you will give my kind remembrances to Mrs.
Cooper and the young ladies.

Your faithful and devoted



Canajoharie, Thursday Evening, June I2th [1834]
Dearest Sue,

On returning to the inn I made an arrangement to go


in the same car with Mrs. Perkins and her party to
Schenectady, and thence to this place in an extra, which
is a sort of posting. We were well served, no delays, not
longer, in France, than a hundred miles from Paris, and
got here, 56 miles from Albany, at six o'clock. This place
is redolent of youth. It is now sixteen years since I was
here. Roof's tavern, which I remember from childhood,
is still standing, altered to Murray's, and the road winds
round it to mount to Cherry Valley as in old times. But
the house is no longer solitary. There is a village of some
six or eight hundred souls, along the banks of the canal.
The bridges and boats and locks give the spot quite a
Venetian air. The bridges are pretty and high, and boats
are passing almost without ceasing. Twenty certainly
went by in the half hour I was on them this evening. I
have been up the ravine to the old Frey house. It looks
as it used to do in many respects, and in many it is
changed for the worse. The mills still stand before the
door, the house is, if anything, as comfortable and far
finer than formerly, but there is a distillery added, with
a hundred or two fat hogs as one would wish to see. I
enjoyed the walk exceedingly. It recalled my noble-
looking, warm-hearted father, with his deep laugh, sweet
voice and fine rich eye, as he used to lighten the way with
his anecdote and fun. Old Frey, with his little black
peepers, pipe, hearty laugh, broken English, and warm
welcome was in the background. I went to the very spot
where one of the old man's slaves amused Sam and myself
with the imitation of a turkey, some eight and thirty years
since ; an imitation that no artist has ever yet been able to
supplant in my memory. There was an old Dutchman on
the road, and I asked him about the Freys. The Colo-
nels—dead. The Major?— dead. Phil?— dead. Harry


the grandson'? — dead. Without children'? No, there was
young Phil, a youth of two and thirty, and young Harry,
the great grandchildren; but they were too modern for
me. And there was Squire Harry's widow! Frey Cox? —
living and poor. You are a relation probably? — No; only
a very old friend. Are you of these parts? No, I am from
Otsego — a Cooper from Cooperstown. The old Dutch-
man bowed, eyed me sharply, and muttered, "Ah — you
are a Cooper I" I thought he spoke respectfully as if he
remembered the time when the name had influence in this
region. I lifted my hat to him, and we parted.

The country looks well. The great abundance of wood
gives it a charm that no country possesses that we have
yet seen. The road is worse than The Pave on the whole,
though not much worse. I should think canal travelling,
in a boat that is not crowded, must be pleasant.

I leave here at eight in the morning for Cherry Valley.
How I am to get to Cooperstown I do not yet know, but
suppose there can be no difficulty. You shall hear the
result very soon.

The valley of the Mohawk is prettyish, but not much
more. Here and there the Yankees have got in and
wrought a change, but on the whole it is less changed
than I anticipated. The canal gives the villages a more
finished and European look than they formerly had. I
believe I asked a dozen boatmen this evening questions
touching their voyages, and in every instance I met with
civil, prompt, and intelligent answers. In one instance a
man misunderstood my question and answered wrong;
then, recollecting himself, he walked the length of his
boat to correct himself. Every hour I stay at home con-
vinces me more and more that society has had a summer-
set, and that the elite is at the bottom I


Adieu, my love. Tell Paul Tom Perkins behaved very
well. Kiss the girls and the boy, and believe me

as ever your

J. F. C.


Cooperstown, Sunday [June] 15th, [1834]

Dearest Sue,

On Friday morning I clambered up to Cherry Valley
by a road of which you have some knowledge, and at 5
o'clock I got into the Cooperstown stage. It was a little
after dark when we reached the top of the mountain, but
the descent was striking. Mrs. Pomeroy was standing in
her door, with her house lighted, and other signs of prepa-
ration. I was on the coach-box, but she did not recognize
me. I went to Olendorf's and ordered my dinner. Mr.
Pomeroy came for me, and I went and visited with them
all that evening. The next day I went to Mrs. Pomeroy's
and established myself. Richard's house is full of friends
of his wife, and I had no means of avoiding it. I believe
Mrs. Olendorf was bribed, for she appeared to wish to
get rid of me.

The village is greatly improved, and really is a very
pretty place. The lake looks larger, the mountains lower
than I had expected. The woods have been a good deal
lacerated, but want of forest is not yet a defect of the
scenery. The mansion house looks a good deal more
dilapidated than I expected, and Isaac's house better.
There are eight or ten good stone buildings in the village,
which will, in time, be entirely built of stone.

