網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

of the icy ocean. Nothing could be at once so novel and so owerful; it was frozen mercury becoming as caustic as redot iron.

MY LIFE IS LIKE THE SUMMER ROSE.

My life is like the summer rose
That opens to the morning sky,
But, ere the shades of evening close,
Is scatter'd on the ground to die.
Yet on that rose's humble bed
The softest dews of night are shed,
As if she wept such waste to see—
But none shall drop a tear for me.

My life is like the autumn leaf
That trembles in the moon's pale ray;
Its hold is frail—its state is brief—
Restless, and soon to pass away :
But when that leaf shall fall and fade,
The parent tree will mourn its shade,
The winds bewail the leafless tree—
But none shall breathe a sigh for me.

My life is like the print which feet
Have left on Tampa's desert strand;
Soon as the rising tide shall beat,
Their track will vanish from the sand :
Yet, as if grieving to efface
All vestige of the human race,
On that lone shore loud moans the sea—
But none shall thus lament for me.

TO THE MOCKING-BIRD.

Wing'd mimic of the woods ! thou motley fool!
Who shall thy gay buffoonery describe
Thine ever-ready notes of ridicule
Pursue thy fellows still with jest and gibe.
Wit, sophist, songster, Yohick of thy tribe,
* Thou untaught satirist of Nature's school;
To thee the palm of scoffing we ascribe,
Arch-mocker and mad Abbot of Misrule !
For such thou art by day; but all night long
Thou pour'st a soft, sweet, pensive, solemn strain,
As if thou didst in this thy moonlight song
Like to the melancholy JAcques complain,
Musing on falsehood, folly, vice, and wrong,
And sighing for thy motley coat again.

JAMES FENIMORE COOPER, 1789–1851.

JAMEs FENIMoRE Cooper, the celebrated American novelist, was born in Burlington, New Jersey, in the year 1789. His father, William Cooper, an English emigrant, who had settled there many years before, had purchased a large quantity of land on the borders of Lake Otsego, New York, and thither Cooper was removed in his infancy, and there passed his childhood, in a region that was then an almost unbroken wilderness. At the age of thirteen, he entered Yale College, but left it in three years, and became a midshipman in the United States Navy, in which he continued for six years, making himself, unconsciously, master of that knowledge and imagery which he afterwards employed to so much advantage in his romances of the sea. In 1811, having resigned his post as midshipman, he married Miss Delancey, sister of Rev. Dr. Delancey, with whom, after a brief residence in Westchester County, the scene of one of his finest fictions, he removed to Cooperstown, where, with the exception of his occasional absences in Europe, he passed the greater part of his life, and where he died on the 14th of September, 1851.

Before his removal to Cooperstown, he had written and published a novel of English life, called Precaution, which met with but little favor. But The Spy, which followed in 1821, at once established his fame, and was soon republished in England and on the Continent. It had its faults, indeed,—defects in plot, and occasional blemishes in the composition; but it was a work of original genius, and was widely read and admired. The Pioneers, which appeared in 1823, not only sustained but advanced his reputation; and each succeeding volume of the Leather-Stocking Tales, The Prairie, The Last of the Mohicans, The Pathfinder, and The Deerslayer, was read with increasing interest. Shortly after the success of The Pioneers had made Mr. Cooper the first novelist of the country, he achieved a triumph on the sea as signal as that he had already won upon the land. His romance of The Pilot, followed at intervals by The Red Rover, The Water-Witch, The Tico Admirals, Wing and Wing, &c., placed him at the head of nautical novelists, where he still stands, perhaps, without a rival."

In the year 1826, Mr. Cooper went to Europe, where his fame had preceded him, and where, while advancing his own reputation by new fictions, he defended that of his country by pamphlets and letters. These again brought upon him a shower of rejoinders, and much of the time when he was abroad was spent in controversial writings. In 1833, he returned home. Besides his novels, Mr. Cooper was the author of a History of the United States Nary, Gleanings in Europe, Sketches of Switzerland, and several smaller works, which have run through many editions. His mind was always fertile and active, and his mode of treating his subjects full of animation and freshness. He was one of those frank and decided characters who make strong enemies and warm friends,--who repel by the positiveness of their convictions, while they attract by the richness of their culture and the amiability of their lives. He was nicely exact in all his business relations, but generous and noble in the management of his means. His beautiful residence on the Otsego was ever the home of a large and liberal hospitality; and those who knew him best were those who loved him most, and who deplored his loss with the keenest feelings."

