James Fenimore Cooper.

Pages and pictures, from the writings of James Fenimore Cooper online

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Online LibraryJames Fenimore CooperPages and pictures, from the writings of James Fenimore Cooper → online text (page 1 of 43)
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Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year one thousand eight hundred and sixty-one. by

in the District Court of the United States, for the Southern District of New York.














The earlier works of every national literature must always possess
an interest jiecnllar to tliemselves ; an interest wHcL. may even, to a
certain degree, be independent of any merit of tHeir o^Yn, and natm-ally
connected with tlie period to which they l)elong. There can be nothing,
of course, of the peculiar charm of remote time connected with any
work dating with the present century : if, in the quaint ballad, the laide
chronicle of early English wi'iting, the figures all move, as it were, amid
the long shadows of the dawn, thrown into high and picturesque relief
by the morning light, we are prej^ared for something far less striking and
peculiar in the form of any literatiu-e coming into being in the noontide
of full civilization. Still, there will always be something of a peculiar
movement and coloring connected with the first intellectual work of
every independent people ; something which gives claim to a degree of
especial attention to the earlier volumes of every national library, how-
ever brilliant may be those which fill succeeding shelves. And while
a dozen years of American history, at this period of time, effect the
changes which have requii'ed centuries with older nations, the fact gives
already to works of the last fifty years, something of the interest of a
past condition of existence. The writings of Mr. Fenimore Cooper, from


their date ;iud theii' spirit, must always hold this position to the Ameri-
can readei'. They jjossess another claim, also, which to the present hour
is peculiar ; they flow fi'om a fountain more copious than any other
opened, until now, on the same soil ; it is l^elieved that no author this
side of the Atlantic has written so fully. A long succession of works
possessing merit in themselves, I'eaching to so large a number, and cover-
ing, in their composition, so long a jieriod of time, must always possess
a degree of importance which cannot Ijelong to any isolated book. Each
work, in a series of this nature, ap})ears not only in its individual char-
acter, but also as a member of a grouji ; if the Avritings have any merit
singly, they carry with them additional value in theii* full literary com-
pany ; each, like the pearl in a chain, giving and receiving something of
lioht and worth, as it is found linked with others.

The volume now open l)efore the reader, contains a selection of
episodes from the writings of Mr. Fenimore Cooper, illustrated, it is
scarcely necessary to observe, Ijy artists of acknoAvledged merit. Con-
nected with the extracts, will l;)e found notes relating to the different
works whence the images have been dra^ATi. It was at first the intention
to give a passage from each of the different works of the imagination
from the same pen ; but the size and nature of the volume, so copiously
illustrated, have rendered it necessary to omit a portion of the series,
and among these, several favorite works. It is hoped, however, that the
book is sufiiciently complete in its present form to give pleasure to the
reader from the variety of its passages, while the notes may aiford him
a clearer idea than he has yet received, of a long and important series
connected vnth American literature.

s. F. c.

COOPEESTOWN, iSep. 15t/i, 1860.


Introduction. — Precaution — First composition — Proud heroic romance — The ballad
— The first sale — Elaborate imitation — Supposed English origin of the book —
Extract — Charity, . . . . • • . .13


The Spt. — -Westchester county and its traditions of the Revolution — Godfrey's Cave
— Haunted wood — Uncle John — The Silver Grays — Conversation with Governor
Jay — Origin of the book — An acute critic — Last chapter written and paged
before those preceding it — Unlooked-for success — Extract, Harvey and his
father in the cottage, . . . . . . . .26


The Pioneers. — The author's boyhood — Lake Otsego — Master Cory — The organ — The
Beggar's Petition — School-boy's journe)- to Albany — The great turnpike — A
third book planned — Natty and Shipnian — il. Le Quoy — Hausman — Father
Nash not the original of Mr. Grant — Indian alarm — Extract, Pigeon-shooting, . 48


The Pilot. — Conversation at the table of Mr. Wilkes — Sudden determination to
attempt a tale of the sea — Generally discouraged by his friends — Paul Jones —
The MS. read to a seaman — Full success of the book — Extractn, Battle of tlie
Bon Homme Richard — The Frigate, . . . . . ,72

C O N T K N T S .