Averell is not here, and as yet, I have done nothing.
On Tuesday I go to Binghamton. Dick is in his house,
and his wife is a pretty, quiet little woman.


The faces of the people are mostly strangers to me,
though now and then I meet one that I know. The old
inhabitants seem glad to see me.

Write to me immediately^ and direct to Binghamton.
I dine with Phinney to-day, to-morrow here, and where
on Thursday, I know not.

The Misses Cooper are well-behaved girls, and rather
pretty. Mr. Comstock went off the night I arrived. He
seems a respectable young man. Mrs. Cooper is very much
broken, and is very much as she used to be, though less
pretentious. All the Clarkes are in town, and Mrs. Clarke
was at Mrs. Cooper's this morning when I called. I left
my cheque, as promised. She is greatly in want of assist-
ance. I am told that she lately received one of the most
condoling letters possible from her sister, with a present
of a little sugar and rice. They say The Morris is about
to have another heir. I have paid most of my visits and
been well received. I have delayed writing to the last
moment and must conclude. My best love to all the chil-
dren and to vour own dear self.

J. F-C.

The air is quite Swissish here and the country is very
beautiful in its verdure.

The trouble which Cooper had with certain of the residents
of Cooperstown arose from two causes, in both of which he was
right and had the sympathy of the better class of the residents.
They were as follows :

(1) Otsego Hall, the home of his father, Judge Cooper, stood
in the centre of considerable grounds which formed a part of the
central and most important village block, a very large one. The
house itself was built directly across the line of Fair Street, which
but for this fact would have been continued through the block.

On the death of Judge Cooper's widow in 1818 the Hall was


closed and sold, as none of the heirs cared to take it at the valua-
tion placed on it by the will of Judge Cooper. During the fifteen
years which elapsed before Cooper bought it back in 1833, the
people of the village had been in the habit of making a short cut
across the grounds and around the house from one part of Fair
Street to the other. Naturally Cooper stopped this when he came
to live in the Hall, and was bitterly attacked by the type of
resident, found in every community, that recognizes no private
right which puts it to inconvenience.

(2) The other dispute was even more unreasonable and was
inspired by the same type of resident. In his will Judge Cooper
left "Three Mile Point" on Otsego Lake to the youngest William
Cooper living in 1850. Fenimore Cooper was administrator with
the will annexed of his father ; on his return to Cooperstown after
some years abroad he found that this point had been used by the
residents of Cooperstown as a public picnic ground and that
certain of them claimed the legal right so to use it. He had no
choice in the matter, but was obliged to protect the title for the
devisee under the will, and did so: the Point going in 1850 to
a William Cooper, not a resident of the village.

The facts of these two disputes were grossly contorted and
seized upon by an unfriendly press for the purpose of attacking


Royal Hospital, Chelsea

8th July, 1834
My dear Sir

May I request the kind attentions of Mrs. Cooper and
you in behalf of my friend Miss Martineau, with whose
fame and works I have no doubt you are acquainted.
You will find her a most agreeable companion notwith-
standing her unfortunate deafness, and I can assure you
no one is more highly esteemed for her excellent qualities.
Her principal object in going to America is to study


schools, charities, the state of the poor, and in short every
thing connected with the political economy of your coun-
try ; should it be in your power to aid her in any way, I
shall be truly obliged to you.

After all your wanderings you must be delighted to
return to your home and to the society of your country-
men, yet I can easily imagine that a feeling of regret may,
at times, arise when you think of the many friends you
have left, and who so much regretted your departure —
and one is gone for ever, the greatest and the best. To all
who love whatever is noble, consistent, and good, the
death of General Lafayette must be a source of the deep-
est regret.

My girls offer their kind remembrances to your daugh-
ters, and Dr. Somerville unites with me in every good
wish to them, to Mrs. Cooper, and to yourself, and be
assured, my dear Sir, of the sincerity with which

I am yours

Mary Somerville
Fenimore Cooper, Esq.


