LONG TOM COFFIN. The coxswain of the schooner Ariel in James Fenimore Cooper’s* novel The Pilot* (1824), Long Tom is Cooper’s quintessential seaman. Coming from the Coffin family of whalers from Nantucket,*
Long Tom constantly carries his harpoon and uses it as a weapon. He considers land useful only for drying fish and raising vegetables and teaches
other seamen to read the omens of the sea and sky. When his beloved
schooner is wrecked in a storm, Long Tom chooses to remain on board.
While the bodies of his shipmates are soon washed ashore, the sea never
relinquishes Long Tom.
Critics praised Long Tom, some comparing him to Parson Adams as an
original addition to literature’s fictional characters. T. P. Cooke began his
stage career in the role of Long Tom in a dramatic version of The Pilot
produced in London in 1825.