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Full text of "Memoiral of James Fenimore Cooper"




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PUBLIC HONOURS TO THE MEMORY OF MR. COOPER, 
3n tlie (Citti of Hm f nrlt. 



At a meeting of friends of the late James Fenimore Coopek, 
held in the City Hall, in the city of New York, pursuant to 
notice, on the 25th of September, 1851, Washington Irving 
in the Chair, and Fitz-Greene Halleck and Rufus W. Gris- 
WOLD, Secretaries, the following gentlemen were appointed a 
Committee to make the necessary arrangements for a suitable 
demonstration of respect for Mr. Cooper's memory : 

WASHINGTOX IRVING, FITZ-GREENE HALLECK, CHARLES F. BRIGGS, 

GULIAN C. VERPLANCK, RUFUS W. GRISWOLD, MAUNSELL B. FIELD. 

JOHN DUER, CHARLES KING, PARKE GODWIN, 

JAMES K. PAULDING, GEORGE BANCROFT, JONA. M. WAINWRIGHT, 

JOHN W. FRANCIS, LEWIS GAYLORD CLARK, DONALD G. MTCHELL, 

RICHARD B. KIMBALL, JOHN A. DIX, GEO. P. PUTNAM, 

FRANCIS L. HAWKS, GEORGE P. MORRIS, N. P. WILLIS, 

WILLIAM C. BRYANT, SAMUEL OSGOOD, J. G. COGSWELL, 

WILLIAM W. CAMPBELL, CHARLES ANTHON, J. STARBUCK MAYO. 

At this meeting the following letters were read : 

From Washington Irving. 

SuNNYSiDE, Thursday, Sept. 18, 1851. 
My Dear Sir : The death of Fenimore Cooper, though anticipated, 
is an event of deep and public concern, and calls for the highest expres- 
sion of public sensibility. To me it comes with something of a shock ; 
for it seems but the other day that I saw him at our common literary 
resort at Putnam's, in full vigour of mind and body, a very " castle of a 
man," and apparently destined to outlive me, who am several years his 
senior. He has left a space in our literature which will not easily be 

supplied I shall not fail to attend the proposed meeting on 

Wednesday next. Very respectfully, your friend and servant, 

WASHINGTON IRVING. 
Rev. Rufus W. Griswold. 



O THK MEMORY OF COOPER. 

From William C. Bryant. 

Rochester, Friday, Sept. 19, 1851. 
Jly Dear Sir: I am sorry that the arrangements for my journey to 
the "West are such that I cannot be present at the meeting whicli is 
about to be held to do honour to the memory of Mr. Cooper, on losing 
whom not only the country, but the civilized world and the age in which 
we live, have lost one of their most illustrious ornaments. It is melan- 
choly to think that it is only until such men are in their graves that full 
justice is done to their merit. I shall be most happy to concur in any 
step which may be taken to express, in a public manner, our respect for 
the character of one to whom we were too sparing of public distinctions 
in his lifetime, and beg that I may be included in the proceedings of the 
occasion as if I were present. I am, very respectfully, yours, 

WM. C. BRYANT. 
Rev. R. W. Giuswold. 

Frmn Bishop Doane. 

Riverside, Tuesday, Sept. 22, 1851. 
My Dear Sir : . ... I beg you to say, generally, in your discretion, 
that I yield to no one who will be present, in my estimate of the distin- 
guished talents and admirable services of Mr. Cooper, or in my readi- 
ness to do the highest honour to his illustrious memory. His name 
must ever find a place among the " household words" of all our hearts ; 
a name as beautiful for its blamelessness of life, as it is eminent for its 
attainments in letters, which has subordinated to the higher interests of 
patriotism and piety, the fervours of fancy and the fascinations of 
romance. Very faithfully, your friend and servant, 

G. W. DOANE. 
Rev. Rufus W. Guiswoi.n. 



From James K. Paulding. 

Hyde Park, Sept. 23, 1851. 

My Dear Sir : You will state the reason of my absence, 

at the same time giving assurance of my cordial co-operation 

in any tribute they may offer to the memory of one who occupied so 
liigh a place among the distinguished authors of the age, and whose 
many estimable qualities merited the sincere regard of all who knew 
him. Very respectfully, your obedient servant, 

J. K. PAULDING. 
Rkv. Dr. Griswoli). 



MEETING AT THE CITY HALL, 9 

From G. P. R. James. 

Stockbridge, Mass., 2Sd Sept., 1851. 
Bear Doctor GriswoUl: I regret extremely that it will not be in 
my power to be present at the meeting to testify respect for the memory 
of Mr. Cooper. I grieve sincerely that so eminent a man is lost to the 
country and the world ; and though unacquainted with him personally, 
I need hardly tell you how highly his abilities as an author, and his 
character, were appreciated by Yours faithfully, 

G. P. R. JAMES. 

From Mr. Bancroft. 

Newport, R. L, Thursday, Sept. 18, 1851. 

My Dear Sir : I heartily sympathize with the design of a public 
tribute to the genius, manly character, and great career of the illustri- 
ous man whose loss we deplore. Others have combined very high merit 
as authors, with professional pursuits. Mr. Cooper was, of those who 
have gone from among us, the first to devote himself exclusively to let- 
ters. We must admire the noble courage with which he entered on a 
course which none before him had tried ; the glory which he justly won 
was reflected on his country, of whose literary independence he was the 
pioneer, and deserves the grateful recognition of all who survive him. 

By the time proposed for the meeting, I fear I shall not be able to 
return to New York ; but you may use my name in any manner that 
shall strongly express my delight in the writings of our departed friend, 
my thorough respect for his many virtues, and my sense of that surpass- 
ing ability which has made his own name and the names of the crea- 
tions of his fancy, household words throughout the civilized world. 
I remain, dear sir, very truly yours, 

GEORGE BANCROFT. 
Rev. R. W. Gkiswold. 

From Mr. Everett. 

Cambridge, Sept. 23, 1851. 

Dear Sir: I received, this afternoon, your favour of the I'Zth, in- 
viting me to attend and participate in the meeting to be held in your 
City Hall, for the purpose of doing honour to the memory of the late 
Mr. Fenimore Cooper. 

I sincerely regret that I cannot be with you. The state of the 
weather puts it out of my power to make the journey. The object of 
the meeting has my entire sympathy. The works of Mr. Cooper have 
adorned and elevated our literature. There is nothing more purely 



10 THE MEMORY OF COOPER. 

American, in the highest sense of the word, than several of them. In 
his department he is facile princeps. He wrote too much to write 
every thing equally well ; but his abundance flowed out of a full, origi- 
nal mind, and his rapidity and variety bespoke a resolute and manly 
consciousness of power. If among his works there are some which, 
had he been longer spared to us, he would himself, on reconsideration, 
have desired to recall, there are many more which the latest posterity 
" will not willingly let die." 

With much about him that was intensely national, we have but one 
other writer (Mr. Irving) as widely known abroad. Many of Cooper's 
novels were not only read at every fireside in England, but were trans- 
lated into every language of the European continent. 

He owed a part of his inspiration to the magnificent nature whicli 
surrounded him ; to the lakes, and forests, and Indian traditions, and 
border-life of your great state. It would have been as difficult to 
create Leatherstocking any where out of New York, or some state 
closely resembling it, as to create Don Quixote out of Spain. To have 
trained and possessed Fenimore Cooper will be is already witli jus- 
tice, one of your greatest boasts. But we cannot let you monopolize 
the care of his memory. We have all rejoiced in his genius ; we have 
all felt the fascination of his pen ; we all deplore his loss. You must 
allow us all to join you in doing honour to the name of our great Amer- 
ican novelist. I remain dear sir, with great respect, 

Very truly yours, 

EDWARD EVERETT. 
Rev. Rofds W. Geiswold. 

From Charles Jared Ingersoll. 

FoNTHiLL, Philadelphia, Sept. SOth, 1851. 

Bear Sir : Your favour, inviting me to a meeting of the friends of 
Fenimore Cooper, did not reach me till this morning, owing probably 
to an irregularity of the post-office. Otherwise I should have tried to 
attend the proposed meeting, not only as a friend of Mr. Cooper, but as 
one among those of his countrymen wlio consider his memory a national 
trust for honoured preservation. 

In my opinion of Fenimore Cooper as a novelist he is entitled to one 
merit to which few if any one of liis contemporary European romance 
writers can lay claim, to wit, originality. Leatherstocking is an origi- 
nal character, and entirely American, which is probably one of the 
reasons why Cooper was more appreciated in Continental Europe than 
even Scott, whose magnificent fancy embellished every thing, but whose 



MEETING AT THE CITY HALL. 11 

genius, I think, originated nothing. And then, in my estimate of Mr. 
Cooper's superior merits, was manly independence a rare American 
virtue. For the less free Englishman or Frenchman, politically, there 
was a freeness in the expression as well as adoption of his own views 
of men and things. And a third kindred merit of Cooper was high- 
minded and gentlemanly abstinence from self-applause. No distin- 
guished or applauded man ever was less apt to talk of himself and his 
performances. Unlike too many modern poets, novelists, and other 
writers, apt to become debauchees, drunkards, blackguards and the like, 
(as if, as some think, genius and vice go together,) Mr. Cooper was a 
gentleman remarkable for good plain sense, correct deportment, striking 
probity and propriety, and withal unostentatiously devout. Not mean- 
ing to disparage any one in order by odious comparisons to extol him, 
I deem his Naval History a more valuable and enduring historical work 
than many others, both English and American, of contemporaneous 
publication and much wider dissemination. In short, if the gentlemen 
whose names I have seen in the public journals with yours, proposing 
some concentrated eulogium, should determine to appoint a suitable 
person, with time to prepare it, I believe that Fenimore Cooper may be 
made the subject of illustration in very many and most striking lights, 
justly reflecting him, and with excellent influence on his country. 

I do not recollect, from what I read lately in the newspapers, precise- 
ly what you and the other gentlemen associated with you in this pro- 
ceeding propose to do, or whether any thing is to take place. But if 
so, whatever and wherever it may be, I beg you to use this answer to 
your invitation, and any services I can render, as cordial contributions, 
which I shall be proud and happy to make. 

I am, very respectfully, your humble servant, 

C. J. INGERSOLL. 
Rev. Rufcs W. Griswold. 

Letters of similar import were read from George Tick 
NOR, William H. Prescott, John Neal, William Gilmore 
SiMMS, William Ware, and other eminent literary men, 
and the meeting was attended by Dr. Francis Lieber, 
Henry C. Carey, and other persons of distinction from dif- 
ferent parts of the country. 

The committee, in the next two months, held at the Aster 
House frequent meetings, at one of which Mr. Greenough, 



12 THE MEMORY OF COOPER. 

the eminent sculptor, was so obliging as to furnish much inter- 
esting and serviceable information and suggestion respectmg 
monuments, in answer to the committee's inquiries. On one 
of these occasions the followmg letter was read from Wash- 
ington Irving : 

SUNNYSIDE, Oct. I5th, 1851. 

My Dear Sir : My occupations in the country prevent my attend- 
ance in town at the meetings of the committee, but I am anxious to 
know what is domg. I signitied at our first meeting what I thought the 
best monument to the memory of Mr. Cooper a statue. It is the sim- 
plest, purest, and most satisfactory perpetuating the likeness of the per- 
son. I understand there is an excellent bust of Mr. Cooper extant, made 
when he was in Italy. He was there in his prime ; and it might furnish 
the model for a noble statue. Judge Duer suggested that his monument 
should be placed at Washington, perhaps in the Smithsonian Institute. 
I would rather for New York, as he belonged to this state, and the 
scenes of several of his best works were laid in it. Besides, the seat of 
government may be changed, and then Washington would lose its im- 
portance ; whereas New York must always be a great and growing 
metrdpolis the place of arrival and departure for this part of the 
world the great resort of strangers from abroad, and of our own peo- 
ple from all parts of the Union. One of our beautiful squai'es would 
be a tine situation for a statue. However, I am perhaps a little too 
local in my notions on this matter. Cooper emphatically belongs to 
the nation, and his monument should be placed where it would be most 
in public view. Judge Duer's idea therefore may be the best. Tliere 
will be a question of what material the statue (if a statue is determined 
on) should be made. White marble is the most beautiful, but how 
would it stand our climate in the open air ? Bronze stands all weathers 
and all climates, but does not give so clearly the expression of the 
countenance, when regarded from a little distance. 

These are all suggestions scrawled in haste, which I should have 
made if able to attend the meeting of the committee. I wish you 
would drop me a line to let me know what is done or doing. 

Yours, very truly, 

WASHINGTON IRVING. 
Rev. RtjFUS Geiswold. 



PROCEEDINGS OF THE HISTORICAL SOCIETY. 13 

The action of the committee was deferred several weeks 
in consequence of the absence of Mr. Bryant, of whom it was 
from the beginning intended to request the delivery of a dis- 
course oh Mr. Cooper, and Avho was then on a tour through 
the Western states ; but on his return to the city it was at once 
determined that the public proceedings, which were in con- 
templation, should be held in Metropolitan Hall on the 24th 
of December. Mr. Webster very readily consented to pre- 
side on the occasion, and there was a prospect of such a result 
as should most perfectly gratify the friends of the illustrious 
deceased, and vindicate the popular appreciation of eminent 
moral and intellectual qualities ; but the arrival of Louis 
' Kossuth in New York not only engrossed m an astonishing 
degree the general feeling and attention, but his prospective 
visit to the seat of Government rendered it impossible for the 
Secretary of State to be absent at that period ; and the com- 
mittee, therefore, with perfect unanimity, decided to defer the 
proposed commemorative proceedings, until such a combination 
of favouring circumstances as was deemed necessary should 
warrant the appointment of another day. 

In the meanwhile, at the meeting of the New York His- 
torical Society, on the evening of Tuesday, the 7th of October, 
the Hon. Luther Bradish in the chair, after the transaction 
of the regular business, the folloAving resolutions were moved 
by Rev. Rufus W. Griswold : 



Whereas, It lias pleased Almighty God to remove from this life our 
illustrious associate and countrj'man, James Feximore CoorER, while 
his fame was in its fullness, and his intelligence was still unclouded by 
;ige or any infirmity, therefore: 



14 THE MEMORY OF COOPER. 

Resolved, That this Society has heard of the death of James Feni- 
MORE Cooper with profound regret: 

That it recognizes in liini an eminent subject and a masterly illus- 
trator of our history : 

That, in his contributions to our literature, he displayed eminent 
genius and a truly national spirit : 

That, in his personal character, he was honourable, brave, sincere, and 
generous, as respectable for unaffected virtue, as he was distinguished 
for great capacities : 

That this Society, appreciating the loss which, however heavily it 
has fallen upon this country and the literary world, has fallen most 
heavily upon his family, instructs its officers to convey to his family, 
assurances of respectful sympathy and condolence. 

Mr. George Bancroft having seconded these resolutions, 
Dr. John W. Francis said : 1 am rejoiced at the pre- 
sentation of these resolutions to the Society. Among the 
many great literary men whom our country has produced, 
there were none greater than Mr. Cooper, I knew him for a 
period of thirty years, and during all that time I never knew 
any thing of his character that was not in the highest degree 
praiseworthy. He was a man of great decision of character. 
and a fair expositor of his own thoughts on every occasion a 
thorough American, for I never knew a man who was more 
entirely so in heart and principle. He was able, with his vast 
knowledge, and a powerful physical structure, to complete 
whatever he attempted. Men might dissent from his opinions, 
but no one ever successfully impugned his facts. He had 
studied the history of this country with a large philosophy, 
and understood our people and their character better than any 
other writer of the age. He was not only perfectly acquainted 
Avith our general history, but he was also conversant with 
that of every state, county, village, lake, and river of the 
country. 



PROCEEDINGS OF THE HISTORICAL SOCIETY. 15 

New York, with its history, was his delight, Mr. Cooper 
was emphatically a New York man. And with this vast 
knowledge he was no less remarkable for his ability as an 
historian than for his intrepidity of personal character. 

I will trespass but a moment longer on the time of the So- 
ciety. It was natural to infer, that a life of such integrity, so 
usefully and so honourably passed, as Mr. Cooper's, should be 
closed by a death equally entitled to our notice. With the 
calmness of a Christian philosopher he listened to the details 
of his britical situation. I had every reason to believe from 
my professional interviews with him, and from what I learned 
afterwards from his interesting family, by whom he was sur- 
rounded m his dying hours, that death had no terrors for him ; 
that he was fully prepared to enter into eternity. He had 
for some considerable time previously devoted liimself to the 
study of the holy Scriptures had become an active mem- 
ber of the Protestant Episcopal Church and had received its 
sacraments, in the administrations of his pastor, the Eev. Mr. 
Batten. He had for many years been chosen a delegate of 
the church at Cooperstown, to the Annual Conventions of 
the Protestant Episcopal Church in New York ; and on a 
recent occasion, and at an important crisis, he exhibited com- 
manding powers in justification of the \'iews he expressed in 
the defence of certain principles in church discipline, and on 
the purity of the ministerial office. In the full fruition of the 
promises of the Christian faith, he died, at his beautiful sylvan 
retreat, on Otsego Lake, at half-past one o'clock, p. m., on 
Sunday, the 14th September, 1851, one day before the 
completion of his sixty-second year. He expired, calm and 
resigned, in full possession of his intellectual powers. 



16 THE MEMORY OF COOPER. 

I leave to others of our associates to enlarge on the mag- 
nificence of his gifts his intellectual labours the benefits he 
has conferred on letters, and on society, and the beneficence 
he exercised to the poor and to the needy. I could not allow 
this opportunity to pass without paying my tribute to the 
merits of this truly great man. 

Mr. Bancroft next addressed the Society. My friend, he 
said, has spoken of the illustrious deceased as an American 
[ say that he was an embodiment of the American feeling, 
and truly illustrated American greatness. We were endeav- 
ouring to hold up our heads before the world, and to claim a 
character and an intellect of our own, when Cooper appeared 
with his powerful genius to su^iport our pretensions. He 
came forth imbued with American life, and feeling, and senti- 
ment. Another like Cooper cannot appear, for he was pe- 
culiarly suited to his time, which was that of an mvading 
civilization. The fame and honour which he gained were not 
.obtained by obsequious deference to public opinion, but sim- 
ply by his great ability and manly character. Great as he 
was in the department of romantic fiction, he was not less 
deserving of praise in that of history. In Lionel Lincoln he 
has described the battle of Bunker Hill better than it is de- 
scribed in any other work. In his Naval History of the 
United States, he has left us the most admirable composition 
of which any nation could boast on a similar subject. 

Mr. Bancroft proceeded in a masterly analysis of some of 
INIr. Cooper's characters, and ended with an impressive asser- 
tion of the purity of his contributions to our literature, the em- 
inence of his genius, and the dignity of his personal character. 



PROCEEDINGS OF THE HISTORICAL SOCIETY. 17 

My friend, he said, has alluded to the religious senti- 
ments of Mr, Cooper, It has been said, " an undevout 
astronomer is mad," but with as much truth may it be 
said of an irreligious man of letters. Following the subtle 
processes of human learning, busied with the nicest ope- 
rations of the mind, pursuing truth as the great object, 
shall he, in tracing the streams, forget the Fountain of all 
truth 1 Mr, Cooper certainly did not do so. 

The Kev. Samuel Osgood said : 

It must seem presumptuous in me, Mr, President, to try 
to add any thing to the tribute which has been paid to the 
memory of Cooper, by gentlemen so peculiarly qualified, from 
their experience and position, to speak of the man and his ser- 
vices. But all professions have their own point of view, and 
I may be allowed to say a few words upon the relation of our 
great novelist to the historical associations and moral stand- 
ards of our nation, I cannot claim more than a passing ac- 
quaintance with the deceased, and it belongs to friends more 
favoured to interpret the asperities and illustrate the ameni- 
ties which are likely to mark the character of a man so decided 
in his make and habit. With his position as an interpreter of 
American history, and a delineator of American character, we 
are in this Society most closely concerned. None in this pres- 
ence, I am sure, will rebuke me for speaking of the novelist as 
among the most important agents of popular education, pow- 
erful either for good or ill. 

Is it not true, sir, that the romance is the prose epic of 
modern society, and that we now look to its pages for the 
most graphic portraitures of men, mamiers, and events] 



18 THE MEMORY OF COOPER. 

Social and political life is too complex now for the stately 
inarch of the heroic poem, and tliis age of print needs not the 
carefully measured verse to make sentences musical to the 
car, or to save them from bemg mutilated by circulation. The 
romance is now the chosen form of imaginative literature, and 
its gifted masters are educators of the popular ideal. What 
epic poem of our times begins to compare in influence over 
the common mind with the stories of Scott and Cooper 1 Our 
novelist loved most to treat of scenes and characters distinct- 
ively national, and his name stands mdelibly written on our 
fairest lakes and rivers, our grandest seas and mountains, our 
annals of early sacrifice and daring. With some of his criti- 
cisms on society, and some of his views of political and histor 
ical questions, I have personally little sympathy. But, when 
it is asked, in the impartial standard of critical justice, what 
influence has he exerted over the moral tone of American 
literature, or to what aim has he wielded the fascinating pen 
of romance, there can be but one reply. With him, fancy 
has ahvays walked hand in hand with purity, and the ideal of 
true manhood, which is every where most prominent in his 
Avorks, is one of which we may well be proud as a nation and 
as men. 

The element of will, perhaps more strongly than intel- 
lectual analysis, or exquisite sensibility, or liigh imagination, 
is the distinguished characteristic of his heroes, and in this his 
portraitures are good types of what is strongest in the practi- 
cal American mind. His model man, whether forester, sailor, 
servant, or gentleman, is always bent on bringmg some espe- 
cial thing to pass, and the progress from the plan to the 
achievement is described with military or naval exactness. 



