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Men can get so saturated with the limited way that they become insensible to the nice of the grossest in the normative is constantly committed in this good Republic of Oz under the pretense of being done by the public and for the public. And then we don't have iTunes and the Americans have merely set up them sand as. They bend our ear. Travelers to America. From the 1820s to the Europeans came to America in a steady flow. They traveled through the United States driven by an irresistible curiosity. Many of them wrote books about their travels to tell us what they had seen in the new world of Jacksonian democracy
more friendly Some were highly critical. All were meticulous observers of detail in the tower written by Perry Miller professor of American literature at Harvard University. You will meet some of the travelers to America who bend our ear with their criticisms their advice their praise or their philosophy. PS. you already know how those on your plane and at all times the travellers speak in their own words quoted directly from their writing. They vent how IR is produced and recorded by the Lowy Institute co-operative broadcasting Council under a grant from the educational television and radio center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters. Today's encounter is with an American who went to Europe and then came back to this country. James Fenimore Cooper Professor Perry Miller is your host and narrator.
I believe myself to be as good a Democrat as there is in America but my Democracy is not of the impracticable school. I prefer democracy to any other system on account of its competitive advantages and not on account of its perfection. I know it has evil great and increasing the blues and evils but you have to accept but I believe that monarchy and out-of-stock resi have mall it will be very apparent to all who read this book that I am not a believer in the scheme of raising men very far above that natural propensities. This is the voice of the great American romance James Fenimore Cooper speaking in eight thousand thirty eight. Since 1821 when he had published the spy the first work of American fiction to be read extensively very extensively in Europe he was known as our national novelist a long
absence from home has a certain degree put me in the situation of a foreigner not in my own country. Yes Mr. Cooper that is why we have asked you to speak in this series. If European travelers bent the years of our ancestors in the 1830s you positively crumple I do not see why you should class B with such persons as Mrs. trollop whom I dislike Captain Mariette whom I despise. First of all I am the american of the Americans. Son of Judge Cooper who huge Cooperstown out of the wilderness of the Leacock sea your country and secondly I am creator of those figures now recognized the world over as lot symbols of the American character. Javi bitch Long Tom coffin and above all Natty Bumppo the Leather-Stocking. There never was any fairy No not Saeco but the time has been when we could boast of a nasty bump. Who is this charming young lady. It is my daughter whom I call Eve Effingham in my novel entitled A home as found published in this year of grace 1838. The fuel
on it is making you know it causes you to bring me into these broadcasts. I suspect Mr. Cooper that Eventing is rather a composite of all four of those exquisite daughters you took to Europe so that they might learn the languages and graces. Though she has no doubt Jeffy a portrait of your eldest Susan by the same token then you are transparently her father Ned. I think I am. Possibly but in this program you must also speak in your proper person for in the same year of 1838 you brought out did you not another book entitled I can Democrat or hints on the social and civic relations of the United States of America and printed in Cooperstown. Yeah he has. Well why did you write these two angry books. The novel and the track two things have struck me painfully on my tab a disposition in the majority to carry out the opinions of the system to extremes and the disposition in the minority to abandon all to the current of the day but surely you
knew that these books would not help your popularity with your countrymen in the midst of these conflicting opinions. The voice of simple honest and walked in a country like this ought to be fearless truth smothered. The one party affecting its ends by faults and better treasures you know genomes in which it does not itself believes and the other giving utterance to its discontent useless and unmanly complaints. I'm surprised at discovering how little of the Dutch character he means in the state of New York. May I present Sir George Templemore who Mr. Cooper introduces into a home as found as a proper English gentleman in America. His conception of a contrast to the arrogance of Captain Marriott. And what did you reply to the baronet. When you know us better you will be surprised at discovering how little of anything remains a dozen years. It is getting to be a predominant feeling in the American nature I fear to love change. But do you not overlook causes in your censure that a nation advancing as
fast as this in wealth and numbers should desire better structures than its fathers had either the means or the taste to build. And that name should change with persons of both quite in rule. All very true though it does not account for the peculiarity I mean take Cooperstown for instance. This little place has not essentially increased in numbers within my memory and yet fully one half of the names I knew when I reached my own home I will not know even the names of one half my neighbors. Not only will I meet with new faces but I will find you creating new opinions in the place of traditions I love and indifference to everything but the present moment and even those who may have better feelings than I wish to Cherry's all that belongs to the holiest sentiments of man afraid to utter them lest they meet with no sympathy. I should be very sorry to believe that the seven years we have been abroad could have made all those essential changes in our neighborhood every year you name and age. Speak of three or four if you wish to find anything in America where you left it.
