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FOLLOWING the order of events, this book should be the third in the series of "The Leather-Stocking Tales." In "The Deerslayer," Natty Bumppo, under the sobriquet which forms the title of that work, is represented as a youth, just commencing his forest career as a warrior; having, for several years, been a hunter so celebrated, as already to have gained the honorable appellation he then bore. In "The Last of the Mohicans" he appears as Hawkeye, and is present at the death of young Uncas; while in this tale, he reappears in the same war of '56, in company with his Mohican friend, still in the vigor of manhood, and young enough to feel that master passion to which all conditions of men, all tempers, and we might almost say, all ages, submit, under circumstances that are incited to call it into existence.
"The Pathfinder" did not originally appear for several years after the publication of "The Prairie," the work in which the leading character of both had closed his career by death. It was, perhaps, a too hazardous experiment t recall to life, in this manner, and after so long an interval. a character that was somewhat a favorite with the reading world, and which had been regularly consigned to his grave, like any living man. It is probably owing to this severe ordeal that the work, like its successor, "The Deerslayer," has been so little noticed; scarce one in ten of those who know all about the three earliest books of the series having even a knowledge of the existence of the last at all. That this caprice in taste and favor is in no way b 2
riependent on merit, the writer feels certain; for, though the world will ever maintain that an author is always tho worst judge of his own productions, one who has written much, and regards all his literary progeny with more or less of a paternal eye, must have a reasonably accurate knowledge of what he has been about the greater part of his life. Such a man may form too high an estimate of his relative merits, as relates to others; but it is not easy to see why he should fall into this error, more than another as relates to himself. His general standard may be raised too high by means of self-love; but, unless he be disposed to maintain the equal perfection of what he has done, as probably no man was ever yet fool enough to do, he may very well have shrewd conjectures as to the comparative merits and defects of his own productions.
This work, on its appearance, was rudely and maliciously assailed by certain individuals out of pure personal malignancy. It is scarcely worth the author's while, nor would it have any interest for the reader, to expose the motives and frauds of these individuals, who have pretty effectually vindicated the writer by their own subsequent conduct. But even the falsest of men pay so much homage to truth, as to strive to seem its votaries. In attacking "The Pathfinder," the persons alluded to pointed out faults, that the author, for the first time has now ascertained to be real; and much to his surprise, as of most of them he is entirely innocent. They are purely errors of the press, unless, indeed, the writer can justly be accused of having been a careless proof-reader. A single instance of the mistakes he means may be given in explanation of the manner in which the book was originally got up.
The heroine of this tale was at first called " Agnes." the fifth or sixth chapter this name was changed to "Mabel," and the manuscript was altered accordingly. Owing to inadvertency, however, the original appellation stood in several places, and the principal female character of the book, until now, has had the advantage of going by two