PROCEEDINGS OF THE HISTORICAL SOCIETY. 19 

Yet he never overlooks any of the essential traits of a noble 
manhood, and loves to show how much of enterprise, courage, 
compassion, and reverence it combines with practical judgment 
and religious prmciple. 

It has seemed to me that his stories of the seas and the 
forests are fitted to act more than ever upon the strong hearts 
in training for the new spheres of triumph which are now so 
wonderfully openmg upon our people. ^Yho does not wish 
that liis noted hero of the backwoods might be known in every 
log-house along our extending frontier, and teach the rough 
pioneer always to temper darmg by humanity? Who can 
ever forget that favourite character, as dear to the reader as 
to the author, that paladin of the forest, that lion-heart of the 
wilderness, Leatherstocking fearless towards man, gentle 
towards woman, a rough-cast gentleman of as true a heart as 
ever beat under the red cross of the crusader. The qualities 
needed in those old times of frontier strife are now needed for 
new emergencies in more peaceful border life, and our future 
depends vastly upon the characters that give edge to the ad- 
vancing mass of our population now crowdmg towards the 
Eocky Mountains and the Pacific coast. It is well that this 
story-teller of the forest has been so true to the best traits of 
our nature, and in so many points is a moralist too. As a 
romancer of the sea. Cooper's genius may perhaps be but 
begimiing to show its influence, as a new age of commercial 
greatness is opening upon our nation. 

Mr, Cboper did not shruik from battle-scenes, and had 
no particular dread of gunpowder, yet his best laurels upon 
the ocean have been won in describmg feats of seamanship 
and traits of manhood that need no bloody conflict for their 



20 THE MEMORY OF COOPER. 

display, and may be exemplified in fleets as peaceful and 
beneficent as ever spread their sails to the breezes to bear 
kindly products to fi-iendly nations. As we sit here this 
evening, under the influence of the hour, the images of many 
a famous exploit on the water seems to come out from his 
well-remembered pages, and mingle themselves with recent 
scenes of marine achievement. Has not the " Water-Witch" 
herself rc-appeared of late in our own bay, and laden, not with 
contraband goods, but a freight of stout-hearted gentlemen, 
borne the palm as " Skimmer of the Seas" from all competi- 
tors, in presence of the royalty and nobility of England 1 And 
the old " Ironsides," has not she come back again, more iron- 
ribbed than ever ? not to fight over the old battles which our 
naval chronicler was so fond of rehearsing, but under the name 
of the Baltic or (better omen) the Pacific, to win a victory 
more honourable and encouraging than ever was carried by 
the thundering broadsides of the noble old Constitution ! The 
commanders and pilots so celebrated by the novelist, have 
they not successors indomitable as they 1 and just now our 
ship-news brings good tidings of their achievements, as they 
tell us of the Flying Cloud that has made light of the storms 
of the fearful southern cape, and of the return of the adventu- 
rous fleet that has stood so well the hug of the Polar icebergs, 
and shown how nobly a crew may hunt for men on the seas, 
with a Red Eover's daring and a Christian's mercy. 

It is well that the most gifted romancer of the sea is an 
American, and that he is helping us to enact the romance of 
history so soon to be fact. The empire of the waters, which 
in turn has belonged to Tyre, Venice, and England, seems 
waiting to come to America, and no part of the world now so 



PROCEEDINGS OF THE HISTORICAL SOCIETY. 21 

justly claims its possession as that state in which Cooper had 
his home. Who does not welcome the promise of the new 
age of powerful commerce and mental blessing 1 Who does 
not feel grateful to any man who gives any good word or 
work to the emancipation of the sailor from his worst enemies, 
and to the freedom of the seas from all the violence that stains- 
its benignant waters 1 While proud of our fleet ships, let us 
not forget elements in their equipment more important than 
oak and iron. In this age of merchandise, let us adorn peace 
with something of the old manhood that took from warfare 
some of its horrors. Did time allow, I might try to illustrate 
the power of an attractive literature in keeping alive national 
associations, and moulding national character ; but I am con- 
tent to leave these few fragmentary words with the Society as 
my poor tribute to a writer who charmed many hours of 
my boyhood, and who has won regard anew as the entertain- 
ing and instructive beguiler of some recent days of rural rec- 
reation. May Ave not sincerely say that he has so used the 
treasures of our national scenery and history as to elevate the 
true ideal of true manhood, and quicken the nation's memory 
in many respects auspiciously for the nation's hopes ? 

Dr. Hawks spoke warmly of the religious sentiment in 
Mr. Cooper, as illustrated in his life and in his writings, quoting 
the eulogy of Lord Lyttleton on the poet Thomson : 

Not one immoral, one corrupted thought, 
One Ihie which, dying, he could wish to blot. 

He contrasted eloquently the pervading purity and dignity 
of Mr. Cooper, in a field in which the critics assigned him the 
highest rank that had ever been attained, with the grossness of 



22 T H E M E M () R V O F C O O P E R . 

those authors who presumed that the sailor and the pioneer 
were incapable of refinement, and could be aptly painted only 
in language such as the judicious parent could not willingly 
submit to his family. 

The evening of the 25th of February having finally been 
selected for the public commemorative proceedings in honour 
of Mr. Cooper, the spacious Metropolitan Hall was filled at 
an early hour with an assembly comprising a large representa- 
tion of the intelligence and literary culture of the city. Mr. 
Webster took the chair at half-past seven o'clock. On his 
right hand were seated Mr. Bryant, Mr. Luther Bradish. 
Mr. KiNGSLAND, the Mayor, and Dr. Francis ; on his left Mr. 
Washington Irving, Chairman of the Committee, Rev. Dr. 
Griswold, Secretary of the Committee, and Mr. Bancroft ; 
and on the stage, besides members of the Committee, were 
Hey. Dr. Henry and Professor Adler, of the University ; 
Mr. G. P. R. James, Chancellor McCoun, Chief Justice Jones, 
Mr. Charles O'Conor, Mr. Ogden Hoffman, Rev. Dr. 
Bethune ; Professor Hackley, of Columbia College ; Mr. 
Curtis, author of "Nile Notes"; Mr. Young, editor of 
" The Albion ;" Mr. George Ripley, Mr. H. T. Tuckerman, 
Mr. Benjamin F. Butler, Mr. Pell, Dr. Wynne, and many 
other persons of distmction. , 

In the speeches pronounced during the evening, and in 
most of the subsequent reports in the journals, the opini(jn 
was expressed that there had never before been assembled 
for any purpose so large an audience of the most intellec- 
tual and socially eminent classes of the city, as was then 
present. 



MR. Webster's speech. 



The meeting was called to order by Washikgton Irving, 
who was received with great enthusiasm. He said : 

I was sorry to find it reported that I intended to deliver 
an address this evening. I have no talent for public speaking ; 
if I had I would be most happy to do justice to the genius of 
one whose writings entitle him to the love, respect, and admi- 
ration of every American. I appear before you, on this occa- 
sion, as Chairman of the Committee of Arrangements, to pre- 
sent to you the Hon. Daniel Webster, who will preside at 
this meeting. 

Mr. Irving here mtroduced Mr. Webster to the audience, 
amidst loud, enthusiastic, and long-contmued applause. 

When quiet was restored, Mr. Webster advanced and said : 

Ladies and Gentlemen : I deem it an honour to be called 
upon to occupy the chair of this meeting. The object is to 
promote the purpose of erecting an appropriate statue to the- 
memory of a distinguished citizen of New York, who has not 
only honoured the state to which he belonged, but also 
the whole country, of which he was a citizen, by his distin- 
guished contributions to American literature. 

Ladies and gentlemen, Tliere are roads to fame of various 
character. Feats in arms acquire renown, military achieve- 
ments take strong hold of the mmds of men, and transmit the 
names of their authors to the knowledge of posterity. Political 
life has also its distinction, and those who have proved eminent 
in this career, especially if connected with events greatly affect- 
ing, and favourabiy affectmg, the liberty of their country and 
of mankind, have equal right to be cherished in the grateful 



24 THE MEMORY OF COOPER. 

recollection of succeeding generations. He, in whose honour 
we are now assembled, was never a soldier in arms, nor was 
it his lot to command the attention of listening senates. But 
by the diffusion of his literary productions, by his taste, talent, 
and industry, he had become so much an object of national 
regard, as one to whom all classes w^ere indebted, for knowl- 
edge, and literary recreation. 

Ladies and gentlemen. Is there any reputation more to be 
desired than that which is established by addressing itself to 
the taste and the cultivation, the morality and the religion, of 
civilized men? Who^can more properly deserve praise than he 
who elevates the literature, enlightens the moral power, and 
strengthens the religious character of the age in which he lives ? 

I should not be here to-night, ladies and gentlemen, to raise 
my feeble voice in honour of the memory of Fenimore Cooper, 
however distinguished by genius, talent, education, and the art 
of popular writing, if in the character of his productions there 
was any thing to be found calculated to undermine the prin- 
ciples of our religious faith, or debauch the morality of the 
country. 

Nothing of genius or talent can atone for an injury of this 
kind to the rising generation of the community. 

As far as I am acquainted with the writings of Mr. Cooper, 
they uphold good sentiments, sustain good morals, and main- 
tain just taste ; and, after saying this, I have next to add, that 
all his writings are truly patriotic and American, throughout 
and throughout. 

It is for these reasons that I deem it an honour to be here, 
on this occasion, to perform my humble part, to rear a proper 
statue or monument, to the memory of Fenimore Cooper. I 



MR. Webster's speech. 25 

consider him as having contributed largely to the reputation 
of American literature, at home and abroad. 

He is known every where, his writings have been read 
not only all over this country, but wherever our language 
is read; and wherever read they have inspired good feel- 
ings and given rational pleasure. He possessed the power 
of amusing, and of enlightening readers among the younger 
classes of the country, without injury to their morals or any 
solicitation of depraved passions. This is his great praise, 
and what is more honourable, or more likely to endure, than 
the fame which is secured by writings of this tendency ? 
and these writings, at the same time, are full of informa- 
tion respecting our country, the early habits of the people 
and our o\vn scenery, and are therefore likely to go do^vn 
with great interest to the generations which are to succeed 
us, and to transmit his delineation of American character, 
in the age before his o^\^^, to those which shall come after 
him. Tliere has been no American writer (I suppose) Avho 
imbued his own mind with a fresher or stronger feeling of the 
habits and manners of the early settlers of this country, who 
both understood the scenery and modes of life, on the frontier, 
between civilization and the forest, or who has presented that 
scenery or those modes of life with more variety and effect. 
He has gone ; but he has left a name behind him, which it is 
ours to cherish and to honour ; and so far as marble or bronze 
can perpetuate it, let marble and bronze be employed. But it 
is rather, I think, for the purpose of manifesting our owti grati- 
tude for his well-deserving efforts, that we ardently contribute 
by these material fabrics to the object of transmitting his mem- 
ory to our children. The enduring monuments of Fenimore 



26 THE MEMORY OF COOPER. 

Cooper arc liis works. Those, and this meeting, composed, as it 
is, of many of the most distinguished of the men of letters of 
his age and country, with other thousands of his admiring fel- 
low-citizens, assembled in honour of his memory, constitute 
his fame. He might say with the great Roman orator 
" Quibus pro tantis rebus, nullum ego a vobis praimium virtutis, 
nullum insigne honoris, nullum monumentum laudis postulo, 
pra^terquam hujus diei memoriam sempiternam. In animis 
ego vestris omnes triumphos meos, omnia ornamenta honoris, 
monumenta glorise, laudis insignia, condi et coUocari volo."' 
Living in an enlightened age, an age of literature and science, 
of history, poetry and recital, the monument of Mr. Cooper 
exists in the minds of men, and, like other thoughts aiid senti- 
ments, is transmitted from man to man in the ordinai'y succes- 
sion of generations. While mind and memory and taste, tlie 
veneration of religion, the love of country and of good morals, 
continue to prevail, his remembrance will exist in the hearts 
of the people. 

Ladies and gentlemen, my duty on this occasion is very 
simple. It is to signify my sense of the honour conferred on 
nic by being called to the chair of this meeting, and to prepare 
you for the proceedings and the remarks which are now to 
succeed. 

Turning to the Secretary of the Committee, (Mr. Fitz- 
Greene Halleck, one of the secretaries, being detained 
from the meeting.) Mr. Webster then said : 

Dr. Griswold will now proceed to read letters that have 
been addressed to the Committee of friends of Mr. Cooper, 
by gentlemen Avho are not present. 



CORRESPONDENCE OF THE COMMITTEE. 27 

Tlic following letters Avere then read, the assembly receh- 
ing the names of several of the writers with applause. 

From the late Dr. De Kay. 

SyossET, L. I, Nov. &th, 1851. 

Dear Sir : I perceive by the papers, tliat a movement is about to 

be made to do honour to the memory of Fenimore Cooper. 

Under feelings of profound grief for the loss of a warm personal 

friend, and a manly, true-hearted American, I am prompted to inquire 

what form the public demonstration is likely to take on this occasion. 

Should a monument be determined upon, I would cheerfully honour 

your draft for $100 for this purpose. 

I do not wish to appear ostentatious, or prominent in this matter, 

and for that reason called upon you once or twice when in town last, 

to confer with you personally, as those matters appear to me better 

arranged verbally than by writing. 

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant. 

JAS. E. DE KAY. 
Rev. Rufus W. Griswold. 

Frmn Francis Lieber, LL. D. 

CoLUMBi.\, S. C, Feb., 1S52. 

Dear Sir : Iregret very much that I cannot possibly accept your kind 
invitation. Were I within any reasonable distance from New York, 1 
should certainly join you, tlius to pay my humble though sincere respect 
to a departed fellow-writer. 

Had I any voice in this matter, which I know I have not, I would ex- 
press my hope that the monument be erected in New York and not in 
AYashington. In New York his monument will be part and parcel of a 
living organism, as the Raphael is over the altar; in Washington it 
would be like a great picture in a gallery, losing half its value because 
out of place. Washington never was, never will be, and never was in- 
tended to be, a London or Paris. It is but the Frankfort of the United 
States. New York will be, socially, the capital. In New York he lived, 
and in New York the monument would also be a striking proof that 
old difficulties have been buried and long forgotten. Erect it in New 
York and give it to your noble son, Crawford, to execute it the most 
poetic of our sculptors. Have you seen his plan of the Richmond monu- 
uicnt ? But pardon me, I am perhaps presumptuous. 

I send you by this mail a trifle. Your very obedient, 

F. LIEBER. 
Rev. Rufus W. Geiswold. 



28 THE MEMORY OF COOPER. 

From the Hon. Lewis Cass. 

Washington Citv, Feb. lOth, 1852. 
Dear Sir : I have received your letter inviting me, in the name of 
the Committee, to be present at the meeting proposed to be held for 
the purpose of making the necessary arrangements for a suitable dem- 
onstration of respect for the memory of James Fenimore Cooper. 

I cannot be with you upon that occasion, but it will not be for tlie 
want of respect for his memory as a man and as an author. It would 
be idle for me to speak of his literary merits and his fame. His coun- 
try and the world acknowledge and appreciate his claims, and the pro- 
ductions of his genius will go down to posterity among the noblest 
efforts of the age. I shall necessarily be detained here, but I trust that 
the result of your meeting will be a demonstration worthy of the coun- 
try, and of him, though now lost to us, will ever live in the history of 
human greatness. 

I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant, 

LEWIS CASS. 
Rev. Dr. Geiswold. 

From the Hon. Richard Rush. 

Sydenham, near Philadelphia. 
Bear Sir : Yesterday's mail brought me your most gratifying invi- 
tation, on the part of the Committee "of friends of the late Mr. Cooper," 
to be present at Metropolitan Hall, in New York, on the evening of the 
25th instant, when Mr. Bryant is to pronounce a discourse on the life and 
genius of Mr. Cooper, Mr. Webster presiding on the occasion. Tliese 
names, associated with those of the Committee, Washington Irving being 
at its head, in further conjunction with Mr. Prescott's name, Mr. Eve- 
rett's and Mr. Ticknor's, whom you also mention as intending to be 
present, hold out inducements of the highest kind to my acceptance of 
such an invitation. In proportion as I feel honoured and gratified by it, 
I hasten to express the sincere regret I experience at being unable to 
accept it, from a previous engagement. Uniting in the opinion ex- 
pressed in your letter that the genius and high character of Mr. Cooper 
make his death a suitable occasion for beginning to honour literary dis- 
tinction in this country, I rejoice to think that a movement to that effect 
comes forward under names so imposing in reputation and number as 
to afford the best pledges of success. A movement springing from so 
elevated a feeling, and commencing in a case so fitted to awaken public 
sympathy throughout our land, carries with it also my humble but most 
cordial and most heart-felt co-operation in wishes and hopes. May it 
succeed monument and all to the fullest extent of Fenimore Cooper's 



CORRESPONDENCE OF THE COMMITTEE. 29 

merits as an author. And let it lay to heart, that, to whatever height 
our political consideration may tower in the world, whatever is, or is to 
be our renown as a nation, its most enduring fame will rest on our great 
names in the field of letters and science. It is their works that will 
survive and continue to shine out, when other vestiges of our greatness 
and glory will have disappeared. 

Fully appreciating the honour of this invitation, and desiring to ten- 
der through you my grateful acknowledgments to the committee, 
I beg you, my dear sir, to believe me, with great respect, 

Your obliged and obedient servant, 

RICHARD RUSH. 
Rev. Rufus W. Griswold. 

From Professor Henry Reed. 

Philadelphia, Feb. 20t/i, 1852. 

Dear Sir : I have tlie honour to acknowledge the receipt of your 
letter of the 9th inst., inviting me, on behalf of the Committee, to attend 
the proposed meeting of the friends of the late James Fenimore Cooper. 

I was glad to learn that it is in contemplation to erect a statue of 
Mr. Cooper. It will be, if I am not mistaken, the first tribute of the kind 
paid in our country to the memory of a man of letters; and it may, 
therefore, be hailed as a proof a growing national respect for the 
labourers of literature. 

In the younger days of American art, public gratitude was fain to 
be content with the monumental slab, or obelisk, or column, as memo- 
rials of the distinguished dead ; but now, when it can call to its service 
the genius of a Greenough, or of our other eminent sculptors, the statue 
is the more appropriate as as it is the far more expressive memento. 

It would give me great pleasure to attend the proposed meeting, 

and to be a listener to Mr. Bryant's discourse, but a protracted illness, 

which still keeps me a prisoner within doors, puts it out of my power. 

Respectfully, your obedient servant, 

HENRY REED. 
Rev. R. W. Griswolu. 

From Hon. James Hall. 

Cincinnati, Ohio, Feb. lAth, 1852. 
My Bear Sir : I have had the honour of receiving your letter of the 
9th inst., inviting me to be present at Metropolitan Hall, on the evening of 
the 24th inst., to participate in the proceedings which may then take place, 
to render honour to the memory of James Fenimore Cooper. The great 
distance of my residence, and the pressing nature of my engagements at 



30 THE MEMORY OF COOPER. 

home, alone prevents me from uniting in .1 -n-ork -whicii has my entire 
approbation, and enlists my deepest sympathy. The merits of Mr. 
Cooper as a writer, and as a successful pioneer in American literature, 
entitle his memory to the highest honours which his countrymen, and 
especially the writers of his country, can render. I shall not be able to 
be present in person the evening of the 24th, but will be with you iti 
feeling and sentiment, and will consider myself honoured in being per- 
mitted to contribute to this excellent design, in any form which may be 
efficient and acceptable. I beg the Committee to command my services 
if in any way they can be made useful. Very truly, yours, 

JAMES HALL. 
Rev. Rurrs W. Griswold, <fcc. 

From Herman lldviUe. 

PiTTSFiELD, Mass., Feb. 10th, 1852. 

Gentlemen : I have been honoured by receiving an official invitation 
to attend the Cooper Demonstration, to be held in New York on the 24th 
of this month. My very considerable distance from the city, connected 
with other reasons, will prevent my compliance. But I rcy'oice that 
there will not be wanting many better, though not more zealous, men 
tlian myself, to unite on that occasion, in doing honour to a memory so 
very dear, not only to American literature, but to the American nation. 

I never had the honour of knowing, or even seeing, Mr. Cooper per- 
sonally ; so that, through my past ignorance of his person, tlie man, 
though dead, is still as living to me as ever. And this is very much ; 
frtr his works are among the earliest I can remember, as in my boyhood 
producing a vivid and awakening power upon my mind. 

It always much pained me, tiiat for any reason, in his latter years, his 
fame at home should have apparently received a slight, temporary cloud- 
ing, from some very paltry accidents, incident more or less to the gen- 
eral career of letters. But whatever possible things in Mr. Cooper may 
liave seemed to have in some degree provoked the occasional treatment 
he received, it is certain that he possessed not the slightest weaknesses 
but those which are only noticeable as the almost hifallible indices of 
pervading greatness. He Avas a great, robnst-souled man, all whose 
merits are not seen, yet fully appreciated. But a grateful posterity will 
take the best care of Fenimore Cooper. 

Assured that your demonstration cannot but prove a noble one, 
equally worthy of its illustrious object and the numerous living celebri- 
ties who will partake in it, I am, very respectfully, yours, 

HERMAN MELVILLE. 

To THE Committee, Ac. 



CORRESPONDENCE OF THE COMMITTEE. 31 

From WiJliam. H. Prescott, Esq. 

BosTox, Feb. 2Sd, 1852. 

