Miles Wallingford

Miles Wallingford

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by James Fenimore Cooper

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--"But I'll not chide thee;
Let shame come when it will, I do not call it;
I do not bid the thunder-bearer shoot,
Nor tell tales of thee to high-judging Jove;
Mend when thou canst--"
It is almost as impossible to describe minutely what occurred on the boat's reaching the Wallingford, as to describe all the terrific incidents of the struggle


--"But I'll not chide thee;
Let shame come when it will, I do not call it;
I do not bid the thunder-bearer shoot,
Nor tell tales of thee to high-judging Jove;
Mend when thou canst--"
It is almost as impossible to describe minutely what occurred on the boat's reaching the Wallingford, as to describe all the terrific incidents of the struggle between Drewett and myself in the water. I had sufficient perception, however, to see, as I was assisted on board by Mr. Hardinge and Neb, that Lucy was not on deck. She had probably gone to join Grace, with a view to be in readiness for meeting the dire intelligence that was expected. I afterwards learned that she was long on her knees in the after-cabin, engaged in that convulsive prayer which is apt to accompany sudden and extreme distress in those who appeal to God in their agony.
During the brief moments, and they were but mere particles of time, if one can use such an expression, in which my senses could catch anything beyond the horrid scene in which I was so closely engaged, I had heard shrill screams from the lungs of Chloe; but Lucy's voice had not mingled in the outcry. Even now, as we were raised, or aided, to the deck, the former stood, with her face glistening with tears, half convulsed with terror and half expanding with delight, uncertain whether to laugh or to weep, looking first at her master and then at her own admirer, until her feelings found a vent in the old exclamation of "der feller!"

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Meet the Author

James Fenimore Cooper was born in 1789 in New Jersey, the son of a wealthy land agent who founded Cooperstown in New York State. Cooper attended Yale, but was expelled in 1805 and spent five years at sea on merchant then naval ships. He married in 1811, and eventually settled in New York. Precaution, Cooper's first novel, was written in 1820 as a study of English manners; its successors, The Spy and The Pilot, written within the next three years, were more characteristic of the vein of military or seagoing romance that was to become typical of him. In 1823 he began the Leatherstocking Tales series of novels, centred on a shared Native American character at different periods of his life, for which he is chiefly remembered. Cooper's reputation as one of America's leading authors was quickly established, and spread to Europe by a long stay there from 1826, making him one of the first American writers popular beyond that country. After his return to America in 1832, however, conservative political essays and novels dramatising similar views, as well as critiques of American society and abuses of democracy, led to a decline in his popularity. James Fenimore Cooper died in 1851.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
September 15, 1789
Date of Death:
September 14, 1851
Place of Birth:
Burlington, New Jersey
Place of Death:
Cooperstown, New York
Yale University (expelled in 1805)

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Miles Wallingford (Large Print Edition) 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Ausonius More than 1 year ago
It is hard to miss the religious and moral growth dimensions of James Fenimore Cooper's 1844 novel, MILES WALLINGFORD. This is the concluding half of a two-part, first person narrative of New York and the world from 1897 to 1844. Part One is AFLOAT AND ASHORE. ***** The tale's hero, Miles Wallingford, at the close of the first and beginning of the second novel has just rescued from drowning in the Hudson river rich young Manhattanite Andrew Drewett. Andrew is, to all appearances, Miles's successful rival for the hand of Miss Lucy Hardinge, with whom orphaned Miles and his younger sister Grace had been raised after the death of their parents. The appointed guardian of Miles and Grace, till Miles's majority in 1803, is the neighborhood Episcopalian priest, Rev. Mr. Hardinge. Hardinge has a very flawed son, Rupert. Rupert's selfishness propel much of the plot of the two novels. ***** Traveling toward Saratoga Springs on the same ship as Andrew Drewett are his mother, Rupert Hardinge and Rupert's new fiancee, the charming but calculating Englishwoman Emily Merton. Alas for Miles's ailing 19-year old sister Grace, she is cruising the Hudson with Miles, his favorite slave Neb Clabonny and their old shipmate Moses Marble. Grace had recently been cruelly jilted for Emily by Rupert which whom she had been secretly engaged since age 15. Seeing Rupert once again as the two vessels pass close by and overhearing him say unkind things about her, ultra-sensitive Grace's death comes all the faster. ***** In her dying days Grace is attended by Rupert's younger sister and her best friend since childhood, Lucy Hardinge as well as by her brother, her domestic slave Chloe and sorrowing black slaves of Clawbonny Farm. Grace forgives Rupert and commands her vengeful brother to do the same. She also commissions him to give $20,000 from her estate to her onetime lover, so that he can start anew with his future bride Emily. Grace's death scene is as Christian as anything in English literature before John Henry Newman's great poem, "The Dream of Gerontius," set to music by Sir Edward Elgar. This call to "love your enemies" resonates through the rest of the novel and inspires the improbably good death of the old mariner Moses Marble. He was never positively evil, but only in his final months at sea with Miles, Lucy and their four children did he find Jesus. ***** There is far more than religion, romance and moral growth in this novel. The Hudson River comes alive through Cooper's pen. Amid his mixed feelings about saving his rival, he sees for the first time a beautiful stretch of the river at sundown. Alas, however, "A sunset cannot last forever" (Ch. 1). ***** Roughly 2/3 of MILES WALLINGFORD is about Miles's sea voyaging from Manhattan with goods for Hamburg. It is larded with too much nautical detail. As an American neutral in 1803-4, Miles has to run an impossible gauntlet between warring France and England. He is twice captured, twice escapes, but in the end loses his ship, the Dawn and is a ruined man. For the first time in his life he knows poverty, including debtors prison in Manhattan. ***** Miles, though a sailor, is a good,Anglican Christian. His faith is tried like Job's and Jonah's. Lucy is always waiting for him, though it takes him far too long to realize. At novel's end they have been happily and fruitfully wed for 40 years. And Miles is on his knees to God.