Originally published in Homes of American Authors; comprising Anecdotal, Personal, and Descriptive Sketches, by Various Writers . New-York: G.P. Putnam and Co., 1853, pp. 179-214 (reprinted New-York: D. Appleton & Co., 1857). (Reprinted again, with minor changes, in George Washington Green, Biographic Studies. New York: G.P. Putnam, 1860, pp. 9-50.)
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George Washington Greene (1811-1883), grandson of Revolutionary War General Nathanael Greene, first met Cooper in Paris, at General Lafayette’s house, and kept up the relationship in Italy, France, and America Cooper’s death. Greene had a distinguished career, as US Consul in Rome (1837-1845), as Professor of modern languages at Brown University (1848-1852), Professor of American History at Cornell University (1871), where he occupied the first chair in American History in the United States. He was author of a number of historical and biographic works. For correspondence by Cooper referring to Greene, see James F. Beard, Jr., Letters and Journals of James Fenimore Cooper (6 vols., Harvard University Press, 1960-68), Vol. I, pp. 346, 389, 391, 396, 403; Vol. VI, p. 124. Though Greene’s several accounts of Cooper are more than flattering of his subject, and phrased in often flowery and pious terms, they do provide glimpses of the author of a sort that are often hard to come by. Spelling and punctuation are as in the original. Footnotes have been added to identify some of the names mentioned in Greene’s text.
— Hugh C. MacDougall (James Fenimore Cooper Society)
EVERY reader of the “Pioneers” is familiar with Cooperstown and the rich forest scenery of Otsego Lake. One thing is wanting, however, to complete the picture of fifty years ago, a gray- eyed, dark-haired, ruddy boy, nimble as a deer and gay as a bird. You would have seen him on the lake, plying his oar lustily, or trimming his sail to the mountain breeze; and whenever he found a wave high enough to lift his little boat, his veins would thrill with a strange delight, and he would ask himself whether this was like those ocean waves of which he had heard such wonders. Then perhaps he would pause to gaze on the green canopy of the woods, with sensations that made his heart beat fast and loud, or even called a tear to his eye, though why he could not tell — those first revelations of the keener and purer joys which nature reserves for those who love and study her aright. When the breeze died away and the sun came out in its strength, he would turn his bow towards the shore. The forest leaves looked fresh and cool, and the light fell so softly and soothingly under the broad branches of the old trees. The deer would start and bound away as they heard his nimble tread, but the birds would let him pass unheeded, and sing to one another and hop from bough to bough, as if they knew that they were made for sunlight and song. And when they stopped for a moment, such a silence would fall on those deep woods, that even the dropping of a leaf would have something mysterious and thrilling about it. There would be something, too, of strangeness and mystery in the sky as he caught glimpses of its deep blue through the tremulous treetops, and a deeper mystery still, in the long vistas under the pines where the sight would wander on and on till it lost itself, at last, in mingling leaves and shade. And when in the evening circle he told the story of his roaming, they would warn him against straying too far, tell stories of lost children, of Indians that still lurked in the forests, and bears and catamounts and all the wild scenes of pioneer life. Little did they dream what seeds they were dropping into that young mind, and the delight which thousands would one day receive from the impressions of this boyhood among the woods.
Cooper was but an infant when he was first carried to Cooperstown. His birth place was Burlington, New Jersey, where he first saw the light on the 15ᵗʰ of September, 1789, and the little village, which was to be the home of his boyhood and his final resting-place, had been built by his father only three years before. Judge Templeton [sic] has always been supposed to be an outline sketch of that gentleman, and the “Pioneers” tells us what kind of a life was led in this home which he had made for himself in the wilderness. Perhaps the love of the water which led Cooper to the navy was first imbibed on the Otsego, and the associations with which he has invested old ocean for so many minds, would thus be owing, in part, to a quiet little lake among the hills. Never was the “child” more truly “father of the man” than in Cooper.
At thirteen he entered Yale; too young, if that favorite institution had been what it is now, but yet old enough to prove himself an apt and ready scholar. The poet Hillhouse ¹ was in the same class, and younger than he. Dr. Dwight ² was then President, with a well-won reputation as a teacher, which has already outlived his claims as a poet. It would be interesting to know how the stripling who was to become one of the real founders of American literature, looked and felt in the presence of one of its earliest votaries. The young poet was something of a rogue, the old one not a little proud of his position; and it is difficult to withstand the temptation of indulging the fancy in some amusing scenes between them. The culprit looking straightforward with a funny mixture of drollery-and indefinite dread of consequences in his clear, gray eye, and the old doctor bolt upright in his chair, with a thunder-cloud on his brow, and measuring out his oppressive sentences with Johnsonian dignity. The only recorded expression, as far as we know, of Cooper’s opinion of the poetical merits of his old master, is his answer to Godwin’s ³ reference to the ” Conquest of Canaan” ⁴ and “Vision of Columbus” ⁵ as the only American poems that he had ever heard of, — “Oh, we can do better than that now.”
College then as now, and perhaps even more than now, was the path to one of the learned professions; and Cooper, whose tastes led him to seek for a more adventurous career, left it in his fourth year for the navy. There were no schools in our navy then, and it was common for the young candidate for nautical honors to make a voyage before the mast in a merchantman, by way of initiation; a custom which Cooper, in looking back upon his own course from an interval of forty years, is far from approving. In his case, however, few will regret it. It was his first intercourse with sailors, his first initiation into the hardships and enjoyments, the pains and the pleasures of sea-life, which he surely could never have painted so truthfully but for that year and a half in the forecastle.
An old shipmate ⁶ has recorded his first appearance, when he came down to the Sterling under the care of a merchant, to look about him and sign the articles. The next day he made his appearance in his sailor’s dress; the ship was taken into the stream, and his new companions came tumbling on board, a medley of nations, agreeing only in what was then the almost universal characteristic of a sailor on shore, the being or having been drunk. Night, however, put them in sufficient working trim, and when all hands were called to get the ship under way, Cooper was sent aloft with another boy to loose the foretopsail. He set himself to his task with characteristic earnestness, and was tugging stoutly at “the robins,” when the second mate came up just in time to prevent him from. dropping his half of the sail into the top. Fortunately the mate was too good-natured to be harsh with a “raw hand,” and the men too busy with their own work to see what was going on aloft. But he soon found an “old salt” who taught him to knot and splice, very much as “Long Tom” taught Barnstable ⁷, and when they got on shore, Cooper repayed the debt by historical anecdotes of the places they visited together.
