James Fenimore Cooper.

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serve the condensed feeling of the company for
the celebrated English writer and wit, who was
known to bring up the rear. This was not a
common house, in which dollars had place and
belles rioted, but the Temple of Genius, and

VOL. i.


every one felt a veneration for the abilities of
the established foreign writer, that was in ex
act proportion to their indifference to the seven
teen thousand a year of John Effingham, and
to the nearly equal amount of Eve's expectations.
The personal appearance of the honest tar
was well adapted to the character he was thus
called so unexpectedly to support. His hair had
long been getting grey, but the intense anxiety
resulting from the chase, the wreck, and his
other recent adventures, had gradually but
rapidly increased this mark of time ; and his
head was now nearly as white as snow. The
hale, fresh, red of his features, which was in truth
the result of exposure, might very well pass
for the tint of port ; and his tread, which had
always a little of the quarter deck swing about
it, might quite easily be mistaken by a tyro for
the human frame staggering under a load of
learning. Unfortunately for those who dislike
mystifications, the captain had consulted John
Effingham upon the subject of the toilette, and
that kind and indulgent friend had suggested
the propriety of appearing in black smallclothes


for the occasion a costume that he often wore
himself of an evening. Reality, in this instance
then, did not disappoint expectation, and the
burst of applause with which the captain was
received was accompanied by a general mur
mur in commendation of the admirable manner
in which he " looked the character."

" What a Byronic head !" whispered the
author of " The Transformed "to D. O. V. E.;
" and was there ever such a curl of the lip, be
fore, in mortal man !"

The truth is, the captain had thrust his to
bacco into " an aside," as a monkey is known
to empocher a spare nut, or a lump of sugar.

" Do you think him Byronic ? To my eye,
the cast of his head is Shakspearian rather,
though I confess there is a little of Milton
about the forehead !"

" Pray," said Miss Annual to Lucius Junius
Brutus, " which is thought to be the best of
his works; that on a a a , or that on
e e e ?"

Now, so it happened, that not a soul in the
room, but the lion himself, had any idea what



books he had written, and he only knew of
some fifteen or twenty log-books. All that was
generally understood was the fact that he was a
great English writer, and this was more than

" I believe the world generally prefers the
a a a," said Lucius Junius Brutus, " but
the few give a decided preference to the e
e e."

<c Oh ! out of all question preferable !" ex
claimed half a dozen within hearing.

" With what a classical modesty he pays his
compliments to Mrs. Legend," observed S. R. P.
" One can always tell a man of real genius by
his tenue"

" He is so English !" cried Florio. " Ah !
they are the only people after all !"

This Florio was one of those geniuses who
sigh most for the things they least possess.

By this time Captain Truck had got through
the task of listening to the compliments of Mrs.
Legend, when he was seized upon by a circle of
rabid literati who badgered him with questions
concerning his opinions, notions, inferences, ex-


periences, associations, sensations, sentiments,
and intentions, in a way that soon threw the old
man into a profuse perspiration. Fifty times did
he wish, from the bottom of his soul that soul
which the crowd around him fancied dwelt so
high in the clouds that he was seated quietly
by the side of Mrs. Hawker, who, he mentally
swore, was worth all the literati in Christendom.
But fate had decreed otherwise, and we shall
leave him to his fortune for a time, and return
to our heroine and her party,

As soon as Mrs. Legend had got through
her introductory compliments to the cap
tain, she sought Eve and Grace, with a con
sciousness that a few civilities were now their

" I fear, Miss Effingham, after the elaborate
soirees of the literary circles in Paris, you will
find our reunions of the same sort a little dull ;
and yet I flatter myself with having assembled
most of the talent of New York on this memo
rable occasion, to do honour to your friend.
Are you acquainted with many of the com
pany ?"


Now, Eve had never before this night seen,
or even heard of, a single being in the room,
with the exception of Mr. Dodge and her own
party, although most of them had been so labo
riously employed in puffing each other into
celebrity for many weary years ; and, as for
elaborate soirees, she thought she had never
seen any half so elaborate as this of Mrs. Le
gend. As, however, it would not very well do
to express all this in words, she civilly desired
the lady to point out to her some of the most
distinguished of the company, in order that she
might know their persons at least.