Lionel Lincoln. — Difficulties of the task — Character luitural, but author's sympathies
not sufficiently aroused — Ralph — Job Pray — Legend of the Thirteen Republics
—Extract, Battle of Bunker Hill, . . . . . .99


The Last of the Mohicans. — Excursion — Catskill — Natty's description — English
travellers — Lake George — Glenn's Falls — Promise given in the cave — First Lidian
romance — The author's illness — Very rapidly written — Name of Horican — ^j-
<raf/, Canoe-chase on the Horican, . . . . . .121


The Prairie. — Indian Deputations — Western tribes — The author's sketches of In-
dian character — Xattv the Trapper— Poetical spirit of the books — Interview
with Sir Walter ^e.oti— Extract, The Thicket on the Prairie, . . .142


The Red Rover. — St. Owen — The terrace — The bourgeois in a punt — French fields
— Hill at Newport — The Zenaida dove — S'ip and Fid — Extract, The Wreck of
the Royal Caroline, . . . . . . . .174


The Wept of Wish-ton-wish. — Switzerland — La Lorraine — The Alps from Berne —
Puritans and Indians — First view of Italy — The Casa Ricasoli — The Puritan
lionsehold — Difficulties of printing — Extract, Narra-mattah, . . .197


The Water Witch. — St. Illario — Leghorn — Naples — Casa Tasso — Tlie terrace — Sor-
rento^Tlic Scaricatojo — ^The third nautical tale — Rome — Obstacles to printing
— Dresden — Extract, Fire 1 ....... 220


The Bravo. — Journey from Rome — The Adriatic — Venice — Literary forgery — Gelso-

mina — The well of the Casa Tasso — Extract, The death of Antonio, . .241


The Headsman. — Lake of Geneva — Vevey — Mountains of Savoy — Jean Desclou.x —

Abbaye des Vignerons — Ranz des Vaches — Extract, Bruno and Ncttuno, . 264



The Monikins. — The author's enjo3-mcnt of liunior and pleasantry — ^j<rae<, Dr.

Reasono, Sir John Goldencalf, and Captain Poke in conference, . . 274


Homeward Bound. — Attacks — The author's defence of liis character - Trials — Success

— His views of freedom of the press — Extract, The Arabs and Captain Truck, . 285


Home as Found. — Provincial spirit — Mr. Cooper's views as to tlie duties of literary

men — His frankness — Extract, The Commodore of the Lake, . . . 299


The Pathfinder. — Lake Ontario— The Oucida — Lament of Boniface in the forest —
Grand military ball — Paddy and the blaze — Sailors and Indians — Xatty the
Pathfinder— ^'j^rac/, Xatty a Lover, . . . . . .308


The Deerslater. — The lake-road — Natty on the first war-path — The ark — Musk-rat

castle — Floating Tom — Extract, The Rescue of Hist, .... 322


WiNG-AND-WiNG. — Cruisc of the Belle Genovese— Elba — Napoleon's house— The
coast — Izola di Troja — Ischia — Le Feu FoUct— Will-o'-the-Wisp— Raoul — Ex-
tract, The Death of Caraccioli, ....... 335


Wyandotte. — Love of farming — Clearing — Indian character in a new form — Struggle

between gratitude and revenge— ^j/rac?, Saucy Nick, .... 347


Satanstoe. — Colonial days — New York a hundred years ago — Journey from West-
chester to town — Extract, Dirck and Corny, ..... 353


• The Chainbearer. — The squatters — Thousandacres and Andries Coejemans — Moose-
ridge — Extract, The Storehouse Prisoner, ..... 359




The Redskins. — Anti-rent — The author's views of the subject — Jurists' opinions

of this seiies—Uxtract, Sunday at Kavensnest after the Incendiary Fire, . 366


Jack Tier. — Originality of the plot — Spirit of the work — Extract, AJulford on the

Reef, . . . . . . . . . . 3V2


The Oak Openings. — Journey to Michigan — The writer's enjoyment of the excur-
sion — Changes in the country — Prairie Ronde —The Chalet — The swarm of bees
— Indian conquered by Christianity — Lines from diary — Extract, The Council
Fire in the Oak Grove, ........ 379


The Sea Lions. — Latest tale of the sea^SLelter Island — Tlie deacon — Mary — The
writer's views of a great religious doctrine — The Antarctic seas — Extract, Sealer's
Land, .......... 389







Portrait of J. Fenimore Cooper,

C. L. Elliott,

W. K Marshall,


Otsego Hall, Residence of Mr. Cooper,

J. A. Hows,

R. Hinshelwood,


The Wounded Indian, .

