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This set of books has been extra illustrated with many
old engravings.

It is probable that no other set illustrated with the same
plates is in existence at the present time.

Red Rover Edition

The Works of James
Fenimore Cooper

The Pilot

G. P. Putnam's Sons

New York and London
Ube Iknicfeerbocfeer press




Each year brings some new and melancholy chasm in what is now
the brief list of my naval friends and former associates. War, dis-
ease, and the casualties of a hazardous profession, have made fearful
inroads in the limited number ; while the places of the dead are
supplied by names that to me are those of strangers. With the
consequences of these sad changes before me, I cherish the recollec-
tion of those with whom I once lived in close familiarity, with
peculiar interest, and feel a triumph in their growing reputations,
that is but little short of their own honest pride.

But neither time nor separation has shaken our intimacy : and I
know that in dedicating to you this volume, I tell you nothing new,
when I add, that it is a tribute paid to an enduring friendship, by
Your old Messmate,




IT is probable a true history of human events would
show that a far larger proportion of our acts are the
results of sudden impulses and accident, than of that
reason of which we so much boast. However true,
or false, this opinion may be in more important matters, it
is certainly and strictly correct as relates to the conception
and execution of this book.

The Pilot was published in 1823. This was not long
after the appearance of The Pirate, a work which, it is
hardly necessary to remind the reader, has a direct connec-
tion with the sea. In a conversation with a friend, a man
of polished taste and extensive reading, the authorship of
the Scottish novels came under discussion. The claims of
Sir Walter were a little distrusted, on account of the pecu-
liar and minute information that the romances were then
very generally thought to display. The Pirate was cited
as a very marked instance of this universal knowledge, and
it was wondered where a man of Scott's habits and associa-
tions could have become so familiar with the sea. The
writer had frequently observed that there was much loose-
ness in this universal knowledge, and that the secret of its
success was to be traced to the power of creating that
vraisemblance, which is so remarkably exhibited in those
world-renowned fictions, rather than to any very accurate
information on the part of their author. It would have
been hypercritical to object to The Pirate, that it was not
strictly nautical, or true in its details ; but, when the reverse


was urged as a proof of what, considering the character
of other portions of the work, would have been most
extraordinary attainments, it was a sort of provocation to
dispute the seamanship of The Pirate, a quality to which
the book has certainly very little just pretension. The
result of this conversation was a sudden determination to
produce a work which, if it had no other merit, might
present truer pictures of the ocean and ships than any that
are to be found in The Pirate. To this unpremeditated
decision, purely an impulse, is not only The Pilot due, but
a tolerably numerous school of nautical romances that have
succeeded it.

The author had many misgivings concerning the success
of the undertaking, after he had made some progress in the
work ; the opinions of his different friends being anything
but encouraging. One would declare that the sea could not
be made interesting ; that it was tame, monotonous, and
without any other movement than unpleasant storms, and
that, for his part, the less he got of it the better. The
women very generally protested that such a book would
have the odor of bilge-water, and that it would give them
the maladie de mer. Not a single individual among all
those who discussed the merits of the project, within the
range of the author's knowledge, either spoke, or looked,
encouragingly. It is probable that all these persons antici-
pated a signal failure.

So very discouraging did these ominous opinions get to
be, that the writer was once or twice tempted to throw his
manuscript aside, and turn to something new. A favorable
opinion, however, coming from a very unexpected quarter,
put a new face on the matter, and raised new hopes.
Among the intimate friends of the writer, was an English-
man, who possessed most of the peculiar qualities of the
educated of his country. He was learned even, had a taste
that was so just as always to command respect, but was
prejudiced, and particularly so in all that related to this
country and its literature. He could never be persuaded to
admire Bryant's " Water-Fowl," and this mainly because, if
it were accepted as good poetry, it must be placed at once


among the finest fugitive pieces of the language. Of the
' ' Thanatopsis ' ' he thought better, though inclined to suspect
it of being a plagiarism. To the tender mercies of this one-
sided critic, who had never affected to compliment the
previous works of the author, the sheets of a volume of
The Pilot were committed, with scarce an expectation of
his liking them. The reverse proved to be the case ; he
expressed himself highly gratified, and predicted a success
for the book which it probably never attained.