" With the greatest pleasure, Miss Effingham,"
said Mrs. Legend, who took pride in dwelling
on the merits of her guests. " This heavy,
grand-looking personage, in whose air one sees
at a glance intellectual refinement and unequal
led modesty, is Captain Kant, the editor of one
of our most decidedly pious newspapers. His
mind is remarkable for its intuitive perception
of all that is delicate, reserved, and finished in
the intellectual world, while, in opposition to
this quality, which is almost feminine, his cha-


racter is just as remarkable for its unflinching
love of truth. He was never known to publish
a falsehood, and of his foreign correspondence,
in particular, he is so exceedingly careful, that
he assures me he has every word of it written
under his own eye."

" On the subject of his religious scruples,"
added John Effingham, " he is so fastidiously
exact, that I hear he * says grace' over every
thing that goes from his press, and ' returns
thanks' for everything that comes to it/'

" You know him, Mr. Effingham, by this
remark. Is he not, truly, a man of a voca
tion ?"

" That, indeed, he is, ma'am. He may be
succinctly said to have a newspaper mind, as
he reduces everything in nature or art to news,
and commonly imparts to it so much of his
own peculiar character that it loses all identity
with the subjects to which it originally belong
ed. One scarcely knows which to admire most
in this man, the atmospheric transparency of
his motives, (for he is so disinterested as seldom
even to think of paying for a dinner when tra-


veiling, and yet so conscientious as always to
say something obliging of the tavern as soon
as he gets home,) his rigid regard to facts, or
the exquisite refinement and delicacy that he
imparts to everything he touches. Over all
this, too, he throws a beautiful halo of mora
lity and religion, never even prevaricating in
the hottest discussion, unless with the unction
of a saint."

te Do you happen to know Florio ?" asked
Mrs. Legend, a little distrusting John Effing-
ham's account of Captain Kant.

" If I do, it must indeed be by accident.
What are his chief characteristics, ma'am ?"

" Sentiment, pathos, delicacy, and all in
rhyme too. You no doubt have heard of his
triumph over Lord Byron, Miss Effingham ?"
Eve was obliged to confess that it was new
to her.

" Why, Byron wrote an ode to Greece, com
mencing with ' The isles of Greece ! The isles
of Greece !' a very feeble line, as any one will
see, for it contained a useless and an unmean
ing repetition."


" And you might add vulgar, too, Mrs. Le
gend," said John Effingham, " since it made a
palpable allusion to all those vulgar incidents
that associate themselves in the mind with
these said common-place isles. The arts, philo
sophy, poetry, eloquence, and even old Homer
is brought unpleasantly to one's recollection by
such an indiscreet invocation."

" So Florio thought, and, by way of letting
the world perceive the essential difference be
tween the base and the pure coin, he wrote an
ode on England which commenced as such an
ode should"

" Do you happen to recollect any of it,
ma'am ?"

" Only the first line, which I greatly regret,
as the rhyme is Florio's chief merit. But this
line is, of itself, sufficient to immortalize a

" Do not keep us in torment, dear Mrs. Le
gend, but let us have the line for heaven's sake."

" It began in this sublime strain, sir * Be
yond the wave ! Beyond the wave T Now, Miss
Effingham, that is what I call poetry !"



"And well you may, ma'am," returned the
gentleman, who perceived Eve could scarcely
refrain from breaking out in a very unsentimen
tal manner " so much pathos !"

" And so sententious and flowing !"

" Condensing a journey of three thousand
miles, as it might be, into three words and a
note of admiration. I trust it was printed with
a note of admiration, Mrs. Legend ?"

" Yes, sir, with two one behind each wave
and such waves, Mr. Effingham !"

" Indeed, ma'am, you may say so. One
really gets a grand idea of them, England
lying beyond each.""

" So much expressed in so few syllables !"

" I think I see every shoal, current, ripple,
rock, island, and whale, between Sandy Hook
and the Land's End."

" He hints at an epic."

'' Pray Heaven, he may execute one. Let him
make haste too, or he may get behind the age !
behind the age !"

Here the lady was called away to receive a


" Cousin Jack !"

" Eve Effingham !"

" Do you not sometimes fear offending ?"

" Not a woman who begins by expressing
her admiration of such a sublime thing as this.
You are safe with such a person anywhere,
short of a tweak of the nose."