F. 0. C. Da RLE Y,

J. D. Smillie,


Down the Rapids, .

J. Hamilton,

J. AfcGoffin,


The Search, ....

F. 0. C. Darley,

L. Delnoce,


Journey over the Highlands,

C. Schuessele,

J. Dicthie,


The Di.sputed Prize,

F. 0. C. Darley,

F. Girsch,


Wreck of tlic Ariel,

J. Hamilton,

J. McGoffin,


Tom Coffin, ....

F. 0. C. Darley,

J. Wriffhtson,


The Rescue,


S. A. Schoff,


The Retreat, . . .' .


T. F/ullibrown,


The Prisoners,


James Smillie,


Waylaid Travellers,


J. D. Smillie,


Discovery of the Trapper, .

J. Hamilton,

G. H. C'ushman,


The Combat, ....

F. 0. C. Darley,

Sealey <& Smith,


Incident on the Prairie,

J. Hamilton,

T. Taylor,


The Cover,

F. 0. C. Darley,

Sealey d- Smith,


The Struggle,


T. Phillibrown,


Death of Scipio,


Alfred Jones,


Red Rover and Bristol Trader,

.1. Hamilton,

J. D. Thompson,


The Attack, ....

F. 0. C. Darley,

J. I. Pease,


Chase through Hell-Gate, .

J. Hamilton,

J. McGoffin,


Sca-Grecn Lady,

F. 0. C. Darley,

T. Phillibrown,


The Absolution,


R. Hinshelivood,




St. Bernard,

Dr. Reasono,

The Jeopardy, .

The Proposal,

In tlie Wilderness,

The Block,

Death of the Indian,

Burial of Hetty Huttcr,

The Execution,

The Escape,

A Perilous Adventure, .

The Squatter,

The Musician, .

Jack Tier and Captain Spike.

Indian Peter,

The Polar Sea,




. F. 0. C. Darley,

H. Hinshclwood,


Duthie d' de Mare,



T. PhilUbrown,



J. W. Paradise,


. J. Hamilton,

J. Duthie,


F. 0. C. Darley,

J. W. Paradise,


. J. Hamilton,

B. J. jSfevmam,



J. McGoffin,


. F. 0. C. Dakley,

J. de Mare,



C. H. Smith,



C. A. Jewett,



W. W. Rice,



R. Martin,



T. PhilUbrown,



0. H. Cushman,



J. de Mare,



Lake Otsego from Hyde,

Blackbird Point,

Natty Bumppo's Cave,

Susquehannah, with Mt. Vision in Distance,

Lake Otsego from Witchhazel Point,

Wild Rose Point, .

Primeval Pines,

One Hundred and Twenty Head and Tail-Piece Vignette Embellishments.
Drawn by F. 0. C. Darley. Engraved by P. F. Annin.

J. A. Hows,

N. Orr <t Co.,




J. Cox,


J. H. Richardson,




N. Orr d- Co.,




"When the year 1820 opened on Mr. Cooper, it found him living a quiet niral
life, on a small farm in Scarsdale, some five-and-twenty miles from IS^ew York.
He was at that time in his thirty-first year, having been born on the 15th of
September, 1789, at Biirlington, New Jersey ; and, as yet, there Avas no clue to be
gathered among his pursuits at the moment, or from his previous career, which
might lead to the opinion that he would ever become known as a great writer.

Active life had commenced early with him. In 1805, he had received a mid-
shipman's warrant, but soon after his mamage, which took place in 1811, he had
left the navy. Had his friends been called upon to predict his future career, many
would probably have anticipated a return to the profession of his early youth,
for which he still continued to cherish a very warm partiality ; or others might
have conjectured that the lively interest he had often shown in public ques-
tions would lie likely to lead him eventually to fix his attention on political
life. Beyond the facts that he was known in society to possess uniisual talent,
and that he had received all the advantages of education which the country
afforded at that period, there appeared no grounds for believing that he would
ever attain distinction as a literary man.


