The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (190721).
VOLUME XV. Colonial and Revolutionary Literature; Early National Literature, Part I.
VI. Fiction I.
§ 23. Writings on Naval Affairs; Later Nautical Tales.
|His solid History of the Navy of the United States of America (1839) turned his attention once more to naval affairs, with which he busied himself during much of his remaining career. He wrote Lives of Distinguished American Naval Officers (18425), and Ned Myers (1843), the life of a common sailor who had been with him on the Sterling. The History led to a furious legal battle, but generally Cooper left his quarrels behind him when he went upon the sea. As a cosmopolitan, he seemed to feel freer out of sight of land, on the public highway of the nations. His novels of this period, however, are uneven in merit. The Two Admirals (1842) contains one of his best naval battles; Wing-and-Wing (1842) ranks high among his sea tales, richly romantic and glowing with the splendours of the Mediterranean. Mercedes of Castile (1840) has little interest beside that essential to the first voyage of Columbus. The two parts of Afloat and Ashore (1844), dealing powerfully as they do with the evils of impressment, are notable chiefly for sea fights and chases. Jack Tier (18468) is a lurid piratical tale of the Mexican War; The Crater (1847) does poorly what Robinson Crusoe does supremely; The Sea Lions (1849) has the distinction of marking the highest point in that religious bigotry which pervades Coopers later novels as thoroughly as the carping spirit which kept him always alert for a chance to take some fling at his countrymen.