Captain Johnston was a kind man, part owner as well as commander, and doubly interested in making a good voyage. The passage, however, was long and stormy, nearly forty days from land to land, and Cooper’s first view of England was through its native veil of fog. The whole country was in arms, for it was in the time of the threatened invasion by Napoleon. As they passed the straits of Dover at daybreak, they counted forty odd sail of vessels of war, returning from their night-watch in those narrow seas; and every one who remembers his own first impressions of striking scenes, will readily conceive how deeply the mind of a young poet must have been impressed by so striking a scene as this. It was a practical illustration of the watchfulness and naval power of the English which he never forgot.
It was in a round jacket and tarpaulin that the future guest of Rogers ⁸ and Holland House ⁹ first set his foot on English ground, his imagination glowing with the recollection of all that he had heard and read of her power and glory, and his heart thrilling with the thought that this was the land of his fathers. He was soon at home in London, ran through the usual round of sights, peered from under his tarpaulin at the wonders of the Tower and the beauties of the “West End,” and in the evening, amused the forecastle with tales and descriptions from the scenes of his day’s ramble.
The voyage was long and successful. It gave him a rough experience of the Bay of Biscay, carried him up the straits, afforded him a running view of the coasts of Spain and Africa, made him familiar with the headlands and coasts of the channel and the hazardous navigation of those crowded waters, stored his memory with scenes and incidents and outlines of character, and while it fitted him for the immediate duties of his profession, prepared him, also, for those vivid pictures of sea-life, which have made ships as familiar to hundreds who never looked upon the ocean as to those who were born upon its shores.
In the Bay of Biscay they were brought to by a pirate, and only escaped by the timely appearance of an English cruiser. They ran into the straits in thick westerly weather. Lord Collingwood’s ¹⁰ fleet was off Cape Trafalgar, and the captain, well aware of the danger of being run down in the night, had come on deck, in the middle watch, to see that there was a sharp look- out on the forecastle. He had scarcely given his orders, when the alarm of sail ho! was heard, and a two-decker was descried through the dark and mist bearing directly down upon them. The captain ordered the helm “hard up,” and called to Cooper to bring a light. With one leap he was in the cabin, seized the light, and in half a minute was swinging it from the mizzen rigging. His promptness saved the ship. The two vessels were so near that the voice of the officer of the deck was distinctly heard calling to his own quartermaster to “port his helm,” and as the enormous mass swept by them, it seemed as if she was about to crush their railing with the muzzle of her guns. While lying off the old Moorish town of Almaria, Cooper was sent on shore in the jolly- boat to boil pitch. As they were coming off they saw that the sea was getting rough, and that they would find it no easy work to get through the surf. But their orders were peremptory, and delay would only have made matters worse. So off they started, and for a minute or two got on pretty well, when all of a sudden a breaker “took the bow of the boat, and lifting her almost on end, turned her keel uppermost.” All hands got safe on shore, though none could tell how, and launching their boat again, made a second attempt; with a similar result. It was not till a third trial that they mere able to force their way out.
There was another kind of experience, too, which Cooper added to his stock during this memorable voyage. The Sterling had hardly dropped her anchor in English waters before she was boarded by a man-of-war’s boat, and one of her best men taken from her to be forced into the British navy, another of them only escaping by having a certificate which the officer could not refuse to acknowledge, though he had refused to acknowledge his “protection.” ¹¹ At London another was lost, and the captain himself was seized by a press-gang. On their return passage, just as they were running out, they were boarded by a gun-boat officer, who attempted to press a Swede. Cooper could not stand this insult to his flag, and was in high words with the Englishman, when the captain compelled him to restrain himself and be silent. Such mere some of his first lessons in this rough but manly school.
He now entered the navy, and continued the study of his profession in its higher walks. How successful these studies were he has already proved by his writings; and years ago we heard him described by a brother officer, who knew him well, as active, prompt, and efficient, a pleasant shipmate, always ready to do his duty, and rigorous, too, in exacting it from others. Many of his old messmates are still alive. Why will not some of them give us their recollections of this portion of his life? As it is, we can only judge it by its results; his sea tales and “Naval History;” the noblest tribute ever paid to a noble profession.
And here, if I were writing a full life, the first and most important chapter would end. The lessons of the forest are blended with the lessons of the sea; the rough tales of the forecastle have mingled with the wild traditions of the frontiers; and the day-dreams of the woods and gentle waters of Otsego have been expanded into the broader visions of the ocean, and chastened by the stern realities of actual life. The elements of his future career were already combined, and awaited only the completion of that sure, though silent process, by which nature prepares the mysterious development of genius.
Few men have been more favorably situated during this decisive period of life. In 1811 he resigned his commission, and married Miss Delancey, whose gentle character and domestic tastes were admirably fitted to call out the deep affections of his own nature, and favor that grateful intermingling of action and repose which are so essential to vigor and freshness of mind. He had established himself in a quiet little house, which is still standing, at Mamaroneck, in Westchester county, not so near to the city as in these days of railroads and steamers, but near enough to make an excursion easy, and enable him to see his friends whenever he chose. He loved his books, he loved the quiet life of the country, he loved the calm sunshine of his home, and the days glided smoothly away, scarcely revealing to him or to those around him, the powers which were rapidly maturing in this voluntary obscurity. It was this seeming monotony that furnished the occasion which first revealed his real calling. He was reading a new novel to his wife: “Pshaw,” said he, “I can write a better one myself:” and to prove that he was in earnest, he set himself directly to the task, and wrote the first chapter of “Precaution.” “Go on,” was Mrs. Cooper’s advice, when she had listened to it as a young wife may be supposed to listen to the first pages from her husband’s pen. The work was completed: a friend in whose literary judgment he placed great confidence, the late Charles Wilkes ¹², gave a favorable opinion, and “Precaution” was printed.
It can hardly be said to have been a successful book. The scene was laid in England. He was drawing from his recollection of books, rather than his observation of life, and the society which he had undertaken to paint was altogether unsuited to that freshness of thought and scenery in which his strength peculiarly lay. Yet the work for him was a very important one. He had overcome the first difficulties of authorship; had framed a plot and developed it; invented characters, and made them act and speak; and learnt how to make his pen obey his will through two consecutive volumes. In authorship, as in many other things, it is often the first step that is the hard one.
His vocation was now decided. His active mind had found its natural outlet, and yielding to the impulse of his genius, he took his station boldly on his native soil, amid the scenes of American history, and wrote the “Spy.”
