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[308] and mysterious a hinterland free to any one who might come to take it, novelists, like farmers, were less prompt in America than in Europe to settle down to cultivate intensively known fields. There is a closer analogy, indeed, between the geographic and the imaginative frontier of the United States than has been pointed out. As the first advanced, thin, straggling, back from the Atlantic, over the Alleghanies, down the Ohio, beyond the Mississippi, across the Great Plains and the Rockies to the Pacific, the other followed, also thin and straggling but with an incessant purpose to find out new territories over which the imagination could play and to claim them for its own. “Until now,” wrote Cooper in 1828, “the Americans have been tracing the outline of their great national picture. The work of filling up has just seriously commenced.” He had in mind only the physical process, but his image applies as well to that other process in which he was the most effective pioneer. Two years after his death the outline of the national picture, at least of contiguous territory, was established, and the nation gave itself to the problem of occupation. In fiction, too, after the death of Cooper the main tendency for nearly a generation was away from the conquest of new borders to the closer cultivation, east of the Mississippi, of ground already marked.

As late as 1825 Jared Sparks thought ten American novels a striking output for one year, but during the second quarter of the century Cooper had many helpers in his great task. In New England Neal, Miss Sedgwick, Mrs. Child, and D. P. Thompson had already set outposts before Hawthorne came to capture that section for classic ground. Paulding and Hoffman assisted Cooper in New York, and Paulding took Swedish Delaware for himself; for Pennsylvania Bird was Brown's chief successor; Maryland had Kennedy; Virginia, without many native novels, began to undergo, in the hands of almost every romancer who dealt with the founders of the republic, that idealization which has made it, especially since the Civil War, the most romantic of American states; South Carolina passed into the pages of Simms; Georgia and the lower South brought forth a school of native humorists who abounded in the truth as well as in the fun of that border;1 the Mississippi and the Ohio

1 See Book II, Chap. XIX.

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