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The Importance of Flotsam and Jetsam in Editing the Unpublished Letters of James Fenimore Cooper

Jeffrey Walker
(Oklahoma State University)

Presented at the 9th Cooper Seminar, James Fenimore Cooper: His Country and His Art at the State University of New York College at Oneonta, July, 1993

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Originally published in James Fenimore Cooper: His Country and His Art, Papers from the 1993 Cooper Seminar (No. 9), The State University of New York College at Oneonta. Oneonta, New York. James D. Wallace, editor. (pp. 52-63)

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One of the problems in editing letters is that once you begin you may never be able to stop. Since the last two volumes of James Franklin Beard's six-volume Letters and Journals of James Fenimore Cooper were published by the Belknap Press of Harvard University Press in 1968, over seventy new letters have surfaced, the majority of them in Beard's collections, and all of them now in my possession in photocopy. Some of the originals are held by autograph and book dealers or private collectors, but most of them are located in university libraries, archives, and historical societies. These letters, spanning Cooper's career, are addressed to a variety of friends and publishers; and although much of the correspondence is dated from "The Hall" at Cooperstown, one-third of them are postmarked from Europe. The idea of issuing a seventh ·volume of Cooper letters, less than four years ago considered dormant because of Beard's death in December, 1989, and because few editions of letters are ever really complete, has now been resurrected with the cooperation and recommendation of the Cooper Edition Board of Editors and Henry S. F. Cooper, representing the Cooper family.

In many ways, this is a frustrating project. Cooper letters,are still surfacing in book dealers' catalogs. Colleagues and manuscript dealers are regularly sending me notices of Cooper letters for sale, and they may continue to turn up almost indefinitely, partly because Cooper forbade a biography before his death and his descendants dutifully chose to honor his request until 1948. No one made the slightest effort to collect the letters after his death, and when Beard began to assemble the texts in the 1940s, with the family's blessing, they were inconceivably scattered. As Beard indicated in a draft of an address entitled "Texts and Contexts: Some Thoughts on Editing Letters" found in the miscellaneous papers in his study and part of the flotsam and jetsam I inherited upon starting this project, "I had the greatest difficulty persuading my peers that a sufficient number of Cooper letters had survived to justify an edition. Less than 200 of his letters had been published, including those in The Correspondence of James Fenimore Cooper, published by the grandson and namesake of the novelist in 1922, many those incompletely given. With the generous assistance of the Cooper family and innumerable collaborators -- I mean the hundreds of librarians, collectors, fellow editors, friends, and interested persons all over the globe -- it was possible to assemble the approximately 1,200 letters included in that edition. I have continued the {53} search and letters have continued to surface, unpredictably, year after year; and so it is still possible that the job may someday be reasonably complete" (1).

Of course, editors of the letters of other nineteenth-century authors are in a somewhat similar position; for autograph collectors were incredibly avid and Cooper letters have turned up in almost every conceivable condition and situation. My own experience in sleuthing in archives, libraries, and historical societies argues that documentary evidence exists to solve almost any literary or historical problem from the seventeenth century to the present, but that enormous quantities of it are buried in cellars, attics, book dealers' bins and even in historical and literary archives. Directed searching can sometimes turn it up, but more often new discoveries are the result of fortunate accidents.

These accidents should commit us to the proposition that texts -- whether letters, literary works, or documents -- are the indispensable basis for sound scholarship and criticism, that biography and practical criticism -- however important -- can be truly useful only if they are based on sound and accurate texts. We have a voluminous and increasing body of scholarship on the subject of literary texts and a growing body of scholarship on the subject of biography, but we have an exceedingly small body of literature on the subject of editing letters, aside from statements of editorial policy in editions of letters themselves, and an even smaller body of scholarship on the interrelationships of different kinds of editing and the arts of biography and criticism. My interest in editing is with the nature and implications of these interrelationships.

