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					                  Moby Dick
                      or
                  The Whale
                         Herman Melville




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Moby Dick



                   ETYMOLOGY.

   (Supplied by a Late Consumptive Usher to a Grammar
School)
   The pale Usher—threadbare in coat, heart, body, and
brain; I see him now. He was ever dusting his old lexicons
and grammars, with a queer handkerchief, mockingly
embellished with all the gay flags of all the known nations
of the world. He loved to dust his old grammars; it
somehow mildly reminded him of his mortality.
   ‘While you take in hand to school others, and to teach
them by what name a whale-fish is to be called in our
tongue leaving out, through ignorance, the letter H,
which almost alone maketh the signification of the word,
you deliver that which is not true.’ —HACKLUYT
   ‘WHALE. ... Sw. and Dan. HVAL. This animal is
named from roundness or rolling; for in Dan. HVALT is
arched or vaulted.’ —WEBSTER’S DICTIONARY
   ‘WHALE. ... It is more immediately from the Dut. and
Ger. WALLEN; A.S. WALW-IAN, to roll, to wallow.’
—RICHARDSON’S DICTIONARY
KETOS, GREEK.
CETUS, LATIN.
WHOEL, ANGLO-SAXON.


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HVALT, DANISH.
WAL, DUTCH.
HWAL, SWEDISH.
WHALE, ICELANDIC.
WHALE, ENGLISH.
BALEINE, FRENCH.
BALLENA, SPANISH.
PEKEE-NUEE-NUEE, FEGEE.
PEKEE-NUEE-NUEE, ERROMANGOAN.
   EXTRACTS (Supplied by a Sub-Sub-Librarian).
   It will be seen that this mere painstaking burrower and
grub-worm of a poor devil of a Sub-Sub appears to have
gone through the long Vaticans and street-stalls of the
earth, picking up whatever random allusions to whales he
could anyways find in any book whatsoever, sacred or
profane. Therefore you must not, in every case at least,
take the higgledy-piggledy whale statements, however
authentic, in these extracts, for veritable gospel cetology.
Far from it. As touching the ancient authors generally, as
well as the poets here appearing, these extracts are solely
valuable or entertaining, as affording a glancing bird’s eye
view of what has been promiscuously said, thought,
fancied, and sung of Leviathan, by many nations and
generations, including our own.



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    So fare thee well, poor devil of a Sub-Sub, whose
commentator I am. Thou belongest to that hopeless,
sallow tribe which no wine of this world will ever warm;
and for whom even Pale Sherry would be too rosy-strong;
but with whom one sometimes loves to sit, and feel poor-
devilish, too; and grow convivial upon tears; and say to
them bluntly, with full eyes and empty glasses, and in not
altogether unpleasant sadness—Give it up, Sub-Subs! For
by how much the more pains ye take to please the world,
by so much the more shall ye for ever go thankless!
Would that I could clear out Hampton Court and the
Tuileries for ye! But gulp down your tears and hie aloft to
the royal-mast with your hearts; for your friends who have
gone before are clearing out the seven-storied heavens,
and making refugees of long-pampered Gabriel, Michael,
and Raphael, against your coming. Here ye strike but
splintered hearts together—there, ye shall strike
unsplinterable glasses!
    EXTRACTS.
    ‘And God created great whales.’ —GENESIS.
    ‘Leviathan maketh a path to shine after him; One
would think the deep to be hoary.’ —JOB.
    ‘Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up
Jonah.’ —JONAH.


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    ‘There go the ships; there is that Leviathan whom thou
hast made to play therein.’ —PSALMS.
    ‘In that day, the Lord with his sore, and great, and
strong sword, shall punish Leviathan the piercing serpent,
even Leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the
dragon that is in the sea.’ —ISAIAH
    ‘And what thing soever besides cometh within the
chaos of this monster’s mouth, be it beast, boat, or stone,
down it goes all incontinently that foul great swallow of
his, and perisheth in the bottomless gulf of his paunch.’ —
HOLLAND’S PLUTARCH’S MORALS.
    ‘The Indian Sea breedeth the most and the biggest
fishes that are: among which the Whales and Whirlpooles
called Balaene, take up as much in length as four acres or
arpens of land.’ —HOLLAND’S PLINY.
    ‘Scarcely had we proceeded two days on the sea, when
about sunrise a great many Whales and other monsters of
the sea, appeared. Among the former, one was of a most
monstrous size. ... This came towards us, open-mouthed,
raising the waves on all sides, and beating the sea before
him into a foam.’ —TOOKE’S LUCIAN. ‘THE TRUE
HISTORY.’
    ‘He visited this country also with a view of catching
horse-whales, which had bones of very great value for


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their teeth, of which he brought some to the king. ... The
best whales were catched in his own country, of which
some were forty-eight, some fifty yards long. He said that
he was one of six who had killed sixty in two days.’ —
OTHER OR OCTHER’S VERBAL NARRATIVE
TAKEN DOWN FROM HIS MOUTH BY KING
ALFRED, A.D. 890.
   ‘And whereas all the other things, whether beast or
vessel, that enter into the dreadful gulf of this monster’s
(whale’s) mouth, are immediately lost and swallowed up,
the sea-gudgeon retires into it in great security, and there
sleeps.’    —MONTAIGNE.            —APOLOGY            FOR
RAIMOND SEBOND.
   ‘Let us fly, let us fly! Old Nick take me if is not
Leviathan described by the noble prophet Moses in the life
of patient Job.’ —RABELAIS.
   ‘This whale’s liver was two cartloads.’ —STOWE’S
ANNALS.
   ‘The great Leviathan that maketh the seas to seethe like
boiling pan.’ —LORD BACON’S VERSION OF THE
PSALMS.
   ‘Touching that monstrous bulk of the whale or ork we
have received nothing certain. They grow exceeding fat,
insomuch that an incredible quantity of oil will be


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extracted out of one whale.’ —IBID. ‘HISTORY OF
LIFE AND DEATH.’
    ‘The sovereignest thing on earth is parmacetti for an
inward bruise.’ —KING HENRY.
    ‘Very like a whale.’ —HAMLET.
    ‘Which to secure, no skill of leach’s art Mote him
availle, but to returne againe To his wound’s worker, that
with lowly dart, Dinting his breast, had bred his restless
paine, Like as the wounded whale to shore flies thro’ the
maine.’ —THE FAERIE QUEEN.
    ‘Immense as whales, the motion of whose vast bodies
can in a peaceful calm trouble the ocean til it boil.’ —SIR
WILLIAM           DAVENANT.             PREFACE         TO
GONDIBERT.
    ‘What spermacetti is, men might justly doubt, since the
learned Hosmannus in his work of thirty years, saith
plainly, Nescio quid sit.’ —SIR T. BROWNE. OF
SPERMA CETI AND THE SPERMA CETI WHALE.
VIDE HIS V. E.
‘Like Spencer’s Talus with his modern flail
He threatens ruin with his ponderous tail.
...
Their fixed jav’lins in his side he wears,
And on his back a grove of pikes appears.’ —WALLER’S
BATTLE OF THE SUMMER ISLANDS.

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   ‘By art is created that great Leviathan, called a
Commonwealth or State—(in Latin, Civitas) which is but
an artificial man.’ —OPENING SENTENCE OF
HOBBES’S LEVIATHAN.
   ‘Silly Mansoul swallowed it without chewing, as if it
had been a sprat in the mouth of a whale.’ —PILGRIM’S
PROGRESS.
‘That sea beast
Leviathan, which God of all his works
Created hugest that swim the ocean stream.’ —
PARADISE LOST.
—-‘There Leviathan,
Hugest of living creatures, in the deep
Stretched like a promontory sleeps or swims,
And seems a moving land; and at his gills
Draws in, and at his breath spouts out a sea.’ —IBID.
‘The mighty whales which swim in a sea of water, and
have a sea of oil swimming in them.’ —FULLLER’S
PROFANE AND HOLY STATE.
‘So close behind some promontory lie
The huge Leviathan to attend their prey,
And give no chance, but swallow in the fry,
Which through their gaping jaws mistake the way.’ —
DRYDEN’S ANNUS MIRABILIS.




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   ‘While the whale is floating at the stern of the ship,
they cut off his head, and tow it with a boat as near the
shore as it will come; but it will be aground in twelve or
thirteen feet water.’ —THOMAS EDGE’S TEN
VOYAGES TO SPITZBERGEN, IN PURCHAS.
   ‘In their way they saw many whales sporting in the
ocean, and in wantonness fuzzing up the water through
their pipes and vents, which nature has placed on their
shoulders.’ —SIR T. HERBERT’S VOYAGES INTO
ASIA AND AFRICA. HARRIS COLL.
   ‘Here they saw such huge troops of whales, that they
were forced to proceed with a great deal of caution for
fear they should run their ship upon them.’ —
SCHOUTEN’S SIXTH CIRCUMNAVIGATION.
   ‘We set sail from the Elbe, wind N.E. in the ship called
The Jonas-in-the-Whale. ... Some say the whale can’t
open his mouth, but that is a fable. ... They frequently
climb up the masts to see whether they can see a whale,
for the first discoverer has a ducat for his pains. ... I was
told of a whale taken near Shetland, that had above a
barrel of herrings in his belly. ... One of our harpooneers
told me that he caught once a whale in Spitzbergen that
was white all over.’ —A VOYAGE TO GREENLAND,
A.D. 1671 HARRIS COLL.


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   ‘Several whales have come in upon this coast (Fife)
Anno 1652, one eighty feet in length of the whale-bone
kind came in, which (as I was informed), besides a vast
quantity of oil, did afford 500 weight of baleen. The jaws
of it stand for a gate in the garden of Pitferren.’ —
SIBBALD’S FIFE AND KINROSS.
   ‘Myself have agreed to try whether I can master and kill
this Sperma-ceti whale, for I could never hear of any of
that sort that was killed by any man, such is his fierceness
and swiftness.’ —RICHARD STRAFFORD’S LETTER
FROM THE BERMUDAS. PHIL. TRANS. A.D. 1668.
   ‘Whales in the sea God’s voice obey.’ —N. E.
PRIMER.
   ‘We saw also abundance of large whales, there being
more in those southern seas, as I may say, by a hundred to
one; than we have to the northward of us.’ —CAPTAIN
COWLEY’S VOYAGE ROUND THE GLOBE, A.D.
1729.
   ‘... and the breath of the whale is frequendy attended
with such an insupportable smell, as to bring on a disorder
of the brain.’ —ULLOA’S SOUTH AMERICA.
‘To fifty chosen sylphs of special note,
We trust the important charge, the petticoat.
Oft have we known that seven-fold fence to fail,


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Tho’ stuffed with hoops and armed with ribs of whale.’ —
RAPE OF THE LOCK.
    ‘If we compare land animals in respect to magnitude,
with those that take up their abode in the deep, we shall
find they will appear contemptible in the comparison. The
whale is doubtless the largest animal in creation.’ —
GOLDSMITH, NAT. HIST.
    ‘If you should write a fable for little fishes, you would
make them speak like great wales.’ —GOLDSMITH TO
JOHNSON.
    ‘In the afternoon we saw what was supposed to be a
rock, but it was found to be a dead whale, which some
Asiatics had killed, and were then towing ashore. They
seemed to endeavor to conceal themselves behind the
whale, in order to avoid being seen by us.’ —COOK’S
VOYAGES.
    ‘The larger whales, they seldom venture to attack.
They stand in so great dread of some of them, that when
out at sea they are afraid to mention even their names, and
carry dung, lime-stone, juniper-wood, and some other
articles of the same nature in their boats, in order to terrify
and prevent their too near approach.’ —UNO VON
TROIL’S         LETTERS         ON       BANKS’S        AND
SOLANDER’S VOYAGE TO ICELAND IN 1772.


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   ‘The Spermacetti Whale found by the Nantuckois, is
an active, fierce animal, and requires vast address and
boldness in the fishermen.’ —THOMAS JEFFERSON’S
WHALE         MEMORIAL           TO    THE        FRENCH
MINISTER IN 1778.
   ‘And pray, sir, what in the world is equal to it?’ —
EDMUND            BURKE’S          REFERENCE              IN
PARLIAMENT TO THE NANTUCKET WHALE-
FISHERY.
   ‘Spain—a great whale stranded on the shores of
Europe.’ —EDMUND BURKE. (SOMEWHERE.)
   ‘A tenth branch of the king’s ordinary revenue, said to
be grounded on the consideration of his guarding and
protecting the seas from pirates and robbers, is the right to
royal fish, which are whale and sturgeon. And these, when
either thrown ashore or caught near the coast, are the
property of the king.’ —BLACKSTONE.
   ‘Soon to the sport of death the crews repair:
Rodmond        unerring     o’er   his    head      suspends
The barbed steel, and every turn attends.’ —
FALCONER’S SHIPWRECK.
‘Bright shone the roofs, the domes, the spires,
And rockets blew self driven,
To hang their momentary fire
Around the vault of heaven.

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‘So fire with water to compare,
The ocean serves on high,
Up-spouted by a whale in air,
To express unwieldy joy.’ —COWPER, ON THE
QUEEN’S VISIT TO LONDON.
   ‘Ten or fifteen gallons of blood are thrown out of the
heart at a stroke, with immense velocity.’ —JOHN
HUNTER’S ACCOUNT OF THE DISSECTION OF
A WHALE. (A SMALL SIZED ONE.)
   ‘The aorta of a whale is larger in the bore than the
main pipe of the water-works at London Bridge, and the
water roaring in its passage through that pipe is inferior in
impetus and velocity to the blood gushing from the
whale’s heart.’ —PALEY’S THEOLOGY.
   ‘The whale is a mammiferous animal without hind
feet.’ —BARON CUVIER.
   ‘In 40 degrees south, we saw Spermacetti Whales, but
did not take any till the first of May, the sea being then
covered with them.’ —COLNETT’S VOYAGE FOR
THE        PURPOSE         OF      EXTENDING            THE
SPERMACETI WHALE FISHERY.
‘In the free element beneath me swam,
Floundered and dived, in play, in chace, in battle,
Fishes of every colour, form, and kind;
Which language cannot paint, and mariner


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Had never seen; from dread Leviathan
To insect millions peopling every wave:
Gather’d in shoals immense, like floating islands,
Led by mysterious instincts through that waste
And trackless region, though on every side
Assaulted by voracious enemies,
Whales, sharks, and monsters, arm’d in front or jaw,
With swords, saws, spiral horns, or hooked fangs.’ —
MONTGOMERY’S WORLD BEFORE THE
FLOOD.
‘Io! Paean! Io! sing.
To the finny people’s king.
Not a mightier whale than this
In the vast Atlantic is;
Not a fatter fish than he,
Flounders round the Polar Sea.’ —CHARLES LAMB’S
TRIUMPH OF THE WHALE.
   ‘In the year 1690 some persons were on a high hill
observing the whales spouting and sporting with each
other, when one observed: there—pointing to the sea—is
a green pasture where our children’s grand-children will
go for bread.’ —OBED MACY’S HISTORY OF
NANTUCKET.
   ‘I built a cottage for Susan and myself and made a
gateway in the form of a Gothic Arch, by setting up a



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whale’s jaw bones.’ —HAWTHORNE’S TWICE TOLD
TALES.
    ‘She came to bespeak a monument for her first love,
who had been killed by a whale in the Pacific ocean, no
less than forty years ago.’ —IBID.
    ‘No, Sir, ‘tis a Right Whale,’ answered Tom; ‘I saw his
sprout; he threw up a pair of as pretty rainbows as a
Christian would wish to look at. He’s a raal oil-butt, that
fellow!’ —COOPER’S PILOT.
    ‘The papers were brought in, and we saw in the Berlin
Gazette that whales had been introduced on the stage
there.’ —ECKERMANN’S CONVERSATIONS WITH
GOETHE.
    ‘My God! Mr. Chace, what is the matter?’ I answered,
‘we have been stove by a whale.’ —‘NARRATIVE OF
THE SHIPWRECK OF THE WHALE SHIP ESSEX
OF NANTUCKET, WHICH WAS ATTACKED AND
FINALLY DESTROYED BY A LARGE SPERM
WHALE IN THE PACIFIC OCEAN.’ BY OWEN
CHACE OF NANTUCKET, FIRST MATE OF SAID
VESSEL. NEW YORK, 1821.
‘A mariner sat in the shrouds one night,
The wind was piping free;
Now bright, now dimmed, was the moonlight pale,
And the phospher gleamed in the wake of the whale,

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As it floundered in the sea.’ —ELIZABETH OAKES
SMITH.
    ‘The quantity of line withdrawn from the boats
engaged in the capture of this one whale, amounted
altogether to 10,440 yards or nearly six English miles. ...
    ‘Sometimes the whale shakes its tremendous tail in the
air, which, cracking like a whip, resounds to the distance
of three or four miles.’ —SCORESBY.
    ‘Mad with the agonies he endures from these fresh
attacks, the infuriated Sperm Whale rolls over and over; he
rears his enormous head, and with wide expanded jaws
snaps at everything around him; he rushes at the boats
with his head; they are propelled before him with vast
swiftness, and sometimes utterly destroyed. ... It is a matter
of great astonishment that the consideration of the habits
of so interesting, and, in a commercial point of view, so
important an animal (as the Sperm Whale) should have
been so entirely neglected, or should have excited so little
curiosity among the numerous, and many of them
competent observers, that of late years, must have
possessed the most abundant and the most convenient
opportunities of witnessing their habitudes.’ —THOMAS
BEALE’S HISTORY OF THE SPERM WHALE, 1839.



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    ‘The Cachalot’ (Sperm Whale) ‘is not only better
armed than the True Whale’ (Greenland or Right Whale)
‘in possessing a formidable weapon at either extremity of
its body, but also more frequently displays a disposition to
employ these weapons offensively and in manner at once
so artful, bold, and mischievous, as to lead to its being
regarded as the most dangerous to attack of all the known
species of the whale tribe.’ —FREDERICK DEBELL
BENNETT’S WHALING VOYAGE ROUND THE
GLOBE, 1840.
October 13. ‘There she blows,’ was sung out from the
mast-head.
‘Where away?’ demanded the captain.
‘Three points off the lee bow, sir.’
‘Raise up your wheel. Steady!’ ‘Steady, sir.’
‘Mast-head ahoy! Do you see that whale now?’
‘Ay ay, sir! A shoal of Sperm Whales! There she blows!
There she breaches!’
‘Sing out! sing out every time!’
‘Ay Ay, sir! There she blows! there—there—THAR she
blows—bowes—bo-o-os!’
‘How far off?’
‘Two miles and a half.’
‘Thunder and lightning! so near! Call all hands.’ —J.
ROSS BROWNE’S ETCHINGS OF A WHALING
CRUIZE. 1846.


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   ‘The Whale-ship Globe, on board of which vessel
occurred the horrid transactions we are about to relate,
belonged to the island of Nantucket.’ —‘NARRATIVE
OF THE GLOBE,’ BY LAY AND HUSSEY
SURVIVORS. A.D. 1828.
   Being once pursued by a whale which he had
wounded, he parried the assault for some time with a
lance; but the furious monster at length rushed on the
boat; himself and comrades only being preserved by
leaping into the water when they saw the onset was
inevitable.’   —MISSIONARY            JOURNAL            OF
TYERMAN AND BENNETT.
   ‘Nantucket itself,’ said Mr. Webster, ‘is a very striking
and peculiar portion of the National interest. There is a
population of eight or nine thousand persons living here in
the sea, adding largely every year to the National wealth
by the boldest and most persevering industry.’ —
REPORT OF DANIEL WEBSTER’S SPEECH IN
THE U. S. SENATE, ON THE APPLICATION FOR
THE ERECTION OF A BREAKWATER AT
NANTUCKET. 1828.
   ‘The whale fell directly over him, and probably killed
him in a moment.’ —‘THE WHALE AND HIS
CAPTORS,           OR         THE         WHALEMAN’S


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ADVENTURES AND THE WHALE’S BIOGRAPHY,
GATHERED ON THE HOMEWARD CRUISE OF
THE COMMODORE PREBLE.’ BY REV. HENRY
T. CHEEVER.
    ‘If you make the least damn bit of noise,’ replied
Samuel, ‘I will send you to hell.’ —LIFE OF SAMUEL
COMSTOCK            (THE     MUTINEER),          BY     HIS
BROTHER, WILLIAM COMSTOCK. ANOTHER
VERSION OF THE WHALE-SHIP GLOBE
NARRATIVE.
    ‘The voyages of the Dutch and English to the Northern
Ocean, in order, if possible, to discover a passage through
it to India, though they failed of their main object, laid-
open the haunts of the whale.’ —MCCULLOCH’S
COMMERCIAL DICTIONARY.
    ‘These things are reciprocal; the ball rebounds, only to
bound forward again; for now in laying open the haunts of
the whale, the whalemen seem to have indirectly hit upon
new clews to that same mystic North-West Passage.’ —
FROM ‘SOMETHING’ UNPUBLISHED.
    ‘It is impossible to meet a whale-ship on the ocean
without being struck by her near appearance. The vessel
under short sail, with look-outs at the mast-heads, eagerly
scanning the wide expanse around them, has a totally


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different air from those engaged in regular voyage.’ —
CURRENTS AND WHALING. U.S. EX. EX.
    ‘Pedestrians in the vicinity of London and elsewhere
may recollect having seen large curved bones set upright
in the earth, either to form arches over gateways, or
entrances to alcoves, and they may perhaps have been told
that these were the ribs of whales.’ —TALES OF A
WHALE VOYAGER TO THE ARCTIC OCEAN.
    ‘It was not till the boats returned from the pursuit of
these whales, that the whites saw their ship in bloody
possession of the savages enrolled among the crew.’ —
NEWSPAPER ACCOUNT OF THE TAKING AND
RETAKING OF THE WHALE-SHIP HOBOMACK.
    ‘It is generally well known that out of the crews of
Whaling vessels (American) few ever return in the ships on
board of which they departed.’ —CRUISE IN A
WHALE BOAT.
    ‘Suddenly a mighty mass emerged from the water, and
shot up perpendicularly into the air. It was the while.’ —
MIRIAM COFFIN OR THE WHALE FISHERMAN.
    ‘The Whale is harpooned to be sure; but bethink you,
how you would manage a powerful unbroken colt, with
the mere appliance of a rope tied to the root of his tail.’ —



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A CHAPTER ON WHALING IN RIBS AND
TRUCKS.
   ‘On one occasion I saw two of these monsters (whales)
probably male and female, slowly swimming, one after the
other, within less than a stone’s throw of the shore’ (Terra
Del Fuego), ‘over which the beech tree extended its
branches.’      —DARWIN’S           VOYAGE        OF      A
NATURALIST.
   ‘‘Stern all!’ exclaimed the mate, as upon turning his
head, he saw the distended jaws of a large Sperm Whale
close to the head of the boat, threatening it with instant
destruction;—’Stern all, for your lives!’’ —WHARTON
THE WHALE KILLER.
   ‘So be cheery, my lads, let your hearts never fail, While
the bold harpooneer is striking the whale!’ —
NANTUCKET SONG.
   ‘Oh, the rare old Whale, mid storm and gale In his
ocean home will be A giant in might, where might is
right, And King of the boundless sea.’ —WHALE SONG.




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                        Chapter 1

   Loomings.
   Call me Ishmael. Some years ago—never mind how
long precisely—having little or no money in my purse,
and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I
would sail about a little and see the watery part of the
world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and
regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself
growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp,
drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself
involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and
bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially
whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it
requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from
deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically
knocking people’s hats off—then, I account it high time to
get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol
and ball. With a philosophical flourish Cato throws himself
upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship. There is
nothing surprising in this. If they but knew it, almost all
men in their degree, some time or other, cherish very
nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me.


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    There now is your insular city of the Manhattoes,
belted round by wharves as Indian isles by coral reefs—
commerce surrounds it with her surf. Right and left, the
streets take you waterward. Its extreme downtown is the
battery, where that noble mole is washed by waves, and
cooled by breezes, which a few hours previous were out
of sight of land. Look at the crowds of water-gazers there.
    Circumambulate the city of a dreamy Sabbath
afternoon. Go from Corlears Hook to Coenties Slip, and
from thence, by Whitehall, northward. What do you
see?—Posted like silent sentinels all around the town,
stand thousands upon thousands of mortal men fixed in
ocean reveries. Some leaning against the spiles; some
seated upon the pier-heads; some looking over the
bulwarks of ships from China; some high aloft in the
rigging, as if striving to get a still better seaward peep. But
these are all landsmen; of week days pent up in lath and
plaster—tied to counters, nailed to benches, clinched to
desks. How then is this? Are the green fields gone? What
do they here?
    But look! here come more crowds, pacing straight for
the water, and seemingly bound for a dive. Strange!
Nothing will content them but the extremest limit of the
land; loitering under the shady lee of yonder warehouses


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will not suffice. No. They must get just as nigh the water
as they possibly can without falling in. And there they
stand—miles of them—leagues. Inlanders all, they come
from lanes and alleys, streets and avenues—north, east,
south, and west. Yet here they all unite. Tell me, does the
magnetic virtue of the needles of the compasses of all those
ships attract them thither?
   Once more. Say you are in the country; in some high
land of lakes. Take almost any path you please, and ten to
one it carries you down in a dale, and leaves you there by
a pool in the stream. There is magic in it. Let the most
absent-minded of men be plunged in his deepest
reveries—stand that man on his legs, set his feet a-going,
and he will infallibly lead you to water, if water there be
in all that region. Should you ever be athirst in the great
American desert, try this experiment, if your caravan
happen to be supplied with a metaphysical professor. Yes,
as every one knows, meditation and water are wedded for
ever.
   But here is an artist. He desires to paint you the
dreamiest, shadiest, quietest, most enchanting bit of
romantic landscape in all the valley of the Saco. What is
the chief element he employs? There stand his trees, each
with a hollow trunk, as if a hermit and a crucifix were


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within; and here sleeps his meadow, and there sleep his
cattle; and up from yonder cottage goes a sleepy smoke.
Deep into distant woodlands winds a mazy way, reaching
to overlapping spurs of mountains bathed in their hill-side
blue. But though the picture lies thus tranced, and though
this pine-tree shakes down its sighs like leaves upon this
shepherd’s head, yet all were vain, unless the shepherd’s
eye were fixed upon the magic stream before him. Go
visit the Prairies in June, when for scores on scores of
miles you wade knee-deep among Tiger-lilies—what is
the one charm wanting?—Water—there is not a drop of
water there! Were Niagara but a cataract of sand, would
you travel your thousand miles to see it? Why did the
poor poet of Tennessee, upon suddenly receiving two
handfuls of silver, deliberate whether to buy him a coat,
which he sadly needed, or invest his money in a pedestrian
trip to Rockaway Beach? Why is almost every robust
healthy boy with a robust healthy soul in him, at some
time or other crazy to go to sea? Why upon your first
voyage as a passenger, did you yourself feel such a mystical
vibration, when first told that you and your ship were
now out of sight of land? Why did the old Persians hold
the sea holy? Why did the Greeks give it a separate deity,
and own brother of Jove? Surely all this is not without


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meaning. And still deeper the meaning of that story of
Narcissus, who because he could not grasp the tormenting,
mild image he saw in the fountain, plunged into it and was
drowned. But that same image, we ourselves see in all
rivers and oceans. It is the image of the ungraspable
phantom of life; and this is the key to it all.
    Now, when I say that I am in the habit of going to sea
whenever I begin to grow hazy about the eyes, and begin
to be over conscious of my lungs, I do not mean to have it
inferred that I ever go to sea as a passenger. For to go as a
passenger you must needs have a purse, and a purse is but
a rag unless you have something in it. Besides, passengers
get sea-sick—grow quarrelsome—don’t sleep of nights—
do not enjoy themselves much, as a general thing;—no, I
never go as a passenger; nor, though I am something of a
salt, do I ever go to sea as a Commodore, or a Captain, or
a Cook. I abandon the glory and distinction of such offices
to those who like them. For my part, I abominate all
honourable respectable toils, trials, and tribulations of
every kind whatsoever. It is quite as much as I can do to
take care of myself, without taking care of ships, barques,
brigs, schooners, and what not. And as for going as
cook,—though I confess there is considerable glory in
that, a cook being a sort of officer on ship-board—yet,


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somehow, I never fancied broiling fowls;—though once
broiled, judiciously buttered, and judgmatically salted and
peppered, there is no one who will speak more
respectfully, not to say reverentially, of a broiled fowl than
I will. It is out of the idolatrous dotings of the old
Egyptians upon broiled ibis and roasted river horse, that
you see the mummies of those creatures in their huge
bake-houses the pyramids.
    No, when I go to sea, I go as a simple sailor, right
before the mast, plumb down into the forecastle, aloft
there to the royal mast-head. True, they rather order me
about some, and make me jump from spar to spar, like a
grasshopper in a May meadow. And at first, this sort of
thing is unpleasant enough. It touches one’s sense of
honour, particularly if you come of an old established
family in the land, the Van Rensselaers, or Randolphs, or
Hardicanutes. And more than all, if just previous to
putting your hand into the tar-pot, you have been lording
it as a country schoolmaster, making the tallest boys stand
in awe of you. The transition is a keen one, I assure you,
from a schoolmaster to a sailor, and requires a strong
decoction of Seneca and the Stoics to enable you to grin
and bear it. But even this wears off in time.



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    What of it, if some old hunks of a sea-captain orders
me to get a broom and sweep down the decks? What does
that indignity amount to, weighed, I mean, in the scales of
the New Testament? Do you think the archangel Gabriel
thinks anything the less of me, because I promptly and
respectfully obey that old hunks in that particular instance?
Who ain’t a slave? Tell me that. Well, then, however the
old sea-captains may order me about—however they may
thump and punch me about, I have the satisfaction of
knowing that it is all right; that everybody else is one way
or other served in much the same way—either in a
physical or metaphysical point of view, that is; and so the
universal thump is passed round, and all hands should rub
each other’s shoulder-blades, and be content.
    Again, I always go to sea as a sailor, because they make
a point of paying me for my trouble, whereas they never
pay passengers a single penny that I ever heard of. On the
contrary, passengers themselves must pay. And there is all
the difference in the world between paying and being
paid. The act of paying is perhaps the most uncomfortable
infliction that the two orchard thieves entailed upon us.
But BEING PAID,—what will compare with it? The
urbane activity with which a man receives money is really
marvellous, considering that we so earnestly believe


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money to be the root of all earthly ills, and that on no
account can a monied man enter heaven. Ah! how
cheerfully we consign ourselves to perdition!
    Finally, I always go to sea as a sailor, because of the
wholesome exercise and pure air of the fore-castle deck.
For as in this world, head winds are far more prevalent
than winds from astern (that is, if you never violate the
Pythagorean maxim), so for the most part the
Commodore on the quarter-deck gets his atmosphere at
second hand from the sailors on the forecastle. He thinks
he breathes it first; but not so. In much the same way do
the commonalty lead their leaders in many other things, at
the same time that the leaders little suspect it. But
wherefore it was that after having repeatedly smelt the sea
as a merchant sailor, I should now take it into my head to
go on a whaling voyage; this the invisible police officer of
the Fates, who has the constant surveillance of me, and
secretly dogs me, and influences me in some
unaccountable way—he can better answer than any one
else. And, doubtless, my going on this whaling voyage,
formed part of the grand programme of Providence that
was drawn up a long time ago. It came in as a sort of brief
interlude and solo between more extensive performances.



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I take it that this part of the bill must have run something
like this:
    ‘GRAND CONTESTED ELECTION FOR THE
PRESIDENCY OF THE UNITED STATES.
‘WHALING VOYAGE BY ONE ISHMAEL.
‘BLOODY BATTLE IN AFFGHANISTAN.’
    Though I cannot tell why it was exactly that those stage
managers, the Fates, put me down for this shabby part of a
whaling voyage, when others were set down for
magnificent parts in high tragedies, and short and easy
parts in genteel comedies, and jolly parts in farces—though
I cannot tell why this was exactly; yet, now that I recall all
the circumstances, I think I can see a little into the springs
and motives which being cunningly presented to me
under various disguises, induced me to set about
performing the part I did, besides cajoling me into the
delusion that it was a choice resulting from my own
unbiased freewill and discriminating judgment.
    Chief among these motives was the overwhelming idea
of the great whale himself. Such a portentous and
mysterious monster roused all my curiosity. Then the wild
and distant seas where he rolled his island bulk; the
undeliverable, nameless perils of the whale; these, with all
the attending marvels of a thousand Patagonian sights and


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sounds, helped to sway me to my wish. With other men,
perhaps, such things would not have been inducements;
but as for me, I am tormented with an everlasting itch for
things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on
barbarous coasts. Not ignoring what is good, I am quick to
perceive a horror, and could still be social with it—would
they let me—since it is but well to be on friendly terms
with all the inmates of the place one lodges in.
   By reason of these things, then, the whaling voyage was
welcome; the great flood-gates of the wonder-world
swung open, and in the wild conceits that swayed me to
my purpose, two and two there floated into my inmost
soul, endless processions of the whale, and, mid most of
them all, one grand hooded phantom, like a snow hill in
the air.




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                       Chapter 2

    The Carpet-Bag.
    I stuffed a shirt or two into my old carpet-bag, tucked
it under my arm, and started for Cape Horn and the
Pacific. Quitting the good city of old Manhatto, I duly
arrived in New Bedford. It was a Saturday night in
December. Much was I disappointed upon learning that
the little packet for Nantucket had already sailed, and that
no way of reaching that place would offer, till the
following Monday.
    As most young candidates for the pains and penalties of
whaling stop at this same New Bedford, thence to embark
on their voyage, it may as well be related that I, for one,
had no idea of so doing. For my mind was made up to sail
in no other than a Nantucket craft, because there was a
fine, boisterous something about everything connected
with that famous old island, which amazingly pleased me.
Besides though New Bedford has of late been gradually
monopolising the business of whaling, and though in this
matter poor old Nantucket is now much behind her, yet
Nantucket was her great original—the Tyre of this
Carthage;—the place where the first dead American whale


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was stranded. Where else but from Nantucket did those
aboriginal whalemen, the Red-Men, first sally out in
canoes to give chase to the Leviathan? And where but
from Nantucket, too, did that first adventurous little sloop
put forth, partly laden with imported cobblestones—so
goes the story—to throw at the whales, in order to
discover when they were nigh enough to risk a harpoon
from the bowsprit?
    Now having a night, a day, and still another night
following before me in New Bedford, ere I could embark
for my destined port, it became a matter of concernment
where I was to eat and sleep meanwhile. It was a very
dubious-looking, nay, a very dark and dismal night,
bitingly cold and cheerless. I knew no one in the place.
With anxious grapnels I had sounded my pocket, and only
brought up a few pieces of silver,—So, wherever you go,
Ishmael, said I to myself, as I stood in the middle of a
dreary street shouldering my bag, and comparing the
gloom towards the north with the darkness towards the
south—wherever in your wisdom you may conclude to
lodge for the night, my dear Ishmael, be sure to inquire
the price, and don’t be too particular.
    With halting steps I paced the streets, and passed the
sign of ‘The Crossed Harpoons’—but it looked too


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expensive and jolly there. Further on, from the bright red
windows of the ‘Sword-Fish Inn,’ there came such fervent
rays, that it seemed to have melted the packed snow and
ice from before the house, for everywhere else the
congealed frost lay ten inches thick in a hard, asphaltic
pavement,—rather weary for me, when I struck my foot
against the flinty projections, because from hard,
remorseless service the soles of my boots were in a most
miserable plight. Too expensive and jolly, again thought I,
pausing one moment to watch the broad glare in the
street, and hear the sounds of the tinkling glasses within.
But go on, Ishmael, said I at last; don’t you hear? get away
from before the door; your patched boots are stopping the
way. So on I went. I now by instinct followed the streets
that took me waterward, for there, doubtless, were the
cheapest, if not the cheeriest inns.
    Such dreary streets! blocks of blackness, not houses, on
either hand, and here and there a candle, like a candle
moving about in a tomb. At this hour of the night, of the
last day of the week, that quarter of the town proved all
but deserted. But presently I came to a smoky light
proceeding from a low, wide building, the door of which
stood invitingly open. It had a careless look, as if it were
meant for the uses of the public; so, entering, the first


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thing I did was to stumble over an ash-box in the porch.
Ha! thought I, ha, as the flying particles almost choked
me, are these ashes from that destroyed city, Gomorrah?
But ‘The Crossed Harpoons,’ and ‘The Sword-Fish?’—
this, then must needs be the sign of ‘The Trap.’ However,
I picked myself up and hearing a loud voice within,
pushed on and opened a second, interior door.
   It seemed the great Black Parliament sitting in Tophet.
A hundred black faces turned round in their rows to peer;
and beyond, a black Angel of Doom was beating a book
in a pulpit. It was a negro church; and the preacher’s text
was about the blackness of darkness, and the weeping and
wailing and teeth-gnashing there. Ha, Ishmael, muttered I,
backing out, Wretched entertainment at the sign of ‘The
Trap!’
   Moving on, I at last came to a dim sort of light not far
from the docks, and heard a forlorn creaking in the air;
and looking up, saw a swinging sign over the door with a
white painting upon it, faintly representing a tall straight
jet of misty spray, and these words underneath—‘The
Spouter Inn:—Peter Coffin.’
   Coffin?—Spouter?—Rather ominous in that particular
connexion, thought I. But it is a common name in
Nantucket, they say, and I suppose this Peter here is an


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emigrant from there. As the light looked so dim, and the
place, for the time, looked quiet enough, and the
dilapidated little wooden house itself looked as if it might
have been carted here from the ruins of some burnt
district, and as the swinging sign had a poverty-stricken
sort of creak to it, I thought that here was the very spot
for cheap lodgings, and the best of pea coffee.
    It was a queer sort of place—a gable-ended old house,
one side palsied as it were, and leaning over sadly. It stood
on a sharp bleak corner, where that tempestuous wind
Euroclydon kept up a worse howling than ever it did
about poor Paul’s tossed craft. Euroclydon, nevertheless, is
a mighty pleasant zephyr to any one in-doors, with his feet
on the hob quietly toasting for bed. ‘In judging of that
tempestuous wind called Euroclydon,’ says an old writer—
of whose works I possess the only copy extant—‘it maketh
a marvellous difference, whether thou lookest out at it
from a glass window where the frost is all on the outside,
or whether thou observest it from that sashless window,
where the frost is on both sides, and of which the wight
Death is the only glazier.’ True enough, thought I, as this
passage occurred to my mind—old black-letter, thou
reasonest well. Yes, these eyes are windows, and this body
of mine is the house. What a pity they didn’t stop up the


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chinks and the crannies though, and thrust in a little lint
here and there. But it’s too late to make any
improvements now. The universe is finished; the
copestone is on, and the chips were carted off a million
years ago. Poor Lazarus there, chattering his teeth against
the curbstone for his pillow, and shaking off his tatters
with his shiverings, he might plug up both ears with rags,
and put a corn-cob into his mouth, and yet that would not
keep out the tempestuous Euroclydon. Euroclydon! says
old Dives, in his red silken wrapper—(he had a redder one
afterwards) pooh, pooh! What a fine frosty night; how
Orion glitters; what northern lights! Let them talk of their
oriental summer climes of everlasting conservatories; give
me the privilege of making my own summer with my
own coals.
    But what thinks Lazarus? Can he warm his blue hands
by holding them up to the grand northern lights? Would
not Lazarus rather be in Sumatra than here? Would he not
far rather lay him down lengthwise along the line of the
equator; yea, ye gods! go down to the fiery pit itself, in
order to keep out this frost?
    Now, that Lazarus should lie stranded there on the
curbstone before the door of Dives, this is more wonderful
than that an iceberg should be moored to one of the


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Moluccas. Yet Dives himself, he too lives like a Czar in an
ice palace made of frozen sighs, and being a president of a
temperance society, he only drinks the tepid tears of
orphans.
   But no more of this blubbering now, we are going a-
whaling, and there is plenty of that yet to come. Let us
scrape the ice from our frosted feet, and see what sort of a
place this ‘Spouter’ may be.




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                        Chapter 3

   The Spouter-Inn.
   Entering that gable-ended Spouter-Inn, you found
yourself in a wide, low, straggling entry with old-
fashioned wainscots, reminding one of the bulwarks of
some condemned old craft. On one side hung a very large
oilpainting so thoroughly besmoked, and every way
defaced, that in the unequal crosslights by which you
viewed it, it was only by diligent study and a series of
systematic visits to it, and careful inquiry of the neighbors,
that you could any way arrive at an understanding of its
purpose. Such unaccountable masses of shades and
shadows, that at first you almost thought some ambitious
young artist, in the time of the New England hags, had
endeavored to delineate chaos bewitched. But by dint of
much and earnest contemplation, and oft repeated
ponderings, and especially by throwing open the little
window towards the back of the entry, you at last come to
the conclusion that such an idea, however wild, might not
be altogether unwarranted.
   But what most puzzled and confounded you was a
long, limber, portentous, black mass of something


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hovering in the centre of the picture over three blue, dim,
perpendicular lines floating in a nameless yeast. A boggy,
soggy, squitchy picture truly, enough to drive a nervous
man distracted. Yet was there a sort of indefinite, half-
attained, unimaginable sublimity about it that fairly froze
you to it, till you involuntarily took an oath with yourself
to find out what that marvellous painting meant. Ever and
anon a bright, but, alas, deceptive idea would dart you
through.—It’s the Black Sea in a midnight gale.—It’s the
unnatural combat of the four primal elements.—It’s a
blasted heath.—It’s a Hyperborean winter scene.—It’s the
breaking-up of the icebound stream of Time. But at last all
these fancies yielded to that one portentous something in
the picture’s midst. THAT once found out, and all the rest
were plain. But stop; does it not bear a faint resemblance
to a gigantic fish? even the great leviathan himself?
    In fact, the artist’s design seemed this: a final theory of
my own, partly based upon the aggregated opinions of
many aged persons with whom I conversed upon the
subject. The picture represents a Cape-Horner in a great
hurricane; the half-foundered ship weltering there with its
three dismantled masts alone visible; and an exasperated
whale, purposing to spring clean over the craft, is in the



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enormous act of impaling himself upon the three mast-
heads.
    The opposite wall of this entry was hung all over with a
heathenish array of monstrous clubs and spears. Some were
thickly set with glittering teeth resembling ivory saws;
others were tufted with knots of human hair; and one was
sickle-shaped, with a vast handle sweeping round like the
segment made in the new-mown grass by a long-armed
mower. You shuddered as you gazed, and wondered what
monstrous cannibal and savage could ever have gone a
death-harvesting with such a hacking, horrifying
implement. Mixed with these were rusty old whaling
lances and harpoons all broken and deformed. Some were
storied weapons. With this once long lance, now wildly
elbowed, fifty years ago did Nathan Swain kill fifteen
whales between a sunrise and a sunset. And that
harpoon—so like a corkscrew now—was flung in Javan
seas, and run away with by a whale, years afterwards slain
off the Cape of Blanco. The original iron entered nigh the
tail, and, like a restless needle sojourning in the body of a
man, travelled full forty feet, and at last was found
imbedded in the hump.
    Crossing this dusky entry, and on through yon low-
arched way—cut through what in old times must have


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been a great central chimney with fireplaces all round—
you enter the public room. A still duskier place is this,
with such low ponderous beams above, and such old
wrinkled planks beneath, that you would almost fancy you
trod some old craft’s cockpits, especially of such a howling
night, when this corner-anchored old ark rocked so
furiously. On one side stood a long, low, shelf-like table
covered with cracked glass cases, filled with dusty rarities
gathered from this wide world’s remotest nooks.
Projecting from the further angle of the room stands a
dark-looking den—the bar—a rude attempt at a right
whale’s head. Be that how it may, there stands the vast
arched bone of the whale’s jaw, so wide, a coach might
almost drive beneath it. Within are shabby shelves, ranged
round with old decanters, bottles, flasks; and in those jaws
of swift destruction, like another cursed Jonah (by which
name indeed they called him), bustles a little withered old
man, who, for their money, dearly sells the sailors
deliriums and death.
    Abominable are the tumblers into which he pours his
poison. Though true cylinders without—within, the
villanous green goggling glasses deceitfully tapered
downwards to a cheating bottom. Parallel meridians rudely
pecked into the glass, surround these footpads’ goblets. Fill


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to THIS mark, and your charge is but a penny; to THIS a
penny more; and so on to the full glass—the Cape Horn
measure, which you may gulp down for a shilling.
    Upon entering the place I found a number of young
seamen gathered about a table, examining by a dim light
divers specimens of SKRIMSHANDER. I sought the
landlord, and telling him I desired to be accommodated
with a room, received for answer that his house was full—
not a bed unoccupied. ‘But avast,’ he added, tapping his
forehead, ‘you haint no objections to sharing a
harpooneer’s blanket, have ye? I s’pose you are goin’ a-
whalin’, so you’d better get used to that sort of thing.’
    I told him that I never liked to sleep two in a bed; that
if I should ever do so, it would depend upon who the
harpooneer might be, and that if he (the landlord) really
had no other place for me, and the harpooneer was not
decidedly objectionable, why rather than wander further
about a strange town on so bitter a night, I would put up
with the half of any decent man’s blanket.
    ‘I thought so. All right; take a seat. Supper?—you want
supper? Supper’ll be ready directly.’
    I sat down on an old wooden settle, carved all over like
a bench on the Battery. At one end a ruminating tar was
still further adorning it with his jack-knife, stooping over


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and diligently working away at the space between his legs.
He was trying his hand at a ship under full sail, but he
didn’t make much headway, I thought.
    At last some four or five of us were summoned to our
meal in an adjoining room. It was cold as Iceland—no fire
at all—the landlord said he couldn’t afford it. Nothing but
two dismal tallow candles, each in a winding sheet. We
were fain to button up our monkey jackets, and hold to
our lips cups of scalding tea with our half frozen fingers.
But the fare was of the most substantial kind—not only
meat and potatoes, but dumplings; good heavens!
dumplings for supper! One young fellow in a green box
coat, addressed himself to these dumplings in a most
direful manner.
    ‘My boy,’ said the landlord, ‘you’ll have the nightmare
to a dead sartainty.’
    ‘Landlord,’ I whispered, ‘that aint the harpooneer is it?’
    ‘Oh, no,’ said he, looking a sort of diabolically funny,
‘the harpooneer is a dark complexioned chap. He never
eats dumplings, he don’t—he eats nothing but steaks, and
he likes ‘em rare.’
    ‘The devil he does,’ says I. ‘Where is that harpooneer?
Is he here?’
    ‘He’ll be here afore long,’ was the answer.