The time will come when we shall feel far more deeply than we now do, how great an event this was in the history of American literature. It is easy to be an author now. Literature has become a recognised profession, and brings its rewards as well as its trials. We have it, therefore, in all its forms, and abundantly. We have its butterflies and its moths, its vampyres and its jackals, and we have, too, earnest minds, and men who think boldly and labor manfully in their high calling. And we have them, because at the very moment when we needed it most, there were a few minds amongst us which had the energy and the independence to mark out for themselves a course of their own, and persevere in it resolutely. But the task was a harder one than we can fully realize. Cooper’s strong American feelings were so well known to his friends, that they had not hesitated to tell him how much they were surprised at his choice of a subject for his first work. He accepted the censure, and resolved to atone for his error. But the prospect of success was so small, that it was not till several months after the first volume had been printed that he could summon up resolution to begin the second. Then, too, as this was slowly making its way through the press, the scarcely dried manuscript passing directly from the author’s desk to the compositor, the publisher became alarmed at the prospect of a large volume; and to calm his apprehensions, the last chapter was written, paged, and printed, before half of those that were to come before it had even been thought of.
The success of the “Spy” was complete, and almost immediate. It was not merely a triumph, but a revelation, for it showed that our own society and history, young as they were, could furnish characters and incidents for the most inviting form of romance. There was a truthfulness about it which everybody could feel, and which, in some countries where it has been translated, has given it the rank of a real history. And yet there was a skilful grouping of characters, a happy contrast of situations and interests, an intermingling of grave and gay, of individual eccentricities and natural feeling, a life in the narrative, and a graphic power in the descriptions, which, in spite of some commonplace, and some defects in the artistic arrangement of the plot, raised it, at once, to the first class among the novels of the age. But its peculiar characteristic, and to which it owed, above all others, its rank as a work of invention, was the character of Harvey Birch.
Wordsworth had already shown how freely the elements of poetry are scattered through the walks of lowly life. The “Wanderer” was a beautiful illustration of the wisdom that lies hidden in brooks and trees, and the pure sunshine of a mind that has chastened all inordinate desires, and learnt to look upon nature and be happy. But temptation had never presented itself to him in its most dangerous form. His greatest peril had been a lonely walk over roads that were never wholly deserted, and his greatest self-denial, to throw off his pack when he felt that he had earned enough. Cooper was the first to take the humble son of toil, whose daily earnings were to be won at the daily hazard of life, and by planting the holy principle of faith and sacrifice in his bosom, raise him to the dignity of a patriot, without depriving him of the characteristics of a pedler. It is in this that he shows his genius. Many a happy conception has been destroyed for want of this nice discrimination, or rather this intuitive perception of the homogeneous elements of character; of what cannot he taken from it, and what cannot be engrafted upon it, without destroying it. Harvey is a pedler, with a pedler’s habits and language, and in all that was essential to the preservation of his identity, a pedler’s feelings. His pack is well filled with goods skilfully chosen to meet the wants and excite the desires of his customers. When he opens it, he knows how to brings them out with effect, and get the most he can for them. You can see his eye twinkle with the keen delight of a shrewd bargain; and though he will not cheat you, and can be generous upon occasions, you feel that whatever it may have been that led him to trade in the beginning, more than half his soul is in it now. There is but one touch of poetry in him, and that is rather the effect of his position than of any inward sense of the poetical; objective rather than subjective. I mean the exquisite description of his feelings when led out into the sunshine to die. But for this, and you would almost fancy that he had walked like Peter Bell ¹³ through the loveliest scenes without any perception of their loveliness.
Thus shrewdness, resolution, and plain common sense, are the apparent traits of his character, and those, probably, by which he had been known among his customers and friends. Strange elements, it would seem, for the hero of a romance, but essential, for all that, to the keeping and harmony of the author’s conception. Did you ever, in your journeyings, meet a brook, a calm, quiet, silent little streamlet, with just water enough to keep its banks green, or to turn a small grist-mill, and make itself useful? And did you ever follow that brook up to its birth- place among the mountains, where it first came gushing forth from some sunless cavern, and lay before you like a mysterious creation, with the dark shadows of cliffs and crags, and giant old trees on its bosom? It is the same brook still, the same pure current, the same cool and limpid waters; but if you had never seen them except as they flowed through the meadow, you would never have known how sweetly they could mingle with the solemn grandeur of the mountains.
Set the pedler and the British general face to face, and let him watch the eye and lips of the man who controls the fate of thousands, as he would watch the changing features of a customer that is haggling for a sixpence. Place him alone in the midst of enemies who are thirsting for his blood, and give him the same coolness and resolution with which he had faced robbers who asked him for nothing but his pack. Let the same common sense which had been his guide in trade, guide him still amid the crooks and tangles of policy, and the dark passions of civil war; let human life, and at times, even the fate of a nation, depend upon his truth; and, cutting him off from every hope of honor, leave him no stimulant but the love of country, and no reward but the consciousness of duty well performed; and the pedler, though a pedler still, becomes a hero.
The same originality of invention and admirable discrimination are found in his next great character, Leather Stocking. In all that relates to his calling Leather Stocking, like Harvey Birch, is a simple and natural character. They have the same judgment and common sense. But the shrewdness which was so well placed in the tradesman, would have shrunk into littleness and cunning in the man of the woods. Simple-heartedness, and clear, quick perception, would be his natural characteristics. Resolution would become fortitude and daring; and his days and nights under the canopy of the woods, with the sunlight falling through the opening tree-tops as it falls on the vaulted aisles of a cathedral, or the stars looking meekly out from their blue dwellings, still and silent, and yet with something in their silence which thrills the heart like choral symphonies would awaken feelings that were unknown to those who sleep under close roofs, and tread the dusty thoroughfares of life; and “Leather Stocking,” to be true to his nature, could not but be a poet.
The same may be said, in a certain degree, of “Long Tom,” who looked upon the ocean as “Leather Stocking” looked upon the forest, never feeling his heart at ease until the waves were bounding under him. God has spoken to him in the tempest, and he has bowed reverently to the awful voice. The elements which he has contended with from his childhood have a language for him. His eye reads it in the clouds, and the winds breathe it in his ear. He has looked upon the manifestations of their power till he has come to feel towards them as if there were something in them not wholly unlike to human passions and feelings; and without ceasing to recognize them as the instruments of a power still higher, he unconsciously extends to them somewhat of the reverence which he feels for that power itself.