Jly Dear Irving : I received yesterday, by Dr. Griswold, your 
friendly summons to attend the celebration in honour of Cooper, on 
Wednesday next. It is with much regret that I find myself unable to 
comply with it, as certain family arrangements, Avhich I have explained 
to Dr. Griswold, make it extremely inconvenient to leave town the 
present week. 

I do regret sincerelj^ that I cannot take any share in paying this 
tribute of respect to an illustrious countryman. I have seen it stated 
in some of your journals that his character as a writer was not fully 
appreciated here at the North. I believe there is some misapprehension 
in this. But at all events, any criticism on petty defects will now be 
lost in admiration of tlie results of a life which, for the last thirty years 
or more, has been steadily devoted to letters results in which everv 
American must take an honest pride. For surely no one has succeeded 
like Cooper in the portraiture of American character, taken in its 
broadest sense, of the civilized and of the uncivilized man, or has given 
such glowing and eminently faithful pictures of American scenery. 
His writings are instinct with the spirit of na'tionality, shown not less 
in those devoted to sober fact than in the sportive inventions of his 
inexhaustible fancy. His merits have been admitted not only wherever 
the English language is spoken, but all over Europe, as every traveller 
knows who has seen the translations of Cooper in the different lan- 
guages of the Continent, holding their place beside those of the -great 
masters of English literature. 

There is no one, I am sure, in this country, from the north to the 
south, who does not look on the fame of Cooper as the property of the 
nation, or who would not willingly join in any testimony of respect that 
may be shown to his memory. I, for one, most heartily do so. 

I am glad to learn that the subscriptions to the statue proposed to 
be erected are not confined to your own state. They certainly ought 
not to be so limited. Understanding this from Dr. Griswold, I take 
tiiis occasion to enclose a draft, payable to your order, for a small sum, 
which I pray you to add to the general fund. 

I am glad to learn that your own health has been good of late. Long 
may it be before you, too, join the company of the immortals. 

With my best wishes for your prosperity and happiness, 

I remain, my dear sir, faithfully yours, 

WM. H. PRESCOTT. 
Washington Irving, Esq. 



32 THE MEMORY OF COOPER. 

From Richard H. Dana 

Boston, Feb. 20th, 1852. 

Gentlenicn : The invitation to be present at the meeting appointed 
for the evening of the 24th, reached me a few days since. 

I deeply regret that it will not be in my power to make one in the 
number of those who will come together to pay their tribute of respect 
to the memory of the late James Fenimore Cooper. "While something 
more than courtesy long shown to me by Mr. Cooper, has made his loss 
like a private grief to me, I am aware that there will be many present 
whose feelings must be the same with mine ; and it would be grateful 
to me if, like them, I could bring my treasured sorrow to place with 
theirs, an offering to the one common object of our regard and love. 

As we grow old, our excited admiration of genius (while, perhaps, 
no less justly apprehensive than at first) calms down, and our thoughts 
turn oftener towards the moral nature of the man. Many of us can re- 
member how we were stirred on the first appearance of the " Spy," and 
how we connected the man with his work for then our writers were 
few, and what they wrote brought them with the interest and life of 
individuality before our minds. We have all since that time threaded 
the forests with Cooper, and sailed with him over the seas. But do we 
not (at least at such a time as this) love more to dwell upon his open, 
manly, energetic nature, and upon that self-reliance and civil courage 
(much too rare amongst us) which would, with equal freedom, speak 
out in the face of the people, whether they were friendly or adverse? 

Still, it is the humble, childlike trust, shining out in the closing day 
of this man of so firm a spirit, which most wins us as it sheds its reli- 
gious light through the gathering shadows of death, and bids us watch 
for a new dawn. And is there not something hopeful in the reflection, 
that the first assembling of our literary men should be for a purpose 
80 sacred as that of honouring one of their dead ? For a common sor- 
row makes the closest brotherhood, and death bids the living live in 
love, if they would pass in peace. With true sympathy and regard, 
I am, gentlemen, your obedient servant, 

RICH'D H. DANA. 
RuF0s W. Griswold and Fixz- Greene Halleck, <fec. 

Froin Ralph Waldo Emerson. 

Concord, Mass. 

Dear Sir : I am very xmwilling to lose the occasion you offer mo, 

both of hearing the celebration of Mr. Cooper's genius, and of meeting 

with so many excellent persons who wish to honour his memory. But 

my engagements, though not important, are not easily set aside 



CORRESPONDENCE OF THE COMMITTEE. 33 

I never had the good fortune to see Mr. Cooper ; but I have, in com- 
mon with almost all who speak English, an old debt to him of happy 
days, on the first appearance of the Pioneers. And, when I remember 
the imanimity with which that national novel was greeted, I perceive 
that the whole population is interested in your design, and that the dif- 
ficulty of the committee will be, not how to draw, but how to exclude. 

I am glad the suggestion of erecting a statue has prevailed, and I 
shall be obliged to you to give me an opportunity of adding my contri- 
bution, when it is time. Respectfully, your obedient servant, 

R. W. EMERSON. 
R. W. Geiswold, <fec. 

Frctn Nathaniel Hawthorne. 

"West Newton, Feb. ^Qth, 1852. 
Dear Sir : I greatly regret that circumstances render it impossible 
for me to be present on the occasion of Mr. Bryant's discourse in honour 
of James Fenimore Cooper. No man has a better right to be present 
than myself, if many years of most sincere and unwavering admiration 
of Mr. Cooper's writings can establish a claim. It is gratifying to ob- 
serve the earnestness with which the literary men of our country unite 
in paying honour to the deceased ; and it may not be too much to hope 
that, in the eyes of the public at large, American literature may hence- 
forth acquire a weight and value, which have not heretofore been con- 
ceded to it : time and death have begun to hallow it. 

Very respectfully yours, 

NATH'L HAWTHORNE. 
Rev. Rufus W. Geiswold, &,c. 

From the Hon. Charles Sumner. 

"Washington, Feb. 22d, 1852. 

3fi/ Dear Sir : It is not in my power to be present at the proposed 
demonstration in memory of the late Mr. Cooper. But I am glad of the 
opportunity afforded by the invitation with which I have been honoured, 
to express my regard for his name and my joy that he lived and wrote. 

As an author of clear and manly prose, as a pourtrayer to the life of 
scenes on land or sea, as a master of the keys to human feelings and as 
a beneficent contributor to the general fund of happiness, he is remem- 
bered with delight. 

As a patriot who loved his country, who illustrated its history, who 
advanced its character abroad, and, by his genius, won for it the unwill- 
ing regard of foreign nations, he deserves a place in the hearts of the 
American people. 



34 THE MEMORY OF COOPER. 

I have seen his works ia cities of France, Italy, and Germany. In 
all these countries he was read and admired. Thus by his pen Ameri- 
can intervention was peacefully, inoffensively, and triumphantly carried 
into the heart of the European Continent. 

In honouring him we exalt literature and the thrice blessed arts of 

peace. Our country will learn anew from your demonstration that there 

are glories other than those of state or of war. 

I have the honour to be, dear sir, your obedient servant, 

CHARLES SUMNER. 
Rev. Rufus W. Geiswold. 

From Henry W. Longfellow. 

Cambridge, Mass. 

My Dear Sir : If any thing could draw me away from my friends, 
at this cold season, it would be your friendly letter and the occasion 
which produced'it. 

It would give me very sincere pleasure to be present on the 25th, to 
hear Mr. Bryant's discourse, and join you in paying honour to Cooper's 
memory. The country owes him a great debt of gratitude, and all who 
are of the guild of authorship should show the most alacrity in paying 
it. I was in no country of Europe where the name of Cooper was not 
familiarly known. In some of them he stands as almost the sole rep- 
resentative of our literature ; and knowing this, I should take great 
delight in listening to his eulogy from the lips of Bryant. But alas ! 
my College engagements are so imperative, that I cannot get away at 
this season even for a couple of days. Pray express my regrets to your 
Committee, and believe me. Very sincerely yours, 

HENRY W. LONGFELLOW. 
FiTz- Greene Halleck, Esq. 

From Francis Parhnan, Jr. 

Boston, Mass. 

Bear Sir : I very much regret that I cannot attend the proposed 
meeting at Metropolitan Hall on the 25th. It is an honour to the na- 
tional character, and a good augury for the national literature that such a 
tribute should be offered to the memory of the most original and truly 
American of our authors. For myself, I have always felt a special ad- 
miration for Cooper's writings. They were ray chosen favourites as a 
boy, and though it is at least nine or ten years since I opened them, yet 
the scenes and characters of several of his novels have been so stamped 
by the potency of his art upon my mind that I sometimes find it difficult 
to separate them distinctly from the recollections of my own past ex- 



CORRESPONDENCE OF THE COMMITTEE. 35 

periences. I may say, without exaggeration, that Cooper has had an in- 
fluence in determining the course of my life and pursuits. It would give 
rae high satisfaction, if I were able, to join on this occasion in doing 
homage to his genius. Believe me, very smcerely, yours, 

Tf -r, n F. PARKMxVN, Jr. 

Kev. Dr. Geiswold. 

From Francis L. Hawks, I). D. 

New York, Feb. lath, 1852. 

Dear Sir : I cannot withhold the expression of my regret, that cir- 
cumstances will prevent my joining in this tribute of respect, to be paid 
this evening, to the memory of Mr. Cooper ; for it is a tribute alike due 
to the dead and honourable to the living. 

I could, however, do little more than by my presence bear my hum- 
ble testimony to the moral and intellectual worth of one whose most 
enduring monument will be found in his writings. 

Yet we owe it to ourselves to rear a memorial that may perpetuate 

our sense of his worth ; and it is a gratifying reflection, that living, as 

we do, in an age and country where we are of necessity obliged to 

travel on the path of what is termed " utilitarianism," in labouring on 

what is material, and subduing a continent for the uses of civilized 

man, we yet find cheering symptoms of national j^rogress in another 

direction, in the fact that a public meeting can be held to do honour to 

the triumphs of mind in the field of pure literature. Very respectfully, 

FRANCIS L. HAWKS. 
Rev. Dr. Gkiswold. 

From Alfred B. Street. 

Albany, Feb. list, 1852. 

My Bear Sir : After an absence from home, your letter, kindly in- 
viting my presence at Metropolitan Hall, on the evening of the 24th inst., 
is received. You need not be assured, my dear sir, that I agree heartily 
with the movement to do honour to James Fenimore Cooper that great 
man whom America produced, not for herself alone but the world. 

Nothing can be more just and right than to erect a monument to 
him. It is not needed, to be sure, to perpetuate his memory, for his 
works will do that, but it will serve as a token of the respect and 
esteem of his admiring countrymen. 

Your invitation gives me the greatest pleasure, and if my duties at 
the State Library will possibly allow me, I will be present at the pro 
ceedings. Believe me, yours, very truly and sincerely, 

ALFRED B. STREET. 

Rev. Dr. Griswold. 



36 THE MEMORY OF COOPER. 



From Sam'l F. B. Morse. 



PouGHKEEPSiE, February 23<f, 1852. 

My Dear Sir : I truly regret that circumstances over which I have 
no control, prevent my participation in the services commemorative of 
the character, literary and moral, of my lamented friend, the late James 
Fenimore Cooper. I can scarcely yet realize the melancholy fact, that 
he is no longer with us, for the announcement of his death came upon 
me most unexpectedly. I can truly say tliat the pleasure of years of 
close intimacy was never for a moment clouded by the slightest cool- 
ness. We were in daily, almost hourly, intercourse while in Paris 
during the eventful years of 1831, 1832. I never met with a more 
sincere, warm-hearted, constant friend. No man came nearer to the 
ideal I had formed of a truly high-minded man. If he was at times 
severe or caustic in his remarks on others, it was when excited by the 
exhibition of the little arts of little mind.s. His own frank and open 
nature instinctively recoiled from contact with them, though found 
in the saloons of ambassadors or tlie lialls of royalty. He was an ar- 
dent, uncompromising friend of his country's institutions, and defended 
them when attacked at tlie risk of the threatened loss of fame and for- 
tune. 

His liberality, obedient to his generous sympathies, was scarcely 
bounded by prudence ; he was always ready to lend his purse and his 
pen to struggling merit, and many who are now reaping the fruits of 
his early kindness, will have learned of his decease with the most poig- 
nant sorrow. 

Although unable to be with you, I trust the Committee will not 
overlook me when they collect the funds for the contemplated monu- 
ment. With sincere respect, your most obedient servant, 

SAM'L F. B. MORSE. 

Rev. Rufus W. Griswold, &c. 



From John P. Kennedy. 

Baltimore, Feb. 20tk, 1852. 

Dear Sir : Your invitation reached me too late to enable me to 
participate in the meeting which has been held at the City Hall in your 
city, to render appropriate honours to the memory of Mr. Cooper. 

I rejoice to see what has been done and what you propose to do. It 
is due to the eminent merits of Fenimore Cooper, that there should be 
an impressive public recognition of the loss which our country has sus- 



CORRESPONDENCE OF THE COMMITTEE. 37 

tained in his death. He stood confessedly at the head of a most attraic- 
tive and popular department of cm- literature, in which his extraordi- 
nary success had raised him up a fame that became national. The 
country claimed it as its own. This fame was acknowledged and appre- 
ciated not only wherever the English tongue is the medium of thought, 
but every where amongst the most civilized nations of Europe. 

Our literature, in the lifetime of the present generation, has grown 
to a maturity which has given it a distinction and honourable place in 
that aggregate which forms national character. No man has done more 
in his sphere to elevate and dignify that character than Fenimore 
Cooper : no man is more worthy than he, for sucli services, of the high- 
est honours appropriate to a literary benefactor. His genius lias con- 
tributed a rich fund to the instruction and delight of his countrymen, 
which will long be preserved amongst the choicest treasures of Ameri- 
can letters, and will equally induce to render our national literature 
attractive to other nations. We owe a memorial and a monument to 
the man who has achieved tliis. This work is the peculiar privilege of 
the distinguished scholars of New York, and I have no doubt will be 
warmly applauded, and if need be, assisted, by every scholar and friend 
of letters in the Union. 

With the best wishes for the success of this enterprise, I am, my 
dear sir, very truly yours, 

JOHN P. KENNEDY. 
Rkv. Rufus W. Geiswold. 



From William Gilmore Simms. 

Charleston, S. C, Feb. 15th, 1852. 
My Dear Sir : To you who have conversed with me respecting 
Cooper, and who have read those Assays and criticisms in which I have 
attempted to illustrate and define his characteristics, it is scarcely neces- 
sary to say that no literary man in this country ever honoured his genius 
and patriotism more than myself. If I can do any thing here in the 
South to promote your purposes in this matter call upon me. But your 
letter reaches me just as I am preparing to follow my family up to the 
plantation, and it is quite impossible to avail myself of the tendered 
honour and satisfaction of meeting so many of our eminent men on this 
most interesting occasion. Yours, very sincerely, 

W. G. SIMMS. 
Rev. Dr. Geiswold. 



38 THE MEMORY OF COOPER. 

From Mr. John R. Thompson. 

Richmond, Feb. 20th, 1852. 

Oentlemen : I am honoured by your letter, inviting me to be with 
you on the evening of the 24th of February, to unite in your fitting 
demonstration of respect for the memory of the late James Fenimore 
Cooper. An occasion of such peculiar interest rarely occurs, and it is 
therefore with very great regret that I am compelled to forego the satis- 
faction of being present. In offering you my thanks for the invitation 
you have given me, which was to myself so unexpected, I cannot forbear 
saying how much, in my poor judgment, the testimonial you propose 
does honour to yourselves as men, and as votaries of that noble pursuit 
of letters, of which, in America, Mr. Cooper was the most distinguished 
and successful follower. The arrangements are all in keeping with the 
excellent design, and contemplate such tributes as might have been paid 
to a fallen pliilosopher, by his brethren of the schools, in the grandest 
days of Greece. The presence of one of the greatest of living states- 
men, as presiding officer, and the most delightful of living essayists, while 
it may add nothing to the fame of the dead, will leiid a rare dignity to 
tlie occasion, and a discourse from the lips of one of the most exalted of 
living poets, while it may not, in any degree, raise your estimate of the 
genius that has been withdrawn from the world, will yet worthily illus- 
trate the character and intellect of " the prose poet of the woods and 
seas," whose loss has been lamented wherever literature is valued among 
men. I have the honour to be, gentlemen, with high regard, very sin- 
cerely yours, JOHN R. THOMPSOX. 

Rev. Rufus "W. Griswold and Fitz-Greene Halleck 

From Mr. Charles G. Leland. 

Philadelphia, Feb. 22c?, 1852. 
My Dear Sir : I regret extremely that business prevents my accept- 
ing your invitation to the meeting in honour of Cooper. As any infor- 
mation, however unimportant, relative to our illustrious novelist may 
not be without value at this moment, I take the liberty of communi- 
cating a few facts relative to the dissemination of his works in Germany. 
So long ago as 1827, her most eminent critic spoke of Cooper's great 
popularity among the people of Germany. Several translations of most 
of his works have appeared, some of them executed by celebrated 
men, who would undertake translations of none but authors of the 
highest character for genius. His " entire works, translated by several 
persons," were published at Frankfort in 1827, in 250 parts. Of this 
collection a second large edition appeared in 1834, and a third in 1851. 



w. c. Bryant's discourse. 39 

All his woris, even more than those of Shakspeare or Scott, are house- 
hold words to the German people. These facts illustrate a popularity 
enjoyed in that country by no other American. Indeed, our Cooper, I 
observed generally, during my residence in Germany, was by the gen- 
eral consent ranked among the greatest masters of romantic fiction pro- 
duced in any country or age. I hope the proposed tribute will be worthy 
of New York. Respectfully yours, CHARLES G. LELAND. 

Rev. Dk. Griswold. 

The reading of the Committee's correspondence havmg 
been concluded, Mr. Webster rose, and bowing, said : 

Mr. Bryant will now proceed to pronoimce a discourse on 
the Life, Character, and Genius of James Fenimore Cooper. 

Mr. Bryant came forward, greeted by the cheers of the 
assembly, and read as follows : 

It is now somewhat more than a year, since the friends 
of James Fenimore Cooper, in this city, were planning to 
give a public dinner in his honour. It was intended as an 
expression both of the regard they bore him personally, and 
of the pride they took in the glory his writings had reflected 
on the American name. We thought of what we should say 
in his hearing ; in what terms, worthy of him and of us, we 
should speak of the esteem in which we held him, and of the 
interest we felt in a fame which had already penetrated to 
the remotest nook of the earth inliabited by civilized man. 

To-day we assemble for a sadder purpose : to pay to the 
dead some part of the honours then mtended for the living. 
We bring our offering, but he is not here who should receive 
it ; in his stead are vacancy and silence ; there is no eye to 
brighten at our words, and no voice to answer. "It is an 
empty office that we perform," said Virgil, in his melodious 
verses, when commemorating the virtues of the young Mar- 



40 THE MEMORY OF COOPER. 

cellus, and bidding flowers be strewn, with full hands, over 
his early grave. We might apply the expression to the 
present occasion, but it would be true in part only. We can 
no longer do any thing for him who is departed, but we may 
do what will not be without fruit to those who remain. It is 
good to occupy our thoughts with the example of great talents 
in conjunction with great virtues. His genius has passed 
away with him ; but we may learn, from the history of his life, 
to employ the faculties we possess with useful activity and 
noble aims ; we may copy his magnanimous frankness, his 
disdain of every thing that wears the faintest semblance of de- 
ceit, his refusal to comply with current abuses, and the courage 
with which, on all occasions, he asserted what he deemed 
truth, and combated what he thought error. 

The circumstances of Cooper's early life were remarkably 
suited to confirm the natural hardihood and manliness of his 
character, and to call forth and exercise that extraordinary 
power of observation, which accumulated the materials after- 
wards melded and shaped by his genius. His father, wliile 
an inhabitant of Burlington, in New Jersey, on the pleasant 
banks of the Delaware, was the o-\vner of large possessions on 
the borders of the Otsego Lake, in our own state, and here, 
in the newly-cleared fields, he built, in 1786, the first house 
in Cooperstown. To this home, Cooper, who was born in 
Burlington, in the year 1789, was conveyed in his infancy, 
and here, as he informs us in his preface to the Pioneers, 
his first impressions of the external world were obtamed. 
Here he passed his childhood, with the vast forest around 
him, stretching up the mountains that overlook the lake, and 
far beyond, in a region where the Indian yet roamed, and the 



\v. c. Bryant's discourse. 41 

white hunter, half Indian in his dress and mode of life, sought 
his game, a region in -wluch the bear and the wolf were yet 
hunted, and the panther, more formidable than either, lurked 
in the thickets, and tales of wanderings in the wilderness, and 
encounters with these fierce animals, beguiled the length of 
the whiter nights. Of this place, Cooper, although early re- 
moved from it to pursue his studies, w'as an occasional resident 
throughout his life, and here his last years were wholly passed. 
At the age of thirteen he was sent to Yale College, where, 
notwithstandmg his extreme youth, for, with the exception 
of the poet, Hillhouse, he was the youngest of his class, and 
Hillliouse was afterwards -withdrawn, his progress in his 
studies is said to have been honourable to his talents. He 
left the college, after a residence of three years, and became 
a midsliipman in the United States navy. Six years he fol- 
low^ed the sea, and there yet wanders, among those who are 
fond of literary anecdote, a story of the young sailor who, in 
the streets of one of the English ports, attracted the curiosity 
of the crowTl, by explaining to his companions a Latin motto 
in some public place. That during this period he made him- 
self master of the knowledge and the imagery wliich he after- 
wards employed to so much advantage in his romances of the 
sea, the finest ever wi'itten, is a common and obvious remark ; 
but it has not been, so far as I know, observed that from the 
discipline of a seaman's life he may have derived much of 
his readiness and fertility of invention, much of his skill in 
surrounding the personages of his novels with imaginary 
perils, and rescuing them by probable expedients. Of all 
pursuits, the life of a sailor is that w^hich familiarizes men to 
danger in its most fearful shapes, most cultivates presence 



42 THE MEMORY OF COOPER. 

of iniiid, and most effectually calls forth the resources of 
prompt and fearless dexterity by which imminent evil is 
avoided. 

