Willis the Pilot by Johanna Spyri
The love of adventure that characterises the youth of the present day, and the growing tendency of the surplus European population to seek abroad the comforts that are often denied at home, gives absorbing interest to the narratives of old colonists and settlers in the wonderful regions of the New World. Accordingly, the work known as the Swiss Family Robinson has long enjoyed a well-merited popularity, and has been perused by a multitude of readers, young and old, with profit as well as pleasure.
A Swiss clergyman resolved to better his fortune by emigration. In furtherance of this resolution, he embarked with his wife and four sons--the latter ranging from eight to fifteen years of age--for one of the newly-discovered islands in the Pacific Ocean. As far as the coast of New Guinea the voyage had been favorable, but here a violent storm arose, which drove the ill-fated vessel out of its course, and finally cast it a wreck upon an unknown coast. The family succeeded in extricating themselves from the stranded ship, and landed safely on shore; but the remaining passengers and crew all perished. For many years these six individuals struggled alone against a variety of trials and privations, till at length another storm brought the English despatch-boat Nelson within reach of their signals. Such is a brief outline of the events recorded in the Swiss Family Robinson.
The present volume is virtually a continuation of this narrative. The careers of the four sons--Frank, Ernest, Fritz, and Jack--are taken up where the preceding chronicler left them off. The subsequent adventures of these four young men, by flood and field, are faithfully detailed. With these particulars are mingled the experiences of another interesting family that afterwards became dwellers in the same territory; as are also the sayings and doings of a weather-beaten sailor--Willis the Pilot.
The scene is laid chiefly in the South Seas, and the narrative illustrates the geography and ethnology of that section of the Far-West. The difficulties, dangers, and hardships to be encountered in founding a new colony are truthfully set forth, whilst it is shown how readily these are overcome by perseverance and intelligent labor. It will be seen that a liberal education has its uses, even under circumstances the least likely to foster the social amenities, and that, too, not only as regards the mental well-being of its possessors, but also as regards augmenting their material comforts.
In the Swiss Family Robinson the resources of Natural History have been largely, and perhaps somewhat freely, drawn upon. This branch of knowledge has, therefore, been left throughout the present volume comparatively untouched. Nevertheless, as it is the aim of the narrator to combine instruction with amusement, the more elementary phenomena of the Physical Sciences have been blended with the current of the story--thus garnishing, as it were, the dry, hard facts of Owen, Liebig, and Arago, with the more attractive, groupings of life and action.
The reader has, consequently, in hand a melange of the useful and agreeable--a little for the grave and a little for the gay--so that, should our endeavors to impart instruction prove unavailing, en revanche we may, perhaps, be more successful in our efforts to amuse.