Samuel Johnson, whose influence on the arts of biography and criticism in English has been incalculable, was apparently one of the first biographers to understand and to articulate their necessary documentary basis. "In a man's letters," Johnson once wrote, "his soul lies naked -- his letters are only the mirrour of his breast" ("To Mrs. Thrale" 228). And with respect to criticism, in his biography of Pope, Johnson wrote of Pope's translation of the Iliad:

To those who have skill to estimate the excellence and difficulty of this great work, it must be very desirable to know how it was performed, and by what gradations it advanced to correctness. Of such an intellectual process the knowledge has very rarely been attainable; but happily there remains the original copy of the Iliad, which, being obtained by Bolingbroke as a curiosity, descended from him to Mallet, and is now by the solicitation of the late Dr. Maty reposited in the Museum.
Between the manuscript, which is written upon accidental fragments of paper, and the printed edition, there must have been an intermediate copy, that was perhaps destroyed as it returned from the press.
{54} From the first copy I have procured a few transcripts, and shall exhibit first the printed lines; then, in a smaller print, those of the manuscripts, with all their variations. These words in the small print which are given in Italics, are canceled in the copy, and the words placed under them adopted in their stead. ("Pope" 256)

After several pages of samplings showing the variations between the poet's earliest manuscripts and the final text, Johnson concluded:

Of these specimens every man who has cultivated poetry, or who delights to trace the mind from the rudeness of its first conceptions to the elegance of the last, will naturally desire a greater number; but most readers are already tired, and I am not writing only to poets and philosophers. ("Pope" 263)

Johnson's bias is clear; and although he employed letters sparingly in his Lives of the Poets, partly because they were brief biographies, partly because of the unavailability of materials, and partly because of the special circumstances under which he wrote, a generous inclusion of letters became standard practice in full-length biographies of the late eighteenth and virtually all of the nineteenth centuries. The formula was convenient and serviceable, success depending on the skill and industry of the practitioner. Apparently a biographer would first collect what letters, journals, and other documents he could; make a selection from them; and then interview the biographical and background details about the documentary materials selected. Thus, the first chapter of Lockhart's Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott consists in its entirety of Scott's own memoir of his early life, and much of the remainder consists of letters and excerpts from Scott's diary, not always accurately transcribed. And much the same situation obtains for other famous or not-so- famous biographies of the nineteenth century: John Forster's Life of Charles Dickens, Hallam Tennyson's Alfred Lord Tennyson: A Memoir, and in American literature, Pierre Irving's The Life and Letters of Washington Irving and Parke Godwin's Life of William Cullen Bryant. It would be too easy to dismiss such books as these as having been overstuffed with the raw materials of biography; but we should, I think, applaud the efforts of their authors for preserving so much that might otherwise have been lost and for recognizing the value of the documentary materials.

The publication of letters as a mode of instruction or as exemplary exhibitions of epistolary art dates back to antiquity, and it was brought to perhaps its highest finish in eighteenth-century England. The modern practice of collecting, editing, and publishing posthumous collections of letters of prominent and even minor authors is relatively new, encouraged if not inspired by nineteenth-century biographical practices, usually sponsored by universities or learned societies. {55} Sometimes letters were published in tandem with the literary works and a biography. This perfectly natural association of the works, the letters, and a biography persists in many of the CEAA-CSE projects for which there is no satisfactory pre-existing edition of letters. Multi-volume editions of letters have burgeoned in the past several years, so that their total expanse measured in volumes sometimes equals or exceeds the expanse of the works. Thomas Tanselle argued in an important article in Studies in Bibliography several years ago that "the historical editions in general give more attention to explanatory annotation than to the detailed recording of textual data, whereas the literary editions reverse this emphasis" (2). Beard's six-volume edition of the Letters and Journals has embraced both principles, but argues that letters should not be presented simply as a bare-bones sequence, prefaced as they sometimes are by long lists of recipients and dates, in unbroken sequence, and with minimum annotation; but instead should be supplied with whatever explanatory matter is needed to elucidate the texts and to enhance the reader's understanding and enjoyment -- to supply, that is, an informed factual context.

Different editors and different university presses have acknowledged this problem of context in different ways. Beard's edition divides Cooper's letters into segments corresponding to chapters and distributes the burden of the footnotes by prefacing each section with a brief biographical essay -- two or three pages, usually -- pertinent to the letters each segment contains. Beard felt in employing this method that editors have a double responsibility to readers: to devise a method for presenting the text that is as fully responsible to the copy-text as possible and to design a context that enables the reader to appreciate the larger significance of the contents of the letters.

