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JAMES FENIMORE COOPER QUOTES


The Deerslayer (1841)

On the human imagination events produce the effects of time.

--Chapter 1

He who has travelled far and seen much is apt to fancy that he has lived long.

--Chapter 1

What seems venerable by an accumulation of changes, is reduced to familiarity when we come seriously to consider it solely in connection with time.

--Chapter 1

Whatever may be the changes produced by man, the eternal round of the seasons is unbroken. Summer and winter, seed-time and harvest, return in their stated order, with a sublime precision, affording to man one of the noblest of all the occasions he enjoys of proving the high powers of his far-reaching mind, in compassing the laws that control their exact uniformity, and in calculating their never-ending revolutions.

--Chapter 1

Prejudice ... this tyrant of the human mind, which rushes on its prey through a thousand avenues, almost as soon as men begin to think and feel, and which seldom relinquishes his iron sway until they cease to do either.

--Chapter 3

Have you never felt how pleasant it is to listen to the laugh of the girl you love?

--Chapter 9

Every man must meet his own debts, and answer for his own sins.

--Chapter 19

His eyes opened with that anxious, distended gaze, which is apt to accompany the passage of a soul surprised by death.

--Chapter 21

What is one warrior against a tribe?

--Chapter 25

Sin and hypocrisy are hot jackets, as they will find who put them on.

--Chapter 25

'Tis nat'ral for women to enter into their husband's victories and defeats.

--Chapter 25

If we could understand all we see, Sarpent, there might be not only sense but safety in refusin' to give faith to any one thing that we might find oncomprehensible; but when there's so many things, about which it may be said we know nothin' at all, why there's little use, and no reason in bein' difficult touchin' any one in partic'lar.

--Chapter 26

An open spot on a mountain side, where a wide look can be had at the heavens and the 'arth, is a most judicious place for a man to get a just idee of the power of the Manitou, and of his own littleness.

--Chapter 26

If the Lord made man first out of 'arth, as they tell me it is written in the Bible, then turns him into dust at death, I see no great difficulty in the way to bringin' him back in the body, though ashes be the only substance left.

--Chapter 26

But of all the doctrines, Sarpent, that which disturbs me, and disconsarts my mind the most, is the one which teaches us to think that a pale-face goes to one heaven, and a red-skin to another; it may separate in death them which lived much together, and loved each other well in life!

--Chapter 26

We all love the wonderful, and when it comes attended by chivalrous self-devotion and a rigid regard to honour, it presents itself to our admiration in a shape doubly attractive.

--Chapter 27

It is seldom men think of death in the pride of their health and strength.

--Chapter 29

I strive to do right here, as the surest means of keeping all right hereafter.

--Chapter 32

I can't see no great difference atween givin' up territory afore a war, out of a dread of war, and givin' it up after a war, because we can't help it--unless it be that the last is the most manful and honourable.

--Chapter 32

Truth was the Deerslayer's polar-star. He ever kept it in view; and it was nearly impossible for him to avoid uttering it, even when prudence demanded silence.

--Chapter 32

We live in a world of transgressions and selfishness, and no pictures that represent us otherwise can be true, though, happily, for human nature, gleamings of that pure spirit in whose likeness man has been fashioned are to be seen, relieving its deformities, and mitigating if not excusing its crimes.

--Chapter 32

The Last of the Mohicans (1826)

Should we distrust the man because his manners are not our manners, and that his skin is dark?

--Chapter 1

It was a feature peculiar to the colonial wars of North America, that the toils and dangers of the wilderness were to be encountered before the adverse hosts could meet. A wide and apparently an impervious boundary of forests severed the possessions of the hostile provinces of France and England. The hardy colonist, and the trained European who fought at his side, frequently expended months in struggling against the rapids of the streams, or in effecting the rugged passes of the mountains, in quest of an opportunity to exhibit their courage in a more martial conflict. But, emulating the patience and self-denial of the practised native warriors, they learned to overcome every difficulty; and it would seem that, in time, there was no recess of the woods so dark, nor any secret place so lovely, that it might claim exemption from the inroads of those who had pledged their blood to satiate their vengeance, or to uphold the cold and selfish policy of the distant monarchs of Europe.

--Chapter 1

There is reason in an Indian, though nature has made him with a red-skin!

--Chapter 3

I am on the hill-top, and must go down into the valley; and when Uncas follows in my footsteps, there will no longer be any of the blood of the Sagamores, for my boy is the last of the Mohicans.

--Chapter 3

When men struggle for the single life God has given them ... even their own kind seem no more than the beasts of the wood.

--Chapter 5

I have listened to all the sounds of the woods for thirty years, as a man will listen whose life and death depend on the quickness of his ears.

--Chapter 7

Life is an obligation which friends often owe each other in the wilderness.

--Chapter 8

There are evils worse than death.

--Chapter 8

With two such examples of courage before him, a man would be ashamed to prove other than a hero.

--Chapter 9

Was it war when the tired Indian rested at the sugar tree to taste his corn? who filled the bushes with creeping enemies? who drew the knife? whose tongue was peace, while his heart was colored with blood?

--Chapter 10

There is a destiny in war, to which a brave man knows how to submit with the same courage that he faces his foes.

--Chapter 16

The savage spurned the worthless rags, and perceiving that the shawl had already become a prize to another, his bantering but sullen smile changed to a gleam of ferocity, he dashed the head of the infant against a rock, and cast its quivering remains to her very feet. For an instant the mother stood, like a statue of despair, looking wildly down at the unseemly object, which had so lately nestled in her bosom and smiled in her face; and then she raised her eyes and countenance toward heaven, as if calling on God to curse the perpetrator of the foul deed. She was spared the sin of such a prayer for, maddened at his disappointment, and excited at the sight of blood, the Huron mercifully drove his tomahawk into her own brain. The mother sank under the blow, and fell, grasping at her child, in death, with the same engrossing love that had caused her to cherish it when living.

--Chapter 17

Your tongue is loud in the village, but in battle it is still.

--Chapter 23

The sight of a coward's blood can never make a warrior tremble.

--Chapter 24

Well, what can't be done by main courage, in war, must be done by circumvention.

--Chapter 26

Then Magua arose and gave the signal to proceed, marching himself in advance. They followed their leader singly, and in that well-known order which has obtained the distinguishing appellation of "Indian file." Unlike other men engaged in the spirit-stirring business of war, they stole from their camp unostentatiously and unobserved, resembling a band of gliding spectres, more than warriors seeking the bubble reputation by deeds of desperate daring.

--Chapter 27

The gifts of our colors may be different, but God has so placed us as to journey in the same path.

--Chapter 33

The pale-faces are masters of the earth, and the time of the red-men has not yet come again.

--Chapter 33

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