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    I could not help it, but I began to feel suspicious of this
‘dark complexioned’ harpooneer. At any rate, I made up
my mind that if it so turned out that we should sleep
together, he must undress and get into bed before I did.
    Supper over, the company went back to the bar-room,
when, knowing not what else to do with myself, I
resolved to spend the rest of the evening as a looker on.
    Presently a rioting noise was heard without. Starting
up, the landlord cried, ‘That’s the Grampus’s crew. I seed
her reported in the offing this morning; a three years’
voyage, and a full ship. Hurrah, boys; now we’ll have the
latest news from the Feegees.’
    A tramping of sea boots was heard in the entry; the
door was flung open, and in rolled a wild set of mariners
enough. Enveloped in their shaggy watch coats, and with
their heads muffled in woollen comforters, all bedarned
and ragged, and their beards stiff with icicles, they seemed
an eruption of bears from Labrador. They had just landed
from their boat, and this was the first house they entered.
No wonder, then, that they made a straight wake for the
whale’s mouth—the bar—when the wrinkled little old
Jonah, there officiating, soon poured them out brimmers
all round. One complained of a bad cold in his head, upon
which Jonah mixed him a pitch-like potion of gin and


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molasses, which he swore was a sovereign cure for all colds
and catarrhs whatsoever, never mind of how long
standing, or whether caught off the coast of Labrador, or
on the weather side of an ice-island.
   The liquor soon mounted into their heads, as it
generally does even with the arrantest topers newly landed
from sea, and they began capering about most
obstreperously.
   I observed, however, that one of them held somewhat
aloof, and though he seemed desirous not to spoil the
hilarity of his shipmates by his own sober face, yet upon
the whole he refrained from making as much noise as the
rest. This man interested me at once; and since the sea-
gods had ordained that he should soon become my
shipmate (though but a sleeping-partner one, so far as this
narrative is concerned), I will here venture upon a little
description of him. He stood full six feet in height, with
noble shoulders, and a chest like a coffer-dam. I have
seldom seen such brawn in a man. His face was deeply
brown and burnt, making his white teeth dazzling by the
contrast; while in the deep shadows of his eyes floated
some reminiscences that did not seem to give him much
joy. His voice at once announced that he was a
Southerner, and from his fine stature, I thought he must


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be one of those tall mountaineers from the Alleghanian
Ridge in Virginia. When the revelry of his companions
had mounted to its height, this man slipped away
unobserved, and I saw no more of him till he became my
comrade on the sea. In a few minutes, however, he was
missed by his shipmates, and being, it seems, for some
reason a huge favourite with them, they raised a cry of
‘Bulkington! Bulkington! where’s Bulkington?’ and darted
out of the house in pursuit of him.
    It was now about nine o’clock, and the room seeming
almost supernaturally quiet after these orgies, I began to
congratulate myself upon a little plan that had occurred to
me just previous to the entrance of the seamen.
    No man prefers to sleep two in a bed. In fact, you
would a good deal rather not sleep with your own
brother. I don’t know how it is, but people like to be
private when they are sleeping. And when it comes to
sleeping with an unknown stranger, in a strange inn, in a
strange town, and that stranger a harpooneer, then your
objections indefinitely multiply. Nor was there any earthly
reason why I as a sailor should sleep two in a bed, more
than anybody else; for sailors no more sleep two in a bed
at sea, than bachelor Kings do ashore. To be sure they all
sleep together in one apartment, but you have your own


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hammock, and cover yourself with your own blanket, and
sleep in your own skin.
    The more I pondered over this harpooneer, the more I
abominated the thought of sleeping with him. It was fair
to presume that being a harpooneer, his linen or woollen,
as the case might be, would not be of the tidiest, certainly
none of the finest. I began to twitch all over. Besides, it
was getting late, and my decent harpooneer ought to be
home and going bedwards. Suppose now, he should
tumble in upon me at midnight—how could I tell from
what vile hole he had been coming?
    ‘Landlord! I’ve changed my mind about that
harpooneer.—I shan’t sleep with him. I’ll try the bench
here.’
    ‘Just as you please; I’m sorry I cant spare ye a tablecloth
for a mattress, and it’s a plaguy rough board here’—feeling
of the knots and notches. ‘But wait a bit, Skrimshander;
I’ve got a carpenter’s plane there in the bar—wait, I say,
and I’ll make ye snug enough.’ So saying he procured the
plane; and with his old silk handkerchief first dusting the
bench, vigorously set to planing away at my bed, the
while grinning like an ape. The shavings flew right and
left; till at last the plane-iron came bump against an
indestructible knot. The landlord was near spraining his


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wrist, and I told him for heaven’s sake to quit—the bed
was soft enough to suit me, and I did not know how all
the planing in the world could make eider down of a pine
plank. So gathering up the shavings with another grin, and
throwing them into the great stove in the middle of the
room, he went about his business, and left me in a brown
study.
   I now took the measure of the bench, and found that it
was a foot too short; but that could be mended with a
chair. But it was a foot too narrow, and the other bench in
the room was about four inches higher than the planed
one—so there was no yoking them. I then placed the first
bench lengthwise along the only clear space against the
wall, leaving a little interval between, for my back to settle
down in. But I soon found that there came such a draught
of cold air over me from under the sill of the window,
that this plan would never do at all, especially as another
current from the rickety door met the one from the
window, and both together formed a series of small
whirlwinds in the immediate vicinity of the spot where I
had thought to spend the night.
   The devil fetch that harpooneer, thought I, but stop,
couldn’t I steal a march on him—bolt his door inside, and
jump into his bed, not to be wakened by the most violent


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knockings? It seemed no bad idea; but upon second
thoughts I dismissed it. For who could tell but what the
next morning, so soon as I popped out of the room, the
harpooneer might be standing in the entry, all ready to
knock me down!
   Still, looking round me again, and seeing no possible
chance of spending a sufferable night unless in some other
person’s bed, I began to think that after all I might be
cherishing unwarrantable prejudices against this unknown
harpooneer. Thinks I, I’ll wait awhile; he must be
dropping in before long. I’ll have a good look at him then,
and perhaps we may become jolly good bedfellows after
all—there’s no telling.
   But though the other boarders kept coming in by ones,
twos, and threes, and going to bed, yet no sign of my
harpooneer.
   ‘Landlord! said I, ‘what sort of a chap is he—does he
always keep such late hours?’ It was now hard upon
twelve o’clock.
   The landlord chuckled again with his lean chuckle, and
seemed to be mightily tickled at something beyond my
comprehension. ‘No,’ he answered, ‘generally he’s an
early bird—airley to bed and airley to rise—yes, he’s the
bird what catches the worm. But to-night he went out a


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peddling, you see, and I don’t see what on airth keeps him
so late, unless, may be, he can’t sell his head.’
   ‘Can’t sell his head?—What sort of a bamboozingly
story is this you are telling me?’ getting into a towering
rage. ‘Do you pretend to say, landlord, that this
harpooneer is actually engaged this blessed Saturday night,
or rather Sunday morning, in peddling his head around
this town?’
   ‘That’s precisely it,’ said the landlord, ‘and I told him
he couldn’t sell it here, the market’s overstocked.’
   ‘With what?’ shouted I.
   ‘With heads to be sure; ain’t there too many heads in
the world?’
   ‘I tell you what it is, landlord,’ said I quite calmly,
‘you’d better stop spinning that yarn to me—I’m not
green.’
   ‘May be not,’ taking out a stick and whittling a
toothpick, ‘but I rayther guess you’ll be done BROWN if
that ere harpooneer hears you a slanderin’ his head.’
   ‘I’ll break it for him,’ said I, now flying into a passion
again at this unaccountable farrago of the landlord’s.
   ‘It’s broke a’ready,’ said he.
   ‘Broke,’ said I—‘BROKE, do you mean?’



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    ‘Sartain, and that’s the very reason he can’t sell it, I
guess.’
    ‘Landlord,’ said I, going up to him as cool as Mt. Hecla
in a snow-storm—‘landlord, stop whittling. You and I
must understand one another, and that too without delay.
I come to your house and want a bed; you tell me you can
only give me half a one; that the other half belongs to a
certain harpooneer. And about this harpooneer, whom I
have not yet seen, you persist in telling me the most
mystifying and exasperating stories tending to beget in me
an uncomfortable feeling towards the man whom you
design for my bedfellow—a sort of connexion, landlord,
which is an intimate and confidential one in the highest
degree. I now demand of you to speak out and tell me
who and what this harpooneer is, and whether I shall be in
all respects safe to spend the night with him. And in the
first place, you will be so good as to unsay that story about
selling his head, which if true I take to be good evidence
that this harpooneer is stark mad, and I’ve no idea of
sleeping with a madman; and you, sir, YOU I mean,
landlord, YOU, sir, by trying to induce me to do so
knowingly, would thereby render yourself liable to a
criminal prosecution.’



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   ‘Wall,’ said the landlord, fetching a long breath, ‘that’s a
purty long sarmon for a chap that rips a little now and
then. But be easy, be easy, this here harpooneer I have
been tellin’ you of has just arrived from the south seas,
where he bought up a lot of ‘balmed New Zealand heads
(great curios, you know), and he’s sold all on ‘em but one,
and that one he’s trying to sell to-night, cause to-
morrow’s Sunday, and it would not do to be sellin’ human
heads about the streets when folks is goin’ to churches. He
wanted to, last Sunday, but I stopped him just as he was
goin’ out of the door with four heads strung on a string,
for all the airth like a string of inions.’
   This account cleared up the otherwise unaccountable
mystery, and showed that the landlord, after all, had had
no idea of fooling me—but at the same time what could I
think of a harpooneer who stayed out of a Saturday night
clean into the holy Sabbath, engaged in such a cannibal
business as selling the heads of dead idolators?
   ‘Depend upon it, landlord, that harpooneer is a
dangerous man.’
   ‘He pays reg’lar,’ was the rejoinder. ‘But come, it’s
getting dreadful late, you had better be turning flukes—it’s
a nice bed; Sal and me slept in that ere bed the night we
were spliced. There’s plenty of room for two to kick


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about in that bed; it’s an almighty big bed that. Why, afore
we give it up, Sal used to put our Sam and little Johnny in
the foot of it. But I got a dreaming and sprawling about
one night, and somehow, Sam got pitched on the floor,
and came near breaking his arm. Arter that, Sal said it
wouldn’t do. Come along here, I’ll give ye a glim in a
jiffy;’ and so saying he lighted a candle and held it towards
me, offering to lead the way. But I stood irresolute; when
looking at a clock in the corner, he exclaimed ‘I vum it’s
Sunday—you won’t see that harpooneer to-night; he’s
come to anchor somewhere—come along then; DO
come; WON’T ye come?’
    I considered the matter a moment, and then up stairs
we went, and I was ushered into a small room, cold as a
clam, and furnished, sure enough, with a prodigious bed,
almost big enough indeed for any four harpooneers to
sleep abreast.
    ‘There,’ said the landlord, placing the candle on a crazy
old sea chest that did double duty as a wash-stand and
centre table; ‘there, make yourself comfortable now, and
good night to ye.’ I turned round from eyeing the bed,
but he had disappeared.
    Folding back the counterpane, I stooped over the bed.
Though none of the most elegant, it yet stood the scrutiny


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tolerably well. I then glanced round the room; and besides
the bedstead and centre table, could see no other furniture
belonging to the place, but a rude shelf, the four walls, and
a papered fireboard representing a man striking a whale.
Of things not properly belonging to the room, there was a
hammock lashed up, and thrown upon the floor in one
corner; also a large seaman’s bag, containing the
harpooneer’s wardrobe, no doubt in lieu of a land trunk.
Likewise, there was a parcel of outlandish bone fish hooks
on the shelf over the fire-place, and a tall harpoon standing
at the head of the bed.
    But what is this on the chest? I took it up, and held it
close to the light, and felt it, and smelt it, and tried every
way possible to arrive at some satisfactory conclusion
concerning it. I can compare it to nothing but a large door
mat, ornamented at the edges with little tinkling tags
something like the stained porcupine quills round an
Indian moccasin. There was a hole or slit in the middle of
this mat, as you see the same in South American ponchos.
But could it be possible that any sober harpooneer would
get into a door mat, and parade the streets of any Christian
town in that sort of guise? I put it on, to try it, and it
weighed me down like a hamper, being uncommonly
shaggy and thick, and I thought a little damp, as though


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this mysterious harpooneer had been wearing it of a rainy
day. I went up in it to a bit of glass stuck against the wall,
and I never saw such a sight in my life. I tore myself out of
it in such a hurry that I gave myself a kink in the neck.
    I sat down on the side of the bed, and commenced
thinking about this head-peddling harpooneer, and his
door mat. After thinking some time on the bed-side, I got
up and took off my monkey jacket, and then stood in the
middle of the room thinking. I then took off my coat, and
thought a little more in my shirt sleeves. But beginning to
feel very cold now, half undressed as I was, and
remembering what the landlord said about the
harpooneer’s not coming home at all that night, it being
so very late, I made no more ado, but jumped out of my
pantaloons and boots, and then blowing out the light
tumbled into bed, and commended myself to the care of
heaven.
    Whether that mattress was stuffed with corn-cobs or
broken crockery, there is no telling, but I rolled about a
good deal, and could not sleep for a long time. At last I
slid off into a light doze, and had pretty nearly made a
good offing towards the land of Nod, when I heard a
heavy footfall in the passage, and saw a glimmer of light
come into the room from under the door.


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   Lord save me, thinks I, that must be the harpooneer,
the infernal head-peddler. But I lay perfectly still, and
resolved not to say a word till spoken to. Holding a light
in one hand, and that identical New Zealand head in the
other, the stranger entered the room, and without looking
towards the bed, placed his candle a good way off from
me on the floor in one corner, and then began working
away at the knotted cords of the large bag I before spoke
of as being in the room. I was all eagerness to see his face,
but he kept it averted for some time while employed in
unlacing the bag’s mouth. This accomplished, however,
he turned round—when, good heavens! what a sight!
Such a face! It was of a dark, purplish, yellow colour, here
and there stuck over with large blackish looking squares.
Yes, it’s just as I thought, he’s a terrible bedfellow; he’s
been in a fight, got dreadfully cut, and here he is, just from
the surgeon. But at that moment he chanced to turn his
face so towards the light, that I plainly saw they could not
be sticking-plasters at all, those black squares on his
cheeks. They were stains of some sort or other. At first I
knew not what to make of this; but soon an inkling of the
truth occurred to me. I remembered a story of a white
man—a whaleman too—who, falling among the cannibals,
had been tattooed by them. I concluded that this


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harpooneer, in the course of his distant voyages, must have
met with a similar adventure. And what is it, thought I,
after all! It’s only his outside; a man can be honest in any
sort of skin. But then, what to make of his unearthly
complexion, that part of it, I mean, lying round about, and
completely independent of the squares of tattooing. To be
sure, it might be nothing but a good coat of tropical
tanning; but I never heard of a hot sun’s tanning a white
man into a purplish yellow one. However, I had never
been in the South Seas; and perhaps the sun there
produced these extraordinary effects upon the skin. Now,
while all these ideas were passing through me like
lightning, this harpooneer never noticed me at all. But,
after some difficulty having opened his bag, he
commenced fumbling in it, and presently pulled out a sort
of tomahawk, and a seal-skin wallet with the hair on.
Placing these on the old chest in the middle of the room,
he then took the New Zealand head—a ghastly thing
enough—and crammed it down into the bag. He now
took off his hat—a new beaver hat—when I came nigh
singing out with fresh surprise. There was no hair on his
head—none to speak of at least—nothing but a small
scalp-knot twisted up on his forehead. His bald purplish
head now looked for all the world like a mildewed skull.


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Had not the stranger stood between me and the door, I
would have bolted out of it quicker than ever I bolted a
dinner.
    Even as it was, I thought something of slipping out of
the window, but it was the second floor back. I am no
coward, but what to make of this head-peddling purple
rascal altogether passed my comprehension. Ignorance is
the parent of fear, and being completely nonplussed and
confounded about the stranger, I confess I was now as
much afraid of him as if it was the devil himself who had
thus broken into my room at the dead of night. In fact, I
was so afraid of him that I was not game enough just then
to address him, and demand a satisfactory answer
concerning what seemed inexplicable in him.
    Meanwhile, he continued the business of undressing,
and at last showed his chest and arms. As I live, these
covered parts of him were checkered with the same
squares as his face; his back, too, was all over the same
dark squares; he seemed to have been in a Thirty Years’
War, and just escaped from it with a sticking-plaster shirt.
Still more, his very legs were marked, as if a parcel of dark
green frogs were running up the trunks of young palms. It
was now quite plain that he must be some abominable
savage or other shipped aboard of a whaleman in the


                         59 of 1047
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South Seas, and so landed in this Christian country. I
quaked to think of it. A peddler of heads too—perhaps the
heads of his own brothers. He might take a fancy to
mine—heavens! look at that tomahawk!
    But there was no time for shuddering, for now the
savage went about something that completely fascinated
my attention, and convinced me that he must indeed be a
heathen. Going to his heavy grego, or wrapall, or
dreadnaught, which he had previously hung on a chair, he
fumbled in the pockets, and produced at length a curious
little deformed image with a hunch on its back, and
exactly the colour of a three days’ old Congo baby.
Remembering the embalmed head, at first I almost
thought that this black manikin was a real baby preserved
in some similar manner. But seeing that it was not at all
limber, and that it glistened a good deal like polished
ebony, I concluded that it must be nothing but a wooden
idol, which indeed it proved to be. For now the savage
goes up to the empty fire-place, and removing the papered
fire-board, sets up this little hunch-backed image, like a
tenpin, between the andirons. The chimney jambs and all
the bricks inside were very sooty, so that I thought this
fire-place made a very appropriate little shrine or chapel
for his Congo idol.


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    I now screwed my eyes hard towards the half hidden
image, feeling but ill at ease meantime—to see what was
next to follow. First he takes about a double handful of
shavings out of his grego pocket, and places them carefully
before the idol; then laying a bit of ship biscuit on top and
applying the flame from the lamp, he kindled the shavings
into a sacrificial blaze. Presently, after many hasty snatches
into the fire, and still hastier withdrawals of his fingers
(whereby he seemed to be scorching them badly), he at
last succeeded in drawing out the biscuit; then blowing off
the heat and ashes a little, he made a polite offer of it to
the little negro. But the little devil did not seem to fancy
such dry sort of fare at all; he never moved his lips. All
these strange antics were accompanied by still stranger
guttural noises from the devotee, who seemed to be
praying in a sing-song or else singing some pagan
psalmody or other, during which his face twitched about
in the most unnatural manner. At last extinguishing the
fire, he took the idol up very unceremoniously, and
bagged it again in his grego pocket as carelessly as if he
were a sportsman bagging a dead woodcock.
    All these queer proceedings increased my
uncomfortableness, and seeing him now exhibiting strong
symptoms of concluding his business operations, and


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jumping into bed with me, I thought it was high time,
now or never, before the light was put out, to break the
spell in which I had so long been bound.
   But the interval I spent in deliberating what to say, was
a fatal one. Taking up his tomahawk from the table, he
examined the head of it for an instant, and then holding it
to the light, with his mouth at the handle, he puffed out
great clouds of tobacco smoke. The next moment the light
was extinguished, and this wild cannibal, tomahawk
between his teeth, sprang into bed with me. I sang out, I
could not help it now; and giving a sudden grunt of
astonishment he began feeling me.
   Stammering out something, I knew not what, I rolled
away from him against the wall, and then conjured him,
whoever or whatever he might be, to keep quiet, and let
me get up and light the lamp again. But his guttural
responses satisfied me at once that he but ill
comprehended my meaning.
   ‘Who-e debel you?’—he at last said—‘you no speak-e,
dam-me, I kill-e.’ And so saying the lighted tomahawk
began flourishing about me in the dark.
   ‘Landlord, for God’s sake, Peter Coffin!’ shouted I.
‘Landlord! Watch! Coffin! Angels! save me!’



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    ‘Speak-e! tell-ee me who-ee be, or dam-me, I kill-e!’
again growled the cannibal, while his horrid flourishings of
the tomahawk scattered the hot tobacco ashes about me
till I thought my linen would get on fire. But thank
heaven, at that moment the landlord came into the room
light in hand, and leaping from the bed I ran up to him.
    ‘Don’t be afraid now,’ said he, grinning again,
‘Queequeg here wouldn’t harm a hair of your head.’
    ‘Stop your grinning,’ shouted I, ‘and why didn’t you
tell me that that infernal harpooneer was a cannibal?’
    ‘I thought ye know’d it;—didn’t I tell ye, he was a
peddlin’ heads around town?—but turn flukes again and
go to sleep. Queequeg, look here—you sabbee me, I
sabbee—you this man sleepe you—you sabbee?’
    ‘Me sabbee plenty’—grunted Queequeg, puffing away
at his pipe and sitting up in bed.
    ‘You gettee in,’ he added, motioning to me with his
tomahawk, and throwing the clothes to one side. He really
did this in not only a civil but a really kind and charitable
way. I stood looking at him a moment. For all his
tattooings he was on the whole a clean, comely looking
cannibal. What’s all this fuss I have been making about,
thought I to myself—the man’s a human being just as I
am: he has just as much reason to fear me, as I have to be


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afraid of him. Better sleep with a sober cannibal than a
drunken Christian.
    ‘Landlord,’ said I, ‘tell him to stash his tomahawk there,
or pipe, or whatever you call it; tell him to stop smoking,
in short, and I will turn in with him. But I don’t fancy
having a man smoking in bed with me. It’s dangerous.
Besides, I ain’t insured.’
    This being told to Queequeg, he at once complied, and
again politely motioned me to get into bed—rolling over
to one side as much as to say—I won’t touch a leg of ye.’
    ‘Good night, landlord,’ said I, ‘you may go.’
    I turned in, and never slept better in my life.




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                       Chapter 4

    The Counterpane.
    Upon waking next morning about daylight, I found
Queequeg’s arm thrown over me in the most loving and
affectionate manner. You had almost thought I had been
his wife. The counterpane was of patchwork, full of odd
little parti-coloured squares and triangles; and this arm of
his tattooed all over with an interminable Cretan labyrinth
of a figure, no two parts of which were of one precise
shade—owing I suppose to his keeping his arm at sea
unmethodically in sun and shade, his shirt sleeves
irregularly rolled up at various times—this same arm of his,
I say, looked for all the world like a strip of that same
patchwork quilt. Indeed, partly lying on it as the arm did
when I first awoke, I could hardly tell it from the quilt,
they so blended their hues together; and it was only by the
sense of weight and pressure that I could tell that
Queequeg was hugging me.
    My sensations were strange. Let me try to explain
them. When I was a child, I well remember a somewhat
similar circumstance that befell me; whether it was a
reality or a dream, I never could entirely settle. The


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circumstance was this. I had been cutting up some caper
or other—I think it was trying to crawl up the chimney, as
I had seen a little sweep do a few days previous; and my
stepmother who, somehow or other, was all the time
whipping me, or sending me to bed supperless,—my
mother dragged me by the legs out of the chimney and
packed me off to bed, though it was only two o’clock in
the afternoon of the 21st June, the longest day in the year
in our hemisphere. I felt dreadfully. But there was no help
for it, so up stairs I went to my little room in the third
floor, undressed myself as slowly as possible so as to kill
time, and with a bitter sigh got between the sheets.
   I lay there dismally calculating that sixteen entire hours
must elapse before I could hope for a resurrection. Sixteen
hours in bed! the small of my back ached to think of it.
And it was so light too; the sun shining in at the window,
and a great rattling of coaches in the streets, and the sound
of gay voices all over the house. I felt worse and worse—
at last I got up, dressed, and softly going down in my
stockinged feet, sought out my stepmother, and suddenly
threw myself at her feet, beseeching her as a particular
favour to give me a good slippering for my misbehaviour;
anything indeed but condemning me to lie abed such an
unendurable length of time. But she was the best and most


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conscientious of stepmothers, and back I had to go to my
room. For several hours I lay there broad awake, feeling a
great deal worse than I have ever done since, even from
the greatest subsequent misfortunes. At last I must have
fallen into a troubled nightmare of a doze; and slowly
waking from it—half steeped in dreams—I opened my
eyes, and the before sun-lit room was now wrapped in
outer darkness. Instantly I felt a shock running through all
my frame; nothing was to be seen, and nothing was to be
heard; but a supernatural hand seemed placed in mine. My
arm hung over the counterpane, and the nameless,
unimaginable, silent form or phantom, to which the hand
belonged, seemed closely seated by my bed-side. For what
seemed ages piled on ages, I lay there, frozen with the
most awful fears, not daring to drag away my hand; yet
ever thinking that if I could but stir it one single inch, the
horrid spell would be broken. I knew not how this
consciousness at last glided away from me; but waking in
the morning, I shudderingly remembered it all, and for
days and weeks and months afterwards I lost myself in
confounding attempts to explain the mystery. Nay, to this
very hour, I often puzzle myself with it.
    Now, take away the awful fear, and my sensations at
feeling the supernatural hand in mine were very similar, in


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their strangeness, to those which I experienced on waking
up and seeing Queequeg’s pagan arm thrown round me.
But at length all the past night’s events soberly recurred,
one by one, in fixed reality, and then I lay only alive to
the comical predicament. For though I tried to move his
arm—unlock his bridegroom clasp—yet, sleeping as he
was, he still hugged me tightly, as though naught but
death should part us twain. I now strove to rouse him—
‘Queequeg!’—but his only answer was a snore. I then
rolled over, my neck feeling as if it were in a horse-collar;
and suddenly felt a slight scratch. Throwing aside the
counterpane, there lay the tomahawk sleeping by the
savage’s side, as if it were a hatchet-faced baby. A pretty
pickle, truly, thought I; abed here in a strange house in the
broad day, with a cannibal and a tomahawk!
‘Queequeg!—in the name of goodness, Queequeg, wake!’
At length, by dint of much wriggling, and loud and
incessant expostulations upon the unbecomingness of his
hugging a fellow male in that matrimonial sort of style, I
succeeded in extracting a grunt; and presently, he drew
back his arm, shook himself all over like a Newfoundland
dog just from the water, and sat up in bed, stiff as a pike-
staff, looking at me, and rubbing his eyes as if he did not
altogether remember how I came to be there, though a


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dim consciousness of knowing something about me
seemed slowly dawning over him. Meanwhile, I lay
quietly eyeing him, having no serious misgivings now, and
bent upon narrowly observing so curious a creature.
When, at last, his mind seemed made up touching the
character of his bedfellow, and he became, as it were,
reconciled to the fact; he jumped out upon the floor, and
by certain signs and sounds gave me to understand that, if
it pleased me, he would dress first and then leave me to
dress afterwards, leaving the whole apartment to myself.
Thinks I, Queequeg, under the circumstances, this is a
very civilized overture; but, the truth is, these savages have
an innate sense of delicacy, say what you will; it is
marvellous how essentially polite they are. I pay this
particular compliment to Queequeg, because he treated
me with so much civility and consideration, while I was
guilty of great rudeness; staring at him from the bed, and
watching all his toilette motions; for the time my curiosity
getting the better of my breeding. Nevertheless, a man like
Queequeg you don’t see every day, he and his ways were
well worth unusual regarding.
   He commenced dressing at top by donning his beaver
hat, a very tall one, by the by, and then—still minus his
trowsers—he hunted up his boots. What under the


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heavens he did it for, I cannot tell, but his next movement
was to crush himself—boots in hand, and hat on—under
the bed; when, from sundry violent gaspings and
strainings, I inferred he was hard at work booting himself;
though by no law of propriety that I ever heard of, is any
man required to be private when putting on his boots. But
Queequeg, do you see, was a creature in the transition
stage—neither caterpillar nor butterfly. He was just
enough civilized to show off his outlandishness in the
strangest possible manners. His education was not yet
completed. He was an undergraduate. If he had not been a
small degree civilized, he very probably would not have
troubled himself with boots at all; but then, if he had not
been still a savage, he never would have dreamt of getting
under the bed to put them on. At last, he emerged with
his hat very much dented and crushed down over his eyes,
and began creaking and limping about the room, as if, not
being much accustomed to boots, his pair of damp,
wrinkled cowhide ones—probably not made to order
either—rather pinched and tormented him at the first go
off of a bitter cold morning.
    Seeing, now, that there were no curtains to the
window, and that the street being very narrow, the house
opposite commanded a plain view into the room, and


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observing more and more the indecorous figure that
Queequeg made, staving about with little else but his hat
and boots on; I begged him as well as I could, to
accelerate his toilet somewhat, and particularly to get into
his pantaloons as soon as possible. He complied, and then
proceeded to wash himself. At that time in the morning
any Christian would have washed his face; but Queequeg,
to my amazement, contented himself with restricting his
ablutions to his chest, arms, and hands. He then donned
his waistcoat, and taking up a piece of hard soap on the
wash-stand centre table, dipped it into water and
commenced lathering his face. I was watching to see
where he kept his razor, when lo and behold, he takes the
harpoon from the bed corner, slips out the long wooden
stock, unsheathes the head, whets it a little on his boot,
and striding up to the bit of mirror against the wall, begins
a vigorous scraping, or rather harpooning of his cheeks.
Thinks I, Queequeg, this is using Rogers’s best cutlery
with a vengeance. Afterwards I wondered the less at this
operation when I came to know of what fine steel the
head of a harpoon is made, and how exceedingly sharp the
long straight edges are always kept.
   The rest of his toilet was soon achieved, and he proudly
marched out of the room, wrapped up in his great pilot


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monkey jacket, and sporting his harpoon like a marshal’s
baton.




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                       Chapter 5

   Breakfast.
   I quickly followed suit, and descending into the bar-
room accosted the grinning landlord very pleasantly. I
cherished no malice towards him, though he had been
skylarking with me not a little in the matter of my
bedfellow.
   However, a good laugh is a mighty good thing, and
rather too scarce a good thing; the more’s the pity. So, if
any one man, in his own proper person, afford stuff for a
good joke to anybody, let him not be backward, but let
him cheerfully allow himself to spend and be spent in that
way. And the man that has anything bountifully laughable
about him, be sure there is more in that man than you
perhaps think for.
   The bar-room was now full of the boarders who had
been dropping in the night previous, and whom I had not
as yet had a good look at. They were nearly all whalemen;
chief mates, and second mates, and third mates, and sea
carpenters, and sea coopers, and sea blacksmiths, and
harpooneers, and ship keepers; a brown and brawny




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company, with bosky beards; an unshorn, shaggy set, all
wearing monkey jackets for morning gowns.
    You could pretty plainly tell how long each one had
been ashore. This young fellow’s healthy cheek is like a
sun-toasted pear in hue, and would seem to smell almost
as musky; he cannot have been three days landed from his
Indian voyage. That man next him looks a few shades
lighter; you might say a touch of satin wood is in him. In
the complexion of a third still lingers a tropic tawn, but
slightly bleached withal; HE doubtless has tarried whole
weeks ashore. But who could show a cheek like
Queequeg? which, barred with various tints, seemed like
the Andes’ western slope, to show forth in one array,
contrasting climates, zone by zone.
    ‘Grub, ho!’ now cried the landlord, flinging open a
door, and in we went to breakfast.
    They say that men who have seen the world, thereby
become quite at ease in manner, quite self-possessed in
company. Not always, though: Ledyard, the great New
England traveller, and Mungo Park, the Scotch one; of all
men, they possessed the least assurance in the parlor. But
perhaps the mere crossing of Siberia in a sledge drawn by
dogs as Ledyard did, or the taking a long solitary walk on
an empty stomach, in the negro heart of Africa, which was


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the sum of poor Mungo’s performances—this kind of
travel, I say, may not be the very best mode of attaining a
high social polish. Still, for the most part, that sort of thing
is to be had anywhere.
    These reflections just here are occasioned by the
circumstance that after we were all seated at the table, and
I was preparing to hear some good stories about whaling;
to my no small surprise, nearly every man maintained a
profound silence. And not only that, but they looked
embarrassed. Yes, here were a set of sea-dogs, many of
whom without the slightest bashfulness had boarded great
whales on the high seas—entire strangers to them—and
duelled them dead without winking; and yet, here they sat
at a social breakfast table—all of the same calling, all of
kindred tastes—looking round as sheepishly at each other
as though they had never been out of sight of some
sheepfold among the Green Mountains. A curious sight;
these bashful bears, these timid warrior whalemen!
    But as for Queequeg—why, Queequeg sat there
among them—at the head of the table, too, it so chanced;
as cool as an icicle. To be sure I cannot say much for his
breeding. His greatest admirer could not have cordially
justified his bringing his harpoon into breakfast with him,
and using it there without ceremony; reaching over the


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table with it, to the imminent jeopardy of many heads,
and grappling the beefsteaks towards him. But THAT was
certainly very coolly done by him, and every one knows
that in most people’s estimation, to do anything coolly is
to do it genteelly.
   We will not speak of all Queequeg’s peculiarities here;
how he eschewed coffee and hot rolls, and applied his
undivided attention to beefsteaks, done rare. Enough, that
when breakfast was over he withdrew like the rest into the
public room, lighted his tomahawk-pipe, and was sitting
there quietly digesting and smoking with his inseparable
hat on, when I sallied out for a stroll.




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                        Chapter 6

   The Street.
   If I had been astonished at first catching a glimpse of so
outlandish an individual as Queequeg circulating among
the polite society of a civilized town, that astonishment
soon departed upon taking my first daylight stroll through
the streets of New Bedford.
   In thoroughfares nigh the docks, any considerable
seaport will frequently offer to view the queerest looking
nondescripts from foreign parts. Even in Broadway and
Chestnut streets, Mediterranean mariners will sometimes
jostle the affrighted ladies. Regent Street is not unknown
to Lascars and Malays; and at Bombay, in the Apollo
Green, live Yankees have often scared the natives. But
New Bedford beats all Water Street and Wapping. In
these last-mentioned haunts you see only sailors; but in
New Bedford, actual cannibals stand chatting at street
corners; savages outright; many of whom yet carry on
their bones unholy flesh. It makes a stranger stare.
   But, besides the Feegeeans, Tongatobooarrs,
Erromanggoans, Pannangians, and Brighggians, and,
besides the wild specimens of the whaling-craft which


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unheeded reel about the streets, you will see other sights
still more curious, certainly more comical. There weekly
arrive in this town scores of green Vermonters and New
Hampshire men, all athirst for gain and glory in the
fishery. They are mostly young, of stalwart frames; fellows
who have felled forests, and now seek to drop the axe and
snatch the whale-lance. Many are as green as the Green
Mountains whence they came. In some things you would
think them but a few hours old. Look there! that chap
strutting round the corner. He wears a beaver hat and
swallow-tailed coat, girdled with a sailor-belt and sheath-
knife. Here comes another with a sou’-wester and a
bombazine cloak.
    No town-bred dandy will compare with a country-
bred one—I mean a downright bumpkin dandy—a fellow
that, in the dog-days, will mow his two acres in buckskin
gloves for fear of tanning his hands. Now when a country
dandy like this takes it into his head to make a
distinguished reputation, and joins the great whale-fishery,
you should see the comical things he does upon reaching
the seaport. In bespeaking his sea-outfit, he orders bell-
buttons to his waistcoats; straps to his canvas trowsers. Ah,
poor Hay-Seed! how bitterly will burst those straps in the



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first howling gale, when thou art driven, straps, buttons,
and all, down the throat of the tempest.
    But think not that this famous town has only
harpooneers, cannibals, and bumpkins to show her visitors.
Not at all. Still New Bedford is a queer place. Had it not
been for us whalemen, that tract of land would this day
perhaps have been in as howling condition as the coast of
Labrador. As it is, parts of her back country are enough to
frighten one, they look so bony. The town itself is perhaps
the dearest place to live in, in all New England. It is a land
of oil, true enough: but not like Canaan; a land, also, of
corn and wine. The streets do not run with milk; nor in
the spring-time do they pave them with fresh eggs. Yet, in
spite of this, nowhere in all America will you find more
patrician-like houses; parks and gardens more opulent,
than in New Bedford. Whence came they? how planted
upon this once scraggy scoria of a country?
    Go and gaze upon the iron emblematical harpoons
round yonder lofty mansion, and your question will be
answered. Yes; all these brave houses and flowery gardens
came from the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans. One
and all, they were harpooned and dragged up hither from
the bottom of the sea. Can Herr Alexander perform a feat
like that?


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    In New Bedford, fathers, they say, give whales for
dowers to their daughters, and portion off their nieces
with a few porpoises a-piece. You must go to New
Bedford to see a brilliant wedding; for, they say, they have
reservoirs of oil in every house, and every night recklessly
burn their lengths in spermaceti candles.
    In summer time, the town is sweet to see; full of fine
maples—long avenues of green and gold. And in August,
high in air, the beautiful and bountiful horse-chestnuts,
candelabra-wise, proffer the passer-by their tapering
upright cones of congregated blossoms. So omnipotent is
art; which in many a district of New Bedford has
superinduced bright terraces of flowers upon the barren
refuse rocks thrown aside at creation’s final day.
    And the women of New Bedford, they bloom like
their own red roses. But roses only bloom in summer;
whereas the fine carnation of their cheeks is perennial as
sunlight in the seventh heavens. Elsewhere match that
bloom of theirs, ye cannot, save in Salem, where they tell
me the young girls breathe such musk, their sailor
sweethearts smell them miles off shore, as though they
were drawing nigh the odorous Moluccas instead of the
Puritanic sands.



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                        Chapter 7

    The Chapel.
    In this same New Bedford there stands a Whaleman’s
Chapel, and few are the moody fishermen, shortly bound
for the Indian Ocean or Pacific, who fail to make a
Sunday visit to the spot. I am sure that I did not.
    Returning from my first morning stroll, I again sallied
out upon this special errand. The sky had changed from
clear, sunny cold, to driving sleet and mist. Wrapping
myself in my shaggy jacket of the cloth called bearskin, I
fought my way against the stubborn storm. Entering, I
found a small scattered congregation of sailors, and sailors’
wives and widows. A muffled silence reigned, only broken
at times by the shrieks of the storm. Each silent
worshipper seemed purposely sitting apart from the other,
as if each silent grief were insular and incommunicable.
The chaplain had not yet arrived; and there these silent
islands of men and women sat steadfastly eyeing several
marble tablets, with black borders, masoned into the wall
on either side the pulpit. Three of them ran something
like the following, but I do not pretend to quote:—
                          SACRED
                   TO THE MEMORY

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                           OF
                   JOHN TALBOT,
    Who, at the age of eighteen, was lost overboard,
      Near the Isle of Desolation, off Patagonia,
                  November 1st, 1836.
                    THIS TABLET
               Is erected to his Memory
                        BY HIS
                        SISTER.
                   SACRED
            TO THE MEMORY
                      OF
     ROBERT LONG, WILLIS ELLERY,
 NATHAN COLEMAN, WALTER CANNY, SETH
                    MACY,
           AND SAMUEL GLEIG,
       Forming one of the boats’ crews
                      OF
              THE SHIP ELIZA
    Who were towed out of sight by a Whale,
       On the Off-shore Ground in the
                  PACIFIC,
            December 31st, 1839.
               THIS MARBLE
       Is here placed by their surviving
                SHIPMATES.
                    SACRED
                TO THE MEMORY

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                           OF
                        The late
           CAPTAIN EZEKIEL HARDY,
       Who in the bows of his boat was killed by a
         Sperm Whale on the coast of Japan,
                  AUGUST 3d, 1833.
                    THIS TABLET
               Is erected to his Memory
                           BY
                     HIS WIDOW.
   Shaking off the sleet from my ice-glazed hat and jacket,
I seated myself near the door, and turning sideways was
surprised to see Queequeg near me. Affected by the
solemnity of the scene, there was a wondering gaze of
incredulous curiosity in his countenance. This savage was
the only person present who seemed to notice my
entrance; because he was the only one who could not
read, and, therefore, was not reading those frigid
inscriptions on the wall. Whether any of the relatives of
the seamen whose names appeared there were now among
the congregation, I knew not; but so many are the
unrecorded accidents in the fishery, and so plainly did
several women present wear the countenance if not the
trappings of some unceasing grief, that I feel sure that here
before me were assembled those, in whose unhealing


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hearts the sight of those bleak tablets sympathetically
caused the old wounds to bleed afresh.
    Oh! ye whose dead lie buried beneath the green grass;
who standing among flowers can say—here, HERE lies
my beloved; ye know not the desolation that broods in
bosoms like these. What bitter blanks in those black-
bordered marbles which cover no ashes! What despair in
those immovable inscriptions! What deadly voids and
unbidden infidelities in the lines that seem to gnaw upon
all Faith, and refuse resurrections to the beings who have
placelessly perished without a grave. As well might those
tablets stand in the cave of Elephanta as here.
    In what census of living creatures, the dead of mankind
are included; why it is that a universal proverb says of
them, that they tell no tales, though containing more
secrets than the Goodwin Sands; how it is that to his name
who yesterday departed for the other world, we prefix so
significant and infidel a word, and yet do not thus entitle
him, if he but embarks for the remotest Indies of this
living earth; why the Life Insurance Companies pay death-
forfeitures upon immortals; in what eternal, unstirring
paralysis, and deadly, hopeless trance, yet lies antique
Adam who died sixty round centuries ago; how it is that
we still refuse to be comforted for those who we


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nevertheless maintain are dwelling in unspeakable bliss;
why all the living so strive to hush all the dead; wherefore
but the rumor of a knocking in a tomb will terrify a whole
city. All these things are not without their meanings.
   But Faith, like a jackal, feeds among the tombs, and
even from these dead doubts she gathers her most vital
hope.
   It needs scarcely to be told, with what feelings, on the
eve of a Nantucket voyage, I regarded those marble
tablets, and by the murky light of that darkened, doleful
day read the fate of the whalemen who had gone before
me. Yes, Ishmael, the same fate may be thine. But
somehow I grew merry again. Delightful inducements to
embark, fine chance for promotion, it seems—aye, a stove
boat will make me an immortal by brevet. Yes, there is
death in this business of whaling—a speechlessly quick
chaotic bundling of a man into Eternity. But what then?
Methinks we have hugely mistaken this matter of Life and
Death. Methinks that what they call my shadow here on
earth is my true substance. Methinks that in looking at
things spiritual, we are too much like oysters observing the
sun through the water, and thinking that thick water the
thinnest of air. Methinks my body is but the lees of my
better being. In fact take my body who will, take it I say,


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it is not me. And therefore three cheers for Nantucket;
and come a stove boat and stove body when they will, for
stave my soul, Jove himself cannot.




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                        Chapter 8

   The Pulpit.
   I had not been seated very long ere a man of a certain
venerable robustness entered; immediately as the storm-
pelted door flew back upon admitting him, a quick
regardful eyeing of him by all the congregation,
sufficiently attested that this fine old man was the chaplain.
Yes, it was the famous Father Mapple, so called by the
whalemen, among whom he was a very great favourite.
He had been a sailor and a harpooneer in his youth, but
for many years past had dedicated his life to the ministry.
At the time I now write of, Father Mapple was in the
hardy winter of a healthy old age; that sort of old age
which seems merging into a second flowering youth, for
among all the fissures of his wrinkles, there shone certain
mild gleams of a newly developing bloom—the spring
verdure peeping forth even beneath February’s snow. No
one having previously heard his history, could for the first
time behold Father Mapple without the utmost interest,
because there were certain engrafted clerical peculiarities
about him, imputable to that adventurous maritime life he
had led. When he entered I observed that he carried no


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umbrella, and certainly had not come in his carriage, for
his tarpaulin hat ran down with melting sleet, and his great
pilot cloth jacket seemed almost to drag him to the floor
with the weight of the water it had absorbed. However,
hat and coat and overshoes were one by one removed, and
hung up in a little space in an adjacent corner; when,
arrayed in a decent suit, he quietly approached the pulpit.
    Like most old fashioned pulpits, it was a very lofty one,
and since a regular stairs to such a height would, by its
long angle with the floor, seriously contract the already
small area of the chapel, the architect, it seemed, had acted
upon the hint of Father Mapple, and finished the pulpit
without a stairs, substituting a perpendicular side ladder,
like those used in mounting a ship from a boat at sea. The
wife of a whaling captain had provided the chapel with a
handsome pair of red worsted man-ropes for this ladder,
which, being itself nicely headed, and stained with a
mahogany colour, the whole contrivance, considering
what manner of chapel it was, seemed by no means in bad
taste. Halting for an instant at the foot of the ladder, and
with both hands grasping the ornamental knobs of the
man-ropes, Father Mapple cast a look upwards, and then
with a truly sailor-like but still reverential dexterity, hand



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over hand, mounted the steps as if ascending the main-top
of his vessel.
    The perpendicular parts of this side ladder, as is usually
the case with swinging ones, were of cloth-covered rope,
only the rounds were of wood, so that at every step there
was a joint. At my first glimpse of the pulpit, it had not
escaped me that however convenient for a ship, these
joints in the present instance seemed unnecessary. For I
was not prepared to see Father Mapple after gaining the
height, slowly turn round, and stooping over the pulpit,
deliberately drag up the ladder step by step, till the whole
was deposited within, leaving him impregnable in his little
Quebec.
    I pondered some time without fully comprehending
the reason for this. Father Mapple enjoyed such a wide
reputation for sincerity and sanctity, that I could not
suspect him of courting notoriety by any mere tricks of
the stage. No, thought I, there must be some sober reason
for this thing; furthermore, it must symbolize something
unseen. Can it be, then, that by that act of physical
isolation, he signifies his spiritual withdrawal for the time,
from all outward worldly ties and connexions? Yes, for
replenished with the meat and wine of the word, to the
faithful man of God, this pulpit, I see, is a self-containing


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stronghold—a lofty Ehrenbreitstein, with a perennial well
of water within the walls.
    But the side ladder was not the only strange feature of
the place, borrowed from the chaplain’s former sea-farings.
Between the marble cenotaphs on either hand of the
pulpit, the wall which formed its back was adorned with a
large painting representing a gallant ship beating against a
terrible storm off a lee coast of black rocks and snowy
breakers. But high above the flying scud and dark-rolling
clouds, there floated a little isle of sunlight, from which
beamed forth an angel’s face; and this bright face shed a
distinct spot of radiance upon the ship’s tossed deck,
something like that silver plate now inserted into the
Victory’s plank where Nelson fell. ‘Ah, noble ship,’ the
angel seemed to say, ‘beat on, beat on, thou noble ship,
and bear a hardy helm; for lo! the sun is breaking through;
the clouds are rolling off—serenest azure is at hand.’
    Nor was the pulpit itself without a trace of the same
sea-taste that had achieved the ladder and the picture. Its
panelled front was in the likeness of a ship’s bluff bows,
and the Holy Bible rested on a projecting piece of scroll
work, fashioned after a ship’s fiddle-headed beak.
    What could be more full of meaning?—for the pulpit is
ever this earth’s foremost part; all the rest comes in its rear;


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the pulpit leads the world. From thence it is the storm of
God’s quick wrath is first descried, and the bow must bear
the earliest brunt. From thence it is the God of breezes fair
or foul is first invoked for favourable winds. Yes, the
world’s a ship on its passage out, and not a voyage
complete; and the pulpit is its prow.




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                        Chapter 9

    The Sermon.
    Father Mapple rose, and in a mild voice of unassuming
authority ordered the scattered people to condense.
‘Starboard gangway, there! side away to larboard—
larboard gangway to starboard! Midships! midships!’
    There was a low rumbling of heavy sea-boots among
the benches, and a still slighter shuffling of women’s shoes,
and all was quiet again, and every eye on the preacher.
    He paused a little; then kneeling in the pulpit’s bows,
folded his large brown hands across his chest, uplifted his
closed eyes, and offered a prayer so deeply devout that he
seemed kneeling and praying at the bottom of the sea.
    This ended, in prolonged solemn tones, like the
continual tolling of a bell in a ship that is foundering at sea
in a fog—in such tones he commenced reading the
following hymn; but changing his manner towards the
concluding stanzas, burst forth with a pealing exultation
and joy—
‘The ribs and terrors in the whale,
Arched over me a dismal gloom,
While all God’s sun-lit waves rolled by,
And lift me deepening down to doom.