A farmer's life Avas that to which he himself looked forward. The cottage he
then occupied had been recently built, and he took very great pleasure in the
improvements required by a new place. At that period landscape-gardening
was in its -^-ery earliest stages in America, where very little indeed had yet been
done toward giving beauty of design, or finish of detail, to pleasure grounds of
any kind. The educated men of tlie country had indeed shown judgment and
taste in placing their houses, the positions of wluL-h were often very beautiful ; a
pleasing view was always considered desirable, and the advantages of a grove,
or a stream of water, were seldom overlooked. Many of the oldest places in
the country possess very great natural beauties in this way, more particularly
those on the banks of rivers first peopled by the colonists, and those within
reach of the civilizing influences of the older towns. But, beyond this single fact
of a choice of position, very little had been attempted. Straight rows of trees
shading the house, or forming an avenue from the gates, or lining the nearer
fences, were then the general form of ornamental planting practised by our
country gentlemen. Many were the noble elms, the fragrant locusts, the exotic
willows, and pojilars, thus ranged, like sentinels, about houses which within doors
possessed much of the elegance and luxury of the same class of dwellings beyond
the sea ; while the drawing-rooms were rich in expensive woods, gilded mirrors,
choice carputings, delicate porcelain, the gardens and lawns of the same estab-
lishments were luit little superior to those of the laboring fanner who had no
leisure for finish of improvement. Horticulture and landscape-gardening are
the growth (if an older and a much higher civilization than that which flows
from commerce alone. The early dawn of improvement in pleasure-grounds was
just then, however, beginning to open upon the country, and some of the gentle-
men in Westchester county were giving mtich of their attention to subjects of
this kind ; English books had led the way, returning travellers suggested new
ideas, and people were beginning to talk about grouping trees, and shrubbery,
and grading lawns. The improvement of his grounds became a task into which
Mr. Cooper entered with instinctive good taste, and with all the animation and
warmth of interest peculiar to his character. The position of the house was fine,
commanding a beaiitiful view over the farms and woods of the adjoining country,
in whose varied groves hickory and tidip-tree, cedar and sassafras, grew luxu-
riantly ; a broad reach of Sound stretched beyond, always dotted with the white
sails the sailor's eye loved to fiillow in their graceful movements to and fro, while
the low shores of Long Islaiul, with the famous pippin orchards of ^Newtown,
formed the distant background. Planning a lawn, building a ha-ha fence, then a
novelty in the country, and ditching a swamp, were the tasks of the moment ;



Avliile the friends wlio followed liis movement often smiled at the almost boyish
eagerness with which he watched the growth of shrubs, or they shook tlieir
heads sagely at the size of the trees lie was engaged in transplautiiiff. Active in
all his habits, and full of vigorous health, he superintended the work going on, in
all its stages, often undertaking some light task himself, and never failing to
shorten the time by chatting ^vith his laborers — picking up amusement or prac-
tical information in this way.

The height on which the cottage was built had received the name of
Angevine. Early in tlie histor}' of the county, a colony of Huguenots had
settled on the shores of Long Island Sound, at the village of New Eoehelle.
Tliey were a very respectable and interesting people, with a high character for
industry, honesty, and for simple fidelity to their religious duties. A touching
instance of the last characteristic has been preserved, as a tradition of the
neighborliood. In the earlier days of tlie little colony there was no minister of
the gospel among them, and no place of public worship where the services were
held in French, nearer than the church of the St. Esprit, in ]^ew York. "With
the earliest hours of Sunday, by starliglit or moonlight, a little band of simple-
hearted jjilgrims, men an<l \vt)men, old and young together, were in the habit of
setting out on foot, walking from their cottage homes, more than twenty miles,
to join in the public worshijJ of the Lord's day, in their mother tongue. At a
rather later period, a little stone church, rude and quaint, with pointed roof, was
built in their village ; and within its square walls the households of the Anglican
communion, for many miles around, attended the services, until the building was
pronounced unsafe and taken down. Many families from this little colony were
scattered over the adjoining country, among the farms of Mamaroneck, Rye, and
Scarsdale, where Huguenot names are still veiy eormnon ; one of these house-
holds had settled, as tenants, nearly a him.dred years earlier, on the height
alluded to, in Scarsdale. When Mi\ Cooper came to examine the ground for the
site of a liouse, he found their rude graves, a rough field-stone marking the head
and foot of each, lining one of the fences, as was so frequently the custom on
American farms at that period ; a kindly feeling of regard for the Huguenot
colony, and respect for their graves, which of course remained unmolested, led to
the name of Angevine being given to the new place.