In 1811, Cooper, having resigned his post as midshipman, 
began the year by marrying Miss Delancey, sister of the 
present bishop of the diocese of Western New York, and 
entered upon a domestic life happily passed to its close. He 
went to live at Mamaroneck, in the county of Westchester, 
and while here he wrote and published the first of his novels, 
entitled Precaution. Concerning the occasion of writing this 
work, it is related, that once, as he was reading an English 
novel to Mrs. Cooper, who has, within a short time past, been 
laid in the grave beside her illustrious husband, and of whom 
we may now say, that her goodness was no less eminent than 
his genius, he suddenly laid down the book, and said, "I 
believe I could write a better myself." Almost immediately 
he composed a chaj^ter of a projected work of fiction, and read 
it to the same friendly judge, who encouraged him to finish it, 
and when it was completed, suggested its publication. Of 
this he had at the time no intention, but he was at length 
induced to submit the manuscript to the examination of the 
late Charles Wilkes, of this city, in whose literary opinions 
he had great confidence. Mr. Wilkes advised that it should 
be published, and to these circumstances we owe it that 
Cooper became an author. 

I confess I have merely dipped into this work. The ex- 
periment was made with the first edition, deformed by a 
strange punctuation a profusion of commas, ^and other 
pauses, which puzzled and repelled me. Its author, many 
years afterwards, revised and republished it, correcting this 



V,'. c. Bryant's discourse. 43 

fault, and some faults of style also, so that to a casual inspec- 
tion, it appeared almost another work. It was a professed 
delineation of English manners, though the author had then 
seen nothing of English society. It had, however, the honour 
of being adopted by the country whose manners it described, 
and, being early republished in Great Britain, passed from 
the first for an English novel. I am not unwilling to believe 
what is said of it, that it contained a promise of the powers 
which its author afterwards put forth. 

Thirty years ago, in the year 1821, and in the thirty- 
second of his life. Cooper published the first of the works by 
which he will be known to posterity, the Spy. It took 
the reading world by a kind of surprise ; its merit was ac- 
knowledged by a rapid sale ; the public read Avith eagerness 
and the critics wondered. Many withheld their commenda- 
tions on account of defects in the plot or blemishes in the 
composition, arisuig from want of practice, and some waited 
till they could hear the judgment of European readers. Yet 
there were not wanting critics m this country, of whose good 
opinion any author in any part of the world might be proud, 
who spoke of it in the terms it deserved. " Are you not de- 
lighted," wrote a literary friend to me, who has since risen to 
high distinction as a writer, both in verse and in prose, " are 
you not delighted with the Spi/, as a work of infinite spirit 
and genius 1" In that word genius lay the explanation of the 
hold which the work had taken on the minds of men. What 
it had of excellence was peculiar and unborrowed; its pic- 
tures of life, whether in repose or activity, were drawn, with 
broad lights and shadows, immediately from living originals 
in nature or in his own imagination. To him, whatever he 



44 THE MEMORY OF COOPER. 

described was true ; it was made a reality to Iiim by the 
strength with which he conceived it. His power in the delin- 
eation of character was shown in the principal personage of his 
story, Harvey Birch, on whom, though he has chosen to em- 
ploy him in the ignoble office of a spy, and endowed him with 
the qualities necessary to his profession, extreme circum- 
spection, fertility in stratagem, and the art of concealing his 
real character, qualities which, in conjunction with selfishness 
and greediness, make the scoundrel, he has bestowed the vir- 
tues of generosity, magnanimity, an intense love of country, 
a fidelity not to be corrupted, and a dismterestedness beyond 
temptation. Out of this combination of qualities he has 
AVTOught a character which is a favourite in all nations, and 
with all classes of mankind. 

It is said that if you cast a pebble into the ocean, at the 
mouth of our harbour, the vibration made in the water passes 
gradually on till it strikes the icy barriers of the deep at 
the south pole. The spread of Cooper's reputation is not 
confined within narrower limits. The Spy is read in all the 
written dialects of Europe, and h\ some of those of Asia. 
The French, immediately after its fii'st appearance, gave it to 
the multitudes who read their far-diftused language, and 
placed it among the first works of its class. It was rendered 
into Castilian, and passed mto the hands of those who dwell 
under the beams of the Southern Cross. At length it passed 
the eastern frontier of Europe, and the latest record I have 
seen of its progress towards absolute universality, is contained 
in a statement of the International Magazine, derived, I pre- 
sume, from its author, that in 1847 it was published in a 
Persian translation at Ispahan. Before this time, I doubt not, 



w. c. Bryant's discourse. 45 

they are reading it in some of the languages of Hindostan, 
arid, if the Chinese ever translated any thing, it would be in 
the hands of the many millions who inhabit the far Cathay. 

I have spoken of the hesitation which American critics felt 
in admitting the merits of the Spt/, on account of crudities m 
the plot or the composition, some of which no doubt really 
existed. An exception must be made in favour of the Port 
Folio, wliich, in a notice written by ]\Irs. Sarah Hall, mother 
of the editor of that periodical, and author of Conversations 
on the Bible, gave the work a cordial welcome ; and Cooper, 
as I am informed, never forgot this act of timely and ready 
kindness. 

It was perhaps favourable to the immediate success of the 
Sj)!/, that Cooper had few American authors to divide with 
him the public attention. That crowd of clever men and wo- 
men who now write for the magazmes, who send out volumes 
of essays, sketches, and poems, and who supply the press with 
novels, biographies and historical works, were then, for the 
most part, either stammering their lessons in the schools, or 
3^et unborn. Yet it is worthy of note, that just about the time 
that the iSpy made its appearance, the dawn of what we 
now call our literature was just breaking. The concluding 
number of Dana's Idle Man, a work neglected at first, but 
now numbered among the best things of the kind in our lan- 
guage, was issued in "the same month. The Sketch Book 
was then just completed ; the world was admiring it, and its 
author was meditating Bracebridge Hall. Miss Sedgwick, 
about the same time, made her first essay in that charming 
series of novels of domestic life in New England, which have 
gamed her so high a reputation. Percival, now unhappily 



46 THE MEMORY OF COOPER. 

silent, had just put to press a volume of poems. I have a 
copy to an edition of Halleck's Fanny, published in the 
same year; the poem of Yamoyden, by Eastburn and 
Sands, appeared almost simultaneously with it. Livingston 
was putting the finishing hand to his Report on the Penal 
Code of Louisiana, a work written with such grave, 
persuasive eloquence, that it belongs as much to our 
literature as to our jurisprudence. Other contemporaneous 
American works there were, now less read. Paul Allen's 
poem of JVoah was just laid on the counters of the book- 
sellers. Arden published at the same time, in this city, a 
translation of Ovid's Tristia, in heroic verse, in which the 
complaints of the effeminate Roman poet were rendered with 
great fidelity to the original, and sometimes not Avithout 
beauty. If I may speak of myself, it was m that year that I 
timidly entrusted to the winds and waves of public opinion a 
small cargo of my own a poem entitled The Ayes, and half 
a dozen shorter ones, in a thin duodecimo volume, printed at 
Cambridge. 

We had, at the same time, works of elegant literature, 
fresh from the press of Great Britain, which are still read and 
admired. Barry Cornwall, then a young suitor for fame, 
published in the same year his Marcia Colonna ; Byron, in 
the full strength and fertility of his genius, gave the readers 
of English his tragedy of Marino Faliero, and was in the 
midst of his spirited controversy with Bowles concerning the 
poetry of Pope. The Spy had to sustain a comparison -with 
Scott's Antiquary, published simultaneously with it, and with 
Lockhart's Valerius, which seems to me one of the most re- 
markable works of fiction ever composed. 



w. c. BR V ant's discourse. 47 

In 1823, and in his thirty-fourth year, Cooper brought out 
his novel of the Pioneers, the scene of which was laid on the 
borders of his own beautiful lake. In a recent survey of Mr. 
Cooper's works, by one of his admirers, it is intimated that 
the reputation of this work may have been m some degi'ee 
factitious. I camiot think so ; I camiot see how such a work 
could fail of becoming, sooner or later, a favourite. It was 
several years after its first appearance that I read the Pioneers, 
and I read it with a delighted astonishment. Here, said I to 
myself, is the poet of rural life in this country our Hesiod, 
our Theocritus, except that he writes without the restraint of 
numbers, and is a greater poet than they. In the Pioneers, as 
in a movuig picture, are made to pass before us the hardy oc- 
cupations and spirited amusements of a prosperous settlement, 
in a fertile region, encompassed for leagues around with the 
primeval wilderness of woods. The seasons in their different 
aspects, brmging with them their different employments ; for- 
ests fallmg before the axe ; the cheerful population, with the first 
mild day of spring, engaged iia the sugar-orchards ; the chase 
of the deer through the deep woods, and into the lake ; tur- 
key-shootings, during the Christmas holidays, in which the In- 
dian marksman vied for the prize of skill with the white man ; 
swift sleigh-rides under the bright winter sun, and perilous 
encounters with wild animals ua the forests ; these, and other 
scenes of rural life, drawn, as Cooper knew how to draw 
them, in the bright and healthful colouring of which he was 
master, are interwoven with a regular narrative of human for- 
tmies, not unskilfully constructed ; and how could such a work 
be otherwise than popular ? 

In the Pioneers, Leatherstockuig is first introduced a 



48 THE MEMORY OF COOPER. 

philosopher of the Avoods, ignorant of books, but instructed in 
all that nature, without the aid of science, could reveal to the 
man of quick senses and inquiring intellect, whose life has 
been passed under the open sky, and ui companionship with a 
race whose animal perceptions are the acutest and most culti- 
vated of which there is any example. But Leatherstockmg 
has higher qualities ; in him there is a genial blending of the 
gentlest virtues of the civilized man with the better nature of 
the aboriginal tribes ; all that in them is noble, generous, and 
ideal, is adopted into his own kindly character, and all that is 
evil is rejected. But why should I attempt to analyze a char- 
acter so familiar? Leatherstocking is acknowledged, on all 
hands, to be one of the noblest, as well as most striking and 
original creations of fiction. In some of his subsequent nov- 
els, Cooper for he had not yet attained to the full maturity 
of his powers heightened and ennobled his first conception 
of the character, but in the Pioneers it dazzled the world with 
the splendour of novelty. 

His next work was the Pilot, in which he showed how, 
from the vicissitudes of a life at sea, its perils and escapes, 
from the beauty and terrors of the great deep, from the work- 
ing of a vessel on a long voyage, and from the frank, brave 
and generous, but peculiar. character of the seaman, may be 
drawn materials of romance by which the minds of men may 
be as deeply moved as by any thing in the power of romance 
to present. In this walk. Cooper has had many disciples, but 
no rival. All who have since written romances of the sea 
have been but travellers in a country of which he was the 
great discoverer, and none of them all seemed to have loved 
a ship as Cooper loved it, or have been able so strongly to in- 



\v. c. Bryant's discourse. 49 

terest all classes of readers in its fortunes. Among other per- 
sonages drawn with great strength in the Pilot, is the general 
favourite, Tom Coffin, the thorough seaman, with all the vir- 
tues, and one or two of the infirmities of his profession, super- 
stitious, as seamen are apt to be, yet whose superstitions strike 
us as but an irregular growth of his devout recognition of the 
Power who holds the ocean in the hollow of his hand ; true- 
hearted, gentle, full of resources, collected in danger, and at 
last calmly perishing at the post of duty, with the vessel he 
has long guided, by what I may call a great and magnanimous 
death. His rougher and coarser companion, Boltrope, is 
drawn Avith scarcely less skill, and with a no less vigorous 
hand. 

The Pioneers is not Cooper's best tale of the American 
forest, nor the Pilot, perhaps, in all respects, his best tale of 
the sea ; yet, if he had ceased to write here, the measure of 
his fame Avould, possibly, have been scarcely less ample than 
it now is. Neither of them is far below the best of his pro- 
ductions, and in them appear the two most remarkable crea- 
tions of his imagination two of the most remarkable charac- 
ters in all fiction. 

It was about this time that my acquaintance with Cooper 
began, an acquaintance of more than a quarter of a century, 
in which his deportment towards me was that of unvaried 
kindness. He then resided a considerable part of the year in 
this city, and here he had founded a weekly club, to which 
many of the most distinguished men of the place belonged. 
Of the members who have since passed away, were Chancellor 
Kent, the jurist ; Wiley, the intelligent and liberal bookseller j 



^0 THE MEMORY OF COOPER. 

Henry D. Sedgwick, always active in schemes of benevolence ; 
Jarvis, the painter, a man of infinite humour, whose jests 
awoke inextinguishable laughter; De Kay, the naturalist; 
Sands, the poet ; Jacob Harvey, whose genial memory is cher- 
ished by many friends. Of those who are yet living was 
Morse, the inventor of the electric telegraph ; Durand, then one 
of the first of engravers, and now no less illustrious as a painter ; 
Henry James Anderson, whose acquirements might awaken 
the envy of the ripest scholars of the old world ; Halleck, the 
poet and wit ; Verplanck, who has given the world the best 
edition of Shakspeare for general readers ; Dr. King, now at 
the head of Columbia College, and his two immediate prede- 
cessors in that ofliice. I might enlarge the list with many other 
names of no less distinction. The army and navy contributed 
their proportion of members, whose names are on record in 
our national history. Cooper when in town was always pres- 
ent, and I remember being struck with the inexhaustible vi- 
vacity of his conversation and the minuteness of his knowledge 
in every thing which depended upon acuteness of observa- 
tion and exactness of recollection. I remember, too, bemg 
somewhat startled, coming as I did from the seclusion of a 
country life, with a certain emphatic frankness m his mamier, 
which, however, I came at last to like and to admire. The 
club met in the hotel called Washington Hall, the site of which 
is now occupied by part of the circuit of Stewart's marble 
building. 

Lionel Lincoln^ which cannot be ranked among the suc- 
cessful productions of Cooper, was published in 1825 ; and in 
the year followmg appeared the Last of the Mohicans, which 
more than recovered the ground lost by its predecessor. In 



w. c. Bryant's discourse, 51 

this work, the construction of the narrative has signal defects, 
but it is one of the ti'iumphs of the author's genius, that he 
makes us unconscious of them while we read. It is only 
when we have had time to awake from the intense interest in 
which he has held us by the vivid reality of his narrative, and 
have begun to search for faults in cold blood, that we are able 
to find them. In the Last of the Mohicans we have a bolder 
portraiture of Leatherstocking than in the Pioneers. 

This work was published in 182G, and in the same year 
Cooper sailed with his family for Europe. He left New 
York as one of the vessels of war, described in his romances 
of the sea, goes out of port, amidst the thunder of a parting 
salute from the big guns on the batteries. A dinner was 
given him just before his departure, attended by most of the 
distinguished men of the city, at which Peter A. Jay presided, 
and Dr. King addressed him in terms which some then 
thought too glowing, but which would now seem sufficiently 
temperate, expressing the good wishes of his friends, and 
dwelling on the satisfaction they promised themselves in pos- 
sessing so illustrious a representative of American literature 
in the old world. Cooper was scarcely in France when he re- 
membered his friends of the weekly club, and sent frequent 
missives to be read at its meetings ; but the club missed its 
founder, went into a decline, and not long afterwards quietly 
expired. 

The first of Cooper's novels published after leaving Amer- 
ica was the Prairie, which appeared early in 1827, a work, 
with the admirers of which I wholly agree. I read it with a 
certain awe, an undefined sense of sublimity, such as one ex- 
periences on entering, for the first time, upon these immense 



52 THE MEMORY OF OOOPER. 

grassy deserts from which the work takes its name. The 
squatter and his family that brawny old man and his large- 
limbed sons, living in a sort of primitive and patriarchal bar- 
barism, sluggish on ordinary occasions, but terrible when 
roused, like the hurricane that sweeps the grand but monoto- 
nous wilderness m which they dwell seem a natural growth of 
those ancient fields of the west. Leatherstocking, a hunter in 
the Pioneers, a warrior in the Last of the Mohicans, and now, 
in his extreme old age, a trapper on the prairie, declined m 
strength, but undecayed in intellect, and looking to the near 
close of his life, and a grave under the long grass, as calmly 
as the labourer at sunset looks to his evening slumber, is no 
less m harmony with the silent desert in which he wanders. 
Equally so are the Indians, still his companions, copies of the 
American savage somewhat idealized, but not the less a part 
i)f the wild nature in which they have their haunts. 

Before the year closed, Cooper had given the world another 
nautical tale, the Red Rover, which, with many, is a greater 
favourite than the Pilot, and with reason, perhaps, if we con- 
sider principally the mcidents, which are conducted and de- 
scribed with a greater mastery over the springs of pity and 
terror. 

It happened t&. Cot)per while he was abroad, as it not un- 
frequently happens to our countrymen, to hear the United 
States disadvantageously compared with Europe. He had 
himself been a close observer of things both here and in the 
old world, and was conscious of being able to refute the de 
tractors of his country in regard to many points. He pub- 
lished in 1828, after he had been two years in Europe, a series 
of letters, entitled Notions of the Americans, by a Travelling 



w. c. Bryant's discourse. 53 

Bachelor^ in which he gave a favourable account of the working 
of our institutions, and vindicated his country from various 
flippant and ill-natured misrepresentations of foreigners. It is 
father too measured in style, but is written from a mind full 
<^f the subject, and from a memory wonderfully stored with 
particulars. Although twenty-four years have elapsed sinct; 
its publication, but little of the vindication has become 
obsolete. 

Cooper loved his country and was proud of her history and 
her institutions, but it puzzles many that he should have ap- 
peared, at different times, as her eulogist and her censor. 
My friends, she is worthy both of praise and of blame, and 
Cooper was not the man tc:) shrink from besto-wnng either, at 
what seemed to him the proper time. He defended her from 
detractors abroad ; he sought to save her from flatterers at 
home. I will not say that he was in as good humour with his 
country when he wrote Home as Found, as when he wrote 
his Notions of the Americans, but this I will say, that whether 
he commended or censured, he did it in the sincerity of his 
heart, as a true American, and in the belief that it would do 
good. His Notions of the Americans were more likely to 
lessen than to increase his popularity in Europe, inasmuch as 
they were put forth without the slightest regard to European 
prejudices. 

In 1829 he brought out the novel entitled the Wept of 
Wish'ton-WisJi, one of the few of his works which we now 
I'arely hear mentioned. He was engaged in the composition 
of a third nautical tale, which he afterwards published under 
the name of the Water- Witch, when the memorable revolu- 
tion of the Three Days of July broke out. He saw a govern- 



54 THE MEMOKY OF COOPER. 

ment, ruling by fear and in defiance of public opinion, over- 
thrown in a few hours, with little bloodshed ; he saw the 
French nation, far from bemg mtoxicated with their new lib- 
erty, peacefully addressing themselves to the discussion of the 
institutions under which they were to live. A work which 
Ciooper afterwards published, his Residence in Europe^ gives 
the outline of a plan of government for France, furnished by 
him at that time to La Fayette, with whom he was then on 
habits of close and daily intimacy. It was his idea to give 
permanence to the new order of things by associating two 
strong parties in its support, the friends of legitimacy and the 
republicans. He suggested that Henry V. should be called 
to the hereditary thi'one of France, a youth yet to be educa 
ted as the head of a free people, that the peerage should be 
abolished, and a legislature of two chambers established, with 
a constituency of at least a million and a half of electors ; the 
senate to be chosen by the general vote, as the representatives 
of the entire nation, and the members of the other house to be 
chosen by districts, as the representatives of the local interests. 
To the middle ground of politics so ostentatiously occupied by 
Louis Philippe at the beginning of his reign, he predicted a 
brief duration, believing that it would speedily be merged m 
despotism, or supplanted by the popular rule. His prophecy 
has been fulfilled more amply than he could have imagined 
fulfilled in both its alternatives. 

In one of the controversies of that time, Cooper bore a 
distinguished part. The Revue Britanniqu^^ a periodical pub- 
lished in Paris, boldly afiinned the government- of the United 
States to be one of the most expensive in the world, and its 
people among the most heavily taxed of mankind. This as- 



"w. c. Bryant's discourse. 55 

sertion was supported with a certain show of proof, and the 
waiter affected to have established the conclusion that a re- 
public must necessarily be more expensive than a monarchy. 
The partisans of the court were delighted with the reasoning 
of the article, and claimed a triumph over our ancient friend 
La Fayette, who, during forty years, had not ceased to hold 
up the government of the United States as the cheapest in the 
world. At the suggestion of La Fayette, C!ooper replied to 
this attack upon his country, in a letter which was translated 
into French, and together with another from General Ber- 
trand, for many years a resident in America, was laid before 
the people of France. 

These two letters provoked a shower of rejomders, in. 
which, accordmg to Cooper, misstatements were mmgled with 
scurrility. He commenced a series of letters on the question 
in dispute, which were '^ published in the National, a daily 
sheet, and gave the first evidence of that extraordinary acute- 
ness in controversy, which was no less characteristic of his 
mind than the vigour of his imagination. The enemies of La 
Fayette pressed into their service Mr. Lea\dtt Harris, of 
New Jersey, afterwards our charge d'affaires at the court of 
France, but Cooper replied to Mr. Harris, m the National of 
May 2d, 1832, closing a discussion in which he had effectually 
silenced those who objected to our institutions on the score of 
economy. Of these letters, which would form an important 
chapter in political science, no entire copy, I have been told, 
is to be found in this country. 

