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led to his Excellency's stable, and the trooper's sack was deposited in his Excellency's strong-box. To the latter, it is true, the friar made some demur, questioning whether the sacred relics, which were evidently sacrilegious spoils, should not be placed in custody of the church ; but as the governor was peremptory on the subject, and was absolute lord in the Alhambra, the friar discreetly dropped the discussion, but determined to convey intelligence of the fact to the church dignitaries in Granada.
[The Alhambra : a Series of Tales and Sketches of the Moors and Spaniards, 1832, “ Governor Manco and the Soldier.”]
JAMES FENIMORE COOPER
[James Fenimore Cooper was born at Burlington, N.J., Sept. 15, 1789, and died at Cooperstown, N.Y., Sept. 14, 1851. His early years were spent at Cooperstown, then on the border of, if not actually within, the western wilderness. He entered Yale College in 1803, and was dismissed for breach of discipline in 1805. In preparation for entering the navy he served before the mast on a merchantman in 1806-7. In 1808 he was appointed midshipman, a position which he held until 1810. A part of this time was spent in duty on Lakes Champlain and Ontario. From the time of his marriage (1811) to that of his death, Cooper's life was that of the gentleman of leisure. The years 1826–33 he spent in Europe, and at various times he lived in New York City and Westchester County. But his strongest associations were with Cooperstown, where he held large tracts of land, and it became his permanent home.
Cooper's first book, Precaution (1820), owed its existence to a careless boast of his that he could write a better story than a certain British novel that had come under his eye. Precaution dealt with foreign life, and Cooper's friends reproached him for not portraying tha of his native country. Thus incited, he produced The Spy (1821), the plot of which was laid in Westchester. The favorable reception of The Spy led to a rapid succession of remarkable tales of romantic adventure on land and sea, of which the more famous are The Pioneers (1823), The Pilot (1823), The Last of the Mohicans (1826), The Prairie (1827), The Red Rover (1828), The Water Witch (1830), The Pathfinder (1840), The Deerslayer (1841), The Wing-and-Wing (1842).
Besides his novels Cooper wrote a History of the Navy of the United States (1839), and several volumes of biography, history, and travel. Much of this part of his work was explicitly or implicitly polemic in character. He criticised severely the manners of his countrymen and their methods of government, as well as the corresponding manners and methods of European countries, thus exposing himself to retaliatory criticism, both at home and abroad. For many years he was almost constantly involved in lawsuits and can scarcely be said to have been beloved by his countrymen at large. But though intolerant, he had a strong sense of honor and justice, and was always actuated by lofty principles and an unswerving patriotism. The best biography of Cooper is that of T. R. Lounsbury.]
Cooper, whose name is with his country's woven
THESE were the words in which Fitz-Greene Halleck designated Cooper's substantial precedence in American novel-writing. Apart from this mere priority in time, he rendered the unique service of inaugurating three especial classes of fiction, — the novel of the American Revolution, the Indian novel, and the sea novel. In each case he wrote primarily for his own fellow-countrymen and achieved fame first at their hands; and in each he produced a class of works which, in spite of their own faults and of the somewhat unconciliatory spirit of their writer, have secured a permanence and a width of range unequalled in the English language, save by Scott alone. To-day the sale of his works in his own language remains unabated; and one has only to look over the catalogues of European booksellers in order to satisfy himself that this popularity continues, undiminished, through the medium of translation. It may be safely said of him that no author of fiction in the English language, except Scott, has held his own so well for half a century after death. Indeed, the list of various editions and versions of his writings in the catalogues of German booksellers often exceeds that of Scott. This was not in the slightest degree due to his personal qualities, for these made him unpopular, nor to personal mancuvring, for this he disdained. He was known to refuse to have his works even noticed in a newspaper for which he wrote, the New York Patriot. He would never have consented to review his own books, as both Scott and Irving did, or to write direct or indirect puffs of himself, as was done by Poe and Whitman. He was foolishly sensitive to criticism, and unable to conceal it; he was easily provoked to a quarrel; he was dissatisfied both with praise or blame, and speaks evidently of himself in the words of the hero of Miles Wallingford, when he says: “In scarce a circumstance of my life that has brought me in the least under the cognizance of the public have I ever been judged justly." There is no doubt that he himself or rather the temperament given him by nature - was to blame for this, but the fact is unquestionable.
