Cooperstown: 23 October 1850. Letter. An incredible three-page AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED on two sheets of 8-1/2" x 6-7/8" paper by the author of THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS written on behalf of James Henry Hackett (1800-1871) to his old friend Charles Augustus Murray (1806-1895) who was at this time consul-general in Egypt. In part: After imparting news of Hackett, Cooper reports on his age and on the development of his country: "Half my time passes me, in looking back. At sixty, if a man is ever to sum up the good and evil of his past life, it is high time he began. I was sixty-one last September and have grown gray. We are 'progressing' as we Americans call it, at a famous rate. New York must have doubled its population, recently, since you saw it.... Taking all things together, I regard New York as the most remarkable town in the world.... Trade is driving all before it, and has fairly invaded Broadway.... Talking of the dust, which is so shortly to be my portion [Cooper died the next year], one of the most painful of my recollections of my own travels, is the great number of the dead, among the acquaintances I made. At one time it really seemed as if to know me was to die.... My eldest daughter, whom you may remember, has ventured to give the world a book called 'Rural Hours.' In this country it has done very well.... There is a good deal of rumbling in our body politic, but I think nothing will come of it, just now. The South has too much at stake to risk, and every day it loses, increases the disparity of the forces. This acquisition of California, hems in slavery, which must finally fall of its own weight. What we are to do with the blacks, God knows, but we shall never amalgamate." Cooper goes on to discuss the importance of gold in expanding business ("a circulating medium being the great necessity of America") and devotes a paragraph to a paranormal phenomenon which he calls "the knockings": "All attempts at explanation are failures. They are not confined to one family, or one place, but have been heard in fifty places." He closes "Do not ask Hackett about my comedy, premature damnation being best forgotten." Housed in a cloth folder titled on the spine. Fine condition with dark ink in a Fine folder of this exceptional letter. Item #016451
Hackett was a successful character actor on the New York and London stages, who was considered for a part in Cooper's sole and unsuccessful attempt at playwriting, UPSIDE DOWN. This letter was given to Hackett to present to Murray in London (and is noted by James F. Beard ed., LETTERS AND JOURNALS OF JAMES FENIMORE COOPER: 6:229, n.2 as "unlocated").