But the life of a ship is not the life of the woods. Lonely as it may seem, it is the loneliness of a narrow circle — not the utter severing of social ties — which suggests the unconscious soliloquies of the old woodsman.
Tom is always in the midst of his shipmates, separated from them by many traits of character, but bound to them by others, and with the example of human weakness constantly before him. Simple, upright, and single-hearted, tenacious of his opinions, firm in his convictions, and constant in his attachments, he reminds you of “Leather Stocking” by these common traits of pure and earnest minds, but differs from him in everything that should distinguish the child of the ocean from the child of the woods.
We have, then, three characters from the common walks of life, each admirably fitted for his humble calling, and all equally raised above it by traits perfectly consistent with what it required or imposed. Love of country, pure and disinterested, makes the pedler a hero; the intrepid, loyal, upright, and devout character of the scout gives a charm and an authority to his words, which mere rank and wealth can never command; and the simple-hearted coxswain, who draws you to him in life by his earnestness and purity, the defects as well as the beauties of his character, rises almost to the grandeur of martyrdom in his death. This power of elevating the lowly by the force of a high moral principle, was one of the most striking characteristics of Cooper’s genius; and it is the more deserving of remark, inasmuch as it is a power which he drew from the peculiar elevation of his own moral nature. There has been but one man to whom it was given to look down upon human nature, as from some height that raised him far above its contaminations, and painting it in all its forms, its lights and its shades, its beauties and its deformities, leave you no other clue to his own character but the conviction that the mind which saw all things so truly, could not but love the good. In all writings but Shakspeare’s, we judge the man by the book; and there are few who would come out from such a trial so honorably as Cooper.
The “Spy” was published in 1821; the “Pioneers” in 1823; then came the “Pilot,” &c.; in 1826 he had covered the whole ground of his invention by the publication of the “Mohicans.” It was not without some misgivings that he had ventured upon the “Pilot,” for he well knew that the effect of a description depends upon the skilful use of details, and here the details, if strictly professional, might be unintelligible. The friends to whom he spoke of his plan tried to dissuade him from it. They had been so accustomed to look upon the ocean as a monotonous waste, that they could not understand how it could be made interesting. More than once he was upon the point of throwing his manuscript into the fire. But the first thought of it had come to him by one of those sudden impulses to which we often cling more tenaciously than to designs that have been carefully matured. Scott had just published the “Pirate,” which Cooper admired as a romance, but was unwilling to accept as an accurate picture of sea-life. The authorship of the “Waverley Novels” was still a secret, and one day, in discussing this point with a friend, it was argued that Scott could not have written them, because they displayed too minute and accurate an acquaintance with too wide a range of subjects. Where could he have made himself familiar enough with the sea, to write the “Pirate?” Cooper was by no means disposed to call the literary merits of the “Pirate” in question, but felt himself fully justified in disputing its seamanship. The only way of doing this was by writing a real tale of the sea, and the result was the “Pilot.”
The first favorable opinion that he received was from an Englishman, a man of taste, and an intimate friend, but a skeptic in all that related to American genius. He read the sheets of the first volume, and to Cooper’s great surprise pronounced it good.
As a still fuller test, he chose an old messmate for his critic, and read to him the greater part of the first volume, as Scott had read the hunting scene of the “Lady of the Lake” to an old sportsman. The first half hour was sufficient. As he came to the beating out of the “Devil’s Grip,” his auditor grew restless, rose from his seat, and .paced the floor with feverish strides. There was no mistaking the impression, for not a detail escaped him. “It is all very well, my fine fellow, but you have let your jib stand too long.” It was the counterpart of “He will spoil his dogs,” of Scott’s hunting critic. But Cooper, fully satisfied with the experiment, accepted the criticism, and “blew his jib out of the bolt-ropes.”
This was the period, too, in which he mingled most in the society of his own countrymen. Without absolutely removing to the city, he passed a good portion of the year there, taking an active part in many things which have left pleasant recollections, if not deep impressions, behind them. He was the founder of the “Bread and Cheese Club” of which Bryant ¹⁴ and Francis ¹⁵ have given such agreeable sketches, and of which much more might be told that the world would be glad to know. He took a deep interest in the reception of Lafayette — one of the few incidents in our relations with the men who served us when service brought no reward, to which we can look back with pride. It was on this occasion that he gave that remarkable proof of his ready power of composition which Dr. Francis has recorded. The “Castle Garden Ball,” ¹⁶ was one of the great manifestations of the day; and Cooper, after exerting himself in getting it up, laboring hard all day in the preparations, and all night in carrying them out, repaired towards daylight to the office of his friend, Mr. Charles King ¹⁷, and wrote out a full and accurate report of the whole scene, which appeared next day in Mr. King’s paper.
He had already formed, as early as 1823, the design of illustrating American scenery by a series of tales, and spoke freely of it to his more intimate friends. Some of his excursions were studies of locality. For “Lionel Lincoln,” he had visited Boston; and it may not be uninteresting to Rhode Islanders to know that part of that work was written in Providence, in a house yet standing, just on the verge of the old elm trees of College Street.* It was then, too, probably, that he studied the scene of the opening chapters of the ” Red Rover.”
[footnote in 1860 version: Then, as now, the residence of Mr. John Whipple. ¹⁸]
Many a pleasant page might be filled with the records of these days: his studies of Shakspeare in the wonderful interpretations of Kean ¹⁹; his conversations with Mathew ²⁰; his rambles with Dekay ²¹; his daily chit-chats and discussions with old messmates at the City Hotel; and a thousand other things, trifles often in themselves, but which, acting upon a mind by which so many other minds have been moved, would have a deep and permanent interest.
It would be pleasant, too, to meet him once more on his favorite element; follow him across the Atlantic; watch the effects of the scenery and society of the old world upon a mind so familiar with those of the new, and see how far the preference which he had so boldly avowed for the institutions of his own country, would be able to resist those temptations by which so many convictions have been shaken. His, however, were of surer growth.
When he sailed for Europe, in 1826, his American reputation was at its height. The department which he had chosen was so different from that of Mr. Irving ²², that no fair-minded reader ever thought of comparing them. Bryant and Halleck ²³ had published nothing in prose: and the graceful productions of Miss Sedgwick ²⁴, although they belonged to the same class, seemed to suggest a comparison with Miss Edgeworth ²⁵, rather than with him. His countrymen were proud of him. His friends expressed their sentiments by a public dinner — the first tribute of the kind, we believe, ever paid on this side of the Atlantic to literary eminence. And if ever ship went freighted with proud hopes and kind wishes, it was that which bore him in his second visit to the old world. How different from the first!
