A Trace of James Fenimore Cooper

A Trace of James Fenimore Cooper

Length: 1274 words (3.6 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
A Trace of James Fenimore Cooper

 

 In 1828 James Fenimore Cooper spent three

months in England, chiefly to conduct business with his British publisher,

Richard Bentley, and for most of that time he lived in London at 33 St. James

Place. This is the way he described it in Gleanings in Europe: England:



  We finally took a small house in St. James's Place, a narrow inlet that

  communicates with the street of the same name, and which is quite near the

  palace and the parks. We had a tiny drawing-room, quite plainly furnished, a

  dining-room, and three bed-rooms, with the use of the offices, &c. for a

  guinea a-day. The people of the house cooked for us, went to market, and

  attended to the rooms, while our own man and maid did the personal service. I

  paid a shilling extra for each fire, and as we kept three, it came to another

  guinea weekly. (20)

 

As Donald Ringe and Kenneth Skaggs point out in their "Historical Introduction"

to England, St. James Place represented "a most desirable location" (xvii). It

is close to the centers of political power in England--St. James Palace,

Buckingham Palace, and #10 Downing Street are not far away. Cooper's neighbors

on the street included William Wilberforce and Samuel Rogers, a genial and

well-connected writer; Lord Spencer and Sir James Mackintosh lived nearby as

well.

 

The 33 St. James Place of Cooper's time no longer exists, but I wanted to visit

the site anyway, to try to get a feel for what it meant for him to live there.

If you walk from Trafalger Square to St. James Street, you can go along The Mall

or Pall Mall, wide streets flanked by the gigantic architecture of Imperial

Britain. St. James Place opens across St. James Street from the Pall Mall;

Christie's, the famous auction house, is on the corner opposite. At the south

end of St. James Street stands St. James Palace, an imposing brick castle with

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"A Trace of James Fenimore Cooper." 123HelpMe.com. 05 Dec 2019
    <https://www.123helpme.com/view.asp?id=18544>.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Effects of the French and Indian War on Diversified Groups in "The Last of the Mohicans" by James Fenimore Cooper

- The Last of the Mohicans, by James Fenimore Cooper, describes the effects of the French and Indian War on a diversified group of people. Cooper describes the quest of three friends, Hawkeye, Chingachgook and Uncas, to deliver two young women, Cora and Alice, to their father. As they attempt to carry out this mission, the group encounters groups of Indians who interrupt and threaten their success. As the novel progresses, many characters’ virtues are put to the test, namely their loyalty. Throughout the novel, Cooper shows a character’s loyalty to be interwoven with their courage and steadfastness....   [tags: Last of the Mohicans, James Fenimore Cooper, loyal]

Research Papers
1093 words (3.1 pages)

James Fenimore Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans Essay

- James Fenimore Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans The French and Indian War of the eighteenth century had uniquely complex qualities, matched by the gravity of its outcome. The myriad of cultures involved the French, Canadian, American, English, Algonquians, and Iroquois whom make this era fascinating. The multi-ethnic element made it a war built upon fragile alliances, often undermined by factional disputes and shifting fortunes. Violent as it was, its battlefields encompassed some of the most beautiful country to be found anywhere....   [tags: Last Mohicans James Cooper Essays]

Research Papers
1777 words (5.1 pages)

The Last Of The Mohicans By James Fenimore Cooper Essay

- James Fenimore Cooper’s novel, The Last of the Mohicans, has stood the test of time due to its cunning confrontation of the issues of race in American society. Immediately from the Author’s Introduction, Cooper readily describes the Native American in an admirable light, unable to be extinguished by the prejudices of many of his readers. “In war, he is daring, boastful, cunning, ruthless, self-denying, and self-devoted; in peace, just, generous, hospitable, revengeful, superstitious, modest, and commonly chaste” (Introduction)....   [tags: Gender, Masculinity, Femininity, Man]

Research Papers
926 words (2.6 pages)

The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper Essay

- Mohican Research Paper I believe that “The Last of the Mohicans” by James Fenimore Cooper is the first “great” American novel because it created such a lasting effect in the United States. It shows many ideas and topics that we talk about now such as gender roles, racism, and heroes. It is the first novel in a freely American setting that actually “hits” these topics and involves them in the writing. This, although it was written such a long time ago, is significant in American cultural history because of those topics....   [tags: research paper, topic and historical analysis]

Research Papers
1080 words (3.1 pages)

