Part 3 out of 4
[Illustration: THE ANGELUS.]
In the "Life of Samuel F.B. Morse" by Samuel Irenaeus Prime appears
Cooper's letter from "Spa, July 31, 1832," to
My Dear Morse: I have had a great compliment paid me, Master
Samuel,--You must know there is a great painter in Bruxelles of the
name of Verboeckhoven, (which means a _bull and a book baked in an
oven!_) who is another Paul Potter. He out does all other men in
drawing cattle,--Well, sir, this artist did me the favor to call at
Bruxelles with the request that I would let him sketch my face. He
came after the horses were ordered, and knowing the difficulty of
the task, I thanked him, but was compelled to refuse. On our
arrival at Liege, we were told that a messenger from the governor
had been to inquire for us, and I began to bethink me of my
sins,--however,--it proved Mr. Bull-and-book-baked had come [by
dilligence] to Liege (sixty-three miles) and got the governor to
give him notice, by means of my passport, when we came. Of course I
sat,--the likeness--like all other pictures you have seen of my
chameleon face--has a vastly live-like look,--the compliment is
none the less, and, provided the artist does not mean to serve me
up as a specimen of American wild beasts, I shall thank him for it.
To be followed twelve posts by a first-rate artist, who is in favor
with the King, is so unusual, that I probed him a little. I found
him well skilled in his art,--his gusto for natural subjects,
strong,--and his favorite among all my books is "The Prairie,"
which you know is filled with wild beasts. Here the secret is
out.--He sent me a beautiful pencil sketch of a Belgian hind as a
memorial of our achievement.
[Illustration: EUGENE-JOSEPH VERBOECKHOVEN.]
Cooper and his family spent some days drinking the waters at Spa, with
best effects for Mrs. Cooper--not over-strong since the Paris days. They
left its grass of "ghostly green" when the "dog-star raged with all its
fury," and "came on old Aix-la-Chapelle, well-cloaked and carriage
windows closed." In compliment to the republic of letters the postman
called on Cooper here, and like tribute was also paid two posts farther
on, where he was asked if he "was the man who wrote books!" That day was
well spent when they reached the terrace above the Rhine and got their
first view of the towers of Cologne. In "fine, lofty rooms" overlooking
a garden, they here enjoyed a night's rest, a breakfast, and then a
pilgrimage to "the unfinished cathedral, that wonder of Gothic
architecture." A visit was paid to the house in which Rubens was born,
it is said, and the very room which sheltered the last moments of Mary
of Medicis, wife of Henry IV and mother of Louis XIII of France. Cooper
thought it "a better sort of burgher home," and saw it as "a public
[Illustration: RUBENS' COLOGNE HOME.]
Again on the wing, they passed the student-town of Bonn, Rhine ruins of
charming legend on the near and far banks of the river, until on an
island in the Rhine they found rest and refreshment at a convent-inn.
The host, wife, child, cook, and soldiers three, quartered there, gave
them welcome and good cheer. Their parlor was that of the lady abbess,
and her bedchamber fell to Mrs. Cooper. "The girls were put into cells,
where girls ought never to be put," wrote their father. _He_ "sallied
forth alone, in quest of sensation," and got it in the muttering of
thunder, and the flashing of lightning over the "pitchy darkness of the
seven mountains." And he and the fiercely howling winds from the trees
had a chase through the gloomy cloisters, whence he saw, in the vast,
cavern-like kitchen, the honest islanders eating with relish his surplus
[Illustration: CONVENT OF NUNNENWORTH.]
As the storm grew in strength Cooper went to the corridor above, leading
past their rooms To-and-fro he paced until a bright flash revealed the
far, end door to which he went, opened, and entered into utter darkness.
Taking a few steps he paused--"for the whole seemed filled by a clatter,
as of ten thousand bat-wings against glass." His hand rested on
something--he knew not what--when by another vivid flash he saw that he
was in an open gallery of the convent chapel. The bat-wings were small,
broken panes of the high arched windows, rattling in the gale. Yet by
the chasing flashes of angry light he saw beneath him grim figures in
the shadowy motions of troubled spirits. They wore upon his nerves,
until he caught himself shouting: "'Ship ahoy; ship ahoy! What cheer,
what cheer?' in a voice as loud as the winds." He was about to speak
when his gallery door opened and the withered face of an old crone
appeared by a flash; then came thunder, and the face vanished. After a
pause the door opened again, and on the same uncomely face, when,
without thought, our author gave a loud, deep groan. The door slammed on
the time-stricken form, and he was again alone with the storm-demons who
now soon grew drowsy and went to sleep, and he himself went to
bed,--and, wrote he, "slept like a postillion in a cock-loft, or a
midshipman in the middle-watch." But regret came in the morning when
Mrs. Cooper told her husband how a poor old soul, frightened by the
storm, had stolen into the chapel to pray, where, on hearing strange
groans, she dropped her candle and fled in fear to Madam's maid, who
gave her bed-shelter for the night. An after-breakfast look at the
storm-ridden chapel disclosed other good reasons than the groans for the
poor creature's flight. A peace offering made sweet her next night's
sleep, when the travelers had gone on their way, diving here and there
into lore and legend of the mighty Rhine-stream.
[Illustration: WATCH TOWER ON THE RHINE.]
Near the Prussian frontier was "a castle that stood beetling on a crag
above the road," where smoke actually arose from a beacon-grate that
thrust itself out "from a far-front tower." Such attractions were not
to be passed, and up the winding way over two hundred feet they went,
and over the small drawbridge, guarded by one groom and the Dutch growl
of a ferocious mastiff. In walls, towers, queer gap terraces,--giving
lovely glimpses of the Rhine,--court, outside stairways of iron, fine
old Knights' Hall--its huge fire-place, and its center droplights of
lamps fitted into buckhorns--and curious armor, Cooper found additional
material for his prolific pen.
During the year 1832 Cooper gave "The Heidenmauer, a Rhine Legend," to
the world. While the book itself is full of mediaeval, Rhine-country
charm, of brilliant charge and countercharge, of church and state power,
unfortunately for its author in its "Introduction" was this sentence:
"Each hour, as life advances, am I made to see how capricious and vulgar
is the immortality conferred by a newspaper." This brought upon its
writer a whirlwind of caustic criticism in the American papers, and soon
became a challenge of battle by one who was to prove himself brave,
able, fearless, and _right_ through coming years of hot and bitter
strife. By one of the leading editors the glove was taken up in these
words: "The press has built him up; the press shall pull him down."
Posterity has forgotten the stirring conflict, but Cooper's books will
never fail to fire the heart and brain of every mother's son for all
In a skiff, spreading a sprit sail, they crossed the Rhine at Bingen by
that postmaster's assurance of "Certainly, as good a ferry as there is
in Germany.--_Ja_--_Ja_--we do it often." Through the Duchy of Nassau
they tested its wines from Johannesberg to Wiesbaden. Then up the Main
to Frankfort, on to Darmstadt, and thence to Heidelberg. It was quite
dark when they "crossed the bridge of the Neckar," but "Notwithstanding
the obscurity" wrote Cooper, "we got a glimpse of the proud old ruin
overhanging the place, looking grand and sombre in the gloom of night."
He thought the ruins by daylight "vast, rather than fine" though parts
had "the charm of quaintness." The "picturesque tower" was noted, adding
"but the finest thing certainly is the view from the garden-terrace
above." Below it, unrolls miles of the beautiful Neckar valley country,
through which they drove to Ludwigsburg and on to Stuttgart. Beyond,
appeared a distant view of "a noble ruin" crowning a conical eminence.
This was the Castle of Hohenzollern, "the cradle of the House of
Brandenburg" to which a thunderstorm prevented their intended visit.
[Illustration: HEIDELBERG AND CASTLE.]
Returning to a vale of Wurtemberg they saw "a little rivulet" which
began the mighty Danube stream on its way to the Black Sea, and drove up
to the inn at Tuttlingen, of which point Cooper wrote: "This is the
Black Forest,--The wood was chiefly of larches, whence I presume its
name." Warned by their host-postmaster of a long climb of mountain
separating the Rhine and Danube rivers, in a coach and six they left
him for Schaffhausen and the Rhine Falls. The mountain crest gave them a
sweeping view of Lake Constance when its waters looked "dark and wild"
wrote Cooper, adding, "we suddenly plunged down to the banks of the
Rhine and found ourselves once more before an inn-door, in Switzerland."
So in the late summer of this year their second visit was made to the
land of Lake Leman, whose waters are overshadowed by noble mountains;
and its surface broad, tranquil, and blue. Enchanting distance made a
fairy air-castle of a tiny chateau on a little grassy knoll washed by
the lake, but a near view decided the family "to take refuge in a
furnished house, _Mon Repose_," in a retired corner quite near the
shore at Vevay.
[Illustration: VEVAY SHORES OF LAKE LEMAN.]
A boat, with honest John Descloux and his two crooked oars, was soon
secured, and many an hour was spent listening to his lore of Leman, as
they floated their several hours a day over its waters, under fair skies
[Illustration: FETE DES VIGNERONS, 1833.]
During this Switzerland vacation Cooper's fancy was strongly attracted
by Vevay's celebration of an old-time festival, _abbaye des Vignerons_,
or great holiday of the vine-dressers. It was "a gay and motley scene,
blending the harvest-home with a dash of the carnival spirit." Shepherds
and shepherdesses in holiday attire and garlands, tripping the measures
of rustic song and dance. Aproned gardeners with rake and spade, their
sweethearts with bread-baskets of fruit and flowers, uniting in the
dance _a la ronde_, as they came to a certain point in the procession;
and so went the reapers, mowers, gleaners, herdsmen, and dairy-maids in
Alpine costume, timing their steps to horn and cow-bell, and singing the
heart-stirring chorus _Ranz des Vachs_, or the "Cowherds of the Alps,"
the wild notes coming back in many an Alpine echo. The festival
concluded with a rustic wedding, the bride being dowered down to the
broom and spindle by the lady of the manor.
[Illustration: NOAH'S ARK, VEVAY, 1833.]
Such a holiday on the shores of Lake Leman, and the Pass of St. Bernard,
Cooper placed as a background for his plot based on the hard old
feudal-times law--that (in the canton of Berne) the odious office of
executioner or headsman was made a family inheritance. The efforts of
the unhappy father and mother to save their son from such a fate make up
the pathetic interest of "The Headsman," issued in 1833. The Hospice of
St. Bernard so well described in this book was visited by the author
the previous year.
[Illustration: HOSPICE ST. BERNARD.]
When the power to write first dawned on Cooper's mind there came also
and grew with it the desire to serve his native land in the field of
letters. Love of country and countrymen guided his ardent, generous pen
in "The Spy," "The Pioneers," "The Last of the Mohicans," and "The
Prairie," written before he went to Europe. European society he entered,
and was courted as literary men of reputation are courted there, but
always with the honest pride of being an American. Under these pleasant
conditions "The Red Rover," "The Traveling Bachelor," "The Wept of
Wish-ton-Wish," and "The Water Witch" were written. But "The Bravo" was
followed by such "a series of abuse in the public press" at home that
when Cooper returned, November 5, 1833, these onsets greatly surprised
him. His nature was roused by attack; but "never was he known to quail,"
wrote a famous English critic of him, and added: "Cooper writes like a
hero!" He believed the public press to be a power for life or death to a
nation, and held _personal_ rights as sacred; and challenged on these
lines he became a lion at bay. Excepting from his fine old personal
friends, staunch and true, he had a chilling reception. For saying, at
an evening party a few days after landing, that he had been sadly jolted
by the bad pavement and was surprised that the town was so poorly
lighted, he was seriously warned by these warm friends: "By the shade of
Washington! and the memory of Jay! to be more prudent; not a syllable of
pavements or a word of lamps could be uttered." Because he thought the
bay of Naples of more classic interest than the bay of New York, he was
voted "devoid of taste and patriotism." So hurt was he by public
distrust that he thought seriously of writing no more; its injustice led
him to criticise harshly many changes which had occurred during his
absence. The Indian trail had made way for canal-boats, connecting the
ocean with the inland seas; the railroads had come, with other active
commercial interests, to stay.