His reputation had preceded him. He was met with a kind welcome to the classic circle of Holland House; was soon on intimate terms with Rogers; Scott ²⁶ sought him out in Paris, and gladly renewed the acquaintance in London; be lived in friendly intimacy with Lafayette; and found, wherever he went, that kind of welcome which was most grateful to his independent spirit. He was fond of society. It was a pleasant study, and a kind of exercise that seemed essential to him. His conversational powers were of a high order, and he loved to bring them out. But he was good listener, and though tenacious of his opinions, a fair disputant. He was naturally fond, therefore, of the society of literary men, when he could meet them as men, and not as lions. “You learn nothing about a man,” we once heard him say, “when you meet him at a show dinner, and he sits up to talk for you instead of talking with you When I was in London, Wordsworth came to town, and I was asked to meet him at one of those displays; but I had seen enough of them already, and would not go.” “But you met him afterwards, my dear,” said Mrs. Cooper. “Yes, at Rogers’s, and was very much pleased with him; but it was because I met him in a place where he felt at home, and let himself out freely.”
Cooper has told the history of the greater part of the next seven years in the ten volumes ²⁷ of his “Switzerland,” and “Gleanings in Europe;” characteristic works, fresh, firm, and manly, full of beautiful descriptions, important remarks, and lively anecdotes, written exactly as he talked, and giving an accurate picture of his own mind. The part of his residence abroad to which he used to look back with most pleasure, was his visit to Italy, of which his two sunny little volumes are a true and delightful record. He had a singular tact in choosing his houses. In Florence he lived in a delightful little villa just a stone’s throw from the city, where he could look out upon green leaves, and write to the music of birds. At Naples, after going the usual rounds, he settled himself for the summer in Tasso’s villa, at Sorento [sic], with that glorious view of sea, and bay, and city, and mountain under his eye, and the surf dashing almost directly under his windows.
Two or three years after his return, I met him one day in Broadway, just as I was upon the point of sailing for Europe again. He was walking leisurely along, with his coat open, and a. great string of onions in his hand. I had nearly passed by without recognizing him, when seeing several people turn to look at him, and then speak to one another as if there was something worth observing, I turned too, and behold, it was Cooper. “I have turned farmer,” said he, after the first greetings, and raising his bunch of onions, “but am obliged to come to town now and then, as you see.” I asked him if he had any commands for Italy. “Remember me kindly to Greenough. ²⁸ I ought to write him, but I never can make up my mind to write a letter, when I can find any kind of a pretext for not writing it. He must trust to the regard which he knows I really do feel for him.” “Do you not almost feel tempted to take a run back yourself?” “Yes, indeed. If there is any country out of my own in which I would wish to live, it is Italy. There is no place where mere livings is such a luxury.”
One thing, however, was very annoying to him, and that was the ignorance and prejudices of the English in all that related to America. It seemed to him, at times, as if they would have been much more cordial to him if he had been anything but an American. He never let an opportunity slip of standing up boldly and firmly for the institutions of his native country. It was with this feeling that he wrote the “Notions of a Travelling Bachelor” — a work which should have made his countrymen pause, at least before they accepted the calumnies which were heaped upon him for the patriotic though unwelcome truths of some of his subsequent volumes. While he was living in Paris a severe attack was made upon the economical system of the American government. Cooper came forward and refuted the ungrounded assertions of the royalists in a pamphlet ²⁹, as remarkable for accuracy of information as for energy and literary power. Government, which was then making war upon Lafayette, by calumniating the United States, was exceedingly irritated. The official papers continued their attacks, and enlisted an American in their service, who was afterwards rewarded by a Chargéship from our own government. Cooper stood his ground manfully, meeting every assertion by unquestionable statistics and an array of facts and cogency of argument that, for candid inquirers, set the question at rest for ever.
He was equally earnest in bringing forward the claims of our poets. We have already alluded to his conversation with Godwin upon American literature. He had been exceedingly annoyed on that occasion, to find that his memory, ever treacherous in quotations, would scarcely furnish him with a line of Bryant or Halleck to bear him out in his assertions. A few days afterwards he was to meet a party at Rogers’s, and resolving not to let his friends suffer by his want of memory, took a volume with him.
In Paris his style of living was an admirable illustration of his conceptions of the duties and position of an American gentleman. He occupied part of a handsome Hotel in the “rue St. Maur,” keeping his carriage, and the service required by a genteel and modest establishment. His doors were always open to every American who had claims to his society; and you were sure to meet there the men of both countries whom you would most wish to know. One of his most intimate friends at this time was Morse ³⁰, the inventor of the Telegraph: and the contrast of the two in their frequent rambles has furnished a lively and characteristic paragraph in Willis’s “Pencillings by the Way.” ³¹ He was particularly fond of the society of artists, visiting them in their studios, welcoming them to his house, and whenever he felt that it was needed, giving or procuring them commissions. There is scarcely one, if there is even one, who visited Europe during those seven years, but what has brought back pleasant recollections of his intercourse with Cooper.
Meanwhile nothing was allowed to break in upon his literary duties. A portion of every day was set aside for composition; and by this systematic application, every twelve months told a tale of labor accomplished which seemed a mystery to those who were ignorant of the secret of his industry. The “Prairie” and “Red Rover” appeared when he had been abroad but little over a year; and five others were added to the list of his works before he returned in 1833, without counting the “Travelling Bachelor,” the letters which formed the basis of his ten volumes upon Europe, and the controversy to which we have already alluded.
His time, after his return to the United States, was chiefly divided between New York, Philadelphia, and Cooperstown, in which last he had repaired the fine old mansion which his father had erected when the first hearthstone was laid on the shores of the Otsego.* Originally it stood alone, with the lake before its doors, and the forest, which he has described so beautifully in the Pioneers, in full view on the right. But gradually the hamlet had grown to a village, and the village to a town, until the once almost solitary representative of civilization was surrounded by all the signs of a thriving and industrious population. Still, early associations and its own natural beauty bound him to the spot; and to a mind like his, which looked upon the grave without fear, there must have been a deep pleasure, though a melancholy one, in the thought that his own would be made amid the scenes which had suggested some of his most beautiful creations.