One of the consequences of earnest controversy is almost 
invariably personal ill-will. Cooper was told by one who 
held an official station Under the French government, that the 



56 THE MEMORY OF COOPER. 

part he had taken m this dispute concerning taxation, would 
neither be foi'gotten nor forgiven. The dislike he had in- 
curred in that quarter Avas strengthened by his novel of the 
Bravo, published in the year 1831, while he was in the midst 
of his quarrel with the aristocratic party. In that work, of 
which he has himself justly said, that it was thoroughly Amer- 
ican, in all that belonged to it, his object was to show how m- 
stitutions, professedly created to prevent violence and wrong, 
become, when perverted from their natural destination, the 
instruments of injustice, and how, in every system which 
makes power the exclusive property of the strong, the weak 
are sure to be oppressed. Tlie work is wTitten with all the 
vigour and spirit of his best novels ; the magnificent city of 
Venice, in which the scene of the story is laid, stands contm- 
ually before the imagination, and from time to time the gor- 
geous ceremonies of the Venetian republic pass luider our 
eyes, such as the marriage of the Doge with the Adriatic, and 
the contest of the gondolas for the prize of speed. The Bravo 
himself and several of the other characters are strongly con- 
ceived and distinguished, but the most remarkable of them all 
is the spirited and generous-hearted daughter of the jailer. 

It has been said by some critics, who judge of Cooper by 
his failures, that he had no skill in drawing female characters. 
By the same process, it might, I suppose, be shown that 
Raphael was but an ordinary painter. It must be admitted 
that when Cooper drew a lady of high breeding, he was apt 
to pay too much attention to the formal part of her character, 
and to make her a mere bundle of cold proprieties. But 
when he places his heroines m some situation in life which 
leaves him nothing to do but to make them natural and true. 



w. c. Bryant's discourse. 57 

I know of nothing finer, nothing more attractive or more indi- 
vidual than the portraitures he has given us. 

Figaro, the wittiest of the French periodicals, and at that 
time on the liberal side, commended the Bravo ; the journals 
on the side of the government censured it. Figaro after- 
wards passed into the hands of the aristocratic party, and 
Cooper became the object of its attacks. He was not, how- 
ever, a man to be driven from any purpose which he had 
formed, either by flattery or abuse, and both were tried with 
equal ill success. In 1832 ho published his Heidenmauer, and 
in 1833 his Headsman of Berne, both with a political design 
similar to that of the Bravo, though neither of them takes the 
same high rank among his works. 

In 1833, after a residence of seven years in different parts 
of Europe, but mostly in France, Cooper returned to his 
native country. The welcome which met him here was 
somewhat chilled by the effect of the attacks made upon 
him in France, and remembering with what zeal, and at 
what sacrifice of the universal acceptance which his works 
would otherwise have met, he had maintained the cause of 
his country against the wits and orators of the court party 
in France, Ave cannot wonder that he should have felt this 
coldness as undeserved. He published, shortly after his an-i- 
val in this country, A Letter to his Countrymen, in which he 
complained of the censures cast upon him in the American 
newspapers, gave a history of the part he had taken in ex- 
posing the misstatements of the Bevue Britannique, and 
warned his, countrymen against the too common error of re- 
sorting, with a blind deference, to foreign authorities, often 
swayed by national or political prejudices, for our opinions 



58 THE MEMORY OF COOPER. 

of American authors. Going beyond this topic, he examined 
and reprehended the habit of applying to the interpretation 
of our owTi constitution maxims derived fi-om the practice of 
other governments, particularly that of Great Britain, The 
importance of construing that instrument by its own princi- 
ples, he illustrated by considering several points in dispute 
between the parties of the day, on which he gave very de- 
cided opmions. 

The principal effect of this pamphlet, as it seemed to me, 
was to awaken in certain quarters a kind of resentment that a 
successful writer of fiction should presume to give lessons in 
politics, I meddle not here with the conclusions to which he 
arrived, though I must be allowed to say that they were 
stated and argued with great ability. In 1835 Cooper pub- 
lished The Monnikins, a satirical work, partly with a political 
aim, and in the same year appeared his American Democrat, 
a view of the civil and social relations of the United States, 
discussing more gravely various topics touched upon in the 
former work, and pointing out in what respects he deemed 
the American people in their practice to have fallen short of 
the excellence of their institutions. 

He found time, however, for a more genial task, that of 
giving to the woi'ld his observations on foreign countries. In 
1836 appeared his Sketches of Switzerland, a series of letters 
in four volumes, the second part published about two months 
after the first, a delightful work, written in a more fluent and 
flexible style than his Notions of the Americans. The first 
part of Gleanings in Europe, giving an account of his resi- 
dence in France, followed in the same year, and the second 
jiart of the same work, containing his observations on Eng- 



vr. c. Bryant's discourse. 59 

land, was published in April, 1837. In these works, fomiing 
a series of eight volumes, he relates and describes with much 
of the same distinctness as in his novels ; and his remarks on 
the manners and institutions of the different countries, often 
sagacious, and always peculiarly his own, derive, from their fre- 
quent reference to contemporary events, an historical interest. 
In 1838 appeared Homeward Bound, and Home as Found, 
two satirical novels, in which Cooper held up to ridicule a 
certain class of conductors of the newspaper press in America. 
These works had not the good fortune to become popular. 
Cooper did not, and, because he was too deeply in earnest, 
perhaps would not, infuse into his satirical works that gayety 
without Avhich satire becomes M^earisome. I believe, however, 
that if they had been -wTitten by any body else they would 
have met with more favour ; but the world knew that Cooper 
was able to give them something better, and would not be 
satisfied with any thing short of his best. Some childishly 
imagined that because, in the two works I have just mentioned, 
a newspaper editor is introduced, in whose character almost 
every possible vice of his profession is made to find a place, 
Cooper intended an indiscriminate attack upon the whole 
body of writers for the newspaper press, forgetting that such 
a portraiture was a satire only on those to whom it bore a 
likeness. We have become less sensitive and more reasona- 
ble of late, and the monthly periodicals make sport for their 
readers of the follies and ignorance of the newspaper editors, 
without awakening the slightest resentment ; but Cooper led 
the way in this sort of discipline, and I remember some in- 
stances of towering indignation at his audacity expressed in 
the journals of that time. 



GO THE MEMORY OFCOOPER. 

Tbd next year Cooper made his appearance before the 
public ill a new department of writing ; his Naval History of 
the United States was brought out in two octavo volumes at 
Philadelphia, by Carey & Lea. In writing his stories of the 
sea, his attention had been much turned to this subject, and 
his mind filled with striking incidents from expeditions and 
battles in which our naval commanders had been engaged. 
This made his task the lighter, but he gathered his materials 
with great industry, and with a conscientious attention to ex- 
actn-ess, for he was not a man to take a fact for granted, or 
allow imagination to usurp the place of inquiry. He digested 
our naval annals into a narrative, wTitten with spirit, it is true, 
but with that air of smcere dealing which the reader willingly 
takes as a pledge of its authenticity. 

An abridgment of the work was afterwards prepared and 
published by the author. The Edinburgh Review^ in an arti- 
cle professing to examine the statements both of Cooper's 
work and of The History of the English Navy, wi'itten by- 
Mr, James, a surgeon by profession, made a violent attack 
upon the American historian. Unfortunately, it took James's 
narrative as its sole guide, and followed it implicitly. Cooper 
replied in the Democratic Review for January, 1840, and by 
a masterly analysis of his statements, convicting James of 
self-contradiction in almost every particular in which he dif^ 
fered from himself, refuted both James and the re^newer. 
It was a refutation which admitted of no rejoinder. 

Scarce any thuig in Cooper's life was so remarkable, or so 
strikingly illustrated his character, as his contest with the 
newspaper press. He engaged in it after provocations, many 



w. c. Bryant's discourse. 61 

and long endured, and prosecuted it through years with great 
energy, perseverance, and practical dexterity, till he was left 
master of the field. In what I am about to say of it, I hope I 
shall not give offence to any one, as I shall speak without the 
slightest malevolence towards those with whom he waged this 
controversy. Over some of them, as over their renowned ad- 
versary, the gi'ave has now closed. Yet where shall the truth 
be spoken, if not beside the grave ? 

I have already alluded to the principal causes which pro- 
voked the newspaper attacks upon Cooper. If he had never 
meddled with questions of government on either side of the 
Atlantic, and never satirized the newspaper press, I have little 
doubt that he would have been spared these attacks. I can- 
not, however, ascribe them all, or even the gi-eater part of 
them, to personal malignity. One journal followed the ex- 
ample of another, with little reflection, I thiiik, in most cases, 
till it became a sort of fashion, not merely to decry his 
works, but to arraign his motives. 

It is related that, in 1832, while he was at Paris, an article 
was shown him in an American newspaper, purportmg to be 
a criticism on one of his works, but reflecting with much as- 
perity on his personal character. " I care nothing," he is re- 
ported to have said, " for the criticism, but I am not indiffer- 
ent to the slander. If these attacks on my character should 
be kept up five years after my return to America, I shall re- 
sort to the New York courts for protection." He gave the 
newspaper press of this state the full period of forbearance on 
which he had fixed, but finding that forbearance seemed to en- 
courage assault, he sought redress in the courts of law. 

When these litigations were fiirst begun, I recollect it 



62 THE MEMORY OF COOPER. 

seemed to me that Cooper had taken a step which would give 
him a great deal of trouble, and effect but little good. I said 
to myself 

" Alas ! Leviathan is not so tamed !" 

As he proceeded, however, I saw that he had understood the 
matter better than I. He put a hook into the nose of this 
huge monster, wallowing in his inky pool and bespattering 
the passers-by ; he dragged him to the land and made him 
tractable. One suit followed another ; one editor was sued, 
I think, half-a-dozen times ; some of them found themselves 
under a second indictment before the first was tried. In 
vindicating himself to his readers, against the charge of pub- 
lishing one libel, the angry journalist often floundered into 
another. The occasions of these prosecutions seem to have been 
always carefully considered, for Cooper was almost uniformly 
successful in obtaining verdicts. In a letter of his, written in 
February, 1843, about five years, I think, from the commence- 
ment of the first prosecutions, he says : " I have beaten every 
man I have sued, who has not retracted his libels." 

In one of these suits, commenced against the late William 
L. Stone, of the Commercial Advertiser, and referred to the 
arbitration of three distinguished lawyers, he argued, himself, 
the question of the authenticity of his account of the battle of 
Lake Erie, which was the matter in dispute. I listened to his 
opening ; it was clear, skilful, and persuasive, but his closing 
argument was said to be splendidly eloquent. " I have heard 
nothing like it," said a barrister to me, " since the days of 
Emmet." 

Cooper behaved liberally towards his antagonists, so far 



"w. c. Bryant's discourse. 63 

as pecuniary damages were concerned, though some of them 
wholly escaped their payment by bankruptcy. After, I be- 
lieve, about sLx years of litigation, the newspaper press gradu- 
ally subsided into a pacific disposition towards its adversary, 
and the contest closed Mnth the account of pecuniary profit and 
loss, so far as he was concerned, nearly balanced. The occa- 
sion of these suits was far from honourable to those who pro- 
voked them, but the result was, I had almost said, creditable 
to all parties ; to him, as the courageous prosecutor, to the 
administration of justice in this country, and to the docility of 
the newspaper press, which he had disciplined into good 
maimers. 

It was while he was in the midst of these litigations, that 
he published, in 1840, the Pathfinder. People had begun to 
think of him as a controversialist, acute, keen, and persevermg, 
occupied with his personal WTongs and schemes of attack and 
defence. They were startled from this estimate of his char- 
acter by the moral beauty of that glorious work I must so 
call it ; by the vividness and force of its delineations, by the 
unspoiled love of nature, apparent in every page, and by the 
fresh and warm emotions which every where gave life to the 
narrative and the dialogue. Cooper was now m his fifty-first 
year, but nothing which he had produced m the earlier part of 
his literary life was written with so much of what might seem 
the generous fervour of youth, or showed the faculty of in- 
vention in higher vigour. I recollect that near the time of its 
appearance I was informed of an observation made upon it by 
one highly distinguished in the literature of our country and 
of the age, between whom and the author an imhappy coolness 
had for some years existed. As he finished the reading of the 



04 THE MEMORY OF COOPER. 

Pathlinder, he exclaimed, " They may say what they will of 
Cooper ; the man who WTOte this book is not only a great 
man, hut a good man." 

The readers of the Pathfinder were quickly reconciled to 
the fourth appearance of Leatherstocking, when they saw him 
made to act a different part from any which the author had 
hitherto assigned him when they saw him sho\ni as a lover, 
and placed in the midst of associations which invested his 
character with a higher and more affecting heroism. In this 
work are two female characters, portrayed in a masterly man- 
ner, the corporal's daughter, Mabel Dunham, generous, reso- 
lute, yet womanly, and the young Indian woman, called by 
her tribe, the Dew of June, a personification of female truth, 
affection, and sympathy, with a strong aboriginal cast, yet a 
product of nature as bright and pure as that from Avhich she 
is named. 

Mercedes of Castile, published near the close of the same 
year, has none of the stronger characteristics of Cooper's ge- 
nius, but m the Deer slayer, which appeared in 1841, another 
of his Leatherstockmg tales, he gave us a work rivalling the 
Pathfinder. Leatherstockmg is brought before us in his early 
youth, in the first exercise of that keen sagacity which is 
blended so harmoniously with a simple and ingenuous good- 
ness. The two daughters of the retired freebooter dwelling 
on the Otsego lake, mspire scarcely less interest than the prin- 
cipal personage ; Judith in the pride of her beauty and intel- 
lect, her good impulses contending with a fatal love of admi- 
ration, holding us fascinated with a constant interest in her 
t'lte, which, with consummate skill, we are permitted rather to 
conjecture than to know ; and Hetty, scarcely less beautiful in 



w. c. Bryant's discourse. 65 

person, weak-minded, but wise in the midst of that weakness, 
beyond the wisdom of the loftiest intellect, through the power 
of conscience and religion. Tlie character of Hetty would 
have been a hazardous experiment in feebler hands, but in his 
it was admirably successful. 

The Two Admirals and Wing-and- Wing were given to the 
public m 1842, both of them taking a high rank among Coo- 
per's sea-tales. The first of these is a sort of naval epic in 
prose ; the flight and chase of armed vessels hold us in breath- 
less suspense, and the sea-fights are described with a terrible 
power. In the later sea-tales of Cooper, it seems to me that 
the mastery with which he makes his grand processions of 
events pass before the mind's eye is even greater thaii in his 
earlier. The next year he published the Wyandotte or Hutted 
Knoll, one of his beautiful romances of the woods, and m 
1844 two more of his sea-stories, AJloat and Ashore and Miles 
Wallingford its sequel. The long series of his nauticai tales 
was closed by Jack Tier^ or the Florida Reef, published in 
1848, when Cooper was in his sixtieth year, and it is as full of 
spirit, energy, mvention, life-like presentation of objects and 
events 

The vision and the faculty divine 

as any thing he had written. 

Let me pause here to say that Cooper, though not a manu- 
facturer of verse, was in the highest sense of the word a poet ; 
his imagmation wrought nobly and grandly, and imposed its 
creations on the mind of the reader for realities. With him 
there was no withering, or decline, or disuse of the poetic fac- 
ulty; as he stepped do^vnward from the zenith of life, no 



66 THE MEMORY OF COOPER. 

shadow or chill came over it ; it was like the year of some 
genial climates, a perpetual season of verdure, bloom, and 
fruitfulness. As these works came out, I was rejoiced to see 
that he was unspoiled by the controversies in wliich he had 
allowed himself to become engaged, that they had not given, 
to these better expressions of his genius, any tinge of misan- 
thropy, or appearance of contractmg and closing sympathies, 
any trace of an mterest m his fellow-bemgs less large and free 
than in his earlier works. 

Before the appearance of his Jack Tier, Cooper published, 
in 1845 and the following year, a series of novels relating to 
the Anti-rent question, in which he took great mterest. He 
thought that the disposition, manifested in certain quarters, to 
make concessions to what he deemed a denial of the rights of 
property, was a first step ua a most dangerous path. To dis- 
courage this disposition, he wrote ScUansioe, The Chainbearer, 
and The Redskins. They are didactic in their design, and 
want the freedom of invention which belongs to Cooper's best 
novels ; but if they had been written by any body but Cooper, 
by a member of Congress, for example, or an eminent poli- 
tician of any class, they would have made his reputation. It 
was said, I am told, by a distmguished jurist of our state, that 
they entitled the author to as high a place in law as his other 
works had won for him in literature. 

I had thought, in meditating the plan of this discourse, to 
mention all the works of Mr. Cooper, but the length to which 
I have found it extending has induced me to pass over several 
written in the last ten years of his life, and to confine myself 
to those which best illustrate his literary character. The last 
of his novels was The Ways of the Hour, a work m which the 



w. c. Bryant's discourse. 67 

objections he entertained to the trial by jury in .civil causes 
were stated in the form of a narrative. 

It is a voluminous catalogue that of Cooper's published 
works but it comprises not all he Avrote. He committed to 
the fire, without remorse, many of the fruits of his literary in- 
dustry. It was understood, some years since, that he had a 
work ready for the press on the Middle States of the Union, 
principally illustrative of their social history ; but it has not 
been found among his manuscripts, and the presumption' is 
that he must have destroyed it. He had planned a work on 
the Towns of Manhattan, for the publication of which he 
made arrangements with Mr. Putnam of this city, and a part 
of which, already wTitten, was in press at the time of his 
death. The printed part has since been destroyed by fire, 
but a portion of the manuscript was recovered. The work, 
I learn, will be completed by one of the family, who, within 
a few years past, has earned an honourable name among the 
authors of our country. Great as was the number of his 
works, and great as was the favour with which they were 
received, the pecuniary rewards of his success were far less 
than has been generally supposed scarcely, as I am informed, 
a tenth part of what the common rumour made them. His 
fame was mfinitely the largest acknowledgment which this 
most successful of American authors received for his la- 
bours. 

The Ways of the Hour appeared in 1850. At this time 
his personal appearance was remarkable. He seemed in per- 
fect health and in the highest energy and activity of his facul- 
ties. I have scarcely seen any man at that period of life on 
whom his years sat more lightly. His conversation had lost 



68 THE MEMORY OF COOPER. 

none of its liveliness, though it seemed somewhat more gentle 
and forbearing in tone, and his spirits none of their elasticity. 
He was contemplating, I have since been told, another Leather- 
stocking tale, deeming that he had not yet exhausted the 
character, and those who consider what new resources it 
yielded him in the Pathfinder and the Deer slayer, will readily 
conclude that he was not mistaken. 

The disease, however, by which he was removed, was even 
then impending over him, and not long afterwards his friends 
here were grieved to leani that his health was declining. He 
came to New York so changed that they looked at him with 
sorrow, and after a stay of some weeks, partly for the benefit 
of medical advice, returned to Cooperstown, to leave it no 
more. His complaint gradually gained strength, subdued a 
constitution originally I'obust, and finally passed mto a con- 
firmed dropsy, hi August, 1851, he was visited by his ex- 
cellent and learned friend. Dr. Francis, a member of the 
weekly club which he had founded in the early part of his lit- 
erary career. He found him bearing the sufferings of his dis- 
ease with manly firmness, gave him such medical counsels as 
the malady appeared to require, prepared him delicately for 
its fatal termination, and returned to New York with the most 
melancholy anticipations. In a few days afterwards, Cooper 
expired, amid the deep afliiction of his family, on the 14th of 
September, the day before that on which he should have com- 
pleted his sixty-second year. He died, apparently without 
pain, in peace and religious hope. The relations of man to his 
Maker, and to that state of being for which the present is 
but a preparation, had occupied much of his thoughts du- 
ring his whole lifetime, and he crossed, with a serene com- 



w. c. Bryant's discourse. 69 

posure, the mysterious boundary which divides this life from 
the next. 

Tlie departure of such a man, in the full strength of his 
faculties, on whom the country had for thirty years looked 
as one of the permanent ornaments of its literature, and whose 
name had been so often associated with praise, with renown, 
with controversy, with blame, but never with death, diffused 
a universal awe. It was as if an earthquake had shaken the 
ground on which we stood, and showed the grave opening by 
our path. In the general grief for his loss, his virtues only 
were remembered, and his failings forgotten. 

Of his failings I have said little ; such as he had were 
obvious to all the world ; they lay on the surface of his char- 
acter ; those who knew him least made the most account of 
them. With a character so made up of positive qualities a 
character so independent and uncompromising, and with a sen- 
sitiveness far more acute than he was willing to acknowledge, 
it is not surprising that occasions frequently arose to bring 
him, sometimes into friendly collision, and sometimes into 
graver disagreements and misunderstandings with his fellow- 
men. For his infirmities, his friends found an ample counter- 
poise in the generous sincerity of his nature. He never 
thought of disguising his opinions, and he abhorred all disguise 
in others ; he did not even deign to use that show of regard 
towards those of whom he did not think well, which the world 
tolerates, and almost demands. A manly expression of opin- 
ion, however diflerent from his own, commanded his respect. 
Of his own works, he spoke with the same freedom as of the 
works of others ; and never hesitated to express his judgment 
of a book for the reason that it was written by liimself ; yet 



70 THE MEMORY OF COOPER. 

he could bear with gentleness any dissent from the estimate 
he placed on his owti writings. His character was like the 
bark of the cinnamon, a rough and astringent rind without, 
and an intense sweetness within. Those who penetrated be- 
low the surface found a genial temper, warm affections, and a 
heart with ample place for his friends, their pursuits, their 
good name, their welfare. They found him a philanthropist, 
though not precisely after the fashion of the day ; a religious 
man, most devout where devotion is most apt to be a feeling 
rather than a custom, in the household circle ; hospitable, and 
to the extent of his means, liberal-handed m acts of charity. 
They found, also, that though in general he would as soon have 
thought of gi\'ing up an old friend as of giving up an opinion, 
he was not proof against testimony, and could part with a mis- 
taken opinion as one parts with an old friend who has been 
proved faithless and unworthy, hi short. Cooper was one of 
those who, to be loved, must be intimately known. 