[Illustration: THE BAY OF NAPLES.]
[Illustration: NEW YORK HARBOR.]
After their return from Europe Cooper and his family passed some winters
in New York City--those of 1833-34 and 1835-36 in Bleecker Street near
Thompson. There he "first erected his household gods, French gods these,
for the house throughout was equipped with furniture from France, and
ministered solely by French servitors," writes Doctor Wolfe. But love
for the old Hall on the shores of Otsego grew strong beyond resistance.
It was vacant and of forlorn appearance when the author returned to it
in 1834. From a simple, roomy, comfortable house it was made over into a
picturesque country-seat, from designs, English in style, drawn by
Professor Morse, who was at Cooperstown during alterations. Some of
these, without thought of the cold Otsego winters--ice and snow on the
battlemented roof--made leaks frequent and disturbing.
[Illustration: OTSEGO HALL AFTER THE RECONSTRUCTION OF 1834.]
In 1835 Cooper wrote of this home: "The Hall is composite enough, Heaven
knows, being a mongrel of the Grecian and Gothic orders; my hall,
however, is the admiration of all the mountaineers--nearly fifty feet
long, twenty-four wide, and fifteen feet high. I have raised the ceiling
three feet, and regret it had not been ten. I have aversion to a room
[Illustration: COOPER'S LIBRARY AT OTSEGO HALL.]
The library was a well-shaped room of twenty by twenty-four feet, the
ceiling twelve feet above. Its deep, dark oak windows opened on the
thick shade-trees of the quiet southwest; the walls, well-lined with
books of value, could show no complete set of his own. In one corner of
this room was a large folding screen on which were pasted print-pictures
of places they had visited during their seven years' tour of Europe; a
like screen was in the hall. In this library was the author's plain,
shining, English walnut writing-table and chair, whose first owner was
Richard Fenimore, Cooper's maternal grandfather, of Rancocus, New
Jersey; many of Cooper's works were written upon it. On the opposite
side of the hall was the author's bedchamber. It is interesting to learn
from Mr. Keese that the large north bed-rooms, so cold in winter, were
known as "Siberia" and "Greenland," while those on the south, and warm
in summer, were called "Florida" and "Italy." We are told the grounds
were changed by winding walks and the setting out of trees--not a few
with Cooper's own hands. And under these fine trees, in their southwest
favored corner, shadows and sunlight play hide and seek about a copy of
Mr. and Mrs. Cooper's favorite garden seat. Great gates were made for
the garden entrance, as heavy and hard to move as those of "The Hutted
Knoll" in the author's story of "Wyandotte." It was indeed an attractive
home, made more so by its attractive inmates. Concerning these Mr. Keese
writes: "Noting Cooper's fondness for animals, the family brought from
Paris a magnificent 'tiger' cat weighing fifteen pounds--'Coquelicot' by
name. He lived at the Hall until the day of his death, and occupied the
most comfortable chair in the parlor and was rarely disturbed." Finally
the old Hall became their only home, and here, in his stronghold at the
foot of the Glimmerglass, Cooper kept open house for his friends.
[Illustration: COPY OF COOPER'S GARDEN SEAT.]
During the summer months he took a lively interest in his garden. From
his daughter we learn: "It was his delight to watch the growth of
different plants day by day. His hot-beds were of the earliest, and he
was the first to grow egg-plant, Brussels sprouts, and other unusual
vegetables and fruits." The first and choicest of fruit or vegetable was
gathered by himself as a little offering to Mrs. Cooper, and placed by
him at her plate at table. And he took great pleasure in carrying with
his own hands baskets of choice fruit and vegetables to different
friends and neighbors. Many were these that the author and his old
shipmate Ned Myers carried about the village to different homes.
[Illustration: JUDGE NELSON.]
Many also were the talks that Cooper and his friend and constant
companion, Judge Nelson, of the Supreme Court, had on garden affairs, as
well as on legal and political questions of the day; many were their
visits to the hot-beds and melon hills. "Ah, those muskmelons! Carefully
were they watched." This penman was frankly proud of his melons, their
early growth and flavor. But for all his care this melon-pride met its
Waterloo one spring in a special box of superior seed, started in a
favored place for light and warmth, and to be early transplanted. Soon
the tiny green blades appeared, duly became leaflets, to the joy of the
Judge and the planter. "Those two venerable heads bending together in
close scrutiny over the young plants was a pleasant sight, in the
author's eager interest and genial sympathy of the Judge." But alas!
neither jurist nor novelist was a botanist, and the triumphantly
expected melon vines basely proved after a few more days of tender
nursing to be the leaves of "that vagabond weed, the wild-cucumber
vine." Here too he gathered material for future books, and did much
writing. Evening twilight often found him pacing the large hall, his
hands behind him, his head doing active duty in decisive nods of _yea_
and _nay_, and words spoken aloud for putting on paper in his library
next morning. Some of this writing was to his profit and pleasure, and
some, alas! to his sad disturbance--as was "A Letter to his Countrymen,"
published in 1834.
A picture of this Otsego-Hall home life would prove a sorry failure with
"Pumpkin" left out. Therefore appears Pumpkin, the family horse, who
earned his name by drawing a load of pumpkins for Seraphina, the cow, to
eat. It is of note that his horseship carried "a very light whisp of a
tail, and had a gait all his own in going at times on three legs and, at
times, kicking up both hind ones in a way more amusing than alarming, by
leaving an interesting doubt as to fore or aft movement, in the mind of
Of Cooper's daily active life Mr. Keese notes: "He rose early, did much
writing before breakfasting at nine, and afterwards until eleven
o'clock. Then Pumpkin, hitched to his yellow buggy, was brought to the
door"; and when her health would allow, Mrs. Cooper often went with her
husband to their _chalet_ farm. Sometimes it was his author-daughter who
went with her father; and again, some friend was hailed from the street
for the trip. These several active hours would give him a fine appetite
for their three o'clock dinner, on his return. "The late afternoon and
evening were given to friends at home, or to visiting, and often to his
favorite game of chess with Mrs. Cooper."
Some two years after Cooper's return from abroad, a friend about to sail
for Europe met him walking leisurely along Broadway with his coat open
and a great string of onions in his hand. Seeing several persons turn to
look at him, then speak to each other, the friend too turned--"and
behold, it was Cooper!" After greetings he raised his bunch of onions
and said: "I have turned farmer, but am obliged to come to town now and
then, as you see." Kind remembrances were sent to Greenough; and of
Italy he added: "There is no place where mere living is such a luxury."
Fenimore Cooper had a keen sense of the ridiculous. His table-talk by
his own fireside was full of cheery life, fun, and glowing merriment.
"Severe and stern his fine face could be when touching on serious
subjects," but his relish of the ludicrous and comical was very strongly
marked, and when such came his way in reading, it was carried at once to
the family circle and read by him with zest, and a laugh so hearty it
brought the tears rolling down his cheeks. While in Europe he outlined a
satirical tale in which the men's parts should be seriously assumed by
monkeys. An English baronet, Sir John Goldencalf, and a Yankee skipper,
Captain Noah Poke, were made to travel together through the different
parts of Monkeyland, called Leaphigh, Leaplow, and Leapthrough,
representing England, America, and France. This tale was hastily written
in his New York home on Bleecker Street near Thompson. Of these
countries, their people, and that time, the story was a strong, clever,
and ludicrous picture, which in this day would be accepted as such, and
be equally helpful and amusing to writers and readers. It was called
"The Monikins," and was published in 1835.
Delight in the scenery of Switzerland led Cooper to put in book form his
notes on his visits to that small country of many interests and
magnificent views. Under the name of "Sketches in Switzerland," it was
published in 1836. The France and England part of his "Gleanings in
Europe" went to print the next year. Concerning his book on old England,
Cooper, in the autumn of 1837, writes: "They tell me it has made a stir
in London, where I get abused and read _a la Trollope_. It ought to do
them good, but whether it does or not depends upon Divine grace." This
effort has been called keen, clever, but untimely, tending rather to set
people by their ears than to save them from their sins.
In the summer of 1837 Cooper found himself facing the disputed ownership
of "Three-Mile Point" of Lake Otsego. On his return from Europe he found
that his townspeople regarded this point--Myrtle Grove--as belonging to
them. But Judge Cooper's will left it to all his heirs until 1850, when
it was to go to the youngest bearing his name. While willing to allow
the villagers picnic privileges, Cooper insisted on his clear title to
this pretty shore point; but Cooperstown Solons hotly fought what they
called "the arrogant claims of one J. Fenimore Cooper," who, however,
finally proved his title by winning the case at law. But he lost much
of the good-will of his townsmen, whom he thought "progressive in
killing the red-man and chopping down trees."
[Illustration: WILD-ROSE POINT OR THREE-MILE POINT.]
The beauty of this Wild-Rose Point claimed Cooper's earliest love. He
made it the scene where Deerslayer and Chingachgook rescued Wah-ta-Wah.
Its flatiron-shaped pebble-beach jutted out from the lake's west shore
and was covered with fine old forest trees garlanded with vines; and
from their graveled rootage there gurgled a limpid spring of sweet
waters. Then a wild brook came brawling down the hills to find its
gentle outlet on the beach. Azalias and wild roses made its shrubbery,
while pitcher-plant, moccasin-flower, gentians blue and white, with
brilliant lobelias, were among the native blossoms that charmed the
author's childhood and made this Three-Mile Point especially dear to
[Illustration: COOPER'S NEW YORK CITY HOME, ST. MARK'S PLACE.]
The Italian part of Cooper's "Gleanings in Europe" was brought to print
in 1838, and later in this year appeared "The American Democrat." Then
"Homeward Bound," its sequel, "Home as Found," and the "Chronicles of
Cooperstown"--all came in hot haste from the author's modest three-story
brick home in St. Mark's Place near Third Avenue in New York City. In
these books Cooper told his side of foreign and town troubles, and it
was said that not ten places or persons could complain in truth that
they had been overlooked. Thereby New York society and the American
press became greatly excited. Cooper was ever a frank friend or an open
enemy. A critic wrote of him and this time: "He had the courage to defy
the majority and confound the press, from a heavy sense of duty, with
ungrateful truths. With his manly, strong sense of right and wrong he
had a high regard for courage in men and purity in women, but, with his
keen sense of justice, he was not always judicious. Abroad he defended
his country with vigor, and was fearless in warning and advising her,
when needful, at home. While he never mistook 'her geese for swans,' he
was a patriot to the very core of his heart." However, this
over-critical writing soon became newspaper gossip, and began for Cooper
six long years of tedious lawsuits, finally settled in his favor in
1843. With such able men as Horace Greeley, Park Benjamin, and Thurlow
Weed among others in battle-array against him, Cooper closed this strife
himself by making a clear, brilliant, and convincing six-hour address
before the court during a profound silence. Well may it be said: "It was
a good fight he fought and an honorable victory he won" when he silenced
the press as to publishing private or personal affairs. His speech was
received with bursts of applause, and of his closing argument an eminent
lawyer said: "I have heard nothing like it since the days of Emmet." "It
was clear, skilful, persuasive, and splendidly eloquent," is another's
record. At the Globe Hotel the author wrote his wife the outcome, and
added: "I tell you this, my love, because I know it will give you
pleasure." In "American Bookmen," by M.A. De Wolfe Howe, it appears that
when going to one of his Cooper trials Mr. Weed picked up a new book to
shorten the journey. It proved to be "The Two Admirals," and says Weed:
"I commenced reading it in the cars, and became so charmed that I took
it into the court-room and occupied every interval that my attention
could be withdrawn from the trial with its perusal." Mr. Howe adds:
"Plaintiff and defendant have rarely faced each other under stranger
[Illustration: HORACE GREELEY.]