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‘I saw the opening maw of hell,
With endless pains and sorrows there;
Which none but they that feel can tell—
Oh, I was plunging to despair.
‘In black distress, I called my God,
When I could scarce believe him mine,
He bowed his ear to my complaints—
No more the whale did me confine.
‘With speed he flew to my relief,
As on a radiant dolphin borne;
Awful, yet bright, as lightning shone
The face of my Deliverer God.
‘My song for ever shall record
That terrible, that joyful hour;
I give the glory to my God,
His all the mercy and the power.
    Nearly all joined in singing this hymn, which swelled
high above the howling of the storm. A brief pause
ensued; the preacher slowly turned over the leaves of the
Bible, and at last, folding his hand down upon the proper
page, said: ‘Beloved shipmates, clinch the last verse of the
first chapter of Jonah—’And God had prepared a great fish
to swallow up Jonah.’’
    ‘Shipmates, this book, containing only four chapters—
four yarns—is one of the smallest strands in the mighty


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cable of the Scriptures. Yet what depths of the soul does
Jonah’s deep sealine sound! what a pregnant lesson to us is
this prophet! What a noble thing is that canticle in the
fish’s belly! How billow-like and boisterously grand! We
feel the floods surging over us; we sound with him to the
kelpy bottom of the waters; sea-weed and all the slime of
the sea is about us! But WHAT is this lesson that the book
of Jonah teaches? Shipmates, it is a two-stranded lesson; a
lesson to us all as sinful men, and a lesson to me as a pilot
of the living God. As sinful men, it is a lesson to us all,
because it is a story of the sin, hard-heartedness, suddenly
awakened fears, the swift punishment, repentance, prayers,
and finally the deliverance and joy of Jonah. As with all
sinners among men, the sin of this son of Amittai was in
his wilful disobedience of the command of God—never
mind now what that command was, or how conveyed—
which he found a hard command. But all the things that
God would have us do are hard for us to do—remember
that—and hence, he oftener commands us than endeavors
to persuade. And if we obey God, we must disobey
ourselves; and it is in this disobeying ourselves, wherein
the hardness of obeying God consists.
    ‘With this sin of disobedience in him, Jonah still further
flouts at God, by seeking to flee from Him. He thinks that


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a ship made by men will carry him into countries where
God does not reign, but only the Captains of this earth.
He skulks about the wharves of Joppa, and seeks a ship
that’s bound for Tarshish. There lurks, perhaps, a hitherto
unheeded meaning here. By all accounts Tarshish could
have been no other city than the modern Cadiz. That’s
the opinion of learned men. And where is Cadiz,
shipmates? Cadiz is in Spain; as far by water, from Joppa,
as Jonah could possibly have sailed in those ancient days,
when the Atlantic was an almost unknown sea. Because
Joppa, the modern Jaffa, shipmates, is on the most easterly
coast of the Mediterranean, the Syrian; and Tarshish or
Cadiz more than two thousand miles to the westward
from that, just outside the Straits of Gibraltar. See ye not
then, shipmates, that Jonah sought to flee world-wide
from God? Miserable man! Oh! most contemptible and
worthy of all scorn; with slouched hat and guilty eye,
skulking from his God; prowling among the shipping like
a vile burglar hastening to cross the seas. So disordered,
self-condemning is his look, that had there been
policemen in those days, Jonah, on the mere suspicion of
something wrong, had been arrested ere he touched a
deck. How plainly he’s a fugitive! no baggage, not a hat-
box, valise, or carpet-bag,—no friends accompany him to


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the wharf with their adieux. At last, after much dodging
search, he finds the Tarshish ship receiving the last items of
her cargo; and as he steps on board to see its Captain in
the cabin, all the sailors for the moment desist from
hoisting in the goods, to mark the stranger’s evil eye.
Jonah sees this; but in vain he tries to look all ease and
confidence; in vain essays his wretched smile. Strong
intuitions of the man assure the mariners he can be no
innocent. In their gamesome but still serious way, one
whispers to the other—‘Jack, he’s robbed a widow;’ or,
‘Joe, do you mark him; he’s a bigamist;’ or, ‘Harry lad, I
guess he’s the adulterer that broke jail in old Gomorrah, or
belike, one of the missing murderers from Sodom.’
Another runs to read the bill that’s stuck against the spile
upon the wharf to which the ship is moored, offering five
hundred gold coins for the apprehension of a parricide,
and containing a description of his person. He reads, and
looks from Jonah to the bill; while all his sympathetic
shipmates now crowd round Jonah, prepared to lay their
hands upon him. Frighted Jonah trembles, and summoning
all his boldness to his face, only looks so much the more a
coward. He will not confess himself suspected; but that
itself is strong suspicion. So he makes the best of it; and
when the sailors find him not to be the man that is


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advertised, they let him pass, and he descends into the
cabin.
    ‘‘Who’s there?’ cries the Captain at his busy desk,
hurriedly making out his papers for the Customs—’Who’s
there?’ Oh! how that harmless question mangles Jonah!
For the instant he almost turns to flee again. But he rallies.
‘I seek a passage in this ship to Tarshish; how soon sail ye,
sir?’ Thus far the busy Captain had not looked up to
Jonah, though the man now stands before him; but no
sooner does he hear that hollow voice, than he darts a
scrutinizing glance. ‘We sail with the next coming tide,’ at
last he slowly answered, still intently eyeing him. ‘No
sooner, sir?’—’Soon enough for any honest man that goes
a passenger.’ Ha! Jonah, that’s another stab. But he swiftly
calls away the Captain from that scent. ‘I’ll sail with ye,’—
he says,—’the passage money how much is that?—I’ll pay
now.’ For it is particularly written, shipmates, as if it were
a thing not to be overlooked in this history, ‘that he paid
the fare thereof’ ere the craft did sail. And taken with the
context, this is full of meaning.
    ‘Now Jonah’s Captain, shipmates, was one whose
discernment detects crime in any, but whose cupidity
exposes it only in the penniless. In this world, shipmates,
sin that pays its way can travel freely, and without a


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passport; whereas Virtue, if a pauper, is stopped at all
frontiers. So Jonah’s Captain prepares to test the length of
Jonah’s purse, ere he judge him openly. He charges him
thrice the usual sum; and it’s assented to. Then the
Captain knows that Jonah is a fugitive; but at the same
time resolves to help a flight that paves its rear with gold.
Yet when Jonah fairly takes out his purse, prudent
suspicions still molest the Captain. He rings every coin to
find a counterfeit. Not a forger, any way, he mutters; and
Jonah is put down for his passage. ‘Point out my state-
room, Sir,’ says Jonah now, ‘I’m travel-weary; I need
sleep.’ ‘Thou lookest like it,’ says the Captain, ‘there’s thy
room.’ Jonah enters, and would lock the door, but the
lock contains no key. Hearing him foolishly fumbling
there, the Captain laughs lowly to himself, and mutters
something about the doors of convicts’ cells being never
allowed to be locked within. All dressed and dusty as he is,
Jonah throws himself into his berth, and finds the little
state-room ceiling almost resting on his forehead. The air
is close, and Jonah gasps. Then, in that contracted hole,
sunk, too, beneath the ship’s water-line, Jonah feels the
heralding presentiment of that stifling hour, when the
whale shall hold him in the smallest of his bowels’ wards.



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    ‘Screwed at its axis against the side, a swinging lamp
slightly oscillates in Jonah’s room; and the ship, heeling
over towards the wharf with the weight of the last bales
received, the lamp, flame and all, though in slight motion,
still maintains a permanent obliquity with reference to the
room; though, in truth, infallibly straight itself, it but made
obvious the false, lying levels among which it hung. The
lamp alarms and frightens Jonah; as lying in his berth his
tormented eyes roll round the place, and this thus far
successful fugitive finds no refuge for his restless glance.
But that contradiction in the lamp more and more appals
him. The floor, the ceiling, and the side, are all awry. ‘Oh!
so my conscience hangs in me!’ he groans, ‘straight
upwards, so it burns; but the chambers of my soul are all
in crookedness!’
    ‘Like one who after a night of drunken revelry hies to
his bed, still reeling, but with conscience yet pricking him,
as the plungings of the Roman race-horse but so much the
more strike his steel tags into him; as one who in that
miserable plight still turns and turns in giddy anguish,
praying God for annihilation until the fit be passed; and at
last amid the whirl of woe he feels, a deep stupor steals
over him, as over the man who bleeds to death, for
conscience is the wound, and there’s naught to staunch it;


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so, after sore wrestlings in his berth, Jonah’s prodigy of
ponderous misery drags him drowning down to sleep.
    ‘And now the time of tide has come; the ship casts off
her cables; and from the deserted wharf the uncheered
ship for Tarshish, all careening, glides to sea. That ship,
my friends, was the first of recorded smugglers! the
contraband was Jonah. But the sea rebels; he will not bear
the wicked burden. A dreadful storm comes on, the ship is
like to break. But now when the boatswain calls all hands
to lighten her; when boxes, bales, and jars are clattering
overboard; when the wind is shrieking, and the men are
yelling, and every plank thunders with trampling feet right
over Jonah’s head; in all this raging tumult, Jonah sleeps
his hideous sleep. He sees no black sky and raging sea,
feels not the reeling timbers, and little hears he or heeds he
the far rush of the mighty whale, which even now with
open mouth is cleaving the seas after him. Aye, shipmates,
Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship—a berth
in the cabin as I have taken it, and was fast asleep. But the
frightened master comes to him, and shrieks in his dead
ear, ‘What meanest thou, O, sleeper! arise!’ Startled from
his lethargy by that direful cry, Jonah staggers to his feet,
and stumbling to the deck, grasps a shroud, to look out
upon the sea. But at that moment he is sprung upon by a


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panther billow leaping over the bulwarks. Wave after
wave thus leaps into the ship, and finding no speedy vent
runs roaring fore and aft, till the mariners come nigh to
drowning while yet afloat. And ever, as the white moon
shows her affrighted face from the steep gullies in the
blackness overhead, aghast Jonah sees the rearing bowsprit
pointing high upward, but soon beat downward again
towards the tormented deep.
    ‘Terrors upon terrors run shouting through his soul. In
all his cringing attitudes, the God-fugitive is now too
plainly known. The sailors mark him; more and more
certain grow their suspicions of him, and at last, fully to
test the truth, by referring the whole matter to high
Heaven, they fall to casting lots, to see for whose cause
this great tempest was upon them. The lot is Jonah’s; that
discovered, then how furiously they mob him with their
questions. ‘What is thine occupation? Whence comest
thou? Thy country? What people? But mark now, my
shipmates, the behavior of poor Jonah. The eager mariners
but ask him who he is, and where from; whereas, they not
only receive an answer to those questions, but likewise
another answer to a question not put by them, but the
unsolicited answer is forced from Jonah by the hard hand
of God that is upon him.


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    ‘‘I am a Hebrew,’ he cries—and then—’I fear the Lord
the God of Heaven who hath made the sea and the dry
land!’ Fear him, O Jonah? Aye, well mightest thou fear the
Lord God THEN! Straightway, he now goes on to make a
full confession; whereupon the mariners became more and
more appalled, but still are pitiful. For when Jonah, not
yet supplicating God for mercy, since he but too well
knew the darkness of his deserts,—when wretched Jonah
cries out to them to take him and cast him forth into the
sea, for he knew that for HIS sake this great tempest was
upon them; they mercifully turn from him, and seek by
other means to save the ship. But all in vain; the indignant
gale howls louder; then, with one hand raised invokingly
to God, with the other they not unreluctantly lay hold of
Jonah.
    ‘And now behold Jonah taken up as an anchor and
dropped into the sea; when instantly an oily calmness floats
out from the east, and the sea is still, as Jonah carries down
the gale with him, leaving smooth water behind. He goes
down in the whirling heart of such a masterless
commotion that he scarce heeds the moment when he
drops seething into the yawning jaws awaiting him; and
the whale shoots-to all his ivory teeth, like so many white
bolts, upon his prison. Then Jonah prayed unto the Lord


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out of the fish’s belly. But observe his prayer, and learn a
weighty lesson. For sinful as he is, Jonah does not weep
and wail for direct deliverance. He feels that his dreadful
punishment is just. He leaves all his deliverance to God,
contenting himself with this, that spite of all his pains and
pangs, he will still look towards His holy temple. And
here, shipmates, is true and faithful repentance; not
clamorous for pardon, but grateful for punishment. And
how pleasing to God was this conduct in Jonah, is shown
in the eventual deliverance of him from the sea and the
whale. Shipmates, I do not place Jonah before you to be
copied for his sin but I do place him before you as a model
for repentance. Sin not; but if you do, take heed to repent
of it like Jonah.’
   While he was speaking these words, the howling of the
shrieking, slanting storm without seemed to add new
power to the preacher, who, when describing Jonah’s sea-
storm, seemed tossed by a storm himself. His deep chest
heaved as with a ground-swell; his tossed arms seemed the
warring elements at work; and the thunders that rolled
away from off his swarthy brow, and the light leaping
from his eye, made all his simple hearers look on him with
a quick fear that was strange to them.



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   There now came a lull in his look, as he silently turned
over the leaves of the Book once more; and, at last,
standing motionless, with closed eyes, for the moment,
seemed communing with God and himself.
   But again he leaned over towards the people, and
bowing his head lowly, with an aspect of the deepest yet
manliest humility, he spake these words:
   ‘Shipmates, God has laid but one hand upon you; both
his hands press upon me. I have read ye by what murky
light may be mine the lesson that Jonah teaches to all
sinners; and therefore to ye, and still more to me, for I am
a greater sinner than ye. And now how gladly would I
come down from this mast-head and sit on the hatches
there where you sit, and listen as you listen, while some
one of you reads ME that other and more awful lesson
which Jonah teaches to ME, as a pilot of the living God.
How being an anointed pilot-prophet, or speaker of true
things, and bidden by the Lord to sound those unwelcome
truths in the ears of a wicked Nineveh, Jonah, appalled at
the hostility he should raise, fled from his mission, and
sought to escape his duty and his God by taking ship at
Joppa. But God is everywhere; Tarshish he never reached.
As we have seen, God came upon him in the whale, and
swallowed him down to living gulfs of doom, and with


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swift slantings tore him along ‘into the midst of the seas,’
where the eddying depths sucked him ten thousand
fathoms down, and ‘the weeds were wrapped about his
head,’ and all the watery world of woe bowled over him.
Yet even then beyond the reach of any plummet—’out of
the belly of hell’—when the whale grounded upon the
ocean’s utmost bones, even then, God heard the
engulphed, repenting prophet when he cried. Then God
spake unto the fish; and from the shuddering cold and
blackness of the sea, the whale came breeching up towards
the warm and pleasant sun, and all the delights of air and
earth; and ‘vomited out Jonah upon the dry land;’ when
the word of the Lord came a second time; and Jonah,
bruised and beaten—his ears, like two sea-shells, still
multitudinously murmuring of the ocean—Jonah did the
Almighty’s bidding. And what was that, shipmates? To
preach the Truth to the face of Falsehood! That was it!
   ‘This, shipmates, this is that other lesson; and woe to
that pilot of the living God who slights it. Woe to him
whom this world charms from Gospel duty! Woe to him
who seeks to pour oil upon the waters when God has
brewed them into a gale! Woe to him who seeks to please
rather than to appal! Woe to him whose good name is
more to him than goodness! Woe to him who, in this


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world, courts not dishonour! Woe to him who would not
be true, even though to be false were salvation! Yea, woe
to him who, as the great Pilot Paul has it, while preaching
to others is himself a castaway!’
   He dropped and fell away from himself for a moment;
then lifting his face to them again, showed a deep joy in
his eyes, as he cried out with a heavenly enthusiasm,—
‘But oh! shipmates! on the starboard hand of every woe,
there is a sure delight; and higher the top of that delight,
than the bottom of the woe is deep. Is not the main-truck
higher than the kelson is low? Delight is to him—a far, far
upward, and inward delight—who against the proud gods
and commodores of this earth, ever stands forth his own
inexorable self. Delight is to him whose strong arms yet
support him, when the ship of this base treacherous world
has gone down beneath him. Delight is to him, who gives
no quarter in the truth, and kills, burns, and destroys all sin
though he pluck it out from under the robes of Senators
and Judges. Delight,—top-gallant delight is to him, who
acknowledges no law or lord, but the Lord his God, and is
only a patriot to heaven. Delight is to him, whom all the
waves of the billows of the seas of the boisterous mob can
never shake from this sure Keel of the Ages. And eternal
delight and deliciousness will be his, who coming to lay


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him down, can say with his final breath—O Father!—
chiefly known to me by Thy rod—mortal or immortal,
here I die. I have striven to be Thine, more than to be this
world’s, or mine own. Yet this is nothing: I leave eternity
to Thee; for what is man that he should live out the
lifetime of his God?’
    He said no more, but slowly waving a benediction,
covered his face with his hands, and so remained kneeling,
till all the people had departed, and he was left alone in
the place.




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                       Chapter 10

   A Bosom Friend.
   Returning to the Spouter-Inn from the Chapel, I
found Queequeg there quite alone; he having left the
Chapel before the benediction some time. He was sitting
on a bench before the fire, with his feet on the stove
hearth, and in one hand was holding close up to his face
that little negro idol of his; peering hard into its face, and
with a jack-knife gently whittling away at its nose,
meanwhile humming to himself in his heathenish way.
   But being now interrupted, he put up the image; and
pretty soon, going to the table, took up a large book there,
and placing it on his lap began counting the pages with
deliberate regularity; at every fiftieth page—as I fancied—
stopping a moment, looking vacantly around him, and
giving utterance to a long-drawn gurgling whistle of
astonishment. He would then begin again at the next fifty;
seeming to commence at number one each time, as
though he could not count more than fifty, and it was
only by such a large number of fifties being found
together, that his astonishment at the multitude of pages
was excited.


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    With much interest I sat watching him. Savage though
he was, and hideously marred about the face—at least to
my taste—his countenance yet had a something in it
which was by no means disagreeable. You cannot hide the
soul. Through all his unearthly tattooings, I thought I saw
the traces of a simple honest heart; and in his large, deep
eyes, fiery black and bold, there seemed tokens of a spirit
that would dare a thousand devils. And besides all this,
there was a certain lofty bearing about the Pagan, which
even his uncouthness could not altogether maim. He
looked like a man who had never cringed and never had
had a creditor. Whether it was, too, that his head being
shaved, his forehead was drawn out in freer and brighter
relief, and looked more expansive than it otherwise
would, this I will not venture to decide; but certain it was
his head was phrenologically an excellent one. It may
seem ridiculous, but it reminded me of General
Washington’s head, as seen in the popular busts of him. It
had the same long regularly graded retreating slope from
above the brows, which were likewise very projecting,
like two long promontories thickly wooded on top.
Queequeg was George Washington cannibalistically
developed.



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    Whilst I was thus closely scanning him, half-pretending
meanwhile to be looking out at the storm from the
casement, he never heeded my presence, never troubled
himself with so much as a single glance; but appeared
wholly occupied with counting the pages of the
marvellous book. Considering how sociably we had been
sleeping together the night previous, and especially
considering the affectionate arm I had found thrown over
me upon waking in the morning, I thought this
indifference of his very strange. But savages are strange
beings; at times you do not know exactly how to take
them. At first they are overawing; their calm self-
collectedness of simplicity seems a Socratic wisdom. I had
noticed also that Queequeg never consorted at all, or but
very little, with the other seamen in the inn. He made no
advances whatever; appeared to have no desire to enlarge
the circle of his acquaintances. All this struck me as mighty
singular; yet, upon second thoughts, there was something
almost sublime in it. Here was a man some twenty
thousand miles from home, by the way of Cape Horn,
that is—which was the only way he could get there—
thrown among people as strange to him as though he were
in the planet Jupiter; and yet he seemed entirely at his
ease; preserving the utmost serenity; content with his own


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companionship; always equal to himself. Surely this was a
touch of fine philosophy; though no doubt he had never
heard there was such a thing as that. But, perhaps, to be
true philosophers, we mortals should not be conscious of
so living or so striving. So soon as I hear that such or such
a man gives himself out for a philosopher, I conclude that,
like the dyspeptic old woman, he must have ‘broken his
digester.’
   As I sat there in that now lonely room; the fire burning
low, in that mild stage when, after its first intensity has
warmed the air, it then only glows to be looked at; the
evening shades and phantoms gathering round the
casements, and peering in upon us silent, solitary twain;
the storm booming without in solemn swells; I began to
be sensible of strange feelings. I felt a melting in me. No
more my splintered heart and maddened hand were turned
against the wolfish world. This soothing savage had
redeemed it. There he sat, his very indifference speaking a
nature in which there lurked no civilized hypocrisies and
bland deceits. Wild he was; a very sight of sights to see;
yet I began to feel myself mysteriously drawn towards
him. And those same things that would have repelled most
others, they were the very magnets that thus drew me. I’ll
try a pagan friend, thought I, since Christian kindness has


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proved but hollow courtesy. I drew my bench near him,
and made some friendly signs and hints, doing my best to
talk with him meanwhile. At first he little noticed these
advances; but presently, upon my referring to his last
night’s hospitalities, he made out to ask me whether we
were again to be bedfellows. I told him yes; whereat I
thought he looked pleased, perhaps a little complimented.
    We then turned over the book together, and I
endeavored to explain to him the purpose of the printing,
and the meaning of the few pictures that were in it. Thus I
soon engaged his interest; and from that we went to
jabbering the best we could about the various outer sights
to be seen in this famous town. Soon I proposed a social
smoke; and, producing his pouch and tomahawk, he
quietly offered me a puff. And then we sat exchanging
puffs from that wild pipe of his, and keeping it regularly
passing between us.
    If there yet lurked any ice of indifference towards me
in the Pagan’s breast, this pleasant, genial smoke we had,
soon thawed it out, and left us cronies. He seemed to take
to me quite as naturally and unbiddenly as I to him; and
when our smoke was over, he pressed his forehead against
mine, clasped me round the waist, and said that henceforth
we were married; meaning, in his country’s phrase, that


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we were bosom friends; he would gladly die for me, if
need should be. In a countryman, this sudden flame of
friendship would have seemed far too premature, a thing
to be much distrusted; but in this simple savage those old
rules would not apply.
    After supper, and another social chat and smoke, we
went to our room together. He made me a present of his
embalmed head; took out his enormous tobacco wallet,
and groping under the tobacco, drew out some thirty
dollars in silver; then spreading them on the table, and
mechanically dividing them into two equal portions,
pushed one of them towards me, and said it was mine. I
was going to remonstrate; but he silenced me by pouring
them into my trowsers’ pockets. I let them stay. He then
went about his evening prayers, took out his idol, and
removed the paper fireboard. By certain signs and
symptoms, I thought he seemed anxious for me to join
him; but well knowing what was to follow, I deliberated a
moment whether, in case he invited me, I would comply
or otherwise.
    I was a good Christian; born and bred in the bosom of
the infallible Presbyterian Church. How then could I unite
with this wild idolator in worshipping his piece of wood?
But what is worship? thought I. Do you suppose now,


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Ishmael, that the magnanimous God of heaven and
earth—pagans and all included—can possibly be jealous of
an insignificant bit of black wood? Impossible! But what is
worship?—to do the will of God—THAT is worship. And
what is the will of God?—to do to my fellow man what I
would have my fellow man to do to me—THAT is the
will of God. Now, Queequeg is my fellow man. And
what do I wish that this Queequeg would do to me? Why,
unite with me in my particular Presbyterian form of
worship. Consequently, I must then unite with him in his;
ergo, I must turn idolator. So I kindled the shavings;
helped prop up the innocent little idol; offered him burnt
biscuit with Queequeg; salamed before him twice or
thrice; kissed his nose; and that done, we undressed and
went to bed, at peace with our own consciences and all
the world. But we did not go to sleep without some little
chat.
   How it is I know not; but there is no place like a bed
for confidential disclosures between friends. Man and wife,
they say, there open the very bottom of their souls to each
other; and some old couples often lie and chat over old
times till nearly morning. Thus, then, in our hearts’
honeymoon, lay I and Queequeg—a cosy, loving pair.



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                      Chapter 11

    Nightgown.
    We had lain thus in bed, chatting and napping at short
intervals, and Queequeg now and then affectionately
throwing his brown tattooed legs over mine, and then
drawing them back; so entirely sociable and free and easy
were we; when, at last, by reason of our confabulations,
what little nappishness remained in us altogether departed,
and we felt like getting up again, though day-break was
yet some way down the future.
    Yes, we became very wakeful; so much so that our
recumbent position began to grow wearisome, and by
little and little we found ourselves sitting up; the clothes
well tucked around us, leaning against the head-board
with our four knees drawn up close together, and our two
noses bending over them, as if our kneepans were
warming-pans. We felt very nice and snug, the more so
since it was so chilly out of doors; indeed out of bed-
clothes too, seeing that there was no fire in the room. The
more so, I say, because truly to enjoy bodily warmth,
some small part of you must be cold, for there is no
quality in this world that is not what it is merely by


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contrast. Nothing exists in itself. If you flatter yourself that
you are all over comfortable, and have been so a long
time, then you cannot be said to be comfortable any more.
But if, like Queequeg and me in the bed, the tip of your
nose or the crown of your head be slightly chilled, why
then, indeed, in the general consciousness you feel most
delightfully and unmistakably warm. For this reason a
sleeping apartment should never be furnished with a fire,
which is one of the luxurious discomforts of the rich. For
the height of this sort of deliciousness is to have nothing
but the blanket between you and your snugness and the
cold of the outer air. Then there you lie like the one
warm spark in the heart of an arctic crystal.
    We had been sitting in this crouching manner for some
time, when all at once I thought I would open my eyes;
for when between sheets, whether by day or by night, and
whether asleep or awake, I have a way of always keeping
my eyes shut, in order the more to concentrate the
snugness of being in bed. Because no man can ever feel his
own identity aright except his eyes be closed; as if darkness
were indeed the proper element of our essences, though
light be more congenial to our clayey part. Upon opening
my eyes then, and coming out of my own pleasant and
self-created darkness into the imposed and coarse outer


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gloom of the unilluminated twelve-o’clock-at-night, I
experienced a disagreeable revulsion. Nor did I at all
object to the hint from Queequeg that perhaps it were
best to strike a light, seeing that we were so wide awake;
and besides he felt a strong desire to have a few quiet puffs
from his Tomahawk. Be it said, that though I had felt such
a strong repugnance to his smoking in the bed the night
before, yet see how elastic our stiff prejudices grow when
love once comes to bend them. For now I liked nothing
better than to have Queequeg smoking by me, even in
bed, because he seemed to be full of such serene
household joy then. I no more felt unduly concerned for
the landlord’s policy of insurance. I was only alive to the
condensed confidential comfortableness of sharing a pipe
and a blanket with a real friend. With our shaggy jackets
drawn about our shoulders, we now passed the
Tomahawk from one to the other, till slowly there grew
over us a blue hanging tester of smoke, illuminated by the
flame of the new-lit lamp.
   Whether it was that this undulating tester rolled the
savage away to far distant scenes, I know not, but he now
spoke of his native island; and, eager to hear his history, I
begged him to go on and tell it. He gladly complied.
Though at the time I but ill comprehended not a few of


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his words, yet subsequent disclosures, when I had become
more familiar with his broken phraseology, now enable
me to present the whole story such as it may prove in the
mere skeleton I give.




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                      Chapter 12

    Biographical.
    Queequeg was a native of Rokovoko, an island far
away to the West and South. It is not down in any map;
true places never are.
    When a new-hatched savage running wild about his
native woodlands in a grass clout, followed by the nibbling
goats, as if he were a green sapling; even then, in
Queequeg’s ambitious soul, lurked a strong desire to see
something more of Christendom than a specimen whaler
or two. His father was a High Chief, a King; his uncle a
High Priest; and on the maternal side he boasted aunts
who were the wives of unconquerable warriors. There
was excellent blood in his veins—royal stuff; though sadly
vitiated, I fear, by the cannibal propensity he nourished in
his untutored youth.
    A Sag Harbor ship visited his father’s bay, and
Queequeg sought a passage to Christian lands. But the
ship, having her full complement of seamen, spurned his
suit; and not all the King his father’s influence could
prevail. But Queequeg vowed a vow. Alone in his canoe,
he paddled off to a distant strait, which he knew the ship


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must pass through when she quitted the island. On one
side was a coral reef; on the other a low tongue of land,
covered with mangrove thickets that grew out into the
water. Hiding his canoe, still afloat, among these thickets,
with its prow seaward, he sat down in the stern, paddle
low in hand; and when the ship was gliding by, like a flash
he darted out; gained her side; with one backward dash of
his foot capsized and sank his canoe; climbed up the
chains; and throwing himself at full length upon the deck,
grappled a ring-bolt there, and swore not to let it go,
though hacked in pieces.
   In vain the captain threatened to throw him overboard;
suspended a cutlass over his naked wrists; Queequeg was
the son of a King, and Queequeg budged not. Struck by
his desperate dauntlessness, and his wild desire to visit
Christendom, the captain at last relented, and told him he
might make himself at home. But this fine young savage—
this sea Prince of Wales, never saw the Captain’s cabin.
They put him down among the sailors, and made a
whaleman of him. But like Czar Peter content to toil in
the shipyards of foreign cities, Queequeg disdained no
seeming ignominy, if thereby he might happily gain the
power of enlightening his untutored countrymen. For at
bottom—so he told me—he was actuated by a profound


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desire to learn among the Christians, the arts whereby to
make his people still happier than they were; and more
than that, still better than they were. But, alas! the
practices of whalemen soon convinced him that even
Christians could be both miserable and wicked; infinitely
more so, than all his father’s heathens. Arrived at last in old
Sag Harbor; and seeing what the sailors did there; and then
going on to Nantucket, and seeing how they spent their
wages in that place also, poor Queequeg gave it up for
lost. Thought he, it’s a wicked world in all meridians; I’ll
die a pagan.
   And thus an old idolator at heart, he yet lived among
these Christians, wore their clothes, and tried to talk their
gibberish. Hence the queer ways about him, though now
some time from home.
   By hints, I asked him whether he did not propose
going back, and having a coronation; since he might now
consider his father dead and gone, he being very old and
feeble at the last accounts. He answered no, not yet; and
added that he was fearful Christianity, or rather Christians,
had unfitted him for ascending the pure and undefiled
throne of thirty pagan Kings before him. But by and by,
he said, he would return,—as soon as he felt himself
baptized again. For the nonce, however, he proposed to


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sail about, and sow his wild oats in all four oceans. They
had made a harpooneer of him, and that barbed iron was
in lieu of a sceptre now.
    I asked him what might be his immediate purpose,
touching his future movements. He answered, to go to sea
again, in his old vocation. Upon this, I told him that
whaling was my own design, and informed him of my
intention to sail out of Nantucket, as being the most
promising port for an adventurous whaleman to embark
from. He at once resolved to accompany me to that island,
ship aboard the same vessel, get into the same watch, the
same boat, the same mess with me, in short to share my
every hap; with both my hands in his, boldly dip into the
Potluck of both worlds. To all this I joyously assented; for
besides the affection I now felt for Queequeg, he was an
experienced harpooneer, and as such, could not fail to be
of great usefulness to one, who, like me, was wholly
ignorant of the mysteries of whaling, though well
acquainted with the sea, as known to merchant seamen.
    His story being ended with his pipe’s last dying puff,
Queequeg embraced me, pressed his forehead against
mine, and blowing out the light, we rolled over from each
other, this way and that, and very soon were sleeping.



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                      Chapter 13

    Wheelbarrow.
    Next morning, Monday, after disposing of the
embalmed head to a barber, for a block, I settled my own
and comrade’s bill; using, however, my comrade’s money.
The grinning landlord, as well as the boarders, seemed
amazingly tickled at the sudden friendship which had
sprung up between me and Queequeg—especially as Peter
Coffin’s cock and bull stories about him had previously so
much alarmed me concerning the very person whom I
now companied with.
    We borrowed a wheelbarrow, and embarking our
things, including my own poor carpet-bag, and
Queequeg’s canvas sack and hammock, away we went
down to ‘the Moss,’ the little Nantucket packet schooner
moored at the wharf. As we were going along the people
stared; not at Queequeg so much—for they were used to
seeing cannibals like him in their streets,—but at seeing
him and me upon such confidential terms. But we heeded
them not, going along wheeling the barrow by turns, and
Queequeg now and then stopping to adjust the sheath on
his harpoon barbs. I asked him why he carried such a


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troublesome thing with him ashore, and whether all
whaling ships did not find their own harpoons. To this, in
substance, he replied, that though what I hinted was true
enough, yet he had a particular affection for his own
harpoon, because it was of assured stuff, well tried in many
a mortal combat, and deeply intimate with the hearts of
whales. In short, like many inland reapers and mowers,
who go into the farmers’ meadows armed with their own
scythes—though in no wise obliged to furnish them—
even so, Queequeg, for his own private reasons, preferred
his own harpoon.
    Shifting the barrow from my hand to his, he told me a
funny story about the first wheelbarrow he had ever seen.
It was in Sag Harbor. The owners of his ship, it seems, had
lent him one, in which to carry his heavy chest to his
boarding house. Not to seem ignorant about the thing—
though in truth he was entirely so, concerning the precise
way in which to manage the barrow—Queequeg puts his
chest upon it; lashes it fast; and then shoulders the barrow
and marches up the wharf. ‘Why,’ said I, ‘Queequeg, you
might have known better than that, one would think.
Didn’t the people laugh?’
    Upon this, he told me another story. The people of his
island of Rokovoko, it seems, at their wedding feasts


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express the fragrant water of young cocoanuts into a large
stained calabash like a punchbowl; and this punchbowl
always forms the great central ornament on the braided
mat where the feast is held. Now a certain grand merchant
ship once touched at Rokovoko, and its commander—
from all accounts, a very stately punctilious gentleman, at
least for a sea captain—this commander was invited to the
wedding feast of Queequeg’s sister, a pretty young princess
just turned of ten. Well; when all the wedding guests were
assembled at the bride’s bamboo cottage, this Captain
marches in, and being assigned the post of honour, placed
himself over against the punchbowl, and between the
High Priest and his majesty the King, Queequeg’s father.
Grace being said,—for those people have their grace as
well as we—though Queequeg told me that unlike us,
who at such times look downwards to our platters, they,
on the contrary, copying the ducks, glance upwards to the
great Giver of all feasts—Grace, I say, being said, the High
Priest opens the banquet by the immemorial ceremony of
the island; that is, dipping his consecrated and consecrating
fingers into the bowl before the blessed beverage
circulates. Seeing himself placed next the Priest, and
noting the ceremony, and thinking himself—being
Captain of a ship—as having plain precedence over a mere


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island King, especially in the King’s own house—the
Captain coolly proceeds to wash his hands in the
punchbowl;—taking it I suppose for a huge finger-glass.
‘Now,’ said Queequeg, ‘what you tink now?—Didn’t our
people laugh?’
    At last, passage paid, and luggage safe, we stood on
board the schooner. Hoisting sail, it glided down the
Acushnet river. On one side, New Bedford rose in
terraces of streets, their ice-covered trees all glittering in
the clear, cold air. Huge hills and mountains of casks on
casks were piled upon her wharves, and side by side the
world-wandering whale ships lay silent and safely moored
at last; while from others came a sound of carpenters and
coopers, with blended noises of fires and forges to melt the
pitch, all betokening that new cruises were on the start;
that one most perilous and long voyage ended, only begins
a second; and a second ended, only begins a third, and so
on, for ever and for aye. Such is the endlessness, yea, the
intolerableness of all earthly effort.
    Gaining the more open water, the bracing breeze
waxed fresh; the little Moss tossed the quick foam from
her bows, as a young colt his snortings. How I snuffed that
Tartar air!—how I spurned that turnpike earth!—that
common highway all over dented with the marks of


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slavish heels and hoofs; and turned me to admire the
magnanimity of the sea which will permit no records.
    At the same foam-fountain, Queequeg seemed to drink
and reel with me. His dusky nostrils swelled apart; he
showed his filed and pointed teeth. On, on we flew; and
our offing gained, the Moss did homage to the blast;
ducked and dived her bows as a slave before the Sultan.
Sideways leaning, we sideways darted; every ropeyarn
tingling like a wire; the two tall masts buckling like Indian
canes in land tornadoes. So full of this reeling scene were
we, as we stood by the plunging bowsprit, that for some
time we did not notice the jeering glances of the
passengers, a lubber-like assembly, who marvelled that two
fellow beings should be so companionable; as though a
white man were anything more dignified than a
whitewashed negro. But there were some boobies and
bumpkins there, who, by their intense greenness, must
have come from the heart and centre of all verdure.
Queequeg caught one of these young saplings mimicking
him behind his back. I thought the bumpkin’s hour of
doom was come. Dropping his harpoon, the brawny
savage caught him in his arms, and by an almost
miraculous dexterity and strength, sent him high up bodily
into the air; then slightly tapping his stern in mid-


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somerset, the fellow landed with bursting lungs upon his
feet, while Queequeg, turning his back upon him, lighted
his tomahawk pipe and passed it to me for a puff.
    ‘Capting! Capting! yelled the bumpkin, running
towards that officer; ‘Capting, Capting, here’s the devil.’
    ‘Hallo, YOU sir,’ cried the Captain, a gaunt rib of the
sea, stalking up to Queequeg, ‘what in thunder do you
mean by that? Don’t you know you might have killed that
chap?’
    ‘What him say?’ said Queequeg, as he mildly turned to
me.
    ‘He say,’ said I, ‘that you came near kill-e that man
there,’ pointing to the still shivering greenhorn.
    ‘Kill-e,’ cried Queequeg, twisting his tattooed face into
an unearthly expression of disdain, ‘ah! him bevy small-e
fish-e; Queequeg no kill-e so small-e fish-e; Queequeg
kill-e big whale!’
    ‘Look you,’ roared the Captain, ‘I’ll kill-e YOU, you
cannibal, if you try any more of your tricks aboard here; so
mind your eye.’
    But it so happened just then, that it was high time for
the Captain to mind his own eye. The prodigious strain
upon the main-sail had parted the weather-sheet, and the
tremendous boom was now flying from side to side,


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completely sweeping the entire after part of the deck. The
poor fellow whom Queequeg had handled so roughly, was
swept overboard; all hands were in a panic; and to attempt
snatching at the boom to stay it, seemed madness. It flew
from right to left, and back again, almost in one ticking of
a watch, and every instant seemed on the point of
snapping into splinters. Nothing was done, and nothing
seemed capable of being done; those on deck rushed
towards the bows, and stood eyeing the boom as if it were
the lower jaw of an exasperated whale. In the midst of this
consternation, Queequeg dropped deftly to his knees, and
crawling under the path of the boom, whipped hold of a
rope, secured one end to the bulwarks, and then flinging
the other like a lasso, caught it round the boom as it swept
over his head, and at the next jerk, the spar was that way
trapped, and all was safe. The schooner was run into the
wind, and while the hands were clearing away the stern
boat, Queequeg, stripped to the waist, darted from the
side with a long living arc of a leap. For three minutes or
more he was seen swimming like a dog, throwing his long
arms straight out before him, and by turns revealing his
brawny shoulders through the freezing foam. I looked at
the grand and glorious fellow, but saw no one to be saved.
The greenhorn had gone down. Shooting himself


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perpendicularly from the water, Queequeg, now took an
instant’s glance around him, and seeming to see just how
matters were, dived down and disappeared. A few minutes
more, and he rose again, one arm still striking out, and
with the other dragging a lifeless form. The boat soon
picked them up. The poor bumpkin was restored. All
hands voted Queequeg a noble trump; the captain begged
his pardon. From that hour I clove to Queequeg like a
barnacle; yea, till poor Queequeg took his last long dive.
    Was there ever such unconsciousness? He did not seem
to think that he at all deserved a medal from the Humane
and Magnanimous Societies. He only asked for water—
fresh water—something to wipe the brine off; that done,
he put on dry clothes, lighted his pipe, and leaning against
the bulwarks, and mildly eyeing those around him, seemed
to be saying to himself—‘It’s a mutual, joint-stock world,
in all meridians. We cannibals must help these Christians.’




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                       Chapter 14

    Nantucket.
    Nothing more happened on the passage worthy the
mentioning; so, after a fine run, we safely arrived in
Nantucket.
    Nantucket! Take out your map and look at it. See what
a real corner of the world it occupies; how it stands there,
away off shore, more lonely than the Eddystone
lighthouse. Look at it—a mere hillock, and elbow of sand;
all beach, without a background. There is more sand there
than you would use in twenty years as a substitute for
blotting paper. Some gamesome wights will tell you that
they have to plant weeds there, they don’t grow naturally;
that they import Canada thistles; that they have to send
beyond seas for a spile to stop a leak in an oil cask; that
pieces of wood in Nantucket are carried about like bits of
the true cross in Rome; that people there plant toadstools
before their houses, to get under the shade in summer
time; that one blade of grass makes an oasis, three blades in
a day’s walk a prairie; that they wear quicksand shoes,
something like Laplander snow-shoes; that they are so shut
up, belted about, every way inclosed, surrounded, and


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made an utter island of by the ocean, that to their very
chairs and tables small clams will sometimes be found
adhering, as to the backs of sea turtles. But these
extravaganzas only show that Nantucket is no Illinois.
    Look now at the wondrous traditional story of how this
island was settled by the red-men. Thus goes the legend.
In olden times an eagle swooped down upon the New
England coast, and carried off an infant Indian in his
talons. With loud lament the parents saw their child borne
out of sight over the wide waters. They resolved to follow
in the same direction. Setting out in their canoes, after a
perilous passage they discovered the island, and there they
found an empty ivory casket,—the poor little Indian’s
skeleton.
    What wonder, then, that these Nantucketers, born on a
beach, should take to the sea for a livelihood! They first
caught crabs and quohogs in the sand; grown bolder, they
waded out with nets for mackerel; more experienced, they
pushed off in boats and captured cod; and at last,
launching a navy of great ships on the sea, explored this
watery world; put an incessant belt of circumnavigations
round it; peeped in at Behring’s Straits; and in all seasons
and all oceans declared everlasting war with the mightiest
animated mass that has survived the flood; most monstrous


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and most mountainous! That Himmalehan, salt-sea
Mastodon, clothed with such portentousness of
unconscious power, that his very panics are more to be
dreaded than his most fearless and malicious assaults!
   And thus have these naked Nantucketers, these sea
hermits, issuing from their ant-hill in the sea, overrun and
conquered the watery world like so many Alexanders;
parcelling out among them the Atlantic, Pacific, and
Indian oceans, as the three pirate powers did Poland. Let
America add Mexico to Texas, and pile Cuba upon
Canada; let the English overswarm all India, and hang out
their blazing banner from the sun; two thirds of this
terraqueous globe are the Nantucketer’s. For the sea is his;
he owns it, as Emperors own empires; other seamen
having but a right of way through it. Merchant ships are
but extension bridges; armed ones but floating forts; even
pirates and privateers, though following the sea as
highwaymen the road, they but plunder other ships, other
fragments of the land like themselves, without seeking to
draw their living from the bottomless deep itself. The
Nantucketer, he alone resides and riots on the sea; he
alone, in Bible language, goes down to it in ships; to and
fro ploughing it as his own special plantation. THERE is
his home; THERE lies his business, which a Noah’s flood


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would not interrupt, though it overwhelmed all the
millions in China. He lives on the sea, as prairie cocks in
the prairie; he hides among the waves, he climbs them as
chamois hunters climb the Alps. For years he knows not
the land; so that when he comes to it at last, it smells like
another world, more strangely than the moon would to an
Earthsman. With the landless gull, that at sunset folds her
wings and is rocked to sleep between billows; so at
nightfall, the Nantucketer, out of sight of land, furls his
sails, and lays him to his rest, while under his very pillow
rush herds of walruses and whales.




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                        Chapter 15

   Chowder.
   It was quite late in the evening when the little Moss
came snugly to anchor, and Queequeg and I went ashore;
so we could attend to no business that day, at least none
but a supper and a bed. The landlord of the Spouter-Inn
had recommended us to his cousin Hosea Hussey of the
Try Pots, whom he asserted to be the proprietor of one of
the best kept hotels in all Nantucket, and moreover he had
assured us that Cousin Hosea, as he called him, was
famous for his chowders. In short, he plainly hinted that
we could not possibly do better than try pot-luck at the
Try Pots. But the directions he had given us about
keeping a yellow warehouse on our starboard hand till we
opened a white church to the larboard, and then keeping
that on the larboard hand till we made a corner three
points to the starboard, and that done, then ask the first
man we met where the place was: these crooked
directions of his very much puzzled us at first, especially as,
at the outset, Queequeg insisted that the yellow
warehouse—our first point of departure—must be left on
the larboard hand, whereas I had understood Peter Coffin


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to say it was on the starboard. However, by dint of beating
about a little in the dark, and now and then knocking up a
peaceable inhabitant to inquire the way, we at last came to
something which there was no mistaking.
   Two enormous wooden pots painted black, and
suspended by asses’ ears, swung from the cross-trees of an
old top-mast, planted in front of an old doorway. The
horns of the cross-trees were sawed off on the other side,
so that this old top-mast looked not a little like a gallows.
Perhaps I was over sensitive to such impressions at the
time, but I could not help staring at this gallows with a
vague misgiving. A sort of crick was in my neck as I gazed
up to the two remaining horns; yes, TWO of them, one
for Queequeg, and one for me. It’s ominous, thinks I. A
Coffin my Innkeeper upon landing in my first whaling
port; tombstones staring at me in the whalemen’s chapel;
and here a gallows! and a pair of prodigious black pots too!
Are these last throwing out oblique hints touching
Tophet?
   I was called from these reflections by the sight of a
freckled woman with yellow hair and a yellow gown,
standing in the porch of the inn, under a dull red lamp
swinging there, that looked much like an injured eye, and



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carrying on a brisk scolding with a man in a purple
woollen shirt.
    ‘Get along with ye,’ said she to the man, ‘or I’ll be
combing ye!’
    ‘Come on, Queequeg,’ said I, ‘all right. There’s Mrs.
Hussey.’
    And so it turned out; Mr. Hosea Hussey being from
home, but leaving Mrs. Hussey entirely competent to
attend to all his affairs. Upon making known our desires
for a supper and a bed, Mrs. Hussey, postponing further
scolding for the present, ushered us into a little room, and
seating us at a table spread with the relics of a recently
concluded repast, turned round to us and said—‘Clam or
Cod?’
    ‘What’s that about Cods, ma’am?’ said I, with much
politeness.
    ‘Clam or Cod?’ she repeated.
    ‘A clam for supper? a cold clam; is THAT what you
mean, Mrs. Hussey?’ says I, ‘but that’s a rather cold and
clammy reception in the winter time, ain’t it, Mrs.
Hussey?’
    But being in a great hurry to resume scolding the man
in the purple Shirt, who was waiting for it in the entry,
and seeming to hear nothing but the word ‘clam,’ Mrs.


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Hussey hurried towards an open door leading to the
kitchen, and bawling out ‘clam for two,’ disappeared.
   ‘Queequeg,’ said I, ‘do you think that we can make out
a supper for us both on one clam?’
   However, a warm savory steam from the kitchen
served to belie the apparently cheerless prospect before us.
But when that smoking chowder came in, the mystery was
delightfully explained. Oh, sweet friends! hearken to me.
It was made of small juicy clams, scarcely bigger than hazel
nuts, mixed with pounded ship biscuit, and salted pork cut
up into little flakes; the whole enriched with butter, and
plentifully seasoned with pepper and salt. Our appetites
being sharpened by the frosty voyage, and in particular,
Queequeg seeing his favourite fishing food before him,
and the chowder being surpassingly excellent, we
despatched it with great expedition: when leaning back a
moment and bethinking me of Mrs. Hussey’s clam and
cod announcement, I thought I would try a little
experiment. Stepping to the kitchen door, I uttered the
word ‘cod’ with great emphasis, and resumed my seat. In a
few moments the savoury steam came forth again, but
with a different flavor, and in good time a fine cod-
chowder was placed before us.



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    We resumed business; and while plying our spoons in
the bowl, thinks I to myself, I wonder now if this here has
any effect on the head? What’s that stultifying saying about
chowder-headed people? ‘But look, Queequeg, ain’t that a
live eel in your bowl? Where’s your harpoon?’
    Fishiest of all fishy places was the Try Pots, which well
deserved its name; for the pots there were always boiling
chowders. Chowder for breakfast, and chowder for
dinner, and chowder for supper, till you began to look for
fish-bones coming through your clothes. The area before
the house was paved with clam-shells. Mrs. Hussey wore a
polished necklace of codfish vertebra; and Hosea Hussey
had his account books bound in superior old shark-skin.
There was a fishy flavor to the milk, too, which I could
not at all account for, till one morning happening to take a
stroll along the beach among some fishermen’s boats, I saw
Hosea’s brindled cow feeding on fish remnants, and
marching along the sand with each foot in a cod’s
decapitated head, looking very slip-shod, I assure ye.
    Supper concluded, we received a lamp, and directions
from Mrs. Hussey concerning the nearest way to bed; but,
as Queequeg was about to precede me up the stairs, the
lady reached forth her arm, and demanded his harpoon;
she allowed no harpoon in her chambers. ‘Why not? said


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I; ‘every true whaleman sleeps with his harpoon—but why
not?’ ‘Because it’s dangerous,’ says she. ‘Ever since young
Stiggs coming from that unfort’nt v’y’ge of his, when he
was gone four years and a half, with only three barrels of
ILE, was found dead in my first floor back, with his
harpoon in his side; ever since then I allow no boarders to
take sich dangerous weepons in their rooms at night. So,
Mr. Queequeg’ (for she had learned his name), ‘I will just
take this here iron, and keep it for you till morning. But
the chowder; clam or cod to-morrow for breakfast, men?’
    ‘Both,’ says I; ‘and let’s have a couple of smoked
herring by way of variety.’