A glance at the engraving will give a better idea of the external appearance of “Otsego Hall,” than any description which we could pen. There is something in the air of it which carries you back to a very different period, — a quiet dignity, well suited to the “lordship of a Patent,’” and the calm grandeur of the primeval forest. The proportions are good, suggesting at first glance the idea of ample space, and convenient arrangement within. The architectural embellishments are rich, and would probably be thought to much so, if they were not in such perfect keeping, and if there were not something in the rich foliage and shrubbery around them, which would seem to leave no medium between a simple cottage or ornamental architecture. The following description from a much admired pen conveys so full and satisfactory an idea of this spot that few are unwilling to disfigure it by any garbling and rewriting of our own:
“Otsego Hall was built at the close of the last century by Judge Cooper. It is a brick building, the bricks having been made for the purpose at the outlet of the lake. The floors were of original forest oak. It contains a large hall, according to the favorite mode of building at that day; the room is nearly fifty feet in length by twenty-four in width, and was occupied as the eating and sitting room of the family during the last generation. Mrs. Cooper, Judge Cooper’s wife, was very partial to flowers — a taste much less common fifty years ago than to-day; and nearly a third of the hall was filled with green-house plants at the time of her death, in 1817. The house received its name from Judge Cooper, but for a long time was more frequently called the “Mansion House” in the village. A double avenue of poplars reached formerly from the gate to the house, the trees having been given to Judge Cooper by Mr. Bingham, of Philadelphia, who first introduced them into America. “On Mr. Cooper’s return from Europe, the house passed into his possession, and he immediately began repairing it. For some years previous it had been uninhabited. The poplars, little suited to the climate, were all in a condition that required they should be cut down; and the whole character of the grounds was changed by winding walks and new plantations, Mr. Cooper setting out many of the trees with his own hands. The house was thoroughly repaired and improved, although the lower story remained much as it was built. Mr. Cooper was very partial to its doors and window shutters of the native oak of the country; entrances were also put up to protect the principal doors, which Mr. Cooper considered necessary in our climate. The architectural designs of the changes were all drawn by Professor Morse, an intimate friend of Mr. Cooper, who was in Cooperstown at the time the work was going on. An old block-house, the only building standing on the spot ” when Judge Cooper came there, was found in the grounds now occupied by the Hall; a few of the older apple-trees about the place are also older than the village. The graves of two deserters, shot during Clinton’s expedition, were found within the grounds of the Hall; and an old iron swivel was also dug up in digging the cellars of a house, since burnt, within the same bounds.” ³²
[The 1860 version added that: “On the death of Mrs. Cooper, who survived her husband but a few months, the Hall passed out of the family, and was enlarged for a boarding-house, and soon after burnt.”]
In this quiet retreat Cooper wrote seventeen new works of fiction, partly in completion of his original design, and some suggested by important questions of the day, in which he always took a lively interest, unbiassed by local or party passions. Here, too, or rather while dividing his time between what he again called home and his two favorite cities, he wrote his “Naval History of the United States,” the “Lives of Naval Commanders,” two or three volumes upon government, and several pamphlets and reviews, upon subjects connected, for the most part, with naval history. Several of these works excited a spirit of hostility, which gave itself vent in bitter criticisms upon the author as well as upon his writings. Regarding this as a wanton violation of private rights, he resolved to appeal to the law on every occasion, and carry the responsibility to the door of every calumniator. This necessarily involved him in a contest with the daily press, and subjected him to many petty annoyances, which would have worn sadly upon a mind less resolute or independent. But he came out of it triumphant, and with new claims to the respect of those whose good opinion he coveted. In 1849 he made arrangements with Mr. Putnam for the republication of the “Leatherstocking Tales” and part of his sea novels, with new introductions and such corrections as he might wish to make, before giving them to the world in their last and permanent form.
Soon after, he began to feel some indications of disease. His feet became tender, and he was unable to use them as freely as he had been accustomed to do. He apologized to me one morning at Putnam’s for not rising to shake hands. “My feet are so tender,” said he, “that I do not like to stand any longer than I can help.” Yet when we walked out together into Broadway, I could not help turning every now and then to admire his commanding figure and firm bearing. Sixty years seemed to sit as lightly on him as fifty on the shoulders of most men; and when I remembered the astonishing proofs which he had given of vigor and fertility, I could not but believe that he had many a new creation in store for us yet. His last visit to New York was in April, 1851, and the change in his appearance was already such as to excite serious apprehensions among his friends. During the first few weeks after his return he seemed to be growing better, and wrote favorable accounts of himself to his friend and medical adviser, Dr. Francis. But soon the disease returned in full force, rapidly gaining upon the vital organs, and terminating, at last, in dropsy. His death is yet too recent to make his last hours a fit subject for description. Dr. Francis has told all that can be told without trespassing too far on the sanctity of private feelings, and borne ample testimony to the beautiful example which he gave of resignation and faith. He died on the 14ᵗʰ of September, 1851, at half-past one in the afternoon. One day more, and he would have completed his sixty-second year.
Bryant has truly said that Cooper’s failings were of that kind which are obvious to all the world. They were the failings of a strong, original, active mind, conscious of its powers, patient of observation and research, but accustomed, from early habit, as well as natural tendencies, to self-reliance and independent judgment. His convictions were earnest, for they partook of the earnestness and sincerity of his nature, and he could no more conceal them from others than he could disguise them to himself. He was not an extensive reader, but he read thoughtfully, and his memory, though defective in quotations, was singularly tenacious of facts. His powers of observation were remarkable, and he naturally learned to place confidence in them. I have always fancied that power of observation was more or less modified by power of sight, and surely that keen, gray eye of his saw things with wonderful distinctness. Thus observation possessed a double charm for him. He loved it as the pleasant exertion of a power which nature had bestowed upon him in its highest perfection, and he loved it too, because, for everything which lay within its scope, he could rely upon it.
In such minds the power of original observation is generally accompanied by the power of original thought. What they see for themselves, they judge for themselves, and with a promptness and vigor that are in exact proportion to the clearness and accuracy of their perceptions. In their intercourse with other men, they will express boldly what they have thought independently, and their earnest advocacy of their own opinions will often be interpreted into a haughty contempt for the opinions of others. Thus Cooper’s originality was often called pride, and his independence overbearing. He was accused of conceit, because he claimed an accuracy for his own observations which he knew that they possessed, and taxed with obstinacy because he would not give up an opinion without a reason. But no man ever knew him well, who did not come to feel somewhat of the same kind of confidence in him which he placed in himself, or conversed with him often without being convinced that everything which could claim to be a reason would b listened to and examined with respectful consideration. If his convictions had been less earnest, or his mind less firm, we should still have had many a long year to wait for “Leather Stocking” and “Long Tom.”