[Illustration: PARK BENJAMIN.]
[Illustration: THURLOW WEED.]
While in the St. Mark's-Place home the family found Frisk, described by
Mr. Keese as "a little black mongrel of no breed whatever, rescued from
under a butcher's cart in St. Mark's Place, with a fractured leg, and
tenderly cared for until recovery. He was taken to Cooperstown, where
he died of old age after the author himself. Mr. Cooper was rarely seen
on the street without Frisk."
The shores of Otsego, "the Susquehanna's utmost spring," Cooper made the
scenic part of "Home as Found," but high authority asserts the
characters to be creatures of the author's fancy, all save one,--"a
venerable figure, tall and upright, to be seen for some three-score
years moving to and fro over its waters; still ready to give, still
ready to serve; still gladly noting all of good; but it was with the
feeling that no longer looked for sympathy." It was of "Home as Found"
that Morse wrote to Cooper: "I will use the frankness to say I wish you
had not written it. But whenever am I to see you?"
The effect of this conflict with the press so cut the sale of Cooper's
books that in 1843 he wrote: "I know many of the New York booksellers
are afraid to touch my works on account of the press of that righteous
and enlightened city." Of these disturbing conditions Balzac's opinion
was: "Undoubtedly Cooper's renown is not due to his countrymen nor to
the English: he owes it mainly to the ardent appreciation of France."
Cooper's income, from England, suffered on account of an act of
Parliament change, in 18381 of the copy-right law. But his London
publisher, Bentley, was credited with usually giving the author about
$1500 each for his later stories. Report gave him about $5000 each for
his prior works.
May 10, 1839, Cooper published his "History of the United States Navy."
It was first favored and then, severely criticised at home and abroad;
but the author was fourteen years in gathering his material, and his
close contact with navy officers and familiarity with sea life made him
well qualified for the work. He had not yet convinced the press that an
author's and editor's right to criticise was mutual; that each might
handle the other's public work as roughly as he pleased, but neither
might touch on the other's private affairs. However, the "Naval History"
sold well and has borne the test of time, and still remains an authority
on subjects treated. There are many officers who well remember their
delight on first reading those accounts of the battles of long-ago, of
which Admiral Du Pont said that any lieutenant "should be ashamed not to
know by heart." One well qualified to judge called Cooper's "Naval
History" "one of the noblest tributes ever paid to a noble profession."
When "The Pathfinder" came later from the author's pen critics were
startled from the press-estimate of his character by "the novel beauty
of that glorious work--I must so call it," said Bryant. Natty's goodness
a dangerous gift might prove for popular success, but its appeal to
Washington Irving won this record: "They may say what they will of
Cooper; the man who wrote this book is not only a great man, but a good
man." Balzac held it to be "_un beau livre_" and thought Cooper owed his
high place in modern literature to painting of the sea and seamen, and
idealizing the magnificent landscapes of America. It was of Cooper and
his works that Balzac wrote: "With what amazing power has he painted
nature! How all his pages glow with creative fire!"
[Illustration: J.W. TRUMBULL.]
Concerning Cooper's innate love for his home-country scenery, Dr.
Francis gives this incident: "It was a gratifying spectacle to see
Cooper with old Colonel Trumbull, the historical painter, discanting on
Cole's pencil in delineating American forest-scenery--a theme richest in
the world for Cooper. The venerable Colonel with his patrician
dignity, and Cooper with his aristocratic bearing, yet democratic
sentiment. Trumbull was one of the many old men I knew who delighted in
Cooper's writings, and in conversation dwelt upon his captivating
[Illustration: JAMES FENIMORE COOPER.]
Personally, Mr. Cooper was a noble type of our race. He was of massive,
compact form, a face of strong intelligence and glowing with masculine
beauty, in his prime. His portraits, though imposing, by no means do
justice to the impressive and vivacious presence of the man. This pen
picture is by one who knew the author well.
[Illustration: CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS.]
[Illustration: COLUMBUS' FLEET.]
On July 8, of this year, Cooper was made a member of the Georgia
Historical Society, and the following autumn "Mercedes of Castile" came
from his pen. It relates the first voyage of Columbus, and "with
special knowledge of a seaman, the accuracy of an historian, and with
something of the fervor of a poet."
Gleaning Miss Cooper's "Pages and Pictures," one reads, as to "The
Deerslayer": "One pleasant summer evening the author of 'The
Pathfinder,' driving along the shady lake shore, was, as usual, singing;
not, however, a burst of Burns's 'Scots wha ha' wi' Wallace bled!' or
Moore's 'Love's Young Dream,'--his favorites,--but this time a political
song of the party opposing his own. Suddenly he paused as a woods'
opening revealed to his spirited gray eye an inspiring view of Otsego's
poetical waters." When the spell was broken he turned to his beloved
daughter and exclaimed: "I must write one more book, dearie, about our
little lake!" Another far-seeing look was taken, to people this
beautiful scene with the creatures of his fancy, followed by a moment of
silence, then cracking his whip, he resumed his song with some careless
chat, and drove home. A few days later the first pages of the new book
were written. When the touch of Time was frosting his own head, he leads
Natty, as a youth, over the first warpath of his hero. And so the
"Glimmerglass" and its "Mt. Vision" country grew into the story of "The
Deerslayer"; it is "the very soul of the little lake overflowing with
youthful freshness and vivid with stirring adventure."
[Illustration: THE GLIMMERGLASS.]
On the bosom of its waters is anchored "Muskrat Castle," and over it, to
and fro, move the "Ark of Floating Tom" and the Indian canoes, which
gave a strange, wild interest to the story. Afloat and ashore come those
unlike sisters,--proud Judith, handsome but designing, and
simple-hearted Hetty, gentle, innocent, and artless; both so real and
feminine, and yet so far removed from their supposed father, the
buccaneer. Then comes this Uncas of the eagle air, swooping with lithe
movement to his rocky trysting-place. And Uncas is in strong contrast
with "The Pathfinder's" "Arrowhead," who was a wonder-sketch of the
red-man's treachery and vengeance, while his sweet girl-wife,
"Dew-of-June," shows, true to life, an Indian woman's unfaltering
devotion to her savage lord. Over all its pages broods the commanding
spirit of "The Deerslayer,"--the forest's young Bayard who has yet to
learn what the taking of human life is like. So, in "The Deerslayer,"
printed in 1841, the "Little Lake" (Otsego), with its picturesque
shores, capes, and forest-crowned heights, was made classic soil. Just
back of "The Five-Mile Point."--where Deerslayer gave himself up to
merciless Indian justice at the Huron Camp, and later was rescued by
British regulars--is the rocky gorge, Mohican Glen, through which a
purling brook ripples by its stone-rift banks thatched with great clumps
of rose and fern. From the gravel-strewn shore of Hutter's Point beyond,
the eyes of Leatherstocking first fell upon the Glimmerglass, and
impressed by its wonder and beauty he exclaimed: "This is grand! 't is
solemn! 't is an edication of itself." Leaning on his rifle and gazing
in every direction, he added: "Not a tree disturbed, but everything left
to the ordering of the Lord, to live and die, to His designs and laws!
This is a sight to warm the heart."
[Illustration: OTSEGO LAKE.]
The tribes, hunters, and trappers had their "own way of calling
things," and "seeing the whole basin, often fringed with pines, would
throw back the hills that hung over it," they "got to calling the place
the 'Glimmerglass.'" At Gravelly Point opposite, Deerslayer killed his
first Indian, and above are the tree-tops where rose the star that timed
Hist's meeting with her lover. Some distance to the north is the
spot--now known as the "Sunken Islands"--which marks the site of Muskrat
Castle, and is near the last resting-place of Hetty Hutter and her
mother. And far to the southwest lies a long, low, curving beach jutting
sickle-shape into the lake. As a favored haunt of muskrats, it was once
called Muskrat Cove, and now Blackbird Bay. Just beyond lies Fenimore,
the home of Cooper's early married life.
In the author's pages on England, published in 1837, was expressed a
wish to write a story on "the teeming and glorious naval history of that
land." Our own country at that time had no fleet, but Cooper's interest
in his youthful profession made quite fitting to himself the words of
his old shipmate, Ned Myers: "I can say conscientiously that if my life
were to be passed over again it would he passed in the navy--God bless
the flag!" Out of England's long naval records Cooper made "The Two
Admirals," an old-time, attractive story of the evolution of fleets, and
the warm friendship between two strong-hearted men in a navy full of
such, and at a time before the days of steam. "Cooper's ships live," so
says Captain Mahan; and continues: "They are handled as ships then were,
and act as ships still would act under the circumstances." This naval
historian thought "the water a noble field for the story-teller." "The
Two Admirals" first appeared in _Graham's Magazine,_ for which Cooper
was regularly engaged to write in 1842. On June 16 of this year a
decision was rendered in the "Naval History" dispute. One of the
questions was whether Cooper's account of the battle of Lake Erie was
accurate and fair and did justice to the officers in command, and
whether he was right in asserting that Elliott, second in command, whom
Perry at first warmly commended and later preferred charges against, did
his duty in that action. Cooper maintained that while Perry's victory in
1813 had won for himself, "as all the world knows, deathless glory,"
injustice had been done to Elliott. Three arbitrators chosen by the
parties to the dispute decided that Cooper had fulfilled his duty as an
historian; that "the narrative of his battle of Lake Erie was true; that
it was impartial"; and that his critics' "review was untrue, not
impartial"; and that they "should publish this decision in New York,
Washington, and Albany papers." Later Commodore Elliott presented Cooper
with a bronze medal for this able and disinterested "defense of his
[Illustration: JESSE D. ELLIOTT'S LAKE ERIE MEDAL.]
[Illustration: MEDAL GIVEN TO JAMES FENIMORE COOPER BY JESSE D.
Professor Lounsbury's summary of Cooper's "Naval History" is: "It is
safe to say, that for the period which it covers it is little likely to
be superseded as the standard history of the American navy. Later
investigation may show some of the author's assertions to be erroneous.
Some of his conclusions may turn out as mistaken as have his prophecies
about the use of steam in war vessels. But such defects, assuming that
they exist, are more than counterbalanced by advantages which make it a
final authority on points that can never again be so fully considered.
Many sources of information which were then accessible no longer exist.
The men who shared in the scenes described, and who communicated
information directly to Cooper, have all passed away. These are losses
that can never be replaced, even were it reasonable to expect that the
same practical knowledge, the same judicial spirit and the same power of
graphic description could be found united again in the same person."
Most amusing was Cooper's own story of a disputing man who being told:
"Why, that is as plain as two and two make four," replied: "But I
dispute that too, for two and two make twenty-two."