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                       Chapter 16

    The Ship.
    In bed we concocted our plans for the morrow. But to
my surprise and no small concern, Queequeg now gave
me to understand, that he had been diligently consulting
Yojo—the name of his black little god—and Yojo had
told him two or three times over, and strongly insisted
upon it everyway, that instead of our going together
among the whaling-fleet in harbor, and in concert
selecting our craft; instead of this, I say, Yojo earnestly
enjoined that the selection of the ship should rest wholly
with me, inasmuch as Yojo purposed befriending us; and,
in order to do so, had already pitched upon a vessel,
which, if left to myself, I, Ishmael, should infallibly light
upon, for all the world as though it had turned out by
chance; and in that vessel I must immediately ship myself,
for the present irrespective of Queequeg.
    I have forgotten to mention that, in many things,
Queequeg placed great confidence in the excellence of
Yojo’s judgment and surprising forecast of things; and
cherished Yojo with considerable esteem, as a rather good
sort of god, who perhaps meant well enough upon the


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whole, but in all cases did not succeed in his benevolent
designs.
   Now, this plan of Queequeg’s, or rather Yojo’s,
touching the selection of our craft; I did not like that plan
at all. I had not a little relied upon Queequeg’s sagacity to
point out the whaler best fitted to carry us and our
fortunes securely. But as all my remonstrances produced
no effect upon Queequeg, I was obliged to acquiesce; and
accordingly prepared to set about this business with a
determined rushing sort of energy and vigor, that should
quickly settle that trifling little affair. Next morning early,
leaving Queequeg shut up with Yojo in our little
bedroom—for it seemed that it was some sort of Lent or
Ramadan, or day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer with
Queequeg and Yojo that day; HOW it was I never could
find out, for, though I applied myself to it several times, I
never could master his liturgies and XXXIX Articles—
leaving Queequeg, then, fasting on his tomahawk pipe,
and Yojo warming himself at his sacrificial fire of shavings,
I sallied out among the shipping. After much prolonged
sauntering and many random inquiries, I learnt that there
were three ships up for three-years’ voyages—The Devil-
dam, the Tit-bit, and the Pequod. DEVIL-DAM, I do not
know the origin of; TIT-BIT is obvious; PEQUOD, you


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will no doubt remember, was the name of a celebrated
tribe of Massachusetts Indians; now extinct as the ancient
Medes. I peered and pryed about the Devil-dam; from
her, hopped over to the Tit-bit; and finally, going on
board the Pequod, looked around her for a moment, and
then decided that this was the very ship for us.
    You may have seen many a quaint craft in your day, for
aught I know;—square-toed luggers; mountainous
Japanese junks; butter-box galliots, and what not; but take
my word for it, you never saw such a rare old craft as this
same rare old Pequod. She was a ship of the old school,
rather small if anything; with an old-fashioned claw-footed
look about her. Long seasoned and weather-stained in the
typhoons and calms of all four oceans, her old hull’s
complexion was darkened like a French grenadier’s, who
has alike fought in Egypt and Siberia. Her venerable bows
looked bearded. Her masts—cut somewhere on the coast
of Japan, where her original ones were lost overboard in a
gale—her masts stood stiffly up like the spines of the three
old kings of Cologne. Her ancient decks were worn and
wrinkled, like the pilgrim-worshipped flag-stone in
Canterbury Cathedral where Becket bled. But to all these
her old antiquities, were added new and marvellous
features, pertaining to the wild business that for more than


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half a century she had followed. Old Captain Peleg, many
years her chief-mate, before he commanded another vessel
of his own, and now a retired seaman, and one of the
principal owners of the Pequod,—this old Peleg, during
the term of his chief-mateship, had built upon her original
grotesqueness, and inlaid it, all over, with a quaintness
both of material and device, unmatched by anything
except it be Thorkill-Hake’s carved buckler or bedstead.
She was apparelled like any barbaric Ethiopian emperor,
his neck heavy with pendants of polished ivory. She was a
thing of trophies. A cannibal of a craft, tricking herself
forth in the chased bones of her enemies. All round, her
unpanelled, open bulwarks were garnished like one
continuous jaw, with the long sharp teeth of the sperm
whale, inserted there for pins, to fasten her old hempen
thews and tendons to. Those thews ran not through base
blocks of land wood, but deftly travelled over sheaves of
sea-ivory. Scorning a turnstile wheel at her reverend helm,
she sported there a tiller; and that tiller was in one mass,
curiously carved from the long narrow lower jaw of her
hereditary foe. The helmsman who steered by that tiller in
a tempest, felt like the Tartar, when he holds back his fiery
steed by clutching its jaw. A noble craft, but somehow a
most melancholy! All noble things are touched with that.


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    Now when I looked about the quarter-deck, for some
one having authority, in order to propose myself as a
candidate for the voyage, at first I saw nobody; but I could
not well overlook a strange sort of tent, or rather wigwam,
pitched a little behind the main-mast. It seemed only a
temporary erection used in port. It was of a conical shape,
some ten feet high; consisting of the long, huge slabs of
limber black bone taken from the middle and highest part
of the jaws of the right-whale. Planted with their broad
ends on the deck, a circle of these slabs laced together,
mutually sloped towards each other, and at the apex
united in a tufted point, where the loose hairy fibres
waved to and fro like the top-knot on some old
Pottowottamie Sachem’s head. A triangular opening faced
towards the bows of the ship, so that the insider
commanded a complete view forward.
    And half concealed in this queer tenement, I at length
found one who by his aspect seemed to have authority;
and who, it being noon, and the ship’s work suspended,
was now enjoying respite from the burden of command.
He was seated on an old-fashioned oaken chair, wriggling
all over with curious carving; and the bottom of which
was formed of a stout interlacing of the same elastic stuff of
which the wigwam was constructed.


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    There was nothing so very particular, perhaps, about
the appearance of the elderly man I saw; he was brown
and brawny, like most old seamen, and heavily rolled up
in blue pilot-cloth, cut in the Quaker style; only there was
a fine and almost microscopic net-work of the minutest
wrinkles interlacing round his eyes, which must have
arisen from his continual sailings in many hard gales, and
always looking to windward;—for this causes the muscles
about the eyes to become pursed together. Such eye-
wrinkles are very effectual in a scowl.
    ‘Is this the Captain of the Pequod?’ said I, advancing to
the door of the tent.
    ‘Supposing it be the captain of the Pequod, what dost
thou want of him?’ he demanded.
    ‘I was thinking of shipping.’
    ‘Thou wast, wast thou? I see thou art no
Nantucketer—ever been in a stove boat?’
    ‘No, Sir, I never have.’
    ‘Dost know nothing at all about whaling, I dare say—
eh?
    ‘Nothing, Sir; but I have no doubt I shall soon learn.
I’ve been several voyages in the merchant service, and I
think that—‘



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    ‘Merchant service be damned. Talk not that lingo to
me. Dost see that leg?—I’ll take that leg away from thy
stern, if ever thou talkest of the marchant service to me
again. Marchant service indeed! I suppose now ye feel
considerable proud of having served in those marchant
ships. But flukes! man, what makes thee want to go a
whaling, eh?—it looks a little suspicious, don’t it, eh?—
Hast not been a pirate, hast thou?—Didst not rob thy last
Captain, didst thou?—Dost not think of murdering the
officers when thou gettest to sea?’
    I protested my innocence of these things. I saw that
under the mask of these half humorous innuendoes, this
old seaman, as an insulated Quakerish Nantucketer, was
full of his insular prejudices, and rather distrustful of all
aliens, unless they hailed from Cape Cod or the Vineyard.
    ‘But what takes thee a-whaling? I want to know that
before I think of shipping ye.’
    ‘Well, sir, I want to see what whaling is. I want to see
the world.’
    ‘Want to see what whaling is, eh? Have ye clapped eye
on Captain Ahab?’
    ‘Who is Captain Ahab, sir?’
    ‘Aye, aye, I thought so. Captain Ahab is the Captain of
this ship.’


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   ‘I am mistaken then. I thought I was speaking to the
Captain himself.’
   ‘Thou art speaking to Captain Peleg—that’s who ye are
speaking to, young man. It belongs to me and Captain
Bildad to see the Pequod fitted out for the voyage, and
supplied with all her needs, including crew. We are part
owners and agents. But as I was going to say, if thou
wantest to know what whaling is, as thou tellest ye do, I
can put ye in a way of finding it out before ye bind
yourself to it, past backing out. Clap eye on Captain Ahab,
young man, and thou wilt find that he has only one leg.’
   ‘What do you mean, sir? Was the other one lost by a
whale?’
   ‘Lost by a whale! Young man, come nearer to me: it
was devoured, chewed up, crunched by the monstrousest
parmacetty that ever chipped a boat!—ah, ah!’
   I was a little alarmed by his energy, perhaps also a little
touched at the hearty grief in his concluding exclamation,
but said as calmly as I could, ‘What you say is no doubt
true enough, sir; but how could I know there was any
peculiar ferocity in that particular whale, though indeed I
might have inferred as much from the simple fact of the
accident.’



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   ‘Look ye now, young man, thy lungs are a sort of soft,
d’ye see; thou dost not talk shark a bit. SURE, ye’ve been
to sea before now; sure of that?’
   ‘Sir,’ said I, ‘I thought I told you that I had been four
voyages in the merchant—‘
   ‘Hard down out of that! Mind what I said about the
marchant service—don’t aggravate me—I won’t have it.
But let us understand each other. I have given thee a hint
about what whaling is; do ye yet feel inclined for it?’
   ‘I do, sir.’
   ‘Very good. Now, art thou the man to pitch a harpoon
down a live whale’s throat, and then jump after it?
Answer, quick!’
   ‘I am, sir, if it should be positively indispensable to do
so; not to be got rid of, that is; which I don’t take to be
the fact.’
   ‘Good again. Now then, thou not only wantest to go
a-whaling, to find out by experience what whaling is, but
ye also want to go in order to see the world? Was not that
what ye said? I thought so. Well then, just step forward
there, and take a peep over the weather-bow, and then
back to me and tell me what ye see there.’
   For a moment I stood a little puzzled by this curious
request, not knowing exactly how to take it, whether


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humorously or in earnest. But concentrating all his crow’s
feet into one scowl, Captain Peleg started me on the
errand.
   Going forward and glancing over the weather bow, I
perceived that the ship swinging to her anchor with the
flood-tide, was now obliquely pointing towards the open
ocean. The prospect was unlimited, but exceedingly
monotonous and forbidding; not the slightest variety that I
could see.
   ‘Well, what’s the report?’ said Peleg when I came back;
‘what did ye see?’
   ‘Not much,’ I replied—‘nothing but water;
considerable horizon though, and there’s a squall coming
up, I think.’
   ‘Well, what does thou think then of seeing the world?
Do ye wish to go round Cape Horn to see any more of it,
eh? Can’t ye see the world where you stand?’
   I was a little staggered, but go a-whaling I must, and I
would; and the Pequod was as good a ship as any—I
thought the best—and all this I now repeated to Peleg.
Seeing me so determined, he expressed his willingness to
ship me.




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   ‘And thou mayest as well sign the papers right off,’ he
added—‘come along with ye.’ And so saying, he led the
way below deck into the cabin.
   Seated on the transom was what seemed to me a most
uncommon and surprising figure. It turned out to be
Captain Bildad, who along with Captain Peleg was one of
the largest owners of the vessel; the other shares, as is
sometimes the case in these ports, being held by a crowd
of old annuitants; widows, fatherless children, and
chancery wards; each owning about the value of a timber
head, or a foot of plank, or a nail or two in the ship.
People in Nantucket invest their money in whaling
vessels, the same way that you do yours in approved state
stocks bringing in good interest.
   Now, Bildad, like Peleg, and indeed many other
Nantucketers, was a Quaker, the island having been
originally settled by that sect; and to this day its inhabitants
in general retain in an uncommon measure the
peculiarities of the Quaker, only variously and
anomalously modified by things altogether alien and
heterogeneous. For some of these same Quakers are the
most sanguinary of all sailors and whale-hunters. They are
fighting Quakers; they are Quakers with a vengeance.



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    So that there are instances among them of men, who,
named with Scripture names—a singularly common
fashion on the island—and in childhood naturally
imbibing the stately dramatic thee and thou of the Quaker
idiom; still, from the audacious, daring, and boundless
adventure of their subsequent lives, strangely blend with
these unoutgrown peculiarities, a thousand bold dashes of
character, not unworthy a Scandinavian sea-king, or a
poetical Pagan Roman. And when these things unite in a
man of greatly superior natural force, with a globular brain
and a ponderous heart; who has also by the stillness and
seclusion of many long night-watches in the remotest
waters, and beneath constellations never seen here at the
north, been led to think untraditionally and
independently; receiving all nature’s sweet or savage
impressions fresh from her own virgin voluntary and
confiding breast, and thereby chiefly, but with some help
from accidental advantages, to learn a bold and nervous
lofty language—that man makes one in a whole nation’s
census—a mighty pageant creature, formed for noble
tragedies. Nor will it at all detract from him, dramatically
regarded, if either by birth or other circumstances, he have
what seems a half wilful overruling morbidness at the
bottom of his nature. For all men tragically great are made


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so through a certain morbidness. Be sure of this, O young
ambition, all mortal greatness is but disease. But, as yet we
have not to do with such an one, but with quite another;
and still a man, who, if indeed peculiar, it only results
again from another phase of the Quaker, modified by
individual circumstances.
    Like Captain Peleg, Captain Bildad was a well-to-do,
retired whaleman. But unlike Captain Peleg—who cared
not a rush for what are called serious things, and indeed
deemed those self-same serious things the veriest of all
trifles—Captain Bildad had not only been originally
educated according to the strictest sect of Nantucket
Quakerism, but all his subsequent ocean life, and the sight
of many unclad, lovely island creatures, round the Horn—
all that had not moved this native born Quaker one single
jot, had not so much as altered one angle of his vest. Still,
for all this immutableness, was there some lack of common
consistency about worthy Captain Peleg. Though refusing,
from conscientious scruples, to bear arms against land
invaders, yet himself had illimitably invaded the Atlantic
and Pacific; and though a sworn foe to human bloodshed,
yet had he in his straight-bodied coat, spilled tuns upon
tuns of leviathan gore. How now in the contemplative
evening of his days, the pious Bildad reconciled these


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things in the reminiscence, I do not know; but it did not
seem to concern him much, and very probably he had
long since come to the sage and sensible conclusion that a
man’s religion is one thing, and this practical world quite
another. This world pays dividends. Rising from a little
cabin-boy in short clothes of the drabbest drab, to a
harpooneer in a broad shad-bellied waistcoat; from that
becoming boat-header, chief-mate, and captain, and finally
a ship owner; Bildad, as I hinted before, had concluded his
adventurous career by wholly retiring from active life at
the goodly age of sixty, and dedicating his remaining days
to the quiet receiving of his well-earned income.
    Now, Bildad, I am sorry to say, had the reputation of
being an incorrigible old hunks, and in his sea-going days,
a bitter, hard task-master. They told me in Nantucket,
though it certainly seems a curious story, that when he
sailed the old Categut whaleman, his crew, upon arriving
home, were mostly all carried ashore to the hospital, sore
exhausted and worn out. For a pious man, especially for a
Quaker, he was certainly rather hard-hearted, to say the
least. He never used to swear, though, at his men, they
said; but somehow he got an inordinate quantity of cruel,
unmitigated hard work out of them. When Bildad was a
chief-mate, to have his drab-coloured eye intently looking


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at you, made you feel completely nervous, till you could
clutch something—a hammer or a marling-spike, and go
to work like mad, at something or other, never mind
what. Indolence and idleness perished before him. His
own person was the exact embodiment of his utilitarian
character. On his long, gaunt body, he carried no spare
flesh, no superfluous beard, his chin having a soft,
economical nap to it, like the worn nap of his broad-
brimmed hat.
    Such, then, was the person that I saw seated on the
transom when I followed Captain Peleg down into the
cabin. The space between the decks was small; and there,
bolt-upright, sat old Bildad, who always sat so, and never
leaned, and this to save his coat tails. His broad-brim was
placed beside him; his legs were stiffly crossed; his drab
vesture was buttoned up to his chin; and spectacles on
nose, he seemed absorbed in reading from a ponderous
volume.
    ‘Bildad,’ cried Captain Peleg, ‘at it again, Bildad, eh?
Ye have been studying those Scriptures, now, for the last
thirty years, to my certain knowledge. How far ye got,
Bildad?’
    As if long habituated to such profane talk from his old
shipmate, Bildad, without noticing his present irreverence,


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quietly looked up, and seeing me, glanced again
inquiringly towards Peleg.
    ‘He says he’s our man, Bildad,’ said Peleg, ‘he wants to
ship.’
    ‘Dost thee?’ said Bildad, in a hollow tone, and turning
round to me.
    ‘I dost,’ said I unconsciously, he was so intense a
Quaker.
    ‘What do ye think of him, Bildad?’ said Peleg.
    ‘He’ll do,’ said Bildad, eyeing me, and then went on
spelling away at his book in a mumbling tone quite
audible.
    I thought him the queerest old Quaker I ever saw,
especially as Peleg, his friend and old shipmate, seemed
such a blusterer. But I said nothing, only looking round
me sharply. Peleg now threw open a chest, and drawing
forth the ship’s articles, placed pen and ink before him,
and seated himself at a little table. I began to think it was
high time to settle with myself at what terms I would be
willing to engage for the voyage. I was already aware that
in the whaling business they paid no wages; but all hands,
including the captain, received certain shares of the profits
called lays, and that these lays were proportioned to the
degree of importance pertaining to the respective duties of


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the ship’s company. I was also aware that being a green
hand at whaling, my own lay would not be very large; but
considering that I was used to the sea, could steer a ship,
splice a rope, and all that, I made no doubt that from all I
had heard I should be offered at least the 275th lay—that
is, the 275th part of the clear net proceeds of the voyage,
whatever that might eventually amount to. And though
the 275th lay was what they call a rather LONG LAY, yet
it was better than nothing; and if we had a lucky voyage,
might pretty nearly pay for the clothing I would wear out
on it, not to speak of my three years’ beef and board, for
which I would not have to pay one stiver.
    It might be thought that this was a poor way to
accumulate a princely fortune—and so it was, a very poor
way indeed. But I am one of those that never take on
about princely fortunes, and am quite content if the world
is ready to board and lodge me, while I am putting up at
this grim sign of the Thunder Cloud. Upon the whole, I
thought that the 275th lay would be about the fair thing,
but would not have been surprised had I been offered the
200th, considering I was of a broad-shouldered make.
    But one thing, nevertheless, that made me a little
distrustful about receiving a generous share of the profits
was this: Ashore, I had heard something of both Captain


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Peleg and his unaccountable old crony Bildad; how that
they being the principal proprietors of the Pequod,
therefore the other and more inconsiderable and scattered
owners, left nearly the whole management of the ship’s
affairs to these two. And I did not know but what the
stingy old Bildad might have a mighty deal to say about
shipping hands, especially as I now found him on board
the Pequod, quite at home there in the cabin, and reading
his Bible as if at his own fireside. Now while Peleg was
vainly trying to mend a pen with his jack-knife, old
Bildad, to my no small surprise, considering that he was
such an interested party in these proceedings; Bildad never
heeded us, but went on mumbling to himself out of his
book, ‘LAY not up for yourselves treasures upon earth,
where moth—‘
    ‘Well, Captain Bildad,’ interrupted Peleg, ‘what d’ye
say, what lay shall we give this young man?’
    ‘Thou knowest best,’ was the sepulchral reply, ‘the
seven hundred and seventy-seventh wouldn’t be too
much, would it?—’where moth and rust do corrupt, but
LAY—’’
    LAY, indeed, thought I, and such a lay! the seven
hundred and seventy-seventh! Well, old Bildad, you are
determined that I, for one, shall not LAY up many LAYS


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here below, where moth and rust do corrupt. It was an
exceedingly LONG LAY that, indeed; and though from
the magnitude of the figure it might at first deceive a
landsman, yet the slightest consideration will show that
though seven hundred and seventy-seven is a pretty large
number, yet, when you come to make a TEENTH of it,
you will then see, I say, that the seven hundred and
seventy-seventh part of a farthing is a good deal less than
seven hundred and seventy-seven gold doubloons; and so I
thought at the time.
   ‘Why, blast your eyes, Bildad,’ cried Peleg, ‘thou dost
not want to swindle this young man! he must have more
than that.’
   ‘Seven hundred and seventy-seventh,’ again said Bildad,
without lifting his eyes; and then went on mumbling—‘for
where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.’
   ‘I am going to put him down for the three hundredth,’
said Peleg, ‘do ye hear that, Bildad! The three hundredth
lay, I say.’
   Bildad laid down his book, and turning solemnly
towards him said, ‘Captain Peleg, thou hast a generous
heart; but thou must consider the duty thou owest to the
other owners of this ship—widows and orphans, many of
them—and that if we too abundantly reward the labors of


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this young man, we may be taking the bread from those
widows and those orphans. The seven hundred and
seventy-seventh lay, Captain Peleg.’
    ‘Thou Bildad!’ roared Peleg, starting up and clattering
about the cabin. ‘Blast ye, Captain Bildad, if I had
followed thy advice in these matters, I would afore now
had a conscience to lug about that would be heavy
enough to founder the largest ship that ever sailed round
Cape Horn.’
    ‘Captain Peleg,’ said Bildad steadily, ‘thy conscience
may be drawing ten inches of water, or ten fathoms, I
can’t tell; but as thou art still an impenitent man, Captain
Peleg, I greatly fear lest thy conscience be but a leaky one;
and will in the end sink thee foundering down to the fiery
pit, Captain Peleg.’
    ‘Fiery pit! fiery pit! ye insult me, man; past all natural
bearing, ye insult me. It’s an all-fired outrage to tell any
human creature that he’s bound to hell. Flukes and flames!
Bildad, say that again to me, and start my soul-bolts, but
I’ll—I’ll—yes, I’ll swallow a live goat with all his hair and
horns on. Out of the cabin, ye canting, drab-coloured son
of a wooden gun—a straight wake with ye!’




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    As he thundered out this he made a rush at Bildad, but
with a marvellous oblique, sliding celerity, Bildad for that
time eluded him.
    Alarmed at this terrible outburst between the two
principal and responsible owners of the ship, and feeling
half a mind to give up all idea of sailing in a vessel so
questionably owned and temporarily commanded, I
stepped aside from the door to give egress to Bildad, who,
I made no doubt, was all eagerness to vanish from before
the awakened wrath of Peleg. But to my astonishment, he
sat down again on the transom very quietly, and seemed to
have not the slightest intention of withdrawing. He
seemed quite used to impenitent Peleg and his ways. As
for Peleg, after letting off his rage as he had, there seemed
no more left in him, and he, too, sat down like a lamb,
though he twitched a little as if still nervously agitated.
‘Whew!’ he whistled at last—‘the squall’s gone off to
leeward, I think. Bildad, thou used to be good at
sharpening a lance, mend that pen, will ye. My jack-knife
here needs the grindstone. That’s he; thank ye, Bildad.
Now then, my young man, Ishmael’s thy name, didn’t ye
say? Well then, down ye go here, Ishmael, for the three
hundredth lay.’



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   ‘Captain Peleg,’ said I, ‘I have a friend with me who
wants to ship too—shall I bring him down to-morrow?’
   ‘To be sure,’ said Peleg. ‘Fetch him along, and we’ll
look at him.’
   ‘What lay does he want?’ groaned Bildad, glancing up
from the book in which he had again been burying
himself.
   ‘Oh! never thee mind about that, Bildad,’ said Peleg.
‘Has he ever whaled it any?’ turning to me.
   ‘Killed more whales than I can count, Captain Peleg.’
   ‘Well, bring him along then.’
   And, after signing the papers, off I went; nothing
doubting but that I had done a good morning’s work, and
that the Pequod was the identical ship that Yojo had
provided to carry Queequeg and me round the Cape.
   But I had not proceeded far, when I began to bethink
me that the Captain with whom I was to sail yet remained
unseen by me; though, indeed, in many cases, a whale-
ship will be completely fitted out, and receive all her crew
on board, ere the captain makes himself visible by arriving
to take command; for sometimes these voyages are so
prolonged, and the shore intervals at home so exceedingly
brief, that if the captain have a family, or any absorbing
concernment of that sort, he does not trouble himself


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much about his ship in port, but leaves her to the owners
till all is ready for sea. However, it is always as well to
have a look at him before irrevocably committing yourself
into his hands. Turning back I accosted Captain Peleg,
inquiring where Captain Ahab was to be found.
    ‘And what dost thou want of Captain Ahab? It’s all
right enough; thou art shipped.’
    ‘Yes, but I should like to see him.’
    ‘But I don’t think thou wilt be able to at present. I
don’t know exactly what’s the matter with him; but he
keeps close inside the house; a sort of sick, and yet he
don’t look so. In fact, he ain’t sick; but no, he isn’t well
either. Any how, young man, he won’t always see me, so
I don’t suppose he will thee. He’s a queer man, Captain
Ahab—so some think—but a good one. Oh, thou’lt like
him well enough; no fear, no fear. He’s a grand, ungodly,
god-like man, Captain Ahab; doesn’t speak much; but,
when he does speak, then you may well listen. Mark ye,
be forewarned; Ahab’s above the common; Ahab’s been in
colleges, as well as ‘mong the cannibals; been used to
deeper wonders than the waves; fixed his fiery lance in
mightier, stranger foes than whales. His lance! aye, the
keenest and the surest that out of all our isle! Oh! he ain’t
Captain Bildad; no, and he ain’t Captain Peleg; HE’S


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AHAB, boy; and Ahab of old, thou knowest, was a
crowned king!’
    ‘And a very vile one. When that wicked king was slain,
the dogs, did they not lick his blood?’
    ‘Come hither to me—hither, hither,’ said Peleg, with a
significance in his eye that almost startled me. ‘Look ye,
lad; never say that on board the Pequod. Never say it
anywhere. Captain Ahab did not name himself. ‘Twas a
foolish, ignorant whim of his crazy, widowed mother,
who died when he was only a twelvemonth old. And yet
the old squaw Tistig, at Gayhead, said that the name
would somehow prove prophetic. And, perhaps, other
fools like her may tell thee the same. I wish to warn thee.
It’s a lie. I know Captain Ahab well; I’ve sailed with him
as mate years ago; I know what he is—a good man—not a
pious, good man, like Bildad, but a swearing good man—
something like me—only there’s a good deal more of him.
Aye, aye, I know that he was never very jolly; and I know
that on the passage home, he was a little out of his mind
for a spell; but it was the sharp shooting pains in his
bleeding stump that brought that about, as any one might
see. I know, too, that ever since he lost his leg last voyage
by that accursed whale, he’s been a kind of moody—
desperate moody, and savage sometimes; but that will all


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pass off. And once for all, let me tell thee and assure thee,
young man, it’s better to sail with a moody good captain
than a laughing bad one. So good-bye to thee—and
wrong not Captain Ahab, because he happens to have a
wicked name. Besides, my boy, he has a wife—not three
voyages wedded—a sweet, resigned girl. Think of that; by
that sweet girl that old man has a child: hold ye then there
can be any utter, hopeless harm in Ahab? No, no, my lad;
stricken, blasted, if he be, Ahab has his humanities!’
    As I walked away, I was full of thoughtfulness; what
had been incidentally revealed to me of Captain Ahab,
filled me with a certain wild vagueness of painfulness
concerning him. And somehow, at the time, I felt a
sympathy and a sorrow for him, but for I don’t know
what, unless it was the cruel loss of his leg. And yet I also
felt a strange awe of him; but that sort of awe, which I
cannot at all describe, was not exactly awe; I do not know
what it was. But I felt it; and it did not disincline me
towards him; though I felt impatience at what seemed like
mystery in him, so imperfectly as he was known to me
then. However, my thoughts were at length carried in
other directions, so that for the present dark Ahab slipped
my mind.



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                       Chapter 17

   The Ramadan.
   As Queequeg’s Ramadan, or Fasting and Humiliation,
was to continue all day, I did not choose to disturb him till
towards night-fall; for I cherish the greatest respect
towards everybody’s religious obligations, never mind
how comical, and could not find it in my heart to
undervalue even a congregation of ants worshipping a
toad-stool; or those other creatures in certain parts of our
earth, who with a degree of footmanism quite
unprecedented in other planets, bow down before the
torso of a deceased landed proprietor merely on account of
the inordinate possessions yet owned and rented in his
name.
   I say, we good Presbyterian Christians should be
charitable in these things, and not fancy ourselves so vastly
superior to other mortals, pagans and what not, because of
their half-crazy conceits on these subjects. There was
Queequeg, now, certainly entertaining the most absurd
notions about Yojo and his Ramadan;—but what of that?
Queequeg thought he knew what he was about, I
suppose; he seemed to be content; and there let him rest.


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All our arguing with him would not avail; let him be, I
say: and Heaven have mercy on us all—Presbyterians and
Pagans alike—for we are all somehow dreadfully cracked
about the head, and sadly need mending.
    Towards evening, when I felt assured that all his
performances and rituals must be over, I went up to his
room and knocked at the door; but no answer. I tried to
open it, but it was fastened inside. ‘Queequeg,’ said I softly
through the key-hole:—all silent. ‘I say, Queequeg! why
don’t you speak? It’s I—Ishmael.’ But all remained still as
before. I began to grow alarmed. I had allowed him such
abundant time; I thought he might have had an apoplectic
fit. I looked through the key-hole; but the door opening
into an odd corner of the room, the key-hole prospect was
but a crooked and sinister one. I could only see part of the
foot-board of the bed and a line of the wall, but nothing
more. I was surprised to behold resting against the wall the
wooden shaft of Queequeg’s harpoon, which the landlady
the evening previous had taken from him, before our
mounting to the chamber. That’s strange, thought I; but at
any rate, since the harpoon stands yonder, and he seldom
or never goes abroad without it, therefore he must be
inside here, and no possible mistake.



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    ‘Queequeg!—Queequeg!’—all still. Something must
have happened. Apoplexy! I tried to burst open the door;
but it stubbornly resisted. Running down stairs, I quickly
stated my suspicions to the first person I met—the
chamber-maid. ‘La! la!’ she cried, ‘I thought something
must be the matter. I went to make the bed after breakfast,
and the door was locked; and not a mouse to be heard;
and it’s been just so silent ever since. But I thought, may
be, you had both gone off and locked your baggage in for
safe keeping. La! la, ma’am!—Mistress! murder! Mrs.
Hussey! apoplexy!’—and with these cries, she ran towards
the kitchen, I following.
    Mrs. Hussey soon appeared, with a mustard-pot in one
hand and a vinegar-cruet in the other, having just broken
away from the occupation of attending to the castors, and
scolding her little black boy meantime.
    ‘Wood-house!’ cried I, ‘which way to it? Run for
God’s sake, and fetch something to pry open the door—
the axe!—the axe! he’s had a stroke; depend upon it!’—
and so saying I was unmethodically rushing up stairs again
empty-handed, when Mrs. Hussey interposed the
mustard-pot and vinegar-cruet, and the entire castor of her
countenance.
    ‘What’s the matter with you, young man?’


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    ‘Get the axe! For God’s sake, run for the doctor, some
one, while I pry it open!’
    ‘Look here,’ said the landlady, quickly putting down
the vinegar-cruet, so as to have one hand free; ‘look here;
are you talking about prying open any of my doors?’—and
with that she seized my arm. ‘What’s the matter with you?
What’s the matter with you, shipmate?’
    In as calm, but rapid a manner as possible, I gave her to
understand the whole case. Unconsciously clapping the
vinegar-cruet to one side of her nose, she ruminated for an
instant; then exclaimed—‘No! I haven’t seen it since I put
it there.’ Running to a little closet under the landing of
the stairs, she glanced in, and returning, told me that
Queequeg’s harpoon was missing. ‘He’s killed himself,’
she cried. ‘It’s unfort’nate Stiggs done over again there
goes another counterpane—God pity his poor mother!—it
will be the ruin of my house. Has the poor lad a sister?
Where’s that girl?—there, Betty, go to Snarles the Painter,
and tell him to paint me a sign, with—‘no suicides
permitted here, and no smoking in the parlor;’—might as
well kill both birds at once. Kill? The Lord be merciful to
his ghost! What’s that noise there? You, young man, avast
there!’



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    And running up after me, she caught me as I was again
trying to force open the door.
    ‘I don’t allow it; I won’t have my premises spoiled. Go
for the locksmith, there’s one about a mile from here. But
avast!’ putting her hand in her side-pocket, ‘here’s a key
that’ll fit, I guess; let’s see.’ And with that, she turned it in
the lock; but, alas! Queequeg’s supplemental bolt
remained unwithdrawn within.
    ‘Have to burst it open,’ said I, and was running down
the entry a little, for a good start, when the landlady
caught at me, again vowing I should not break down her
premises; but I tore from her, and with a sudden bodily
rush dashed myself full against the mark.
    With a prodigious noise the door flew open, and the
knob slamming against the wall, sent the plaster to the
ceiling; and there, good heavens! there sat Queequeg,
altogether cool and self-collected; right in the middle of
the room; squatting on his hams, and holding Yojo on top
of his head. He looked neither one way nor the other
way, but sat like a carved image with scarce a sign of
active life.
    ‘Queequeg,’ said I, going up to him, ‘Queequeg,
what’s the matter with you?’



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    ‘He hain’t been a sittin’ so all day, has he?’ said the
landlady.
    But all we said, not a word could we drag out of him; I
almost felt like pushing him over, so as to change his
position, for it was almost intolerable, it seemed so
painfully and unnaturally constrained; especially, as in all
probability he had been sitting so for upwards of eight or
ten hours, going too without his regular meals.
    ‘Mrs. Hussey,’ said I, ‘he’s ALIVE at all events; so leave
us, if you please, and I will see to this strange affair myself.’
    Closing the door upon the landlady, I endeavored to
prevail upon Queequeg to take a chair; but in vain. There
he sat; and all he could do—for all my polite arts and
blandishments—he would not move a peg, nor say a single
word, nor even look at me, nor notice my presence in the
slightest way.
    I wonder, thought I, if this can possibly be a part of his
Ramadan; do they fast on their hams that way in his native
island. It must be so; yes, it’s part of his creed, I suppose;
well, then, let him rest; he’ll get up sooner or later, no
doubt. It can’t last for ever, thank God, and his Ramadan
only comes once a year; and I don’t believe it’s very
punctual then.



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    I went down to supper. After sitting a long time
listening to the long stories of some sailors who had just
come from a plum-pudding voyage, as they called it (that
is, a short whaling-voyage in a schooner or brig, confined
to the north of the line, in the Atlantic Ocean only); after
listening to these plum-puddingers till nearly eleven
o’clock, I went up stairs to go to bed, feeling quite sure by
this time Queequeg must certainly have brought his
Ramadan to a termination. But no; there he was just
where I had left him; he had not stirred an inch. I began
to grow vexed with him; it seemed so downright senseless
and insane to be sitting there all day and half the night on
his hams in a cold room, holding a piece of wood on his
head.
    ‘For heaven’s sake, Queequeg, get up and shake
yourself; get up and have some supper. You’ll starve;
you’ll kill yourself, Queequeg.’ But not a word did he
reply.
    Despairing of him, therefore, I determined to go to bed
and to sleep; and no doubt, before a great while, he would
follow me. But previous to turning in, I took my heavy
bearskin jacket, and threw it over him, as it promised to
be a very cold night; and he had nothing but his ordinary
round jacket on. For some time, do all I would, I could


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not get into the faintest doze. I had blown out the candle;
and the mere thought of Queequeg—not four feet off—
sitting there in that uneasy position, stark alone in the cold
and dark; this made me really wretched. Think of it;
sleeping all night in the same room with a wide awake
pagan on his hams in this dreary, unaccountable Ramadan!
    But somehow I dropped off at last, and knew nothing
more till break of day; when, looking over the bedside,
there squatted Queequeg, as if he had been screwed down
to the floor. But as soon as the first glimpse of sun entered
the window, up he got, with stiff and grating joints, but
with a cheerful look; limped towards me where I lay;
pressed his forehead again against mine; and said his
Ramadan was over.
    Now, as I before hinted, I have no objection to any
person’s religion, be it what it may, so long as that person
does not kill or insult any other person, because that other
person don’t believe it also. But when a man’s religion
becomes really frantic; when it is a positive torment to
him; and, in fine, makes this earth of ours an
uncomfortable inn to lodge in; then I think it high time to
take that individual aside and argue the point with him.
    And just so I now did with Queequeg. ‘Queequeg,’
said I, ‘get into bed now, and lie and listen to me.’ I then


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went on, beginning with the rise and progress of the
primitive religions, and coming down to the various
religions of the present time, during which time I labored
to show Queequeg that all these Lents, Ramadans, and
prolonged ham-squattings in cold, cheerless rooms were
stark nonsense; bad for the health; useless for the soul;
opposed, in short, to the obvious laws of Hygiene and
common sense. I told him, too, that he being in other
things such an extremely sensible and sagacious savage, it
pained me, very badly pained me, to see him now so
deplorably foolish about this ridiculous Ramadan of his.
Besides, argued I, fasting makes the body cave in; hence
the spirit caves in; and all thoughts born of a fast must
necessarily be half-starved. This is the reason why most
dyspeptic religionists cherish such melancholy notions
about their hereafters. In one word, Queequeg, said I,
rather digressively; hell is an idea first born on an
undigested apple-dumpling; and since then perpetuated
through the hereditary dyspepsias nurtured by Ramadans.
    I then asked Queequeg whether he himself was ever
troubled with dyspepsia; expressing the idea very plainly,
so that he could take it in. He said no; only upon one
memorable occasion. It was after a great feast given by his
father the king, on the gaining of a great battle wherein


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fifty of the enemy had been killed by about two o’clock in
the afternoon, and all cooked and eaten that very evening.
    ‘No more, Queequeg,’ said I, shuddering; ‘that will
do;’ for I knew the inferences without his further hinting
them. I had seen a sailor who had visited that very island,
and he told me that it was the custom, when a great battle
had been gained there, to barbecue all the slain in the yard
or garden of the victor; and then, one by one, they were
placed in great wooden trenchers, and garnished round
like a pilau, with breadfruit and cocoanuts; and with some
parsley in their mouths, were sent round with the victor’s
compliments to all his friends, just as though these presents
were so many Christmas turkeys.
    After all, I do not think that my remarks about religion
made much impression upon Queequeg. Because, in the
first place, he somehow seemed dull of hearing on that
important subject, unless considered from his own point of
view; and, in the second place, he did not more than one
third understand me, couch my ideas simply as I would;
and, finally, he no doubt thought he knew a good deal
more about the true religion than I did. He looked at me
with a sort of condescending concern and compassion, as
though he thought it a great pity that such a sensible



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young man should be so hopelessly lost to evangelical
pagan piety.
   At last we rose and dressed; and Queequeg, taking a
prodigiously hearty breakfast of chowders of all sorts, so
that the landlady should not make much profit by reason
of his Ramadan, we sallied out to board the Pequod,
sauntering along, and picking our teeth with halibut
bones.




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                      Chapter 18

    His Mark.
    As we were walking down the end of the wharf
towards the ship, Queequeg carrying his harpoon, Captain
Peleg in his gruff voice loudly hailed us from his wigwam,
saying he had not suspected my friend was a cannibal, and
furthermore announcing that he let no cannibals on board
that craft, unless they previously produced their papers.
    ‘What do you mean by that, Captain Peleg?’ said I,
now jumping on the bulwarks, and leaving my comrade
standing on the wharf.
    ‘I mean,’ he replied, ‘he must show his papers.’
    ‘Yes,’ said Captain Bildad in his hollow voice, sticking
his head from behind Peleg’s, out of the wigwam. ‘He
must show that he’s converted. Son of darkness,’ he
added, turning to Queequeg, ‘art thou at present in
communion with any Christian church?’
    ‘Why,’ said I, ‘he’s a member of the first
Congregational Church.’ Here be it said, that many
tattooed savages sailing in Nantucket ships at last come to
be converted into the churches.




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   ‘First Congregational Church,’ cried Bildad, ‘what! that
worships in Deacon Deuteronomy Coleman’s meeting-
house?’ and so saying, taking out his spectacles, he rubbed
them with his great yellow bandana handkerchief, and
putting them on very carefully, came out of the wigwam,
and leaning stiffly over the bulwarks, took a good long
look at Queequeg.
   ‘How long hath he been a member?’ he then said,
turning to me; ‘not very long, I rather guess, young man.’
   ‘No,’ said Peleg, ‘and he hasn’t been baptized right
either, or it would have washed some of that devil’s blue
off his face.’
   ‘Do tell, now,’ cried Bildad, ‘is this Philistine a regular
member of Deacon Deuteronomy’s meeting? I never saw
him going there, and I pass it every Lord’s day.’
   ‘I don’t know anything about Deacon Deuteronomy or
his meeting,’ said I; ‘all I know is, that Queequeg here is a
born member of the First Congregational Church. He is a
deacon himself, Queequeg is.’
   ‘Young man,’ said Bildad sternly, ‘thou art skylarking
with me—explain thyself, thou young Hittite. What
church dost thee mean? answer me.’
   Finding myself thus hard pushed, I replied. ‘I mean, sir,
the same ancient Catholic Church to which you and I,


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and Captain Peleg there, and Queequeg here, and all of
us, and every mother’s son and soul of us belong; the great
and everlasting First Congregation of this whole
worshipping world; we all belong to that; only some of us
cherish some queer crotchets no ways touching the grand
belief; in THAT we all join hands.’
   ‘Splice, thou mean’st SPLICE hands,’ cried Peleg,
drawing nearer. ‘Young man, you’d better ship for a
missionary, instead of a fore-mast hand; I never heard a
better sermon. Deacon Deuteronomy—why Father
Mapple himself couldn’t beat it, and he’s reckoned
something. Come aboard, come aboard; never mind about
the papers. I say, tell Quohog there—what’s that you call
him? tell Quohog to step along. By the great anchor, what
a harpoon he’s got there! looks like good stuff that; and he
handles it about right. I say, Quohog, or whatever your
name is, did you ever stand in the head of a whale-boat?
did you ever strike a fish?’
   Without saying a word, Queequeg, in his wild sort of
way, jumped upon the bulwarks, from thence into the
bows of one of the whale-boats hanging to the side; and
then bracing his left knee, and poising his harpoon, cried
out in some such way as this:—



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    ‘Cap’ain, you see him small drop tar on water dere?
You see him? well, spose him one whale eye, well, den!’
and taking sharp aim at it, he darted the iron right over
old Bildad’s broad brim, clean across the ship’s decks, and
struck the glistening tar spot out of sight.
    ‘Now,’ said Queequeg, quietly hauling in the line,
‘spos-ee him whale-e eye; why, dad whale dead.’
    ‘Quick, Bildad,’ said Peleg, his partner, who, aghast at
the close vicinity of the flying harpoon, had retreated
towards the cabin gangway. ‘Quick, I say, you Bildad, and
get the ship’s papers. We must have Hedgehog there, I
mean Quohog, in one of our boats. Look ye, Quohog,
we’ll give ye the ninetieth lay, and that’s more than ever
was given a harpooneer yet out of Nantucket.’
    So down we went into the cabin, and to my great joy
Queequeg was soon enrolled among the same ship’s
company to which I myself belonged.
    When all preliminaries were over and Peleg had got
everything ready for signing, he turned to me and said, ‘I
guess, Quohog there don’t know how to write, does he? I
say, Quohog, blast ye! dost thou sign thy name or make
thy mark?
    But at this question, Queequeg, who had twice or
thrice before taken part in similar ceremonies, looked no


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ways abashed; but taking the offered pen, copied upon the
paper, in the proper place, an exact counterpart of a queer
round figure which was tattooed upon his arm; so that
through Captain Peleg’s obstinate mistake touching his
appellative, it stood something like this:—
    Quohog. his X mark.
    Meanwhile Captain Bildad sat earnestly and steadfastly
eyeing Queequeg, and at last rising solemnly and fumbling
in the huge pockets of his broad-skirted drab coat, took
out a bundle of tracts, and selecting one entitled ‘The
Latter Day Coming; or No Time to Lose,’ placed it in
Queequeg’s hands, and then grasping them and the book
with both his, looked earnestly into his eyes, and said,
‘Son of darkness, I must do my duty by thee; I am part
owner of this ship, and feel concerned for the souls of all
its crew; if thou still clingest to thy Pagan ways, which I
sadly fear, I beseech thee, remain not for aye a Belial
bondsman. Spurn the idol Bell, and the hideous dragon;
turn from the wrath to come; mind thine eye, I say; oh!
goodness gracious! steer clear of the fiery pit!’
    Something of the salt sea yet lingered in old Bildad’s
language, heterogeneously mixed with Scriptural and
domestic phrases.



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   ‘Avast there, avast there, Bildad, avast now spoiling our
harpooneer,’ Peleg. ‘Pious harpooneers never make good
voyagers—it takes the shark out of ‘em; no harpooneer is
worth a straw who aint pretty sharkish. There was young
Nat Swaine, once the bravest boat-header out of all
Nantucket and the Vineyard; he joined the meeting, and
never came to good. He got so frightened about his
plaguy soul, that he shrinked and sheered away from
whales, for fear of after-claps, in case he got stove and
went to Davy Jones.’
   ‘Peleg! Peleg!’ said Bildad, lifting his eyes and hands,
‘thou thyself, as I myself, hast seen many a perilous time;
thou knowest, Peleg, what it is to have the fear of death;
how, then, can’st thou prate in this ungodly guise. Thou
beliest thine own heart, Peleg. Tell me, when this same
Pequod here had her three masts overboard in that
typhoon on Japan, that same voyage when thou went
mate with Captain Ahab, did’st thou not think of Death
and the Judgment then?’
   ‘Hear him, hear him now,’ cried Peleg, marching
across the cabin, and thrusting his hands far down into his
pockets,—‘hear him, all of ye. Think of that! When every
moment we thought the ship would sink! Death and the
Judgment then? What? With all three masts making such


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an everlasting thundering against the side; and every sea
breaking over us, fore and aft. Think of Death and the
Judgment then? No! no time to think about Death then.
Life was what Captain Ahab and I was thinking of; and
how to save all hands—how to rig jury-masts—how to get
into the nearest port; that was what I was thinking of.’
   Bildad said no more, but buttoning up his coat, stalked
on deck, where we followed him. There he stood, very
quietly overlooking some sailmakers who were mending a
top-sail in the waist. Now and then he stooped to pick up
a patch, or save an end of tarred twine, which otherwise
might have been wasted.




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                       Chapter 19

   The Prophet.
   ‘Shipmates, have ye shipped in that ship?’
   Queequeg and I had just left the Pequod, and were
sauntering away from the water, for the moment each
occupied with his own thoughts, when the above words
were put to us by a stranger, who, pausing before us,
levelled his massive forefinger at the vessel in question. He
was but shabbily apparelled in faded jacket and patched
trowsers; a rag of a black handkerchief investing his neck.
A confluent small-pox had in all directions flowed over his
face, and left it like the complicated ribbed bed of a
torrent, when the rushing waters have been dried up.
   ‘Have ye shipped in her?’ he repeated.
   ‘You mean the ship Pequod, I suppose,’ said I, trying
to gain a little more time for an uninterrupted look at him.
   ‘Aye, the Pequod—that ship there,’ he said, drawing
back his whole arm, and then rapidly shoving it straight
out from him, with the fixed bayonet of his pointed finger
darted full at the object.
   ‘Yes,’ said I, ‘we have just signed the articles.’
   ‘Anything down there about your souls?’


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    ‘About what?’
    ‘Oh, perhaps you hav’n’t got any,’ he said quickly. ‘No
matter though, I know many chaps that hav’n’t got any,—
good luck to ‘em; and they are all the better off for it. A
soul’s a sort of a fifth wheel to a wagon.’
    ‘What are you jabbering about, shipmate?’ said I.
    ‘HE’S got enough, though, to make up for all
deficiencies of that sort in other chaps,’ abruptly said the
stranger, placing a nervous emphasis upon the word HE.
    ‘Queequeg,’ said I, ‘let’s go; this fellow has broken
loose from somewhere; he’s talking about something and
somebody we don’t know.’
    ‘Stop!’ cried the stranger. ‘Ye said true—ye hav’n’t seen
Old Thunder yet, have ye?’
    ‘Who’s Old Thunder?’ said I, again riveted with the
insane earnestness of his manner.
    ‘Captain Ahab.’
    ‘What! the captain of our ship, the Pequod?’
    ‘Aye, among some of us old sailor chaps, he goes by
that name. Ye hav’n’t seen him yet, have ye?’
    ‘No, we hav’n’t. He’s sick they say, but is getting
better, and will be all right again before long.’
    ‘All right again before long!’ laughed the stranger, with
a solemnly derisive sort of laugh. ‘Look ye; when Captain


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Ahab is all right, then this left arm of mine will be all
right; not before.’
    ‘What do you know about him?’
    ‘What did they TELL you about him? Say that!’
    ‘They didn’t tell much of anything about him; only
I’ve heard that he’s a good whale-hunter, and a good
captain to his crew.’
    ‘That’s true, that’s true—yes, both true enough. But
you must jump when he gives an order. Step and growl;
growl and go—that’s the word with Captain Ahab. But
nothing about that thing that happened to him off Cape
Horn, long ago, when he lay like dead for three days and
nights; nothing about that deadly skrimmage with the
Spaniard afore the altar in Santa?—heard nothing about
that, eh? Nothing about the silver calabash he spat into?
And nothing about his losing his leg last voyage, according
to the prophecy. Didn’t ye hear a word about them
matters and something more, eh? No, I don’t think ye did;
how could ye? Who knows it? Not all Nantucket, I guess.
But hows’ever, mayhap, ye’ve heard tell about the leg, and
how he lost it; aye, ye have heard of that, I dare say. Oh
yes, THAT every one knows a’most—I mean they know
he’s only one leg; and that a parmacetti took the other
off.’