Of his literary character I have spoken largely in the nar- 
rative of his life, but there are yet one or two remarks which 
must be made to do it justice. In that way of writing in 
which he excelled, it seems to me that he united, in a pre-em- 
inent degree, those qualities which enabled him to interest the 
largest number of readers. He wrote not for the fastidious, 
the over-refined, the morbidly delicate ; for these find in his 
genius something too robust for their liking something by 
which their sensibilities are too rudely shaken ; but he wrote 
for mankind at large for men and women in the ordinary 
healthful state of feeling and in their admiration he found 
his reward. It is for this class that public libraries are 
obliged to provide themselves with an extraordinary number 



w. c. Bryant's discourse. 71 

of copies of his works : the number in the Mercantile Library, 
in this city, I am told, is forty. Hence it is, that he has earned 
a fame, wider, I think, than any author of modern times 
wider, certainly, than any author, of any age, ever enjoyed in 
his lifetime. All his excellences are translatable they pass 
readily into languages the least allied in their genius to that 
in which he WTOte, and in them he touches the heart and kin- 
dles the imagination with the same power as in the original 
English. 

Cooper was not wholly without humour ; it is sometimes 
found lurking in the dialogue of Harvey Birch, and of Leather- 
stocking ; but it forms no considerable element in his works ; 
and if it did, it would have stood in the way of his universal 
popularity, since, of all qualities, it is the most difficult to 
transfuse mto a foreign language. Nor did the effect he pro- 
duced upon the reader depend on any grace of style which 
would escape a translator of ordinary skill. With his style, 
it is true, he took great pains, and in his earlier works, I am 
told, sometimes altered the proofs sent from the printer so 
largely that they might be said to be written over. Yet he 
attained no special felicity, variety, or compass of expression. 
His style, however, answered his purpose ; it has defects, but 
it is manly and clear, and stamps on the mind of the reader 
the impression he desired to convey. I am not sure that 
some of the very defects of Cooper's novels do not add, by a 
certain force of contrast, to their power over the mind. He 
is long hi getting at the interest of his narrative. The prog- 
ress of the plot, at first, is like that of one of his own vessels 
of war, slowly, heavily, and even awkwardly workmg out of 
a harbour. We are impatient and weary, but when the ves- 



72 THE MEMORY OF COOPER. 

sel is once in the open sea, and feels the free breath of heaven 
in her full sheets, our delight and admiration is all the greater 
at the grace, the majesty and power with which she divides 
and bears down the waves, and pursues her course, at will, 
over the great waste of waters. 

Such are the works so widely read, and so universally 
admired, in all the zones of the globe, and by men of every 
kindred and every tongue ; works which have made of those 
who dwell in remote latitudes, wanderers m our forests, and 
observers of our manners, and have inspired them with an 
interest in our history. A gentleman who had returned from 
Europe just before the death of Cooper, was asked what he 
found the people of the Continent doing. " They are all read- 
ing Cooper," he answered ; " in the little kingdom of Holland, 
with its three millions of inhabitants, I looked into four differ- 
ent translations of Cooper in the language of the country." 
A traveller, who has seen much of the middle classes of Italy, 
lately said to me, " I found that all they knew of America, 
and that was not little, they had learned from Cooper's 
novels ; from him they had learned the story of American 
liberty, and through him they had been introduced to our 
Washington ; they had read his works till the shores of the 
Hudson and the valleys of Westchester, and the banks of 
Otsego lake had become to them familiar grOund." 

Over all the countries into whose speech this great man's 
works have been rendered by the labours of their scholars, 
the sorrow of that loss which we deplore is now diffusing 
itself. Here we lament the ornament of our country, there 
they mourn the death of him who delighted the human race. 
Even now, while I speak, the pulse of grief which is passing 



w. c. Bryant's discourse. 73 

through the nations has haply just reached some remote 
neighbourhood ; the news of his death has been brought to 
some dwelling on the slopes of the Andes, or amidst the 
snowy wastes of the North, and the dark-eyed damsel of Chile, 
or the fair-haired maid of Norway, is sad to think that he 
whose stories of heroism and true love have so often kept her 
for hours from her pillow, lives no more. 

He is gone ! but the creations of his genius, fixed in living 
words, survive the frail material organs by which the words 
were first traced. They partake of a middle nature, between 
the deathless mind and the decaying body of which they 
are the common offspring, and are, therefore, destined to 
a duration, if not eternal, yet indefinite. The examples 
he has given in his glorious fictions, of heroism, honour 
and truth, of large sympathies between man and man, of all 
that is good, great, and excellent, embodied in personages 
marked with so strong an individuality that we place them 
among our friends and favourites ; his frank and generous 
men, his gentle and noble women, shall live through centuries 
to come, and only perish with our language. I have said with 
our language ; but who shall say when it may be the fate of 
the English language to be numbered with the extinct forms 
of human speech 1 Who shall declare which of the present 
tongues of the civilized world Avill survive its fellows 1 It 
may be that some one of them, more fortunate than the rest, 
will long outlast them, in some undisturbed quarter of the 
globe, and in the midst of a new civilization. The creations 
of Cooper's genius, even now transferred to that language, 
may remain to be the delight of the nations through another 
great cycle of centuries, beginning after the English language 



74 THE MEMORY OF COOPER. 

and its contemporaneous form of civilization shall have passed 
away. 

Mr. Bancroft rose, at the invitation of the President, to 
return thanks, on behalf of the Committee, to Mr. Bryant, 
He spoke as follows : 

Ladies and Gentlemen : The President has assigned to me 
the agreeable duty of rendering, on behalf of the Committee, 
their thanks to Mr. Bryant, who to-night has so beautifully 
proved how one man of genius may do honour to another. 
The delight with which you have listened is better applause 
than any words of mine, and I am sure I give expression to the 
feelings of your hearts, when I make, on behalf of my asso- 
ciates, these expressions of their gratitude. But we owe him 
more; he has made our effort successful. Your presence 
declares it is successful. 

The men of letters of New York, overwhelmed with grief 
at the death of their illustrious brother, met together to agree 
on some tribute to the genius of James Fenimore Cooper, 
and, on the suggestion of Mr. Irving, proposed to raise a 
monumental statue to his memory. 

We desire that this may be done here in New York, for 
Cooper was emphatically a son of New York, born in your 
vicinity, educated almost in your midst, receiving his inspira- 
tions among you, pursuing his career among you, trusting to 
you for that blame and that praise, without which there is no 
literary success. His career belongs emphatically and pecu- 
liarly to New York. New York, too, is his by conquest ; for 
what is your domain? The ocean. No steamships plough 
the waves of the Atlantic so swiftly as those which go out of 



MR. Bancroft's speech. 75 

your harbour ; the ships which you send round the globe 
have now attained such mastery over the winds and the cur- 
rents of the ocean, that their coming back into your harbour 
may be predicted almost to a day with as much certamty as 
the return of the seasons. Cooper, too, is at home upon the 
deep. No man like him has so commemorated the gallant 
deeds of our navy no man like him has so described life on 
the ocean. 

There is another reason why we call upon you for your 
sympathy and co-operation in our purpose. Do not think that 
we come to speak to you for the men of letters who come 
after him no, we speak only for him, the first great American 
man of letters who has passed from amongst us. He w\as a 
forerunner, one of the very few who, at long distances from 
one another, went before us. The universality of education 
among us, the wide diffusion of the opportunities of instruc- 
tion, the quick kindling impulses of the young, their enterprise, 
love of admiration, love of truth, and of science all will 
combine to make the class of those who are ensaged in the 
pursuits of science and letters greater in America than they 
have ever been in any other country in the world, in propor- 
tion to its numbers. I give this, not as my own idea, but as a 
lesson which I learned of the illustrious Madison, who loved 
the pursuits of a scholar more than any other occupation of 
life, and himself achieved high distinction as a man of letters ; 
as has been done by the statesman who to-night presides over 
this meeting, and who on several occasions has in his writings 
given expression to the thoughts and feelings of his country m 
such massive English as no one but himself could rival. The 
men of letters of the coming generations, and the men of let- 



76 THE MEMORY OF COOPER. 

ters who now live, must consent to stand close together, like 
trees in the densest forest; but Cooper dwelt, as it were, 
alone on one of his OAvn prairies. He was the first to people 
the realms of the interior of the country with the creatures of 
imagination. He was, as it were, the first to tell how the 
Hudson flows with inspiration to the poet ; and henceforward 
the traveller who looks at the beauties of Glen Falls will see 
the people of the fictions of Cooper gather around him among 
the spray and the rocks ; or if, on the banks of Lake George, 
he looks out on the gorgeous scenes which the decline of the 
sun presents to him, he will find the richest hues of evening 
made yet more beautiful by the presence of the creations with 
which the fancy of Cooper has environed them. While we, 
then, stand crowded together, we direct your attention to 
Cooper, rismg like the stately and solitary oak on the plain, 
without a rival or a neighbour. 

There is another reason, the Committee instruct me to state, 
why we call on you to erect a statue to Cooper : it is from 
respect for the genuine sincerity and integrity of his character ; 
it is that he sincerely loved truth and honestly pursued its 
dictates ; that he never truckled to any temporary passion or 
social influence, but pursued his own career, as if he feared 
not to guide his bark over the stormy waves of competition, 
straight onward towards his end. It is from the profound 
and deep conviction of the vigorous character of his intellect, 
the purity of his life and heart, and the manly genuineness of 
his piety, that we invite you to join in building a monument 
which shall hold him up as an example to the young. 

We ask you, for a moment, to forget the care, the ambi- 
tion, the brilliant successes, and overflowing prosperity of the 



REV. MR. Osgood's speech. T7 

day, and to live Math us in the past. This beautiful and hos- 
pitable city should be the chosen home of men of letters. 
Here by the ocean side here where there is easy connection 
with all the world this commercial metropolis should be, as 
it were, the eye to our country, as Athens was to Greece, and 
should rival that city in respect for the arts, for science, for 
truth, and for whatever contributes to ennoble and dignify 
humanity. And therefore it is that we have asked you for a 
few moments to forget the shadows of the present, and to 
gaze with us on the realities of eternity to pass from the 
contests of to-day, and to jom in doing honour to liim whose 
great career is already brought to a close. 

Ladies and gentlemen, In your presence, in your sympa- 
thies, we read your approbation of our design, and in that 
approbation we find a sure omen of success. 

Mr. Bancroft's speech was received with enthusiastic 
cheers, and on its conclusion Mr. Webster rose and shook 
hands with him, amid renewed applause. The Eev. Samuel 
Osgood being then called upon, came forward and said : 

I am very sorry, Mr. President, to say in this assembly 
what in sincerity I am obliged to say. This is not the place 
for me, and when asked but a few minutes since to address 
the audience, I positively declined, and your call takes me 
wholly by surprise. We have met together this evening to 
commemorate the services of a great mmd in our republic of 
letters, and to men of historical position, his own peers in hon- 
our, these tributes to his memory had, I supposed, been en- 
trusted. Among such personages I have no claim to stand, and 
my word, rather of apology than of speech, is presumptuous, 



78 THE MEMORY OF COOPER. 

unless I take my place as one of the audience and speak as 
if for them. 

One thought here forces itself upon the hearer which needs 
no studied words to give it expression. After what we have 
seen and heard to-night, how can we but speak our gratitude 
to the leaders of our national literature brought so near 
to us now by the faces of the livmg, and the memory of the 
dead ? Honour all honours to our chiefs in romance, poetry, 
history, oratory, especially to such as have adorned the stern 
utilities of our country by the charms of pure taste and high 
i magma tion. We are and have been from the first a practi- 
cal people too much taken up with the difficulties of our ma- 
terial position to find much time or thought for the beautiful 
arts. Most of us personally have been obliged to struggle 
for the means of livelihood and the opportmiities of education. 
Sons of farmers and mechanics, and of men of like hardy lot, 
we have not been trained in exquisite tastes, or breathed 
an atmosphere of Attic refinement. But, sir, we hear, and 
always have heard, the voice divine that calls us to follow a 
noble aim in all our strivings, and see a lofty ideal in the midst 
of our sternest labours. We as a people have not been want- 
mg in imagination, few as our achievements may have been in 
the arts usually called imaginative. Our destmed material 
thus far has not been the marble or the canvass, nor have we 
put all our aspiration mto poetry and romance. But the 
ideal is in us, and it must come out. It is workmg itself out in 
the whole energy of a people now starting into a great and 
progressive nation, and making to themselves history and 
romance out of their very growth. Honour to the illustrious 
man whose name crowns this festival honour to him as an 



REV. MR. Osgood's speech. 79 

educator of the popular fancy, giving such beauty to true 
heroism, and adorniiig the sturdy virtues of our fathers with 
the finest graces of the affections. Honour to him for what 
he has expressed, and for what he implied. His stories of 
adventure, his portraitures of rude energy struggling upwards 
into refinement and aspiration, are good emblems of the better 
spirit of our people cheering promises of the time when our 
plam utilities shall open mto beauty, even as our rough soil 
blooms into loveliness and fragrance. But a begimiing has 
been made, and it is noble enough to promise an august ca- 
reer in all the arts that refine and elevate a nation. We have 
been working out our mmd in the hard school of necessity. 
We have blocked out the statue thus far but in the rough, 
and what it shall be, we hardly dare to tell. Yet form and 
features have begun to show themselves ; ere long the polish 
will come, and the Eternal Spirit of Beauty will not refuse its 
fire, nor fail to inform it with a celestial soul. 

I am surprised to find myself speaking here to-night. 
More words I could add, were it not that the office belongs 
more fitly far to others of historic name ; and I must close 
with a single thought : It is good to be here at our great 
author's obsequies. It is good to meet on the high and com- 
mon ground of allegiance to what is best in letters, far away 
from party strifes and vulgar cares. Let us carry a worthy 
lesson with us from this place. We celebrate now the ser- 
vices of a man pure in life as powerful in word. As we, his 
friends, meet together, we are as those who bore their 
torches at a hero's obsequies reversed, to intimate how great 
a light has been extinguished. We will be content to bear 
them so until this hour closes, but then lift them bravely 



80 THE MEMORY OF COOPER. 

aloft; let solemn memories rise into cheerful hopes; let 
droopmg regrets start up into exalted purposes. Fidelity is 
the best tribute to the faitliful. A life pure, generous, Chris- 
tian, true to God and man, is the noblest history, the most 
winning romance, the divinest poem. 

Tlie President then called on the Eev. Dr. Bethune, who 
come forward amid the most cordial demonstrations of satis- 
faction by the assembly, and said : 

Apologies at such a time are, I am aware, Mr. Presiaent, 
seldom in good taste ; yet, lest the rough form of my few 
remarks should appear disrespectful to the audience, I must 
say that I did not suppose you would call on me this evening. 
Many weeks since, when this meeting was first proposed, the 
Committee of Arrangements did me the honour of asking that 
I should say a few words, which my sincere admiration for the 
character and services of the great man who has gone from 
among us, would not allow me to refuse ; but, learning that so 
many far better qualified were to be here to-night, I scarcely 
expected to be thought of. Still, sir, it is the duty of every 
man promptly to obey constituted authority, and I may not 
hesitate. 

The eloquent gentleman, who has just addressed you, said 
that we had met to " celebrate the obsequies" of him who has 
been in all our thoughts. Pardon me for dissentmg from the 
expression. We have met to congratulate his spirit on its 
immortality. We are not permitted to look witliin the mys- 
terious veil which divides time from eternity, or follow him 
before the presence of God ; but we know that he died in firm 
faith upon the Son of God, our Redeemer, the only " way and 



\ 

1 







REV. DR. BETHUNe's SPEECH. 81 

truth and life" by whom we can " come unto the Father." In 
those almighty, just, and merciful hands we can leave him ; 
but, while we mourn the departure of his generous works on 
earth, it is our comfort and joy to know that his mind lives 
for us and for all posterity in his imperishable pages. If we 
may not hear fresh oracles of wisdom and truth from his once 
mdefatigable pen, those which he has uttered remain with us 
ever precious and affectionately cherished. It is now our de- 
sire to erect a memorial of our gratitude for so rich a legacy. 
The fame of Cooper needs no artificial monument ; with his 
own hand has he engraved it on the magic scenery of our 
country, and interwoven it with the legends of our history : 



" Call it not vain ; they do not err, 
Who say, that, when a poet dies, 
Mute nature mourns her worshipper 

And celebrates his obsequies ; 
Who say, tall cliff and cavern lone 
For the departed bard make moan; 
That mountains weep in crystal rill ; 
And flowers in tears of balm distill ; 
Through his loved groves the bi-eezcs sigh, 
And oaks in deeper groans reply ; 
And rivers teach their rushing wave 
To murmur dirges round his grave. 

" Not that, in sooth, o'er mortal urn 
Such things inanimate can mourn ; 
But that the stream, the wood, the gale 
Is vocal with the plaintive wail 
Of those, who, else forgotten long. 
Live in the poet's faithful song, 
And, in the poet's parting breath, 
Whose memory feels a second death." 



Our Cooper was not a poet in the melody of rhythm or the 
responses of rhyme, but eminently one in the faculty of 

4* 



82 THE MEMORY OF COOPER. 

throwing the charms of imagination around rugged realities, 
and of elevating the soul with noble sentiments. Who with 
any sense of poetry could read the " Prairie" and not feel 
that he was entranced by a poet's spell ! He was a true 
poet, and, if we had the spiritual perception of him whose lines 
I have just repeated, we should be conscious of a mourn- 
ful moan from out the rocky cliffs of the Hudson, answered by 
the sighing of its sad waves along the shores illustrated by his 
genius. There is scarcely a portion of our land, or scene of 
our best history, or field of the ocean cut by an American 
keel, which does not bear testimony to his graphic truth. But, 
sir, how dare I attempt his eulogy, after his memory has been 
crowned this night by the classic hand of him, whom all of us 
acknowledge the foremost representative of American poetry, 
before an assembly of our citizens unparalleled for its combi- 
nation of numbers, intelligence, and moral woilh, presided 
over pardon me, sir, I would fain avoid the excess of unne- 
cessary compliment, but when I use the briefest term must 
pay the greatest presided over by yourself ! 

My friend Mr. Bancroft has said, (I cannot repeat his happy 
language, but will reach his thought,) that we are not here to 
honour " other men of letters," the worthy compeers of their 
deceased brother ; but I come out from this assembled senate 
of authors (among whom I have lawfully no place) to speak as 
one of the people, and say that we are assembled for their 
honour as well as his. We are met to assure those eminent 
men, who give us the wise lessons of our history, ennoble our 
thoughts by the highest flights of song, and charm us with 
ethics in the pure strength of our Saxon tongue made graceful 
and tender thi'ough the inspiration of an exquisite sensibility, 



REV. DR. BETHUNe's SPEECH. 83 

that we are not ungrateful for the liigh benefits which the 
Father of lights confers upon us in their devoted services. 
This is the occasion for a precedent of admiring justice to 
our men of commanding and generous intellect. It is a sad 
thought, which can be relieved only by the faith that the rec- 
ords of genius are imperishable but the present reality forces 
it upon us the men whom we are this night happy to look 
upon, whose voice and pen are even now contributing their 
efforts for our delight and profit, must soon pass away. We 
must have the satisfaction of assuring them by the honour we 
pay to the memory of their first-born, first-departed brother, 
that, when they are gone, they shall not be forgotten. No, 
gentlemen ; (bowing to Messrs. Bryant, Bancroft, and Irving ;) 
go on in the noble career for which Providence has fitted you, 
add hourly to the inestimable treasures already bestowed b}- 
your hands upon your countrymen and the world ; and if you 
need a motive beyond your own self-gratifying love of doing 
good, be assured that when you [vos quoque morituri) have left 
us, we, who now cover with tributary laurels the brow of 
Cooper, will follow your ashes with fond and loyal recol- 
lections. 