Cooperstown, Nov. 3rd, 1834
Dear Uncle,

This day commences the election in time too witness
which, you will arrive in the city, not to witness, I hope
any of those disgraceful riots or ebulition of a mohbish
spirit in the heat of a contested election, which last Spring
disrobed American elections of their peaceful character,
With determined purpose to make their Democratic cause

I hope that the Jacksonians will beat the Wigs or
Whigs most unmercifully (as they say here). If however


any thing extra ordinary should happen I would be
obliged to you if you would be so good as to send me a
letter too apprize me of the fact. Troskolaski continues
his school and I think he improves in his studys. He still
continues too fret keeping up his "O dear, dear, I do not
know what I mak no money no cant do nothing. Damn."
I have taken 4 papers from the Post Office and read them.
All are well. No news from Green Bay. My love too

Samuel Cooper
J. Fenimore Cooper, Esq,, New York City


Cooperstown, 26 9'^^'' 1834
Sir I beg pardon for having troubled you with my
letter, I dorit know what I shall do or what I shall make.
Will you Sir please find me place I want cloak store
Mr. Richerdson not like school any more and I dont
know what I shall do here, Mr. Lee will not take me in
his stores he thinks I had better make tailor or Hatter,
Polish man not tailor or Hatter I will study what make
me destinguisted when I go back to Poland, will you
please find me place in Store, I for that cannot express
my gratitude, you have bein very good to me — for that
I am very thankful.

Yours Respectfully, in humbly

Joseph Troskolaski.
J. Fenimore Cooper Esquire, New York


New York; January, 1835.
D. Sir

May I request your attention to my little Book —


studiously made little to do much good by general adop-
tion. It is the result of 17 years' occasional study to
accomplish a complete and effective analysis.

If you can find it as I have intended it your approba-
tion will not only be very gratifying to me, but advan-
tageous to Education and the improvement of public

I trust you will not forget your promise to call at
my Painting Room No. 60 Liberty St. My copy of
Raphael's beautiful Madonna will at least revive some
pleasant recollections of Florence.

With great respect,

I remain Yours
Rembrandt Peale

This letter follows a Circular advertising Peales Graphics, a
Manual of Drawing and Writing for the use of Schools and


London, 17th Feby., 1835
Dear Sir,

Though my personal acquaintance with you is too
slight to authorize my asking a favor for myself, I feel
that I may venture on asking one for a person who may
be thought to have some claim to your notice. The young
Princess Victoria is desirous of adding to her collection
of Autographs those of some of our distinguished Coun-
trymen, and has named you as one of those whose hand-
writing she is anxious to possess. I have promised my
agency in endeavoring to procure one, and trust that for
the sake of my interesting client you will be disposed to


pardon the liberty I take of making her wish known to

I am, dear Sir, with great respect,
Your Obedt Svt

A. Vail.


London, 22nd May 1835
My dear Sir,

I had the honor of receiving yesterday your very kind

letter of the i.2th of last month, with a sheet of your MS.

of The Bravo, as an Autograph from you for the Princess

Victoria. There can be no doubt that if anything could

add to the value of the gift, it will be the choice you have

made of a paper so well calculated to enhance it in her

eyes. It will initiate her, as you say, in the mysteries of

authorship, and very agreeably carry her mind back to the

pages of a book of which she and her mother have spoken

in language which show that the labors of its author are

no stranger to them. I will take an early opportunity of

delivering it ; and know that I can beforehand assure you

of the gratification it will afford my interesting client, as

I do of my very great esteem and respect.

A. Vail.

J. Fenimore Cooper, Esq., New York


London, 4 July, 1835

As an admirer, of such, of your talented, and highly

interesting works, as I have perused, I assume the liberty,

to address you; tho' not, from the mere, idle vanity, of

writing to one, deservedly, preeminent in the world's

temple of literature.


My object is, to propose one, other subject, for your
fertile, instructive, and amusing pen.

In my younger days, I was honored, by the intimacy
of the first Marquis Townshend, a daily visitor, at my
father's, attended by Mr. now, Sir, Frederic B, Watson,
who has, long occupied a similar station, about the per-
sons, of our late, and present kings, George IV, and
William IV.

Notwithstanding, the Marquis was old enough to be my
grand-father, my peculiar zest for his trans-atl antic nar-
ratives, delighted him so much that he gratified me, from
time to time, by his entire, eventful history; one of, not
the least impressive anecdotes of which, was that, of
"Red-cap" — and, which, I subjoin, as nearly as possible
in his lordship's own words.

I cannot remember the name of the fortifications, of
which General Townshend was going the rounds, in per-
son, when he was, on a sudden violently seized, by one of
his own centinels, who exclaimed, "down," at the same
time, forcing him to bend. The general, at first, thought
him-self betrayed : but, in another moment, was relieved,
by the words. Red Cap, — there is Red Cap I

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Online LibraryJames Fenimore CooperCorrespondence of James Fenimore-Cooper → online text (page 23 of 27)