1 Read articles on his writings in “North American Review,” xxiii. 150, xxvii. 139, xlix. 432; “American Quarterly,” lyii. 407. In the “Bibliotheca Americana,” by O. A. Roorbach, is a list of all his works, amounting to forty

volumes. The following, I believe, is a complete list of his novels, with the dates of their

publication:—

Precaution, 1821. The Heidenmauer, 1832. Wyandotte, 1843.
The Spy. 1821. The Headsman, 1833. Afloat and Ashore, 1844.
The Pioneers, 1823. The Monikins, 1835. Miles Wallingford, 1844.
The pilot. 1823. Horneward Bound, 1838. The Chainbearer, 1845.
Lionel Lincoln, 1825. Holme as Found, 1838. Satanstoe, 1845.
Last of the Mohicans, 1826. The Pathfinder, 1840. The Red Skins. 1846.
Red Rover, 1827. Mercedes of Castile, 1840. The Crater. 1847.
The Prairie. 1827. The Deerslayer, 1841. .Jack Tier, 1848.
Travelling Bachelor, 1828. The Two Admirals, 1842. Oak Openings, 1848.
wept of Wish-ton-Wish, 1829. Wing and Wing, 1842. The Sea Lions, 1849.
The Water-Witch, 1830. Ned Myers, 1843. The Ways of the Hour, 1850.

5 me Bravo, 1831.

THE CAPTURE OF A WHALE.

“Tom,” cried Barnstable, starting, “there is the blow of a whale.”

“Ay, ay, sir,” returned the cockswain, with undisturbed composure; “here is his spout, not half a mile to seaward; the easterly gale has driven the creater to leeward, and he begins to find himself in shoal water. He's been sleeping, while he should have been working to windward "

“The fellow takes it coolly, too! he's in no hurry to get an offing.”

of rather conclude, sir,” said the cockswain, rolling over his tobacco in his mouth very composedly, while his little sunken eyes began to twinkle with pleasure at the sight, “the gentleman has lost his reckoning, and don't know which way to head, to take himself back into blue water.”

“”Tis a fin back l’ exclaimed the lieutenant; “he will soon make headway, and be off.”

“No, sir; 'tis a right whale,” answered Tom; “I saw his

* “Mr. Cooper's character was peculiar and decided, creating strong attachments and equally strong dislikes. There was no neutral ground in his nature. He had fixed opinions, and was bold and uncompromising in expressing them. He was exact in his dealings and generous in his disposition. His integrity and uprightness no one ever called in question. He had less fear of public opinion. and more self-reliance, than are common in our country; and his courage and truthfulness were worthy of all praise. He was an ardent patriot, and as ready to defend his country when in the right, as to rebuke her when he deemed her in the wrong. He was affectionate in his domestic relations, and his home was the seat of a cordial and generous hospitality.”—G. S. HiLLARd.

“Mr. Cooper dined with me. He was in person solid, robust, athletic : in voice, manly; in manner, earnest, emphatic, almost dictatorial,—with something of selfassertion bordering on egotism. The first effect was unpleasant, indeed repulsive; but there shone through all this a frankness which excited confidence, respect, and at last affection.”—Goodrich's Recollections.

