This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
 As consul, though his position was purely nominal, he felt called upon to resent the ignorance everywhere shown by Europeans regarding his native land, and he set out upon the task of educating them to better views. Cooper was not Franklin. His Notions of the Americans （1828), while full of information and a rich mine of American opinion for that day, was too obviously partisan to convince those at whom it was aimed. Its proper audience was homesick Americans. He indulged, too, in some controversy at Paris over the relative cost of French and American government which pleased neither nation. Finally, he applied his art to the problem and wrote three novels “in which American opinion should be brought to bear on European facts.” 1 That is, in The Bravo （1831), The Heidenmauer （1832), and The Headsman （1833) he meant to show by proper instances the superiority of democracy to aristocracy as regards general happiness and justice. He claimed to be writing for his countrymen alone, some of whom must have been thrilled to come across a passage like “a fairer morning never dawned upon the Alleghanies than that which illumined the Alps,” but he was not sufficiently master of his material, however stout and just his opinions, to make even The Bravo, the best of the three, as good as his pioneer romances. Before he returned to New York in November, 1833, he was warned by his friend S. F. B. Morse that he would be disappointed. Cooper found himself, in fact, fatally cosmopolitan in the republic he had been justifying for seven years. Always critical, he sought to qualify too sweeping praise of America precisely as he had qualified too sweeping censure in Europe. But he had not learned tact while becoming a citizen of the world, and he soon angered the public he had meant to set right. The result was the long and dreary wrangling which clouded the whole remainder of his life and has obscured his fame almost to the present day. If he had attended the dinner planned in his honour on his return, he might have found his welcome warmer than he thought it. If he had been an observer keen enough, he would have seen that the new phases of democracy which he disliked were in part a gift to the old seaboard of that very frontier of which he had been painter and annalist. But he did not see these things, and so he carried on
1 A letter to my countrymen. p. 12.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.