He was a firm believer in the right of property. He regarded it as an essential element of social organization, which every good citizen was bound to uphold. Three of his later works were written in fulfilment of what he regarded as his own duty in this question. He would admit of no denial of the principle, but when any violation of it that could be tolerated occurred on his own grounds, he could be lenient towards the offender, and even kind. One day he caught a man stealing fruit from his garden. The case was so flagrant a one that he might have punished it severely. But instead of flying into a passion and sending for a constable, he reproved the culprit mildly, told him how great a wrong it was doing him to make his neighbors believe that there was no other way of getting at his fruit than by stealing it, and bidding him, the next time that he wanted anything, come in at the gate like a true man and ask for it, helped him fill his basket and let him go.
His love of detail made him minutely exact in all his business transactions. He was always open and liberal in his bargains, but he loved to make them accurately, discuss them in all their bearings, and draw up the contract with his own hand and a business-like method which looked like anything but romance. This trait of character, like all the other traits of a strong mind, pervaded his whole intellectual organization. It was constantly breaking out in his conversation. I remember to have heard him explain minutely to a foreigner who had just used voyage for passage, the difference between the two words. On another occasion, while he was writing the “Bravo,” he stopped me one morning to inquire how far social usage admitted of substituting signora for signorina in addressing an unmarried lady. It was the natural habit of his mind, a conscientious exactness, extending to everything in which he engaged, and to which we owe the minute detail and patient elaboration which make his pictures so truthful. It was the secret, too, of some of his faults; leading him, even in some of his best works, to give too much prominence to circumstances that were not essential to the action, nor consistent with that harmony of proportion which is essential to the general effect of a work of art.
He was a generous man in the best and truest sense of the word, liberal in the use of his money, but judicious and discriminating in his liberality. Money he regarded as a means of gratifying his tastes, and he gratified them to the extent of his means, living in a style suited to his position and his purse, indulging his love for society, his love of travel, his love of art, and all those elegant pleasures which contribute so much to the healthful action of the mind. But he felt that it was also a responsibility, and one that could not be lightly thrown off. He was always ready to give, where the gift was a succor to want, not an encouragement to voluntary idleness. He loved, too, to encourage rising talent, particularly that of young artists. He gave them orders, opened his house to them, and cheerfully acknowledged their claims to his sympathy. On one occasion his attention was called to a young artist who was trying hard to find an opportunity of making himself known. Cooper immediately gave him a small commission, and being convinced by the manner in which it was executed that he had fallen upon a man of superior talents, opened his house to him as to a brother, during his residence in the same city, and on leaving, gave him a free letter of credit upon his banker in Paris. “I had occasion to use it more than once,” said the artist when he told me the story, “and my drafts were all cheerfully accepted. Since then my circumstances have changed, and I have paid him; though I am well convinced that he never would have asked for the money, and that nobody but he and I ever knew of the transaction.”
Some of the controversies in which he was engaged, have left, as controversies always do, false impressions of him upon many minds. He was earnest, and was therefore supposed to be bitter, and the sensitiveness which he was unwilling to acknowledge to himself or to others, often exposed him to ungrounded and even unwarrantable suspicion. A single example will be sufficient to show how far he rose above those vulgar and degrading passions which wilful prejudice has sometimes dared to attribute to him.
It is well known that the account which he has given of the battle of Lake Erie, in his “Naval History,” led to a controversy with Lieutenant Mackenzie. ³³ In the height of the discussion, and just as he was carrying through the press a severe examination of Mackenzie’s version of the battle, the Somers returned from her ill-fated and memorable cruise. Cooper instantly suppressed his paper at the expense of a round sum to the printer. “The poor fellow,” said he, “will have enough to do to escape the consequences of his own weakness. It is no time to be hard upon him now.”
In conversation with Cooper, you could not fail to be struck with his fondness for realities. It seemed strange, at first, that a man who, for full half his career, had scarcely passed a day without writing two or three pages of fiction, should, in what appeared to be the habitual train of his thoughts, be so busy with the positive questions of life. He possessed one of those active minds which find rest in change of object, rather than in repose. He sought relief from invention in observation and discussion. He loved calm inquiry. He loved to think, and his thoughts have less of the ingenuity of the poet than of the clearness and justness of the man of the world. His opinions upon important questions of public policy and private duty, the definite rights of individuals, and the complex and comprehensive interests of nations, were the result of study and reflection, and he held to them firmly. He was firmly attached to the institutions of his country, not merely from habit and as a duty which his birth imposed upon him, but because he believed in them; and he believed in them because reading, observation, and reflection had taught him that they were better adapted than those of any other age or nation to promote the best interests of mankind. But he was painfully aware of our faults, which he laid bare with a boldness which posterity will admire, though his contemporaries repaid him for his frankness with calumny and neglect.
Cooper’s literary habits were in many respects like Scott’s. He never laid out a careful plan beforehand and worked up to it by regular progression. His first conception was an indefinite outline, relating rather to the general object than to the details. The characters once conceived, the incidents rose from them as their natural development. Alfieri ³⁴ tells us that all his tragedies were invented at the opera. Scott used to “simmer” over his morning task in his dressing-room. Cooper was a great walker, and seldom failed, when alone, to be turning over the subject of a chapter in his mind so as to come to his task with something like definite preparation. But his imagination once excited, became strangely wilful in her flights, and the page that grew under his pen was often very unlike the mental sketch. He wrote rapidly, but corrected and altered with a care which seems almost incredible when we consider how much he has written. At one time he had set for himself a daily stint, but I am unable to say how long he adhered to it. In most cases his manuscript went to the compositor chapter by chapter, as fast as it was written, and the work once fairly off his hands, he was glad to lose sight of it and pass to something new. In the early part of his career, he was in the habit of consulting his friends, but practice and success gave him confidence, and few, we believe, if any of his later works, ever went beyond his family circle till they were actually published.