Cooper called the Mediterranean, its shores and countries, "a sort of a
world apart, that is replete with charms which not only fascinate the
beholder, but linger in the memories of the absent like visions of a
glorious past." And so his cruise in 1830, in the _Bella Genovese_,
entered into the pages of "Wing-and-Wing." The idea was to bring
together sailors of all nations--English, French, Italian, and
Yankee--on the Mediterranean and aboard a French water-craft of peculiar
Italian rig--the lateen sail. These sails spread like the great white
wings of birds, and the craft glides among the islands and hovers about
every gulf and bay and rocky coast of that beautiful sea. Under her
dashing young French captain, Raoul Yvard, _Le Fen Follet_
(Jack-o'-Lantern or fire-fly, as you will) glides like a water-sprite
here, there, and everywhere, guided by Cooper's sea phrases,--for which
he had an unfailing instinct,--that meant something "even to the
land-lubber who does not know the lingo." It is said many down-east
fishermen never tire of Cooper, but despise many of his followers
because of their misuse of sea terms. But more of "Wing-and-Wing": there
was lovely Ghita, so sweet and brave, and anxious for her daring young
lover Raoul, and stricken by the tragedies that befell her in the wake
of Lord Nelson's fleet. The brown mountains of Porta Farrajo, "a small,
crowded town with little forts and a wall," Cooper had seen.
[Illustration: ISLAND OF ELBA.]
He had tested its best inn, _The Four Nations_, by a good dinner in its
dining-room of seven mirrors and a broken tile floor, and had some talk
with its host as to their late ruler,--he said Napoleon came that
evening, sent at once for Elba's oldest flag, which was run up on the
forts as a sign of independence.
[Illustration: ELBA HOME OF NAPOLEON.]
Cooper saw Napoleon's Elba home,--"a low, small house and two wings,
with ten windows in its ninety feet of front." He also saw the more
comfortable one-story home of Napoleon's mother. Other isles and shores
seen then--during his cruise in the _Bella Genovese_--found place in
"Wing-and-Wing," published in 1842. The knowledge thus obtained of
localities and the Italians led Cooper to say: "Sooner or later Italy
will, inevitably, become a single state; this is a result that I hold to
be certain, though the means by which it is to be effected are still
[Illustration: THE BATTLE OF LAKE ERIE.]
[Illustration: COOPER'S DIAGRAM OF THE BATTLE OF LAKE ERIE.]
During 1843 appeared in _Graham's Magazine_ Cooper's "Life-Sketch of
Perry," "The Battle of Lake Erie," and "The Autobiography of a
Pocket-handkerchief," or "Social Life in New York." This volume of
_Graham's Magazine_ also included the life of "John Paul Jones," wherein
appeared Cooper's masterful description of the celebrated battle of the
_Bon Homme Richard_--one of the most remarkable in the brief annals of
that time of American naval warfare.
[Illustration: THE BATTLE OF BON HOMME RICHARD AND THE SERAPIS.]
[Illustration: COOPER'S DIAGRAM OF THE BATTLE OF "BON HOMME RICHARD" AND
Of John Paul Jones himself Cooper wrote:
"In battle, Paul Jones was brave; in enterprise, hardy and original; in
victory, mild and generous; in motives, much disposed to
disinterestedness, though ambitious of renown and covetous of
distinction; in pecuniary relations, liberal; in his affections, natural
and sincere; and in his temper, except in those cases which assailed his
reputation, just and forgiving."
Fenimore Cooper was a veritable pioneer in spirit. He delighted in the
details of American "clearing,"--from the first opening of the forest to
sunlight, by the felling of trees and stump-extractor, to the neat drain
and finished stonewall. On the mountain slope of Otsego's shore, and
less than two miles from Cooperstown, lay his small farm belted with
woodland, from which he had filched it in true pioneer fashion.
Concerning Cooper's "costly contest with the soil," Mr. Keese tells us:
"The inspiring beauty of its commanding views caught Cooper's fancy for
buying it far more than any meager money returns its two hundred acres
[Illustration: STUMP EXTRACTOR.]
After ten years of devoted care the author is on record as saying with
some humor: "for this year the farm would actually pay expenses." But
full returns came in charming views over field, wood, and lake, where
his fancy built "Muskrat Castle" and the "Ark of Floating Tom." Besides,
its pork and butter were the sweetest, its eggs the whitest and
freshest; its new peas and green corn "fit for the pot" were the first
in the country. When the morning writing hours were over at the Hall, it
was to the Chalet, as he called this farm, that he drove, to look after
his horses, cows, pigs, and chickens.
[Illustration: THE CHALET FARM.]
The dumb creatures soon learned to know and love him. They would gather
about him and frequently follow him "in a mixed procession often not a
little comical. He had a most kindly feeling for all domestic animals,"
and "was partial to cats as well as dogs; the pet half-breed Angora
often perched on his shoulders while he sat writing in the library."
Then there were the workmen to direct, for whom he always had a kindly
word. One of these said: "We never had to call on him a second time for
a bill; he brought us the check. When I knocked at his library door it
was surprising how quickly I heard the energetic 'Come in.' When I met
him in the street in winter he often said: 'Well, Thomas, what are you
driving at?' If work was dull he would try to think of something to set
me about." Of Cooper's activity was added: "When the masons were
repairing his home, in 1839, he, at fifty, and then quite stout, went up
their steep, narrow ladder to the topmost scaffold on the gable end and
walked the ridge of the house when the chimney was on fire." The Chalet
brought to the author's mind "Wyandotte," or "The Hutted Knoll," a tale
of border-life during the colonial period. A family of that time forces
from the wilderness an affluent frontier home and settlement for its
successors. In "Sassy Dick" the idle and fallen Indian is pathetically
portrayed: Dick's return to the dignity of Wyandotte, the Indian chief,
by reason of the red-man's fierce instincts, is a pen-picture strong in
contrasts, illustrating how "he never forgot a favor nor forgave an
injury." This story and that of Ned Myers were published in 1843.
[Illustration: THE ESCAPE--FROM "WYANDOTTE"]
Of these years there are records of Cooper's kindly love for little
folk. Miss Caroline A. Foot, a schoolgirl of thirteen and a frequent
visitor at Otsego Hall, had always a warm welcome from Mr. Cooper and
his family. When she was about to leave her Cooperstown home for another
elsewhere, "she made bold to enter his sanctum, carrying her album in
her hand and asking him to write a verse or two in the same." Those
verses have been treasured many years by that little girl, who became
Mrs. George Pomeroy Keese. Two of her treasured verses are:
TO CAROLINE A. FOOT
But now, dear Cally, comes the hour
When triumph crowns thy will,
Submissive to thy winning power
I seize the recreant quill:
Indite these lines to bless thy days
And sing my peans in thy praise.
In after life when thou shalt grow
To womanhood, and learn to feel
The tenderness the aged know
To guide their children's weal,
Then wilt thou bless with bended knee
Some smiling child as I bless thee.
J. FENIMORE COOPER.
Otsego Hall, August, 1843.
[Illustration: Miss CAROLINE ADRIANCE FOOT, AGE 13.]
The delight of the winsome little lady was great, not only for the
loving sentiment but also for the autograph, which is now both rare and
valuable. Not long after the capture of her verses a copy of them was
sent to her friend Julia Bryant, daughter of Mr. Cooper's friend, the
poet. Miss Julia wrote at once in reply that she never would be happy
until she too had some lines over the same autograph. An immediate
request was made of Mr. Cooper at his desk in the old Hall library, and
with "dear Cally" by his side, he wrote:
Charming young lady, Miss Julia by name,
Your friend, little Cally, your wishes proclaim;
Read this and you'll soon learn to know it,
I'm not your papa the great lyric poet.
J. FENIMORE COOPER.
On page 155 of "The Cooperstown Centennial" there appears "A new
glimpse of Cooper"--caught and kept by yet another little girl who
firmly believed the author to be "a genuine lover of children." She
writes that to meet him on the street "was always a pleasure. His eye
twinkled, his face beamed, and his cane pointed at you with a smile and
a greeting of some forthcoming humor. When I happened to be passing the
gates of the old Hall, and he and Mrs. Cooper were driving home from his
farm, I often ran to open the gate for him, which trifling act he always
acknowledged with old-time courtesy. His fine garden joined my father's,
and once, being in the vicinity of the fence, he tossed me several
muskmelons to catch, which at that time were quite rare." In 1844 Mr.
Cooper sent this youthful miss a picture-book, "The Young American's
Library." "The Primer" came with a note "written on large paper, with a
large seal." It was a reprint from an English copy, and kept for sixty
years, it is still thought "delightful reading." In part the
accompanying note reads: "Hall, Cooperstown, April 22, 1844. Mr.
Fenimore Cooper begs Miss Alice Worthington will do him the favor to
accept the accompanying book (which was written expressly for Princess
Alice of Great Britain).
"Mr. Cooper felt quite distressed for Miss Worthington's muff during the
late hot weather, and begs to offer her the use of his new ice-house
should the muff complain." Miss Alice and her cousin were out walking a
very warm April day, with their "precious muffs, which gave him the
merry thought about the ice-house."
[Illustration: Miss ALICE TRUMBULL WORTHINGTON.]
Four years later Miss Worthington received another letter from Mr.
Cooper, in acknowledgment of her sending to him a newspaper clipping
about one of his books. Of this letter is noted: "His handwriting was
fine, beautifully clear, and very distinguished." The note reads:
OTSEGO HALL, COOPERSTOWN, Feb. 12, 1848.
MY DEAR MISS ALICE WORTHINGTON,--I have received your letter with
the most profound sentiments of gratitude. The compliments from the
newspapers did not make half the impression that was made by your
letter; but the attentions of a young lady of your tender years, to
an old man, who is old enough to be her grandfather, are not so
easily overlooked. Nor must you mistake the value I attach to the
passage cut from the paper, for, even that coming through your
little hands is far sweeter than would have been two candy-horns
filled with sugar-plums.
I hope that you and I and John will have an opportunity of visiting
the blackberry bushes next summer. I now invite you to select your
party--of as many little girls, and boys, too, if you can find
those you like, to go to my farm. It shall be your party, and the
invitations must go out in your name. You can have your school if
you like. I shall ask only one guest myself, and that will be John,
who knows the road.
With highest consideration,
Your most obliged and humble servant,
J. FENIMORE COOPER.
During 1844 Cooper brought to print "Afloat and Ashore" and "Miles
Wallingford"--"which two are one," he wrote, "with a good deal of love
in part second for the delight of the ladies." Adventure is plenty,
however, and the water-craft very much alive. In England "Miles
Wallingford" appeared under the name of its heroine, Lucy Harding; and,
says one: "It is a hard task not to fancy he was drawing, in slight
particulars at least, the picture of his own wife, and telling the story
of his early love." The tale is of the good old times in New York, and
land scenes of her river counties.
Those interested in Cooper's review of the naval court-martial of
Lieutenant Alexander Slidell Mackenzie, for the execution of Spencer,
will find the whole subject and its lesson of fearful retribution in
_Graham's Magazine_ of 1843-44. Alleged "mutiny on the high seas" was
charged to young Spencer. He was the son of Secretary of State John C.
Spencer who, as superintendent of public instruction, rejected with
harsh, short comment Cooper's "Naval History" offered (unknown to the
author) for school use and directed the purchase of Mackenzie's "Life of
Perry." Just as Cooper was putting through the press his severe
criticism of Mackenzie's version of the Battle of Lake Erie, the
_Somers_ returned from her unfortunate cruise. Cooper instantly stopped
his paper at the expense of a round sum to the printer, saying: "The
poor fellow will have enough to do to escape the consequences of his own
weakness. It is no time to be hard on him now."
[Illustration: LIEUT. ALEXANDER SLIDELL MACKENZIE.]