Heading, which always enters so naturally into eouutry life, was a regular
resource for the evening hours, and rainy days, at Angevine. It is needless to
observe that the books on every table were, at that day, almost exclusively
English. The roll of all the contemporary authors in the coimtry, of any note,
might have been called over in a trice ; and if, among these, there wei-e already



several brilliant pens, yet tlie united influence of the whole class on the nation
was still very slight indeed. The American people, in the forty-fifth year
of their independence, were in fact living on English literatni-e almost as exclu-
sively as they had done a century earlier, in a state wholly colonial. The very
brilliancy of that epoch, so remarkable in British literature, was in one sense
discouraging, and unfavorable to the birth of original writing in America ; the
idea of publishing in the same language, and on the same day, with Scott, with
Byron, with Burns, with Wordsworth, thus boldly challenging the world to
comparisons the most critical, might almost have sufficed in itself, one would
suppose, to silence all literary labor on the })art of a people still so provincial at
heart as we then were.

At that period there came sailing into the harbor of Kew York, witli each
returning month, one or two packet ships, from London or Liverpool, their
arrival in the lower bay being duly announced tn "Wall street by the unwieldy
arms of the wooden telegraph on Staten Island; and, among bales of English
calicos and broadcloths, there never failed to be some smaller package of far
greater and more lasting value — some volume fresh from the London i)ress, high
in merit, full of interest, a work whose appearance had been already heralded,
and whose arrival was eagerly exi^ected by every reader in the coimtry. Per-
haps it was a romance of the Waverley series, still a delightful mystery as
regarded their origin, or a brilliant canto of Byron, or a charming social tale by
Miss Edgeworth, or a valuable religious work by Mr. Wilberforce, or Miss More.
With the next day's papers the news of the arrival spread through the comitry-
houses of Westchester. Orders were immediately sent to the bookseller in New
York. At that day each village on the Sound had its own sloop, plying two or
three times a week to and fro, through the perils of Hell-Gate, carrying the
produce of the farms to Fulton Market, and bringing back sugar and tea, and
good things of all sorts, to the rustic wharf. Among other imported luxuries
came the last new book. Or perchance it was the mail-coach, which, as it
travelled eastward along the winding roads of Westchester, di-opped the precious
parcel at the quiet village post-office. Lucky was that household deemed M-hich
could first cut the pages of the new volume ; and long did its contents, rich in
entertainment or instruction, ofter subject for social talk and clever discussion,
about the firesides of the whole neighborhood. Tlie most imposing living per-
sonages of the day, moving through the great cities and over the battlefields of
old Europe, scarcely filled a wider space in familiar household talk than the
brilliant figures on the many-colored canvas of Sir Walter Scott. Kings and
queens, of ancient abdicated dynasties and the newly-crowned alike, victorious

H^^^ - ;/^^ - A

could mpease las iuraing 3\irer*

UEW YOR.K •.V.A^TCn.-?


marshals tiuil generals, successful statesmen, cabinet ministers and court beauties,
■were compelled to sliare the honors of fireside fame with Dominie Sampson,
and Edie Ochiltree, and Jemiie Deans, and Meg Merrilies.

It is quite needless to declare that Mr. Cooper took great delight in the "Wav-
erley novels ; ■when the secret of their authorship ■was still a subject for discus-
sion, he ■was among those who never doubted that thej ■were written by Walter
Scott, the poet. He read aloud delightfully. His voice was very fine ; deep,
clear and expressive. Good reading was, with him, a natural gift, the impulse
of the moment, an instinct of genius. During those cpiiet country evenings, he
often read aloud ; there was one who listened with aflectionate interest — one for
whom, through a long life, he read with especial pleasure. Poetry %\"as occa-
sionally chosen : his reading of verse was particularly good, accurate, and full
of deep poetic feeling. For Shakespeare he was always ready ; entering with
unfeigned delight into the spirit of his works, whether comedy or tragedy.
Pope, Thomson, Gray, were also in favor. But he could seldom be induced to
read more than a page or two of Milton, at a time ; the great epic poet he con-
sidered too correctly cold and classical in spirit, for his theme ; and this oj)inion
continxied unchanged through life. " Shakespeare should have written Paradise
Lost. Wliat a poem he would have given to the world !'' was a remark he
repeatedly made. But new books were, of course, in j)articular request ; and

Online LibraryJames Fenimore CooperPages and pictures, from the writings of James Fenimore Cooper → online text (page 1 of 43)