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But in addition to these lesser advantages, the Novelist enjoyed the grand and all-sufficing one that arises from an entire originality of subject. The field that lay open before him was not merely of immeasurable extent, but he had the felicity of having it all to himself. Like the ancient Mariner,
He was the first that ever burst
Into that silent sea.' He suddenly found himself recognised as the Sir Walter* of the New World,-one who was to do for his country what Scott had done for his ; to delineate the character of its people, to describe its customs, and celebrate its achievements; to show what art had already done for it, and how Nature had clothed it with beauty and sublimity ; to paint its scenery; to exult in its acquirements and prospects; but, above all, to assert its glory and independence. He thus stood, like another Columbus, on the ground he had discovered, and perceived that it was untrodden. He saw, also, the fertility of the paths upon which he entered, the inexhaustible variety of the materials that presented themselves to him upon every side. Everything was novel and picturesque. What other histories enjoyed in antiquity, that of America had in modern interest. If the register of its triumphs was but of recent date, it was prolific in adventures. Every page of the volume was full of matter, and all that was required was to select with taste and discrimination.
With the freshness of character which thus appertained to his subjects generally, and with powers of mind that would have given interest to subjects of a far less original description, it was almost a matter of course that Mr. Cooper should have succeeded in at once rising into es. timation among his own countrymen, and scarcely more surprising that his first works should have been received and read in England as the productions of a man of very remarkable genius. There are some points of fiction that the most prejudiced eyes cannot resist, however they may persevere in keeping themselves closed to the truth; and though the aristocratic might not relish the scene the better for being laid within the territory of the United States, or lament with any immoderate degree of emphasis over sorrows that had been suffered on the other side of the Atlantic; yet few found it politic to deny, what was indeed palpable to all, that Mr. Cooper was gifted with talents that would contribute to strengthen and extend the independence of his country; to give it what it required, a literary independence, and add intellectual freedom to the religious and political liberty which it enjoyed. Few could command the tide of sympathy to roll back and retire, or check the course of emotions that a delineation of Nature had inspired ; and it was, therefore, not thought advisable, even among those who looked lamentingly upon the cessation of hostilities, and the growing good un
*An example of Mr. Cooper's appreciation of his illustrious rival occurred while he was sitting for the portrait that accompanies our sketch. The artist, Madame Mirbel, requested him, as is usual in such cases, to fix his eye upon a particular point. Look at that picture,' said she, pointing to one of a distinguished statesman. “No,' said Cooper, if I must look at any, it shall be at my master, directing his glance a little higher, to a portrait of Sir Walter Scott.
derstanding between the two countries, to extend the ridicule with which the laws and institutions of America had been frequently visited. to these specimens of her literary advancement, or to dispute her claim to the possession of Goldsmiths and Fieldings of her own.
If some portion of the success of our trans-atlantic Novelist was referable to circumstances, and to the peculiar attractiveness of his subjects, a still greater portion was attributable to himself, and to the energy and enthusiasm which he brought to his labors. No writer of the times has taken a wider range in his view of human nature, or looked more deeply into the heart. Few know better how to seize the strongest point of interest, and no one can work it out more judiciously. If his plots fail in carrying you irresistibly along on the wings of the wind,' his skill in the delineation of character is sure to work its charm and fascination about you; or, if even thai should fail, the mere description of some unromantic settlement in the woods, a desert solitude, or the hull of a vessel floating
Far out amid the melancholy main.' nay, of things less picturesque than these, would prevent you from closing the book until you had read to the last line of the last page. We never met with novels/(and we have read all that were ever written since the creation of the world,)—of a more absorbing character, or more fatal to the female propensity of skipping the digressive portions. Every word of Mr. Cooper's narratives is effective, or appears so while you read : and yet he does not scruple to describe an object, in the most elaborate and uncompromising terms, three or four times over in the same work, if it be necessary that the reader should have an accurate outline of it before his eyes. There is a profusion, but no waste of words, in his style, which is, 'without o'erflowing, full.' It is clear, varied, and distinct. He paints the wild waste, 'the sands, and shores, and desert wildernesses,' the verdureless prairie, and the mighty shadows of the forest, with a power that increases in fervor and swells into enthusiasm when he launches upon the element of which he has given such fearful yet such faithful pictures. His sea-scenes are unique. He does not give you' a painted ship upon a painted ocean. All is action, character, and poetry. You see, in the images which he conjures up, every accessory of the scene, however insignificant : you hear, in the terms in which he describes them, the roaring of the surge, the voices of the seamen, and the flapping of the sails. Amidst such scenes as these, where
"His march is o'er the mountain-waves,
His home is on the deep,' we lose sight of land altogether; and are startled, a few chapters farther on, at finding ourselves in a wild, barren, wintry region, the antipodes of that we had left.