The year 1845 brought from Cooper's pen "Satanstoe"--quaint,
old-fashioned, and the first of his three anti-rent books. Its hero, a
member of the Littlepage family, writes his own life-story. From his
home on one of the necks of Long-Island Sound, in Westchester County, he
visits New York City, catches a glimpse of the pleasant Dutch life in
Albany, and with comrades plunges into the wilderness to examine, work,
and settle his new, large grant of land at Mooseridge. Professor
Lounsbury's able life of Cooper affirms of "Satanstoe": "It is a picture
of colonial life and manners in New York during the eighteenth century,
such as can be found drawn nowhere else so truthfully and vividly." The
title "Satanstoe" was given in a moment of Cooper's "intense disgust" at
the "canting" attempt then made to change the name of the dangerous
passage of Hell Gate, East River, to Hurl Gate.
[Illustration: HELL GATE.]
"The Chainbearer," second of the anti-rent series, was published early
in 1846, and continues the story of "Satanstoe" in the person of the
hero's son, who finds in the squatters on his wilderness inheritance
the first working of the disorderly spirit of anti-rent--the burning
question of New York at that time. Honest Andries Coejemans and his
pretty niece Ursula, the wily Newcome and rude Thousandacres of this
story are each strong types of character.
The key to Cooper's own character is expressed in his words: "The most
expedient thing in existence is to do right." In the hour of danger to
aid in protecting the rights of the people from abuse of these rights by
the evil minded among themselves, he held to be the high duty of every
honest, generous, and wise citizen. With such sentiments in mind, he
wrote "The Redskins"--the third and last of the anti-rent series.
Distinguished jurists of our country have declared "remarkable," the
legal knowledge and skill in this series of books.
Eighteen hundred and forty-six saw also in book form Cooper's "Lives of
Distinguished American Naval Officers," which had already appeared in
_Graham's Magazine_. Many of these eminent men had been the author's
friends and messmates in early life. In 1847 "The Crater, or Vulcan's
Peak--A Tale of the Pacific," came from Cooper's pen. The Introduction
states that the book was written from the journal of a distinguished
member of the Woolston family of Pennsylvania, who "struggled hard to
live more in favor with God than in favor with man," and quotes that
warning text of Scripture: "Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed
lest he fall!" and adds, "we have endeavored to imitate the simplicity
of Captain Woolston in writing this book." The story of "a ship-wrecked
mariner, cast away on a reef not laid down on any chart." This barren
spot the castaway makes to bloom as a rose, then brings immigrants to
his Pacific Eden, which finally vanishes like a dream. The work is said
to be an excellent study of the author's own character.
Full of spirit and vigor at fifty-eight, Mr. Cooper in June, 1847, made
a pleasant few weeks' visit to the middle west, going as far as Detroit.
The country beyond Seneca Lake--the prairies and fine open groves of
Michigan--was new to him. Affluent towns with well-tilled lands between,
full of mid-summer promise, where forty years before he had crossed a
wilderness, gave added interest to the entire way. He was far more
deeply impressed with sublime Niagara than in his earlier years and
before he had seen all the falls of Europe. The idea of weaving its
majesty into an Indian story came to him, but, alas! was never written.
[Illustration: NIAGARA FALLS.]
He was pleased with the growth and promise of Buffalo and Detroit, was
charmed with "the beautiful flowery prairies and natural groves of
Michigan," and wrote of them: "To get an idea of Prairie Round,--imagine
an oval plain of some thirty-thousand acres, of surprising fertility,
without an eminence; a few small cavities, however, are springs of water
the cattle will drink." In the prairie's center was a forest island of
some six hundred acres "of the noblest native trees," and in the heart
of this wood was a small round lake a quarter of a mile across. Into
this scene Cooper called some creatures of his fancy; among them a
bee-hunter, suggested by the following incident.
One morning not long after his return from Europe he was passing, as
usual, his leisure hours at the mountain farm. While overlooking his
workmen he espied a small skiff leaving an opposite shore-point of the
lake and making directly for his own landing. Mr. Cooper thought the
boatman was on an errand to himself. Presently the stranger, tin pail in
hand, made his appearance and inquired of Cooper and his men whether a
large swarm of bees had been seen "somewhere there-abouts." He had lost
a fine swarm early in the morning several days before, and had since
looked in vain for them; but "a near-by farmer's wife had seen them
cross the lake that way." No bees had been seen by the men of Chalet.
One of them said, however, "bees had been very plenty about the blossoms
for a day or two." The farmer began to look about closely, and from the
unusual number of bees coming and going among the flowers on the hill,
he felt sure his honeybees were lodged somewhere near. So, with Mr.
Cooper, much interested, the search for the lost swarm began. A young
grove skirted the cliffs; above were scattered some full, tall, forest
trees,--here and there one charred and lifeless. The farmer seemed very
knowing as to bees, and boasted of having one of the largest bee-sheds
in the county. Rustic jokes at his expense were made by the workmen.
They asked him which of the great tall trees his bees had chosen; they
wished to know, for they would like to see him climb it, as Mr. Cooper
had said that no axe should fell his forest favorites. The farmer nodded
his head and replied that there was no climbing nor chopping for him
that day--the weather was too warm; that he intended to call his bees
down--that was his fashion. Taking up his pail he began moving among the
flowers, and soon found a honey-bee sipping from the cup of a
rose-raspberry. He said he knew at once the face of his own bee, "to say
nothin' of the critter's talk"--meaning its buzzing of wings. A glass
with honey from the tin pail soon captured the bee: uneasy at first, it
was soon sipping the sweets. When quite satisfied it was set free, and
its flight closely followed by the farmer's eye. Another bee was found
on a head of golden-rod; it was served the same way but set free at an
opposite point from the first's release; this second flight was also
closely noted. Some twelve of the tiny creatures from the clover and
daisies were likewise treated, until the general direction of the flight
of all was sure. This "hiving the bees" by the air-line they naturally
took to their new home proved the farmer to be right, for an old,
half-charred oak-stub, some forty feet high and "one limb aloft was
their lighting-place, and there they were buzzing about the old blighted
bough." The farmer then went to his boat and brought back a new hive and
placed it not far from the old oak; he put honey about its tiny doorway
and strewed many flowers around it. With the sunset his bees had taken
possession of their new home, and by moonlight they were rowed across
the lake and placed beside the mother-swarm in the farmer's garden.
[Illustration: JUDGE BAZIL HARRISON OF KALAMAZOO, MICHIGAN.]
The author placed this incident in the "Prairie Round" of "The Oak
Openings." Its Indian Peter shows how Christian influences in time
triumph over revenge--the deadliest passion of the red-man's heart. On
New Year's Day, 1848, "The Oak Openings" was begun, and the following
spring saw it finished. This note appears in the author's diary:
"Saturday, January 1, 1848. Read St. John. No church. Weather very mild,
though snow fell in the night. Walking very bad, and I paid no visits
outside of the family. Had ---- at dinner. A merry evening with the
young people. Played chess with my wife. Wrote a little in 'Oak
Openings' to begin the year with."
Cooper was a born story-teller, and with a born sailor's love of salt
water could not for long keep from spinning tales of the sea. All of
which accounts for spirited and original "Jack Tier," which came from
his pen in 1848. The story was called at first "Rose Budd"--the name of
the young creature who is one of its important characters. But plain,
homely, hard-working "Jack," under a sailor's garb, following her
commonplace, grasping husband the world over, and finding herself in
woman's gear and grief by his side when he made his last voyage of all
without her--it is she who had _earned_ the real heroine's right to the
name "Jack Tier." It is a story of the treacherous reefs off Florida and
the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
All those quiet years in Cooperstown the author kept pace in mind and
interest with the times, and often gave expression to his opinion on
current events. Of General Scott in Mexico he wrote, February 1, 1848:
"Has not Scott achieved marvels! The gun-thunders in the valley of the
Aztecs were heard in echoes across the Atlantic." Years before this the
last chapter of "The Spy" paid tribute to the "bravery of Scott's
gallant brigade" in 1814, at Lundy's Lane, not far from Niagara. That
Cooper strongly condemned Scott's "General Order" is another record of
Reform--along all lines of service--was Cooper's watchword; his
home-cry, first and last, was to "build up our navy!" And, with his
knowledge of naval affairs and accurate estimate of seamen of all
grades, what an admirable secretary of our navy these qualifications
would have made him! His political instincts seemed clear and unerring.
April 13, 1850, he thought "Congress a prodigious humbug; Calhoun's
attitude another," as was also Webster's answer, which, however, had
"capital faults." From almost a seer and a prophet came in 1850 these
words: "We are on the eve of great events. Every week knocks a link out
of the chain of the Union." This was written to a dear and valued friend
of South Carolina, to whom a few months later he further wrote: "The
Southerns talk of fighting Uncle Sam,--that long-armed, well-knuckled,
hard-fisted old scamp, Uncle Sam." And among the dearest of his
life-long friends stood this "Southern" Commodore, William Branford
Shubrick. Yet in close quarters, "he would rather have died than lied to
him." His standards of honesty were as rock-hewn; and his words on his
friend Lawrence perhaps apply as aptly to himself: "There was no more
dodge in him than there was in the mainmast."
[Illustration: HON. GERRIT SMITH.]
During some years prior to 1850, political party issues on
"Anti-slavery," grew from mild to violent. And famous in the annals of
Cooperstown was the spirited debate, between Mr. Cooper, for
colonization, and his friend, the Hon. Gerrit Smith, for immediate
abolition. This vital question of national interest was given able and
exhaustive treatment by both debaters who spoke several hours while "The
audience listened with riveted attention." At its close the two
gentlemen walked arm in arm to the "Hall," Cooper's home, where they
From Mr. Keese comes an anecdote of Commodore Shubrick's visit to his
old shipmate at Cooperstown: "Mr. Cooper had a raw Irishman in his
employ, as a man of all work. Sending him to the post-office one day for
the mail, he told him to ask if there were any letters for Commodore
Shubrick. Pat came to the window and with great confidence called out,
'Is there any letter for Commodore Brickbat?' 'Who?' said the astonished
postmaster. The name was repeated. A villager coming in at that time,
the postmaster asked him if he knew who was visiting Mr. Cooper.
'Commodore Shubrick,' was the reply. 'All, that's the name!' said Pat;
'and sure, didn't I come near it, though!'"
[Illustration: WILLIAM BRANDFORD SHUBRICK.]
Possibly the sailing of Sir John Franklin in 1845 for the frozen country
of the North Star led Fenimore Cooper to write "The Sea Lions," in the
winter of 1849. When the Highlands were white, and its tree-life hoary
with frost, the author could pen best his picture of a voyage to the
ice-bergs, rifts, and snow-drifts, for which his two schooners, both
called _The Sea Lion,_ were launched.
In the early years of his married life Cooper made many visits to the
island home of a relative, by marriage, who, off the eastern shore of
Long Island, led a half-sea life that was full of attraction for the
young sailor. This gentleman only, his family and dependents, lived on
Shelter Island, between which and the mainland all coming and going was
by boat. Here they had shooting, fishing, and cruising a-plenty. The
author's thorough knowledge of these waters was the probable reason for
starting his two sealers from this port in search of valuable
sealing-grounds in the polar seas. The schooners and their captains were
American. One of the sealers was owned by an old, hard-fisted miser of
Puritanic pattern, whose sweet niece Mary, pretty and simply good, makes
the very lovable heroine of this book. Beneath the low porch and within
the thrifty garden and great orchard of her island home, Mary's heart
had been captured by Roswell Gardner, the daring young captain of her
uncle's schooner _The Sea Lion_. In the faith of the Star and the Cross
the young girl worshipped with strong and childlike piety, while her
lover "stood coldly by and erect with covered head,"--a doubter, but
honestly striving to find his balance. Mary prays and hopes while the
young man sails to the far-away ice land, where, shipwrecked and alone
with his Maker, he finds the light of Truth shining for him on the
far-away shores of his frozen hold. Of this sea tale Professor Lounsbury
writes: "'The Sea Lions' is certainly one of the most remarkable
conceptions that it ever entered into the mind of a novelist to create."