" Mais tout ceci est Men drole /"

" You never were more mistaken in your
life, Mademoiselle ; everybody here, but your
self, looks upon it as a matter of life and

The new guest was Mr. Pindar, one of those
careless, unsentimental fellows that occasion-
nally throw off an ode that passes through
Christendom, as dollars are known to pass from
China to Norway, and yet who never fancied
spectacles necessary to his appearance, solem
nity to his face, nor soirees to his renown.
After quitting Mrs. Legend, he approached
Eve, to whom he was slightly known, and sa
luted her.

" This is the region of taste, Miss Effing-
ham," he said, with a shrug of the jaw, if such


a member can shrug. " And I do not wonder
at finding you here."

He then chatted pleasantly for a moment
with the party, and passed on, giving an ominous
gape as he drew near to the oi polloi of litera
ture. A moment after appeared Mr. Gray, a
man who needed nothing but taste in the public,
and the encouragement that would follow such
a taste, to stand at, or certainly near, the head
of the poets of our own time. He, too, looked
fearfully at the galaxy, and took refuge in a
corner. Mr. Pith followed ; he was a man whose
caustic wit needs only a sphere for its exercise,
manners to portray, and a society with strong
points about it to illustrate, in order to enrol
his name high in the catalogue of satirists.
Another ring announced Mr. Fun, a writer of
exquisite humour and of finished periods, but
who, having perpetrated a little too much sen
timent in his time, was instantly seized upon
by all the ultra ladies in that way in the room.

These persons came late, like those who
had already been too often dosed in the same
way to be impatient of repetitions. The


three soon got together in a corner, and Eve
fancied they were laughing at the rest of the
company, whereas, in fact, they were merely
laughing at a bad joke of their own ; their
quick perception of the ludicrous having point
ed out a hundred odd combinations and absur
dities that would have escaped duller minds.

" Who, in the name of the twelve Caesars,
has Mrs. Legend got to lionize yonder, with
the white summit and the dark base ?" asked
the odeist.

" Some English pamphleteer, by what I can
learn," answered he of satire " some fellow
that has achieved a pert review, or written a
Minerva Pressism, and who now flourishes
among us like a green bay tree. A modern
Horace, or a Juvenal, on his travels."

" Fun is well badgered," observed Mr. Gray
" Do you not see Miss Annual, Miss Mouth-
ly, and that young alphabet D. O. V. E. have
got him within the circle of their petticoats,
where he will be martyred on a sigh ?"

" He casts very longing looks this way ; he
wishes you to go to his rescue. Pith."


" I ! let him take his fill of sentiment. I
am no homopathist in such matters. Large
doses in quick succession will soonest work a
cure. Here comes the lion, and he breaks loose
from his cage like a beast that has been poked
up with sticks."

4fc Good evening, gentlemen," said Captain
Truck, wiping his face intensely, and who,
having made his escape from a throng of ad
mirers, took refuge in the first port that offered.
" You seem to be enjoying yourselves here in
a rational and agreeable way. Quite cool and
refreshing, in this corner, as I hope to be

" And yet we have no doubt that both our
reason and our enjoyment will receive a large
increase from the addition of your society, sir,"
returned Mr. Pith. " Do us the favour to take
a seat, I beg of you, and to rest yourself."

" With all my heart, gentlemen ; for, to own
the truth, these ladies make warm work about
a stranger. I have just got out of what I call
a category."

u You appear to have escaped with life, sir,"


observed Pindar, taking a cool survey of the
other's person 44 which is more than happens
to every lion that is caged."

" Yes, thank God, I have done that ; and it
is pretty much all I have done," answered the
captain, wiping his face. " I served in the
French war Trux ton's war as we call it
and I had a touch with the English in the pri
vateer trade between twelve and fifteen, and
here quite lately I was in an encounter with
the savage Arabs down on the coast of Africa,
and I account them all as so much snow-ball
ing compared with the yard-arm-and-yard-arm
work of this very night. I wonder if it is per
mitted to try a segar at these conversationonys,
gentlemen ?"

" I believe it is, sir," returned Pindar, coolly;
" shall I help you to a light ?"

" Oh, Mr. Truck !" cried Mrs. Legend, fol
lowing the chafed animal to his corner, as one
would pursue any other runaway, " instinct
has brought you into this good company.
You are now in the very focus of American


" Having just escaped from the focus of
American talons," whispered Pith.

" I must be permitted to introduce you my
self. Mr. Truck, Mr. Pindar Mr. Pith, Mr.
Gray gentlemen, you must be so happy as to
be acquainted, being, as it were, engaged in the
same pursuit !"