Yet our thanks should not be expended in "winged 
words," but for the sake of posterity and the mass of our 
compatriot people, embodied in some enduring, public 
shape. Arts are kindred ; and among the best uses to 
which those which imitate the visible works of the Creator 
can be devoted, is the preservation of their form and features 
who have been benefactors of their country and mankind. 
Therefore would we, and our purpose shall not fail, erect such 
a monument to the honour of this great and good man, the 



84 THE MEMORY OF COOPER. 

first, I trust, of a long series, which shall commemorate his 
contemporaries and successors in like dignity. We could not 
fail to note, as the orator of the evening, in simple and elegant 
panegyric, traced the long catalogue of our Cooper's writmgs, 
that those which most concerned the history and scenes of 
his native land and ours, were most appreciated and effi- 
cient. The classical nations of antiquity deemed the fame of 
a hero or a sage not complete until they had inaugurated his 
statue. The capitals of modern Europe are crowded with 
such enduring presentments of those whom kings delight to 
honour as instruments of despotism, or for whom the people 
are permitted to testify esteem as friends of humanity. There 
is scarcely y a town, however small, without one or more 
statues of the dead in its open squares. But, many as are 
the illustrious of our amials, you may look throughout our 
whole land, and (with some msignificant exceptions) discover 
no proofs that we can appreciate public services. Let us, 
then, invoke the Genius of Sculpture, whose presence among 
us is so amply certified, to pourtray for the eyes of our people 
and their children the lineaments of that form and face which, 
when living, were animated by the patriotic and zealous spirit 
of Cooper. Let it be placed, not in a hall of learning, or in 
a retreat of the few, but in the free common air and sunlight, 
where all may look upon it, and learn fresh gratitude, and 
gain fresh incentives to pursuits so honourable and so hon- 
oured. We have been told that his voice is now heard in 
every civilized tongue, and we know, Avherever it speaks, it 
tells the story of our national dignity, and teaches the maxims 
of political wisdom and honesty which have raised us to our 
unexampled prosperity. Such are the best contributions we 



MR. James's SPEECH. 85 

can make to the freedom of oppressed countries ; because they 
show that, without a popular love of justice and union, arms 
and blood are powerless to achieve liberty. The world has 
admired our Cooper as a man of genius ; let them see that his 
countrymen love him as a wise champion of political truth, 
and a faithful citizen. Without love, which our God has 
ordained to be the sole sufficient spring of all duty, virtue is 
but a name ; and without patriotisrn, (the scoff of knaves, 
but the admiration of the good,) our citizenship will be hypoc- 
risy. Let us cherish this grand virtue ; let us teach it to pos- 
terity ; and, by public respect to the memory of those, who, 
like Cooper, have served earnestly under the institutions 
which educated them, conserve our self-respect, and show our 
thankfulness for our wide, rich land, our unequalled constitu- 
tion, and the union of these States, the bond of their security. 

Mr. Webster next introduced Mr. G. P. R. James, who 
was received with loud and continued cheers. He spoke as 
follows : 

Ladies and Gentlemen : It is only this very moment that 
I have had the first intimation that I Avould be called upon to 
address you. But it is not for me, an Englishman and 
being proud of being an Englishman it is not for me, a 
romance writer and proud to be a romance writer it is not 
for me, a man of the people and proud to be a man of the 
people to refuse my humble tribute to an American ro- 
mance writer, and a man of the people. But all that I 
could have said has been taken from me by the speakers 
who preceded me. What can I add after the speeches 
of such men as the President of this assembly, of my 



86 THE MEMORY OF COOPER. 

honourable friend Mr, Bancroft, and of the reverend gen- 
tlemen who have addressed you, and after the oration of 
Mr. Bryant himself? What can I say after the language of 
him whose massy eloquence, like the writings of him whose 
memory we have met to commemorate, have gone all 
over the civilized world 1 Little has been left to me but to 
correct a mistake relative to a person of the same name as 
my own. In alluding to Mr. James, as an opponent of Mr. 
Cooper, Mr. Bryant called him a veterinary surgeon. That 
gentleman was no connection of mine, and I never saw him ; 
but I know he was not a veterinary, but a naval surgeon, and 
the two professions cannot be combined, unless by that pe- 
culiar animal called a "horse marine." Another motive I 
had in responding to your call, was to add my tribute to an 
American author, and upon this pomt little is left me to 
say. I am only like a judge at the end of a trial, when ad- 
dressing the jury after the witnesses have been all examined ; 
though I do not pretend to be much of a judge in literature. 
I will, however, sum up as best I can ; and I ask, to what 
is it that you are about to erect a statue 1 .. Is it simply 
to a novelist? No, no, no far more than that. It is to 
genius, whose triumphs are as far superior to those of the 
military m.an, as mind is superior to matter as the power 
that can sway millions is to that which can slay hundreds of 
thousands. But is this all ? No ! far from it. It is a statue 
to truth straightforward truth truth, worthy of more stat- 
ues than were ever raised to it. Is it to truth alone ? No ; 
but to truth, genius, and patriotism combined. I say he 
was a patriot in the fullest sense of the word, for, though 
he spent a considerable part of his life out of tliis great 



DR. Francis's speech. 87 

land, he was every where an American true to his country, 
and true to himself. With this summing up, I would ask if 
there is any man or any woman (and woman's voice is more 
powerful to plead than man's) I would ask, is there any 
one who leaves this hall to-night who will not contribute, 
nay, who will not use every exertion to procure contribu- 
tions from their friends and neighbours, to erect a statue 
that will go down to posterity as a testimony of your rever- 
ence for genius, truth, and patriotism 1 

On the conclusion of Mr. James's speech, Mr. Webster 
said, I perceive among the gentlemen around me, the familiar 
face of an old friend, who was personally well acquainted 
with Mr. Cooper, and was, I believe, his physician : will Dr. 
Francis offer any remarks on the subject of this evening's 
consideration ? 

Dr. Francis said, I did not expect, Mr, President, to be 
called upon this evening to say any thing in behalf of the 
measures which the Committee contemplate in honour of the 
memory of Mr. Cooper. But I am fortified m the attempt to 
say a word or two on the subject, in being requested by high 
authority, and a knowledge that the call is constitutional. 
Ladies and gentlemen, the learned President has correctly in. 
formed you that I was an early friend of Fenimore Cooper. 
It is more than thirty years since I first became acquainted 
with him. I have seen him in the private room, in the public 
hall, and at the meetings of the many ; I have seen him in the 
highest flights of his genius, at the table where numerous 
friends were convened together ; I have heard him converse 
()n national aflairs, and descant upon the literature of his 



88' THE MEMORY OF COOPER. 

country ; have listened to his disquisitions on that monster of 
the ocean, the Kraken, and dwell, with the enthusiasm of old 
Walton, on trout-fishmg, and the Otsego bass. I, therefore, 
believe I have been tolerably well acquainted with Mr. 
Cooper, and I do not think that the gentlemen who have hon- 
oured us with their observations this evening, have in the least 
degree erred in what they have said concerning his talents, his 
patriotism, his disinterestedness, his love of truth, or any of 
the great qualities that made up his character ; and I will add, 
that in the course of a long life, I have never knowai any gen- 
tleman more intrepid, more self-possessed, or more honoura- 
ble in all his dealings. The Committee of his friends will, J 
hope, be able to erect a suitable monument to him. 

Besides his great abilities, he was also a friend to true 
Christianity. One. of his leading maxims in life was, that 
fiscal integrity was a brilliant jewel in the coronet of the 
Christian professor. He was well aware, during his sickness, 
of his approaching end ; but then he had the consolation of 
knowing that he had never, through life, written one line 
which he would wish to blot. I believe that principles of a 
more elevated and genuine morality cannot be found in all 
the pages of literature, than in those of James Fenimore 
Cooper. There was no compromise, no half-and-half way \^'ith 
him ; all was truthful and sternly honest. It was his love of 
honesty that caused me to admire him. To the Christian 
world I may say, he was much engaged in studies of a re- 
ligious nature ; he was not merely a novelist, a "writer of 
naval history, and of biography, but he was also a theologian, 
and wrote on theological subjects with extraordinary talent 
and erudition. He was imbued with polemical controversy ; 



DR. Francis's SPEECH. 89 

he had read the old divines, and was acquainted with the his- 
tory of religious creeds ; he knew the bearings of political 
and religious institutions ; he was connected with the Protest- 
ant Episcopal Church, and he died in the full belief of a future 
state and of the Christian dispensation. I mention these 
things, that there may not be a doubt on the minds of the 
people in relation to the character of our late friend. I am 
gratified with all I have heard to-night ; this is the highest 
compliment he could receive, and halfa-dozen times it has 
crossed my mmd, Would it be possible to find such an en- 
lightened body, so large a mass of intelligence and respecta- 
bility, to give honour to any but a most truly great man 1 

During my sojourn abroad, I met, by accident, a young 
Englishman, who, havhig learned that I was an American, in- 
formed me that he had travelled quite extensively through 
the States. " A great country, indeed, sir," added he, " but 
what has most struck me is, that I have not found in all your 
land a single conspicuous memorial of the dead ; you have 
no galleries of paintings, no columns, no statues ; you have 
no Westminster Abbey for the repose of illustrious characters. 
I suppose, however, that with your rapid progress this de- 
fect will in time be remedied, at least when you can boast of 
having produced great men." As he uttered half truth, I 
made no reply ; my feelings were mortified. Our friend on 
my right, the distinguished novelist, Mr. James, too, lately told 
us in a public address, that he had in vain during his exten- 
sive travels through our country, cast his eyes about for any 
tablet or statue commemorative of our Franklin, the Ameri- 
can Solon. The painful truth perpetually strikes us, that we 
have been negligent in the extreme of a proper reverence for 



90 THE MEMORY OF COOPER. 

the memories of the noble sons of our soil ; and I may add, 
in confirmation of this debasing fact, that perhaps of the 
whole audience now assembled in this hall, so mterested this 
night in our proceedings, so cultivated and so refined in their 
characters, scarcely half-a-dozen can be found who are able 
to tell us where repose the mortal remains of our illustrious 
Fulton ! With what eloquence, in behalf of the present 
undertaking of the Committee, do these circumstances plead ! 
and how earnestly should we labour to remove such a re- 
proach from our history ! 

I think I see in your countenances a desire to co-operate in 
this honourable work : the majority of you are of ripe years, 
and you and your children are familiar with the wi'itings of 
Cooper ; have been edified by his ethics, led captive by his 
imagination, and instructed by his truthful and admirably con. 
structed narratives ; and what adds to the charm of his literary 
productions is, that you obtain from their perusal so just an 
impression of the moral attributes, the rectitude, and the 
philosophy of the author himself You are not called upon 
to erect an altar to an " unkno-wn god ;" you are asked to 
present an enduring recognition of the vast excellencies of a 
native citizeji, who, in the fullest acceptation of language, Avas 
a benefactor to his country. To be laggard in such an enter- 
prise, in this age of moral and intellectual progress, when 
man, by every laudable means, is daily asserting the dignity 
of his nature, when the written page exhibits a virtue unknown 
in former times, w^hen we talk by lightning, print by the 
steam-engine, and paint by the sunbeam, were indeed a ne- 
glect to admit of no extenuation. You are, therefore, with a 
perfect knowledge of the Committee's views, enabled to ap- 



I 



DR. Francis's speech. 91 

predate the sei'vices you render to the patriotic design of 
erecting, in some public square in this metropolis, a becoming 
monument to his memory. Let this be done with all conve- 
nient speed ; let the sculptor now do what many pens have 
already done add, from his art, the expression of heart-felt 
gratitude for the true life and pure fame of the illustrious and 
noble deceased ; so that posterity may behold the efficacy of 
your faith, in the demonstration that shall promptly be made, 
in response to your liberality. 

I rejoice at the aspect the affair has taken, in its origin 
among lis. I want New York to be first in every thing. I 
want tills glorious city to exalt herself in arts and in lit- 
erature, as she has in commerce, in patriotism, in devotion 
to the Union of the States. I love the East, because it 
produced Mr. Webster ; I love the West, because it pro- 
duced Henry Clay ; and I might go on in this mamier, 
and refer to various parts of our country for which I have 
also a wonderful liking ; but above all I love my native 
New York. Her history is replete with deeds of daring. 
So early as 1765, during her colonial vassalage, liberty 
and the rights of man commanded her energies in council ; 
and she delights to be in advance in generous measures, 
whenever the occasion demands it. 'Tis but as yesterday 
that one of her enlightened citizens, by his own private 
munificence, carried out the Arctic Polar Expedition, in 
search of the long-lost Capt. Sir John Franklin ; and I 
am told to-day, that the great project, by the same distin- 
guished individual, is to be forthwith renewed. Fenimore 
Cooper is among her famous sons, to the manor born ; and 
here you have an opportunity to take the first step for the 



92 T H E iM E M O H Y O F C O P E R . 

erection of a monument to the great New York author. As 
he is among the fii'st of our literary men who have passed 
away, so also will this be the first measure to stamp our 
esteem of the merits of the literary character. God bless 
the undertaking ; may you go on to aid it further, nor desist 
till the goodly work is accomplished. 

Mr. Webster closed the meeting with a short address. 
He remarked : 

It has been said with great truth by a profound philosopher, 
" Call no man happy till his death ;" and the reason I suppose 
is to be found in the vicissitudes of life, the changes of human 
feelings, and objects of human pursuit ; so that before the end 
of life arrives the character itself becomes changed ''Jinis 
coronal opusr He, in honour of whose memory we are 
assembled, has accomplished his career of human existence ; 
" after life's fitful fever he sleeps well." His character is ac- 
complished and remains itself a monument. The perturbations 
of life cannot aflTect him, and the question is, what of value has 
he left to his country % 

You all remember the eloquent and ingenious funeral ora- 
tion of Mark Antony over the body of Julius Csesar. Antony 
presented what he called the will of Csesar, by which, as An- 
tony proclaimed, he made the Roman people his heirs. Giving 
to every man so many drachms, and to the whole 

" his walks, 

His private arbours, and new-planted orchards, 
On this side Tyber ; he hath left them you, 
And to your heirs for ever ; common pleasures 
To walk abroad, and recreate yourselves." 



MR. Webster's speech. 93 

It would have been better if Csesar could have made a 
legacy to the Roman people of the example of a pure and 
spotless character. But the possessions which he left them 
were the result of war, conscription, and rapine ; they were 
WTung from oppressed provmces. They were valuable, it is 
true, in themselves, but their origin was lawless, and their 
uses temporary and perishable. Could Caesar have bestowed 
on the Roman people ten times the wealth he possessed, 
what would it have been compared with the imperishable 
legacy left by men of letters to the country, or the works 
of art, sculpture, painting, and architecture which transmit, 
m a sort of visible shape, the mind of one age to that of 
the ages that come after it 1 The productions of mind are 
imperishable while men remain civilized ; and therefore it 
is that the reasoning of the understanding, the outpourings 
of the heart, and the creations of the intellect, exceed in 
value all the bequests which it is in the power of all the 
kings of the earth to make. 

It is due to the memory of Fenimore Cooper, it is due to 
ourselves, it is due to the country, that we raise a monument 
of our gratitude to one who has left us an intellectual inherit- 
ance. 

Ladies and gentlemen, I now take leave of you and of an 
occasion which has devolved upon me the performance of a 
most agreeable duty. 



94 THE MEMORY OF COOPER. 



The following reminiscences of Mr. Cooper were ad- 
dressed to the Secretary of the Committee, by Dr. John W. 
Francis, LL. D. 

'New York, October 1st, 1851. 

My Dear Sir : I readily furnish you -with such reminiscences of the 
late Mr. Cooper as occur to me, although the pressure of professional 
engagements absolutely forbids such details as I would gladly record. 
For nearly tliirty years I have been the occasional medical adviser, and 
alwavs the ardent personal friend of the illustrious deceased ; but our 
intercourse has been so fragmentary, owing to the distance we Iiave 
lived apart, and the busy lives we have both led, that the impressions 
which now throng upon and impress me are desultory and vaiied, 
though endearing. I first knew Mr. Cooper in 1823. He at that time 
was recognized as the author of " Precaution," of " Tiie Spy," and of 
"The Pioneers." The two last-named works liad attracted especial 
notice by their widely-extended circulation, and the novelty of tlieir 
character in American literature. He was often to be seen at tliat 
period in conversation at the City Hotel in Broadway, near Old Trinity, 
where many of our most renowned naval and military men convened. 
He was the original projector of a literary and social association called 
the " Bread and Cheese Club," whose pl.ace of rendezvous was at 
Washington Hall. They met weekly in the evening, and furnished 
the occasion of mucli intellectual gratification and genial pleasure. 
That most adhesive friend, the poet Halleck, Chancellor Kent, G. C. 
Yerplanck, Wiley, the publisher of Mr. Cooper's works, De Kay, the 
naturalist, C. A. Davis, (Jack Downing,) Cliarles King, now President 
of Columbia College, J. De Peyster Ogden, J. W. Jarvis, the painter, 
John and William Duer, and many others were of the confederacy. 
Washington Irving, at the period of the formation of this circle of 
friends, was in England, occupied with his inimitable " Sketch Book." 
I had the honour of an early admittance to the Club. In balloting for 
membership the bread declared an affirmative ; and two ballots of 
cheese against an individual proclaimed non-admittance. 

From the meetings of this society Mr. Cooper was rarely absent. 
When presiding officer of the evening, he attracted especial considera- 
tion from the richness of his anecdotes, his wide American knowledge, 
and his courteous behaviour. These meetings were often signally char- 



REMINISCENCES OF COOPER. 95 

acterized by the number of invited guests of high reputation who 
gathered thither for recreative purposes, both of raind and body ; 
jurists of acknowledged eminence, governors of different states, sen- 
ators, members of the House of Representatives, literary men of foreign 
distinction, and authors of repute in our own land. It was gratifying 
to observe the dexterity with which Mr. Cooper would cope with some 
Eastern friend who contributed to our delight with a " Boston notion," 
or with Trelawny, the associate of Byron, descanting on Greece and the 
" Younger Son," or with any guests of the club, however dissimilar 
their habits or character ; accommodating his conversation and manners 
with the most marvellous facility. The New York attaclnnents of Mr. 
Cooper were ever dominant. I witnessed a demonstration of the early 
enthusiasm and patriotic activity of our late friend in liis efforts, with 
many of our leading citizens, in getting up the Grand Castle Garden 
Ball, given in honour of Lafayette. The arrival of the " nation's guest" 
at New York, in 1824, was the occasion of the most joyful demonstra- 
tions, and the celebration was a splendid spectacle ; it brought togetlier 
celebrities from many remote parts of the Union. Mr. Cooper must 
have undergone extraordinary fatigue during the day and following 
night ; but neai'ly as he was exhausted, he exliibited, when the public 
festivals were brought to a close, that astonishing readiness and skill in 
literary execution for which he was always so remarkable. Adjourn- 
ing near daybreak to the office of his friend Mr. Charles King, he wrote 
out more quickly than any otlier hand could copy, the very long and 
masterly report which next day appeared in Mr. King's paper a report 
which conveyed to tens of thousands who had not been present, no 
inconsiderable portion of the enjoyment they had felt who were the 
immediate participants in this famous festival. The manly bearing, 
keen intelligence, and thoroughly honourable instincts of Mr. Cooper, 
united as they were with this gift of writing, soon most effectively 
exhibited in his literary labours, now constantly increasing, excited my 
highest expectations of his career as an author, and my sincere esteem 
for the man. There was a fresh promise, a vigorous impulse, and espe- 
cially an American enthusiasm about him, that seemed to indicate not 
only individual fame, but national honour. Since that period I have 
followed his brilliant course with no less of admiration than delight. 

It was to me a cause of deep regret that soon after his return from 
Europe, crowned with a distinct and noble reputation, he became in- 
volved in a series of law-suits, growing out of libels, and originating, 
partly in his own imprudence, and partly in the reckless severity of the 
press. But these are but temporary considerations in the retrospect of 



96 THE MEMORY OF COOPER. 

his achievements ; and, if I mistake not, in these difficulties he in every 
instance succeeded in gaining the verdict of the jury. It was a task 
insurmountable to overcome a. fact as stated by Mr. Cooper. Associated 
as he was in my own mind with the earliest triumphs of American let- 
ters, I think of him as the creator of the genuine nautical and forest 
romances of " Long Tom Coffin" and " Leatherstocking ;" as the illus- 
trator of our country's scenes and characters to the Europeans ; and not 
as the critic of our republican inconsistencies, or as a litigant with 
caustic editors. 

It is well known that for a long period Mr. Cooper, at occasional 
times only, visited New York city. His residence for many years was 
an elegant and quiet mansion on the southern borders of Otsego Lake. 
Here in his beautiful retreat, embellished by the substantial fruits of 
his labours, and displaying every where his exquisite taste, his mind, ever 
intent on congenial tasks, which, alas ! are left unfinished, surrounded by 
a devoted and highly cultivated family, and maintaining the same clear- 
ness of perception, serene firmness, and integrity of tone, which distin- 
guished him in the meridian of his life were his mental employments 
prosecuted. He lived chiefly in rural seclusion, and with habits of 
methodical industry. When visiting the city he mingled cordially with 
his old friends ; and it was on the last occasion of this kind, at the 
beginning of April, that he consulted me with some earnestness in 
regard to his health. He complained of the impaired tone of the 
digestive organs, great torpor of the liver, weakness of muscular ac- 
tivity, and feebleness in walking. Such suggestions were off"ered for his 
relief as the indications of disease warranted. He left the city for his 
country residence, and I was gratified shortly after to learn from him 
of his better condition. 

During July and August I maintained a correspondence with him on 
the subject of his increasing physical infirmities, and frankly expressed 
to him the necessity of such remedial measures as seemed clearly neces- 
sary. Though occasionally relieved of my anxieties by the kind com- 
munications of his excellent friend and attending physician. Dr. Johnson, 
I was not without solicitude, both from his own statements as well as 
those of Dr. Johnson himself, that his disorder was on the increase ; 
certain symptoms were indeed mitigated, but the radical features of his 
illness had not been removed. A letter which I soon received induced 
me forthwith to repair to Cooperstown, and on the 27 th of August I 
saw Mr. Cooper at his own dwelling. My reception was cordial. With 
his family about him, he related with great clearness the particulars of 
his sufferings, and the means of relief to which he was subjected. Dr. 



KEMINISCENCES OF COOPER. 97 

Johnson was in consultation. I at once was struck with the heroic 
firmness of the sufferer, under an accumulation of depressing symptoms. 
His physical aspect was much altered from tliat noble freshness he was 
wont to bear; his complexion was pallid; his inferior extremities 
greatly enlarged by serous effusion ; his debility so extreme as to 
require an assistant for change of position in bed ; his pulse sixty-four. 
There could be no doubt that the long-continued hepatic obstruction 
had led to confirmed dropsy, wliich, indeed, betrayed itself in several 
other parts of the body. Yet was he patient and collected. That 
powerful intellect still held empire with commanding force, clearness, 
and vigour. I explained to him the nature of his malady; its natural 
termination when uncontrolled ; dwelt upon the favourable condition 
and yet regular action of the heart, and other vital functions, and the 
urgent necessity of endeavouring still more to fulfil certain indicatif)ns, 
in order to overcome the force of particular tendencies in the disorder. 
I frankly assured him that within the limits of a week a change in tlie 
complaint was indispensable to lessen our forebodings of its ungovern- 
able nature. 