And he adds: "It is a powerful story."
"Ways of the Hour" came from Cooper's pen in 1850. The purpose of this
story was to attack trial by jury.
From the time of Cooper's friendship with Charles Mathews in the early
1820's, he had been in touch with the stage, and in June, 1850, he
mentions writing a three-act play in "ridicule of new notions." The
title was "Upside Down; or, Philosophy in Petticoats"--a comedy. Of this
play Cooper's friend Hackett, the American Falstaff of that day, wrote
him: "I was at Burton's its first night and saw the whole of the play.
The first act told well; the second, pretty well, but grew heavy; the
third dragged until the conclusion surprised the attention into _warm
[Illustration: JAMES H. HACKETT.]
This clever but not over-successful farce closed the literary career of
James Fenimore Cooper.
[Illustration: CHARLES MATHEWS.]
Of Charles Mathews, the peerless comedy artist of England, and Fenimore
Cooper, his old-time friend, Dr. John Wakefield Francis, wrote:
"During a memorable excursion made to Albany with [the actor] Dunlap,
Mathews, and Mr. Cooper in the spring of 1823, I found him abounding in
dramatic anecdotes as well as associations the striking scenery of the
Hudson brought to mind. 'The Spy' was, however, the leading subject of
Mathews' conversation. Cooper unfolded his intention of writing a series
of works illustrative of his country, revolutionary occurrences, and the
red man of the western world. Mathews expressed in strong terms the
patriotic benefits of such an undertaking, and complimented Cooper on
the specimen already furnished in Harvey Birch. The approbation of
Mathews could never be slightly appreciated. There was little of
flattery in him at any time. He was a sort of 'My Lord Lofty,' who
valued himself in pride of opinion. Such an individual could not but
enlist the feelings of Mr. Cooper. I hardly know whether I have ever
seen Mr. Cooper manifest as much enthusiasm with any other person when
occasion was felicitous, the subject of interest, and the comedian in
his happy vein. Dunlap, were he speaking, might tell you of his
[Cooper's] gratuities to the unfortunate playwright and the dramatic
performer." In 1832 William Dunlap's "History of the American Theatre"
was "Dedicated to James Fenimore Cooper Esq., by his Friend, the
It was in this year of 1850 that the author's daughter, Susan Augusta,
had her "Rural Hours" about ready to print. And of this book her father
wrote: "It will be out in July. There is elegance, purity, knowledge,
and grace about it. It will make her _the_ Cooper at once. Quite puts
her papa's nose out of joint." More, concerning this book and New York
City of that day, appears in her father's letter to her mother, written
in that city at the Broadway Hotel, September 19, 1850.
BROADWAY HOTEL, September 19, 1850.
MY BELOVED S,--The post office is sadly out of joint. I wrote you
the day I arrived.... Right and left I hear of "Rural Hours." I am
stopped in the street a dozen times a day to congratulate me. The
price of the fine edition is $7.00. It will be the presentation
volume of the season. I can see that Putnam expects to sell some
eight hundred or a thousand of them.... The improvements here are
wonderful. They build chiefly of brown freestone and noble edifices
of five and six stories with a good deal of architectural
pretension.... I sat three times for lithographs yesterday and with
vastly better success than before. The pictures are all very like
and very pleasing. I am to have one which will fall to your lot as
a matter of course. Your letter of Tuesday reached me this morning.
You ought to have had three letters from me by Tuesday evening.
F.'s [the author's daughter Frances] shawl went by "A." I suppose
it is a courting shawl. It is almost the only one of the kind
Stewart had--a little too grave perhaps but scarcely so for the
country. Stewart is making a palace of a store. He takes the whole
front of the block on Broadway with fifteen windows in front--and
all of marble. With the tenderest regards to all, I remain yours
Most affectionately, J.F.C.
[Illustration: STEWART'S MARBLE PALACE.]
[Illustration: MISS SUSAN AUGUSTA COOPER ABOUT 1850.]
Miss Cooper makes alive each season's charms, as they pass over the
Glimmerglass and wane beyond Hannah's Hill. From gentry to
humble-folk, real Cooperstown types appear and disappear among these
pages; and even the "half-a-dozen stores" have place, where "at the same
counter you may buy kid gloves and a spade; a lace veil and a jug of
molasses; a satin dress and a broom," among other things of even greater
variety. She tells how St. Valentine's Day was celebrated in a very
original way as _Vrouwen-Daghe_, or women's day of the old Dutch
[Illustration: OTSEGO LAKE PARTY IN 1840.]
She also records that first lake party to Point Judith, given by her
grandfather, Judge Cooper, in August, 1799, but leaves the description
of her father's lake parties to Mr. Keese: "He was fond of picnic
excursions on the lake, generally to the _Three Mile Point_, and often
with a party of gentlemen to Gravelly, where the main treat was a
chowder, which their host made up with great gusto. He could also brew a
bowl of punch for festive occasions, though he himself rarely indulged
beyond a glass of wine for dinner." Concerning these festivities Mr.
Keese adds: "Lake excursions until 1840 were made by a few private boats
or the heavy, flat-bottomed skiff which worthy Dick Case kept moored at
the foot of Fair Street. But Dick's joints were too stiff to row more
than an easy reach from the village; to the Fairy Spring was the usual
measure of his strength. The Three Mile Point was the goal of the best
oarsmen. Dick's successor in the thirties was an ugly horse-boat that in
1840 gave place to the famous scow of Joe Tom and his men, which for
twenty years took picnic parties to the Point. A president of our
country, several governors of the State, and Supreme Court judges were
among these distinguished passengers. Doing such duty the scow is seen
in the 1840 pictures of Cooperstown. No picnic of his day was complete
without famous 'Joe Tom,' who had men to row the scow, clean the fish,
stew potatoes, make coffee, and announce the meal. Rowing back in the
gloaming of a summer's night, he would awake the echoes of Natty
Bumppo's Cave for the pleasure of the company." At times a second echo
would return from Hannah's Hill, and a third from Mt. Vision.
[Illustration: JOE TOM.]
[Illustration: NATTY'S CAVE.]
Between the lines can be read the hearty and cheery author's pleasure in
all this merriment, yet, none the less, life's shadows exacted full
attention, as the following shows: "Cooper took a generous and active
part in sending relief to the starving people of Ireland; for, March 8,
1847, James Fenimore Cooper heads his town committee, and, 'in the name
of charity and in obedience to the commands of God,' he urges an appeal
'from house to house, for _Food_ is wanting that we possess in
"Cooper would admit of no denial of principle but could be lenient to
offenders. One day he caught a man stealing fruit from his garden.
Instead of flying into a passion, he told him how wrong it was to make
the neighbors think there was no way of getting his fruit but by
stealing it, and bid him the next time to come in at the gate and ask
for it like a true man. Cooper then helped him to fill his basket and
let him go." The author's fine fruit trees must have been tempting!
One day while walking in the garden with some ladies, Mr. Cooper led the
way to a tree well laden with fine apples. Unable to reach them, he
called to a boy in the street, and presenting him to his friends as one
of the best boys in the village,--one who never disturbed his fruit,--he
lifted the little fellow up to the branches to pick apples for the
guests, and then filled his pockets as a reward for his honesty, and
promised him more when he came again. The delighted boy waited for a few
days and then repeated his visit to the tree, but forgetting to ask
permission. Not knowing him from frequent intruders, Mr. Cooper's high
voice from a distance, added to the savage barking of his watch-dog,
frightened the well-meaning forager into a resolve that he would not
forget the easier way next time of first asking before picking.
[Illustration: OTSEGO HALL--BACK VIEW.]
The author's genuine interest in his hometown folk never waned. Among
the many and sincere expressions of his good-will were the free lectures
he gave to the villagers. His descriptions of naval actions were full
of vigor. On the blackboard he presented fleets, changing their
positions, moving ship after ship as the contest went on, at the same
time stating the facts in history and using his cane as a pointer.
[Illustration: JAMES FENIMORE COOPER.]
It is of note that Mr. Cooper's personal appearance in 1850 was
remarkable. He seemed in perfect health and highest energy and activity
of faculties, but the autumn of this year found him in New York City
under mild ailments. His friend, Mr. George Washington Green, regretted
not noting better his last talk with the author about this time, of
which he says: "He excused himself that morning at Putnam's for not
rising to shake hands. 'My feet,' said he, 'are so tender that I do not
like to stand longer than I can help.' Yet when we walked together into
Broadway, I could not help turning now and then to admire his commanding
figure and firm bearing. Sixty years seemed to sit lightly on him. After
a short stroll we went to his room at the _Globe_ and sat down to talk.
I never found him so free upon his own works and literary habits. He
confessed his partiality for Leather stocking. Said he: 'I meant to have
added one more scene and introduced him in the Revolution, but I
thought the public had had enough of him, and never ventured it.'"
[Illustration: THE SWEDISH NIGHTINGALE (JENNY LIND).]
Cooper's enjoyment of the marvelous voice of "The Swedish Nightingale,"
as Jenny Lind was called, the publication of his daughter's "Rural
Hours," and the active progress of his own book sales are noted in his
letter to his beloved wife.
BROADWAY HOTEL, Friday, Nov. 15, 1850.
MY DEAREST W.,--Julia and Miss Thomas came down with me to hear
Jenny Lind. "Have you heard Jenny Lind?" "How do you like Jenny
Lind?" are the questions which supplant "Fine weather to-day" and
other similar comprehensive remarks. I am patiently waiting for the
"Lake Gun" [a magazine article]. I am well and shall commence in
earnest next week. Tell Sue [his daughter] I have seen Putnam, who
will be delighted to publish her new book. "Naval History" is a
little slack for the moment. There are less than a hundred copies
of second edition on hand and the third must be shortly prepared.
The fine edition will be published to-morrow. About two hundred
copies have been sent to the trade and with that issue he will
start. He has had five and twenty copies done up in papier machia
at $9.00. N---- is well. D.Z. is still here. Old Peter is not yet
married, but the affair is postponed until Spring, when the bride
and groom will return to America. They wish to prolong the
delightful delusion of courtship. I hope they may be as happy as we
have been and love each other as much forty--days after their union
as we do forty years.... Yours J.F.C.
[Illustration: JENNY LIND AT CASTLE GARDEN, NEW YORK CITY, 1850.]
At No. 1 Bond Street stood the old-time mansion of Dr. John W. Francis,
where were welcomed many eminent in arts and letters at home and abroad,
and where their host wrote his "Reminiscences of Sixty Years." Here it
was that Cooper, on his last visit to New York, came seeking aid for his
failing health. But with December the author returned to Cooperstown,
whence he wrote a friend: "I have gone into dock with my old hulk, to be
overhauled. Francis says I have congestion, and I must live low,
deplete, and take pills. While I am frozen, my wife tells me my hands,
feet, and body are absolutely warm. The treatment is doing good. You
cannot imagine the old lady's delight at getting me under, in the way of
food. I get no meat, or next to none, and no great matter in
substitutes. This morning being Christmas, I had a blow-out of oysters,
and at dinner it will go hard if I do not get a cut into the turkey. I
have lost pounds, yet I feel strong and clearheaded. I have had a narrow
escape, if I have escaped."
[Illustration: DR JOHN WAKEFIELD FRANCIS.]
[Illustration: DR. FRANCIS'S HOME IN NEW YORK CITY.]