Many families. Start see go this one last summer Mr. EVERINGHAM as immigrants for the West a fever spread far and wide to either is oh don't see go losing it's well-established our deficit look pretty hard not allude to an animal fever to the Western fever. Mr. Cooper. May I ask you sir who is this gentleman who so bluntly opcodes yourself into the conversation to address his bright attorney and counsellor at law and the agent of the FAA had I stayed I see and I suppose his character is modeled on somebody who manage your estate and that you take him to be the representative of the new American who for the first time encountered when you came back from seven years in civilised Europe. The man is an epitome of all that is good and all that is bad. You know a very large class of his fellow citizens he is quick witted prompted action enterprising and all things which he has nothing to lose but who wary and cautious in all things in which he has a real stake and ready to not only his hat but he's hopped on his principles to anything that offers an advantage. You seem to
describe what some Americans call initiative. He will run for governor of a time clock just as opportunities occurred. He's exploiting all the practices of his profession has had a quota as dancing with three years in the classics and turned his attention dog medicine and divinity before he finally settled down into the law and you creator of Nati Bumppo find this man puzzling such a compound with shrewdness and impudent commonsense pretension humility cleverness Velo gadgety and kind heartedness and duplicity since the law honesty moral fraud and mother wit mixed up with a smattering of living and much penetration and practical things can hardly be described as any one of his prominent qualities is certain to be met by another quite as obvious. That is almost as can less well now that we know this area's fabulous brag at least as you present it. How might we learn Mr. Cooper the results of his conversation with Sir George Templemore.
Nothing easier. Western fever seized on young and is carried off many families from our part of the world and will you have God. Do they belong to the permanent families or are they manage the floating inhabited. Most of them belong to the regular movers move is there any material part of your population who actually deserve it as much so as a man whose shoes a hoss ought to be called a smith. All the man who has a house a cop and you surely have a pretty considerable leaven of them in our police. It will go as well as in our active business. I believe Sir George that in England men are tolerably stationary. We love to continue for generations on the same spot. We love the tree that our forefathers planted the roof that they built the fire side by which they set the solids that cover their remains very poetical and I dare say there are situations in life in which such feelings come in without much effort. Must be a great check to business operations however in your part of the world business operations what is business as you term it to the fictions
to the recollections of NS history into the solemn feelings connected with history and tradition. Why is there in the way of history one meets with the few incumbrances in this country. But he may do very much as the interest dictates. So far as that is concerned at least a nation is much to be pitied weighed down by the past in this matter since its industry and enterprises are constantly impeded by obstacles that grow out of its recollection. America may indeed be termed a happy and a free country so George in this as well as in all other things. Will you permit me to ask Mr. Bragg if you feel no local attachments yourself. If one tree is not more pleasant than another the house you were born in more beautiful than a house into which you never entered. Nothing gives me greater satisfaction and you answer the questions of a gentle. It travels through our country for I think in making nations acquainted with each other. We encourage trade and render business more secure. Mr. James Fenimore Cooper You tried to tell us after thus presenting Aristobulus Bragg as the representative American that you do not have the
aristocratic predilections of a Captain Marriott had a stock of say being a government of the few using Amin as a necessity of human selfishness administered in the interest of the few effects of which you are perceived in Europe. The Rue De Preist in consequence of the elevation of their rulers inflammation is kept within city limits lest the match should come to a knowledge of their own force. The horses would not submit to be put in harness and made to toil of a hard taskmaster. Did they know as much as man. And during your seven years in Europe you spoke out your opinion as a stock to the sense of natural justice and consequently unsettled principles by placing men altogether unworthy of trust in high hereditary situations a circumstance that not only offends models but sometimes the possibly less often than is commonly imagined inflict serious injuries on a state. But tell me Mr. Cooper or Mr. Effingham. I hardly know which to call you. Do you judge your representative American.