Add to this that he was, in his way and in what was unfortunately the most obnoxious way, a reformer. That is, he was what
may be called a reformer in the conservative direction, he belabored his fellow-citizens for changing many English ways and usages, and he wished them to change these things back again, immediately. In all this he was absolutely unselfish, but utterly tactless; and inasmuch as the point of view he took was one requiring the very greatest tact, the defect was hopeless. As a rule, no man criticises American ways so unsuccessfully as an American who has lived many years in Europe. The mere European critic is ignorant of our ways and frankly owns it, even if thinking the fact but a small disqualification; while the American absentee, having remained away long enough to have forgotten many things and never to have seen many others, has dropped hopelessly behindhand as to the facts, yet claims to speak with authority. Cooper went even beyond these professional absentees, because, while they are usually ready to praise other countries at the expense of America, Cooper, with heroic impartiality, dispraised all countries, or at least all that spoke English. A thoroughly patriotic and highminded man, he yet had no mental perspective, and made small matters as important as great. Constantly reproaching America for not being Europe, he also satirized Europe for being what it was. As a result, he was for a time equally detested by the press of both countries. The English, he thought, had “ a national propensity to blackguardism," and certainly the remarks he drew from them did something to vindicate the charge. When the London Times called him “affected, offensive, curious, and ill-conditioned," and Fraser's Magazine, “a liar, a bilious braggart, a full jackass, an insect, a grub, and a reptile," they clearly left little for America to say in that direction. Yet Park Benjamin did his best, or his worst, when he called Cooper (in Greeley's New Yorker) “a superlative dolt and the common mark of scorn and contempt of every well-informed American ”; and so did Webb, when he pronounced the novelist "a base-minded caitiff who had traduced his country.” Not being able to reach his English opponents, Cooper turned on these Americans, and spent years in attacking Webb and others through the courts, gaining little and losing much through the long vicissitudes of petty local lawsuits.
The fact has kept alive their memory; but for Lowell's keener shaft, “ Cooper has written six volumes to
show he's as good as a lord,” there was no redress. The arrow lodged and split the target.
Like Scott and most other novelists, Cooper was rarely successful with his main characters, but was saved by his subordinate
These were strong, fresh, characteristic, human ; and they lay, as has been said, in several different directions, all equally marked. If he did not create permanent types in Harvey Birch the spy, Leather-Stocking the woodsman, Long Tom Coffin the sailor, Chingachgook the Indian, then there is no such thing as the creation of characters in literature. Scott was far more profuse and varied, but he gave no more of life to individual personages and perhaps created no types so universally recognized. What is most remarkable is that, in the case of the Indian especially, Cooper was not only in advance of the knowledge of his own time, but of that of the authors who immediately followed him. In Parkman and Palfrey, for instance, the Indian of Cooper vanishes and seems wholly extinguished, but under the closer inspection of Alice Fletcher and Horatio Hale, the lost figure reappears, and becomes more picturesque, more poetic, more thoughtful than even Cooper dared to make him. The instinct of the novelist turned out more authoritative than the premature conclusions of a generation of historians.
It is only women who can draw the commonplace, at least in English, and make it fascinating. Perhaps only two English women have done this, Jane Austen and George Eliot, while in France George Sand has certainly done it far less well than it has been achieved by Balzac and Daudet. Cooper never succeeded in it for a single instant, and even when he has an admiral of this type to write about, he puts into him less of life than Marryat imparts to the most ordinary lieutenant. The talk of Cooper's civilian worthies is, as Professor Lounsbury has well said — in what is perhaps the best biography yet written of any American author – “of a kind not known to human society.” This is doubtless aggravated by the frequent use of thee and thou, yet this, which Professor Lounsbury attributes to Cooper's Quaker ancestry, was in truth a part of the formality of the old period, and is found also in Brockden Brown. And as his writings conform to their period in this, so they did in other respects; describing every woman, for