Cooper, J. Fenimore.


2 Vols., Richard Bentley, New Burlington Street, Publishers in Ordinary to Her Majesty, 1st ed., 1839. Vol. I : Xxv + xii + 456 pp., engrv. port. frontis., + 1 other engrv. port., 1 chart & 1 battle-plan. Vol. II : Xii + 558 pp., engrv. port. frontis. Bound in full contemporary green calf ; maroon calf title-pieces to spines ; gilt ; richly tooled spines with beautiful gilt scrollwork to borders of front & rear boards with blind inner border ; marbled e.p’s & all edges marbled. 22 x 14cm. Two small scuff marks in the leather ; calf title-piece of Vol. I chipped with the loss of 1 letter ; front hinge pulled ; some foxing/offsetting of plates o/w a very handsomely bound set & V.G. James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851) is better known as a prominent American novelist rather than a serious naval historian, but his journey into this field can be explained by his personal experience. Cooper had entered Yale College in 1803 but was expelled during his third year and in 1806 shipped as a common sailor, and in 1808 entered the fledging US Navy as a midshipman. He rose to the rank of lieutenant but in 1811 resigned his commission to marry a sister of the Bishop of New York. He embarked on a literary career which began rather shakily and was at his best when writing stories about Indians and the sea. This venture into naval history was described as "meritorious" (Thorne) and following this first edition in 1839 an abridged edition appeared in 1841. He followed this up with Lives of Distinguished American Naval Officers (1846). After a lengthy introduction, Cooper begins his study with the "Naval ascendancy of Great Britain : its origin – United States of America founded by Englishmen" before launching into a detailed history of the US Navy from the 1770s down to 1815. He describes all the wars, battles, frigate actions and engagements of American warships during that period. The first volume ends with the blockade of Tripoli in 1802, and the second volume takes up the thread from the war with Tripoli on to the end of the War of 1812, with detailed accounts of the latter with its sea-fights against the Royal Navy on the High Seas and on the Lakes. Illustrated with 3 engraved portraits, a chart and a battle-plan. Fine contemporary bindings.

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