The Autobiography of David Crockett

The Autobiography of David Crockett

The Autobiography of David Crockett

The Autobiography of David Crockett

Excerpt

Many years ago, while a student in Boston, I saw Frank Mayo play the title role in Murdock comedy "Davy Crockett," and though I greatly enjoyed it, I can recall but two scenes: one in which the young hero sadly confesses to his sweetheart his inability to read and write, and the other an exciting moment wherein a band of wolves gnaw their way through the wall of the settler's cabin with such incredible ease that I wondered what kind of logs had been used in its construction. The first scene was altogether charming. The soft-voiced, bashful, handsome young hunter in his fringed buckskin jacket and coonskin cap quite won the hearts of the audience, and we were all grateful when the girl of his adoration offered to teach him his alphabet. The playwright had made of Davy a young Lochinvar of the Canebrake, endowing him with all the romantic virtues. He was chivalrous, generous, and a poet, the prototype of the long line of heroes, hunters, cowboys, and miners who from that day to this have filled a large place in our literature.

Influenced by this play I read the autobiographical works acknowledged by David Crockett and the books about him which he disclaimed and imprecated, and also a Life of Martin Van Buren which he inspired if he did not write. The total effect of this reading was to destroy my conception of Crockett as a Lochinvar of the Canebrake. As set forth in his own books he is a long way from being a poet, although he loved the wilderness as profoundly as he hated Jackson and Van Buren. Somewhere between the coarse, bragging, stump-speaking politician and the Davy Crockett of Murdock's play lies the real backwoodsman, whose fame is united with that of Daniel Boone as our typical pioneer.

The most characteristic figure of the New World for the . . .

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