Thus encouraged, one more experiment was made, a sea-
man being selected for the critic. A kinsman, a namesake,
and an old messmate of the author, one now in command on
a foreign station, was chosen, and a considerable portion of
the first volume was read to him. There is no wish to con-
ceal the satisfaction with which the effect on this listener
was observed. He treated the whole matter as fact, and his
criticisms were strictly professional, and perfectly just. But
the interest he betrayed could not be mistaken. It gave a
perfect and most gratifying assurance that the work would
be more likely to find favor with nautical men, than with
any other class of readers.

The Pilot could scarcely be a favorite with females. The
story has little interest for them, nor was it much heeded by
the author of the book, in the progress of his labors. His
aim was to illustrate vessels and the ocean, rather than to
draw any pictures of sentiment and love. In this last re-
spect, the book has small claims on the reader's attention,
though it is hoped that the story has sufficient interest to
relieve the more strictly nautical features of the work.

It would be affectation to deny that The Pilot met with
a most unlooked-for success. The novelty of the design
probably contributed a large share of this result. Sea-tales
came into vogue, as a consequence ; and, as every practi-
cal part of knowledge has its uses, something has been
gained by letting the landsman into the secrets of the sea-
man's manner of life. Perhaps, in some small degree, an
interest has been awakened in behalf of a very numerous,
and what has hitherto been a sort of proscribed class of men,
that may directly tend to a melioration of their condition.

viii preface

It is not easy to make the public comprehend all the
necessities of a service afloat. With several hundred rude
beings confined within the narrow limits of a vessel, men
of all nations and of the lowest habits, it would be to the
last degree indiscreet to commence their reformation by
relaxing the bonds of discipline, under the mistaken im-
pulses of a false philanthropy. It has a lofty sound, to be
sure, to talk about American citizens being too good to be
brought under the lash, upon the high seas ; but he must
have a very mistaken notion who does not see that tens
of thousands of these pretending persons on shore, even,
would be greatly benefited by a little judicious flogging.
It is the judgment in administering, and not the mode of
punishment, that requires to be looked into ; and, in this
respect, there has certainly been a great improvement of
late years. It is seldom, indeed, that any institution,
practice, or system, is improved by the blind interference
of those who know nothing about it. Better would it be
to trust to the experience of those who have long governed
turbulent men, than to the impulsive experiments of those
who rarely regard more than one side of a question, and
that the most showy and glittering : having, quite half of
the time, some selfish personal end to answer.

There is an uneasy desire among a vast many well-dis-
posed persons to get the fruits of the Christian faith, with-
out troubling themselves about the faith itself. This is
done under the sanction of Peace Societies, Temperance
and Moral Reform Societies, in which the end is too often
mistaken for the means. When the Almighty sent his Son
on earth, it was to point out the way in which all this was
to be brought about, by means of the Church ; but men
have so frittered away that body of divine organization,
through their divisions and subdivisions, all arising from
human conceit, that it is no longer regarded as the agency
it was so obviously intended to be, and various contrivances
are to be employed as substitutes for that which proceeded
directly from the Son of God !

Among the efforts of the day, however, there is one con-
nected with the moral improvement of the sailor that com-


mands our profound respect. Cut off from most of the
charities of life, for so large a portion of his time, deprived
altogether of association with the gentler and better portions
of the other sex, and living a man in a degree proscribed,
amid the many signs of advancement that distinguish the
age, it was time that he should be remembered and singled
out, and become the subject of combined and Christian
philanthropy. There is much reason to believe that the
effort, now making in the right direction and under proper
auspices, will be successful ; and that it will cause the lash
to be laid aside in the best and most rational manner, by
rendering its use unnecessary.

COOPERSTOWN, August io, 1849.



4< Sullen waves, incessant rolling,
Rudely dashed against her sides."


