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fames Jfcniiiiort 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,
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,
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,
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
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,
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,
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,
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,
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
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.
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,
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
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,
Rev. Rufus W. Geiswold.
From Henry W. Longfellow.
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
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.
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-
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-
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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-
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
" 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
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
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
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
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-
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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-
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
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
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-
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-
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
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-
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
RUFITS W. GEISWOLD AND FITZ-GEEENE HALLECK.
JOHN A. STEVENS,
President of the Bank of Comnurce,
GULIAN C. VERPLANCK,
JAMES K. PAULDING
JOHN W. FRANCIS,
RICHARD B. KIMBALL,
FRANCIS L. HAWKS,
WILLIAM C. BRYANT,
WILLIAM W. CAMPBELL,
LEWIS GAYLORD CLARK,
JOHN A. DIX.
GEORGE P. MORRIS,
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
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 WATEE WITCH.
WING AND WING.
WAYS OF THE HOUR.
" 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
MISS COOPER'S NEW WORK.
THE SHIELD; A NARRATIVE.
BY THE AUTHOR OF "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.
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
Memorial of James Fenimore