Because Beard arranged and numbered his letters chronologically throughout his six volumes, organizing the volumes by years, all letters in my edition will be numbered according to their chronological location within Beard's six-volume edition by assigning Arabic numerals indicating their approximate positions in the main chronological sequence and by adding lower case letters (14a, 26b, 38c, for example) at the end of the numerals to fix their positions exactly. Additional editorial procedures followed in the six-volume Letters and Journals used to present the text (the process of presenting the physical body of the text in terms of orthography, grammar, syntax, paragraphing, and punctuation; the use of descriptive notes and footnotes, for instance) will be followed; the edition will also contain a list of abbreviations, short titles, a catalog of sources, an index of recipients, and a general index. These procedures can be applied with relative ease; however, it is the process of establishing the actual texts, identifying and checking sources, and sorting through the flotsam and jetsam that makes editing Cooper both interesting and exasperating.

The biggest problem with Cooper is reading his handwriting. Many a scholar -- amateur and {56} professional -- has made a fool of himself trying to decipher Cooper's hand. For example, Kay Seymour House, named Editor-in-Chief of the Cooper Edition after Beard's death, wrote me to say she had once found some files at the American Antiquarian Society on Cooper's novel The Wept of Wish-ton-Wish labeled by work-study students as the "Wept of Washington" (18 August 1991).

Probably the most famous example of butchering the reading of Cooper's hand was revealed with the 1987 publication of The Deerslayer. Using the extant manuscript as copy-text, Cooper editors discovered that Cooper himself had missed a compositor's crucial misreading of the manuscript at page 525.20-21 where Judith Hutter's own "consciousness of undue erring" was transcribed as "consciousness of undeserving," an error that significantly altered authorial intention and one that has persisted through all 211 editions of the book previous to the NEH- funded, CSE-sealed, SUNY Press-published edition. As the editors of the novel explained, Cooper clearly intended to show Judith accepting at last the onus of her misconduct and thus exonerating Deerslayer when he refused her proposal of marriage (560). Other errors might not mislead the reader, but do delete nuances Cooper wanted. For example, in her edition of Satanstoe, Kay House argues that the compositor's misreading of Cooper's now for soon destroys the humor of Corny Littlepage's discovery about the heroine when she disapproves of a cynical remark made by his rival.

I thought something like displeasure settled on the fair, polished, brow of Miss Mordaunt, who I could now see [as opposed to soon see], possessed much character and high principles for one of her tender years.(90.7-10)

My own adventures with Cooper's notorious hand surfaced initially with my work on the edition of The Spy; Or, A Tale of the Neutral Ground with Lance Schachterle and James Elliott. Although there is no extant manuscript of The Spy, we do have Cooper's holograph revisions on an interleaved copy, prepared for his English publishers, Colburn and Bentley. In early 1831, when A. C. Baynes and Company of Liverpool, a British pirate, threatened to republish most of Cooper's early novels in a new standard illustrated edition "Similar to the New Edition of the Waverley Novels," Colburn and Bentley decided that they would reprint nine novels for their newly established Standard Novels Series. They asked for revisions, notes, and new prefaces by the author, presumably feeling that such additions would strengthen their legal position in dealing with pirates like Baynes. Using the fourth edition of The Spy, Cooper made extensive revisions (deletions, substitutions, additions) in his own hand to clarify meaning, to quicken the pace of the narrative, to increase dialect speech, and to sharpen characterization. The effect of these revisions, in part, was to compound problems regarding Cooper's orthography, capitalization, punctuation, and syntax, especially in concert with his first edition. But the revisions also reveal, we three {57} editors have discovered, that Cooper was not the careless, slipshod, writer he has sometimes been suspected of being, though Cooper's texts were remarkably corrupt because compositors had difficulty reading his script.

The collation of editions for The Spy does reflect the kinds of problems encountered in editing the letters. Several months ago, Kay House alerted me to the existence of yet another unpublished Cooper letter for sale for $1,750, at Howard Mott's Rare Books and Autographs shop in Sheffield, Massachusetts. Described in Mott's Catalogue 221 as an ALS to Richard Bentley, dated May 27, 1848, from Otsego Hall, Cooperstown, the one-page holograph, Mott notes, is "An excellent letter about London publication of The Bee-Hunter; or, The Oak Openings.... Cooper speaks of Fagan, the New York stereotyper, and inquiries whether the duplicates of the first 18 chapters have been received. Says he is leaving about the 10th of June for Detroit on the same business that took him there the previous year, and that he will then finish the book and forward the sheets, putting publication about the end of July, having delayed as Bentley wanted. He worries twice about theft of the sheets from shipboard, speaking of 'Mr. Newby's jackal' as a 'regular thief,' Apparently Cooper suspected Newby of piratical practices" (20). I immediately scanned the index in the Letters and Journals to find what other references might be there to Mr. Newby since the piracy of Cooper's manuscripts was a recurrent problem in the international-copyrightless nineteenth century.