The following spring Cooper again went to New York City, whence he dates
a letter to his wife:
Saturday, March 29, 1851
COLLEGE HOTEL, NEW YORK
Your letter of Thursday has just reached me. I am decidedly
better.--Last night I was actually dissipated. L.---- came for me
in a carriage and carried me off almost by force to Doctor
Bellows, where I met the Sketch Club, some forty people, many of
whom I knew. I stayed until past ten, ate a water ice, talked a
great deal, returned, went to bed fatigued and slept it off.--My
friends are very attentive to me, they all seem glad to see me and
think I am improving, as I certainly am.... I shall come home
shortly--I want to be in my garden and I wish to be in your dear
hands, love, for though you know nothing you do a great deal that
is right. Last evening I passed with Charlotte M.--who wanted to
take me home to nurse me. There is no chance of seeing S.----.
Adieu, my love.... My blessing on the girls--all four of them.
In April, 1851, the poet Bryant wrote of him "Cooper is in town, in ill
health. When I saw him last he was in high health and excellent
spirits." These spirits were not dashed by the progressing malady that
took him home to Cooperstown. Not realizing what illness meant, he
bravely accepted what it brought,--the need to dictate the later parts
of his "History of the United States Navy," and the "Towns of
Manhattan," when he himself could no longer write. The latter was
planned, partly written, and in press at the time of his death. That
which was printed was burnt, the manuscript in part rescued, and
finished by the pen of one of the family.
It was Fenimore Cooper's happiness to be blessed with a family whose
greatest pleasure was to supply his every needed comfort; and one of his
daughters was ever a companion in his pursuits, the wise and willing
writer of his letters and dictations, and the most loving, never-tiring
nurse of his latter days. Of these last months there is a pretty
child-record by a friend who, "entering without notice," one day saw Mr.
Cooper "lying at full length on the parlor floor, with a basket of
cherries by his side. Upon his chest, vainly trying to bestride the
portly form, sat his little grandson, to whom he passed cherries, and
who, in turn, with childish glee, was dropping them, one by one, into
his grandfather's mouth. The smiles that played over the features of
child and man during this sweet and gentle dalliance were something not
easily forgotten. A few months after this both child and man had passed
beyond 'the smiling'; aye, and 'the weeping,' too."
Letters from Cooperstown led Dr. Francis to go there August 27, 1851, to
see his esteemed friend in his own home. And of Cooper the Doctor
wrote: "I explained to him the nature of his malady--frankly assured him
that within the limits of a week a change was indispensable to lessen
our forebodings of its ungovernable nature. He listened with fixed
attention.--Not a murmur escaped his lips. Never was information of so
grave a cast received by any individual in a calmer spirit."
So passed the summer days of 1851 with the author, near his little lake,
the Glimmerglass, and its Mt. Vision, when one mid-September Sunday
afternoon, with his soul's high standard of right and truth undimmed,
James Fenimore Cooper crossed the bar.
While from youth Cooper was a reverent follower of the Christian faith,
his religious nature deepened with added years. Eternal truth grew in
his heart and mind as he, in time, learned to look above and beyond this
world's sorrows and failures. In July, 1851, he was confirmed in
Christ's Church,--the little parish church just over the way from the
old-Hall home, whose interests he had faithfully and generously served
as sometime warden and as vestryman since 1834.
[Illustration: CHRIST'S CHURCH, COOPERSTOWN, N.Y.]
Of one such service Mr. Keese writes that in 1840 the original Christ's
Church of Cooperstown underwent important alterations. Its entire
interior was removed and replaced by native oak. As vestryman Mr. Cooper
was prime mover and chairman of the committee of change, and hearing of
the chancel screen in the old Johnstown church, first built by Sir
William Johnson, he took a carpenter and went there to have drawings
made of this white-painted pine screen, which at his own expense he had
reproduced with fine, ornamental effect in oak, and made it a gift to
Christ's Church. It was removed from Christ's Church about 1891, badly
broken and abandoned. This so disturbed Cooper's daughters that his
grandson, James Fenimore Cooper of Albany, New York, had the pieces
collected, and stored them for using in his Cooperstown home; but he--by
request of the Reverend Mr. Birdsall--had them made into two screens for
the aisles of the church, where they were erected as a memorial to his
father, Paul Fenimore, and his great-grandfather, Judge William Cooper.
[Illustration: FENIMORE COOPER'S SCREEN GIFT.]
Mr. Keese's words, dating January, 1910, are: "And now comes in a rather
singular discovery made by the writer a few days ago: In looking over a
book in my library, published about ninety years ago, there is an
article on Newstead Abbey, Nottinghamshire, England, with a steel
engraving of the front of the Abbey, which is almost identical with the
design of the original screen in Christ Church. Who was responsible for
transplanting the same to this country appears to be unknown, but the
fact is interesting in that Newstead Abbey was the home of the Byron
family and that of Lord Byron."
In a letter of April 22, 1840, to H. Bleeker, Esq., Cooper wrote of this
screen: "I have just been revolutionizing Christ's Church, Cooperstown,
not turning out a vestry but converting its pine interior into
oak--_bona fide_ oak, and erecting a screen that I trust, though it may
have no influence on my soul, will carry my name down to posterity. It
is really a pretty thing--pure Gothic, and is the wonder of the country
Of Cooper himself was said: "Thus step by step his feet were guided into
the ways of peace." It was of the Protestant Episcopal church that his
wife's brother, William Heathcote de Lancey--a genius of goodness--was
[Illustration: BISHOP WILLIAM HEATHCOTE DE LANCEY.]
A beautiful, tender, and touching tribute to the love of his life was
Fenimore Cooper's will. In part it reads: "I, James Fenimore Cooper,
give and bequeath to my wife, Susan Augusta, all my property, whether
personal or mixed, to be enjoyed by her and her heirs forever. I make my
said wife the executrix of my will."
In a little over four months his wife followed him to the far country.
Of his children, Elizabeth, the first-born, died in infancy; Susan
Augusta, the author, was the second; the third, Caroline Martha, became
Mrs. Henry Frederick Phinney; next came Anne Charlotte, then Maria
Frances, who married Richard Cooper; Fenimore, the first son, they lost
in babyhood, and Paul Fenimore, the youngest, became a member of the bar
in Albany, New York.
[Illustration: THE DE LANCEY ARMS.]
Cooper left his family a competency, but the Hall home soon passed into
other hands; later it was burnt. From rescued brick an attractive house
was built on the west bank of the Susquehanna for his daughters Susan
Augusta and Anne Charlotte, both now resting near father and mother in
Christ's Church yard. Their niece, Miss Susan Augusta Cooper, daughter
of their sister, Maria Frances, Mrs. Richard Cooper, now lives in this
picturesque house, and there she reverently treasures many personal
belongings of her famous grandfather, and also those of her
author-aunt, Susan Augusta Cooper, whose best memorial, however, is the
noble orphanage on the river-bank some ways below. The oaken doors saved
from the flames of the burning Hall served for this new home, which
overlooked the grounds of their old home. The site of the latter is
marked by Ward's "Indian Hunter." Aptly placed, peering through mists of
green toward the author's church-yard grave, he is a most fitting
guardian of the one-time garden of Fenimore Cooper.
[Illustration: THE NEW HOME AND THE OLD HOME.]
[Illustration: INDIAN HUNTER.]
By the generosity of the late Mrs. Henry Codman Potter, this hunter's
domain has been transformed into beautiful "Cooper Grounds"; and here
the red-man of bronze keeps ward and watch over memories that enshrine
the genius of a noble soul whose records of this vanishing race are for
[Illustration: COOPER GROUNDS.]
A gentleman just from continental Europe in 1851 said of people there:
"They are all reading Cooper." A traveler, returned from Italy about
that time, wrote: "I found all they knew of America--and that was not a
little--they had learned from Cooper's novels." When an eminent
physician who was called to attend some German immigrants asked how they
knew so much of their new-home country, they replied: "We learned it all
from Cooper. We have four translations of his works in German, and we
all read them." February 22, 1852, Charles G. Leland of Philadelphia
wrote of Cooper's works: "There were several translations issued at
Frankfort, Germany, in 1824, in two hundred and fifty parts, a second
large edition in 1834, and a third in 1851. All his works, more than
Scott and Shakespeare, are household words to the German people."
Library records of to-day show no waning of this early popularity of
the "Leatherstocking Tales" and "Sea Stories" of Fenimore Cooper. In
1883 Victor Hugo told General Wilson that excepting the authors of
France, "Cooper was the greatest novelist of the century." It was Balzac
who said: "If Cooper had succeeded in the painting of character to the
same extent that he did in the painting the phenomena of nature, he
would have uttered the last word of our art."
From Hanau-on-Main, Germany, January, 1912, Herr Rudolf Drescher writes:
"Within two years two new translations of Cooper's complete works have
been issued. One at Berlin, the other at Leipsic. 180 pictures by the
artist Max Slevogt held one edition at $192, the other with less
pictures was $60, and both were sold. Cheaper editions without pictures
also met with large sales. I possess an 1826, German copy of 'The
Pioneers.'" Another record is, Cooper's works have been seen "in thirty
different countries, in the languages of Finland, Turkey and Persia, in
Constantinople, in Egypt, at Jerusalem, at Ispahan."
The author's literary cruise, dating back three years before the
launching of "The Pilot" in 1823, was a long one. And no admiral of
mortal fame ever led so sturdy and motley a fleet--from the proud
man-of-war to the light felucca, gondola, and bark-canoe--over ocean and
inland waters. With visions of forests, its moving spirit and skilful
pilot still stands at the helm, the full light of the ages upon "eye,
arm, sail, spar, and flag." Thus is Fenimore Cooper firmly anchored in
the mind and heart of posterity as the creator of American romance.
August, 1907, "Historic Cooperstown" held her Memorial Celebration. Her
founder, Judge William Cooper, his hardy pioneers, and the "memory of
one whose genius had given her Glimmerglass country world-wide fame,"
were honored with world-wide tributes. Among these were addresses,
heartfelt, and able, from the late Bishop Henry Codman Potter, on "The
Religious Future"; Francis Whiting Halsey, on "The Headwaters of the
Susquehanna"; George Pomeroy Keese, on "Early Days of Cooperstown," and
James Fenimore Cooper of Albany, New York, on his great-grandfather
From "The Cooperstown Centennial" one learns that at five o'clock on
Wednesday afternoon of August 7 many people were reverently taking part
in solemn services around the grave of James Fenimore Cooper and beneath
the glinting tree-shadows of Christ's Church yard. The service began
with a procession of young girls in white surrounding the author's last
resting-place, where verses on Cooper were recited by Miss Wilkinson;
then the little folk sang the lyric tribute of Mr. Saxton:
0, great magician, may the life
We lead be such a one as thine--
A simple life, transcending art,
A spirit close to Nature's heart,
A soul as strong and clear, and fine.
[Illustration: THE CHILDREN'S TRIBUTE.]
After singing, the children, gathering around, covered the marble slab
with their tributes--the flowers of the season. Some poetic pictures in
blank verse were given of Cooper's works, by the Reverend Dr. W.W.
Battershall of St. Peter's Church in Albany, New York, the present
rector, and successor of Doctor Ellison, Cooper's boyhood instructor.
Then the Rev. Ralph Birdsall, rector of the author's "little parish
church," spoke of Fenimore Cooper's church-yard home: "A marble slab
that bears no praise for fame or virtue; only a simple cross, symbol of
the faith in which he lived and died, and upon which he based his hopes
of immortality." The soldier lying near, brought from the field of
honor; the author's old neighbors, who exchanged with him in life the
friendly nod; hands that were calloused with the axe and shovel, and
Judge Temple's aged slave in narrow home--all sleeping beneath the same
sward and glancing shadows are not less honored now than is the plain,
unpolished slab of stone, bearing two dates,--of birth and entrance into
the life eternal of James Fenimore Cooper.