A SINGLE glance at the map will make the reader
acquainted with the position of the eastern coast
of the Island of Great Britain, as connected with the
shores of the opposite continent. Together they
form the boundaries of the small sea that has for ages been
known to the world as the scene of maritime exploits, and
as the great avenue through which commerce and war have
conducted the fleets of the northern nations of Europe. Over
this sea the islanders long asserted a jurisdiction, exceeding
that which reason concedes to any power on the highway of
nations, and which frequently led to conflicts that caused an
expenditure of blood and treasure, utterly disproportioned to
the advantages that can ever arise from the maintenance of
a useless and abstract right. It is across the waters of this
disputed ocean that we shall attempt to conduct our readers,
selecting a period for our incidents that has a peculiar inter-
est for every American, not only because it was the birthday
of his nation, but because it was also the era when reason
and common-sense began to take the place of custom and
feudal practices in the management of the affairs of nations.


Soon after the events of the Revolution had involved the
kingdoms of France and Spain, and the republic of Hol-
land, in our quarrel, a group of laborers was collected in a
field that lay exposed to the winds of the ocean, on the north-
eastern coast of England. These men were lightening their
toil, and cheering the gloom of a day in December, by utter-
ing their crude opinions on the political aspects of the times.
The fact that England was engaged in a war with some of
her dependencies on the other side of the Atlantic, had long
been known to them, after the manner that faint rumors of
distant and uninteresting events gain on the ear ; but now
that nations, with whom she had been used to battle, were
armed against her in the quarrel, the din of war had dis-
turbed the quiet even of these secluded and illiterate rustics.
The principal speakers, on the occasion, were a Scotch
drover, who was waiting the leisure of the occupant of the
fields, and an Irish laborer, who had found his way across the
Channel, and thus far over the island, in quest of employ-

" The nagurs would n't have been a job at all for ould Eng-
land, letting alone Ireland, ' ' said the latter, ' ' if these French
and Spanishers had n't been troubling themselves in the
matter. I 'm sure it 's but little reason I have for thanking
them, if a man is to kape as sober as a priest at mass, for
fear he should find himself a souldier, and he knowing
nothing about the same.

" Hoot! mon ! ye ken but little of raising an airmy in
Ireland, if ye rnak' a drum o' a whiskey keg, ' ' said the dro-
ver, winking at the listeners. " Noo, in the north, they ca'
a gathering of the folk, and follow the pipes as graciousty
as ye wad journey kirkward o' a Sabbath morn. I 've seen
a' the names o' a Heeland raj'ment on a sma' bit paper, that
ye might cover wi' a leddy's hand. They war' a' Camerons
and M 'Donalds, though they paraded sax hundred men !
But what ha' ye gotten here ! That chield has an ow'r lik-
ing to the land for a seafaring body ; an' if the bottom o' the
sea be onything like the top o't, he 's in gr'at danger o' a
shipwrack ! ' '

This unexpected change in the discourse drew all eyes on

ttbe pilot

the object towards which the staff of the observant drover
was pointed. To the utter amazement of every individual
present, a small vessel was seen moving slowly round a
point of land that formed one of the sides of the little bay to
which the field the laborers were in composed the other.
There was something very peculiar in the externals of this
unusual visitor, which added in no small degree to the surprise
created by her appearance in that retired place. None but
the smallest vessels, and those rarely, or, at long intervals, a
desperate smuggler, were ever known to venture so close to
the land, amid the sand-bars and sunken rocks with which
that immediate coast abounded. The adventurous mariners
who now attempted this dangerous navigation in so wanton,
and, apparently, so heedless a manner, were in a low black
schooner, whose hull seemed utterly disproportioned to the
raking masts it upheld, which, in their turn, supported a
lighter set of spars, that tapered away until their upper ex-
tremities appeared no larger than the lazy pennant, that in
vain endeavored to display its length in the light breeze.