After checking the Letters and Journals, I made a rather startling discovery. The letter (or one very similar to it) had been published by Beard in Volume V. I compared as best I could the Mott catalog copy with the printed letter and found that they were identical with but two exceptions. First, Mott's copy states that "the duplicates of the first 18 chapters have been received" (20); Beard's edition says the "first 15 chapters" (V: 367). Second, Mott states that Cooper spoke of "Mr. Newby's jackal" as a "regular thief' (20), while Beard's edition states that "Mr.----- Gadsall is a regular thief" (V: 368) with a notation that "Mr. Gadsall" is unidentified.

Kay House and I compared notes and came up with the following hypotheses. First, because Beard reprinted the facsimile edition (never having seen the original that he cites as having formerly belonged to the Honourable Eleanor Eden) from The Autograph Mirror: Autograph Letters and Sketches of Illustrious and Distinguished Men of Past and Present Times, published in London and New York in 1864, he had no choice but to accept the "15 chapters" as the correct reading. Further, we decided that Mott has the holograph and is misreading 18 for 15, Cooper's fives being often misleading. In addition, because The Oak Openings is 30 chapters long, the first half (equivalent of the first American volume) would have been 15 chapters, which Bentley would have turned into Volume I and half of Volume II in the standard three-volume edition. Second, whoever read the holograph for the facsimile edition must have misread "Mr. Newby's jackal" and {57} Beard followed suit.

To test these theories, I wrote to Mott of Sheffield and asked if I could have a photocopy of the holograph, something I did not expect to receive since booksellers are not in the habit of helping scholars. Two weeks later I received my answer from Mott, as well as the much sought-after photocopy. Mott admitted that he misread 15 for 18 (28 March 1992). That solved the first problem. A close examination of the manuscript solved the second: it was "Mr. Newby's jackal, although the lowercase "jackal" described by Mott is actually an uppercase "Jackal" in the manuscript. I will reprint the new version of the letter in my edition, along with an appropriate notation explaining the circumstances of the correction.

The manuscript of this letter is like other Cooper letters in particular and his manuscripts in general in illustrating Cooper's habit of inconsistently capitalizing words from one line or page to another. Cooper frequently precedes or follows one capitalized word with another. Slips of the pen and inadvertent capitalization will be emended in my edition. At the beginning of a word, Cooper's s, t, and g could either be capitals or lower case; consequently, the transcription is governed by interpretation of his intentions. Capitals are obviously called for at the beginning of a sentence and on proper nouns, while lower case is need on words like "some," "the," and "good" occurring within a sentence.

Cooper's punctuation is equally mystifying. He often used a short line, placed low at the level of the lines on the paper, as a period. These are fairly easy to distinguish from his dashes, which he also used often, but sometimes they are also misleading. Cooper also frequently left confusing spaces in the middle of compound words. Confronted with "in deed," I have had to compare that space with the equally large spaces, often on the same line, and transcribe "indeed" as one word. As a rule, however, he seemed to prefer "anywhere" and "everywhere" as one word, while "any thing," "some thing," and "every thing" (the "thing" words) are generally written as two words.

Cooper's spelling also needs attention. I have retained odd spelling when such spelling is sanctioned as early-nineteenth century usage by the Oxford English Dictionary. Words that he habitually misspelled in most of his manuscripts, such as "particularly" (particularily), "receive" (recieve), "coolly" (cooly), and "fortnight" (forthnight) have been emended, as have other words in the letters ("route" and "rout") where an acceptable spelling could be misleading in the context in which it appears.