Reality in Fenimore Cooper's The Pioneers Essay

- Reality in Fenimore Cooper's The Pioneers Looking back on the mountain-view that was described as the main character's of Fenimore Cooper's The Pioneers caught sight of Templeton, their hometown, in the distance, Elizabeth, the primary female character, "felt as if all the loveliness of the mountain-view had vanished like the fancies of a dream" (59). While it may be true that during the moments that Elizabeth looked down on the scene, the scene was her reality, this reality was not an accurate portrayal of the town itself‹the point of Elizabeth's comment....   [tags: Cooper Pioneers Essays]

Free Essays
954 words (2.7 pages)

James Fenimore Cooper Essay

- James Fenimore Cooper was one of the pioneers in American novel writing. Cooper used the life and things he had experienced and turned them into best-selling novels that have held up throughout the years. He became famous with the publication of the wilderness adventures. Along with the success these books brought, so to came some criticism. To truly understand Coopers books you have to delve deeply into them and know from where he got the ideas for the stories. James Fenimore Cooper was born in Burlington, New Jersey on September 15th 1789 (“James Fenimore Cooper,” American Eras, n.p.)....   [tags: essays research papers]

Research Papers
2744 words (7.8 pages)

James Fenimore Cooper Essay

- James Fenimore Cooper James Fenimore Cooper was born in Burlington, New Jersey on September 15, 1789 to William and Elizabeth Cooper. He was born the eleventh of twelve children. When James was one year old the family moved to the frontier of Lake Otsego, New York, and his father established the settlement of Cooperstown at the head of the Susquehanna River. Cooper attended a private prep school in Albany, New York, and was then admitted to Yale in 1803. He was expelled during his junior year because of a prank....   [tags: Essays Papers]

Free Essays
453 words (1.3 pages)

James Fenimore Cooper Essays

- James Fenimore Cooper Many great people have told history. Stories of how we progressed from the small colonies to the country we are today have been passed down to every generation. We were given the idea of our triumphs, struggles, tragedies and adventures of history through story telling, and no- one tells of the adventure of history like James Fenimore Cooper and Nathaniel Hawthorne. They wrote with such a passion of history entwined with adventure that it swept you away into their world....   [tags: essays papers]

Free Essays
608 words (1.7 pages)

James Fenimore Cooper Essay

- James Fenimore Cooper was born in Burlington, New Jersey on September 15, 1789. He was the eleventh of twelve children born to William and Elizabeth Cooper. When James was one year old the family moved to the frontier, and his father established the settlement of Cooperstown at the head of Susquehanna River. &#9;Cooper attended a private preparatory school at Albany, New York, and was then admitted to Yale in 1803. He was expelled from there during his junior year because of a silly prank....   [tags: essays research papers]

Free Essays
534 words (1.5 pages)

American Novelist James Fenimore Cooper Essay

- James Fenimore Cooper James Fenimore Cooper was born in Burlington, New Jersey on September 15, 1789. He was born the eleventh of twelve children to William and Elizabeth Cooper. His real name is James Kent Cooper, he tried to change it so he could inherit some of his mother’s wealth, but the court system would not allow it. He uses Fenimore as his penname (Hart 133). When he was about one year old, his family moved to the frontier of Lake Otsego, New York. His father established the settlement of Cooperstown at the basin of the Susquehanna River (Ulger 336)....   [tags: essays research papers fc]

Free Essays
756 words (2.2 pages)

Related Searches


two crenelated towers, two red-coated palace guards, and scores of foreigners

with video cameras.

 

St. James Place, by contrast with all this grandeur, seems small and intimate.

It is still a narrow inlet, an L-shaped dead end scarcely wide enough for

automobile traffic. The sense of a quiet retreat from the city is very strong,

especially in late July, when I was making my visit and London was swarmed under

by tourists. No one bothered to come here.

 

33 St. James Place is now a modern apartment building, but you can see the

character the street must have had in Cooper's time by the 5-story Georgian

townhouses across the street, solid urban housing. Nothing marks Cooper's short

residence, which was neither long enough nor important enough to interest more

than a handful of people, but there are plaques commemorating other famous

residents of the street. One at #28 reads,

 

  William Huskisson

  1770-1830

  STATESMAN

  lived here.