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   ‘My friend,’ said I, ‘what all this gibberish of yours is
about, I don’t know, and I don’t much care; for it seems
to me that you must be a little damaged in the head. But if
you are speaking of Captain Ahab, of that ship there, the
Pequod, then let me tell you, that I know all about the
loss of his leg.’
   ‘ALL about it, eh—sure you do?—all?’
   ‘Pretty sure.’
   With finger pointed and eye levelled at the Pequod, the
beggar-like stranger stood a moment, as if in a troubled
reverie; then starting a little, turned and said:—‘Ye’ve
shipped, have ye? Names down on the papers? Well, well,
what’s signed, is signed; and what’s to be, will be; and
then again, perhaps it won’t be, after all. Anyhow, it’s all
fixed and arranged a’ready; and some sailors or other must
go with him, I suppose; as well these as any other men,
God pity ‘em! Morning to ye, shipmates, morning; the
ineffable heavens bless ye; I’m sorry I stopped ye.’
   ‘Look here, friend,’ said I, ‘if you have anything
important to tell us, out with it; but if you are only trying
to bamboozle us, you are mistaken in your game; that’s all
I have to say.’
   ‘And it’s said very well, and I like to hear a chap talk up
that way; you are just the man for him—the likes of ye.


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Morning to ye, shipmates, morning! Oh! when ye get
there, tell ‘em I’ve concluded not to make one of ‘em.’
   ‘Ah, my dear fellow, you can’t fool us that way—you
can’t fool us. It is the easiest thing in the world for a man
to look as if he had a great secret in him.’
   ‘Morning to ye, shipmates, morning.’
   ‘Morning it is,’ said I. ‘Come along, Queequeg, let’s
leave this crazy man. But stop, tell me your name, will
you?’
   ‘Elijah.’
   Elijah! thought I, and we walked away, both
commenting, after each other’s fashion, upon this ragged
old sailor; and agreed that he was nothing but a humbug,
trying to be a bugbear. But we had not gone perhaps
above a hundred yards, when chancing to turn a corner,
and looking back as I did so, who should be seen but
Elijah following us, though at a distance. Somehow, the
sight of him struck me so, that I said nothing to Queequeg
of his being behind, but passed on with my comrade,
anxious to see whether the stranger would turn the same
corner that we did. He did; and then it seemed to me that
he was dogging us, but with what intent I could not for
the life of me imagine. This circumstance, coupled with
his ambiguous, half-hinting, half-revealing, shrouded sort


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of talk, now begat in me all kinds of vague wonderments
and half-apprehensions, and all connected with the
Pequod; and Captain Ahab; and the leg he had lost; and
the Cape Horn fit; and the silver calabash; and what
Captain Peleg had said of him, when I left the ship the day
previous; and the prediction of the squaw Tistig; and the
voyage we had bound ourselves to sail; and a hundred
other shadowy things.
   I was resolved to satisfy myself whether this ragged
Elijah was really dogging us or not, and with that intent
crossed the way with Queequeg, and on that side of it
retraced our steps. But Elijah passed on, without seeming
to notice us. This relieved me; and once more, and finally
as it seemed to me, I pronounced him in my heart, a
humbug.




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                      Chapter 20

   All Astir.
   A day or two passed, and there was great activity
aboard the Pequod. Not only were the old sails being
mended, but new sails were coming on board, and bolts of
canvas, and coils of rigging; in short, everything betokened
that the ship’s preparations were hurrying to a close.
Captain Peleg seldom or never went ashore, but sat in his
wigwam keeping a sharp look-out upon the hands: Bildad
did all the purchasing and providing at the stores; and the
men employed in the hold and on the rigging were
working till long after night-fall.
   On the day following Queequeg’s signing the articles,
word was given at all the inns where the ship’s company
were stopping, that their chests must be on board before
night, for there was no telling how soon the vessel might
be sailing. So Queequeg and I got down our traps,
resolving, however, to sleep ashore till the last. But it
seems they always give very long notice in these cases, and
the ship did not sail for several days. But no wonder; there
was a good deal to be done, and there is no telling how




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many things to be thought of, before the Pequod was fully
equipped.
   Every one knows what a multitude of things—beds,
sauce-pans, knives and forks, shovels and tongs, napkins,
nut-crackers, and what not, are indispensable to the
business of housekeeping. Just so with whaling, which
necessitates a three-years’ housekeeping upon the wide
ocean, far from all grocers, costermongers, doctors, bakers,
and bankers. And though this also holds true of merchant
vessels, yet not by any means to the same extent as with
whalemen. For besides the great length of the whaling
voyage, the numerous articles peculiar to the prosecution
of the fishery, and the impossibility of replacing them at
the remote harbors usually frequented, it must be
remembered, that of all ships, whaling vessels are the most
exposed to accidents of all kinds, and especially to the
destruction and loss of the very things upon which the
success of the voyage most depends. Hence, the spare
boats, spare spars, and spare lines and harpoons, and spare
everythings, almost, but a spare Captain and duplicate
ship.
   At the period of our arrival at the Island, the heaviest
storage of the Pequod had been almost completed;
comprising her beef, bread, water, fuel, and iron hoops


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and staves. But, as before hinted, for some time there was
a continual fetching and carrying on board of divers odds
and ends of things, both large and small.
    Chief among those who did this fetching and carrying
was Captain Bildad’s sister, a lean old lady of a most
determined and indefatigable spirit, but withal very
kindhearted, who seemed resolved that, if SHE could help
it, nothing should be found wanting in the Pequod, after
once fairly getting to sea. At one time she would come on
board with a jar of pickles for the steward’s pantry;
another time with a bunch of quills for the chief mate’s
desk, where he kept his log; a third time with a roll of
flannel for the small of some one’s rheumatic back. Never
did any woman better deserve her name, which was
Charity—Aunt Charity, as everybody called her. And like
a sister of charity did this charitable Aunt Charity bustle
about hither and thither, ready to turn her hand and heart
to anything that promised to yield safety, comfort, and
consolation to all on board a ship in which her beloved
brother Bildad was concerned, and in which she herself
owned a score or two of well-saved dollars.
    But it was startling to see this excellent hearted
Quakeress coming on board, as she did the last day, with a
long oil-ladle in one hand, and a still longer whaling lance


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in the other. Nor was Bildad himself nor Captain Peleg at
all backward. As for Bildad, he carried about with him a
long list of the articles needed, and at every fresh arrival,
down went his mark opposite that article upon the paper.
Every once in a while Peleg came hobbling out of his
whalebone den, roaring at the men down the hatchways,
roaring up to the riggers at the mast-head, and then
concluded by roaring back into his wigwam.
    During these days of preparation, Queequeg and I
often visited the craft, and as often I asked about Captain
Ahab, and how he was, and when he was going to come
on board his ship. To these questions they would answer,
that he was getting better and better, and was expected
aboard every day; meantime, the two captains, Peleg and
Bildad, could attend to everything necessary to fit the
vessel for the voyage. If I had been downright honest with
myself, I would have seen very plainly in my heart that I
did but half fancy being committed this way to so long a
voyage, without once laying my eyes on the man who was
to be the absolute dictator of it, so soon as the ship sailed
out upon the open sea. But when a man suspects any
wrong, it sometimes happens that if he be already involved
in the matter, he insensibly strives to cover up his



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suspicions even from himself. And much this way it was
with me. I said nothing, and tried to think nothing.
    At last it was given out that some time next day the
ship would certainly sail. So next morning, Queequeg and
I took a very early start.




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                        Chapter 21

    Going Aboard.
    It was nearly six o’clock, but only grey imperfect misty
dawn, when we drew nigh the wharf.
    ‘There are some sailors running ahead there, if I see
right,’ said I to Queequeg, ‘it can’t be shadows; she’s off
by sunrise, I guess; come on!’
    ‘Avast!’ cried a voice, whose owner at the same time
coming close behind us, laid a hand upon both our
shoulders, and then insinuating himself between us, stood
stooping forward a little, in the uncertain twilight,
strangely peering from Queequeg to me. It was Elijah.
    ‘Going aboard?’
    ‘Hands off, will you,’ said I.
    ‘Lookee here,’ said Queequeg, shaking himself, ‘go
‘way!’
    ‘Ain’t going aboard, then?’
    ‘Yes, we are,’ said I, ‘but what business is that of yours?
Do you know, Mr. Elijah, that I consider you a little
impertinent?’




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    ‘No, no, no; I wasn’t aware of that,’ said Elijah, slowly
and wonderingly looking from me to Queequeg, with the
most unaccountable glances.
    ‘Elijah,’ said I, ‘you will oblige my friend and me by
withdrawing. We are going to the Indian and Pacific
Oceans, and would prefer not to be detained.’
    ‘Ye be, be ye? Coming back afore breakfast?’
    ‘He’s cracked, Queequeg,’ said I, ‘come on.’
    ‘Holloa!’ cried stationary Elijah, hailing us when we
had removed a few paces.
    ‘Never mind him,’ said I, ‘Queequeg, come on.’
    But he stole up to us again, and suddenly clapping his
hand on my shoulder, said—‘Did ye see anything looking
like men going towards that ship a while ago?’
    Struck by this plain matter-of-fact question, I answered,
saying, ‘Yes, I thought I did see four or five men; but it
was too dim to be sure.’
    ‘Very dim, very dim,’ said Elijah. ‘Morning to ye.’
    Once more we quitted him; but once more he came
softly after us; and touching my shoulder again, said, ‘See
if you can find ‘em now, will ye?
    ‘Find who?’
    ‘Morning to ye! morning to ye!’ he rejoined, again
moving off. ‘Oh! I was going to warn ye against—but


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never mind, never mind—it’s all one, all in the family
too;—sharp frost this morning, ain’t it? Good-bye to ye.
Shan’t see ye again very soon, I guess; unless it’s before the
Grand Jury.’ And with these cracked words he finally
departed, leaving me, for the moment, in no small
wonderment at his frantic impudence.
   At last, stepping on board the Pequod, we found
everything in profound quiet, not a soul moving. The
cabin entrance was locked within; the hatches were all on,
and lumbered with coils of rigging. Going forward to the
forecastle, we found the slide of the scuttle open. Seeing a
light, we went down, and found only an old rigger there,
wrapped in a tattered pea-jacket. He was thrown at whole
length upon two chests, his face downwards and inclosed
in his folded arms. The profoundest slumber slept upon
him.
   ‘Those sailors we saw, Queequeg, where can they have
gone to?’ said I, looking dubiously at the sleeper. But it
seemed that, when on the wharf, Queequeg had not at all
noticed what I now alluded to; hence I would have
thought myself to have been optically deceived in that
matter, were it not for Elijah’s otherwise inexplicable
question. But I beat the thing down; and again marking
the sleeper, jocularly hinted to Queequeg that perhaps we


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had best sit up with the body; telling him to establish
himself accordingly. He put his hand upon the sleeper’s
rear, as though feeling if it was soft enough; and then,
without more ado, sat quietly down there.
   ‘Gracious! Queequeg, don’t sit there,’ said I.
   ‘Oh! perry dood seat,’ said Queequeg, ‘my country
way; won’t hurt him face.’
   ‘Face!’ said I, ‘call that his face? very benevolent
countenance then; but how hard he breathes, he’s heaving
himself; get off, Queequeg, you are heavy, it’s grinding
the face of the poor. Get off, Queequeg! Look, he’ll
twitch you off soon. I wonder he don’t wake.’
   Queequeg removed himself to just beyond the head of
the sleeper, and lighted his tomahawk pipe. I sat at the
feet. We kept the pipe passing over the sleeper, from one
to the other. Meanwhile, upon questioning him in his
broken fashion, Queequeg gave me to understand that, in
his land, owing to the absence of settees and sofas of all
sorts, the king, chiefs, and great people generally, were in
the custom of fattening some of the lower orders for
ottomans; and to furnish a house comfortably in that
respect, you had only to buy up eight or ten lazy fellows,
and lay them round in the piers and alcoves. Besides, it
was very convenient on an excursion; much better than


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those garden-chairs which are convertible into walking-
sticks; upon occasion, a chief calling his attendant, and
desiring him to make a settee of himself under a spreading
tree, perhaps in some damp marshy place.
    While narrating these things, every time Queequeg
received the tomahawk from me, he flourished the
hatchet-side of it over the sleeper’s head.
    ‘What’s that for, Queequeg?’
    ‘Perry easy, kill-e; oh! perry easy!
    He was going on with some wild reminiscences about
his tomahawk-pipe, which, it seemed, had in its two uses
both brained his foes and soothed his soul, when we were
directly attracted to the sleeping rigger. The strong vapour
now completely filling the contracted hole, it began to tell
upon him. He breathed with a sort of muffledness; then
seemed troubled in the nose; then revolved over once or
twice; then sat up and rubbed his eyes.
    ‘Holloa!’ he breathed at last, ‘who be ye smokers?’
    ‘Shipped men,’ answered I, ‘when does she sail?’
    ‘Aye, aye, ye are going in her, be ye? She sails to-day.
The Captain came aboard last night.’
    ‘What Captain?—Ahab?’
    ‘Who but him indeed?’



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    I was going to ask him some further questions
concerning Ahab, when we heard a noise on deck.
    ‘Holloa! Starbuck’s astir,’ said the rigger. ‘He’s a lively
chief mate, that; good man, and a pious; but all alive now,
I must turn to.’ And so saying he went on deck, and we
followed.
    It was now clear sunrise. Soon the crew came on board
in twos and threes; the riggers bestirred themselves; the
mates were actively engaged; and several of the shore
people were busy in bringing various last things on board.
Meanwhile Captain Ahab remained invisibly enshrined
within his cabin.




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                      Chapter 22

   Merry Christmas.
   At length, towards noon, upon the final dismissal of the
ship’s riggers, and after the Pequod had been hauled out
from the wharf, and after the ever-thoughtful Charity had
come off in a whale-boat, with her last gift—a night-cap
for Stubb, the second mate, her brother-in-law, and a
spare Bible for the steward—after all this, the two
Captains, Peleg and Bildad, issued from the cabin, and
turning to the chief mate, Peleg said:
   ‘Now, Mr. Starbuck, are you sure everything is right?
Captain Ahab is all ready—just spoke to him—nothing
more to be got from shore, eh? Well, call all hands, then.
Muster ‘em aft here—blast ‘em!’
   ‘No need of profane words, however great the hurry,
Peleg,’ said Bildad, ‘but away with thee, friend Starbuck,
and do our bidding.’
   How now! Here upon the very point of starting for the
voyage, Captain Peleg and Captain Bildad were going it
with a high hand on the quarter-deck, just as if they were
to be joint-commanders at sea, as well as to all appearances
in port. And, as for Captain Ahab, no sign of him was yet


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to be seen; only, they said he was in the cabin. But then,
the idea was, that his presence was by no means necessary
in getting the ship under weigh, and steering her well out
to sea. Indeed, as that was not at all his proper business,
but the pilot’s; and as he was not yet completely
recovered—so they said—therefore, Captain Ahab stayed
below. And all this seemed natural enough; especially as in
the merchant service many captains never show
themselves on deck for a considerable time after heaving
up the anchor, but remain over the cabin table, having a
farewell merry-making with their shore friends, before
they quit the ship for good with the pilot.
   But there was not much chance to think over the
matter, for Captain Peleg was now all alive. He seemed to
do most of the talking and commanding, and not Bildad.
   ‘Aft here, ye sons of bachelors,’ he cried, as the sailors
lingered at the main-mast. ‘Mr. Starbuck, drive’em aft.’
   ‘Strike the tent there!’—was the next order. As I hinted
before, this whalebone marquee was never pitched except
in port; and on board the Pequod, for thirty years, the
order to strike the tent was well known to be the next
thing to heaving up the anchor.




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    ‘Man the capstan! Blood and thunder!—jump!’—was
the next command, and the crew sprang for the
handspikes.
    Now in getting under weigh, the station generally
occupied by the pilot is the forward part of the ship. And
here Bildad, who, with Peleg, be it known, in addition to
his other officers, was one of the licensed pilots of the
port—he being suspected to have got himself made a pilot
in order to save the Nantucket pilot-fee to all the ships he
was concerned in, for he never piloted any other craft—
Bildad, I say, might now be seen actively engaged in
looking over the bows for the approaching anchor, and at
intervals singing what seemed a dismal stave of psalmody,
to cheer the hands at the windlass, who roared forth some
sort of a chorus about the girls in Booble Alley, with
hearty good will. Nevertheless, not three days previous,
Bildad had told them that no profane songs would be
allowed on board the Pequod, particularly in getting under
weigh; and Charity, his sister, had placed a small choice
copy of Watts in each seaman’s berth.
    Meantime, overseeing the other part of the ship,
Captain Peleg ripped and swore astern in the most
frightful manner. I almost thought he would sink the ship
before the anchor could be got up; involuntarily I paused


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on my handspike, and told Queequeg to do the same,
thinking of the perils we both ran, in starting on the
voyage with such a devil for a pilot. I was comforting
myself, however, with the thought that in pious Bildad
might be found some salvation, spite of his seven hundred
and seventy-seventh lay; when I felt a sudden sharp poke
in my rear, and turning round, was horrified at the
apparition of Captain Peleg in the act of withdrawing his
leg from my immediate vicinity. That was my first kick.
    ‘Is that the way they heave in the marchant service?’ he
roared. ‘Spring, thou sheep-head; spring, and break thy
backbone! Why don’t ye spring, I say, all of ye—spring!
Quohog! spring, thou chap with the red whiskers; spring
there, Scotch-cap; spring, thou green pants. Spring, I say,
all of ye, and spring your eyes out!’ And so saying, he
moved along the windlass, here and there using his leg
very freely, while imperturbable Bildad kept leading off
with his psalmody. Thinks I, Captain Peleg must have
been drinking something to-day.
    At last the anchor was up, the sails were set, and off we
glided. It was a short, cold Christmas; and as the short
northern day merged into night, we found ourselves
almost broad upon the wintry ocean, whose freezing spray
cased us in ice, as in polished armor. The long rows of


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teeth on the bulwarks glistened in the moonlight; and like
the white ivory tusks of some huge elephant, vast curving
icicles depended from the bows.
    Lank Bildad, as pilot, headed the first watch, and ever
and anon, as the old craft deep dived into the green seas,
and sent the shivering frost all over her, and the winds
howled, and the cordage rang, his steady notes were
heard,—
    ‘Sweet fields beyond the swelling flood, Stand dressed
in living green. So to the Jews old Canaan stood, While
Jordan rolled between.’
    Never did those sweet words sound more sweetly to
me than then. They were full of hope and fruition. Spite
of this frigid winter night in the boisterous Atlantic, spite
of my wet feet and wetter jacket, there was yet, it then
seemed to me, many a pleasant haven in store; and meads
and glades so eternally vernal, that the grass shot up by the
spring, untrodden, unwilted, remains at midsummer.
    At last we gained such an offing, that the two pilots
were needed no longer. The stout sail-boat that had
accompanied us began ranging alongside.
    It was curious and not unpleasing, how Peleg and
Bildad were affected at this juncture, especially Captain
Bildad. For loath to depart, yet; very loath to leave, for


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good, a ship bound on so long and perilous a voyage—
beyond both stormy Capes; a ship in which some
thousands of his hard earned dollars were invested; a ship,
in which an old shipmate sailed as captain; a man almost as
old as he, once more starting to encounter all the terrors of
the pitiless jaw; loath to say good-bye to a thing so every
way brimful of every interest to him,—poor old Bildad
lingered long; paced the deck with anxious strides; ran
down into the cabin to speak another farewell word there;
again came on deck, and looked to windward; looked
towards the wide and endless waters, only bounded by the
far-off unseen Eastern Continents; looked towards the
land; looked aloft; looked right and left; looked
everywhere and nowhere; and at last, mechanically coiling
a rope upon its pin, convulsively grasped stout Peleg by
the hand, and holding up a lantern, for a moment stood
gazing heroically in his face, as much as to say,
‘Nevertheless, friend Peleg, I can stand it; yes, I can.’
    As for Peleg himself, he took it more like a
philosopher; but for all his philosophy, there was a tear
twinkling in his eye, when the lantern came too near. And
he, too, did not a little run from cabin to deck—now a
word below, and now a word with Starbuck, the chief
mate.


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    But, at last, he turned to his comrade, with a final sort
of look about him,—‘Captain Bildad—come, old
shipmate, we must go. Back the main-yard there! Boat
ahoy! Stand by to come close alongside, now! Careful,
careful!—come, Bildad, boy—say your last. Luck to ye,
Starbuck—luck to ye, Mr. Stubb—luck to ye, Mr. Flask—
good-bye and good luck to ye all—and this day three
years I’ll have a hot supper smoking for ye in old
Nantucket. Hurrah and away!’
    ‘God bless ye, and have ye in His holy keeping, men,’
murmured old Bildad, almost incoherently. ‘I hope ye’ll
have fine weather now, so that Captain Ahab may soon be
moving among ye—a pleasant sun is all he needs, and ye’ll
have plenty of them in the tropic voyage ye go. Be careful
in the hunt, ye mates. Don’t stave the boats needlessly, ye
harpooneers; good white cedar plank is raised full three
per cent. within the year. Don’t forget your prayers,
either. Mr. Starbuck, mind that cooper don’t waste the
spare staves. Oh! the sail-needles are in the green locker!
Don’t whale it too much a’ Lord’s days, men; but don’t
miss a fair chance either, that’s rejecting Heaven’s good
gifts. Have an eye to the molasses tierce, Mr. Stubb; it was
a little leaky, I thought. If ye touch at the islands, Mr.
Flask, beware of fornication. Good-bye, good-bye! Don’t


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keep that cheese too long down in the hold, Mr. Starbuck;
it’ll spoil. Be careful with the butter—twenty cents the
pound it was, and mind ye, if—‘
     ‘Come, come, Captain Bildad; stop palavering,—away!’
and with that, Peleg hurried him over the side, and both
dropt into the boat.
     Ship and boat diverged; the cold, damp night breeze
blew between; a screaming gull flew overhead; the two
hulls wildly rolled; we gave three heavy-hearted cheers,
and blindly plunged like fate into the lone Atlantic.




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                       Chapter 23

    The Lee Shore.
    Some chapters back, one Bulkington was spoken of, a
tall, newlanded mariner, encountered in New Bedford at
the inn.
    When on that shivering winter’s night, the Pequod
thrust her vindictive bows into the cold malicious waves,
who should I see standing at her helm but Bulkington! I
looked with sympathetic awe and fearfulness upon the
man, who in mid-winter just landed from a four years’
dangerous voyage, could so unrestingly push off again for
still another tempestuous term. The land seemed scorching
to his feet. Wonderfullest things are ever the
unmentionable; deep memories yield no epitaphs; this six-
inch chapter is the stoneless grave of Bulkington. Let me
only say that it fared with him as with the storm-tossed
ship, that miserably drives along the leeward land. The
port would fain give succor; the port is pitiful; in the port
is safety, comfort, hearthstone, supper, warm blankets,
friends, all that’s kind to our mortalities. But in that gale,
the port, the land, is that ship’s direst jeopardy; she must
fly all hospitality; one touch of land, though it but graze


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the keel, would make her shudder through and through.
With all her might she crowds all sail off shore; in so
doing, fights ‘gainst the very winds that fain would blow
her homeward; seeks all the lashed sea’s landlessness again;
for refuge’s sake forlornly rushing into peril; her only
friend her bitterest foe!
    Know ye now, Bulkington? Glimpses do ye seem to
see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest
thinking is but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the
open independence of her sea; while the wildest winds of
heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous,
slavish shore?
    But as in landlessness alone resides highest truth,
shoreless, indefinite as God—so, better is it to perish in
that howling infinite, than be ingloriously dashed upon the
lee, even if that were safety! For worm-like, then, oh!
who would craven crawl to land! Terrors of the terrible! is
all this agony so vain? Take heart, take heart, O
Bulkington! Bear thee grimly, demigod! Up from the
spray of thy ocean-perishing—straight up, leaps thy
apotheosis!




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                      Chapter 24

    The Advocate.
    As Queequeg and I are now fairly embarked in this
business of whaling; and as this business of whaling has
somehow come to be regarded among landsmen as a
rather unpoetical and disreputable pursuit; therefore, I am
all anxiety to convince ye, ye landsmen, of the injustice
hereby done to us hunters of whales.
    In the first place, it may be deemed almost superfluous
to establish the fact, that among people at large, the
business of whaling is not accounted on a level with what
are called the liberal professions. If a stranger were
introduced into any miscellaneous metropolitan society, it
would but slightly advance the general opinion of his
merits, were he presented to the company as a
harpooneer, say; and if in emulation of the naval officers
he should append the initials S.W.F. (Sperm Whale
Fishery) to his visiting card, such a procedure would be
deemed pre-eminently presuming and ridiculous.
    Doubtless one leading reason why the world declines
honouring us whalemen, is this: they think that, at best,
our vocation amounts to a butchering sort of business; and


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that when actively engaged therein, we are surrounded by
all manner of defilements. Butchers we are, that is true.
But butchers, also, and butchers of the bloodiest badge
have been all Martial Commanders whom the world
invariably delights to honour. And as for the matter of the
alleged uncleanliness of our business, ye shall soon be
initiated into certain facts hitherto pretty generally
unknown, and which, upon the whole, will triumphantly
plant the sperm whale-ship at least among the cleanliest
things of this tidy earth. But even granting the charge in
question to be true; what disordered slippery decks of a
whale-ship are comparable to the unspeakable carrion of
those battle-fields from which so many soldiers return to
drink in all ladies’ plaudits? And if the idea of peril so
much enhances the popular conceit of the soldier’s
profession; let me assure ye that many a veteran who has
freely marched up to a battery, would quickly recoil at the
apparition of the sperm whale’s vast tail, fanning into
eddies the air over his head. For what are the
comprehensible terrors of man compared with the
interlinked terrors and wonders of God!
    But, though the world scouts at us whale hunters, yet
does it unwittingly pay us the profoundest homage; yea,
an all-abounding adoration! for almost all the tapers,


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lamps, and candles that burn round the globe, burn, as
before so many shrines, to our glory!
   But look at this matter in other lights; weigh it in all
sorts of scales; see what we whalemen are, and have been.
   Why did the Dutch in De Witt’s time have admirals of
their whaling fleets? Why did Louis XVI. of France, at his
own personal expense, fit out whaling ships from
Dunkirk, and politely invite to that town some score or
two of families from our own island of Nantucket? Why
did Britain between the years 1750 and 1788 pay to her
whalemen in bounties upwards of L1,000,000? And lastly,
how comes it that we whalemen of America now
outnumber all the rest of the banded whalemen in the
world; sail a navy of upwards of seven hundred vessels;
manned by eighteen thousand men; yearly consuming
4,000,000 of dollars; the ships worth, at the time of sailing,
$20,000,000! and every year importing into our harbors a
well reaped harvest of $7,000,000. How comes all this, if
there be not something puissant in whaling?
   But this is not the half; look again.
   I freely assert, that the cosmopolite philosopher cannot,
for his life, point out one single peaceful influence, which
within the last sixty years has operated more potentially
upon the whole broad world, taken in one aggregate, than


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the high and mighty business of whaling. One way and
another, it has begotten events so remarkable in
themselves, and so continuously momentous in their
sequential issues, that whaling may well be regarded as that
Egyptian mother, who bore offspring themselves pregnant
from her womb. It would be a hopeless, endless task to
catalogue all these things. Let a handful suffice. For many
years past the whale-ship has been the pioneer in ferreting
out the remotest and least known parts of the earth. She
has explored seas and archipelagoes which had no chart,
where no Cook or Vancouver had ever sailed. If
American and European men-of-war now peacefully ride
in once savage harbors, let them fire salutes to the honour
and glory of the whale-ship, which originally showed
them the way, and first interpreted between them and the
savages. They may celebrate as they will the heroes of
Exploring Expeditions, your Cooks, your Krusensterns;
but I say that scores of anonymous Captains have sailed
out of Nantucket, that were as great, and greater than your
Cook and your Krusenstern. For in their succourless
empty-handedness, they, in the heathenish sharked waters,
and by the beaches of unrecorded, javelin islands, battled
with virgin wonders and terrors that Cook with all his
marines and muskets would not willingly have dared. All


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that is made such a flourish of in the old South Sea
Voyages, those things were but the life-time
commonplaces of our heroic Nantucketers. Often,
adventures which Vancouver dedicates three chapters to,
these men accounted unworthy of being set down in the
ship’s common log. Ah, the world! Oh, the world!
    Until the whale fishery rounded Cape Horn, no
commerce but colonial, scarcely any intercourse but
colonial, was carried on between Europe and the long line
of the opulent Spanish provinces on the Pacific coast. It
was the whaleman who first broke through the jealous
policy of the Spanish crown, touching those colonies; and,
if space permitted, it might be distinctly shown how from
those whalemen at last eventuated the liberation of Peru,
Chili, and Bolivia from the yoke of Old Spain, and the
establishment of the eternal democracy in those parts.
    That great America on the other side of the sphere,
Australia, was given to the enlightened world by the
whaleman. After its first blunder-born discovery by a
Dutchman, all other ships long shunned those shores as
pestiferously barbarous; but the whale-ship touched there.
The whale-ship is the true mother of that now mighty
colony. Moreover, in the infancy of the first Australian
settlement, the emigrants were several times saved from


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starvation by the benevolent biscuit of the whale-ship
luckily dropping an anchor in their waters. The
uncounted isles of all Polynesia confess the same truth, and
do commercial homage to the whale-ship, that cleared the
way for the missionary and the merchant, and in many
cases carried the primitive missionaries to their first
destinations. If that double-bolted land, Japan, is ever to
become hospitable, it is the whale-ship alone to whom the
credit will be due; for already she is on the threshold.
    But if, in the face of all this, you still declare that
whaling has no aesthetically noble associations connected
with it, then am I ready to shiver fifty lances with you
there, and unhorse you with a split helmet every time.
    The whale has no famous author, and whaling no
famous chronicler, you will say.
    THE WHALE NO FAMOUS AUTHOR, AND
WHALING NO FAMOUS CHRONICLER? Who
wrote the first account of our Leviathan? Who but mighty
Job! And who composed the first narrative of a whaling-
voyage? Who, but no less a prince than Alfred the Great,
who, with his own royal pen, took down the words from
Other, the Norwegian whale-hunter of those times! And
who pronounced our glowing eulogy in Parliament?
Who, but Edmund Burke!


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    True enough, but then whalemen themselves are poor
devils; they have no good blood in their veins.
    NO GOOD BLOOD IN THEIR VEINS? They have
something better than royal blood there. The grandmother
of Benjamin Franklin was Mary Morrel; afterwards, by
marriage, Mary Folger, one of the old settlers of
Nantucket, and the ancestress to a long line of Folgers and
harpooneers—all kith and kin to noble Benjamin—this
day darting the barbed iron from one side of the world to
the other.
    Good again; but then all confess that somehow whaling
is not respectable.
    WHALING NOT RESPECTABLE? Whaling is
imperial! By old English statutory law, the whale is
declared ‘a royal fish.’*
    Oh, that’s only nominal! The whale himself has never
figured in any grand imposing way.
    THE WHALE NEVER FIGURED IN ANY
GRAND IMPOSING WAY? In one of the mighty
triumphs given to a Roman general upon his entering the
world’s capital, the bones of a whale, brought all the way
from the Syrian coast, were the most conspicuous object
in the cymballed procession.*



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    *See subsequent chapters for something more on this
head.
    Grant it, since you cite it; but, say what you will, there
is no real dignity in whaling.
    NO DIGNITY IN WHALING? The dignity of our
calling the very heavens attest. Cetus is a constellation in
the South! No more! Drive down your hat in presence of
the Czar, and take it off to Queequeg! No more! I know a
man that, in his lifetime, has taken three hundred and fifty
whales. I account that man more honourable than that
great captain of antiquity who boasted of taking as many
walled towns.
    And, as for me, if, by any possibility, there be any as yet
undiscovered prime thing in me; if I shall ever deserve any
real repute in that small but high hushed world which I
might not be unreasonably ambitious of; if hereafter I shall
do anything that, upon the whole, a man might rather
have done than to have left undone; if, at my death, my
executors, or more properly my creditors, find any
precious MSS. in my desk, then here I prospectively
ascribe all the honour and the glory to whaling; for a
whale-ship was my Yale College and my Harvard.




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                       Chapter 25

    Postscript.
    In behalf of the dignity of whaling, I would fain
advance naught but substantiated facts. But after
embattling his facts, an advocate who should wholly
suppress a not unreasonable surmise, which might tell
eloquently upon his cause—such an advocate, would he
not be blameworthy?
    It is well known that at the coronation of kings and
queens, even modern ones, a certain curious process of
seasoning them for their functions is gone through. There
is a saltcellar of state, so called, and there may be a castor
of state. How they use the salt, precisely—who knows?
Certain I am, however, that a king’s head is solemnly oiled
at his coronation, even as a head of salad. Can it be,
though, that they anoint it with a view of making its
interior run well, as they anoint machinery? Much might
be ruminated here, concerning the essential dignity of this
regal process, because in common life we esteem but
meanly and contemptibly a fellow who anoints his hair,
and palpably smells of that anointing. In truth, a mature
man who uses hair-oil, unless medicinally, that man has


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probably got a quoggy spot in him somewhere. As a
general rule, he can’t amount to much in his totality.
   But the only thing to be considered here, is this—what
kind of oil is used at coronations? Certainly it cannot be
olive oil, nor macassar oil, nor castor oil, nor bear’s oil,
nor train oil, nor cod-liver oil. What then can it possibly
be, but sperm oil in its unmanufactured, unpolluted state,
the sweetest of all oils?
   Think of that, ye loyal Britons! we whalemen supply
your kings and queens with coronation stuff!




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                       Chapter 26

    Knights and Squires.
    The chief mate of the Pequod was Starbuck, a native of
Nantucket, and a Quaker by descent. He was a long,
earnest man, and though born on an icy coast, seemed
well adapted to endure hot latitudes, his flesh being hard as
twice-baked biscuit. Transported to the Indies, his live
blood would not spoil like bottled ale. He must have been
born in some time of general drought and famine, or upon
one of those fast days for which his state is famous. Only
some thirty arid summers had he seen; those summers had
dried up all his physical superfluousness. But this, his
thinness, so to speak, seemed no more the token of
wasting anxieties and cares, than it seemed the indication
of any bodily blight. It was merely the condensation of the
man. He was by no means ill-looking; quite the contrary.
His pure tight skin was an excellent fit; and closely
wrapped up in it, and embalmed with inner health and
strength, like a revivified Egyptian, this Starbuck seemed
prepared to endure for long ages to come, and to endure
always, as now; for be it Polar snow or torrid sun, like a
patent chronometer, his interior vitality was warranted to


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do well in all climates. Looking into his eyes, you seemed
to see there the yet lingering images of those thousand-
fold perils he had calmly confronted through life. A staid,
steadfast man, whose life for the most part was a telling
pantomime of action, and not a tame chapter of sounds.
Yet, for all his hardy sobriety and fortitude, there were
certain qualities in him which at times affected, and in
some cases seemed well nigh to overbalance all the rest.
Uncommonly conscientious for a seaman, and endued
with a deep natural reverence, the wild watery loneliness
of his life did therefore strongly incline him to
superstition; but to that sort of superstition, which in some
organizations seems rather to spring, somehow, from
intelligence than from ignorance. Outward portents and
inward presentiments were his. And if at times these things
bent the welded iron of his soul, much more did his far-
away domestic memories of his young Cape wife and
child, tend to bend him still more from the original
ruggedness of his nature, and open him still further to
those latent influences which, in some honest-hearted
men, restrain the gush of dare-devil daring, so often
evinced by others in the more perilous vicissitudes of the
fishery. ‘I will have no man in my boat,’ said Starbuck,
‘who is not afraid of a whale.’ By this, he seemed to mean,


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not only that the most reliable and useful courage was that
which arises from the fair estimation of the encountered
peril, but that an utterly fearless man is a far more
dangerous comrade than a coward.
    ‘Aye, aye,’ said Stubb, the second mate, ‘Starbuck,
there, is as careful a man as you’ll find anywhere in this
fishery.’ But we shall ere long see what that word ‘careful’
precisely means when used by a man like Stubb, or almost
any other whale hunter.
    Starbuck was no crusader after perils; in him courage
was not a sentiment; but a thing simply useful to him, and
always at hand upon all mortally practical occasions.
Besides, he thought, perhaps, that in this business of
whaling, courage was one of the great staple outfits of the
ship, like her beef and her bread, and not to be foolishly
wasted. Wherefore he had no fancy for lowering for
whales after sun-down; nor for persisting in fighting a fish
that too much persisted in fighting him. For, thought
Starbuck, I am here in this critical ocean to kill whales for
my living, and not to be killed by them for theirs; and that
hundreds of men had been so killed Starbuck well knew.
What doom was his own father’s? Where, in the
bottomless deeps, could he find the torn limbs of his
brother?


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   With memories like these in him, and, moreover, given
to a certain superstitiousness, as has been said; the courage
of this Starbuck which could, nevertheless, still flourish,
must indeed have been extreme. But it was not in
reasonable nature that a man so organized, and with such
terrible experiences and remembrances as he had; it was
not in nature that these things should fail in latently
engendering an element in him, which, under suitable
circumstances, would break out from its confinement, and
burn all his courage up. And brave as he might be, it was
that sort of bravery chiefly, visible in some intrepid men,
which, while generally abiding firm in the conflict with
seas, or winds, or whales, or any of the ordinary irrational
horrors of the world, yet cannot withstand those more
terrific, because more spiritual terrors, which sometimes
menace you from the concentrating brow of an enraged
and mighty man.
   But were the coming narrative to reveal in any
instance, the complete abasement of poor Starbuck’s
fortitude, scarce might I have the heart to write it; for it is
a thing most sorrowful, nay shocking, to expose the fall of
valour in the soul. Men may seem detestable as joint
stock-companies and nations; knaves, fools, and murderers
there may be; men may have mean and meagre faces; but


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man, in the ideal, is so noble and so sparkling, such a
grand and glowing creature, that over any ignominious
blemish in him all his fellows should run to throw their
costliest robes. That immaculate manliness we feel within
ourselves, so far within us, that it remains intact though all
the outer character seem gone; bleeds with keenest
anguish at the undraped spectacle of a valor-ruined man.
Nor can piety itself, at such a shameful sight, completely
stifle her upbraidings against the permitting stars. But this
august dignity I treat of, is not the dignity of kings and
robes, but that abounding dignity which has no robed
investiture. Thou shalt see it shining in the arm that wields
a pick or drives a spike; that democratic dignity which, on
all hands, radiates without end from God; Himself! The
great God absolute! The centre and circumference of all
democracy! His omnipresence, our divine equality!
    If, then, to meanest mariners, and renegades and
castaways, I shall hereafter ascribe high qualities, though
dark; weave round them tragic graces; if even the most
mournful, perchance the most abased, among them all,
shall at times lift himself to the exalted mounts; if I shall
touch that workman’s arm with some ethereal light; if I
shall spread a rainbow over his disastrous set of sun; then
against all mortal critics bear me out in it, thou Just Spirit


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of Equality, which hast spread one royal mantle of
humanity over all my kind! Bear me out in it, thou great
democratic God! who didst not refuse to the swart
convict, Bunyan, the pale, poetic pearl; Thou who didst
clothe with doubly hammered leaves of finest gold, the
stumped and paupered arm of old Cervantes; Thou who
didst pick up Andrew Jackson from the pebbles; who didst
hurl him upon a war-horse; who didst thunder him higher
than a throne! Thou who, in all Thy mighty, earthly
marchings, ever cullest Thy selectest champions from the
kingly commons; bear me out in it, O God!




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                       Chapter 27

    Knights and Squires.
    Stubb was the second mate. He was a native of Cape
Cod; and hence, according to local usage, was called a
Cape-Cod-man. A happy-go-lucky; neither craven nor
valiant; taking perils as they came with an indifferent air;
and while engaged in the most imminent crisis of the
chase, toiling away, calm and collected as a journeyman
joiner engaged for the year. Good-humored, easy, and
careless, he presided over his whale-boat as if the most
deadly encounter were but a dinner, and his crew all
invited guests. He was as particular about the comfortable
arrangement of his part of the boat, as an old stage-driver
is about the snugness of his box. When close to the whale,
in the very death-lock of the fight, he handled his
unpitying lance coolly and off-handedly, as a whistling
tinker his hammer. He would hum over his old rigadig
tunes while flank and flank with the most exasperated
monster. Long usage had, for this Stubb, converted the
jaws of death into an easy chair. What he thought of death
itself, there is no telling. Whether he ever thought of it at
all, might be a question; but, if he ever did chance to cast


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his mind that way after a comfortable dinner, no doubt,
like a good sailor, he took it to be a sort of call of the
watch to tumble aloft, and bestir themselves there, about
something which he would find out when he obeyed the
order, and not sooner.
   What, perhaps, with other things, made Stubb such an
easy-going, unfearing man, so cheerily trudging off with
the burden of life in a world full of grave pedlars, all
bowed to the ground with their packs; what helped to
bring about that almost impious good-humor of his; that
thing must have been his pipe. For, like his nose, his short,
black little pipe was one of the regular features of his face.
You would almost as soon have expected him to turn out
of his bunk without his nose as without his pipe. He kept
a whole row of pipes there ready loaded, stuck in a rack,
within easy reach of his hand; and, whenever he turned in,
he smoked them all out in succession, lighting one from
the other to the end of the chapter; then loading them
again to be in readiness anew. For, when Stubb dressed,
instead of first putting his legs into his trowsers, he put his
pipe into his mouth.
   I say this continual smoking must have been one cause,
at least, of his peculiar disposition; for every one knows
that this earthly air, whether ashore or afloat, is terribly


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infected with the nameless miseries of the numberless
mortals who have died exhaling it; and as in time of the
cholera, some people go about with a camphorated
handkerchief to their mouths; so, likewise, against all
mortal tribulations, Stubb’s tobacco smoke might have
operated as a sort of disinfecting agent.
    The third mate was Flask, a native of Tisbury, in
Martha’s Vineyard. A short, stout, ruddy young fellow,
very pugnacious concerning whales, who somehow
seemed to think that the great leviathans had personally
and hereditarily affronted him; and therefore it was a sort
of point of honour with him, to destroy them whenever
encountered. So utterly lost was he to all sense of
reverence for the many marvels of their majestic bulk and
mystic ways; and so dead to anything like an apprehension
of any possible danger from encountering them; that in his
poor opinion, the wondrous whale was but a species of
magnified mouse, or at least water-rat, requiring only a
little circumvention and some small application of time
and trouble in order to kill and boil. This ignorant,
unconscious fearlessness of his made him a little waggish in
the matter of whales; he followed these fish for the fun of
it; and a three years’ voyage round Cape Horn was only a
jolly joke that lasted that length of time. As a carpenter’s


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nails are divided into wrought nails and cut nails; so
mankind may be similarly divided. Little Flask was one of
the wrought ones; made to clinch tight and last long.
They called him King-Post on board of the Pequod;
because, in form, he could be well likened to the short,
square timber known by that name in Arctic whalers; and
which by the means of many radiating side timbers
inserted into it, serves to brace the ship against the icy
concussions of those battering seas.
   Now these three mates—Starbuck, Stubb, and Flask,
were momentous men. They it was who by universal
prescription commanded three of the Pequod’s boats as
headsmen. In that grand order of battle in which Captain
Ahab would probably marshal his forces to descend on the
whales, these three headsmen were as captains of
companies. Or, being armed with their long keen whaling
spears, they were as a picked trio of lancers; even as the
harpooneers were flingers of javelins.
   And since in this famous fishery, each mate or
headsman, like a Gothic Knight of old, is always
accompanied by his boat-steerer or harpooneer, who in
certain conjunctures provides him with a fresh lance,
when the former one has been badly twisted, or elbowed
in the assault; and moreover, as there generally subsists


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between the two, a close intimacy and friendliness; it is
therefore but meet, that in this place we set down who the
Pequod’s harpooneers were, and to what headsman each
of them belonged.
    First of all was Queequeg, whom Starbuck, the chief
mate, had selected for his squire. But Queequeg is already
known.
    Next was Tashtego, an unmixed Indian from Gay
Head, the most westerly promontory of Martha’s
Vineyard, where there still exists the last remnant of a
village of red men, which has long supplied the
neighboring island of Nantucket with many of her most
daring harpooneers. In the fishery, they usually go by the
generic name of Gay-Headers. Tashtego’s long, lean, sable
hair, his high cheek bones, and black rounding eyes—for
an Indian, Oriental in their largeness, but Antarctic in their
glittering expression—all this sufficiently proclaimed him
an inheritor of the unvitiated blood of those proud warrior
hunters, who, in quest of the great New England moose,
had scoured, bow in hand, the aboriginal forests of the
main. But no longer snuffing in the trail of the wild beasts
of the woodland, Tashtego now hunted in the wake of the
great whales of the sea; the unerring harpoon of the son
fitly replacing the infallible arrow of the sires. To look at


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the tawny brawn of his lithe snaky limbs, you would
almost have credited the superstitions of some of the
earlier Puritans, and half-believed this wild Indian to be a
son of the Prince of the Powers of the Air. Tashtego was
Stubb the second mate’s squire.
    Third among the harpooneers was Daggoo, a gigantic,
coal-black negro-savage, with a lion-like tread—an
Ahasuerus to behold. Suspended from his ears were two
golden hoops, so large that the sailors called them ring-
bolts, and would talk of securing the top-sail halyards to
them. In his youth Daggoo had voluntarily shipped on
board of a whaler, lying in a lonely bay on his native coast.
And never having been anywhere in the world but in
Africa, Nantucket, and the pagan harbors most frequented
by whalemen; and having now led for many years the bold
life of the fishery in the ships of owners uncommonly
heedful of what manner of men they shipped; Daggoo
retained all his barbaric virtues, and erect as a giraffe,
moved about the decks in all the pomp of six feet five in
his socks. There was a corporeal humility in looking up at
him; and a white man standing before him seemed a white
flag come to beg truce of a fortress. Curious to tell, this
imperial negro, Ahasuerus Daggoo, was the Squire of little
Flask, who looked like a chess-man beside him. As for the


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residue of the Pequod’s company, be it said, that at the
present day not one in two of the many thousand men
before the mast employed in the American whale fishery,
are Americans born, though pretty nearly all the officers
are. Herein it is the same with the American whale fishery
as with the American army and military and merchant
navies, and the engineering forces employed in the
construction of the American Canals and Railroads. The
same, I say, because in all these cases the native American
liberally provides the brains, the rest of the world as
generously supplying the muscles. No small number of
these whaling seamen belong to the Azores, where the
outward bound Nantucket whalers frequently touch to
augment their crews from the hardy peasants of those
rocky shores. In like manner, the Greenland whalers
sailing out of Hull or London, put in at the Shetland
Islands, to receive the full complement of their crew.
Upon the passage homewards, they drop them there again.
How it is, there is no telling, but Islanders seem to make
the best whalemen. They were nearly all Islanders in the
Pequod, ISOLATOES too, I call such, not acknowledging
the common continent of men, but each ISOLATO living
on a separate continent of his own. Yet now, federated
along one keel, what a set these Isolatoes were! An


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Anacharsis Clootz deputation from all the isles of the sea,
and all the ends of the earth, accompanying Old Ahab in
the Pequod to lay the world’s grievances before that bar
from which not very many of them ever come back. Black
Little Pip—he never did—oh, no! he went before. Poor
Alabama boy! On the grim Pequod’s forecastle, ye shall
ere long see him, beating his tambourine; prelusive of the
eternal time, when sent for, to the great quarter-deck on
high, he was bid strike in with angels, and beat his
tambourine in glory; called a coward here, hailed a hero
there!