He listened with fixed attention ; and now and then threw out sug- 
gestions of cure such as are not unfrequent with cultivated minds. 

The great characteristics of his intellect were now even more con- 
spicuous than before. Not a murmur escaped his lips ; conviction of 
his extreme illness wrought no alteration of his features; he gave no 
expression of despondency ; his tone and his manner were equally dig- 
nified, cordial, and natural. It was his happiness to be blessed with a 
family around him whose greatest gratification was to supply liis every 
want, and a daughter for a companion in his pursuits, who was his 
intelligent amanuensis and correspondent, as well as indefatigable 
nurse.* 

I forbear enlarging on matters too professional for present detail. 
During the night after my arrival he sustained an attack of severe faint- 
ing, which convinced me still further of his great personal weakness. 
An ennobling philosophy, however, gave him support, and in the morn- 
ing he had again been refreshed by a sleep of some few hours' duration. 
I renewed to him and to his family the hopes and the discouragements 
in his case. Never was information of so grave a cast received by any 
individual in a calmer spirit. He said little as to his prospects of re- 
covery. Upon my taking leave of him, however, shortly after, in the 
morning, I am convinced, from his manner, that he shared my apprehen- 

The accomplished authoress of " Rural Hours." 



98 THE MEMORY OF COOPER. 

sion of a fatal termination of hi8 disorder. Nature, however strong in 
her gifted child, had now her healthful rights largely invaded. His 
constitutional buoyancy and determination, by leading him to slight 
that distant and thorough attention demanded by primary symptoms, 
doubtless contributed to their subsequent aggravation. 

I shall say but a few words more on this agonizing topic. The let- 
ters which I received, after my return home, communicated at times 
some cheering facts of renovation ; but, on the -whole, discouraging 
demonstrations of augmenting illness and lessened hope, were their 
prominent characteristics. A letter to me from his son-in-law, of the 
14th of September, announced: "Mr. Cooper died, apparently without 
much pain, to-day at half-past one, p. m., leaving his family, although 
prepared by his gradual failure, in deep affliction. He "would have 
been sixty-two years old to-morrow." 

A life of such uniform and unparalleled excellence and service, a 
career so brilliant and honourable, closed in a befitting manner, and 
was crowned by a death of quiet resignation. Conscious of his ap- 
proaching dissolution, his intelligence seemed to glow with increased 
fullness as his prostrated frame yielded by degrees to the last summons. 
It is familiarly known to his most intimate friends, that for some consid- 
erable period prior to his fatal illness, he appropriated liberal portions 
of his time to the investigation of scriptur'al truths, and that his convic- 
tions were ripe in Christian doctrines. With assurances of happiness 
in the future, he graciously yielded up his spirit to the disposal of its 
Creator. His death, which must thus have been the beginning of a 
serene and more blessed life to him, is universally regarded as a national 
loss. 

Will you allow me to add a few words to this letter, a.reaay perhaps 
of undue extent. It has been my gratification, during a life of some 
duration, to have become personally acquainted with many eminent 
characters in the different walks of professional and literary avocation. 
I never knew an individual more thorouglily imbued with higher prin- 
ciples of action than Mr. Cooper : he acted upon principles, and fully 
comprehended the principles upon which he acted. Casual observers 
could scarcely, at times, understand and appreciate his motives or con- 
duct. An independence of character, -worthy of the highest respect, 
and a natural boldness of temper, -which led him to a frank, emphatic, 
and intrepid utterance of his thoughts and sentiments, were uncongenial 
to that large class of people, who, from the -want of moral courage, or 
a feeble physical temperament, habitually conform to public opinion, 
and endeavour to conciliate the world. Mr. Cooper was one of the 



REMINISCENCES OF COOPER. 99 

most genuine Americans in his tone of mind, in manly self-reliance, in 
sympathy with the scenery, the history, and the constitution of his 
country, which it has ever been my lot to know. His profession and 
his practice went hand in hand. He was American, inside and out : 
whether he discoursed with the elite at Holland House, London, or held 
converse with the hard-fisted democracy in the Park, New York, there 
was nothing tortuous in him. His genius was American, fresh, vigor- 
ou-J, independent, and devoted to native subjects. The opposition he 
met with on his return from Europe, in consequence of his patriotic, 
though, perhaps, injudicious attempts to point out the faults and duties 
of his countrymen, threw him reluctantly on the defensive, and some- 
times gave an antagonistic manner to his intercourse ; but whoever, 
recognizing his intellectual superiority, and respecting his integrity of 
purpose, met him candidly, in an open, cordial, and generous spirit, 
soon found in Mr. Cooper an honest man and a thorough patriot. 

It would constitute an article of interest to the lovers of dramatic 
literature and scenic illustration, to notice at some length the pleasure 
which Mr. Cooper experienced in these subjects, both as sources of in- 
tellectual gratification and mental improvement. His taste was fully 
awakened to the richest indulgence of the drama soon after the arrival 
of Edmund Kean, the great tragedian ; and his subsequent acquaintance 
witli Charles Matthews, the unparalleled comedian, only served to in- 
crease his estimation of the capabilities and influence of histrionic 
talents, when displayed by the master-workings of such consummate 
actors. Concurring circumstances may also have contributed to the 
genial associations which he clierished for the drama at this particular 
period of his life. He had been a student of men and books ; it was 
now that he assumed the responsibilities of an author. His " Spy,"' 
published in 1821, promised him a wide reputation: Kean had reached 
our shores the year before, and Matthews was in our midst in 1822. A 
friend of Mr. Cooper, Charles P. Clinch, had just dramatized with great 
success the Spy, for the Park Theatre ; and " the run" it enjoyed for 
many, many nights, could not fail to add to the immense popularity 
Mr. Cooper was now daily receiving by his new vocation as author. 

Mr. Cooper now became indoctrinated into the mysteries of the green- 
room, and not unfrequently gave relief to the more sober contemplations 
of the closet by casting a glance at the machinery of the mimic world 
and its prominent operators. During a memorable excursion which I 
made to Albany witli Diuilap, Mattliews, and Mr. Cooper, in the spring 
of 1823, I found him abounding in dramatic anecdote as well as in the 
more elevated associations which the striking scenery of the Hudson 



100 THE MEMORY OF COOPER. 

brought to mind. Col. Williams's theory of the formation of that noble 
river from the inland lakes, the Palisades, Fort Putnam, Andre and 
Arnold, were also among the topics of discourse. The novel of the Spy 
was, however, thfe leading subject of Matthews's conversation, and I have 
not yet forgotten that on that occasion Cooper unfolded, to Matthews in 
particular, his intention of writing a series of works illustrative of the 
physical aspect of his native country, of revolutionary occurrences, and 
of the red man of the western world. Matthews expressed in strong 
terms the patriotic benefits of such an undertaking, and complimented 
Mr. Cooper on the specimen which he had already furnished in the 
delineation of Harvey Birch. The approbation of Matthews could never, 
by any one who knew him well, be slightly appreciated. There was 
little of the flatterer in him at any time ; he was a sort of " My Lord 
Lofty," who valued himself in pride of opinion, and was not backward 
in his appreciation of his own judgment. He was an actor, it is true, 
but Garrick and Cooke were also : that he sought with devotion the 
companionship of authors is elucidated throughout his late Memoirs, 
recently published by his wife. He told Dunlap of the great satisfac- 
tion he had in the reading of his life of old George Frederick, but it was 
obvious he recognized a much higher candidate for literary renown in 
the person of Cooper. As I saw much of Matthews, from the hour of 
his first coming up the glorious Bay of New York, during the horrors of 
yellow fever in the fall of 18'22, until his return to his native country, 
I feel authorized to dwell a little on his temperament. He possessed a 
strangely organized nervous system, susceptible to the feeblest impres- 
sions, whether of praise or censure, attention or neglect, indifference or 
regard. Though his life may be said to have been passed amidst the 
glare of multitudinous assemblies, whose approbation, decided and em- 
phatic, was indispensable to the free manifestation of his genius, yet the 
sensibilities of his nature found no condition so congenial to his happi- 
ness and composure as retirement within himself, aloof from the haunts 
of men, the city's noise, and the bustle of occupation. Hence it was not 
an unfrequent event with him, after the night's rapturous applause at 
the Park, on leaving the theatre to proceed forthwith across the river to 
Hoboken, and, accompanied perhaps by a friend, stroll through the 
woods of that then enchanting spot, once hallowed by tlie perambula- 
tions of the arborist, Micheaux, and Wilson, the ornithologist, seek repose 
in some common farm-house for the residue of the night, repair to the city 
in the morning, and be again ready for the night's entertainment. I have 
sometimes, with the faithful Simpson, joined him on these occasions ; the 
roar of the waters of the Hudson near his feet, the whistling of the winds 



REMINISCENCES OF COOPER. 101 

through the beautiful chestnut and plane-trees round about him, yielded 
harmony to his agitated mind, and exerted a recreative power on his over- 
wrought frame. No theriac would so effectually reach his constitutional 
malady as excursions such as I have thus alluded to. If occasionally the 
victim to so sad a dejection of spirits, he was at other times the life and 
soul of joyous communion, and the source of the most palatable mental 
relish ; sound criticism on the older dramatists, and even English litera- 
ture at large ; Walter Scott and the Byronic age of poetry these and 
kindred subjects were among the topics of the discursive materials of his 
conversation. Such an individual, of whom it was aptly said he was 
Proteus for shape and mocking-bird for tongue, could not but enlist the 
feelings of Mr. Cooper ; and the friendship which they contracted for 
each other was never, I believe, interrupted during the entire period 
tliat Matthews remained in our country. Indeed, I hardly know whether 
I have ever seen Mr. Cooper manifest so much enthusiasm in conversa- 
tion with any other person as with Mr. Matthews, when tlie occasion was 
felicitous, the subject-matter of interest, and the comedian in his happy 
vein. 

I cannot assert whether Mr. Cooper found in music a solace for care 
and a cordial for spirits fatigued by mental toil. His attendance on the 
Italian music of the Garcia troupe would lead me to an affirmative con- 
clusion. From his habits of observation, and his universality of attain- 
ment, I think that, in common with others of a poetic feeling, he must 
have been led by natural and strong provocatives to admire the sublime 
strains of Mozart and Rossini, when poured forth by that peerless artist, 
Malibran. Moreover, I feel as if it demanded a greater anatomist than 
I am to pronounce, that a poet of nature like Cooper, with his love of 
elegant literature, and his admiration of the works of the sculptor 
Greenough, could be constitutionally made up in proper proportions 
without something of the organization of Apollo. The marble bust 
of Mr. Cooper, executed by David of D' Avers, about 1829, now in the 
possession of the family of the late Charles Wilkes, of New York, his 
early friend, is a specimen of artistic development not unfavourable 
to the existence of this special quality in this distinguished char- 
acter. I have but few circumstances to enable me fully to record how, 
as a youthful author, he bore the casual criticisms which appeared 
touching his early writings. As commendation was, however, their 
usual characteristic, they could not but encourage his best efforts. An 
exception to this general approval of his works appeared in a New York 
weekly journal, called The Minerva : it was edited by an English radical, 
who had recently arrived among us, the very season in which the Pio- 



102 THE MEMORY OF COOPER. 

neers was issued. The anonymous reviewer saw fit to aiBrni that the 
pages of Cooper had an immoral tendency, and the feelings of the yet 
inexperienced author gave utterance to vehement anathemas as he read 
this foul aspersion. When, however, Jie had learned that the concealed 
critic was one of those who had left his country for his country's good, 
and that by his infidel and blasphemous writings he had incurred the 
penalty of the laws of his native land, and had only escaped the Old 
Bailey by flight, he wisely concluded that censure from such a quarter 
was actually praise in disguise. 

How strongly is impressed upon my memory his personal appear- 
ance, so often witnessed during his rdmbles in Broadway, and amidst 
the haunts of this busy population. His phrenological development 
might challenge comparison with that of the most favoured of mortals. 
His manly figure, high, prominent brow, clear and fine gray eye, anil 
royal bearing, revealed the man of will and intelligence. His intellec- 
tual hardihood was remarkable. He worked upon a novel witli the 
patient industry of a man of business, and set down every fact of cos- 
tume, action, expression, local feature, and detail of maritime opera- 
tions or woodland experience, with a kind of consciousness and precision 
that produced a Flemish exactitude of detail, while in pourtraying action 
he seemed to catch, by virtue of an eagle glance and an heroic temper- 
ament, the very spirit of his occasion, and convey it to the reader's 
nerves and heart, as well as to his understanding. Herein Mr. Cooper 
was a man of unquestionable originality. As to his literary services, 
some idea may be formed of the consideration in which they are held 
by the almost countless editions of many of his works in his own 
country, and their circulation abroad by translations into almost every 
living tongue. 

1 may add a word or two on the extent of his sympathies with 
humanity. What a love he cherished for superior talents in every en- 
nobling pursuit in life how deep an interest he felt in the fortunes of 
his scientific and literary friends what gratification he enjoyed in the 
physical inquiries of Dekay and Le Conte, the muse of Halleck and of 
Bryant, the painting of Cole, the sculpture of Greenough ! Dunlap, 
were he speaking, might tell you of his gratuities to the unfortunate 
playwright and the dramatic performer. With the mere accumulators 
of money those golden calves, whose hearts are as devoid of emotion 
as their brains of the faculty of cogitation he held no congenial com- 
munion at any time : they could not participate in the fruition of his 
pastime; and he felt in himself an innate superiority in the gifts with 
which nature had endowed him. He was ever vigilant, a keen ob- 



REMINISCENCES OF COOPER. 103 

server of men and things, and in conversation frank and emphatic. It 
was a gratifying spectacle to encounter him v?ith old Col. Trumbull, the 
historical painter, descanting on the many excellencies of Cole's pencil, 
in the dehneation of American forest-scenery a theme the richest in 
the world for Mr. Cooper's contemplation. A Shylock with his money- 
bags never glutted over his possessions witli a happier feeling than did 
tliese two eminent individuals the venerable Colonel with his patrician 
dignity, and Cooper with his somewhat aristocratic bearing, yet demo- 
cratic sentiment ; the one fruitful with the glories of the past, the other 
big with the stirring events of his country's progress, in the refinement 
of arts, and national power. Trumbull was one of the many old men 
I knew who delighted in Cooper's writings, and who in conversation 
dwelt upon his captivating genius. 

To his future biographer, Mr. Cooper has left the pleasing duty 
rightly to estimate the breadth and depth of his powerful intellect 
psychologically to investigate the development and functions of that 
cerebral organ, which for so many years, with such rapid succession and 
variety, poured out the creations of poetic thought and descriptive 
illustration to determine the value of his capacious mind by the inilu- 
ence which, in the dawn of American literature, it has exercised, in 
rearing the intellectual fabric of his country's greatness and to unfold 
the secret springs of those disinterested acts of charity to the poor and 
needy, which signalized his conduct as a professor of religious truth, 
and a true exemplar of the Christian graces. He has unquestionably 
done more to make known to the transatlantic world his country, her 
scenery, her characteristics, her aboriginal inhabitants, her history, than 
all preceding writers. His death may well be pronounced a national 
calamity. By common consent he long occupied an enviable place the 
highest rank in American literature. To adopt the quaint phraseology 
of old Thomas Fuller, the felling of so mighty an oak must needs cause 
the increase of much underwood. Who will fill the void occasioned 
by his too early departure from among us, time alone must determine. 
With much consideration, I remain. 

Dear sir, yours most truly, 

JOHN W. FRANCIS. 
Rev. Rufus W. Griswold. 




"' ' ! ./;/W''i< 



COOPER MONUMENT ASSOCIATION. 



105 



At a meeting of friends of the late Fenimoee Coopeh, held at the Astor 
House on Thursday evening, March 25, 1852, Mr. Washington Ibvino in 
the chair, on motion of Mr. Gdlian C. Verplanck, seconded by Dr. J. M. 
\Vainweight, the following gentlemen were constituted the 

a^tx gtonument ^ssffciittian. 

President, 
WASHINGTON lEVING. 

Secretaries, 
RUFITS W. GEISWOLD AND FITZ-GEEENE HALLECK. 

Treasurer, 
JOHN A. STEVENS, 

President of the Bank of Comnurce, 



GULIAN C. VERPLANCK, 
JOHN DUER, 



JAMES K. PAULDING 
JOHN W. FRANCIS, 



RICHARD B. KIMBALL, 
FRANCIS L. HAWKS, 
WILLIAM C. BRYANT, 
WILLIAM W. CAMPBELL, 
CHARLES KING, 
GEORGE BANCROFT, 



LEWIS GAYLORD CLARK, 
JOHN A. DIX. 
GEORGE P. MORRIS, 
SAMUEL OSGOOD, 
CHARLES ANTHON, 
MAUNSELL B. FIELD, 
JONA. M. WAINWRIGHT, 
DONALD G. MITCHELL, 
J. G. COGSWELL, 
R. STARBUCK MAYO. 



The Cooper Monument Fund now amounts to one thousand dollars, 
and the Committee appeal to the lovers of literature and of our national 
character throughout the Union, to contribute for the increase of this fund 
in such sums as they may deem proper, from one dollar and upwards, 
until a sum is in the hands of the treasurer sufficient to defray the cost of 



100 THE MEMORY OF COOPER. 

a colossal statue of our great novelist, to be set up in oue of tlie public 
squares in the city of New York. Subscriptions may be sent by mail to 
Washington Irving, President of the Association, Dearman Post Office, 
Westchester County, New Yorh ; to John A. Stevens, Treasurer of tko 
Association, Banh of Commerce, New Tori, or to any member of the 
Association, in New York. And the following gentlemen are specially 
authorized to receive subscriptions. 

New Tori, George P. Putnam. 
Boston, TicKNOR, Eeed & Fields. 
Albany, Weare C. Little. 
PJiiladeljjTiia, A. Hart, and A. MoMakin. 
Baltim<yre, James S. Waters. 
Charleston, John Russell. 
New Orleam, B. M. Norman. 
Cincinnati, II. W. Derbt & Co, 

Buffalo, PlIINNEY & Co, 



GEO. P. PUTNAM HAS REC'ENTLV PUBLISHED 
I. 

J. FENIMOEE COOPEK'S CHOICE WORKS. 

THE author's revised EDITION. 

^ompisiitg tk Sea iiilcs, u^ f catlrcrstockiitg Series. 



12 vols. 12mo., cloth, or in various styles of binding. 

LAST OF THE MOHICANS. 
THE DEERSLAYEE. 
THE WATEE WITCH. 
TWO ADMIRALS. 
WING AND WING. 
WAYS OF THE HOUR. 



THE SPY. 

THE PILOT. 

RED ROVER. 

PRAIRIE. 

THE PATHFINDER. 

PIONEERS. 



" It was Cooper who first showed the world how Iriiitfiil a source of interest was 
to be found in the adventures of naval life and in the characters formed by it. 
dome naval characters had been drawn by Smollett, with an excess of broad hu- 
mour, and in the popular novel of De Foe we had a sample of the incidents of a 
sea voyage related in a manner profoundly to fix the attention ; but it was Cooper 
who tirst gave us the poetry of a seaman's life, extracted a dramatic interest from 
the log-book, and suspended the hopes and fears of his plot upon the mana-uvring 
of a vessel. He showed us also what rich materials for the delineation of char- 
acter, far beyond the province of mere burlesque, are to be found in naval life, and 
in this novel of the Pilot created a character which will live as long perhaps we 
are speaking a little irreverently as any of those of Shakspeare. He became the 
master and founder of a numerous school of writers of sea romances, who learned 
their art from reading the Pilot, and his other tales of the sea, as the Italian paint- 
ers who came after Raphael learned of that great master." JVtio York Evening 
Post. 

II. 

MISS COOPER'S NEW WORK. 

THE SHIELD; A NARRATIVE. 

BY THE AUTHOR OF "RURAL HOURS." 

12too, {Inpress.) 
III. 

RURAL HOURS. 

BY MISS COOPER. 

ith ed. 12mo. $1.25. Elustrated ed., $5 cloth. $7 morocco extra. 

" A. very pleasant book the result of the combined effort of good sense and 
god feeling, an observant mind, and a real, honest, unaffected appreciation of the 
countless minor beauties that nature exhibits to her arduous lovers." .4/6ion. 

"This is one of the most delightful books we have lately taken up." en/n^ 

"This is a delightful book, containing, in the form of a diary or journal, the re- 
flections of a person of cultivation and refinement ; of one who had an eye to see, 
and powers to appreciate the real meaning, the natural objects and phenomena 
around her. The reader is constantly reminded of Gilbert White's 'Natural His- 
tory of Selborne.' 'Rural Hours' is just the book for the drawing-room. Open 
where you will, you may find something of interest." CamAr/do-e Chronicle. 

IV. 

A JOURNEY TO ICELAND, 

AND TRAVELS IN SWEDEN AND NORWAY. 
Translated from the German of Ida Pfeiffer, 

BY CHARLOTTE FENIMORE COOPER. 



PLEASE DO NOT REMOVE 
CARDS OR SLIPS FROM THIS POCKET 

UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO LIBRARY 



PS 
M4. 



Memorial of James Fenimore 
Cooper