 

Huskisson was a contemporary of Cooper's, best known for his advocacy of free

trade and his liberal Toryism, but Cooper, who thought of free trade as

"bottomed on a complete fallacy" (England, 129), considered him a hypocrite. In

January of 1828, shortly before leaving Paris, Cooper had meditated in a letter

to Charles Wilkes on the perfidy of politicians everywhere: "Culpable and

inconsistent as our own politicians are, they are still more respectable than

those we meet here. In England, during the last twelve months, the Duke of

Clarence, the Duke of Wellington, and Mr. Huskison [sic], Canning, etc., have

been both lauded and lampooned in the same papers with a barefacedness that is

astonishing" (Letters and Journals I, 243). He doesn't mention ever meeting

Huskisson in England, but he does take another swipe at Huskisson's integrity:

"I hold it to be a pretty safe rule that the man who is jesuitical on any one

fact, is to be distrusted on all others. That Mr. Huskisson is self-contradicted

and insincere in his Free Trade doctrines, is as obvious as any moral truth I

know" (290).

 

Cooper may have despised Huskisson, but he would have appreciated a much later

denizen of the street. This is the plaque posted at #9 St. James Place, the door

directly across from #33:



  Pioneer aviator, Sailor and Author,

  Sir Francis Chichester KBE

  1901-1970

  singled-handed circumnavigator of the World

  1966-67

  lived here 1944-1972.

 

Chichester's The Lonely Sea and the Sky (1964) represents as well as any other

twentieth-century text the way Cooper liked to think of himself: a literate

salt, Long Tom Coffin as the author of his own story, the fiercely independent

sailor whose life and book are a gentle but firm rebuke to the flabbiness of

modern life. The spirit of Leatherstocking may have fled from Templeton, as Home

As Found laments, but it is still possible for human beings to generate the

romance and live the adventure that he represents, and Chichester has reminded

us of that.

 

A few doors down at #4 another plaque testifies to a still closer affinity:

  From this house in 1848 Frederic Chopin 1810-1849 went to Guildhall to give

  his last public performance.

 

Though this was well after Cooper's residence, the themes of romantic

individualism of that marked Chopin's life and work accord well with Cooper's

own. Moreover, political forces generated by the Polish rebellion had thrown the

two men into the same circles. At this last concert on 16 November 1848, nearing

the end of his long struggle with tuberculosis, in a final patriotic gesture,

Chopin played for the benefit of Polish refugees, a cause to which Cooper also

had devoted considerable energy. In 1831 he had organized an "American Polish

Committee," and his home in Paris served as a kind of focus of Polish republican

activity. As Nathaniel P. Willis recalled,

 

  Mr. Cooper's house . . . was, at that time, the "hospice de St. Bernard" of

  the Polish refugees, and, as the nucleus of republican sympathies in the great

  capital, his intimacy with Lafayette, personal reasons aside, was necessarily

  very close and confidential. At his daily breakfast table, open to all friends

  and comers-in, (and supplied, we remember, for hour after hour of every day

  with hot buckwheat cakes, which were probably eaten nowhere else on that side

  the water,) many a distinguished but impoverished Polish refugee ate his only

  meal for the twenty-four hours, and, to the same hospitable house, came all

  who were interested in the great principle of that struggle, distinguished men

  of many nations among them. (210-11)

 

According to James Grossman, Susan Cooper had "danced once in a great Parisian

house to waltzes played by Chopin and Liszt while the hired musicians were at

supper" (247). The coincidence of these two men having dwelt, however briefly,

in this unassuming street is one of those historical poignancies that gladden

the traveler's heart--at least, this traveler's heart.

 

I left St. James Place well satisfied with my visit. True, there were no

statues, no plaques, no James Fenimore Cooper museums where one could view the

great man's writing desk and fire bucket. Yet the quiet little street, even in

its indifference to Cooper's passing through, seemed better to harbor the spirit

of his life than all the Leatherstocking Restaurants and Mohican movies of our

much more commercial memory.

 

Works Cited

 

Cooper, James Fenimore, Gleanings in Europe: England, ed. Donald A. Ringe et al.

(Albany: SUNY Press, 1982).

 

______ Letters and Journals of James Fenimore Cooper, ed. James Franklin Beard

(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard UP, 1960-68).

 

Grossman, James. James Fenimore Cooper: A Biographical and Critical Study

(Stanford: Stanford UP, 1949).

 

Willis, Nathaniel P. "Fennimore [sic] Cooper," in Hurry-graphs; or, Sketches of

Scenery, Celebrities and Society (New York: Charles Scribner, 1851).
Return to 123HelpMe.com