Fenimore Cooper and the Elopement

This Fenimore Cooper book fragment, which was sold at auction, mentions Madame de Varaigne and Col Thorne. It is referring to the fact that Cooper tried to help Thorn when his daughter eloped with Camille de Varaigne. It was a terrible scandal at the time, but in a matter of years seemed forgotten when Camille was given a position in the Emperor’s household.

Such heartache and fury and embarrassment that then simply fades to memories, and what history remembers merely as a great story.

Cooper, James Fenimore: [Original Manuscript Fragment from THE WATER-WITCH].
[Naples (?) prior to 1830]. [4]pp., in ink, on two conjugate large quarto leaves. Some light but invasive staining affecting a number of words but in no way interfering with legibility, small area of margin at crown of fold a bit singed, a couple of ink splashes, but in otherwise good order.

A section of the original working manuscript of Cooper’s 1830 novel, The Water-Witch,
which saw first publication in Dresden, and shortly thereafter in London and Philadelphia.
This fragment is comprised of the opening text of chapter VII (ca. 1250 words, and beginning on page 87, and concluding with the end of the first full paragraph on p. 91 in one of the earliest editions) and is substantively revised and corrected. It includes the subsequent insertion by Cooper of the three line quotation from Two Gentleman of Verona in the top margin of the first page. “Set in 17th century New York, and the surrounding sea, the novel depicts the abduction of a women, Alida de Barbérie, by the pirate captain of the brigantine, Water Witch, and the subsequent pursuit of that elusive ship, by the her suitor, Captain Ludlow. Cooper wrote the novel, while on a extended tour of Europe, during his stay in the villa Palazzu detta del Tasso near Naples. [He] tried to print the novel while he was in Italy in 1829 but Papal censors forbade its publication in Italy. Cooper was then able to print the novel in Dresden, before also sending copies to his publishers in the US and England” –

The original Dresden edition is one of the black tulips of Cooper collecting. The
manuscript is accompanied by an incomplete fragment of a cover letter from Cooper to “Mad. de Varaigne … a letter this moment received from his father …,” signed by him in the context of the letter (ca. 30 words, in ink). This may in some fashion relate to the events surrounding Cooper’s attempts to help his friend, Colonel Herman Thorne, recover his runaway daughter. Sold

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