The short day of that high northern latitude was already
drawing to a close, and the sun was throwing his parting
rays obliquely across the waters, touching the gloomy waves
here and there with streaks of pale light. The stormy
winds of the German Ocean were apparently lulled to rest ;
and, though the incessant rolling of the surge on the shore
heightened the gloom}- character of the hour and the view,
the light ripple that ruffled the sleeping billows was pro-
duced by a gentle air, that blew directty from the land.
Notwithstanding this favorable circumstance, there was
something threatening in the aspect of the ocean, which was
speaking in hollow but deep murmurs, like a volcano on the
eve of an eruption, that greatly heightened the feelings of
amazement and dread with which the peasants beheld this
extraordinary interruption to the quiet of their little bay.
With no other sails spread to the action of the air than her
heavy mainsail, and one of those light jibs that projected far
beyond her bows, the vessel glided over the water with a
grace and facility that seemed magical to the beholders, who
turned their wondering looks from the schooner to each other

Ube pilot

in silent amazement. At length the drover spoke in a low
solemn voice :

" He 's a bold chield that steers her ! and if that bit craft
has wood in her bottom, like the brigantines that ply be-
tween L,on'on and the Frith at lyeith, he 's in mair danger
than a prudent man could wish. Ay ! he 's by the big rock
that shows his head when the tide runs low, but it 's no
mortal man can steer long in the road he's journeying and
not speedily find land wi' water a-top o 't."

The little schooner, however, still held her way among
the rocks and sand-pits, making such slight deviations in
her course, as proved her to be under the direction of one
who knew his danger, until she had entered as far into
the bay as prudence could at all justify, when her canvas
was gathered into folds, seemingly without the agency of
hands, and the vessel, after rolling for a few minutes
on the long billows that hove in from the ocean, swung
round in the currents of the tide, and was held by her

The peasants now began to make their conjectures more
freely concerning the character and object of their visitor ;
some intimating that she was engaged in contraband trade,
and others that her views were hostile, and her business
war. A few dark hints were hazarded on the materiality
of her construction, for nothing of artificial formation, it
was urged, would be ventured by men in such a dangerous
place, at a time when even the most inexperienced lands-
man, was enabled to foretell the certain gale. The Scotch-
man, who, to all the sagacity of his countrymen, added no
small portion of their superstition, leaned greatly to the
latter conclusion, and had begun to express this sentiment
warily and with reverence, when the child of Erin, who
appeared not to possess any very definite ideas on the sub-
ject, interrupted him by exclaiming

" Faith ! there 's two of them ! a big and a little ! sure
the bogles of the saa likes good company the same as any
other Christians ! ' '

' ' Twa ! ' ' echoed the drover ; ' ' twa ! ill luck bides o'
some o' ye. Twa craft a-sailing without hand to guide

ZTbe pilot

them, in sic a place as this, whar' eyesight is na gttid enough
to show the dangers, bodes evil to a' that luik thereon.
Hoot ! she 's na yearling, the tither ! I^uik, mon ! luik !
she 's a gallant boat, and a gr'at : " he paused, raised his
pack from the ground, and first giving one searching look
at the objects of his suspicions, he nodded with great saga-
city to the listeners, and continued, as he moved slowly
towards the interior of the country, ' ' I should na wonder if
she carried King George's commission about her : weel,
weel, I wull journey up ward to the town, and ha' a crack wi'
the good mon ; for they craft have a suspeecious aspect, and
the sma' bit thing wu'ld nab a mon quite easy, and the big
ane wu'ld hold us a' and no feel we war' in her."

This sagacious warning caused a general movement in
the party, for the intelligence of a hot press was among the
rumors of the times. The husbandmen collected their im-
plements of labor, and retired homewards ; and though
many a curious eye was bent on the movements of the
vessels from the distant hills, but very few of those not
immediately interested in the mysterious visitors ventured to
approach the little rocky cliffs that lined the bay.