I would gladly go further, and speak of other qualities which are no less deserving of record, than those which I have touched upon so cursorily. But I have already exceeded my limits, and this imperfect sketch must be brought to a close. But I cannot bid adieu to a subject on which I feel so deeply, without expressing the hope that this great man will soon receive at the hands of his own countrymen the same reward which he has already received from foreigners. No productions of the American mind have been spread so extensively as the writings of Cooper. In every country of Europe you will find them side by side with its own favorite classics. In a volume fresh from the leading publishing house of Paris, we find the prospectus of a new edition of all his novels, with vignettes, and in the favorite form of fashionable typography, on the same sheet with the announcement of new editions of Béranger, Lamartine, Thierry, Thiers, and Scott. ³⁵ An eminent physician of our city was called the other day to attend some emigrants recently arrived from Germany. He was anxious to learn where they had got their knowledge of the country of their adoption. “We learnt it all from Cooper,” was the reply. “We have four translations of his works in German, and we all read them.” “Have you anything new from Cooper?” “What is Cooper writing now?” are questions that have been asked me again and again in Italy, where his works are as well known as those of any native. And this, let it be remembered, is not the transient interest excited by a clever sketch of some new scene, which palls upon the taste the moment that the novelty has ceased, but a reputation sustained and confirmed by repeated trials in a period of unexampled literary fertility.
And where are the records of our gratitude for this great work which he has done for us? Where are the busts and the statues which are to tell posterity what a noble form was once the tenement of that noble mind? The columns and the tablets that point out to the pilgrim and the stranger, his favorite haunts and the scenes of his labors? At Florence, in the great square of the Cathedral, within the shadow of Giotto’s tower, one of the first things to which your attention is directed, is a little slab of white marble with the simple inscription of “Sasso di Dante.” There is nothing historically positive about it, but an old tradition says, that this was the place where Dante loved to come and gaze at the immortal dome of Brunelleschi and repentant Florence, jealous of every record of the son whom she condemned to exile and the stake, put up this little tablet on the spot, to tell by what feet it had been hallowed.
[The 1860 edition substitutes “sit in the cool of the evening and gaze on his ‘bel San* Giovanni,’” for “gaze at the immortal dome. ... “, adding, in a footnote” “* ‘Mio bel San Giovanni,’ Divina Commedia — Inferno, c. xix. 17.”]
And now that the grave has closed, for the first time amongst us, over a man great in those things which make nations great for ever, shall his dust mingle like common earth, with the unknown thousands who lived for themselves and are forgotten? Shall he thus pass from amongst us in the fulness of his maturity, and the year of his death bear no record in our annals? It cannot be that where wealth is lavished with eager competition in processions and pageants and vain displays, which fade from the memory with the last shout of the weary multitude, there should not be enough of manly pride to pay the debt of gratitude and justice. It cannot be that the wealth and liberality of New York, should fail in this freshness of her expanding magnificence, to find some means of connecting the manifestations of her own power, with the memory of one of the best and truest of her sons; or that men who look forward with trust, and labor with earnest hearts in the cause of their country, should forget that the surest pledge of the future, is the full and grateful recognition of the past.
[added by Hugh C. MacDougall]
1. James Abraham Hillhouse (1789-1841), American poet and writer of romantic verse dramas.
2. Timothy Dwight (1752-1817), President of Yale College from 1795-1817.
3. William Godwin (1756-1836), English novelist and radical philosopher (husband of Mary Wollstonecraft and father of Mary Shelley, wife of the poet).
4. Epic poem (1785) by Timothy Dwight.
5. Epic poem (1787) by Joel Barlow (1754-1812), later revised as The Columbiad (1807).
6. Ned Myers, as recorded in James Fenimore Cooper, ed., Ned Myers; or, A Life Before the Mast (Philadelphia: Lea and Blanchard, 1893).
7. In Cooper’s The Pilot (1823).
8. Samuel Rogers (1763-1855), English poet who later befriended Cooper in England.
9. London (Kensington) residence of Henry, Baron Holland (1773-1840), whose gatherings of authors and artists were famous, and who also befriended Cooper in England.
10. Baron Cuthbert Collingwood (1750-1810), a British Admiral who took over Admiral Nelson’s fleet after the Battle of Trafalgar.
11. An official document certifying that a sailor was an American citizen — needed to prevent British naval ships from impressing sailors in the Royal Navy by alleging that they were British.
12. Charles Wilkes (1764-1833), New York banker and patron of literature, was a longtime friend of the Cooper and De Lancey families.
13. An itinerant potter in William Wordsworth’s 1819 poem of that name.
14. William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878), poet and friend to Cooper.
15. Dr. John Wakefield Francis (1789-1861), author and doctor; Cooper’s lifelong friend and personal physician.
16. A gala festival held on September 14, 1824 at Castle Garden at the foot of Manhattan to honor the visit to America of the Marquis de Lafayette, hero of the American Revolution.
17. Charles King (1789-1867), editor of the New York American from 1823-1845.
18. John Whipple (1784-1866), Rhode Island attorney, a long-time friend of Cooper.
19. Edmund Kean (1787-1833), English Shakespearean actor, who toured America in 1820-21 and 1825-26.
20. Charles Mathews (1776-1835), English comic actor who toured the United States in 1823; Cooper escorted him on a steamboat trip from New York to Albany to show him upstate New York.
21. James Ellsworth De Kay (1792-1851), New York zoologist.
22. Washington Irving (1783-1859), American essayist and historian.
23. Fitz-Greene Halleck (1790-1867), American poet.
24. Catharine Maria Sedgwick (1789-1867), American novelist.
25. Maria Edgeworth (1767-1849), Anglo-Irish novelist.
26. Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832), Scottish poet and novelist.
27. Cooper’s works were published in America in 2-volume editions; thus the five travel books occupied 10 volumes.
28. Horatio Greenough (1805-1852), American sculptor and close friend of Cooper.
29. Letter to General Lafayette (1831).
30. Samuel Finley Breese Morse (1791-1872), American painter and inventor; a close friend of Cooper.
31. Nathaniel Parker Willis (1806-1867), American journalist, editor, and essayist.
32. Gervase Wheeler, Rural Homes; or, Sketches of houses suited to American country life, with original plans, designs, &c. (New York, C.Scribner, 1851).
33. Alexander Slidell Mackenzie (1803-1848), author and naval officer who severely criticized Cooper’s Naval History. In 1842, while commanding the US Brig Somers, a mutiny broke out at sea, and Mackenzie had three sailors executed, including Midshipman Philip Spencer, son of the then Secretary of War John Canfield Spencer. Cooper delayed publication of his response to Mackenzie’s criticisms until after the naval officer had been acquitted in a series of courts martial.
34. Conte Vittorio Alfieri (1749-1803), Italian tragic poet.
35. The French poets Pierre Béranger (1780-1857) and Alphonse Lamartine (1790-1869), historians Augustin Thierry (1795-1856) and Thiers (1797-1877), and Sir Walter Scott.