British Fiction, 18001829

COOPER, James Fenimore. Last of the Mohicans, The (1826)

Anecdotal Records

Letter from James Fenimore Cooper to John Miller.
[early 1826].
Carey published The Mohicans on the 6th of February, about 10 days earlier than I had anticipated. As I sent you, however, duplicates of the 2d volume nearly a month before, I presume you will not be far behind him. I do not know whether I desired you to sell a copy to the translators, on your own account, or not, but I sincerely hope I did; for it being out of my power to profit by such a sale, I could wish you to get something for yourself. The book is quite successful in this Country; more so, I think, than any of its predecessors. […] [96/97] […] Will you have the goodness to get a set of The Mohicans neatly bound, and send it to the Hon. E. G. Stanley, the eldest son of Lord Stanley. […] He and I were together in the caverns at Glens Falls, and it was there I determined to write the book, promising him a copy.
Source: Correspondence of James Fenimore Cooper, ed. by James Fenimore Cooper, 2 vols (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1922), I, 96–97.
Notes: The printed source identifies the recipient only as Cooper’s English publisher; this was John Miller.

Letter from DeWitt Clinton to James Fenimore Cooper.
4 Mar 1826.
I thank you for your last work [The Last of the Mohicans]. Knowing all the localities it has impressed me as an admirable graphic description and I think that your power of exciting terror, points out Tragedy to you as a field of adaptation to your mind. I am however well aware that the Drama and Romance are not considered congenial.
Source: Correspondence of James Fenimore Cooper, ed. by James Fenimore Cooper, 2 vols (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1922), I, 98.
Notes: Material in square brackets appears as given in the printed source.

Letter from Mary Russell Mitford to Benjamin Robert Haydon.
11 July 1826.
Have you read Cooper’s novel, ‘The Last of the [226/227] Mohicans?’ I like it better than any of Scott’s, except the three first and the ‘Heart of Midlothian;’ and it interests me more even than those, as giving a true and new picture of a new and great people. How wonderfully America is rising in the scale of intellect!
Source: The Life of Mary Russell Mitford, ed. by A. G. L’Estrange, 3 vols (London: Bentley, 1870), II, 226–27.
Notes: The Heart of Midlothian is Walter Scott’s Tales of my Landlord, Second Series (EN2 1818: 56).

Letter from Washington Irving to Thomas W. Storrow.
12 July 1826.
I have not seen Coopers last work, but hear it well spoken of. I am glad he is coming to Europe. It will be of great Service to him.
Source: Aderman, II, 206.
Notes: The letter is addressed from Madrid.

Letter from Sarah Harriet Burney to Charlotte Francis Barrett.
12 Feb 1827.
The most spirit-moving Author, next to the Great Unknown, that I have met with, is the American who has written the Spy, and the Last of the Mohicans, & various others. He copies nobody, & he has an energy, a power of developing what he has previously enveloped, and of keeping the interest upon the stretch, that is admirable.
Source: The Letters of Sarah Harriet Burney, ed. by Lorna J. Clark (Athens and London: University of Georgia Press, 1997), p. 270.
Notes: Charlotte was Burney’s niece; she married Henry Barret in 1807. The Spy is EN2 1822: 24.

Diary Entry by Henry Crabb Robinson.
9 July 1827.
I was employed nearly all the day in reading The Last of the Mohicans, the first of Cooper’s novels which I have read with pleasure. He has skilfully availed himself of the poetical features of the Indian character and drawn several highly finished characters of semi-barbarous life. The perils arising out of the ferocity of national habits and qualities excite strong sympathy, but the civilised personages are made perhaps too uninteresting. They properly enough hold a subordinate rank and are an illustration of Rousseau’s remark of the superiority of the savage over the unarmed civilised man. The mixture of Indian life and character is the only poetical element in North American romance.
Source: Henry Crabb Robinson on Books and their Writers, ed. by Edith J. Morley, 3 vols (London: Dent, 1938), I, 347.

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