His characters are of all classes, and, if not equally well drawn, impress us, at the first glance, with a conviction that they are drawn by an acute observer of life, and a lover of the kindlier sympathies that adorn and ennoble it. There are many touches in Mr. Cooper's books
that have been put in with a liberal hand, denoting a warmth and gen-
_Not too good
Or to complete the comparison, and to give our meaning its proper music,
"A perfect woman, nobly planned
With something of an angel light.' We had just finished our quotation, when a friend entered, whose opinions are worth seeking, and to whom we occasionally refer. We told him our views upon the subject and asked him his opinion of our novelist. 'I will tell you,' he said if you will be bold enough to write what I say. Here are his words, at variance, in places, with what we had previously written, but given without change.
Of all the novels of Cooper, that which pleases me most is · The Last of the Mohicans.' In his other works there are many fine passages, and, indeed, whole chapters full of beauty and character, and life. But then these seem off-sets from the great British family—the stamp of an original spirit is not upon them, and we compare them with Smo!. let, and Fielding, and Scott, and lean to the authors of Old England. In 'The Last of the Mohicans' the original spirit of the man shines outthe march of the great American wilderness is upon it—the full and distinct image of the desert-born is there, and we confess at once the presence of something which stands aloof and alone, and resembles nothing which any other genius has done. I say not this for the purpose of depreciating the other works of the author, which I have read, and read with attention, but because there was a spell upon me during the perusal of that romantic legend of the wilderness, which I was not under in reading any of his other books—and this arose entirely from the freshness of character diffused over the whole narrative. If you ask me what I chiefly dislike in these, his ot herproductions, my answer is, he is much too minute in his details, and is never content unless he accounts for everything. If a man pulls a rope, he tells you first how it was manu. factured ; if another heaves the lead, he reads you a treatise on navigation. He has yet another fault; he shuts his eyes on the virtues of other nations, and thinks that whatever on earth is excellent is found exclusively in his native land. Now I love him for loving his native land; but when he tells me that Waterloo was but a cock-fight compared to Bunker's Hill, I pity the man who fails to see that the genius which plans and combines the movements of an hundred thousand men, has necessarily a far grander task than he who rules the advance and attack of a few thousand. I have done with my censure, but not with my praise.
The story of The Last of the Mohicans,' moving as it is, is still less interesting than the characters of this fine drama of the desert. The old Indian chief and his son, with their half Indian and half European friend, Le Longue Carabine, are drawn to the life. Yet, all is touched with a delicate and discriminating hand—the grossness of the savage is only indicated-his heroism is brought out in a full and natural light. All who admire perfect originality of character, united at the same time to
bravery and honor, will confess their favorite to be Le Longue Carabine. He is the best fellow in the whole race of originals from Smollet to Cooper. But I have no time to tell you all I have to say concerning him; nor to point out the almost innumerable passages in this splendid work, where the hand of a master is impressed.'
A large proportion of the critics have decided in favor of The Prairie,' as the finest of all the American novels. It is a point which we cannot determine, for we have many favorites. Early associations lead us to estimate · The Spy' very highly, and incline us to cherish the remembrance of Harvey Birch with feelings as profound as any that have been excited by more recent adventures. Washington also is a richly-colored portrait, touched with the hand of an enthusiast. But “The Prairie' is certainly, in some of its scenes, unsurpassed, in a particular kind of power, by anything we ever read, whether in prose or poetry. In point of character, it ranks with the most striking and orig. inal of the author's works; and contains one or two persons whose impressions are so vividly stamped upon the imagination, that it is difficult to persuade ourselves that we have not met them under some extraordinary but forgotten circumstances, that we have not wandered over that prairie, and communed with the very spirit of the scene. In. The Borderers,' which we have already referred to the interest is skilfully sustained, though the details are a little tedious now and then. "The Red Rover' and · The Pilot' have become, perhaps, still more popular, and are, unquestionably, not less peculiar in character, than some of those we have named. As Ocean-tales, they are full of startling effects and strange surprises ; and they are scarcely less valuable, we think, as pictures of life and manners. Long Tom Coffin can hardly be an invention-a seaman of the mind-an imaginary mariner. No, he is a thorough-bred sea-king, preferring the other side of the Atlantic to this, and the ocean to either; he is the noblest of nauticals an American Admiral of low degree. "The Water Witch,' which has recently been added to these series, has several sea-scenes, not inferior to any that preceded them. It is more wild and experimental in parts, but it lacks nothing in point of freshness and energy; and its marvellous incidents find a becomingly picturesque termination, as the Mariner of the Indian Shawl bears off the lady that loved him, and is never heard of afterwards. •
From all that we can learn or this gifted American, from those who have had the best and most recent opportunities of personal observation, we should judge that his general bearing indicates a man of strong natural powers, great decision of character, and observant habits- more, perhaps, of things than men. He is rather above than under the middle height, his figure well and firmly set, and his movements rather rapid than graceful. All his gestures are those of promptness and energy. His high expansive forehead is a phrenological curiosity; a deep indenture across its open surface, throws the lower organs of eventuality, locality, and individuality, into fine effect ; while those immediately