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James Fenimore Cooper American Men of Letters   By: (1838-1915)

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First Page:

[Transcriber's note: Obvious printer's errors have been corrected. The original spelling has been retained.]

AMERICAN MEN OF LETTERS.

Edited By

CHARLES DUDLEY WARNER.

[Illustration: J. Fenimore Cooper]

AMERICAN MEN OF LETTERS.

JAMES FENIMORE COOPER.

By

THOMAS R. LOUNSBURY, Professor Of English In The Sheffield Scientific School, Yale College.

BOSTON: HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY. New York: 11 East Seventeenth Street. The Riverside Press, Cambridge. 1884.

Copyright, 1882, By THOMAS R. LOUNSBURY

All rights reserved.

The Riverside Press, Cambridge : Electrotyped and Printed by H. O. Houghton & Co.

PREFATORY NOTE.

When Cooper lay on his death bed he enjoined his family to permit no authorized account of his life to be prepared. A wish even, that was uttered at such a time, would have had the weight of a command; and from that day to this pious affection has carried out in the spirit as well as to the letter the desire of the dying man. No biography of Cooper has, in consequence, ever appeared. Nor is it unjust to say that the sketches of his career, which are found either in magazines or cyclopædias, are not only unsatisfactory on account of their incompleteness, but are all in greater or less degree untrustworthy in their details.

It is a necessary result of this dying injunction that the direct and authoritative sources of information contained in family papers are closed to the biographer. Still it is believed that no facts of importance in the record of an eventful and extraordinary career have been omitted or have even been passed over slightingly. A large part of the matter contained in this volume has never been given to the public in any form: and for that reason among others no pains have been spared to make this narrative absolutely accurate, so far as it goes. Correction of any errors, if such are found, will be gratefully welcomed.

JAMES FENIMORE COOPER. (p. 001)

Chapter I.

1789 1820.

In one of the interior counties of New York, less than one hundred and fifty miles in a direct line from the commercial capital of the Union, lies the village of Cooperstown. The place is not and probably never will be an important one; but in its situation and surroundings nature has given it much that wealth cannot furnish or art create. It stands on the southeastern shore of Otsego Lake, just at the point where the Susquehanna pours out from it on its long journey to the Chesapeake. The river runs here in a rapid current through a narrow valley, shut in by parallel ranges of lofty hills. The lake, not more than nine miles in length, is twelve hundred feet above tide water. Low and wooded points of land and sweeping bays give to its shores the attraction of continuous diversity. About it, on every side, stand hills, which slope gradually or rise sharply to heights varying from two to five hundred feet. Lake, forest, and stream unite to form a scene of quiet but picturesque beauty, that hardly needs the additional charm of romantic association which has been imparted to it.

Though it was here that the days of Cooper's childhood were (p. 002) passed, it was not here that he was born. When that event took place the village had hardly even an existence on paper. Cooper's father, a resident of Burlington, New Jersey, had come, shortly after the close of the Revolutionary War, into the possession of vast tracts of land, embracing many thousands of acres, along the head waters of the Susquehanna... Continue reading book >>




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