The Two Admiralsby James Fenimore Cooper
The Two Admirals is an 1842 nautical fiction novel by James Fenimore Cooper. The novel was written after the Leatherstocking Tales novel The Deerslayer. Set during the 18th century and exploring the British Royal Navy, Cooper wrote the novel out of encouragement of his English publisher, who recommended writing another sea novel. Cooper had originally intended to… See more details below
The Two Admirals is an 1842 nautical fiction novel by James Fenimore Cooper. The novel was written after the Leatherstocking Tales novel The Deerslayer. Set during the 18th century and exploring the British Royal Navy, Cooper wrote the novel out of encouragement of his English publisher, who recommended writing another sea novel. Cooper had originally intended to write a novel where ships were the main characters, though eventually decided not to. The novels is one of three novels which Cooper would revise for editions following their first printing, the other two being The Pathfinder and Deerslayer.
When republishing the novel in the 1860s, Cooper's Daughter, Susan Fenimore Cooper, described the novel as "the least successful of his romances of the sea". Despite the novel not having a large legacy, critic Stev Harthorn describes the novel as one of Cooper's deepest studies of masculinity.
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baronet returned to his residence, a sincere mourner for the loss of an only brother. A more unfortunate selection of an heir could not have been made, as Tom Wychecombe was, in reality, the son of a barrister in the Temple; the fancied likeness to the reputed father existing only in the imagination of his credulous uncle. CHAPTER II. " How fearful And dizzy 't is, to cast one's eyes so low! The crows, and choughs, that wing the midway air, Show scarce so gross as beetles! Half-way down Hangs one that gathers samphire! dreadful trade!" King Lear. This digression on the family of Wychecombe has led U3 far from the signal-station, the headland, and the fog, with which the tale opened. The little dwelling connected with the station stood at a short distance from the staff, sheltered, by the formation of the ground, from the bleak winds of the channel, and fairly embowered in shrubs and flowers. It was an humble cottage, that had been ornamented with more taste than was usual in England at that day. Its whitened walls, thatched roof, picketed garden, and trellised porch bespoke care and a mental improvement in the inmates, that were scarcely to be expected in persons so humbly employed as the keeper of the signal-staff, and his family. All near the house, too, was in the same excellent condition: for while the headland itself lay in common, this portion of it was enclosed in two or three pretty little fields, that weregrazedbya single horse, and a couple of cows. There were no hedges, however, the thorn not growing willingly in a situation so exposed; but the fields were divided by fences, neatly enough made of wood, that declared its own origin, having in fact been part of thetimbers and planks of a wreck. As the whole was white-washed, it had a rustic, and in a clim...
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.
- 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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We first meet dashing young British Naval Lieutenant Wycherly Wychecombe hauling himself up a cliff by a very thin rope. The time was June 1745. The place, the English county of Devon and its southern coast abutting the English Channel. The Lieutenant (let's call him WW for short), a third generation Virginian, has been six weeks recuperating near the ancient village of Wychecombe which lies back a bit from the high cliffs looking down on a small, little used sheltered bay. WW has fallen in love with beautiful young Mildred, reputed daughter of 40-something Frank Dutton. Lieutenant WW scrambles down a steep cliff in a fog to pick flowers for Mildred. A part of his rocky path crumbles and he is stranded. He quickly procures from above a rope that is part of the naval signaling station run by Dutton and, sailorlike, swings himself to safety. ***** Meanwhile, masts of a powerful British fleet of 16 ships are glimpsed rising through the thick fog anchoring in the bay, a sight never seen before. "Twin admirals" and best friends Vice Admiral Sir Gervaise Oakes and Rear Admiral Richard Bluewater, a third generation naval officer, command the fleet. They are greeted by local VIP Baronet Sir Wycherly Wychecombe (same name as our Lieutenant WW, though neither asserts kinship). Word arrives that Bonnie Prince Charlie has landed in Scotland and that the clans are rising to restore the Stuarts and kick out the Hanoverians. Sir Wycherly Wychecombe is up late into the night toasting the ruling German dynasty and suddenly keels over in an apoleptic fit. He will die in not too many hours while begging the two admirals to help him write a new will against his nephew, Tom, acknowledged but illegitimate son of his recently dead brother, a judge. ***** When Admiral Bluewater's eyes first light on the fair Mildred, it is as if he is looking at his long dead, supposedly, unmarried first love, Agnes Hedworth, whom both his brother, an army colonel Gregory Wychecombe, as well as Admiral Oakes had loved. ***** The gothic novel craze has passed its peak by 1842 when James Fenimore Cooper wrote THE TWO ADMIRALS, A SEA TALE. But an element or two of gothic are retained in this sea novel: that of mysterious identities, lost heirs and low-born beauties who turn out to be of noble blood. Politically, several strands are woven into the tale: Virginian WW's resentment of being considered inferior by native Britons and the powerful sudden appeal to Tories made by gallant Prince Charles Edward's appearing without an army to raise his father's standard in faraway Scotland. In particular, Admiral Bluewater is loyal to the Stuarts and increasingly tempted to resign his commission in the Hanoverian navy to go north to fight for the rightful King's son. Only about a quarter of the novel's text goes to a mighty battle in stormy seas between the outgunned British and the hostile French who may be trying to help Prince Charles. This is a fascinating story of strained loyalties, inrigue, heroism and derring-do. Enjoy! -OOO-