The Water-Witch

James Fenimore Cooper
Water-Witch, The

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Title: The Water-Witch or, The Skimmer of the Seas
Author: James Fenimore Cooper
Release Date: May 26, 2004 [EBook #12445]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

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The Water-Witch;

The Skimmer of the Seas.
A Tale.
By J. Fenimore Cooper.
"Mais, qui diable alloit-il faire dans cette galère!"
Complete in One Volume

Water Witch.
Entered according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1856, by Stringer
and Townsend In the Clerk's office of the District Court for the
southern district of New York.


Christendom is gradually extricating itself from the ignorance, ferocity,
and crimes of the middle ages. It is no longer subject of boast, that the
hand which wields the sword, never held a pen, and men have long
since ceased to be ashamed of knowledge. The multiplied means of
imparting principles and facts, and a more general diffusion of
intelligence, have conduced to establish sounder ethics and juster
practices, throughout the whole civilized world. Thus, he who admits
the conviction, as hope declines with his years, that man deteriorates, is
probably as far from the truth, as the visionary who sees the dawn of a
golden age, in the commencement of the nineteenth century. That we
have greatly improved on the opinions and practices of our ancestors, is
quite as certain as that there will be occasion to meliorate the legacy of
morals which we shall transmit to posterity.

When the progress of civilization compelled Europe to correct the
violence and injustice which were so openly practised, until the art of
printing became known, the other hemisphere made America the scene
of those acts, which shame prevented her from exhibiting nearer home.
There was little of a lawless, mercenary, violent, and selfish nature, that
the self-styled masters of the continent hesitated to commit, when
removed from the immediate responsibilities of the society in which
they had been educated. The Drakes, Rogers', and Dampiers of that day,
though enrolled in the list of naval heroes were no other than pirates,
acting under the sanction of commissions; and the scenes that occurred
among the marauders of the land, were often of a character to disgrace
human nature.
That the colonies which formed the root of this republic escaped the
more serious evils of a corruption so gross and so widely spread, can
only be ascribed to the characters of those by whom they were peopled.
Perhaps nine-tenths of all the white inhabitants of the Union are the
direct descendants of men who quitted Europe in order to worship God
according to conviction and conscience. If the Puritans of
New-England, the Friends of Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware, the
Catholics of Maryland, the Presbyterians of the upper counties of
Virginia and of the Carolinas, and the Huguenots, brought with them
the exaggeration of their peculiar sects, it was an exaggeration that
tended to correct most of their ordinary practices. Still the English
Provinces were not permitted, altogether, to escape from the moral
dependency that seems nearly inseparable from colonial government, or
to be entirely exempt from the wide contamination of the times.
The State of New-York, as is well known, was originally a colony of
the United Provinces. The settlement was made in the year 1613; and
the Dutch East India Company, under whose authority the
establishment was made, claimed the whole country between the
Connecticut and the mouth of Delaware-bay, a territory which, as it had
a corresponding depth, equalled the whole surface of the present
kingdom of France. Of this vast region, however, they never occupied
but a narrow belt on each side of the Hudson, with, here and there, a

settlement on a few of the river flats, more inland.
There is a providence in the destiny of nations, that sets at nought the
most profound of human calculations. Had the dominion of the Dutch
continued a century longer, there would have existed in the very heart
of the Union a people opposed to its establishment, by their language,
origin, and habits. The conquest of the English in 1663, though unjust
and iniquitous in itself, removed the danger, by opening the way for the
introduction of that great community of character which now so
happily prevails.
Though the English, the French, the Swedes, the Dutch, the Danes, the
Spaniards, and the Norwegians, all had colonies within
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