This Mr. Bragg to be a hypocrite in vias malignant nose ideology is both morally and physically aspiring self-possessed through singularly adapted to succeed in his schemes where he knows that pot is intelligent after his tastes and apt. Suppose it had been his fortune to be thrown earlier into a better sphere the same natural qualities that render him so expert in his present situation would have confused to his improvement and most probably would have formed a gentleman a scholar and one who could have contributed largely to the wealth and taste of his fellow creatures which is to say that such was not his fate and that it's more his misfortune than his fault for his plastic character would have readily taken the impression of those things that from propinquity alone pressed hardest on it. He has made a mistake which is getting to be common in America. May I ask specifically what that mistake is Mr. Cooper. That of supposing the institutions of the country are all me because I know him under this erroneous impression he sees only the machinery of government becoming entirely
forgetful that the power which was given to the people collectively was only so given to secure them as perfect a liberty as possible in their characters of individuals. Let's drafting I am his daughter and Sir George traveled by stagecoach from New York to Cooperstown guided by artist up to us as the coach approached the town was driving I'm ordered Bragg to make a detour over a hill here we stopped for breath. I ought to have said that the spot where we entered this path is memorable in the family history but it was the precise spot where one of our predecessors lodged a shopped in the showdown of an opera then I know precisely where we are. This is some spot hallowed by a deed of Natty Bumppo. I rather think it was drifting or misled as to the verge of a view. No I do know where we are this is the vision and yonder indeed is o blessid home. Indeed I've seldom looked upon a bowl bewitching see the lakes of Cumberland will scarce compete with this at the farm you see lying near yonder would Mister having ham
sold last spring for thirty dollars the acre and was bought for twenty the sum of a whole. Each to his own taste. I think you know this glorious is marred by the end of the passage charitableness and all the other evil passions of that perhaps of a better as it was so late play when it lay in the solitude and peace of the wilderness. The result of birds and beasts prey on each other dearest father just as the worst of our own species prey on their fellows through Thailand. And yes I never gaze on one of these holy cause without wishing that the great tabernacle of nature might be tended only by those who have a feeling what is perfection. Mr. Cooper you gave the immortal expression to that wish in the three volumes of the Leather-Stocking tale that you published back in the 1820s the PI and her commencement of a settlement. There is much of that sort of feeling and mutual interest which men are apt to manifest toward each other when they are embarked in an enterprise of common
has. You came back from Europe when that first period was over. How did you describe that era and this period of fun toil a neighborly feeling when that period was over there you commenced those radiations of social station that set the institutions at defiance and which is necessary to follow civilization as tastes and habits not a consequence of intelligence. This is the beauty of do it you are deliberately introducing me. It is during this period that man has suffered the most since they want the neat chilling feeling of the first condition while they are exposed to the rudest assaults of the COS minded and it is well known Mr Cooper that you and your father before you were staunch Episcopalians even on the wild frontier. You have always shown your contempt for New Englanders and for the numerous sects in America. You remember how he was impressed as you do send from Natty Bumppo his vision into the valley of Cooperstown. It appears to me that Cooperstown has an unusual number of steeples But what purpose
can so small a place possibly require so many buildings of that nature all on behalf of orthodoxy MSE. There's a shade of opinion beneath every one of those you divide your religious opinions into many parts Mr EVERINGHAM as there are denominations in the neighborhood giving a decided preference to New St Paul's a much more picturesque would it be even more Christian like in appearance at least. Could these good people consent to unite in worshipping God. Very true my dear. But what would become of liberty of conscience in such a case. Most men nowadays understand by faith a firm reliance on their own opinion. And that case too we should want this handsome display of churches to adorn our village. There is good comes of it for any man would be more likely to invest in a place that has five churches than a place with pop water. OK got it. But surely Mr. Cooper this spirit of what you call the second period the period of Mr. Bragg and which you say sets institutions at