The vessel that occasioned these cautious movements was
a gallant ship, whose huge hull, lofty masts, and square
yards, loomed in the evening's haze, above the sea, like a
distant mountain rising from the deep. She carried but
little sail, and though she warily avoided the near approach
to the land that the schooner had attempted, the similarity
of their movements was sufficiently apparent to warrant the
conjecture that they were employed on the same duty. The
frigate, for the ship belonged to this class of vessels, floated
across the entrance of the little bay, majestically in the tide,
with barely enough motion through the water to govern her
movements, until she arrived opposite to the place where
her consort lay, when she hove up heavily into the wind,
squared the enormous yards on her mainmast, and at-
tempted, in counteracting the power of her sails by each
other, to remain stationary ; but the light air that had
at no time swelled her heavy canvas to the utmost began to
fail, and the long waves that rolled in from the ocean ceased

Ube pilot

to be ruffled with the breeze from the land. The currents
and the billows were fast sweeping the frigate towards one
of the points of the estuary, where the black heads of the
rocks could be seen running far into the sea, and, in their
turn, the mariners of the ship dropped an anchor to the
bottom, and drew her sails in festoons to the yards. As the
vessel swung round to the tide, a heavy ensign was raised
to her peak, and a current of air opening, for a moment, its
folds, the white field and red cross, that distinguished the
flag of England, were displayed to view. So much even the
wary drover had loitered at a distance to behold ; but when
a boat was launched from either vessel, he quickened his
steps, observing to his wondering and amused compan-
ions, that "They craft were a'thegither mair bonny to luik
on than to abide wi'."

A numerous crew manned the barge that was lowered
from the frigate, which, after receiving an officer, with an
attendant youth, left the ship, and moved with a measured
stroke of its oars, directly towards the head of the bay. As
it passed at a short distance from the schooner, a light
whale-boat, pulled by four athletic men, shot from her
side, and rather dancing over than cutting through the
waves, crossed her course with a wonderful velocity. As the
boats approached each other, the men, in obedience to sig-
nals from their officers, suspended their efforts, and for a few
minutes they floated at rest, during which time there was
the following dialogue :

' ' Is the old man mad ! ' ' exclaimed the young officer in
the whale-boat, when his men had ceased rowing ; ' ' does he
think that the bottom of the Ariel is made of iron, and that
a rock can't knock a hole in it ! or does he think she is
manned with alligators, who can't be drowned ! "

A languid smile played for a moment round the handsome
features of the young man, who was rather reclining than
sitting in the stern-sheets of the barge, as he replied,

" He knows your prudence too well, Captain Banistable,
to fear either the wreck of your vessel or the drowning of
her crew. How near the bottom does your keel lie ? "

" I am afraid to sound," returned Barnstable. "I have

ttbe pilot

never a heart to touch a lead-line when I see the rocks com-
ing up to breathe like so many porpoises. ' '

"You are afloat ! " exclaimed the other, with a vehemence
that denoted an abundance of latent fire.

"Afloat!" echoed his friend; "ay! the little Ariel
would float in air ! " As he spoke, he rose in the boat,
and lifting his leathern sea-cap from his head, stroked back
the thick clusters of black locks which shadowed his sun-
burnt countenance, while he viewed his little vessel with
the complacency of a seaman who was proud of her qualities.
"But it's close work, Mr. Griffith, when a man rides to a
single anchor in a place like this, and at such a night-fall.
What are the orders ? ' '

' ' I shall pull into the surf and let go a grapnel ; you will
take Mr. Merry into your whale-boat, and try to drive her
through the breakers 011 the beach."

' ' Beach ! ' ' retorted Barnstable ; "do you call a perpen-
dicular rock of a hundred feet in height a beach ! "

"We shall not dispute about terms," said Griffith, smil-
ing, ' ' but you must manage to get on the shore ; we have
seen the signal from the land, and know that the pilot,
whom we have so long expected, is ready to come off."

Barnstable shook his head with a grave air, as he mut-
tered to himself, ' ' This is droll navigation ; first we run
into an unfrequented bay that is full of rocks, and sand-pits,
and shoals, and then we get off our pilot. But how am I
to know him ? ' '

" Merry will give you the pass- word, and tell you where
to look for him. I would land myself, but my orders forbid
it. If you meet with difficulties, show three oar-blades
in a row, and I will pull in to your assistance. Three oars
on end and a pistol will bring the fire of my muskets, and
the signal repeated from the barge will draw a shot from
the ship."

" I thank you, I thank you," said Barnstable, carelessly ;
' ' I believe I can fight my own battles against all the enemies

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