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Here the heart
May give a useful lesson to the head,
And Learning wiser grow without his books-Cowper.
A L 10 77 113
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1839, by
J FENIMORE COOPER, in the Clark's Office of the District Court of the United States.
in and for the Northern District of New York.
THE plan of this tale is old, having suggested itself to the writer many years since; though the details are altogether of recent invention. The idea of associating seamen and savages, in incidents that might be supposed characteristic of the Great Lakes, having been mentioned to a publisher, the latter obtained something like a pledge from the Author, to carry out the design at some future day; which pledge is now tardily and imperfectly redeemed.
The reader may recognize an old friend, under new circumstances, in the principal character of this legend. If it should be found that the exhibition made of this old acquaintance, in the novel circumstances in which he appears, shall not lessen his favour with the public, it will be a source of extreme gratification to the writer, since he has an interest in the individual in question, that falls little short of reality. It is not an easy task, however, to introduce the same character in four separate works, and to maintain the peculiarities that are indispensable to identity, without incurring a risk of fatiguing the reader with sameness; and the present experiment has been so long delayed, quite as much from doubts of its success as from any other cause. In this, as in every other undertaking, it must be the "end" that will "crown the work."
The Indian character has so little variety, that it has been an object to avoid dwelling on it too much, on the present occasion. Its association with the sailor,
too, it is feared, will be found to have more novelty than interest.
It may strike the novice as an anachronism, to place vessels on Ontario in the middle of the eighteenth century; but, in this particular, facts will fully bear out all the license of the fiction. Although the precise vessels mentioned in these pages may never have existed on that water, or anywhere else, others so nearly resembling them, as to form a sufficient authority for their introduction into a work of fiction, are known to have navigated that inland sea, even at a period much earlier than the one just mentioned. It is a fact not generally remembered, however well known it may be, that there are isolated spots, along the line of the great lakes, that date, as settlements, as far back as many of the older American towns, and which were the seats of a species of civilization, long before the greater portion of even the older states was rescued from the wilderness.
Ontario, in our own times, has been the scene of important naval evolutions. Fleets have manœuvred on those waters, which, half a century since, were as deserted as waters well can be; and the day is not distant, when the whole of that vast range of lakes will become the seat of empire, and fraught with all the interests of human society. A passing glimpse, even though it be in a work of fiction, of what that vast region so lately was, may help to make up the sum of knowledge by which alone a just appreciation can be formed of the wonderful means, by which Providence is clearing the way for the advancement of civilization across the whole American continent.
The turf shall be my fragrant shrine
THE sublimity connected with vastness is familiar to every eye. The most abstruse, the most far-reaching, perhaps the most chastened of the poet's thoughts, crowd on the imagination as he gazes into the depths of the illimitable void. The expanse of the ocean is seldom seen by the novice with indifference, and the mind, even in the obscurity of night, finds a parallel to that grandeur, which seems inseparable from images that the senses cannot compass. With feelings akin to this admiration and awe-the offspring of sublimity-were the different characters with which the action of this tale must open, gazing on the scene before them. Four persons in all-two of each sex-they had managed to ascend a pile of trees, that had been uptorn by a tempest, to catch a view of the objects that surrounded them. It is still the practice of the country to call these spots wind-rows. By letting in the light of heaven upon the dark and damp recesses of the wood, they form a sort of oases in the solemn obscurity of the virgin forests of America. The particular wind-row of which we are writing, lay on the brow of a gentle acclivity, and, though small, it had opened the way for an extensive view to those who might occupy its upper margin, a rare occurrence to the traveller in the woods. As usual, the spot was small, but owing to the circumstances of its lying on the low acclivity mentioned, and that of the opening's extending VOL. I..