The captain rose and shook each of the gen
tlemen cordially by the hand, for he had, at
least, the consolation of a great many introduc
tions that night. Mrs. Legend disappeared to
say something clever to some other prodigy.

" Happy to meet you, gentlemen," said the
captain. " In what trade do you sail ?"

" By whatever name we may call it," an
swered Mr. Pindar " we can scarcely be said
to go before the wincl."

" Not in the Ingee business, then ; or the
moonsoons would keep the stun'-sails set, at

" No, sir but yonder is Mr. Moccasin, who
has lately set up, secundem artem, in the Indian
business, having already written two novels in
that way, and begun a third."


" Are you all regularly employed, gentle
men ?"

" As regularly as inspiration permits," said
Mr. Pith. " Men of our occupation must
make fair weather of it, or we had better be
doing nothing."

" So I often tell my owneis, but go ahead
is the order of the day. When I was a
youngster, a ship remained in port for a fair
wind, but now she goes to work and makes
one. The world seems to get young as I get

" This is a rum litterateur, Gray," whispered

" It is an obvious mystification," was the
answer : " poor Mrs. Legend has picked up
some straggling porpoise, and converted him,
by a touch of her magical wand, into a Boa
nerges of literature. The thing is as clear as
day, for the worthy fellow smells of tar and
segar-smoke. I perceive that Mr. Effingham is
laughing out of the corner of his eyes ; so I will
step across the room, and get at the truth in a


The odeist was as good as his word, and was
soon back again, when he contrived to let his
friends understand the real state of the case. A
knowledge of the captain's true character en
couraged this trio in the benevolent wish of
aiding the old seaman in his desire to smoke,
and Mr. Pith managed to give him a lighted
paper without becoming an open accessary to
the plot.

" Will you take a segar yourself, sir ?" said
the captain, offering his box to Mr. Pindar.

" I thank you, Mr. Truck ; I never smoke,
but am a profound admirer of the flavour. Let
me entreat you to begin as soon as possible."

Thus encouraged, Captain Truck drew two
or three whiffs, when the rooms were immedi
ately filled with the fragrance of a real Havanna.
At the first discovery, the whole literary pack
went off on the scent. As for Mr. Fun, he
managed to profit by the agitation that follow
ed, in order to escape to the three wags in the
corner, who were enjoying the scene with the
gravity of so many dervishes.

" As I live," cried Lucius Junius Brutus,


" there is the author of a a a actually
smoking a segar ! How excessively piquant /"

" Do my eyes deceive me, or is not that the
writer of e e e fumigating us all?"
whispered Miss Annual.

" Nay, this cannot certainly be right," $aid
Florio, with a dogmatical sentiment in his
manner. " All the periodicals agree that
smoking is ungenteel in old England."

" You never were more mistaken, dear
Florio," replied D. O. V. E. in a cooing tone ;
" the very last novel of society has a chapter
in which the hero and heroine smoke in the
declaration scene."

" Do they, indeed ! That alters the case.
Really one would not wish to get behind so
great a nation, nor yet go much before it.
Pray, Captain Kant, what do your friends in
Canada say ; is, or is not smoking permitted in
good society there ? The Canadians must, at
least, be ahead of MS."

" Not at all, sir," said the editor in his softest
tones ; " it is revolutionary and Jacobinical."

But the ladies prevailed, and, by a process


rather peculiar to what may be called a " cre
dulous" state of society, they carried the day.
This process was simply to make one fiction
authority for another. The fact that smoking
was carried so far in England, that the clergy
actually used segars in the pulpit, was affirmed
on the authority of Mr. Truck himself, and,
coupled with his present occupation, the point
was deemed to be settled. Even Florio yield
ed, and his plastic mind soon saw a thousand
beauties in the usage that had hitherto escaped
it. All the literati drew round the captain in
a circle, to enjoy the spectacle, though the ho
nest old mariner contrived to throw out such
volumes of vapour as to keep them at a safe
distance. His four demure-looking neighbours
got behind the barrier of smoke, where they
deemed themselves entrenched against the as
saults of petticoats for a time at least.

" Pray, Mr. Truck," inquired S. R. P. " is
it commonly thought in the English literary
circles, that Byron was a developement of
Shakspeare, or Shakspeare a shadowing forth
of Byron ?"


