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The Leather-Stocking Tales 255 bearer" (1845). This was the culmination of his authorship. “The Redskins" (1846), “ The Crater" (1847), "Jack Tier” (1848), “The Oak Openings” (1848), “The Sea Lions" (1849), and “The Ways of the Hour" (1850), added nothing to his reputation.
IX He wrote altogether some 70 volumes, including besides his novels the “Chronicles of Cooperstown” (1838), “ The History of the Navy of the United States of America” (1839), “Notions of the Americans” (1828), “Sketches of Switzerland” (1836), "Gleanings in Europe” (1837, 1838), and others purely controversial. But the books upon which his reputation rests are the LeatherStocking tales, and his tales of the sea, to gether with “The Spy", a revolutionary story. The Leather-Stocking tales give the adventures of Natty Bumppo, hunter, who is first known as the Deerslayer in the novel of that name, then as Hawkeye in “ The Last of the Mohicans”, then as “The Pathfinder" in that novel, then as Leather-Stocking in “The Pio
", and finally as the Trapper in “ The Prairie". Of all Cooper's creations this character stands out pre-eminent. Prof. Lounsbury says he is one of the few original characters, perhaps the only great original character that American fiction has added to the literature of the world?.
The Encyclopædia Britannica says :
In the dignity and simplicity of the old backwoodsman there is something almost Hebraic. With his naive vanity and strong reverent piety, his valiant weariness, his discriminating cruelty, his fine natural sense of right and wrong, his rough limpid honesty, his kindly humor, his picturesque dialect, and his rare skill in woodcraft, he has all the breadth and roundness of a type and all the eccentricities and peculiarities of a portrait8.
While these books carried on a continued story in the order named they were written in a different order, “The Pioneers” being the first of them to appear. It is interesting to see how the character of Natty Bumppo in this story is broadened and developed and sweetened in the author's imagination as he writes the other books, until finally when the old hero lies down to die in his prairie home he has become a personal friend to the entire world of novel readers.
New York Geography and History 257
X These stories have especial interest for New York readers because they deal so largely with New York geography and history. The events of “The Deerslayer" all occur upon Otsego lake (Glimmerglass) ; those of “The Last of the Mohicans " upon the region between Ballston and Lake George ; those of “The Pathfinder” upon Lake Ontario and the Thousand Islands ; those of “The Pioneers once more upon the shores of Otsego lake and especially at Cooperstown; and those of “The Prairie", as the name might indicate, in what were then the wilds beyond the Mississippi.
The sea stories are still believed to have no equals. Cooper had lived so long upon the sea, had been in such peril through shipwreck, and knew the construction and management of ships in such detail, that while only a sailor can appreciate their accuracy, the ordinary reader feels that he is borne along upon the waves of reality.
XI Here for instance, is a description of Glens Falls :
“Ay! there are the falls on two sides of us, and the river above and below. If you had daylight, it would be worth the trouble to step up on the height of this rock, and look at the perversity of the water.
It falls by no rule at all ; sometimes it leaps, sometimes it tumbles; there, it skips; here, it shoots ; in one place 'tis white as snow, and in another 'tis green as grass ; hereabouts, it pitches into deep hollows, that rumble and quack the 'arth ; and hereaway, it ripples and sings like a brook, fashioning whirlpools and gulleys in the old stone, as if 'twas no harder than trodden clay. The whole design of the river seems disconcerted. First it runs smoothly, as if meaning to go down the descent as things were ordered ; then it angles about and faces the shores ; nor are there places wanting where it looks backward, as if unwilling to leave the wilderness, to mingle with the salt! Ay, lady, the fine, cobweb-looking cloth you wear at your throat, is coarse, and like a fish-net, to little spots I can show you, where the river fabricates all sorts of images, as if, having broke loose from order, it would try its hand