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merely throws it out of its universality: we use this word as in contrast to the term Idiosyncratic.
We have sometimes heard Cooper called a prose Wordsworth of the Woods : and in a certain sense it is true—for we recognise in three fourths of his stories that pervading impress of forest scenery which is his peculiar charm.
This, doubtless, is the reason why so many complain of the monotony of these writers. The success of Sir Walter Scott lies in his variety ; here Cooper fails. This tendency to one tune is a mistake, so far as the public is concerned. To be popular, an author must be various ; truly a difficult problem to solve, since there is no guide who can find the trail. This is one of those points in which experience is fatal as to detail, benefiting only by the broad bold fact, that it cannot invent an originality ; like Poets, they must be born, not made.
In “the Pilot we observe the nationality of the author in an undue predominance : indeed this remark applies to all he hạs published, where the two countries come into conflict.
The character of Long Tom Coffin, admirable as it is, seems more English than American; it is founded more on Dibdin's Songs than the transatlantic Sailor. This was turned to good account by some English Playwright when the novel first appeared; for he reversed the action, and making Tom Coffin an English Seaman, and Boroughcliffe an American Volunteer, coolly transferred the scene of action to the shores of the New World. With this slight alteration, the British public highly enjoyed the Drama.
We well remember one night when Cooke as Long Tom, and Reeve as Boroughcliffe, were convulsing the audience, that some
Americans gave vent to their indignation, and loudly protested against Reeve's outrageous caricature; after a few involuntary ebullitions their patriotism cooled, and they endured the rest with praiseworthy and smiling composure.
There are so many stirring scenes in this novel that it carries the reader through without much effort ; but, after the excitement of the first perusal is over, we cannot help noticing the serious defects that stare us in the face. There is a needless obscurity in the character of Paul Jones, from whom the novel derives its name; it seems to us that any man conversant with the coasting trade would have done, and that a fine character has been brought to do porter's work. His skill in conducting the vessel out of its difficulties, and his knowledge of the shoals and the rocks, are certainly truly marvellous, reminding us somewhat of the Irish Pilot, who, boarding a ship in the mouth of a harbor, was asked by the Captain if he was sure he knew all the rocks?
“Oh! to be sure I do,” said Paddy. “I know every rock about ; that's a fact."
“ You are the very man for me,” exclaimed the delighted captain, and forth with engaged him to pilot the ship to her moorings. Soon after, to his indignation and dismay, the vessel went bump upon a rock, and remained fast. He cried out in his wrath
• Why, you lying villain, you said you knew every rock in the harbor !”
“To be sure I do," coolly replied the pilot, “and this is one of them !!”
Paul Jones, the bold-brave Admiral, ought, we consider, not to have been introduced by the author, if he could find nothing
better for him to do than to conduct the ship out of soundings. Probably this artistic error arose from that same overweening national prejudice, which is so great a defect in Mr. Cooper's novels. Had he done justice to the capabilities and career of Paul Jones, he would of necessity have overshadowed the American actors, and consequently the hero would have been a Scotchman. A great author should never suffer the smaller to control the greater; and, in a work of art, truth should reign, and not prejudice. Pursuing this plan, History itself might be altered to suit national feeling. A certain patriotic leaning is perhaps unavoidable, and we can readily sympathize with its exhibition; but it should never distort, much less destroy the truth.
We shall not enter into the improbabilities of the plot, but endeavor to illustrate Mr. Cooper's genius by bringing before the reader the scene where the old sailor perishes suicidally in the vessel. It is so powerfully drawn—so vividly brought before us—that we do not stop to inquire how far it is correct in point of character. The great difference between a passion and a monomania lies in the pursuit of the object, and the overvaluing of it. In one sense every passion may be termed a monomania, but, though the line of demarcation varies in different individuals, it is, nevertheless, very plainly defined.
A monomania is a passion carried to an unnatural extent. Love is natural, but when this passion for an object carries us beyond reason, it becomes a monomania. Judged by this rule, Long Tom Coffin is a monomaniac, for no rational being would destroy himself because a favorite ship was sinking. Still with even this serious drawback, the genius of a fine writer is visible throughout the following extract.
“ Dillon and the cockswain were now the sole occupants of their dreadful station. The former stood, in a kind of stupid despair, a witness of the scene we have related; but as his curdled blood began again to flow more warmly through his heart, he crept close to the side of Tom, with that sort of selfish feeling that makes even hopeless misery more tolerable, when endured in participation with another.
66,When the tide falls,' he said in a voice that betrayed the agony of fear, though his words expressed the renewal of hope, 'we shall be able to walk to land.'
6. There was One, and only One, to whose feet the waters were the same as a dry deck, returned the cockswain ; ' and none but such as have his power will ever be able to walk from these rocks to the sands. The old seaman paused, and turning his eyes,
which exhibited a mingled expression of disgust and compassion, on his companion, he added, with reverence,— Had you thought more of him in fair weather, your case would be less to be pitied in this tempest.'
6. Do still think there is much danger ? asked Dillon.
“. To them that have reason to fear death. Listen ! do you hear that hollow noise beneath ye?
«« 'Tis the wind, driving by the vessel !
6. 'Tis the poor thing herself,' said the affected cockswain, “ giving her last groans. The water is breaking up her decks, and in a few minutes more the handsomest model that ever cut a wave will be like the chips that fell from her timbers in framing !
"Why, then, did you remain here ? cried Dillon, wildly.
6. To die in my coffin, if it should be the will of God,' returned Tom. “These waves, to me, are what the land is to you ; I was born on them, and I have always meant that they should be my grave.
* But I-I,' shrieked Dillon, “I am not ready to die!—I cannot die !-I will not die !
6. Poor wretch ! muttered his companion; you must go, like the rest of us; when the death-watch is called, none can skulk from the muster.'
« • I can swim, Dillon continued, rushing, with frantic eagerness, to the side of the wreck. Is there no billet of wood, no rope, that I can take with me?
“. None; everything has been cut away or carried off by the sea. If ye are about to strive for your life, take with ye a stout heart and a clean conscience, and trust the rest to God !
6. God !' echoed Dillon in the madness of his phrensy; 'I know no God! there is no God that knows me !
6. Peace !' said the deep tones of the cockswain, in a voice that seemed to speak in the elements; •blasphemer, peace !'
The heavy groaning, produced by the water in the timbers of the Ariel, at that moment added its impulse to the raging feelings of Dillon, and he cast himself headlong into the sea.
«• Sheer to port, and clear the under-tow! sheer to the southward !
Dillon heard the sounds, but his faculties were too much obscured by terror to distinguish their object; he, however, blindly yielded to the call, and gradually changed his direction, until his face was once more turned towards the vessel. The current swept him diagonally by the rocks, and he was forced into an eddy, where he had nothing to contend against but the waves, whose violence was much broken by the wreck. In this state he continued still to struggle, but with a force that was too much weakened to overcome the resistance he met. Tom looked around him for a rope, but all had gone over with the spars, or been swept away by the At this moment of disappointment his eyes met those of