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                      Chapter 28

    Ahab.
    For several days after leaving Nantucket, nothing above
hatches was seen of Captain Ahab. The mates regularly
relieved each other at the watches, and for aught that
could be seen to the contrary, they seemed to be the only
commanders of the ship; only they sometimes issued from
the cabin with orders so sudden and peremptory, that after
all it was plain they but commanded vicariously. Yes, their
supreme lord and dictator was there, though hitherto
unseen by any eyes not permitted to penetrate into the
now sacred retreat of the cabin.
    Every time I ascended to the deck from my watches
below, I instantly gazed aft to mark if any strange face
were visible; for my first vague disquietude touching the
unknown captain, now in the seclusion of the sea, became
almost a perturbation. This was strangely heightened at
times by the ragged Elijah’s diabolical incoherences
uninvitedly recurring to me, with a subtle energy I could
not have before conceived of. But poorly could I
withstand them, much as in other moods I was almost
ready to smile at the solemn whimsicalities of that


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outlandish prophet of the wharves. But whatever it was of
apprehensiveness or uneasiness—to call it so—which I felt,
yet whenever I came to look about me in the ship, it
seemed against all warrantry to cherish such emotions. For
though the harpooneers, with the great body of the crew,
were a far more barbaric, heathenish, and motley set than
any of the tame merchant-ship companies which my
previous experiences had made me acquainted with, still I
ascribed this—and rightly ascribed it—to the fierce
uniqueness of the very nature of that wild Scandinavian
vocation in which I had so abandonedly embarked. But it
was especially the aspect of the three chief officers of the
ship, the mates, which was most forcibly calculated to allay
these colourless misgivings, and induce confidence and
cheerfulness in every presentment of the voyage. Three
better, more likely sea-officers and men, each in his own
different way, could not readily be found, and they were
every one of them Americans; a Nantucketer, a
Vineyarder, a Cape man. Now, it being Christmas when
the ship shot from out her harbor, for a space we had
biting Polar weather, though all the time running away
from it to the southward; and by every degree and minute
of latitude which we sailed, gradually leaving that merciless
winter, and all its intolerable weather behind us. It was


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one of those less lowering, but still grey and gloomy
enough mornings of the transition, when with a fair wind
the ship was rushing through the water with a vindictive
sort of leaping and melancholy rapidity, that as I mounted
to the deck at the call of the forenoon watch, so soon as I
levelled my glance towards the taffrail, foreboding shivers
ran over me. Reality outran apprehension; Captain Ahab
stood upon his quarter-deck.
    There seemed no sign of common bodily illness about
him, nor of the recovery from any. He looked like a man
cut away from the stake, when the fire has overrunningly
wasted all the limbs without consuming them, or taking
away one particle from their compacted aged robustness.
His whole high, broad form, seemed made of solid
bronze, and shaped in an unalterable mould, like Cellini’s
cast Perseus. Threading its way out from among his grey
hairs, and continuing right down one side of his tawny
scorched face and neck, till it disappeared in his clothing,
you saw a slender rod-like mark, lividly whitish. It
resembled that perpendicular seam sometimes made in the
straight, lofty trunk of a great tree, when the upper
lightning tearingly darts down it, and without wrenching a
single twig, peels and grooves out the bark from top to
bottom, ere running off into the soil, leaving the tree still


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greenly alive, but branded. Whether that mark was born
with him, or whether it was the scar left by some
desperate wound, no one could certainly say. By some
tacit consent, throughout the voyage little or no allusion
was made to it, especially by the mates. But once
Tashtego’s senior, an old Gay-Head Indian among the
crew, superstitiously asserted that not till he was full forty
years old did Ahab become that way branded, and then it
came upon him, not in the fury of any mortal fray, but in
an elemental strife at sea. Yet, this wild hint seemed
inferentially negatived, by what a grey Manxman
insinuated, an old sepulchral man, who, having never
before sailed out of Nantucket, had never ere this laid eye
upon wild Ahab. Nevertheless, the old sea-traditions, the
immemorial credulities, popularly invested this old
Manxman with preternatural powers of discernment. So
that no white sailor seriously contradicted him when he
said that if ever Captain Ahab should be tranquilly laid
out—which might hardly come to pass, so he muttered—
then, whoever should do that last office for the dead,
would find a birth-mark on him from crown to sole.
   So powerfully did the whole grim aspect of Ahab affect
me, and the livid brand which streaked it, that for the first
few moments I hardly noted that not a little of this


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overbearing grimness was owing to the barbaric white leg
upon which he partly stood. It had previously come to me
that this ivory leg had at sea been fashioned from the
polished bone of the sperm whale’s jaw. ‘Aye, he was
dismasted off Japan,’ said the old Gay-Head Indian once;
‘but like his dismasted craft, he shipped another mast
without coming home for it. He has a quiver of ‘em.’
    I was struck with the singular posture he maintained.
Upon each side of the Pequod’s quarter deck, and pretty
close to the mizzen shrouds, there was an auger hole,
bored about half an inch or so, into the plank. His bone
leg steadied in that hole; one arm elevated, and holding by
a shroud; Captain Ahab stood erect, looking straight out
beyond the ship’s ever-pitching prow. There was an
infinity of firmest fortitude, a determinate, unsurrenderable
wilfulness, in the fixed and fearless, forward dedication of
that glance. Not a word he spoke; nor did his officers say
aught to him; though by all their minutest gestures and
expressions, they plainly showed the uneasy, if not painful,
consciousness of being under a troubled master-eye. And
not only that, but moody stricken Ahab stood before them
with a crucifixion in his face; in all the nameless regal
overbearing dignity of some mighty woe.



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    Ere long, from his first visit in the air, he withdrew into
his cabin. But after that morning, he was every day visible
to the crew; either standing in his pivot-hole, or seated
upon an ivory stool he had; or heavily walking the deck.
As the sky grew less gloomy; indeed, began to grow a little
genial, he became still less and less a recluse; as if, when
the ship had sailed from home, nothing but the dead
wintry bleakness of the sea had then kept him so secluded.
And, by and by, it came to pass, that he was almost
continually in the air; but, as yet, for all that he said, or
perceptibly did, on the at last sunny deck, he seemed as
unnecessary there as another mast. But the Pequod was
only making a passage now; not regularly cruising; nearly
all whaling preparatives needing supervision the mates
were fully competent to, so that there was little or
nothing, out of himself, to employ or excite Ahab, now;
and thus chase away, for that one interval, the clouds that
layer upon layer were piled upon his brow, as ever all
clouds choose the loftiest peaks to pile themselves upon.
    Nevertheless, ere long, the warm, warbling
persuasiveness of the pleasant, holiday weather we came
to, seemed gradually to charm him from his mood. For, as
when the red-cheeked, dancing girls, April and May, trip
home to the wintry, misanthropic woods; even the barest,


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ruggedest, most thunder-cloven old oak will at least send
forth some few green sprouts, to welcome such glad-
hearted visitants; so Ahab did, in the end, a little respond
to the playful allurings of that girlish air. More than once
did he put forth the faint blossom of a look, which, in any
other man, would have soon flowered out in a smile.




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                      Chapter 29

    Enter Ahab; to Him, Stubb.
    Some days elapsed, and ice and icebergs all astern, the
Pequod now went rolling through the bright Quito
spring, which, at sea, almost perpetually reigns on the
threshold of the eternal August of the Tropic. The warmly
cool, clear, ringing, perfumed, overflowing, redundant
days, were as crystal goblets of Persian sherbet, heaped
up—flaked up, with rose-water snow. The starred and
stately nights seemed haughty dames in jewelled velvets,
nursing at home in lonely pride, the memory of their
absent conquering Earls, the golden helmeted suns! For
sleeping man, ‘twas hard to choose between such winsome
days and such seducing nights. But all the witcheries of
that unwaning weather did not merely lend new spells and
potencies to the outward world. Inward they turned upon
the soul, especially when the still mild hours of eve came
on; then, memory shot her crystals as the clear ice most
forms of noiseless twilights. And all these subtle agencies,
more and more they wrought on Ahab’s texture.
    Old age is always wakeful; as if, the longer linked with
life, the less man has to do with aught that looks like


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death. Among sea-commanders, the old greybeards will
oftenest leave their berths to visit the night-cloaked deck.
It was so with Ahab; only that now, of late, he seemed so
much to live in the open air, that truly speaking, his visits
were more to the cabin, than from the cabin to the planks.
‘It feels like going down into one’s tomb,’—he would
mutter to himself—‘for an old captain like me to be
descending this narrow scuttle, to go to my grave-dug
berth.’
    So, almost every twenty-four hours, when the watches
of the night were set, and the band on deck sentinelled the
slumbers of the band below; and when if a rope was to be
hauled upon the forecastle, the sailors flung it not rudely
down, as by day, but with some cautiousness dropt it to its
place for fear of disturbing their slumbering shipmates;
when this sort of steady quietude would begin to prevail,
habitually, the silent steersman would watch the cabin-
scuttle; and ere long the old man would emerge, gripping
at the iron banister, to help his crippled way. Some
considering touch of humanity was in him; for at times
like these, he usually abstained from patrolling the quarter-
deck; because to his wearied mates, seeking repose within
six inches of his ivory heel, such would have been the
reverberating crack and din of that bony step, that their


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dreams would have been on the crunching teeth of sharks.
But once, the mood was on him too deep for common
regardings; and as with heavy, lumber-like pace he was
measuring the ship from taffrail to mainmast, Stubb, the
old second mate, came up from below, with a certain
unassured, deprecating humorousness, hinted that if
Captain Ahab was pleased to walk the planks, then, no
one could say nay; but there might be some way of
muffling the noise; hinting something indistinctly and
hesitatingly about a globe of tow, and the insertion into it,
of the ivory heel. Ah! Stubb, thou didst not know Ahab
then.
   ‘Am I a cannon-ball, Stubb,’ said Ahab, ‘that thou
wouldst wad me that fashion? But go thy ways; I had
forgot. Below to thy nightly grave; where such as ye sleep
between shrouds, to use ye to the filling one at last.—
Down, dog, and kennel!’
   Starting at the unforseen concluding exclamation of the
so suddenly scornful old man, Stubb was speechless a
moment; then said excitedly, ‘I am not used to be spoken
to that way, sir; I do but less than half like it, sir.’
   ‘Avast! gritted Ahab between his set teeth, and violently
moving away, as if to avoid some passionate temptation.



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    ‘No, sir; not yet,’ said Stubb, emboldened, ‘I will not
tamely be called a dog, sir.’
    ‘Then be called ten times a donkey, and a mule, and an
ass, and begone, or I’ll clear the world of thee!’
    As he said this, Ahab advanced upon him with such
overbearing terrors in his aspect, that Stubb involuntarily
retreated.
    ‘I was never served so before without giving a hard
blow for it,’ muttered Stubb, as he found himself
descending the cabin-scuttle. ‘It’s very queer. Stop, Stubb;
somehow, now, I don’t well know whether to go back
and strike him, or—what’s that?—down here on my knees
and pray for him? Yes, that was the thought coming up in
me; but it would be the first time I ever DID pray. It’s
queer; very queer; and he’s queer too; aye, take him fore
and aft, he’s about the queerest old man Stubb ever sailed
with. How he flashed at me!—his eyes like powder-pans!
is he mad? Anyway there’s something on his mind, as sure
as there must be something on a deck when it cracks. He
aint in his bed now, either, more than three hours out of
the twenty-four; and he don’t sleep then. Didn’t that
Dough-Boy, the steward, tell me that of a morning he
always finds the old man’s hammock clothes all rumpled
and tumbled, and the sheets down at the foot, and the


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coverlid almost tied into knots, and the pillow a sort of
frightful hot, as though a baked brick had been on it? A
hot old man! I guess he’s got what some folks ashore call a
conscience; it’s a kind of Tic-Dolly-row they say—worse
nor a toothache. Well, well; I don’t know what it is, but
the Lord keep me from catching it. He’s full of riddles; I
wonder what he goes into the after hold for, every night,
as Dough-Boy tells me he suspects; what’s that for, I
should like to know? Who’s made appointments with him
in the hold? Ain’t that queer, now? But there’s no telling,
it’s the old game—Here goes for a snooze. Damn me, it’s
worth a fellow’s while to be born into the world, if only
to fall right asleep. And now that I think of it, that’s about
the first thing babies do, and that’s a sort of queer, too.
Damn me, but all things are queer, come to think of ‘em.
But that’s against my principles. Think not, is my eleventh
commandment; and sleep when you can, is my twelfth—
So here goes again. But how’s that? didn’t he call me a
dog? blazes! he called me ten times a donkey, and piled a
lot of jackasses on top of THAT! He might as well have
kicked me, and done with it. Maybe he DID kick me, and
I didn’t observe it, I was so taken all aback with his brow,
somehow. It flashed like a bleached bone. What the devil’s
the matter with me? I don’t stand right on my legs.


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Coming afoul of that old man has a sort of turned me
wrong side out. By the Lord, I must have been dreaming,
though—How? how? how?—but the only way’s to stash
it; so here goes to hammock again; and in the morning,
I’ll see how this plaguey juggling thinks over by daylight.’




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                      Chapter 30

    The Pipe.
    When Stubb had departed, Ahab stood for a while
leaning over the bulwarks; and then, as had been usual
with him of late, calling a sailor of the watch, he sent him
below for his ivory stool, and also his pipe. Lighting the
pipe at the binnacle lamp and planting the stool on the
weather side of the deck, he sat and smoked.
    In old Norse times, the thrones of the sea-loving
Danish kings were fabricated, saith tradition, of the tusks
of the narwhale. How could one look at Ahab then, seated
on that tripod of bones, without bethinking him of the
royalty it symbolized? For a Khan of the plank, and a king
of the sea, and a great lord of Leviathans was Ahab.
    Some moments passed, during which the thick vapour
came from his mouth in quick and constant puffs, which
blew back again into his face. ‘How now,’ he soliloquized
at last, withdrawing the tube, ‘this smoking no longer
soothes. Oh, my pipe! hard must it go with me if thy
charm be gone! Here have I been unconsciously toiling,
not pleasuring—aye, and ignorantly smoking to windward
all the while; to windward, and with such nervous whiffs,


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as if, like the dying whale, my final jets were the strongest
and fullest of trouble. What business have I with this pipe?
This thing that is meant for sereneness, to send up mild
white vapours among mild white hairs, not among torn
iron-grey locks like mine. I’ll smoke no more—‘
    He tossed the still lighted pipe into the sea. The fire
hissed in the waves; the same instant the ship shot by the
bubble the sinking pipe made. With slouched hat, Ahab
lurchingly paced the planks.




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                        Chapter 31

    Queen Mab.
    Next morning Stubb accosted Flask.
    ‘Such a queer dream, King-Post, I never had. You
know the old man’s ivory leg, well I dreamed he kicked
me with it; and when I tried to kick back, upon my soul,
my little man, I kicked my leg right off! And then, presto!
Ahab seemed a pyramid, and I, like a blazing fool, kept
kicking at it. But what was still more curious, Flask—you
know how curious all dreams are—through all this rage
that I was in, I somehow seemed to be thinking to myself,
that after all, it was not much of an insult, that kick from
Ahab. ‘Why,’ thinks I, ‘what’s the row? It’s not a real leg,
only a false leg.’ And there’s a mighty difference between a
living thump and a dead thump. That’s what makes a blow
from the hand, Flask, fifty times more savage to bear than
a blow from a cane. The living member—that makes the
living insult, my little man. And thinks I to myself all the
while, mind, while I was stubbing my silly toes against that
cursed pyramid—so confoundedly contradictory was it all,
all the while, I say, I was thinking to myself, ‘what’s his leg
now, but a cane—a whalebone cane. Yes,’ thinks I, ‘it was


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only a playful cudgelling—in fact, only a whaleboning that
he gave me—not a base kick. Besides,’ thinks I, ‘look at it
once; why, the end of it—the foot part—what a small sort
of end it is; whereas, if a broad footed farmer kicked me,
THERE’S a devilish broad insult. But this insult is
whittled down to a point only.’ But now comes the
greatest joke of the dream, Flask. While I was battering
away at the pyramid, a sort of badger-haired old merman,
with a hump on his back, takes me by the shoulders, and
slews me round. ‘What are you ‘bout?’ says he. Slid! man,
but I was frightened. Such a phiz! But, somehow, next
moment I was over the fright. ‘What am I about?’ says I at
last. ‘And what business is that of yours, I should like to
know, Mr. Humpback? Do YOU want a kick?’ By the
lord, Flask, I had no sooner said that, than he turned
round his stern to me, bent over, and dragging up a lot of
seaweed he had for a clout—what do you think, I saw?—
why thunder alive, man, his stern was stuck full of
marlinspikes, with the points out. Says I, on second
thoughts, ‘I guess I won’t kick you, old fellow.’ ‘Wise
Stubb,’ said he, ‘wise Stubb;’ and kept muttering it all the
time, a sort of eating of his own gums like a chimney hag.
Seeing he wasn’t going to stop saying over his ‘wise Stubb,
wise Stubb,’ I thought I might as well fall to kicking the


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pyramid again. But I had only just lifted my foot for it,
when he roared out, ‘Stop that kicking!’ ‘Halloa,’ says I,
‘what’s the matter now, old fellow?’ ‘Look ye here,’ says
he; ‘let’s argue the insult. Captain Ahab kicked ye, didn’t
he?’ ‘Yes, he did,’ says I—’right HERE it was.’ ‘Very
good,’ says he—’he used his ivory leg, didn’t he?’ ‘Yes, he
did,’ says I. ‘Well then,’ says he, ‘wise Stubb, what have
you to complain of? Didn’t he kick with right good will?
it wasn’t a common pitch pine leg he kicked with, was it?
No, you were kicked by a great man, and with a beautiful
ivory leg, Stubb. It’s an honour; I consider it an honour.
Listen, wise Stubb. In old England the greatest lords think
it great glory to be slapped by a queen, and made garter-
knights of; but, be YOUR boast, Stubb, that ye were
kicked by old Ahab, and made a wise man of. Remember
what I say; BE kicked by him; account his kicks honours;
and on no account kick back; for you can’t help yourself,
wise Stubb. Don’t you see that pyramid?’ With that, he all
of a sudden seemed somehow, in some queer fashion, to
swim off into the air. I snored; rolled over; and there I was
in my hammock! Now, what do you think of that dream,
Flask?’
    ‘I don’t know; it seems a sort of foolish to me, tho.’’



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    ‘May be; may be. But it’s made a wise man of me,
Flask. D’ye see Ahab standing there, sideways looking
over the stern? Well, the best thing you can do, Flask, is to
let the old man alone; never speak to him, whatever he
says. Halloa! What’s that he shouts? Hark!’
    ‘Mast-head, there! Look sharp, all of ye! There are
whales hereabouts!
    If ye see a white one, split your lungs for him!
    ‘What do you think of that now, Flask? ain’t there a
small drop of something queer about that, eh? A white
whale—did ye mark that, man? Look ye—there’s
something special in the wind. Stand by for it, Flask. Ahab
has that that’s bloody on his mind. But, mum; he comes
this way.’




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                      Chapter 32

   Cetology.
   Already we are boldly launched upon the deep; but
soon we shall be lost in its unshored, harbourless
immensities. Ere that come to pass; ere the Pequod’s
weedy hull rolls side by side with the barnacled hulls of
the leviathan; at the outset it is but well to attend to a
matter almost indispensable to a thorough appreciative
understanding of the more special leviathanic revelations
and allusions of all sorts which are to follow.
   It is some systematized exhibition of the whale in his
broad genera, that I would now fain put before you. Yet is
it no easy task. The classification of the constituents of a
chaos, nothing less is here essayed. Listen to what the best
and latest authorities have laid down.
   ‘No branch of Zoology is so much involved as that
which is entitled Cetology,’ says Captain Scoresby, A.D.
1820.
   ‘It is not my intention, were it in my power, to enter
into the inquiry as to the true method of dividing the
cetacea into groups and families.... Utter confusion exists




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among the historians of this animal’ (sperm whale), says
Surgeon Beale, A.D. 1839.
    ‘Unfitness to pursue our research in the unfathomable
waters.’ ‘Impenetrable veil covering our knowledge of the
cetacea.’ ‘A field strewn with thorns.’ ‘All these
incomplete indications but serve to torture us naturalists.’
    Thus speak of the whale, the great Cuvier, and John
Hunter, and Lesson, those lights of zoology and anatomy.
Nevertheless, though of real knowledge there be little, yet
of books there are a plenty; and so in some small degree,
with cetology, or the science of whales. Many are the
men, small and great, old and new, landsmen and seamen,
who have at large or in little, written of the whale. Run
over a few:—The Authors of the Bible; Aristotle; Pliny;
Aldrovandi; Sir Thomas Browne; Gesner; Ray; Linnaeus;
Rondeletius; Willoughby; Green; Artedi; Sibbald; Brisson;
Marten; Lacepede; Bonneterre; Desmarest; Baron Cuvier;
Frederick Cuvier; John Hunter; Owen; Scoresby; Beale;
Bennett; J. Ross Browne; the Author of Miriam Coffin;
Olmstead; and the Rev. T. Cheever. But to what ultimate
generalizing purpose all these have written, the above
cited extracts will show.
    Of the names in this list of whale authors, only those
following Owen ever saw living whales; and but one of


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them was a real professional harpooneer and whaleman. I
mean Captain Scoresby. On the separate subject of the
Greenland or right-whale, he is the best existing authority.
But Scoresby knew nothing and says nothing of the great
sperm whale, compared with which the Greenland whale
is almost unworthy mentioning. And here be it said, that
the Greenland whale is an usurper upon the throne of the
seas. He is not even by any means the largest of the
whales. Yet, owing to the long priority of his claims, and
the profound ignorance which, till some seventy years
back, invested the then fabulous or utterly unknown
sperm-whale, and which ignorance to this present day still
reigns in all but some few scientific retreats and whale-
ports; this usurpation has been every way complete.
Reference to nearly all the leviathanic allusions in the
great poets of past days, will satisfy you that the Greenland
whale, without one rival, was to them the monarch of the
seas. But the time has at last come for a new proclamation.
This is Charing Cross; hear ye! good people all,—the
Greenland whale is deposed,—the great sperm whale now
reigneth!
    There are only two books in being which at all pretend
to put the living sperm whale before you, and at the same
time, in the remotest degree succeed in the attempt.


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Those books are Beale’s and Bennett’s; both in their time
surgeons to English South-Sea whale-ships, and both exact
and reliable men. The original matter touching the sperm
whale to be found in their volumes is necessarily small; but
so far as it goes, it is of excellent quality, though mostly
confined to scientific description. As yet, however, the
sperm whale, scientific or poetic, lives not complete in any
literature. Far above all other hunted whales, his is an
unwritten life.
    Now the various species of whales need some sort of
popular comprehensive classification, if only an easy
outline one for the present, hereafter to be filled in all its
departments by subsequent laborers. As no better man
advances to take this matter in hand, I hereupon offer my
own poor endeavors. I promise nothing complete; because
any human thing supposed to be complete, must for that
very reason infallibly be faulty. I shall not pretend to a
minute anatomical description of the various species, or—
in this place at least—to much of any description. My
object here is simply to project the draught of a
systematization of cetology. I am the architect, not the
builder.
    But it is a ponderous task; no ordinary letter-sorter in
the Post-Office is equal to it. To grope down into the


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bottom of the sea after them; to have one’s hands among
the unspeakable foundations, ribs, and very pelvis of the
world; this is a fearful thing. What am I that I should essay
to hook the nose of this leviathan! The awful tauntings in
Job might well appal me. ‘Will he the (leviathan) make a
covenant with thee? Behold the hope of him is vain! But I
have swam through libraries and sailed through oceans; I
have had to do with whales with these visible hands; I am
in earnest; and I will try. There are some preliminaries to
settle.
    First: The uncertain, unsettled condition of this science
of Cetology is in the very vestibule attested by the fact,
that in some quarters it still remains a moot point whether
a whale be a fish. In his System of Nature, A.D. 1776,
Linnaeus declares, ‘I hereby separate the whales from the
fish.’ But of my own knowledge, I know that down to the
year 1850, sharks and shad, alewives and herring, against
Linnaeus’s express edict, were still found dividing the
possession of the same seas with the Leviathan.
    The grounds upon which Linnaeus would fain have
banished the whales from the waters, he states as follows:
‘On account of their warm bilocular heart, their lungs,
their movable eyelids, their hollow ears, penem intrantem
feminam mammis lactantem,’ and finally, ‘ex lege naturae


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jure meritoque.’ I submitted all this to my friends Simeon
Macey and Charley Coffin, of Nantucket, both messmates
of mine in a certain voyage, and they united in the
opinion that the reasons set forth were altogether
insufficient. Charley profanely hinted they were humbug.
    Be it known that, waiving all argument, I take the
good old fashioned ground that the whale is a fish, and call
upon holy Jonah to back me. This fundamental thing
settled, the next point is, in what internal respect does the
whale differ from other fish. Above, Linnaeus has given
you those items. But in brief, they are these: lungs and
warm blood; whereas, all other fish are lungless and cold
blooded.
    Next: how shall we define the whale, by his obvious
externals, so as conspicuously to label him for all time to
come? To be short, then, a whale is A SPOUTING FISH
WITH A HORIZONTAL TAIL. There you have him.
However contracted, that definition is the result of
expanded meditation. A walrus spouts much like a whale,
but the walrus is not a fish, because he is amphibious. But
the last term of the definition is still more cogent, as
coupled with the first. Almost any one must have noticed
that all the fish familiar to landsmen have not a flat, but a
vertical, or up-and-down tail. Whereas, among spouting


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fish the tail, though it may be similarly shaped, invariably
assumes a horizontal position.
    By the above definition of what a whale is, I do by no
means exclude from the leviathanic brotherhood any sea
creature hitherto identified with the whale by the best
informed Nantucketers; nor, on the other hand, link with
it any fish hitherto authoritatively regarded as alien.*
Hence, all the smaller, spouting, and horizontal tailed fish
must be included in this ground-plan of Cetology. Now,
then, come the grand divisions of the entire whale host.
    *I am aware that down to the present time, the fish
styled Lamatins and Dugongs (Pig-fish and Sow-fish of the
Coffins of Nantucket) are included by many naturalists
among the whales. But as these pig-fish are a noisy,
contemptible set, mostly lurking in the mouths of rivers,
and feeding on wet hay, and especially as they do not
spout, I deny their credentials as whales; and have
presented them with their passports to quit the Kingdom
of Cetology.
    First: According to magnitude I divide the whales into
three primary BOOKS (subdivisible into CHAPTERS),
and these shall comprehend them all, both small and large.
    I. THE FOLIO WHALE; II. the OCTAVO WHALE;
III. the DUODECIMO WHALE.


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    As the type of the FOLIO I present the SPERM
WHALE; of the OCTAVO, the GRAMPUS; of the
DUODECIMO, the PORPOISE.
    FOLIOS. Among these I here include the following
chapters:—I. The SPERM WHALE; II. the RIGHT
WHALE; III. the FIN-BACK WHALE; IV. the HUMP-
BACKED WHALE; V. the RAZOR-BACK WHALE;
VI. the SULPHUR-BOTTOM WHALE.
    BOOK I. (FOLIO), CHAPTER I. (SPERM
WHALE).—This whale, among the English of old vaguely
known as the Trumpa whale, and the Physeter whale, and
the Anvil Headed whale, is the present Cachalot of the
French, and the Pottsfich of the Germans, and the
Macrocephalus of the Long Words. He is, without doubt,
the largest inhabitant of the globe; the most formidable of
all whales to encounter; the most majestic in aspect; and
lastly, by far the most valuable in commerce; he being the
only creature from which that valuable substance,
spermaceti, is obtained. All his peculiarities will, in many
other places, be enlarged upon. It is chiefly with his name
that I now have to do. Philologically considered, it is
absurd. Some centuries ago, when the Sperm whale was
almost wholly unknown in his own proper individuality,
and when his oil was only accidentally obtained from the


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stranded fish; in those days spermaceti, it would seem, was
popularly supposed to be derived from a creature identical
with the one then known in England as the Greenland or
Right Whale. It was the idea also, that this same
spermaceti was that quickening humor of the Greenland
Whale which the first syllable of the word literally
expresses. In those times, also, spermaceti was exceedingly
scarce, not being used for light, but only as an ointment
and medicament. It was only to be had from the druggists
as you nowadays buy an ounce of rhubarb. When, as I
opine, in the course of time, the true nature of spermaceti
became known, its original name was still retained by the
dealers; no doubt to enhance its value by a notion so
strangely significant of its scarcity. And so the appellation
must at last have come to be bestowed upon the whale
from which this spermaceti was really derived.
    BOOK I. (FOLIO), CHAPTER II. (RIGHT
WHALE).—In one respect this is the most venerable of
the leviathans, being the one first regularly hunted by
man. It yields the article commonly known as whalebone
or baleen; and the oil specially known as ‘whale oil,’ an
inferior article in commerce. Among the fishermen, he is
indiscriminately designated by all the following titles: The
Whale; the Greenland Whale; the Black Whale; the Great


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Whale; the True Whale; the Right Whale. There is a deal
of obscurity concerning the identity of the species thus
multitudinously baptised. What then is the whale, which I
include in the second species of my Folios? It is the Great
Mysticetus of the English naturalists; the Greenland Whale
of the English whalemen; the Baliene Ordinaire of the
French whalemen; the Growlands Walfish of the Swedes.
It is the whale which for more than two centuries past has
been hunted by the Dutch and English in the Arctic seas;
it is the whale which the American fishermen have long
pursued in the Indian ocean, on the Brazil Banks, on the
Nor’ West Coast, and various other parts of the world,
designated by them Right Whale Cruising Grounds.
    Some pretend to see a difference between the
Greenland whale of the English and the right whale of the
Americans. But they precisely agree in all their grand
features; nor has there yet been presented a single
determinate fact upon which to ground a radical
distinction. It is by endless subdivisions based upon the
most inconclusive differences, that some departments of
natural history become so repellingly intricate. The right
whale will be elsewhere treated of at some length, with
reference to elucidating the sperm whale.



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    BOOK I. (FOLIO), CHAPTER III. (FIN-BACK).—
Under this head I reckon a monster which, by the various
names of Fin-Back, Tall-Spout, and Long-John, has been
seen almost in every sea and is commonly the whale
whose distant jet is so often descried by passengers crossing
the Atlantic, in the New York packet-tracks. In the length
he attains, and in his baleen, the Fin-back resembles the
right whale, but is of a less portly girth, and a lighter
colour, approaching to olive. His great lips present a cable-
like aspect, formed by the intertwisting, slanting folds of
large wrinkles. His grand distinguishing feature, the fin,
from which he derives his name, is often a conspicuous
object. This fin is some three or four feet long, growing
vertically from the hinder part of the back, of an angular
shape, and with a very sharp pointed end. Even if not the
slightest other part of the creature be visible, this isolated
fin will, at times, be seen plainly projecting from the
surface. When the sea is moderately calm, and slightly
marked with spherical ripples, and this gnomon-like fin
stands up and casts shadows upon the wrinkled surface, it
may well be supposed that the watery circle surrounding it
somewhat resembles a dial, with its style and wavy hour-
lines graved on it. On that Ahaz-dial the shadow often
goes back. The Fin-Back is not gregarious. He seems a


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whale-hater, as some men are man-haters. Very shy;
always going solitary; unexpectedly rising to the surface in
the remotest and most sullen waters; his straight and single
lofty jet rising like a tall misanthropic spear upon a barren
plain; gifted with such wondrous power and velocity in
swimming, as to defy all present pursuit from man; this
leviathan seems the banished and unconquerable Cain of
his race, bearing for his mark that style upon his back.
From having the baleen in his mouth, the Fin-Back is
sometimes included with the right whale, among a
theoretic species denominated WHALEBONE WHALES,
that is, whales with baleen. Of these so called Whalebone
whales, there would seem to be several varieties, most of
which, however, are little known. Broad-nosed whales
and beaked whales; pike-headed whales; bunched whales;
under-jawed whales and rostrated whales, are the
fishermen’s names for a few sorts.
    In connection with this appellative of ‘Whalebone
whales,’ it is of great importance to mention, that however
such a nomenclature may be convenient in facilitating
allusions to some kind of whales, yet it is in vain to
attempt a clear classification of the Leviathan, founded
upon either his baleen, or hump, or fin, or teeth;
notwithstanding that those marked parts or features very


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obviously seem better adapted to afford the basis for a
regular system of Cetology than any other detached bodily
distinctions, which the whale, in his kinds, presents. How
then? The baleen, hump, back-fin, and teeth; these are
things whose peculiarities are indiscriminately dispersed
among all sorts of whales, without any regard to what may
be the nature of their structure in other and more essential
particulars. Thus, the sperm whale and the humpbacked
whale, each has a hump; but there the similitude ceases.
Then, this same humpbacked whale and the Greenland
whale, each of these has baleen; but there again the
similitude ceases. And it is just the same with the other
parts above mentioned. In various sorts of whales, they
form such irregular combinations; or, in the case of any
one of them detached, such an irregular isolation; as
utterly to defy all general methodization formed upon
such a basis. On this rock every one of the whale-
naturalists has split.
    But it may possibly be conceived that, in the internal
parts of the whale, in his anatomy—there, at least, we shall
be able to hit the right classification. Nay; what thing, for
example, is there in the Greenland whale’s anatomy more
striking than his baleen? Yet we have seen that by his
baleen it is impossible correctly to classify the Greenland


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whale. And if you descend into the bowels of the various
leviathans, why there you will not find distinctions a
fiftieth part as available to the systematizer as those external
ones already enumerated. What then remains? nothing but
to take hold of the whales bodily, in their entire liberal
volume, and boldly sort them that way. And this is the
Bibliographical system here adopted; and it is the only one
that can possibly succeed, for it alone is practicable. To
proceed.
    BOOK I. (FOLIO) CHAPTER IV. (HUMP-
BACK).—This whale is often seen on the northern
American coast. He has been frequently captured there,
and towed into harbor. He has a great pack on him like a
peddler; or you might call him the Elephant and Castle
whale. At any rate, the popular name for him does not
sufficiently distinguish him, since the sperm whale also has
a hump though a smaller one. His oil is not very valuable.
He has baleen. He is the most gamesome and light-hearted
of all the whales, making more gay foam and white water
generally than any other of them.
    BOOK I. (FOLIO), CHAPTER V. (RAZOR-
BACK).—Of this whale little is known but his name. I
have seen him at a distance off Cape Horn. Of a retiring
nature, he eludes both hunters and philosophers. Though


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no coward, he has never yet shown any part of him but
his back, which rises in a long sharp ridge. Let him go. I
know little more of him, nor does anybody else.
    BOOK I. (FOLIO), CHAPTER VI. (SULPHUR-
BOTTOM).—Another retiring gentleman, with a
brimstone belly, doubtless got by scraping along the
Tartarian tiles in some of his profounder divings. He is
seldom seen; at least I have never seen him except in the
remoter southern seas, and then always at too great a
distance to study his countenance. He is never chased; he
would run away with rope-walks of line. Prodigies are
told of him. Adieu, Sulphur Bottom! I can say nothing
more that is true of ye, nor can the oldest Nantucketer.
    Thus ends BOOK I. (FOLIO), and now begins BOOK
II. (OCTAVO).
    OCTAVOES.*—These embrace the whales of
middling magnitude, among which present may be
numbered:—I., the GRAMPUS; II., the BLACK FISH;
III., the NARWHALE; IV., the THRASHER; V., the
KILLER.
    *Why this book of whales is not denominated the
Quarto is very plain. Because, while the whales of this
order, though smaller than those of the former order,
nevertheless retain a proportionate likeness to them in


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figure, yet the bookbinder’s Quarto volume in its
dimensioned form does not preserve the shape of the Folio
volume, but the Octavo volume does.
    BOOK        II.    (OCTAVO),         CHAPTER         I.
(GRAMPUS).—Though this fish, whose loud sonorous
breathing, or rather blowing, has furnished a proverb to
landsmen, is so well known a denizen of the deep, yet is
he not popularly classed among whales. But possessing all
the grand distinctive features of the leviathan, most
naturalists have recognised him for one. He is of moderate
octavo size, varying from fifteen to twenty-five feet in
length, and of corresponding dimensions round the waist.
He swims in herds; he is never regularly hunted, though
his oil is considerable in quantity, and pretty good for
light. By some fishermen his approach is regarded as
premonitory of the advance of the great sperm whale.
    BOOK II. (OCTAVO), CHAPTER II. (BLACK
FISH).—I give the popular fishermen’s names for all these
fish, for generally they are the best. Where any name
happens to be vague or inexpressive, I shall say so, and
suggest another. I do so now, touching the Black Fish, so-
called, because blackness is the rule among almost all
whales. So, call him the Hyena Whale, if you please. His
voracity is well known, and from the circumstance that


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the inner angles of his lips are curved upwards, he carries
an everlasting Mephistophelean grin on his face. This
whale averages some sixteen or eighteen feet in length. He
is found in almost all latitudes. He has a peculiar way of
showing his dorsal hooked fin in swimming, which looks
something like a Roman nose. When not more profitably
employed, the sperm whale hunters sometimes capture the
Hyena whale, to keep up the supply of cheap oil for
domestic employment—as some frugal housekeepers, in
the absence of company, and quite alone by themselves,
burn unsavory tallow instead of odorous wax. Though
their blubber is very thin, some of these whales will yield
you upwards of thirty gallons of oil.
    BOOK        II.    (OCTAVO),         CHAPTER           III.
(NARWHALE), that is, NOSTRIL WHALE.—Another
instance of a curiously named whale, so named I suppose
from his peculiar horn being originally mistaken for a
peaked nose. The creature is some sixteen feet in length,
while its horn averages five feet, though some exceed ten,
and even attain to fifteen feet. Strictly speaking, this horn
is but a lengthened tusk, growing out from the jaw in a
line a little depressed from the horizontal. But it is only
found on the sinister side, which has an ill effect, giving its
owner something analogous to the aspect of a clumsy left-


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handed man. What precise purpose this ivory horn or
lance answers, it would be hard to say. It does not seem to
be used like the blade of the sword-fish and bill-fish;
though some sailors tell me that the Narwhale employs it
for a rake in turning over the bottom of the sea for food.
Charley Coffin said it was used for an ice-piercer; for the
Narwhale, rising to the surface of the Polar Sea, and
finding it sheeted with ice, thrusts his horn up, and so
breaks through. But you cannot prove either of these
surmises to be correct. My own opinion is, that however
this one-sided horn may really be used by the Narwhale—
however that may be—it would certainly be very
convenient to him for a folder in reading pamphlets. The
Narwhale I have heard called the Tusked whale, the
Horned whale, and the Unicorn whale. He is certainly a
curious example of the Unicornism to be found in almost
every kingdom of animated nature. From certain
cloistered old authors I have gathered that this same sea-
unicorn’s horn was in ancient days regarded as the great
antidote against poison, and as such, preparations of it
brought immense prices. It was also distilled to a volatile
salts for fainting ladies, the same way that the horns of the
male deer are manufactured into hartshorn. Originally it
was in itself accounted an object of great curiosity. Black


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Letter tells me that Sir Martin Frobisher on his return from
that voyage, when Queen Bess did gallantly wave her
jewelled hand to him from a window of Greenwich
Palace, as his bold ship sailed down the Thames; ‘when Sir
Martin returned from that voyage,’ saith Black Letter, ‘on
bended knees he presented to her highness a prodigious
long horn of the Narwhale, which for a long period after
hung in the castle at Windsor.’ An Irish author avers that
the Earl of Leicester, on bended knees, did likewise
present to her highness another horn, pertaining to a land
beast of the unicorn nature.
   The Narwhale has a very picturesque, leopard-like
look, being of a milk-white ground colour, dotted with
round and oblong spots of black. His oil is very superior,
clear and fine; but there is little of it, and he is seldom
hunted. He is mostly found in the circumpolar seas.
   BOOK II. (OCTAVO), CHAPTER IV. (KILLER).—
Of this whale little is precisely known to the Nantucketer,
and nothing at all to the professed naturalist. From what I
have seen of him at a distance, I should say that he was
about the bigness of a grampus. He is very savage—a sort
of Feegee fish. He sometimes takes the great Folio whales
by the lip, and hangs there like a leech, till the mighty
brute is worried to death. The Killer is never hunted. I


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never heard what sort of oil he has. Exception might be
taken to the name bestowed upon this whale, on the
ground of its indistinctness. For we are all killers, on land
and on sea; Bonapartes and Sharks included.
    BOOK       II.     (OCTAVO),          CHAPTER          V.
(THRASHER).—This gentleman is famous for his tail,
which he uses for a ferule in thrashing his foes. He mounts
the Folio whale’s back, and as he swims, he works his
passage by flogging him; as some schoolmasters get along
in the world by a similar process. Still less is known of the
Thrasher than of the Killer. Both are outlaws, even in the
lawless seas.
    Thus ends BOOK II. (OCTAVO), and begins BOOK
III. (DUODECIMO).
    DUODECIMOES.—These include the smaller whales.
I. The Huzza Porpoise. II. The Algerine Porpoise. III.
The Mealy-mouthed Porpoise.
    To those who have not chanced specially to study the
subject, it may possibly seem strange, that fishes not
commonly exceeding four or five feet should be
marshalled among WHALES—a word, which, in the
popular sense, always conveys an idea of hugeness. But the
creatures set down above as Duodecimoes are infallibly



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whales, by the terms of my definition of what a whale is—
i.e. a spouting fish, with a horizontal tail.
    BOOK III. (DUODECIMO), CHAPTER 1.
(HUZZA PORPOISE).—This is the common porpoise
found almost all over the globe. The name is of my own
bestowal; for there are more than one sort of porpoises,
and something must be done to distinguish them. I call
him thus, because he always swims in hilarious shoals,
which upon the broad sea keep tossing themselves to
heaven like caps in a Fourth-of-July crowd. Their
appearance is generally hailed with delight by the mariner.
Full of fine spirits, they invariably come from the breezy
billows to windward. They are the lads that always live
before the wind. They are accounted a lucky omen. If you
yourself can withstand three cheers at beholding these
vivacious fish, then heaven help ye; the spirit of godly
gamesomeness is not in ye. A well-fed, plump Huzza
Porpoise will yield you one good gallon of good oil. But
the fine and delicate fluid extracted from his jaws is
exceedingly valuable. It is in request among jewellers and
watchmakers. Sailors put it on their hones. Porpoise meat
is good eating, you know. It may never have occurred to
you that a porpoise spouts. Indeed, his spout is so small
that it is not very readily discernible. But the next time


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you have a chance, watch him; and you will then see the
great Sperm whale himself in miniature.
   BOOK III. (DUODECIMO), CHAPTER II.
(ALGERINE PORPOISE).—A pirate. Very savage. He is
only found, I think, in the Pacific. He is somewhat larger
than the Huzza Porpoise, but much of the same general
make. Provoke him, and he will buckle to a shark. I have
lowered for him many times, but never yet saw him
captured.
   BOOK III. (DUODECIMO), CHAPTER III.
(MEALY-MOUTHED PORPOISE).—The largest kind
of Porpoise; and only found in the Pacific, so far as it is
known. The only English name, by which he has hitherto
been designated, is that of the fishers—Right-Whale
Porpoise, from the circumstance that he is chiefly found in
the vicinity of that Folio. In shape, he differs in some
degree from the Huzza Porpoise, being of a less rotund
and jolly girth; indeed, he is of quite a neat and
gentleman-like figure. He has no fins on his back (most
other porpoises have), he has a lovely tail, and sentimental
Indian eyes of a hazel hue. But his mealy-mouth spoils all.
Though his entire back down to his side fins is of a deep
sable, yet a boundary line, distinct as the mark in a ship’s
hull, called the ‘bright waist,’ that line streaks him from


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stem to stern, with two separate colours, black above and
white below. The white comprises part of his head, and
the whole of his mouth, which makes him look as if he
had just escaped from a felonious visit to a meal-bag. A
most mean and mealy aspect! His oil is much like that of
the common porpoise.
   Beyond the DUODECIMO, this system does not
proceed, inasmuch as the Porpoise is the smallest of the
whales. Above, you have all the Leviathans of note. But
there are a rabble of uncertain, fugitive, half-fabulous
whales, which, as an American whaleman, I know by
reputation, but not personally. I shall enumerate them by
their fore-castle appellations; for possibly such a list may be
valuable to future investigators, who may complete what I
have here but begun. If any of the following whales, shall
hereafter be caught and marked, then he can readily be
incorporated into this System, according to his Folio,
Octavo, or Duodecimo magnitude:—The Bottle-Nose
Whale; the Junk Whale; the Pudding-Headed Whale; the
Cape Whale; the Leading Whale; the Cannon Whale; the
Scragg Whale; the Coppered Whale; the Elephant Whale;
the Iceberg Whale; the Quog Whale; the Blue Whale; etc.
From Icelandic, Dutch, and old English authorities, there
might be quoted other lists of uncertain whales, blessed


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with all manner of uncouth names. But I omit them as
altogether obsolete; and can hardly help suspecting them
for mere sounds, full of Leviathanism, but signifying
nothing.
    Finally: It was stated at the outset, that this system
would not be here, and at once, perfected. You cannot
but plainly see that I have kept my word. But I now leave
my cetological System standing thus unfinished, even as
the great Cathedral of Cologne was left, with the crane
still standing upon the top of the uncompleted tower. For
small erections may be finished by their first architects;
grand ones, true ones, ever leave the copestone to
posterity. God keep me from ever completing anything.
This whole book is but a draught—nay, but the draught of
a draught. Oh, Time, Strength, Cash, and Patience!




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                        Chapter 33

    The Specksynder.
    Concerning the officers of the whale-craft, this seems as
good a place as any to set down a little domestic
peculiarity on ship-board, arising from the existence of the
harpooneer class of officers, a class unknown of course in
any other marine than the whale-fleet.
    The large importance attached to the harpooneer’s
vocation is evinced by the fact, that originally in the old
Dutch Fishery, two centuries and more ago, the command
of a whale ship was not wholly lodged in the person now
called the captain, but was divided between him and an
officer called the Specksynder. Literally this word means
Fat-Cutter; usage, however, in time made it equivalent to
Chief Harpooneer. In those days, the captain’s authority
was restricted to the navigation and general management
of the vessel; while over the whale-hunting department
and all its concerns, the Specksynder or Chief Harpooneer
reigned supreme. In the British Greenland Fishery, under
the corrupted title of Specksioneer, this old Dutch official
is still retained, but his former dignity is sadly abridged. At
present he ranks simply as senior Harpooneer; and as such,


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is but one of the captain’s more inferior subalterns.
Nevertheless, as upon the good conduct of the
harpooneers the success of a whaling voyage largely
depends, and since in the American Fishery he is not only
an important officer in the boat, but under certain
circumstances (night watches on a whaling ground) the
command of the ship’s deck is also his; therefore the grand
political maxim of the sea demands, that he should
nominally live apart from the men before the mast, and be
in some way distinguished as their professional superior;
though always, by them, familiarly regarded as their social
equal.
    Now, the grand distinction drawn between officer and
man at sea, is this—the first lives aft, the last forward.
Hence, in whale-ships and merchantmen alike, the mates
have their quarters with the captain; and so, too, in most
of the American whalers the harpooneers are lodged in the
after part of the ship. That is to say, they take their meals
in the captain’s cabin, and sleep in a place indirectly
communicating with it.
    Though the long period of a Southern whaling voyage
(by far the longest of all voyages now or ever made by
man), the peculiar perils of it, and the community of
interest prevailing among a company, all of whom, high or


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low, depend for their profits, not upon fixed wages, but
upon their common luck, together with their common
vigilance, intrepidity, and hard work; though all these
things do in some cases tend to beget a less rigorous
discipline than in merchantmen generally; yet, never mind
how much like an old Mesopotamian family these
whalemen may, in some primitive instances, live together;
for all that, the punctilious externals, at least, of the
quarter-deck are seldom materially relaxed, and in no
instance done away. Indeed, many are the Nantucket ships
in which you will see the skipper parading his quarter-
deck with an elated grandeur not surpassed in any military
navy; nay, extorting almost as much outward homage as if
he wore the imperial purple, and not the shabbiest of
pilot-cloth.
   And though of all men the moody captain of the
Pequod was the least given to that sort of shallowest
assumption; and though the only homage he ever exacted,
was implicit, instantaneous obedience; though he required
no man to remove the shoes from his feet ere stepping
upon the quarter-deck; and though there were times
when, owing to peculiar circumstances connected with
events hereafter to be detailed, he addressed them in
unusual terms, whether of condescension or IN


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TERROREM, or otherwise; yet even Captain Ahab was
by no means unobservant of the paramount forms and
usages of the sea.
   Nor, perhaps, will it fail to be eventually perceived,
that behind those forms and usages, as it were, he
sometimes masked himself; incidentally making use of
them for other and more private ends than they were
legitimately intended to subserve. That certain sultanism of
his brain, which had otherwise in a good degree remained
unmanifested; through those forms that same sultanism
became incarnate in an irresistible dictatorship. For be a
man’s intellectual superiority what it will, it can never
assume the practical, available supremacy over other men,
without the aid of some sort of external arts and
entrenchments, always, in themselves, more or less paltry
and base. This it is, that for ever keeps God’s true princes
of the Empire from the world’s hustings; and leaves the
highest honours that this air can give, to those men who
become famous more through their infinite inferiority to
the choice hidden handful of the Divine Inert, than
through their undoubted superiority over the dead level of
the mass. Such large virtue lurks in these small things
when extreme political superstitions invest them, that in
some royal instances even to idiot imbecility they have


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imparted potency. But when, as in the case of Nicholas
the Czar, the ringed crown of geographical empire
encircles an imperial brain; then, the plebeian herds
crouch abased before the tremendous centralization. Nor,
will the tragic dramatist who would depict mortal
indomitableness in its fullest sweep and direct swing, ever
forget a hint, incidentally so important in his art, as the
one now alluded to.
   But Ahab, my Captain, still moves before me in all his
Nantucket grimness and shagginess; and in this episode
touching Emperors and Kings, I must not conceal that I
have only to do with a poor old whale-hunter like him;
and, therefore, all outward majestical trappings and
housings are denied me. Oh, Ahab! what shall be grand in
thee, it must needs be plucked at from the skies, and dived
for in the deep, and featured in the unbodied air!