defiance. Surely it could not invade St. Paul was the church your father built in Cooperstown. I am glad you came leave my love. I find I need support in maintaining my own opinions here that you can usually count on my support dearest father feeble as it may be but what is the disputed point today there is a proposition to alter the interior of the church and Mr. Bragg has brought the plans on which he says churches have lately been altered the idea is to remove the pews entirely converting them into what are called slips to lower the pulpit and to raise the floor amphitheater fast. Can there be a sufficient reason for this change slips. The word has a vulgar sound even and savors of a useless innovation. I doubt it's off the docks or it's very popular receive this fashion takes universally and is getting to prevail in all denominations. It may be popular Mr. Bragg but it can scarcely be said to be seemly. This is indeed changing the order of things by elevating the sinner and depressing the
saint. You forget that under the old plan the people could not see they were kept on actually down. If one can so express it while nobody had a good lookout but the parson and the singers in the front row of the gallery. This wasn't dressed. I do not conceive that a good lookout as you term it is at all essential to devotion or that one cannot as well listen to instruction when beneath the teacher as when above him. Pardon me Miss We put nobody up for dollar. All we aim at is a just equality to place all yours possible on a level equality equality with what. Surely not for the ordained ministers of the church in the performance of their sacred duties Surely not with a deity. Oh you do not look at it exactly in this light ma'am. The people built the church that you will allow Miss Effingham and even you are this Mr. IRVING I am here as sit on a manner of speaking. Well the people building the church very naturally ask themselves. For what purpose it was built for the worship of God. Yes miss for the worship of God and the
accommodation of the public. Father you at least will never consent to this not readily my love. I confess it shocks all my notions of propriety to see the sinner thrust himself up ostentatiously as he feel totally with his own self-love and importance. You will allow Mr. Effingham the churches are built to accommodate the public who have traveled and must have entered places of worship in other parts of the world. Did not the simple beauty of the manner in which all classes the great and the humble original need in a common humility before the altar strike you agreeably on such occasions in Catholic countries in particular. Bless me no Mr. Effingham I was disgusted at the meanness of their rights. Really. Shocked at the abject manner in which the people knelt on the cold damp stone as if they were no better than beggars. And were they not beggars. Well they not so to consider themselves when petitioning for mercy of the one great and omnipotent God. I am Miss Effingham am the people who will rule and it is useless to pretend
and tell them that they shall not have the highest seats in the church as well as in the state. I must say that I am a supporter of liberty if it be only abuse I am sorry Mr. Bragg. You did not extend your travels into countries of the Mussulmans when most Christian sects might get some useful notion concerning the part of worship at least that is connected with appearances. There you would have seen no seats but sinners bowing down in among us on the cold stones and all thoughts of cushioned pew was in drawing room conveniences unknown receive. This comes from substituting forms for the substance of things. To my notion God never intended an American Tony. Him Son of Marc Cooper was a forthright sort of my own with strong passions and emphatic opinions so we hesitate to ask him too bluntly to explain further his complex attitude toward Aristobulus braggin toward Bragg's America. Cooper was torn between conflicting emotions. Perhaps
that is why he inserted the English nobleman into his novel. Since you asked me to speak of your father's guest this Mr. Bragg is quite the most extraordinary person in his way it has ever been my good fortune to meet with you his While this men accept almost any duty that father chooses to assign him he would not deem it all a violation of the proprieties to aim at the throne in the White House. Your Republicanism is indomitable Miss Effingham and I will abandon the attempt to convert you to safer principles and more especially as I find YOU supported by your father who while he condemns so much a tone seems singularly attached to his own system at the bottom. He condemned Sir George Templemore because he knows that perfection is hopeless. And because he feels it to be unsafe and unwise to eulogize defects and he is attached because new views of other countries have convinced him that comparatively at least bad as we are we are still better than most of our neighbors.