To the lay reader, such flotsam and jetsam may appear insignificant. But to the textual editor, whose task is to provide critics with accurate texts, and to the critic, whose task it is to {59} interpret those texts, it is very significant. No one wants good scholarship belittled because of a textual error. Cooper concurred. In one of the unpublished letters, a holograph dated March 1, 1838, from Otsego-hall, Cooper wrote to Richard Bentley, his London publisher, to remind him to "beg close attention to the proofs [of Home As Found]. It is possible that my punctuation is sometimes erroneous, [Cooper admits] and a word may be now and then repeated, all of which a careful reader, with the printed sheet before him, will correct." Such typographical errors left uncorrected are the bane of writers and editors, but they are the stuff of bibliographical legends. In an address delivered many years ago to mark the dedication of the Seventeenth-Century Research Collection at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Harrison T. Meserole recalled the story of the critic who wrote a seemingly brilliant essay on the subject of Melville's acuteness of diction, as demonstrated by the author of Moby-Dick in his memorable phrase "soil'd fish of the sea," but no doubt wishes he had discovered beforehand that "soil'd" was actually a printer's error for "coil'd" (64). Catching such errors before they appear in print, Meserole admits, can be hard, and most tend to be funnier than the one before. His own name, for example, has appeared as a "Victor Hugo title, a kitchen dish, and a chest rub." If Thoreau's prescription for the good life was "Simplify, Simplify, Simplify," then that of the bibliographer (and textual editor), Meserole concludes, must be "Verify, Verify, Verify" (65).

At this stage in my project, I would love to be able to report to you that I have discovered in these unpublished letters a wealth of significant new information (or remarkable errors) regarding Fenimore Cooper, his life and writings. No such scholarly gems have been revealed and few mysteries solved, I fear, although I admit that I have not yet completed my comparison of the contents of the unpublished letters with those in Beard's edition or finished checking them with biographical or critical materials. Most of my work on these letters for the past eighteen months has focused almost exclusively on transcribing photocopies and checking them against the originals, following up leads and checking catalog copy for news of additional unpublished letters, and placing the letters in the chronology of Beard's edition, This has been a most difficult process since the originals are located anywhere and everywhere -- from the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester to the Newberry Library in Chicago, from the Iowa State Education Association in Des Moines to the Morristown New Jersey National Historical Park, from the Loyola High School Library in Towson, Maryland, to the Mason City Iowa Public Library, and from University Library general manuscript collections at Illinois, Columbia, Yale, Penn State, and Texas to the specialized Walter Barrett Collection of American Literature at the University of Virginia to the vaults of private collectors. Adding to the confusion is a folder, again found in Beard's study, stuffed with torn notes and ragged slips of paper that suggests leads to further letters. Everyone of these will have to be checked, of course, and it is possible, though not probable, that such a search will be fruitful.

{60} What I can do this afternoon, however, is to describe the contents of some of the letters I do have and provide you with an initial look at some unpublished Cooper.

The collection of unpublished holographs record events from 1826 through 1850; six are undated, Some are short notes; others are several pages long. Most of the letters can be classified roughly into three areas: letters written to publishers that deal with the ongoing publication of Cooper's works; letters addressing financial matters, including litigation; and familiar letters written to friends from both the United States and Europe.

Letters to publishers provide us with another look at Cooper at work. Included in this group is correspondence to John Fagan, Cooper's stereotypist, that deals, in one letter dated 11 June 1847, with the corrected proof sheets of The Crater that he wishes Fagan to send to the Globe Hotel in New York where he will be staying four days later; another dated 8 August 1848 instructs Fagan to take "to press at once" The Sea Lions so he can get off a volume by the middle of September; and a third posted 17 October 1849 details the financial and stereotyping arrangements between Cooper and Fagan for the publication of the Putnam edition. In addition to the Bentley correspondence regarding English publication schedules for Cooper's novels, there are also business letters to Luther Bradish, Charles Gosselin, and Charles Moore. The first to Bradish (27 October 1847) discusses Cooper's intention of putting The Red Rover in a French and German translation; the second and third to Gosselin (23 September 1826) and Moore (9 February 1827) detail plans for publishing The Prairie in a Paris edition. The best letter of the group is written to George Putnam from "The Hall" in April, 1850, about the publication of The Ways of the Hour and the criticism that Cooper fears may come from its resemblance to the sensational trial of Harvard professor John White Webster, sentenced to be hanged for the murder of Dr. George Parkman, uncle of the historian.