spout; he threw up a pair of as pretty rainbows as a Christian would wish to look at. He's a raal oil-butt, that fellow !” Barnstable laughed, and exclaimed, in joyous tones— “Give strong way, my hearties There seems nothing better to be done; let us have a stroke of a harpoon at that impudent rascal.” The men shouted spontaneously, and the old cockswain suffered his solemn visage to relax into a small laugh, while the whaleboat sprang forward like a courser for the goal. During the few minutes they were pulling towards their game, long Tom arose from his crouching attitude in the stern sheets, and transferred his huge frame to the bows of the boat, where he made such preparation to strike the whale as the occasion required. The tub, containing about half of a whale-line, was placed at the feet of Barnstable, who had been preparing an oar to steer with, in place of the rudder, which was unshipped in order that, if necessary, the boat might be whirled round when not advancing. Their approach was utterly unnoticed by the monster of the deep, who continued to amuse himself with throwing the water in two circular spouts high into the air, occasionally flourishing the broad flukes of his tail with graceful but terrific force, until the hardy seamen were within a few hundred feet of him, when he suddenly cast his head downwards, and, without apparent effort, reared his immense body for many feet above the water, waving his tail violently, and producing a whizzing noise, that sounded like the rushing of winds. The cockswain stood erect, poising his harpoon, ready for the blow; but, when he beheld the creature assuming this formidable attitude, he waved his hand to his commander, who instantly signed to his men to cease rowing. In this situation the sportsmen rested a few moments, while the whale struck several blows on the water in rapid succession, the noise of which re-echoed along the cliffs like the hollow reports of so many cannon. After this wanton exhibition of his terrible strength, the monster sunk again into his native element, and slowly disappeared from the eyes of his pursuers. “Which way did he head, Tom 7” cried Barnstable, the moment the whale was out of sight. “Pretty much up and down, sir,” returned the cockswain, whose eye was gradually brightening with the excitement of the sport; “he'll soon run his nose against the bottom, if he stands long on that course, and will be glad to get another snuff of pure air; send her a few fathoms to starboard, sir, and I promise we shall not be out of his track.” The conjecture of the experienced old seaman proved true, for in a few minutes the water broke near them, and another spout was cast into the air, when the huge animal rushed for half his

length in the same direction, and fell on the sea with a turbulence and foam equal to that which is produced by the launching of a vessel, for the first time, into its proper element. After this evolution, the whale rolled heavily, and seemed to rest from further efforts. His slightest movements were closely watched by Barnstable and his cockswain, and, when he was in a state of comparative rest, the former gave a signal to his crew to ply their oars once more. A few long and vigorous strokes sent the boat directly up to the broadside of the whale, with its bows pointing towards one of the fins, which was, at times, as the animal yielded sluggishly to the action of the waves, exposed to view. The cockswain poised his harpoon with much precision, and then darted it from him with a violence that buried the iron in the body of their foe. The instant the blow was made, long Tom shouted, with singular earnestness, “ Starn all !” “Stern all!” echoed Barnstable; when the obedient seamen, by united efforts, forced the boat in a backward direction, beyond the reach of any blow from their formidable antagonist. The alarmed animal, however, meditated no such resistance; ignorant of his own power, and of the insignificance of his enemies, he sought refuge in flight. One moment of stupid surprise succeeded the entrance of the iron, when he cast his huge tail into the air with a violence that threw the sea around him into increased commotion, and then disappeared, with the quickness of lightning, amid a cloud of foam. “Snub him " shouted Barnstable; “hold on, Tom ; he rises already.” “Ay, ay, sir,” replied the composed cockswain, seizing the line, which was running out of the boat with a velocity that rendered such a manoeuvre rather hazardous, and causing it to yield more radually round the large loggerhead, that was placed in the bows of the boat for that purpose. Presently the line stretched forward, and, rising to the surface with tremulous vibrations, it indicated the direction in which the animal might be expected to reappear. Barnstable had cast the bows of the boat towards that point, before the terrified and wounded victim rose once more to the surface, whose time was, however, no longer wasted in his sports, but who cast the waters aside as he forced his way, with prodigious velocity, along their surface. The boat was dragged violently in his wake, and cut through the billows with a terrifie rapidity, that at moments appeared to bury the slight fabric in the ocean. When long Tom beheld his victim throwing his spouts on high again, he pointed with exultation to the jetting fluid, which was streaked with the deep red of blood, and cried,—

« 上一頁繼續 »