I can tell you that many of the opinions of Mr. EVERINGHAM are not at all the opinions most in vogue here. You rather censure is what we like and likes what we censure. Today we must remember that Cooper created these characters and wrote such dialogue not only to give voice to his own ideas but also to make a bit of fun of himself. He was so divided between his love for this nation and his anger at its defects that he could never settle on any one diagnosis of the country's ailment. The governing social evil of America is provincialism a misfortune that is perhaps inseparable from his station without a social capital with 20 or more communities divided by distance and political barriers. The people who possess no standard for opinion manners of social or even language. Yes in some moments he would put it that way than at others he would exclaim. They say he is the monarch of this country in a social sense. No one asks. Who says it. So long as it is believed that they say that he
called his book The American Democrat and he could only snort with a rage against aristocratic critics of Vogue such odds that the tendency of democracies is to level a need to drag all down to the level of the lowest is singularly untrue. It's real tendency being to elevate the depressed to a condition not unworthy of their manhood. But Cooper would also stand firmly on his personal independence a habit of seeing the public rule is gradually accustoming the American mind to an interference with private rights that is slowly I'm not minding the individuality of the national character. There is getting to be so much public right that private right is overshadowed last danger exists that the ends of Liberty will be forgotten altogether in the means and no doubt Cooper was impatient impetuous hot tempered. He so angered him that I can 1838 that he lost almost all of his immense popularity and only slowly regain some of it when he ceased to criticize
and return to writing about Natty Bumppo. But the contradictions in his attitude are not merely his own. There are contradictions within the problem of America. At any rate in the midst of the Civil War our Between is love of country and his need to criticize. Cooper remained always an individual. All greatness of character is dependent on individuality. The man who has no other existence than that which he partakes in common with all around him will never have any other than an existence of mediocrity. In time such a state of things would and I and he did mention and paralyze genius. A nation would become a nation of commonplace labor. Have we not heard similar words more recently. Well nobody ever said that more firmly than the James Fenimore Cooper. But he also possessed another actor view of individuality from time to die and he could dispense with taking himself over solemnly. And so in the home is found. Perhaps we come closest to the heart of group work.
When we find him allowing daughter Eve to tease him of all to it and they have all of that and he is to me the most odious Tom Ricks is an awful par Mr Effingham. Then we can get some such away to the limit a that they become insensible to the nice a feeling of the grossest enormities a constantly committed to this good Republic of Oz under the pretense of being done by the public and for the public. Then we'll have iTunes and the Americans have minutes set up them send us and yes dearest papa you would be wretched where you doomed to live under a system less free. Thea you have the ethics patient of some time seeing that which you do not exactly feel OK. And let us remember James Fenimore Cooper himself put these words into the lovely mouth of his daughter. It is his a wry way of apologizing for the distress he could not help feeling over a country he so deeply loved.
Travelers to America. You have been listening to James Fenimore Cooper his views on the United States after his return from Europe from his two books home has found and the American Democrat adapted by Perry Miller professor of American literature Harvard University. The cast included David Goldstein Robert Evans model McLachlan Edward Finnegan as James Fenimore Cooper Professor Miller was the narrator original theme music by Raymond Wilding. This has been the sixth broadcast and they bent our ear. To stories told by the host of travelers to America during the period from 1820 to the 1850s. In subsequent broadcasts you will make more such travelling. At all times they speak their own words quoted directly from
their writing. Next week we hear from two travelers to America. A Frenchman and an Irishman Thomas polygraphed they bend our ear is produced and directed by Alison Ridley for the Lowell Institute cooperative broadcasting Council production supervisor Laurence crest. This series has been recorded in the studios of station WGBH FM and produced under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters. This is the end of the network.
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They bent our ear
James Fenimore Cooper
Producing Organization
WGBH Educational Foundation
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program focuses on the writings of James Fenimore Cooper.
Series Description
Dramatic readings of 14 travelers who came to the United States in 1820-1850 and wrote of what they saw.
Broadcast Date
Cooper, James Fenimore, 1789-1851--Knowledge--United States.
Media type
Host: Van Dusen, Henry P. (Henry Pitney), 1897-1975
Producer: Lowell Institute
Producing Organization: WGBH Educational Foundation
Writer: Miller, Perry, 1905-1963
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 56-6-6 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:05
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Chicago: “They bent our ear; James Fenimore Cooper,” 1964-01-20, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 29, 2023,
MLA: “They bent our ear; James Fenimore Cooper.” 1964-01-20. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 29, 2023. <>.
APA: They bent our ear; James Fenimore Cooper. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from