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                      Chapter 34

   The Cabin-Table.
   It is noon; and Dough-Boy, the steward, thrusting his
pale loaf-of-bread face from the cabin-scuttle, announces
dinner to his lord and master; who, sitting in the lee
quarter-boat, has just been taking an observation of the
sun; and is now mutely reckoning the latitude on the
smooth, medallion-shaped tablet, reserved for that daily
purpose on the upper part of his ivory leg. From his
complete inattention to the tidings, you would think that
moody Ahab had not heard his menial. But presently,
catching hold of the mizen shrouds, he swings himself to
the deck, and in an even, unexhilarated voice, saying,
‘Dinner, Mr. Starbuck,’ disappears into the cabin.
   When the last echo of his sultan’s step has died away,
and Starbuck, the first Emir, has every reason to suppose
that he is seated, then Starbuck rouses from his quietude,
takes a few turns along the planks, and, after a grave peep
into the binnacle, says, with some touch of pleasantness,
‘Dinner, Mr. Stubb,’ and descends the scuttle. The second
Emir lounges about the rigging awhile, and then slightly
shaking the main brace, to see whether it will be all right


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with that important rope, he likewise takes up the old
burden, and with a rapid ‘Dinner, Mr. Flask,’ follows after
his predecessors.
    But the third Emir, now seeing himself all alone on the
quarter-deck, seems to feel relieved from some curious
restraint; for, tipping all sorts of knowing winks in all sorts
of directions, and kicking off his shoes, he strikes into a
sharp but noiseless squall of a hornpipe right over the
Grand Turk’s head; and then, by a dexterous sleight,
pitching his cap up into the mizentop for a shelf, he goes
down rollicking so far at least as he remains visible from
the deck, reversing all other processions, by bringing up
the rear with music. But ere stepping into the cabin
doorway below, he pauses, ships a new face altogether,
and, then, independent, hilarious little Flask enters King
Ahab’s presence, in the character of Abjectus, or the Slave.
    It is not the least among the strange things bred by the
intense artificialness of sea-usages, that while in the open
air of the deck some officers will, upon provocation, bear
themselves boldly and defyingly enough towards their
commander; yet, ten to one, let those very officers the
next moment go down to their customary dinner in that
same commander’s cabin, and straightway their
inoffensive, not to say deprecatory and humble air towards


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him, as he sits at the head of the table; this is marvellous,
sometimes most comical. Wherefore this difference? A
problem? Perhaps not. To have been Belshazzar, King of
Babylon; and to have been Belshazzar, not haughtily but
courteously, therein certainly must have been some touch
of mundane grandeur. But he who in the rightly regal and
intelligent spirit presides over his own private dinner-table
of invited guests, that man’s unchallenged power and
dominion of individual influence for the time; that man’s
royalty of state transcends Belshazzar’s, for Belshazzar was
not the greatest. Who has but once dined his friends, has
tasted what it is to be Caesar. It is a witchery of social
czarship which there is no withstanding. Now, if to this
consideration you superadd the official supremacy of a
ship-master, then, by inference, you will derive the cause
of that peculiarity of sea-life just mentioned.
    Over his ivory-inlaid table, Ahab presided like a mute,
maned sea-lion on the white coral beach, surrounded by
his warlike but still deferential cubs. In his own proper
turn, each officer waited to be served. They were as little
children before Ahab; and yet, in Ahab, there seemed not
to lurk the smallest social arrogance. With one mind, their
intent eyes all fastened upon the old man’s knife, as he
carved the chief dish before him. I do not suppose that for


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the world they would have profaned that moment with
the slightest observation, even upon so neutral a topic as
the weather. No! And when reaching out his knife and
fork, between which the slice of beef was locked, Ahab
thereby motioned Starbuck’s plate towards him, the mate
received his meat as though receiving alms; and cut it
tenderly; and a little started if, perchance, the knife grazed
against the plate; and chewed it noiselessly; and swallowed
it, not without circumspection. For, like the Coronation
banquet at Frankfort, where the German Emperor
profoundly dines with the seven Imperial Electors, so these
cabin meals were somehow solemn meals, eaten in awful
silence; and yet at table old Ahab forbade not
conversation; only he himself was dumb. What a relief it
was to choking Stubb, when a rat made a sudden racket in
the hold below. And poor little Flask, he was the youngest
son, and little boy of this weary family party. His were the
shinbones of the saline beef; his would have been the
drumsticks. For Flask to have presumed to help himself,
this must have seemed to him tantamount to larceny in
the first degree. Had he helped himself at that table,
doubtless, never more would he have been able to hold
his head up in this honest world; nevertheless, strange to
say, Ahab never forbade him. And had Flask helped


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himself, the chances were Ahab had never so much as
noticed it. Least of all, did Flask presume to help himself
to butter. Whether he thought the owners of the ship
denied it to him, on account of its clotting his clear, sunny
complexion; or whether he deemed that, on so long a
voyage in such marketless waters, butter was at a
premium, and therefore was not for him, a subaltern;
however it was, Flask, alas! was a butterless man!
    Another thing. Flask was the last person down at the
dinner, and Flask is the first man up. Consider! For hereby
Flask’s dinner was badly jammed in point of time.
Starbuck and Stubb both had the start of him; and yet they
also have the privilege of lounging in the rear. If Stubb
even, who is but a peg higher than Flask, happens to have
but a small appetite, and soon shows symptoms of
concluding his repast, then Flask must bestir himself, he
will not get more than three mouthfuls that day; for it is
against holy usage for Stubb to precede Flask to the deck.
Therefore it was that Flask once admitted in private, that
ever since he had arisen to the dignity of an officer, from
that moment he had never known what it was to be
otherwise than hungry, more or less. For what he ate did
not so much relieve his hunger, as keep it immortal in
him. Peace and satisfaction, thought Flask, have for ever


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departed from my stomach. I am an officer; but, how I
wish I could fish a bit of old-fashioned beef in the
forecastle, as I used to when I was before the mast. There’s
the fruits of promotion now; there’s the vanity of glory:
there’s the insanity of life! Besides, if it were so that any
mere sailor of the Pequod had a grudge against Flask in
Flask’s official capacity, all that sailor had to do, in order to
obtain ample vengeance, was to go aft at dinner-time, and
get a peep at Flask through the cabin sky-light, sitting silly
and dumfoundered before awful Ahab.
    Now, Ahab and his three mates formed what may be
called the first table in the Pequod’s cabin. After their
departure, taking place in inverted order to their arrival,
the canvas cloth was cleared, or rather was restored to
some hurried order by the pallid steward. And then the
three harpooneers were bidden to the feast, they being its
residuary legatees. They made a sort of temporary servants’
hall of the high and mighty cabin.
    In strange contrast to the hardly tolerable constraint and
nameless invisible domineerings of the captain’s table, was
the entire care-free license and ease, the almost frantic
democracy of those inferior fellows the harpooneers.
While their masters, the mates, seemed afraid of the sound
of the hinges of their own jaws, the harpooneers chewed


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their food with such a relish that there was a report to it.
They dined like lords; they filled their bellies like Indian
ships all day loading with spices. Such portentous appetites
had Queequeg and Tashtego, that to fill out the vacancies
made by the previous repast, often the pale Dough-Boy
was fain to bring on a great baron of salt-junk, seemingly
quarried out of the solid ox. And if he were not lively
about it, if he did not go with a nimble hop-skip-and-
jump, then Tashtego had an ungentlemanly way of
accelerating him by darting a fork at his back, harpoon-
wise. And once Daggoo, seized with a sudden humor,
assisted Dough-Boy’s memory by snatching him up
bodily, and thrusting his head into a great empty wooden
trencher, while Tashtego, knife in hand, began laying out
the circle preliminary to scalping him. He was naturally a
very nervous, shuddering sort of little fellow, this bread-
faced steward; the progeny of a bankrupt baker and a
hospital nurse. And what with the standing spectacle of the
black terrific Ahab, and the periodical tumultuous
visitations of these three savages, Dough-Boy’s whole life
was one continual lip-quiver. Commonly, after seeing the
harpooneers furnished with all things they demanded, he
would escape from their clutches into his little pantry



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adjoining, and fearfully peep out at them through the
blinds of its door, till all was over.
   It was a sight to see Queequeg seated over against
Tashtego, opposing his filed teeth to the Indian’s:
crosswise to them, Daggoo seated on the floor, for a bench
would have brought his hearse-plumed head to the low
carlines; at every motion of his colossal limbs, making the
low cabin framework to shake, as when an African
elephant goes passenger in a ship. But for all this, the great
negro was wonderfully abstemious, not to say dainty. It
seemed hardly possible that by such comparatively small
mouthfuls he could keep up the vitality diffused through
so broad, baronial, and superb a person. But, doubtless,
this noble savage fed strong and drank deep of the
abounding element of air; and through his dilated nostrils
snuffed in the sublime life of the worlds. Not by beef or
by bread, are giants made or nourished. But Queequeg, he
had a mortal, barbaric smack of the lip in eating—an ugly
sound enough—so much so, that the trembling Dough-
Boy almost looked to see whether any marks of teeth
lurked in his own lean arms. And when he would hear
Tashtego singing out for him to produce himself, that his
bones might be picked, the simple-witted steward all but
shattered the crockery hanging round him in the pantry,


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Moby Dick


by his sudden fits of the palsy. Nor did the whetstone
which the harpooneers carried in their pockets, for their
lances and other weapons; and with which whetstones, at
dinner, they would ostentatiously sharpen their knives;
that grating sound did not at all tend to tranquillize poor
Dough-Boy. How could he forget that in his Island days,
Queequeg, for one, must certainly have been guilty of
some murderous, convivial indiscretions. Alas! Dough-
Boy! hard fares the white waiter who waits upon
cannibals. Not a napkin should he carry on his arm, but a
buckler. In good time, though, to his great delight, the
three salt-sea warriors would rise and depart; to his
credulous, fable-mongering ears, all their martial bones
jingling in them at every step, like Moorish scimetars in
scabbards.
   But, though these barbarians dined in the cabin, and
nominally lived there; still, being anything but sedentary in
their habits, they were scarcely ever in it except at
mealtimes, and just before sleeping-time, when they
passed through it to their own peculiar quarters.
   In this one matter, Ahab seemed no exception to most
American whale captains, who, as a set, rather incline to
the opinion that by rights the ship’s cabin belongs to them;
and that it is by courtesy alone that anybody else is, at any


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time, permitted there. So that, in real truth, the mates and
harpooneers of the Pequod might more properly be said to
have lived out of the cabin than in it. For when they did
enter it, it was something as a street-door enters a house;
turning inwards for a moment, only to be turned out the
next; and, as a permanent thing, residing in the open air.
Nor did they lose much hereby; in the cabin was no
companionship; socially, Ahab was inaccessible. Though
nominally included in the census of Christendom, he was
still an alien to it. He lived in the world, as the last of the
Grisly Bears lived in settled Missouri. And as when Spring
and Summer had departed, that wild Logan of the woods,
burying himself in the hollow of a tree, lived out the
winter there, sucking his own paws; so, in his inclement,
howling old age, Ahab’s soul, shut up in the caved trunk
of his body, there fed upon the sullen paws of its gloom!




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                       Chapter 35

    The Mast-Head.
    It was during the more pleasant weather, that in due
rotation with the other seamen my first mast-head came
round.
    In most American whalemen the mast-heads are
manned almost simultaneously with the vessel’s leaving her
port; even though she may have fifteen thousand miles,
and more, to sail ere reaching her proper cruising ground.
And if, after a three, four, or five years’ voyage she is
drawing nigh home with anything empty in her—say, an
empty vial even—then, her mast-heads are kept manned
to the last; and not till her skysail-poles sail in among the
spires of the port, does she altogether relinquish the hope
of capturing one whale more.
    Now, as the business of standing mast-heads, ashore or
afloat, is a very ancient and interesting one, let us in some
measure expatiate here. I take it, that the earliest standers
of mast-heads were the old Egyptians; because, in all my
researches, I find none prior to them. For though their
progenitors, the builders of Babel, must doubtless, by their
tower, have intended to rear the loftiest mast-head in all


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Asia, or Africa either; yet (ere the final truck was put to it)
as that great stone mast of theirs may be said to have gone
by the board, in the dread gale of God’s wrath; therefore,
we cannot give these Babel builders priority over the
Egyptians. And that the Egyptians were a nation of mast-
head standers, is an assertion based upon the general belief
among archaeologists, that the first pyramids were founded
for astronomical purposes: a theory singularly supported by
the peculiar stair-like formation of all four sides of those
edifices; whereby, with prodigious long upliftings of their
legs, those old astronomers were wont to mount to the
apex, and sing out for new stars; even as the look-outs of a
modern ship sing out for a sail, or a whale just bearing in
sight. In Saint Stylites, the famous Christian hermit of old
times, who built him a lofty stone pillar in the desert and
spent the whole latter portion of his life on its summit,
hoisting his food from the ground with a tackle; in him
we have a remarkable instance of a dauntless stander-of-
mast-heads; who was not to be driven from his place by
fogs or frosts, rain, hail, or sleet; but valiantly facing
everything out to the last, literally died at his post. Of
modern standers-of-mast-heads we have but a lifeless set;
mere stone, iron, and bronze men; who, though well
capable of facing out a stiff gale, are still entirely


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incompetent to the business of singing out upon
discovering any strange sight. There is Napoleon; who,
upon the top of the column of Vendome, stands with arms
folded, some one hundred and fifty feet in the air; careless,
now, who rules the decks below; whether Louis Philippe,
Louis Blanc, or Louis the Devil. Great Washington, too,
stands high aloft on his towering main-mast in Baltimore,
and like one of Hercules’ pillars, his column marks that
point of human grandeur beyond which few mortals will
go. Admiral Nelson, also, on a capstan of gun-metal,
stands his mast-head in Trafalgar Square; and ever when
most obscured by that London smoke, token is yet given
that a hidden hero is there; for where there is smoke, must
be fire. But neither great Washington, nor Napoleon, nor
Nelson, will answer a single hail from below, however
madly invoked to befriend by their counsels the distracted
decks upon which they gaze; however it may be surmised,
that their spirits penetrate through the thick haze of the
future, and descry what shoals and what rocks must be
shunned.
   It may seem unwarrantable to couple in any respect the
mast-head standers of the land with those of the sea; but
that in truth it is not so, is plainly evinced by an item for
which Obed Macy, the sole historian of Nantucket, stands


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accountable. The worthy Obed tells us, that in the early
times of the whale fishery, ere ships were regularly
launched in pursuit of the game, the people of that island
erected lofty spars along the sea-coast, to which the look-
outs ascended by means of nailed cleats, something as
fowls go upstairs in a hen-house. A few years ago this same
plan was adopted by the Bay whalemen of New Zealand,
who, upon descrying the game, gave notice to the ready-
manned boats nigh the beach. But this custom has now
become obsolete; turn we then to the one proper mast-
head, that of a whale-ship at sea. The three mast-heads are
kept manned from sun-rise to sun-set; the seamen taking
their regular turns (as at the helm), and relieving each
other every two hours. In the serene weather of the
tropics it is exceedingly pleasant the mast-head; nay, to a
dreamy meditative man it is delightful. There you stand, a
hundred feet above the silent decks, striding along the
deep, as if the masts were gigantic stilts, while beneath you
and between your legs, as it were, swim the hugest
monsters of the sea, even as ships once sailed between the
boots of the famous Colossus at old Rhodes. There you
stand, lost in the infinite series of the sea, with nothing
ruffled but the waves. The tranced ship indolently rolls;
the drowsy trade winds blow; everything resolves you into


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languor. For the most part, in this tropic whaling life, a
sublime uneventfulness invests you; you hear no news;
read no gazettes; extras with startling accounts of
commonplaces never delude you into unnecessary
excitements; you hear of no domestic afflictions; bankrupt
securities; fall of stocks; are never troubled with the
thought of what you shall have for dinner—for all your
meals for three years and more are snugly stowed in casks,
and your bill of fare is immutable.
    In one of those southern whalesmen, on a long three or
four years’ voyage, as often happens, the sum of the
various hours you spend at the mast-head would amount
to several entire months. And it is much to be deplored
that the place to which you devote so considerable a
portion of the whole term of your natural life, should be
so sadly destitute of anything approaching to a cosy
inhabitiveness, or adapted to breed a comfortable localness
of feeling, such as pertains to a bed, a hammock, a hearse,
a sentry box, a pulpit, a coach, or any other of those small
and snug contrivances in which men temporarily isolate
themselves. Your most usual point of perch is the head of
the t’ gallant-mast, where you stand upon two thin parallel
sticks (almost peculiar to whalemen) called the t’ gallant
cross-trees. Here, tossed about by the sea, the beginner


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feels about as cosy as he would standing on a bull’s horns.
To be sure, in cold weather you may carry your house
aloft with you, in the shape of a watch-coat; but properly
speaking the thickest watch-coat is no more of a house
than the unclad body; for as the soul is glued inside of its
fleshy tabernacle, and cannot freely move about in it, nor
even move out of it, without running great risk of
perishing (like an ignorant pilgrim crossing the snowy Alps
in winter); so a watch-coat is not so much of a house as it
is a mere envelope, or additional skin encasing you. You
cannot put a shelf or chest of drawers in your body, and
no more can you make a convenient closet of your watch-
coat.
    Concerning all this, it is much to be deplored that the
mast-heads of a southern whale ship are unprovided with
those enviable little tents or pulpits, called CROW’S-
NESTS, in which the look-outs of a Greenland whaler are
protected from the inclement weather of the frozen seas.
In the fireside narrative of Captain Sleet, entitled ‘A
Voyage among the Icebergs, in quest of the Greenland
Whale, and incidentally for the re-discovery of the Lost
Icelandic Colonies of Old Greenland;’ in this admirable
volume, all standers of mast-heads are furnished with a
charmingly circumstantial account of the then recently


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invented CROW’S-NEST of the Glacier, which was the
name of Captain Sleet’s good craft. He called it the
SLEET’S CROW’S-NEST, in honour of himself; he
being the original inventor and patentee, and free from all
ridiculous false delicacy, and holding that if we call our
own children after our own names (we fathers being the
original inventors and patentees), so likewise should we
denominate after ourselves any other apparatus we may
beget. In shape, the Sleet’s crow’s-nest is something like a
large tierce or pipe; it is open above, however, where it is
furnished with a movable side-screen to keep to windward
of your head in a hard gale. Being fixed on the summit of
the mast, you ascend into it through a little trap-hatch in
the bottom. On the after side, or side next the stern of the
ship, is a comfortable seat, with a locker underneath for
umbrellas, comforters, and coats. In front is a leather rack,
in which to keep your speaking trumpet, pipe, telescope,
and other nautical conveniences. When Captain Sleet in
person stood his mast-head in this crow’s-nest of his, he
tells us that he always had a rifle with him (also fixed in
the rack), together with a powder flask and shot, for the
purpose of popping off the stray narwhales, or vagrant sea
unicorns infesting those waters; for you cannot successfully
shoot at them from the deck owing to the resistance of the


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water, but to shoot down upon them is a very different
thing. Now, it was plainly a labor of love for Captain Sleet
to describe, as he does, all the little detailed conveniences
of his crow’s-nest; but though he so enlarges upon many
of these, and though he treats us to a very scientific
account of his experiments in this crow’s-nest, with a
small compass he kept there for the purpose of
counteracting the errors resulting from what is called the
‘local attraction’ of all binnacle magnets; an error
ascribable to the horizontal vicinity of the iron in the
ship’s planks, and in the Glacier’s case, perhaps, to there
having been so many broken-down blacksmiths among
her crew; I say, that though the Captain is very discreet
and scientific here, yet, for all his learned ‘binnacle
deviations,’ ‘azimuth compass observations,’ and
‘approximate errors,’ he knows very well, Captain Sleet,
that he was not so much immersed in those profound
magnetic meditations, as to fail being attracted occasionally
towards that well replenished little case-bottle, so nicely
tucked in on one side of his crow’s nest, within easy reach
of his hand. Though, upon the whole, I greatly admire
and even love the brave, the honest, and learned Captain;
yet I take it very ill of him that he should so utterly ignore
that case-bottle, seeing what a faithful friend and


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comforter it must have been, while with mittened fingers
and hooded head he was studying the mathematics aloft
there in that bird’s nest within three or four perches of the
pole.
    But if we Southern whale-fishers are not so snugly
housed aloft as Captain Sleet and his Greenlandmen were;
yet that disadvantage is greatly counter-balanced by the
widely contrasting serenity of those seductive seas in
which we South fishers mostly float. For one, I used to
lounge up the rigging very leisurely, resting in the top to
have a chat with Queequeg, or any one else off duty
whom I might find there; then ascending a little way
further, and throwing a lazy leg over the top-sail yard, take
a preliminary view of the watery pastures, and so at last
mount to my ultimate destination.
    Let me make a clean breast of it here, and frankly admit
that I kept but sorry guard. With the problem of the
universe revolving in me, how could I—being left
completely to myself at such a thought-engendering
altitude—how could I but lightly hold my obligations to
observe all whale-ships’ standing orders, ‘Keep your
weather eye open, and sing out every time.’
    And let me in this place movingly admonish you, ye
ship-owners of Nantucket! Beware of enlisting in your


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vigilant fisheries any lad with lean brow and hollow eye;
given to unseasonable meditativeness; and who offers to
ship with the Phaedon instead of Bowditch in his head.
Beware of such an one, I say; your whales must be seen
before they can be killed; and this sunken-eyed young
Platonist will tow you ten wakes round the world, and
never make you one pint of sperm the richer. Nor are
these monitions at all unneeded. For nowadays, the whale-
fishery furnishes an asylum for many romantic,
melancholy, and absent-minded young men, disgusted
with the carking cares of earth, and seeking sentiment in
tar and blubber. Childe Harold not unfrequently perches
himself upon the mast-head of some luckless disappointed
whale-ship, and in moody phrase ejaculates:—
    ‘Roll on, thou deep and dark blue ocean, roll! Ten
thousand blubber-hunters sweep over thee in vain.’
    Very often do the captains of such ships take those
absent-minded young philosophers to task, upbraiding
them with not feeling sufficient ‘interest’ in the voyage;
half-hinting that they are so hopelessly lost to all
honourable ambition, as that in their secret souls they
would rather not see whales than otherwise. But all in
vain; those young Platonists have a notion that their vision
is imperfect; they are short-sighted; what use, then, to


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strain the visual nerve? They have left their opera-glasses at
home.
    ‘Why, thou monkey,’ said a harpooneer to one of these
lads, ‘we’ve been cruising now hard upon three years, and
thou hast not raised a whale yet. Whales are scarce as hen’s
teeth whenever thou art up here.’ Perhaps they were; or
perhaps there might have been shoals of them in the far
horizon; but lulled into such an opium-like listlessness of
vacant, unconscious reverie is this absent-minded youth by
the blending cadence of waves with thoughts, that at last
he loses his identity; takes the mystic ocean at his feet for
the visible image of that deep, blue, bottomless soul,
pervading mankind and nature; and every strange, half-
seen, gliding, beautiful thing that eludes him; every dimly-
discovered, uprising fin of some undiscernible form, seems
to him the embodiment of those elusive thoughts that
only people the soul by continually flitting through it. In
this enchanted mood, thy spirit ebbs away to whence it
came; becomes diffused through time and space; like
Crammer’s sprinkled Pantheistic ashes, forming at last a
part of every shore the round globe over.
    There is no life in thee, now, except that rocking life
imparted by a gently rolling ship; by her, borrowed from
the sea; by the sea, from the inscrutable tides of God. But


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while this sleep, this dream is on ye, move your foot or
hand an inch; slip your hold at all; and your identity
comes back in horror. Over Descartian vortices you
hover. And perhaps, at mid-day, in the fairest weather,
with one half-throttled shriek you drop through that
transparent air into the summer sea, no more to rise for
ever. Heed it well, ye Pantheists!




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                       Chapter 36

   The Quarter-Deck.
   (ENTER AHAB: THEN, ALL)
   It was not a great while after the affair of the pipe, that
one morning shortly after breakfast, Ahab, as was his
wont, ascended the cabin-gangway to the deck. There
most sea-captains usually walk at that hour, as country
gentlemen, after the same meal, take a few turns in the
garden.
   Soon his steady, ivory stride was heard, as to and fro he
paced his old rounds, upon planks so familiar to his tread,
that they were all over dented, like geological stones, with
the peculiar mark of his walk. Did you fixedly gaze, too,
upon that ribbed and dented brow; there also, you would
see still stranger foot-prints—the foot-prints of his one
unsleeping, ever-pacing thought.
   But on the occasion in question, those dents looked
deeper, even as his nervous step that morning left a deeper
mark. And, so full of his thought was Ahab, that at every
uniform turn that he made, now at the main-mast and
now at the binnacle, you could almost see that thought
turn in him as he turned, and pace in him as he paced; so


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completely possessing him, indeed, that it all but seemed
the inward mould of every outer movement.
   ‘D’ye mark him, Flask?’ whispered Stubb; ‘the chick
that’s in him pecks the shell. ‘Twill soon be out.’
   The hours wore on;—Ahab now shut up within his
cabin; anon, pacing the deck, with the same intense
bigotry of purpose in his aspect.
   It drew near the close of day. Suddenly he came to a
halt by the bulwarks, and inserting his bone leg into the
auger-hole there, and with one hand grasping a shroud, he
ordered Starbuck to send everybody aft.
   ‘Sir!’ said the mate, astonished at an order seldom or
never given on ship-board except in some extraordinary
case.
   ‘Send everybody aft,’ repeated Ahab. ‘Mast-heads,
there! come down!’
   When the entire ship’s company were assembled, and
with curious and not wholly unapprehensive faces, were
eyeing him, for he looked not unlike the weather horizon
when a storm is coming up, Ahab, after rapidly glancing
over the bulwarks, and then darting his eyes among the
crew, started from his standpoint; and as though not a soul
were nigh him resumed his heavy turns upon the deck.
With bent head and half-slouched hat he continued to


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pace, unmindful of the wondering whispering among the
men; till Stubb cautiously whispered to Flask, that Ahab
must have summoned them there for the purpose of
witnessing a pedestrian feat. But this did not last long.
Vehemently pausing, he cried:—
   ‘What do ye do when ye see a whale, men?’
   ‘Sing out for him!’ was the impulsive rejoinder from a
score of clubbed voices.
   ‘Good!’ cried Ahab, with a wild approval in his tones;
observing the hearty animation into which his unexpected
question had so magnetically thrown them.
   ‘And what do ye next, men?’
   ‘Lower away, and after him!’
   ‘And what tune is it ye pull to, men?’
   ‘A dead whale or a stove boat!’
   More and more strangely and fiercely glad and
approving, grew the countenance of the old man at every
shout; while the mariners began to gaze curiously at each
other, as if marvelling how it was that they themselves
became so excited at such seemingly purposeless questions.
   But, they were all eagerness again, as Ahab, now half-
revolving in his pivot-hole, with one hand reaching high
up a shroud, and tightly, almost convulsively grasping it,
addressed them thus:—


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    ‘All ye mast-headers have before now heard me give
orders about a white whale. Look ye! d’ye see this Spanish
ounce of gold?’—holding up a broad bright coin to the
sun—‘it is a sixteen dollar piece, men. D’ye see it? Mr.
Starbuck, hand me yon top-maul.’
    While the mate was getting the hammer, Ahab,
without speaking, was slowly rubbing the gold piece
against the skirts of his jacket, as if to heighten its lustre,
and without using any words was meanwhile lowly
humming to himself, producing a sound so strangely
muffled and inarticulate that it seemed the mechanical
humming of the wheels of his vitality in him.
    Receiving the top-maul from Starbuck, he advanced
towards the main-mast with the hammer uplifted in one
hand, exhibiting the gold with the other, and with a high
raised voice exclaiming: ‘Whosoever of ye raises me a
white-headed whale with a wrinkled brow and a crooked
jaw; whosoever of ye raises me that white-headed whale,
with three holes punctured in his starboard fluke—look
ye, whosoever of ye raises me that same white whale, he
shall have this gold ounce, my boys!’
    ‘Huzza! huzza!’ cried the seamen, as with swinging
tarpaulins they hailed the act of nailing the gold to the
mast.


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   ‘It’s a white whale, I say,’ resumed Ahab, as he threw
down the topmaul: ‘a white whale. Skin your eyes for
him, men; look sharp for white water; if ye see but a
bubble, sing out.’
   All this while Tashtego, Daggoo, and Queequeg had
looked on with even more intense interest and surprise
than the rest, and at the mention of the wrinkled brow
and crooked jaw they had started as if each was separately
touched by some specific recollection.
   ‘Captain Ahab,’ said Tashtego, ‘that white whale must
be the same that some call Moby Dick.’
   ‘Moby Dick?’ shouted Ahab. ‘Do ye know the white
whale then, Tash?’
   ‘Does he fan-tail a little curious, sir, before he goes
down?’ said the Gay-Header deliberately.
   ‘And has he a curious spout, too,’ said Daggoo, ‘very
bushy, even for a parmacetty, and mighty quick, Captain
Ahab?’
   ‘And he have one, two, three—oh! good many iron in
him hide, too, Captain,’ cried Queequeg disjointedly, ‘all
twiske-tee be-twisk, like him—him—’ faltering hard for a
word, and screwing his hand round and round as though
uncorking a bottle—‘like him—him—‘



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    ‘Corkscrew!’ cried Ahab, ‘aye, Queequeg, the harpoons
lie all twisted and wrenched in him; aye, Daggoo, his
spout is a big one, like a whole shock of wheat, and white
as a pile of our Nantucket wool after the great annual
sheep-shearing; aye, Tashtego, and he fan-tails like a split
jib in a squall. Death and devils! men, it is Moby Dick ye
have seen—Moby Dick—Moby Dick!’
    ‘Captain Ahab,’ said Starbuck, who, with Stubb and
Flask, had thus far been eyeing his superior with increasing
surprise, but at last seemed struck with a thought which
somewhat explained all the wonder. ‘Captain Ahab, I have
heard of Moby Dick—but it was not Moby Dick that
took off thy leg?’
    ‘Who told thee that?’ cried Ahab; then pausing, ‘Aye,
Starbuck; aye, my hearties all round; it was Moby Dick
that dismasted me; Moby Dick that brought me to this
dead stump I stand on now. Aye, aye,’ he shouted with a
terrific, loud, animal sob, like that of a heart-stricken
moose; ‘Aye, aye! it was that accursed white whale that
razeed me; made a poor pegging lubber of me for ever and
a day!’ Then tossing both arms, with measureless
imprecations he shouted out: ‘Aye, aye! and I’ll chase him
round Good Hope, and round the Horn, and round the
Norway Maelstrom, and round perdition’s flames before I


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give him up. And this is what ye have shipped for, men! to
chase that white whale on both sides of land, and over all
sides of earth, till he spouts black blood and rolls fin out.
What say ye, men, will ye splice hands on it, now? I think
ye do look brave.’
   ‘Aye, aye!’ shouted the harpooneers and seamen,
running closer to the excited old man: ‘A sharp eye for the
white whale; a sharp lance for Moby Dick!’
   ‘God bless ye,’ he seemed to half sob and half shout.
‘God bless ye, men. Steward! go draw the great measure of
grog. But what’s this long face about, Mr. Starbuck; wilt
thou not chase the white whale? art not game for Moby
Dick?’
   ‘I am game for his crooked jaw, and for the jaws of
Death too, Captain Ahab, if it fairly comes in the way of
the business we follow; but I came here to hunt whales,
not my commander’s vengeance. How many barrels will
thy vengeance yield thee even if thou gettest it, Captain
Ahab? it will not fetch thee much in our Nantucket
market.’
   ‘Nantucket market! Hoot! But come closer, Starbuck;
thou requirest a little lower layer. If money’s to be the
measurer, man, and the accountants have computed their
great counting-house the globe, by girdling it with


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guineas, one to every three parts of an inch; then, let me
tell thee, that my vengeance will fetch a great premium
HERE!’
    ‘He smites his chest,’ whispered Stubb, ‘what’s that for?
methinks it rings most vast, but hollow.’
    ‘Vengeance on a dumb brute!’ cried Starbuck, ‘that
simply smote thee from blindest instinct! Madness! To be
enraged with a dumb thing, Captain Ahab, seems
blasphemous.’
    ‘Hark ye yet again—the little lower layer. All visible
objects, man, are but as pasteboard masks. But in each
event—in the living act, the undoubted deed—there,
some unknown but still reasoning thing puts forth the
mouldings of its features from behind the unreasoning
mask. If man will strike, strike through the mask! How
can the prisoner reach outside except by thrusting through
the wall? To me, the white whale is that wall, shoved near
to me. Sometimes I think there’s naught beyond. But ‘tis
enough. He tasks me; he heaps me; I see in him
outrageous strength, with an inscrutable malice sinewing
it. That inscrutable thing is chiefly what I hate; and be the
white whale agent, or be the white whale principal, I will
wreak that hate upon him. Talk not to me of blasphemy,
man; I’d strike the sun if it insulted me. For could the sun


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do that, then could I do the other; since there is ever a
sort of fair play herein, jealousy presiding over all
creations. But not my master, man, is even that fair play.
Who’s over me? Truth hath no confines. Take off thine
eye! more intolerable than fiends’ glarings is a doltish stare!
So, so; thou reddenest and palest; my heat has melted thee
to anger-glow. But look ye, Starbuck, what is said in heat,
that thing unsays itself. There are men from whom warm
words are small indignity. I meant not to incense thee. Let
it go. Look! see yonder Turkish cheeks of spotted tawn—
living, breathing pictures painted by the sun. The Pagan
leopards—the unrecking and unworshipping things, that
live; and seek, and give no reasons for the torrid life they
feel! The crew, man, the crew! Are they not one and all
with Ahab, in this matter of the whale? See Stubb! he
laughs! See yonder Chilian! he snorts to think of it. Stand
up amid the general hurricane, thy one tost sapling cannot,
Starbuck! And what is it? Reckon it. ‘Tis but to help strike
a fin; no wondrous feat for Starbuck. What is it more?
From this one poor hunt, then, the best lance out of all
Nantucket, surely he will not hang back, when every
foremast-hand has clutched a whetstone? Ah! constrainings
seize thee; I see! the billow lifts thee! Speak, but speak!—
Aye, aye! thy silence, then, THAT voices thee. (ASIDE)


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Something shot from my dilated nostrils, he has inhaled it
in his lungs. Starbuck now is mine; cannot oppose me
now, without rebellion.’
    ‘God keep me!—keep us all!’ murmured Starbuck,
lowly.
    But in his joy at the enchanted, tacit acquiescence of
the mate, Ahab did not hear his foreboding invocation;
nor yet the low laugh from the hold; nor yet the presaging
vibrations of the winds in the cordage; nor yet the hollow
flap of the sails against the masts, as for a moment their
hearts sank in. For again Starbuck’s downcast eyes lighted
up with the stubbornness of life; the subterranean laugh
died away; the winds blew on; the sails filled out; the ship
heaved and rolled as before. Ah, ye admonitions and
warnings! why stay ye not when ye come? But rather are
ye predictions than warnings, ye shadows! Yet not so
much predictions from without, as verifications of the
foregoing things within. For with little external to
constrain us, the innermost necessities in our being, these
still drive us on.
    ‘The measure! the measure!’ cried Ahab.
    Receiving the brimming pewter, and turning to the
harpooneers, he ordered them to produce their weapons.
Then ranging them before him near the capstan, with


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their harpoons in their hands, while his three mates stood
at his side with their lances, and the rest of the ship’s
company formed a circle round the group; he stood for an
instant searchingly eyeing every man of his crew. But
those wild eyes met his, as the bloodshot eyes of the
prairie wolves meet the eye of their leader, ere he rushes
on at their head in the trail of the bison; but, alas! only to
fall into the hidden snare of the Indian.
    ‘Drink and pass!’ he cried, handing the heavy charged
flagon to the nearest seaman. ‘The crew alone now drink.
Round with it, round! Short draughts—long swallows,
men; ‘tis hot as Satan’s hoof. So, so; it goes round
excellently. It spiralizes in ye; forks out at the serpent-
snapping eye. Well done; almost drained. That way it
went, this way it comes. Hand it me—here’s a hollow!
Men, ye seem the years; so brimming life is gulped and
gone. Steward, refill!
    ‘Attend now, my braves. I have mustered ye all round
this capstan; and ye mates, flank me with your lances; and
ye harpooneers, stand there with your irons; and ye, stout
mariners, ring me in, that I may in some sort revive a
noble custom of my fisherman fathers before me. O men,
you will yet see that—Ha! boy, come back? bad pennies
come not sooner. Hand it me. Why, now, this pewter had


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run brimming again, were’t not thou St. Vitus’ imp—
away, thou ague!
    ‘Advance, ye mates! Cross your lances full before me.
Well done! Let me touch the axis.’ So saying, with
extended arm, he grasped the three level, radiating lances
at their crossed centre; while so doing, suddenly and
nervously twitched them; meanwhile, glancing intently
from Starbuck to Stubb; from Stubb to Flask. It seemed as
though, by some nameless, interior volition, he would fain
have shocked into them the same fiery emotion
accumulated within the Leyden jar of his own magnetic
life. The three mates quailed before his strong, sustained,
and mystic aspect. Stubb and Flask looked sideways from
him; the honest eye of Starbuck fell downright.
    ‘In vain!’ cried Ahab; ‘but, maybe, ‘tis well. For did ye
three but once take the full-forced shock, then mine own
electric thing, THAT had perhaps expired from out me.
Perchance, too, it would have dropped ye dead.
Perchance ye need it not. Down lances! And now, ye
mates, I do appoint ye three cupbearers to my three pagan
kinsmen there—yon three most honourable gentlemen
and noblemen, my valiant harpooneers. Disdain the task?
What, when the great Pope washes the feet of beggars,
using his tiara for ewer? Oh, my sweet cardinals! your own


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condescension, THAT shall bend ye to it. I do not order
ye; ye will it. Cut your seizings and draw the poles, ye
harpooneers!’
   Silently obeying the order, the three harpooneers now
stood with the detached iron part of their harpoons, some
three feet long, held, barbs up, before him.
   ‘Stab me not with that keen steel! Cant them; cant
them over! know ye not the goblet end? Turn up the
socket! So, so; now, ye cup-bearers, advance. The irons!
take them; hold them while I fill!’ Forthwith, slowly going
from one officer to the other, he brimmed the harpoon
sockets with the fiery waters from the pewter.
   ‘Now, three to three, ye stand. Commend the
murderous chalices! Bestow them, ye who are now made
parties to this indissoluble league. Ha! Starbuck! but the
deed is done! Yon ratifying sun now waits to sit upon it.
Drink, ye harpooneers! drink and swear, ye men that man
the deathful whaleboat’s bow—Death to Moby Dick! God
hunt us all, if we do not hunt Moby Dick to his death!’
The long, barbed steel goblets were lifted; and to cries and
maledictions against the white whale, the spirits were
simultaneously quaffed down with a hiss. Starbuck paled,
and turned, and shivered. Once more, and finally, the
replenished pewter went the rounds among the frantic


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crew; when, waving his free hand to them, they all
dispersed; and Ahab retired within his cabin.




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                        Chapter 37

   Sunset.
   THE CABIN; BY THE STERN WINDOWS;
AHAB SITTING ALONE, AND GAZING OUT.
   I leave a white and turbid wake; pale waters, paler
cheeks, where’er I sail. The envious billows sidelong swell
to whelm my track; let them; but first I pass.
   Yonder, by ever-brimming goblet’s rim, the warm
waves blush like wine. The gold brow plumbs the blue.
The diver sun—slow dived from noon—goes down; my
soul mounts up! she wearies with her endless hill. Is, then,
the crown too heavy that I wear? this Iron Crown of
Lombardy. Yet is it bright with many a gem; I the wearer,
see not its far flashings; but darkly feel that I wear that, that
dazzlingly confounds. ‘Tis iron—that I know—not gold.
‘Tis split, too—that I feel; the jagged edge galls me so, my
brain seems to beat against the solid metal; aye, steel skull,
mine; the sort that needs no helmet in the most brain-
battering fight!
   Dry heat upon my brow? Oh! time was, when as the
sunrise nobly spurred me, so the sunset soothed. No more.
This lovely light, it lights not me; all loveliness is anguish


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to me, since I can ne’er enjoy. Gifted with the high
perception, I lack the low, enjoying power; damned, most
subtly and most malignantly! damned in the midst of
Paradise! Good night—good night! (WAVING HIS
HAND, HE MOVES FROM THE WINDOW.)
    ’Twas not so hard a task. I thought to find one
stubborn, at the least; but my one cogged circle fits into all
their various wheels, and they revolve. Or, if you will, like
so many ant-hills of powder, they all stand before me; and
I their match. Oh, hard! that to fire others, the match itself
must needs be wasting! What I’ve dared, I’ve willed; and
what I’ve willed, I’ll do! They think me mad—Starbuck
does; but I’m demoniac, I am madness maddened! That
wild madness that’s only calm to comprehend itself! The
prophecy was that I should be dismembered; and—Aye! I
lost this leg. I now prophesy that I will dismember my
dismemberer. Now, then, be the prophet and the fulfiller
one. That’s more than ye, ye great gods, ever were. I
laugh and hoot at ye, ye cricket-players, ye pugilists, ye
deaf Burkes and blinded Bendigoes! I will not say as
schoolboys do to bullies—Take some one of your own
size; don’t pommel ME! No, ye’ve knocked me down,
and I am up again; but YE have run and hidden. Come
forth from behind your cotton bags! I have no long gun to


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reach ye. Come, Ahab’s compliments to ye; come and see
if ye can swerve me. Swerve me? ye cannot swerve me,
else ye swerve yourselves! man has ye there. Swerve me?
The path to my fixed purpose is laid with iron rails,
whereon my soul is grooved to run. Over unsounded
gorges, through the rifled hearts of mountains, under
torrents’ beds, unerringly I rush! Naught’s an obstacle,
naught’s an angle to the iron way!




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                       Chapter 38

   Dusk.
   BY THE MAINMAST; STARBUCK LEANING
AGAINST IT.
   My soul is more than matched; she’s overmanned; and
by a madman! Insufferable sting, that sanity should ground
arms on such a field! But he drilled deep down, and
blasted all my reason out of me! I think I see his impious
end; but feel that I must help him to it. Will I, nill I, the
ineffable thing has tied me to him; tows me with a cable I
have no knife to cut. Horrible old man! Who’s over him,
he cries;—aye, he would be a democrat to all above; look,
how he lords it over all below! Oh! I plainly see my
miserable office,—to obey, rebelling; and worse yet, to
hate with touch of pity! For in his eyes I read some lurid
woe would shrivel me up, had I it. Yet is there hope.
Time and tide flow wide. The hated whale has the round
watery world to swim in, as the small gold-fish has its
glassy globe. His heaven-insulting purpose, God may
wedge aside. I would up heart, were it not like lead. But
my whole clock’s run down; my heart the all-controlling
weight, I have no key to lift again.


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    [A BURST OF REVELRY FROM THE
FORECASTLE.]
    Oh, God! to sail with such a heathen crew that have
small touch of human mothers in them! Whelped
somewhere by the sharkish sea. The white whale is their
demigorgon. Hark! the infernal orgies! that revelry is
forward! mark the unfaltering silence aft! Methinks it
pictures life. Foremost through the sparkling sea shoots on
the gay, embattled, bantering bow, but only to drag dark
Ahab after it, where he broods within his sternward cabin,
builded over the dead water of the wake, and further on,
hunted by its wolfish gurglings. The long howl thrills me
through! Peace! ye revellers, and set the watch! Oh, life!
‘tis in an hour like this, with soul beat down and held to
knowledge,—as wild, untutored things are forced to
feed—Oh, life! ‘tis now that I do feel the latent horror in
thee! but ‘tis not me! that horror’s out of me! and with the
soft feeling of the human in me, yet will I try to fight ye,
ye grim, phantom futures! Stand by me, hold me, bind
me, O ye blessed influences!




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                        Chapter 19

    First Night Watch.
    Fore-Top.
    (STUBB SOLUS, AND MENDING A BRACE.)
    Ha! ha! ha! ha! hem! clear my throat!—I’ve been
thinking over it ever since, and that ha, ha’s the final
consequence. Why so? Because a laugh’s the wisest, easiest
answer to all that’s queer; and come what will, one
comfort’s always left—that unfailing comfort is, it’s all
predestinated. I heard not all his talk with Starbuck; but to
my poor eye Starbuck then looked something as I the
other evening felt. Be sure the old Mogul has fixed him,
too. I twigged it, knew it; had had the gift, might readily
have prophesied it—for when I clapped my eye upon his
skull I saw it. Well, Stubb, WISE Stubb—that’s my title—
well, Stubb, what of it, Stubb? Here’s a carcase. I know
not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I’ll go to
it laughing. Such a waggish leering as lurks in all your
horribles! I feel funny. Fa, la! lirra, skirra! What’s my juicy
little pear at home doing now? Crying its eyes out?—
Giving a party to the last arrived harpooneers, I dare say,




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gay as a frigate’s pennant, and so am I—fa, la! lirra, skirra!
Oh—
We’ll drink to-night with hearts as light,
To love, as gay and fleeting
As bubbles that swim, on the beaker’s brim,
And break on the lips while meeting.
   A brave stave that—who calls? Mr. Starbuck? Aye, aye,
sir—(ASIDE) he’s my superior, he has his too, if I’m not
mistaken.—Aye, aye, sir, just through with this job—
coming.




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                       Chapter 20

   Midnight, Forecastle.
   HARPOONEERS AND SAILORS.
   (FORESAIL RISES AND DISCOVERS THE
WATCH STANDING, LOUNGING, LEANING,
AND LYING IN VARIOUS ATTITUDES, ALL
SINGING IN CHORUS.)
Farewell and adieu to you, Spanish ladies!
Farewell and adieu to you, ladies of Spain!
Our captain’s commanded.—
1ST NANTUCKET SAILOR.
Oh, boys, don’t be sentimental; it’s bad for the digestion!
Take a tonic, follow me!
(SINGS, AND ALL FOLLOW)
Our captain stood upon the deck,
A spy-glass in his hand,
A viewing of those gallant whales
That blew at every strand.
Oh, your tubs in your boats, my boys,
And by your braces stand,
And we’ll have one of those fine whales,
Hand, boys, over hand!
So, be cheery, my lads! may your hearts never fail!
While the bold harpooner is striking the whale!


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MATE’S VOICE FROM THE QUARTER-DECK.
Eight bells there, forward!
2ND NANTUCKET SAILOR.
Avast the chorus! Eight bells there! d’ye hear, bell-boy?
Strike the bell eight, thou Pip! thou blackling! and let me
call the watch. I’ve the sort of mouth for that—the
hogshead mouth. So, so, (THRUSTS HIS HEAD
DOWN THE SCUTTLE,) Star-bo-l-e-e-n-s, a-h-o-y!
Eight bells there below! Tumble up!
DUTCH SAILOR.
Grand snoozing to-night, maty; fat night for that. I mark
this in our old Mogul’s wine; it’s quite as deadening to
some as filliping to others. We sing; they sleep—aye, lie
down there, like ground-tier butts. At ‘em again! There,
take this copper-pump, and hail ‘em through it. Tell ‘em
to avast dreaming of their lasses. Tell ‘em it’s the
resurrection; they must kiss their last, and come to
judgment. That’s the way—THAT’S it; thy throat ain’t
spoiled with eating Amsterdam butter.
FRENCH SAILOR.
Hist, boys! let’s have a jig or two before we ride to anchor
in Blanket Bay. What say ye? There comes the other
watch. Stand by all legs! Pip! little Pip! hurrah with your
tambourine!
   PIP.
(SULKY AND SLEEPY) Don’t know where it is.


