James Fenimore Cooper: The Critical Heritage

By George Dekker; John P. Williams | Go to book overview

THE PIONEERS

1823

4.

Extracts from an unsigned review, Port Folio

xv (March 1823), 230-48

See Introduction, p. 9.

We hazard nothing in saying that the flattering expectation, expressed in the conclusion of the remarks on The Spy, which the reader will find in this number of the Port Folio, will be realized in the perusal of these volumes. The ingenious writer has submitted a new claim to encouragement and applause, which will readily be recognized, at home, by those who feel the love of country or the love of letters; whilst abroad, it will be hailed by men of generous minds, with that cordiality which is felt when we behold a worthy competitor, in a noble enterprize. He, however, who opens these volumes with an expectation of being enchained by a fascinating tale and agitated by critical conjunctures, as he was in the delightful romance, to which we have just referred, will most assuredly be dissappointed. There the author had a continent for his stage; and his plot was closely connected with the deliverance of a nation. With a daring pen, which is more to be admired than imitated, he brought upon the stage the greatest of uninspired men, and led our imaginations into the stratagems of a camp and the manoeuvres of a cabinet. Here the scene is laid in a frontier village, inhabited by ordinary personages, who have exchanged the abodes of civilization for a sylvan life. The reader, therefore, must not expect to be astonished by a succession of prodigious adventures, or perplexing incidents and harassing, entanglements. His feelings will not be excited by any romantic trials of friendship or love. These the author has avoided, although The Spy contains ample evidence that he possesses

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