Posted by Elaine on January 14, 1999 at 17:50:56:
In Reply to: Re: The Grey Hair posted by Victoria on January 14, 1999 at 13:09:09:
: To show that history is even more dramatic than fiction,
: while Ft. Wm. Henry was under attack, Johnson
: confronted Webb at Ft. Edward. Backed by a cohort of
: Mohawk warriors he orchestrated a scene so dramatic as
: to impress the hard bitten French veteran Bougainville
: who ascribed Homeric proportions to it. Standing before
: the caviling Webb he demanded, "Will you not go?"
: Webb declined and the choleric Johnson tore off an article
: of clothing and threw it down contemptuously in front of
: Webb, his actions echoed by the Mohawk warriors who also
: threw down items of clothing. Webb was asked repeatedly
: the same question, and continued to reply that he would
: not relieve the fort. Johnson tore off more clothing and he
: and his warriors flung them on the pile. Webb never gave
: in, and according to Eckert, once divested of all his clothing,
: Johnson spat on Webb’s desk as a final demonstration of his
: manly disdain, then turned and left. Of course Eckert often
: errs in the direction of the dramatic. For a discussion of
: how edited history is and more innuendo and gossip see
: Flexner’s bio.
: It is a shame that both Cooper and Mann left this scene out.
: So who do you think was the real Grey Hair?
Thank you! You've given me something to think about here. You raise the question of whether Cooper might have re-modeled Col. Munro/Monro to represent a composite character and you ask who was the real Grey Hair.
An interesting consideration; Of the various historic figures that played a role in Cooper's LOTM, there were only two whose names were changed by Cooper. The first is Major Heyward who is most probably a fictionalized Lieutenant John Young. (Mann gave us a British Heyward, but Cooper's Heyward was a southern gentleman ... a Virginian.)
The second renamed person was Col. Monro. Cooper changed the spelling of his name, perhaps for the very reason you propose. Though the historic Col. Monro was commander of Fort William Henry during the siege, many details of his life, such as the two daughters, were fiction. It could be that Cooper was using Monro to represent either a composite sketch of historic persons or an individual such as Sir William Johnson.
Another possibility; Given Cooper's propensity toward heavy usage of symbolism, Col. Munro may have represented a personification of either the King, or more interestingly, England herself. Could the "Grey Hair" be the elder parent nation with her institutions, rules, and power being shown as weakened ... or dying? The "father" of wrongs committed against Magua's people whose "seed" must be wiped out? If so, could the daughters of Munro symbolize the American colonies and the shifting loyalties of England's colonial 'children'?
Going back to Johnson, the scene you describe at Fort Edward ...
Yes, had such an event been depicted in either the novel or Mann's film, this would indeed be high drama. Powerful! Yet, if Munro was meant to represent Johnson, this could explain the omission.
Then again .... maybe Munro was simply Monro?
Interesting possibilities, Victoria!
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