Most of the financial-related correspondence is with James De Peyster Ogden, Cooper's lifelong friend and business associate, and these letters add some new information to their professional relationship. There are also two other letters of interest. One, dated from Otsego Hall on February 13, 1841, is addressed to George Roberts, publisher of the weekly Boston Notion, and fits in with a series of correspondence Beard publishes between Cooper, Roberts, Ogden, and David Williams, Boston bookseller and publisher. All the letters were written within a month of each other, and each responds to the others' queries about such issues as Cooper's lawsuits, problems with newspaper accounts of Cooper's work, and a discussion of contemporary authors. The letter to Roberts is itself of little importance, but like most of the unpublished letters, it fills in the missing gaps in the overall letter sequence. The second letter, addressed to Henry S. Randall from Cooperstown, October 17, 1843, adds another chapter to the battle between Cooper and Captain Alexander Slidell MacKenzie, whose review of Cooper's History of the Navy so upset {61} Cooper that he retaliated in a bitter denunciation of MacKenzie's own Life of Perry.

Probably the most interesting of the unpublished manuscripts are the familiar letters written to friends. Chatty and opinionated, they recount Cooper's day-to-day observations of European and American life. Two letters to Mrs. Peter Augustus Jay will illustrate. The first, dated December 20, 1828, from Florence, is one of a series of long letters (or, as Cooper says to Mrs. Jay, "Whew -- what a lecture I am writing to you...") he wrote to Mrs. Jay (the next in the series was sent in January, less than a month later, and it appears in Beard's edition [I: 353-60]) about his stay in Europe.

Most of the letter describes his social rounds in Florence where he would reside between October 1828 and July 1829 (he includes a witty observation on the home of the Duke of Devonshire -- "The stairs of Devonshire-house are about as bad in their way, as your stoop, execrable as that is known to be written down. They are straight, narrow, and rather steep. The apology is, that the architect intended that the company should ascend by a magnificent flight out of doors, an experiment about as likely to be commodious in the climate of London, as an ascent into the place we all ought to seek by means of a balloon."), but it also includes a narration of his travels through Holland, France, Switzerland, Germany, and Austria on his way to Italy; a description of his digs in Florence; a list of local social customs; and some pointed social commentary on American society: "I see you have scratched out the word changed in allusion to my opinions of America. It might have stood, for I am not ashamed to say that I grow wiser as I grow older.... There is no nation of equal power in Christendom so little known or so much despised as our own. We have a set of half-bred, dull fellows who occasionally get a cheering word from some European, who says any thing to comply with the bonhomie of society, and away the grave one runs with an article for a newspaper to prove how well Europe begins to think of us! So far as my experience goes we are despised." Cooper goes on to say that "On the Continent of Europe Nobility, speaking affirmatively, is nothing though its want is a serious disadvantage. Its effect may be likened to that of colour in America. A negro has to content* with obstacles that he can never overcome, and yet a white man may be a very great blackguard!"

The second letter to Mrs. Jay, dated July 1, 1832, from Paris, includes a variety of witty observations of life in France: "We have had cholera morbus, insurrections, and a fight in the streets of Paris, to keep us from dying of ennui." Similarly he vented his customary spleen on cholera and the state of French sanitary conditions: "France has already lost some forty or fifty thousand souls, by cholera, and will probably lose four times that number before the disease disappears. But France is not America, nor even England. You can have no conception of the semi-savage state in which a great majority of these people live.... Drunkenness, too has made great ravages in this country. The opinion that we have more drunkards than other nations is one {62) of those impudent falsehoods that are circulated here, with a view to bring our institutions into disrepute and which many of our people, good souls obligingly believe and help to give currency to, in as veritable simplicity as ever disgraced munkish fools. Man for man, there [are] two drunkards in France to one in America, and woman for woman, twenty."

His interest in art surfaces in the same letter: "I lately bought a beautiful Rembrandt -- "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's," which several artists think one of the most masterly touches of light and shadow. I am getting to have some thousands in works of art, which 1 hope to bring into the country at all counts. I got the Rembrandt at less than a fourth of the price, that the President of the Flemish Academy has since declared it to be worth."

Taken individually, few of these letters provide any significant insight or new information. Taken collectively, however, I would argue that this flotsam and jetsam contributes several important pieces to the as yet uncompleted puzzle known as the life and times of Fenimore Cooper.

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