On his airy height of the "Cooper Memorial," gleaming white through the
lakewood slope of Mt. Vision, wondrous Leatherstocking stands, a rare
tribute to simple, uplifting goodness. Clad in his hunting-shirt,
deerskin cap, and leggings, his powder-horn and bullet-pouch swung over
his shoulder, his dog Hector at his feet, looking up with speaking
expression into the fine, wise, honest face of his master, stands Natty,
gazing over all the lake he loved so well.
[Illustration: LAKE OTSEGO.]
---- o'er no sweeter lake
Shall morning break or noon-cloud sail;
No fairer face than thine shall take
The sunset's golden veil.
"Cooper had no predecessor and no successor in his own field of
fiction; he stood alone,--he was a creator, and his 'Natty' will stand
forever as the most original of pioneer characters," wrote Henry M.
With Rev. Mr. Birdsall, many think the time has come when the fame of
Fenimore Cooper demands a world-given memorial in Cooperstown. A
lifelike statue from an _artist's_ chisel should show the "'prose poet
of the silent woods and stormy seas' seated, pen in hand, gazing
dreamily for inspiration over the Glimmerglass, where the phantom
creatures of his genius brood." Let it stand, a new-world literary
shrine, in the square fronting the Old-Hall home site, which northward
commands a sweeping view of his "little lake" and a side glimpse of
lofty Leatherstocking of the tree-tops--not far away.
[Illustration: LEATHERSTOCKING MONUMENT.]
And strewn the flowers of memory here.
For one whose fingers, years ago,
Their work well finished, dropped the pen;
Whose master mind from land to sea
Drew forms heroic, long to be
The living types of vanished men.
[Illustration: GEORGE POMEROY KEESE.]
GEORGE POMEROY KEESE
On April 22, 1910, and at the home of his son, Theodore Keese, in New
York City, came the Spirit-Land call to the late George Pomeroy Keese.
It was also in New York City that he was born, on January 14, 1828. His
parents were Theodore Keese and Georgiann Pomeroy, niece of James
Fenimore Cooper. This grand-nephew of the author enjoyed four score and
more of full, active years, mostly spent in Cooperstown, N.Y., and he
gave of them generously in serving the welfare and interests of that
village. There Edgewater, Mr. Keese's attractive home, overlooks, from
the south, the entire length and beauty of Lake Otsego, whose waters and
banks are haunted by Cooper's creations.
From Mr. Keese is quoted:
"George Pomeroy of Northampton, Mass., came to Cooperstown among the
early settlers in 1801. He married the only living sister of Fenimore
Cooper in 1803.
"His ancestry dates back to the coming of William the Conqueror from
Normandy in 1066. At this time Ralph de Pomeroy accompanied the Norman
duke to England and rendered him such valuable assistance that he
received from him no fewer than fifty-eight lordships in Devonshire as a
reward for his services. Selecting a favorable site, not far from the
banks of the river Dart, Ralph de Pomeroy erected thereon the celebrated
stronghold that now bears the family name of Berry-Pomeroy Castle, the
stately ruins of which are still visited as one of the most picturesque
objects of interest in the county of Devon.
"The descendants of the founder of Berry-Pomeroy retained the lands
belonging to their ancestral home until the time of Edward VI, when at
the period of the rebellion of that date they were seized by the crown
and bestowed upon the haughty Lord Protector Somerset in whose family
they still remain."
October 10, 1849, Mr. Keese married Caroline Adriance Foote, daughter of
Surgeon Lyman Foote, U.S.A., who, with seven of their children, survives
her husband. From childhood Mrs. Keese well knew Fenimore Cooper.
From his tender years to the age of twenty-four Mr. Keese lived in close
touch with the author until his death in 1851. Afterwards such near
association, affection and ability made Mr. Keese a veritable stronghold
of authentic values concerning this grand-uncle. After his five years
of patient, careful direction given to the preparation of this
_personal_ life of James Fenimore Cooper, the spirit of George Pomeroy
Keese passed to the Land of Everlasting Light.
As a traveled, scholarly, wise, and gentle man, Mr. Keese kept in live
pace with current events, and he possessed that strong, rare quality of
character which "says little and does much," and compels esteem and
devotion from all human kind.
Amongst Mr. Keese's various writings is "The Historic Records of
Christ's Church, Cooperstown, N.Y." The rector, Reverend Ralph Birdsall,
has written of its author: "At the altar of Christ's Church abides the
secret that made Mr. Keese a man so widely honored and beloved."
MARY E. PHILLIPS.
[Illustration: RUINS OF BERRY-POMEROY CASTLE, 1825.]
"Afloat and Ashore," 305
Albany, N.Y., 4, 8, 27-31, 38, 62, 104, 120, 123, 345
Alden, Henry M, 355
Allen, James, 34-35
"American Democrat, The," 272
d'Angers, Pierre Jean David, 144-146
"Autobiography of a Pocket Handkerchief, The," 293
Baillie, Joanna, 183
Balzac, 60, 276, 278, 350
Bancker, Richard, Mrs. (Sarah Duyckinck), 88-89
Bancroft, George, 117
Battershall, W.W., 353
Belgium, 184, 244-247
Bella Genovese, the, 290-293
Benedict, Mrs. Clare, 22-23
Benjamin, Park, 273, 275
de Berri, Duchesse, 153
Birdsall, Rev. Ralph, 86, 342, 353-355
Bleeker, H., 343
Bonaparte, Princess Charlotte, 205
Bonaparte, Madame Letizia, 205, 293
Bonaparte, Napoleon I, 44, 137, 192, 244, 292
Bonaparte, Napoleon Louis, Count St Leu, 204-205, 207
Booth, Junius Brutus, 90
Box, Newport, 159
"Bravo, The," 225-229, 259
Bread and Cheese Club, 95-9, 185
Bryant, Julia, 301-302
Bryant, W.C., 84, 105, 110-113, 128, 238, 278, 338
Buffalo, N.Y., 52-56
Burlington, N.J., xii, 1, 2, 8, 60
Canning, George, 139
Case, Dick, 327-328
Cave, Harvey Birch's, 81
"Chainbearer, The," 307-308
Champlain, Lake, 60
Charles X of France, 153, 234
Chauncey, Capt. Isaac, 138
Chauntry, Sir Francis, 174-176
Clay Henry, 131
Clinton, De Witt, 75
Clinton, Gen. James, 104
Cole, Thomas, 278
Coleridge, Samuel Taylor, 183
Cooper, Ann, Cooper's sister _See Mrs. Geo. Pomeroy._
Cooper, Anne Charlotte, daughter, 16, 344-345
Cooper, Caroline Martha, 344
Cooper, Elizabeth, daughter, 71-72, 344
Cooper, Elizabeth Fenimore, mother, 2, 3, 64, 71-73
Cooper, Fenimore, son, 88, 100, 345
Cooper, Hannah, sister, 13-19
Cooper, Isaac, brother, 20, 72
Cooper, James, great-great-grandfather, 2.
Cooper, James Fenimore.
Accuracy, 106, 109, 115-118, 123, 127, 277, 282, 288-290;
boyhood, 12, 13, 19, 23-35, 39;
courage, 259, 273, 308;
honors, public, 99, 111-112, 114, 131, 192, 281;
prices of works, 276-277, 350;
industry, 43, 114;
generosity, 57, 105-106, 219, 329, 332;
screen gift, 340-343;
love of art, 198, 203, 239-240;
name, change of, 2, 119-120;
naval officer, 53-70;
patriotism, 64, 79, 185, 232, 243, 258-260, 273;
personality, 12, 49, 111-112, 149-152, 259, 267, 269, 280-281.
bust by d'Angers, 145;
bust by Greenough, 198-200;
daguerreotype by Brady, 279, 333;
in oil by Jarvis, 91, 146;
in oil by Madame de Mirbel, 143;
Paris drawing (1827), 148;
Yale silhouette, 39;
sailor, the, 42-48;
translations of works, 350.
Cooper, James Fenimore, grandson, x, 3-5, 342, 351.
Cooper, Maria Frances, daughter, 324, 342-345.
Cooper, Paul Fenimore, son, 100, 214, 216-217, 243, 342, 345.
Cooper, Richard Fenimore, brother, 20, 26, 62, 72.
Cooper, Richard Fenimore, nephew, 344, 345.
Cooper, Susan Augusta, wife, 63-65, 68, 71-72, 77, 98, 124-125, 132,
146-147, 154, 165-166, 247, 250, 264, 268, 314, 323-324, 334-338,
Cooper, Susan Augusta, daughter, 13, 54, 71, 139, 142, 220, 243, 265,
268, 282, 314, 323-327, 334-335, 344-345, 347.
Cooper, Susan Augusta, granddaughter, 345, 347.
Cooper, William, father, 2, 4-11, 16, 34, 36, 42, 53, 62, 101, 103, 112,
Cooper, William, nephew, 142, 193.
Cooperstown, N.Y., xi, 15, 33, 69, 71, 274, 296-299, 315, 317, 328, 336,
Chalet Farm, 296-299, 311-314, 327.
"Chronicles of," 34, 102.
Fenimore Farm home, 71-72.
Manor, The, 8, 9, 103.
Otsego Hall, 8, 9, 16, 100, 261-265, 300, 317, 340, 345-347.
Otsego Lake, 4, 5, 6, 18-21, 27-28, 71, 104, 261, 265, 276, 282-286,
296, 324-328, 340, 356.
Three-Mile Point, 270-272, 327-328.
Cory, Master Oliver, 23-25.
"Crater, The," 308-309.
Croghan, Geo., xii.
Crosby, Enoch, 80, 86.
Dana, Richard Henry, 96, 111, 201.
"Deerslayer, The," 5, 282-286.
DeKay, James E., 93, 95.
Drake, Joseph Rodman, 92-93.
Drescher, Rudolf, 350.
Dunlap, William, 322-323.
Dwight, Timothy, 36, 37.
_Edinburgh Review, The_, 110.
Elliott, Jesse D., 287-289.
Ellison, Dr. Thomas, 28-33, 35, 353.
England, 2, 44, 111, 115-118, 169-172, 277, 305.
Erie, Lake, Battle of, 293-294, 306.
"Excursions in Italy," 210.
Fenimore, Elizabeth. _See Mrs. Wm. Cooper_.
Fenimore, Richard, 2, 262.
Fenimore box, 3.
Florence, Palazzo Ricasoli, 197-198.
Florence, Villa St. Illario, 206-208.
Floyd, Elizabeth, 67.
Floyd, Col. Richard, 67.
France, 135, 157, 168-169, 228, 237, 243.
Francis, Dr. J.W., 186, 278, 322, 336-337, 339-340.
Frey, Heindrick, 11, 12.
Galitzin, Princess, 139-140, 164-166.
George, Lake, 120, 125-126.
Germany, 228, 247, 251, 253-255, 349-350.
"Gleanings in Europe," 236, 270.
Glens Fall, 122-124.
Goodrich, A.T., 78.
_Graham's Magazine_, 287, 293, 305, 308.
Greeley, Horace, 273, 275.
Green, Geo. Washington, 149-152, 332.
Greenough, Horatio, 198-203, 268.
Grey, Charles, Earl, 181.
Hackett, James H., 321.
Hall, J.E., 84.
Hall, Mrs. Sarah, 84.
Halleck, Fitz-Greene, 90, 92-93, 95.
Halsey, Francis Whiting, 351.
Harrison, Judge Bazil, 313.
Harrison, William Henry, 14-16.
"Headsman, The," 257.
Heathcote, Hon. Caleb, 66.
Heidelberg and Castle, 253-254.
"Heidenmauer, The," 252.