" Both, marm," said the captain, with a
coolness that would have done credit to Aristo-
bulus, for he had been fairly badgered into im
pudence; and, profiting by the occasion to knock
the ashes off his segar, he added " all incline
to the first opinion, and some to the last.""

" What finesse !" murmured one. " How
delicate !" whispered a second. " A dignified
reserve !" ejaculated a third. " So English !"
exclaimed Florio.

" Do you think, Mr. Truck," asked D. O. V. E.,
" that the profane songs of Little have more
pathos than the sacred songs of Moore, or that
the sacred songs of Moore have more sentiment
than the profane songs of Little ?"

" A little of both, marm, and something to
spare. I think there is little in one, and more
in the other."

" Pray, sir," said S. R. P. " do you pro
nounce the name of Byron's lady-love Guy -
kee - oh - ly, or Gwy - ky - o - lee ?""

(t That depends upon how the wind is. If,
on shore, I commonly say " oh ! lee !" and if
off shore, oh ly."


" That's capital !" cried Florio, in an ecstasy
of admiration. " What man in this country
could have said so crack a thing as that ?"

" Indeed it is very witty," added Miss
Mouthly, " what does it mean ?"

t( Mean ! more than is seen or felt by com
mon minds. Ah ! the English are, truly, a
great nation ! How delightfully he smokes !"

" I think he is much the most interesting
man we have had out here," observed Miss
Annual, " since the last bust of Scott !"

" Ask him, dear D. O. V. E.," whispered
Julietta, who was timid from the circumstance
of never having published, " which he thinks
the most ecstatic feeling, hope or despair ?"

The question was put by the more experien
ced lady, according to request, though she first
said in a hurried tone, to her youthful sister,
" You can have felt but little, child, or you
would know that it is despair, as a matter of

The honest captain, however, did not treat
the matter so lightly, for he improved the op
portunity to light a fresh segar, throwing the


still smoking stump into Mrs. Legend's grate,
through a lane of literati, as he afterwards
boasted, as coolly as he could have thrown it
overboard under other circumstances. Luckily
for his reputation for sentiment he mistook
" ecstatic, 1 ' a word he had never heard be
fore, for " erratic," and recollecting sundry
roving maniacs that he had seen, he answered

" Despair, out and out."

" I knew it," said one,

" It's in nature," added a second.

" All can feel its truth," rejoined a third.

" This point may now be set down as estab
lished," cried Florio, u and I hope no more will
be said about it."

" This is encouragement to the searchers
after truth," remarked Captain Kant.

" Pray, Hon. and Rev. Mr. Truck, 1 ' asked
Lucius Junius Brutus, at the joint suggestion
of Junius Brutus and Brutus, " does the
Princess Victoria smoke ?"

" If she did not, sir, what would be the use
in being a princess ? I suppose you know that


all the tobacco seized in England, after a de
duction to informers, goes to the crown."

" I object to this usage," remarked Captain
Kant, " as irreligious, French, and tending to
sans culotteism. I am willing to admit this
distinguished instance as an exception, but on
all other grounds I shall maintain that it sa
vours of infidelity to smoke. The Prussian
government, much the best of our times, never

" This man thinks he has a monopoly of the
puffing himself," whispered Pindar into the
captains ear ; " but whiff away, my dear sir,
and you will soon throw him into the shade."

The captain winked, drew out his box, light
ed another segar, and by way of reply to the
envious remark, he put one in each corner of his
mouth, and soon had both in full blast, a state
in which he kept them for nearly a minute.

" This is the very picturesque of social en
joyment !" exclaimed Florio, holding up both
hands in a glow of rapture. " It is absolutely
Homeric in the way of usages ! Ah, the Eng
lish are a very great nation !"


" I should like to know excessively if there
was really such a person as Baron Muu-chaw
- sun ?" said Julietta, gathering courage from
the success of her last question.

" There was, miss," returned the captain
through his teeth, and nodding his head in the
affirmative. " A regular traveller, that ; and
one who knew him well, swore to me that he
hadn't related one half of what befel him. 1 '

" How very delightful to learn this from the
highest quarter !" exclaimed Miss Mouthly.

" Is Gatty (Goethe) really dead ?" inquired
Longinus; " or is the account we have had to
that effect merely a metaphysical apotheosis of
his mighty soul ?"

" Dead, marm stone dead dead as a door
nail," returned the captain, who saw a present

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Online LibraryJames Fenimore CooperEve Effingham : or, Home → online text (page 8 of 13)