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FRENCH SAILOR.
Beat thy belly, then, and wag thy ears. Jig it, men, I say;
merry’s the word; hurrah! Damn me, won’t you dance?
Form, now, Indian-file, and gallop into the double-
shuffle? Throw yourselves! Legs! legs!
ICELAND SAILOR.
I don’t like your floor, maty; it’s too springy to my taste.
I’m used to ice-floors. I’m sorry to throw cold water on
the subject; but excuse me.
MALTESE SAILOR.
Me too; where’s your girls? Who but a fool would take his
left hand by his right, and say to himself, how d’ye do?
Partners! I must have partners!
SICILIAN SAILOR.
Aye; girls and a green!—then I’ll hop with ye; yea, turn
grasshopper!
LONG-ISLAND SAILOR.
Well, well, ye sulkies, there’s plenty more of us. Hoe corn
when you may, say I. All legs go to harvest soon. Ah! here
comes the music; now for it!
AZORE SAILOR.
(ASCENDING, AND PITCHING THE
TAMBOURINE UP THE SCUTTLE.) Here you are,
Pip; and there’s the windlass-bitts; up you mount! Now,
boys! (THE HALF OF THEM DANCE TO THE
TAMBOURINE; SOME GO BELOW; SOME SLEEP


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OR LIE AMONG THE COILS OF RIGGING.
OATHS A-PLENTY.)
AZORE SAILOR.
(DANCING) Go it, Pip! Bang it, bell-boy! Rig it, dig it,
stig it, quig it, bell-boy! Make fire-flies; break the jinglers!
PIP.
Jinglers, you say?—there goes another, dropped off; I
pound it so.
CHINA SAILOR.
Rattle thy teeth, then, and pound away; make a pagoda of
thyself.
FRENCH SAILOR.
Merry-mad! Hold up thy hoop, Pip, till I jump through it!
Split jibs! tear yourselves!
TASHTEGO.
(QUIETLY SMOKING) That’s a white man; he calls that
fun: humph! I save my sweat.
OLD MANX SAILOR.
I wonder whether those jolly lads bethink them of what
they are dancing over. I’ll dance over your grave, I will—
that’s the bitterest threat of your night-women, that beat
head-winds round corners. O Christ! to think of the green
navies and the green-skulled crews! Well, well; belike the
whole world’s a ball, as you scholars have it; and so ‘tis
right to make one ballroom of it. Dance on, lads, you’re
young; I was once.


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3D NANTUCKET SAILOR.
Spell oh!—whew! this is worse than pulling after whales in
a calm—give us a whiff, Tash.
   (THEY CEASE DANCING, AND GATHER IN
CLUSTERS. MEANTIME THE SKY DARKENS—
THE WIND RISES.)
LASCAR SAILOR.
By Brahma! boys, it’ll be douse sail soon. The sky-born,
high-tide Ganges turned to wind! Thou showest thy black
brow, Seeva!
MALTESE SAILOR.
(RECLINING AND SHAKING HIS CAP.) It’s the
waves—the snow’s caps turn to jig it now. They’ll shake
their tassels soon. Now would all the waves were women,
then I’d go drown, and chassee with them evermore!
There’s naught so sweet on earth—heaven may not match
it!—as those swift glances of warm, wild bosoms in the
dance, when the over-arboring arms hide such ripe,
bursting grapes.
SICILIAN SAILOR.
(RECLINING.) Tell me not of it! Hark ye, lad—fleet
interlacings of the limbs—lithe swayings—coyings—
flutterings! lip! heart! hip! all graze: unceasing touch and
go! not taste, observe ye, else come satiety. Eh, Pagan?
(NUDGING.)




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TAHITAN SAILOR.
(RECLINING ON A MAT.) Hail, holy nakedness of our
dancing girls!—the Heeva-Heeva! Ah! low veiled, high
palmed Tahiti! I still rest me on thy mat, but the soft soil
has slid! I saw thee woven in the wood, my mat! green the
first day I brought ye thence; now worn and wilted quite.
Ah me!—not thou nor I can bear the change! How then,
if so be transplanted to yon sky? Hear I the roaring streams
from Pirohitee’s peak of spears, when they leap down the
crags and drown the villages?—The blast! the blast! Up,
spine, and meet it! (LEAPS TO HIS FEET.)
PORTUGUESE SAILOR.
How the sea rolls swashing ‘gainst the side! Stand by for
reefing, hearties! the winds are just crossing swords, pell-
mell they’ll go lunging presently.
DANISH SAILOR.
Crack, crack, old ship! so long as thou crackest, thou
holdest! Well done! The mate there holds ye to it stiffly.
He’s no more afraid than the isle fort at Cattegat, put there
to fight the Baltic with storm-lashed guns, on which the
sea-salt cakes!
4TH NANTUCKET SAILOR.
He has his orders, mind ye that. I heard old Ahab tell him
he must always kill a squall, something as they burst a
waterspout with a pistol—fire your ship right into it!




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ENGLISH SAILOR.
Blood! but that old man’s a grand old cove! We are the
lads to hunt him up his whale!
ALL.
Aye! aye!
OLD MANX SAILOR.
How the three pines shake! Pines are the hardest sort of
tree to live when shifted to any other soil, and here there’s
none but the crew’s cursed clay. Steady, helmsman! steady.
This is the sort of weather when brave hearts snap ashore,
and keeled hulls split at sea. Our captain has his birthmark;
look yonder, boys, there’s another in the sky—lurid-like,
ye see, all else pitch black.
   DAGGOO.
What of that? Who’s afraid of black’s afraid of me! I’m
quarried out of it!
SPANISH SAILOR.
(ASIDE.) He wants to bully, ah!—the old grudge makes
me touchy (ADVANCING.) Aye, harpooneer, thy race is
the undeniable dark side of mankind—devilish dark at
that. No offence.
DAGGOO (GRIMLY).
None.
ST. JAGO’S SAILOR.
That Spaniard’s mad or drunk. But that can’t be, or else in



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his one case our old Mogul’s fire-waters are somewhat
long in working.
5TH NANTUCKET SAILOR.
What’s that I saw—lightning? Yes.
SPANISH SAILOR.
No; Daggoo showing his teeth.
DAGGOO (SPRINGING).
Swallow thine, mannikin! White skin, white liver!
SPANISH SAILOR (MEETING HIM).
Knife thee heartily! big frame, small spirit!
ALL.
A row! a row! a row!
TASHTEGO (WITH A WHIFF).
A row a’low, and a row aloft—Gods and men—both
brawlers! Humph!
BELFAST SAILOR.
A row! arrah a row! The Virgin be blessed, a row! Plunge
in with ye!
ENGLISH SAILOR.
Fair play! Snatch the Spaniard’s knife! A ring, a ring!
OLD MANX SAILOR.
Ready formed. There! the ringed horizon. In that ring
Cain struck Abel. Sweet work, right work! No? Why
then, God, mad’st thou the ring?


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MATE’S VOICE FROM THE QUARTER-DECK.
Hands by the halyards! in top-gallant sails! Stand by to reef
topsails!
ALL.
The squall! the squall! jump, my jollies! (THEY
SCATTER.)
PIP (SHRINKING UNDER THE WINDLASS).
Jollies? Lord help such jollies! Crish, crash! there goes the
jib-stay! Blang-whang! God! Duck lower, Pip, here comes
the royal yard! It’s worse than being in the whirled woods,
the last day of the year! Who’d go climbing after chestnuts
now? But there they go, all cursing, and here I don’t. Fine
prospects to ‘em; they’re on the road to heaven. Hold on
hard! Jimmini, what a squall! But those chaps there are
worse yet—they are your white squalls, they. White
squalls? white whale, shirr! shirr! Here have I heard all
their chat just now, and the white whale—shirr! shirr!—
but spoken of once! and only this evening—it makes me
jingle all over like my tambourine—that anaconda of an
old man swore ‘em in to hunt him! Oh, thou big white
God aloft there somewhere in yon darkness, have mercy
on this small black boy down here; preserve him from all
men that have no bowels to feel fear!




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                      Chapter 41

    Moby Dick.
    I, Ishmael, was one of that crew; my shouts had gone
up with the rest; my oath had been welded with theirs;
and stronger I shouted, and more did I hammer and clinch
my oath, because of the dread in my soul. A wild,
mystical, sympathetical feeling was in me; Ahab’s
quenchless feud seemed mine. With greedy ears I learned
the history of that murderous monster against whom I and
all the others had taken our oaths of violence and revenge.
    For some time past, though at intervals only, the
unaccompanied, secluded White Whale had haunted those
uncivilized seas mostly frequented by the Sperm Whale
fishermen. But not all of them knew of his existence; only
a few of them, comparatively, had knowingly seen him;
while the number who as yet had actually and knowingly
given battle to him, was small indeed. For, owing to the
large number of whale-cruisers; the disorderly way they
were sprinkled over the entire watery circumference,
many of them adventurously pushing their quest along
solitary latitudes, so as seldom or never for a whole
twelvemonth or more on a stretch, to encounter a single
news-telling sail of any sort; the inordinate length of each

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separate voyage; the irregularity of the times of sailing
from home; all these, with other circumstances, direct and
indirect, long obstructed the spread through the whole
world-wide whaling-fleet of the special individualizing
tidings concerning Moby Dick. It was hardly to be
doubted, that several vessels reported to have encountered,
at such or such a time, or on such or such a meridian, a
Sperm Whale of uncommon magnitude and malignity,
which whale, after doing great mischief to his assailants,
had completely escaped them; to some minds it was not an
unfair presumption, I say, that the whale in question must
have been no other than Moby Dick. Yet as of late the
Sperm Whale fishery had been marked by various and not
unfrequent instances of great ferocity, cunning, and malice
in the monster attacked; therefore it was, that those who
by accident ignorantly gave battle to Moby Dick; such
hunters, perhaps, for the most part, were content to
ascribe the peculiar terror he bred, more, as it were, to the
perils of the Sperm Whale fishery at large, than to the
individual cause. In that way, mostly, the disastrous
encounter between Ahab and the whale had hitherto been
popularly regarded.
    And as for those who, previously hearing of the White
Whale, by chance caught sight of him; in the beginning of


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the thing they had every one of them, almost, as boldly
and fearlessly lowered for him, as for any other whale of
that species. But at length, such calamities did ensue in
these assaults—not restricted to sprained wrists and ankles,
broken limbs, or devouring amputations—but fatal to the
last degree of fatality; those repeated disastrous repulses, all
accumulating and piling their terrors upon Moby Dick;
those things had gone far to shake the fortitude of many
brave hunters, to whom the story of the White Whale had
eventually come.
    Nor did wild rumors of all sorts fail to exaggerate, and
still the more horrify the true histories of these deadly
encounters. For not only do fabulous rumors naturally
grow out of the very body of all surprising terrible
events,—as the smitten tree gives birth to its fungi; but, in
maritime life, far more than in that of terra firma, wild
rumors abound, wherever there is any adequate reality for
them to cling to. And as the sea surpasses the land in this
matter, so the whale fishery surpasses every other sort of
maritime life, in the wonderfulness and fearfulness of the
rumors which sometimes circulate there. For not only are
whalemen as a body unexempt from that ignorance and
superstitiousness hereditary to all sailors; but of all sailors,
they are by all odds the most directly brought into contact


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with whatever is appallingly astonishing in the sea; face to
face they not only eye its greatest marvels, but, hand to
jaw, give battle to them. Alone, in such remotest waters,
that though you sailed a thousand miles, and passed a
thousand shores, you would not come to any chiseled
hearth-stone, or aught hospitable beneath that part of the
sun; in such latitudes and longitudes, pursuing too such a
calling as he does, the whaleman is wrapped by influences
all tending to make his fancy pregnant with many a
mighty birth.
    No wonder, then, that ever gathering volume from the
mere transit over the widest watery spaces, the outblown
rumors of the White Whale did in the end incorporate
with themselves all manner of morbid hints, and half-
formed foetal suggestions of supernatural agencies, which
eventually invested Moby Dick with new terrors
unborrowed from anything that visibly appears. So that in
many cases such a panic did he finally strike, that few who
by those rumors, at least, had heard of the White Whale,
few of those hunters were willing to encounter the perils
of his jaw.
    But there were still other and more vital practical
influences at work. Not even at the present day has the
original prestige of the Sperm Whale, as fearfully


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distinguished from all other species of the leviathan, died
out of the minds of the whalemen as a body. There are
those this day among them, who, though intelligent and
courageous enough in offering battle to the Greenland or
Right whale, would perhaps—either from professional
inexperience, or incompetency, or timidity, decline a
contest with the Sperm Whale; at any rate, there are
plenty of whalemen, especially among those whaling
nations not sailing under the American flag, who have
never hostilely encountered the Sperm Whale, but whose
sole knowledge of the leviathan is restricted to the ignoble
monster primitively pursued in the North; seated on their
hatches, these men will hearken with a childish fireside
interest and awe, to the wild, strange tales of Southern
whaling. Nor is the pre-eminent tremendousness of the
great Sperm Whale anywhere more feelingly
comprehended, than on board of those prows which stem
him.
   And as if the now tested reality of his might had in
former legendary times thrown its shadow before it; we
find some book naturalists—Olassen and Povelson—
declaring the Sperm Whale not only to be a consternation
to every other creature in the sea, but also to be so
incredibly ferocious as continually to be athirst for human


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blood. Nor even down to so late a time as Cuvier’s, were
these or almost similar impressions effaced. For in his
Natural History, the Baron himself affirms that at sight of
the Sperm Whale, all fish (sharks included) are ‘struck with
the most lively terrors,’ and ‘often in the precipitancy of
their flight dash themselves against the rocks with such
violence as to cause instantaneous death.’ And however
the general experiences in the fishery may amend such
reports as these; yet in their full terribleness, even to the
bloodthirsty item of Povelson, the superstitious belief in
them is, in some vicissitudes of their vocation, revived in
the minds of the hunters.
    So that overawed by the rumors and portents
concerning him, not a few of the fishermen recalled, in
reference to Moby Dick, the earlier days of the Sperm
Whale fishery, when it was oftentimes hard to induce long
practised Right whalemen to embark in the perils of this
new and daring warfare; such men protesting that
although other leviathans might be hopefully pursued, yet
to chase and point lance at such an apparition as the Sperm
Whale was not for mortal man. That to attempt it, would
be inevitably to be torn into a quick eternity. On this
head, there are some remarkable documents that may be
consulted.


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    Nevertheless, some there were, who even in the face of
these things were ready to give chase to Moby Dick; and a
still greater number who, chancing only to hear of him
distantly and vaguely, without the specific details of any
certain      calamity,     and     without       superstitious
accompaniments, were sufficiently hardy not to flee from
the battle if offered.
    One of the wild suggestions referred to, as at last
coming to be linked with the White Whale in the minds
of the superstitiously inclined, was the unearthly conceit
that Moby Dick was ubiquitous; that he had actually been
encountered in opposite latitudes at one and the same
instant of time.
    Nor, credulous as such minds must have been, was this
conceit altogether without some faint show of
superstitious probability. For as the secrets of the currents
in the seas have never yet been divulged, even to the most
erudite research; so the hidden ways of the Sperm Whale
when beneath the surface remain, in great part,
unaccountable to his pursuers; and from time to time have
originated the most curious and contradictory speculations
regarding them, especially concerning the mystic modes
whereby, after sounding to a great depth, he transports



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himself with such vast swiftness to the most widely distant
points.
    It is a thing well known to both American and English
whale-ships, and as well a thing placed upon authoritative
record years ago by Scoresby, that some whales have been
captured far north in the Pacific, in whose bodies have
been found the barbs of harpoons darted in the Greenland
seas. Nor is it to be gainsaid, that in some of these
instances it has been declared that the interval of time
between the two assaults could not have exceeded very
many days. Hence, by inference, it has been believed by
some whalemen, that the Nor’ West Passage, so long a
problem to man, was never a problem to the whale. So
that here, in the real living experience of living men, the
prodigies related in old times of the inland Strello
mountain in Portugal (near whose top there was said to be
a lake in which the wrecks of ships floated up to the
surface); and that still more wonderful story of the
Arethusa fountain near Syracuse (whose waters were
believed to have come from the Holy Land by an
underground passage); these fabulous narrations are almost
fully equalled by the realities of the whalemen.
    Forced into familiarity, then, with such prodigies as
these; and knowing that after repeated, intrepid assaults,


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the White Whale had escaped alive; it cannot be much
matter of surprise that some whalemen should go still
further in their superstitions; declaring Moby Dick not
only ubiquitous, but immortal (for immortality is but
ubiquity in time); that though groves of spears should be
planted in his flanks, he would still swim away unharmed;
or if indeed he should ever be made to spout thick blood,
such a sight would be but a ghastly deception; for again in
unensanguined billows hundreds of leagues away, his
unsullied jet would once more be seen.
   But even stripped of these supernatural surmisings,
there was enough in the earthly make and incontestable
character of the monster to strike the imagination with
unwonted power. For, it was not so much his uncommon
bulk that so much distinguished him from other sperm
whales, but, as was elsewhere thrown out—a peculiar
snow-white wrinkled forehead, and a high, pyramidical
white hump. These were his prominent features; the
tokens whereby, even in the limitless, uncharted seas, he
revealed his identity, at a long distance, to those who
knew him.
   The rest of his body was so streaked, and spotted, and
marbled with the same shrouded hue, that, in the end, he
had gained his distinctive appellation of the White Whale;


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a name, indeed, literally justified by his vivid aspect, when
seen gliding at high noon through a dark blue sea, leaving
a milky-way wake of creamy foam, all spangled with
golden gleamings.
    Nor was it his unwonted magnitude, nor his
remarkable hue, nor yet his deformed lower jaw, that so
much invested the whale with natural terror, as that
unexampled, intelligent malignity which, according to
specific accounts, he had over and over again evinced in
his assaults. More than all, his treacherous retreats struck
more of dismay than perhaps aught else. For, when
swimming before his exulting pursuers, with every
apparent symptom of alarm, he had several times been
known to turn round suddenly, and, bearing down upon
them, either stave their boats to splinters, or drive them
back in consternation to their ship.
    Already several fatalities had attended his chase. But
though similar disasters, however little bruited ashore,
were by no means unusual in the fishery; yet, in most
instances, such seemed the White Whale’s infernal
aforethought of ferocity, that every dismembering or death
that he caused, was not wholly regarded as having been
inflicted by an unintelligent agent.



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   Judge, then, to what pitches of inflamed, distracted fury
the minds of his more desperate hunters were impelled,
when amid the chips of chewed boats, and the sinking
limbs of torn comrades, they swam out of the white curds
of the whale’s direful wrath into the serene, exasperating
sunlight, that smiled on, as if at a birth or a bridal.
   His three boats stove around him, and oars and men
both whirling in the eddies; one captain, seizing the line-
knife from his broken prow, had dashed at the whale, as
an Arkansas duellist at his foe, blindly seeking with a six
inch blade to reach the fathom-deep life of the whale.
That captain was Ahab. And then it was, that suddenly
sweeping his sickle-shaped lower jaw beneath him, Moby
Dick had reaped away Ahab’s leg, as a mower a blade of
grass in the field. No turbaned Turk, no hired Venetian or
Malay, could have smote him with more seeming malice.
Small reason was there to doubt, then, that ever since that
almost fatal encounter, Ahab had cherished a wild
vindictiveness against the whale, all the more fell for that
in his frantic morbidness he at last came to identify with
him, not only all his bodily woes, but all his intellectual
and spiritual exasperations. The White Whale swam before
him as the monomaniac incarnation of all those malicious
agencies which some deep men feel eating in them, till


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they are left living on with half a heart and half a lung.
That intangible malignity which has been from the
beginning; to whose dominion even the modern
Christians ascribe one-half of the worlds; which the
ancient Ophites of the east reverenced in their statue
devil;—Ahab did not fall down and worship it like them;
but deliriously transferring its idea to the abhorred white
whale, he pitted himself, all mutilated, against it. All that
most maddens and torments; all that stirs up the lees of
things; all truth with malice in it; all that cracks the sinews
and cakes the brain; all the subtle demonisms of life and
thought; all evil, to crazy Ahab, were visibly personified,
and made practically assailable in Moby Dick. He piled
upon the whale’s white hump the sum of all the general
rage and hate felt by his whole race from Adam down; and
then, as if his chest had been a mortar, he burst his hot
heart’s shell upon it.
   It is not probable that this monomania in him took its
instant rise at the precise time of his bodily
dismemberment. Then, in darting at the monster, knife in
hand, he had but given loose to a sudden, passionate,
corporal animosity; and when he received the stroke that
tore him, he probably but felt the agonizing bodily
laceration, but nothing more. Yet, when by this collision


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forced to turn towards home, and for long months of days
and weeks, Ahab and anguish lay stretched together in one
hammock, rounding in mid winter that dreary, howling
Patagonian Cape; then it was, that his torn body and
gashed soul bled into one another; and so interfusing,
made him mad. That it was only then, on the homeward
voyage, after the encounter, that the final monomania
seized him, seems all but certain from the fact that, at
intervals during the passage, he was a raving lunatic; and,
though unlimbed of a leg, yet such vital strength yet
lurked in his Egyptian chest, and was moreover intensified
by his delirium, that his mates were forced to lace him fast,
even there, as he sailed, raving in his hammock. In a strait-
jacket, he swung to the mad rockings of the gales. And,
when running into more sufferable latitudes, the ship, with
mild stun’sails spread, floated across the tranquil tropics,
and, to all appearances, the old man’s delirium seemed left
behind him with the Cape Horn swells, and he came forth
from his dark den into the blessed light and air; even then,
when he bore that firm, collected front, however pale, and
issued his calm orders once again; and his mates thanked
God the direful madness was now gone; even then, Ahab,
in his hidden self, raved on. Human madness is oftentimes
a cunning and most feline thing. When you think it fled,


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it may have but become transfigured into some still subtler
form. Ahab’s full lunacy subsided not, but deepeningly
contracted; like the unabated Hudson, when that noble
Northman flows narrowly, but unfathomably through the
Highland gorge. But, as in his narrow-flowing
monomania, not one jot of Ahab’s broad madness had
been left behind; so in that broad madness, not one jot of
his great natural intellect had perished. That before living
agent, now became the living instrument. If such a furious
trope may stand, his special lunacy stormed his general
sanity, and carried it, and turned all its concentred cannon
upon its own mad mark; so that far from having lost his
strength, Ahab, to that one end, did now possess a
thousand fold more potency than ever he had sanely
brought to bear upon any one reasonable object.
    This is much; yet Ahab’s larger, darker, deeper part
remains unhinted. But vain to popularize profundities, and
all truth is profound. Winding far down from within the
very heart of this spiked Hotel de Cluny where we here
stand—however grand and wonderful, now quit it;—and
take your way, ye nobler, sadder souls, to those vast
Roman halls of Thermes; where far beneath the fantastic
towers of man’s upper earth, his root of grandeur, his
whole awful essence sits in bearded state; an antique


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buried beneath antiquities, and throned on torsoes! So
with a broken throne, the great gods mock that captive
king; so like a Caryatid, he patient sits, upholding on his
frozen brow the piled entablatures of ages. Wind ye down
there, ye prouder, sadder souls! question that proud, sad
king! A family likeness! aye, he did beget ye, ye young
exiled royalties; and from your grim sire only will the old
State-secret come.
    Now, in his heart, Ahab had some glimpse of this,
namely: all my means are sane, my motive and my object
mad. Yet without power to kill, or change, or shun the
fact; he likewise knew that to mankind he did long
dissemble; in some sort, did still. But that thing of his
dissembling was only subject to his perceptibility, not to
his will determinate. Nevertheless, so well did he succeed
in that dissembling, that when with ivory leg he stepped
ashore at last, no Nantucketer thought him otherwise than
but naturally grieved, and that to the quick, with the
terrible casualty which had overtaken him.
    The report of his undeniable delirium at sea was
likewise popularly ascribed to a kindred cause. And so too,
all the added moodiness which always afterwards, to the
very day of sailing in the Pequod on the present voyage,
sat brooding on his brow. Nor is it so very unlikely, that


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far from distrusting his fitness for another whaling voyage,
on account of such dark symptoms, the calculating people
of that prudent isle were inclined to harbor the conceit,
that for those very reasons he was all the better qualified
and set on edge, for a pursuit so full of rage and wildness
as the bloody hunt of whales. Gnawed within and
scorched without, with the infixed, unrelenting fangs of
some incurable idea; such an one, could he be found,
would seem the very man to dart his iron and lift his lance
against the most appalling of all brutes. Or, if for any
reason thought to be corporeally incapacitated for that, yet
such an one would seem superlatively competent to cheer
and howl on his underlings to the attack. But be all this as
it may, certain it is, that with the mad secret of his
unabated rage bolted up and keyed in him, Ahab had
purposely sailed upon the present voyage with the one
only and all-engrossing object of hunting the White
Whale. Had any one of his old acquaintances on shore but
half dreamed of what was lurking in him then, how soon
would their aghast and righteous souls have wrenched the
ship from such a fiendish man! They were bent on
profitable cruises, the profit to be counted down in dollars
from the mint. He was intent on an audacious,
immitigable, and supernatural revenge.


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    Here, then, was this grey-headed, ungodly old man,
chasing with curses a Job’s whale round the world, at the
head of a crew, too, chiefly made up of mongrel
renegades, and castaways, and cannibals—morally
enfeebled also, by the incompetence of mere unaided
virtue or right-mindedness in Starbuck, the invunerable
jollity of indifference and recklessness in Stubb, and the
pervading mediocrity in Flask. Such a crew, so officered,
seemed specially picked and packed by some infernal
fatality to help him to his monomaniac revenge. How it
was that they so aboundingly responded to the old man’s
ire—by what evil magic their souls were possessed, that at
times his hate seemed almost theirs; the White Whale as
much their insufferable foe as his; how all this came to
be—what the White Whale was to them, or how to their
unconscious understandings, also, in some dim,
unsuspected way, he might have seemed the gliding great
demon of the seas of life,—all this to explain, would be to
dive deeper than Ishmael can go. The subterranean miner
that works in us all, how can one tell whither leads his
shaft by the ever shifting, muffled sound of his pick? Who
does not feel the irresistible arm drag? What skiff in tow of
a seventy-four can stand still? For one, I gave myself up to
the abandonment of the time and the place; but while yet


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all a-rush to encounter the whale, could see naught in that
brute but the deadliest ill.




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                      Chapter 42

    The Whiteness of The Whale.
    What the white whale was to Ahab, has been hinted;
what, at times, he was to me, as yet remains unsaid.
    Aside from those more obvious considerations touching
Moby Dick, which could not but occasionally awaken in
any man’s soul some alarm, there was another thought, or
rather vague, nameless horror concerning him, which at
times by its intensity completely overpowered all the rest;
and yet so mystical and well nigh ineffable was it, that I
almost despair of putting it in a comprehensible form. It
was the whiteness of the whale that above all things
appalled me. But how can I hope to explain myself here;
and yet, in some dim, random way, explain myself I must,
else all these chapters might be naught.
    Though in many natural objects, whiteness refiningly
enhances beauty, as if imparting some special virtue of its
own, as in marbles, japonicas, and pearls; and though
various nations have in some way recognised a certain
royal preeminence in this hue; even the barbaric, grand
old kings of Pegu placing the title ‘Lord of the White
Elephants’ above all their other magniloquent ascriptions


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of dominion; and the modern kings of Siam unfurling the
same snow-white quadruped in the royal standard; and the
Hanoverian flag bearing the one figure of a snow-white
charger; and the great Austrian Empire, Caesarian, heir to
overlording Rome, having for the imperial colour the
same imperial hue; and though this pre-eminence in it
applies to the human race itself, giving the white man ideal
mastership over every dusky tribe; and though, besides, all
this, whiteness has been even made significant of gladness,
for among the Romans a white stone marked a joyful day;
and though in other mortal sympathies and symbolizings,
this same hue is made the emblem of many touching,
noble things—the innocence of brides, the benignity of
age; though among the Red Men of America the giving of
the white belt of wampum was the deepest pledge of
honour; though in many climes, whiteness typifies the
majesty of Justice in the ermine of the Judge, and
contributes to the daily state of kings and queens drawn by
milk-white steeds; though even in the higher mysteries of
the most august religions it has been made the symbol of
the divine spotlessness and power; by the Persian fire
worshippers, the white forked flame being held the holiest
on the altar; and in the Greek mythologies, Great Jove
himself being made incarnate in a snow-white bull; and


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though to the noble Iroquois, the midwinter sacrifice of
the sacred White Dog was by far the holiest festival of
their theology, that spotless, faithful creature being held
the purest envoy they could send to the Great Spirit with
the annual tidings of their own fidelity; and though
directly from the Latin word for white, all Christian priests
derive the name of one part of their sacred vesture, the alb
or tunic, worn beneath the cassock; and though among
the holy pomps of the Romish faith, white is specially
employed in the celebration of the Passion of our Lord;
though in the Vision of St. John, white robes are given to
the redeemed, and the four-and-twenty elders stand
clothed in white before the great-white throne, and the
Holy One that sitteth there white like wool; yet for all
these accumulated associations, with whatever is sweet,
and honourable, and sublime, there yet lurks an elusive
something in the innermost idea of this hue, which strikes
more of panic to the soul than that redness which affrights
in blood.
   This elusive quality it is, which causes the thought of
whiteness, when divorced from more kindly associations,
and coupled with any object terrible in itself, to heighten
that terror to the furthest bounds. Witness the white bear
of the poles, and the white shark of the tropics; what but


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their smooth, flaky whiteness makes them the transcendent
horrors they are? That ghastly whiteness it is which
imparts such an abhorrent mildness, even more loathsome
than terrific, to the dumb gloating of their aspect. So that
not the fierce-fanged tiger in his heraldic coat can so
stagger courage as the white-shrouded bear or shark.*
    *With reference to the Polar bear, it may possibly be
urged by him who would fain go still deeper into this
matter, that it is not the whiteness, separately regarded,
which heightens the intolerable hideousness of that brute;
for, analysed, that heightened hideousness, it might be
said, only rises from the circumstance, that the
irresponsible ferociousness of the creature stands invested
in the fleece of celestial innocence and love; and hence, by
bringing together two such opposite emotions in our
minds, the Polar bear frightens us with so unnatural a
contrast. But even assuming all this to be true; yet, were it
not for the whiteness, you would not have that intensified
terror.
    As for the white shark, the white gliding ghostliness of
repose in that creature, when beheld in his ordinary
moods, strangely tallies with the same quality in the Polar
quadruped. This peculiarity is most vividly hit by the
French in the name they bestow upon that fish. The


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Romish mass for the dead begins with ‘Requiem eternam’
(eternal rest), whence REQUIEM denominating the mass
itself, and any other funeral music. Now, in allusion to the
white, silent stillness of death in this shark, and the mild
deadliness of his habits, the French call him REQUIN.
    Bethink thee of the albatross, whence come those
clouds of spiritual wonderment and pale dread, in which
that white phantom sails in all imaginations? Not
Coleridge first threw that spell; but God’s great,
unflattering laureate, Nature.*
    *I remember the first albatross I ever saw. It was during
a prolonged gale, in waters hard upon the Antarctic seas.
From my forenoon watch below, I ascended to the
overclouded deck; and there, dashed upon the main
hatches, I saw a regal, feathery thing of unspotted
whiteness, and with a hooked, Roman bill sublime. At
intervals, it arched forth its vast archangel wings, as if to
embrace some holy ark. Wondrous flutterings and
throbbings shook it. Though bodily unharmed, it uttered
cries, as some king’s ghost in supernatural distress.
Through its inexpressible, strange eyes, methought I
peeped to secrets which took hold of God. As Abraham
before the angels, I bowed myself; the white thing was so
white, its wings so wide, and in those for ever exiled


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waters, I had lost the miserable warping memories of
traditions and of towns. Long I gazed at that prodigy of
plumage. I cannot tell, can only hint, the things that
darted through me then. But at last I awoke; and turning,
asked a sailor what bird was this. A goney, he replied.
Goney! never had heard that name before; is it
conceivable that this glorious thing is utterly unknown to
men ashore! never! But some time after, I learned that
goney was some seaman’s name for albatross. So that by
no possibility could Coleridge’s wild Rhyme have had
aught to do with those mystical impressions which were
mine, when I saw that bird upon our deck. For neither
had I then read the Rhyme, nor knew the bird to be an
albatross. Yet, in saying this, I do but indirectly burnish a
little brighter the noble merit of the poem and the poet.
    I assert, then, that in the wondrous bodily whiteness of
the bird chiefly lurks the secret of the spell; a truth the
more evinced in this, that by a solecism of terms there are
birds called grey albatrosses; and these I have frequently
seen, but never with such emotions as when I beheld the
Antarctic fowl.
    But how had the mystic thing been caught? Whisper it
not, and I will tell; with a treacherous hook and line, as
the fowl floated on the sea. At last the Captain made a


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postman of it; tying a lettered, leathern tally round its
neck, with the ship’s time and place; and then letting it
escape. But I doubt not, that leathern tally, meant for man,
was taken off in Heaven, when the white fowl flew to join
the wing-folding, the invoking, and adoring cherubim!
   Most famous in our Western annals and Indian
traditions is that of the White Steed of the Prairies; a
magnificent milk-white charger, large-eyed, small-headed,
bluff-chested, and with the dignity of a thousand
monarchs in his lofty, overscorning carriage. He was the
elected Xerxes of vast herds of wild horses, whose pastures
in those days were only fenced by the Rocky Mountains
and the Alleghanies. At their flaming head he westward
trooped it like that chosen star which every evening leads
on the hosts of light. The flashing cascade of his mane, the
curving comet of his tail, invested him with housings
more resplendent than gold and silver-beaters could have
furnished him. A most imperial and archangelical
apparition of that unfallen, western world, which to the
eyes of the old trappers and hunters revived the glories of
those primeval times when Adam walked majestic as a
god, bluff-browed and fearless as this mighty steed.
Whether marching amid his aides and marshals in the van
of countless cohorts that endlessly streamed it over the


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plains, like an Ohio; or whether with his circumambient
subjects browsing all around at the horizon, the White
Steed gallopingly reviewed them with warm nostrils
reddening through his cool milkiness; in whatever aspect
he presented himself, always to the bravest Indians he was
the object of trembling reverence and awe. Nor can it be
questioned from what stands on legendary record of this
noble horse, that it was his spiritual whiteness chiefly,
which so clothed him with divineness; and that this
divineness had that in it which, though commanding
worship, at the same time enforced a certain nameless
terror.
    But there are other instances where this whiteness loses
all that accessory and strange glory which invests it in the
White Steed and Albatross.
    What is it that in the Albino man so peculiarly repels
and often shocks the eye, as that sometimes he is loathed
by his own kith and kin! It is that whiteness which invests
him, a thing expressed by the name he bears. The Albino
is as well made as other men—has no substantive
deformity—and yet this mere aspect of all-pervading
whiteness makes him more strangely hideous than the
ugliest abortion. Why should this be so?



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   Nor, in quite other aspects, does Nature in her least
palpable but not the less malicious agencies, fail to enlist
among her forces this crowning attribute of the terrible.
From its snowy aspect, the gauntleted ghost of the
Southern Seas has been denominated the White Squall.
Nor, in some historic instances, has the art of human
malice omitted so potent an auxiliary. How wildly it
heightens the effect of that passage in Froissart, when,
masked in the snowy symbol of their faction, the desperate
White Hoods of Ghent murder their bailiff in the market-
place!
   Nor, in some things, does the common, hereditary
experience of all mankind fail to bear witness to the
supernaturalism of this hue. It cannot well be doubted,
that the one visible quality in the aspect of the dead which
most appals the gazer, is the marble pallor lingering there;
as if indeed that pallor were as much like the badge of
consternation in the other world, as of mortal trepidation
here. And from that pallor of the dead, we borrow the
expressive hue of the shroud in which we wrap them. Nor
even in our superstitions do we fail to throw the same
snowy mantle round our phantoms; all ghosts rising in a
milk-white fog—Yea, while these terrors seize us, let us



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add, that even the king of terrors, when personified by the
evangelist, rides on his pallid horse.
   Therefore, in his other moods, symbolize whatever
grand or gracious thing he will by whiteness, no man can
deny that in its profoundest idealized significance it calls
up a peculiar apparition to the soul.
   But though without dissent this point be fixed, how is
mortal man to account for it? To analyse it, would seem
impossible. Can we, then, by the citation of some of those
instances wherein this thing of whiteness—though for the
time either wholly or in great part stripped of all direct
associations calculated to impart to it aught fearful, but
nevertheless, is found to exert over us the same sorcery,
however modified;—can we thus hope to light upon some
chance clue to conduct us to the hidden cause we seek?
   Let us try. But in a matter like this, subtlety appeals to
subtlety, and without imagination no man can follow
another into these halls. And though, doubtless, some at
least of the imaginative impressions about to be presented
may have been shared by most men, yet few perhaps were
entirely conscious of them at the time, and therefore may
not be able to recall them now.
   Why to the man of untutored ideality, who happens to
be but loosely acquainted with the peculiar character of


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the day, does the bare mention of Whitsuntide marshal in
the fancy such long, dreary, speechless processions of slow-
pacing pilgrims, down-cast and hooded with new-fallen
snow? Or, to the unread, unsophisticated Protestant of the
Middle American States, why does the passing mention of
a White Friar or a White Nun, evoke such an eyeless
statue in the soul?
    Or what is there apart from the traditions of dungeoned
warriors and kings (which will not wholly account for it)
that makes the White Tower of London tell so much
more strongly on the imagination of an untravelled
American, than those other storied structures, its
neighbors—the Byward Tower, or even the Bloody? And
those sublimer towers, the White Mountains of New
Hampshire, whence, in peculiar moods, comes that
gigantic ghostliness over the soul at the bare mention of
that name, while the thought of Virginia’s Blue Ridge is
full of a soft, dewy, distant dreaminess? Or why,
irrespective of all latitudes and longitudes, does the name
of the White Sea exert such a spectralness over the fancy,
while that of the Yellow Sea lulls us with mortal thoughts
of long lacquered mild afternoons on the waves, followed
by the gaudiest and yet sleepiest of sunsets? Or, to choose
a wholly unsubstantial instance, purely addressed to the


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fancy, why, in reading the old fairy tales of Central
Europe, does ‘the tall pale man’ of the Hartz forests,
whose changeless pallor unrustlingly glides through the
green of the groves—why is this phantom more terrible
than all the whooping imps of the Blocksburg?
    Nor is it, altogether, the remembrance of her cathedral-
toppling earthquakes; nor the stampedoes of her frantic
seas; nor the tearlessness of arid skies that never rain; nor
the sight of her wide field of leaning spires, wrenched
cope-stones, and crosses all adroop (like canted yards of
anchored fleets); and her suburban avenues of house-walls
lying over upon each other, as a tossed pack of cards;—it is
not these things alone which make tearless Lima, the
strangest, saddest city thou can’st see. For Lima has taken
the white veil; and there is a higher horror in this
whiteness of her woe. Old as Pizarro, this whiteness keeps
her ruins for ever new; admits not the cheerful greenness
of complete decay; spreads over her broken ramparts the
rigid pallor of an apoplexy that fixes its own distortions.
    I know that, to the common apprehension, this
phenomenon of whiteness is not confessed to be the prime
agent in exaggerating the terror of objects otherwise
terrible; nor to the unimaginative mind is there aught of
terror in those appearances whose awfulness to another


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mind almost solely consists in this one phenomenon,
especially when exhibited under any form at all
approaching to muteness or universality. What I mean by
these two statements may perhaps be respectively
elucidated by the following examples.
   First: The mariner, when drawing nigh the coasts of
foreign lands, if by night he hear the roar of breakers, starts
to vigilance, and feels just enough of trepidation to
sharpen all his faculties; but under precisely similar
circumstances, let him be called from his hammock to
view his ship sailing through a midnight sea of milky
whiteness—as if from encircling headlands shoals of
combed white bears were swimming round him, then he
feels a silent, superstitious dread; the shrouded phantom of
the whitened waters is horrible to him as a real ghost; in
vain the lead assures him he is still off soundings; heart and
helm they both go down; he never rests till blue water is
under him again. Yet where is the mariner who will tell
thee, ‘Sir, it was not so much the fear of striking hidden
rocks, as the fear of that hideous whiteness that so stirred
me?’
   Second: To the native Indian of Peru, the continual
sight of the snowhowdahed Andes conveys naught of
dread, except, perhaps, in the mere fancying of the eternal


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frosted desolateness reigning at such vast altitudes, and the
natural conceit of what a fearfulness it would be to lose
oneself in such inhuman solitudes. Much the same is it
with the backwoodsman of the West, who with
comparative indifference views an unbounded prairie
sheeted with driven snow, no shadow of tree or twig to
break the fixed trance of whiteness. Not so the sailor,
beholding the scenery of the Antarctic seas; where at
times, by some infernal trick of legerdemain in the powers
of frost and air, he, shivering and half shipwrecked, instead
of rainbows speaking hope and solace to his misery, views
what seems a boundless churchyard grinning upon him
with its lean ice monuments and splintered crosses.
   But thou sayest, methinks that white-lead chapter about
whiteness is but a white flag hung out from a craven soul;
thou surrenderest to a hypo, Ishmael.
   Tell me, why this strong young colt, foaled in some
peaceful valley of Vermont, far removed from all beasts of
prey—why is it that upon the sunniest day, if you but
shake a fresh buffalo robe behind him, so that he cannot
even see it, but only smells its wild animal muskiness—
why will he start, snort, and with bursting eyes paw the
ground in phrensies of affright? There is no remembrance
in him of any gorings of wild creatures in his green


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northern home, so that the strange muskiness he smells
cannot recall to him anything associated with the
experience of former perils; for what knows he, this New
England colt, of the black bisons of distant Oregon?
    No; but here thou beholdest even in a dumb brute, the
instinct of the knowledge of the demonism in the world.
Though thousands of miles from Oregon, still when he
smells that savage musk, the rending, goring bison herds
are as present as to the deserted wild foal of the prairies,
which this instant they may be trampling into dust.
    Thus, then, the muffled rollings of a milky sea; the
bleak rustlings of the festooned frosts of mountains; the
desolate shiftings of the windrowed snows of prairies; all
these, to Ishmael, are as the shaking of that buffalo robe to
the frightened colt!
    Though neither knows where lie the nameless things of
which the mystic sign gives forth such hints; yet with me,
as with the colt, somewhere those things must exist.
Though in many of its aspects this visible world seems
formed in love, the invisible spheres were formed in
fright.
    But not yet have we solved the incantation of this
whiteness, and learned why it appeals with such power to
the soul; and more strange and far more portentous—why,


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as we have seen, it is at once the most meaning symbol of
spiritual things, nay, the very veil of the Christian’s Deity;
and yet should be as it is, the intensifying agent in things
the most appalling to mankind.
    Is it that by its indefiniteness it shadows forth the
heartless voids and immensities of the universe, and thus
stabs us from behind with the thought of annihilation,
when beholding the white depths of the milky way? Or is
it, that as in essence whiteness is not so much a colour as
the visible absence of colour; and at the same time the
concrete of all colours; is it for these reasons that there is
such a dumb blankness, full of meaning, in a wide
landscape of snows—a colourless, all-colour of atheism
from which we shrink? And when we consider that other
theory of the natural philosophers, that all other earthly
hues—every stately or lovely emblazoning—the sweet
tinges of sunset skies and woods; yea, and the gilded
velvets of butterflies, and the butterfly cheeks of young
girls; all these are but subtile deceits, not actually inherent
in substances, but only laid on from without; so that all
deified Nature absolutely paints like the harlot, whose
allurements cover nothing but the charnel-house within;
and when we proceed further, and consider that the
mystical cosmetic which produces every one of her hues,


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the great principle of light, for ever remains white or
colourless in itself, and if operating without medium upon
matter, would touch all objects, even tulips and roses, with
its own blank tinge—pondering all this, the palsied
universe lies before us a leper; and like wilful travellers in
Lapland, who refuse to wear coloured and colouring
glasses upon their eyes, so the wretched infidel gazes
himself blind at the monumental white shroud that wraps
all the prospect around him. And of all these things the
Albino whale was the symbol. Wonder ye then at the fiery
hunt?




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                       Chapter 43

    Hark!
    ‘HIST! Did you hear that noise, Cabaco?
    It was the middle-watch; a fair moonlight; the seamen
were standing in a cordon, extending from one of the
fresh-water butts in the waist, to the scuttle-butt near the
taffrail. In this manner, they passed the buckets to fill the
scuttle-butt. Standing, for the most part, on the hallowed
precincts of the quarter-deck, they were careful not to
speak or rustle their feet. From hand to hand, the buckets
went in the deepest silence, only broken by the occasional
flap of a sail, and the steady hum of the unceasingly
advancing keel.
    It was in the midst of this repose, that Archy, one of
the cordon, whose post was near the after-hatches,
whispered to his neighbor, a Cholo, the words above.
    ‘Hist! did you hear that noise, Cabaco?’
    ‘Take the bucket, will ye, Archy? what noise d’ye
mean?’
    ‘There it is again—under the hatches—don’t you hear
it—a cough—it sounded like a cough.’
    ‘Cough be damned! Pass along that return bucket.’


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    ‘There again—there it is!—it sounds like two or three
sleepers turning over, now!’
    ‘Caramba! have done, shipmate, will ye? It’s the three
soaked biscuits ye eat for supper turning over inside of
ye—nothing else. Look to the bucket!’
    ‘Say what ye will, shipmate; I’ve sharp ears.’
    ‘Aye, you are the chap, ain’t ye, that heard the hum of
the old Quakeress’s knitting-needles fifty miles at sea from
Nantucket; you’re the chap.’
    ‘Grin away; we’ll see what turns up. Hark ye, Cabaco,
there is somebody down in the after-hold that has not yet
been seen on deck; and I suspect our old Mogul knows
something of it too. I heard Stubb tell Flask, one morning
watch, that there was something of that sort in the wind.’
    ‘Tish! the bucket!’




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                      Chapter 44

    The Chart.
    Had you followed Captain Ahab down into his cabin
after the squall that took place on the night succeeding
that wild ratification of his purpose with his crew, you
would have seen him go to a locker in the transom, and
bringing out a large wrinkled roll of yellowish sea charts,
spread them before him on his screwed-down table. Then
seating himself before it, you would have seen him
intently study the various lines and shadings which there
met his eye; and with slow but steady pencil trace
additional courses over spaces that before were blank. At
intervals, he would refer to piles of old log-books beside
him, wherein were set down the seasons and places in
which, on various former voyages of various ships, sperm
whales had been captured or seen.
    While thus employed, the heavy pewter lamp
suspended in chains over his head, continually rocked with
the motion of the ship, and for ever threw shifting gleams
and shadows of lines upon his wrinkled brow, till it almost
seemed that while he himself was marking out lines and
courses on the wrinkled charts, some invisible pencil was


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also tracing lines and courses upon the deeply marked
chart of his forehead.
    But it was not this night in particular that, in the
solitude of his cabin, Ahab thus pondered over his charts.
Almost every night they were brought out; almost every
night some pencil marks were effaced, and others were
substituted. For with the charts of all four oceans before
him, Ahab was threading a maze of currents and eddies,
with a view to the more certain accomplishment of that
monomaniac thought of his soul.
    Now, to any one not fully acquainted with the ways of
the leviathans, it might seem an absurdly hopeless task thus
to seek out one solitary creature in the unhooped oceans
of this planet. But not so did it seem to Ahab, who knew
the sets of all tides and currents; and thereby calculating
the driftings of the sperm whale’s food; and, also, calling to
mind the regular, ascertained seasons for hunting him in
particular latitudes; could arrive at reasonable surmises,
almost approaching to certainties, concerning the timeliest
day to be upon this or that ground in search of his prey.
    So assured, indeed, is the fact concerning the
periodicalness of the sperm whale’s resorting to given
waters, that many hunters believe that, could he be closely
observed and studied throughout the world; were the logs


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for one voyage of the entire whale fleet carefully collated,
then the migrations of the sperm whale would be found to
correspond in invariability to those of the herring-shoals
or the flights of swallows. On this hint, attempts have been
made to construct elaborate migratory charts of the sperm
whale.*
   *Since the above was written, the statement is happily
borne out by an official circular, issued by Lieutenant
Maury, of the National Observatory, Washington, April
16th, 1851. By that circular, it appears that precisely such a
chart is in course of completion; and portions of it are
presented in the circular. ‘This chart divides the ocean into
districts of five degrees of latitude by five degrees of
longitude; perpendicularly through each of which districts
are twelve columns for the twelve months; and
horizontally through each of which districts are three lines;
one to show the number of days that have been spent in
each month in every district, and the two others to show
the number of days in which whales, sperm or right, have
been seen.’
   Besides, when making a passage from one feeding-
ground to another, the sperm whales, guided by some
infallible instinct—say, rather, secret intelligence from the
Deity—mostly swim in VEINS, as they are called;


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continuing their way along a given ocean-line with such
undeviating exactitude, that no ship ever sailed her course,
by any chart, with one tithe of such marvellous precision.
Though, in these cases, the direction taken by any one
whale be straight as a surveyor’s parallel, and though the
line of advance be strictly confined to its own
unavoidable, straight wake, yet the arbitrary VEIN in
which at these times he is said to swim, generally embraces
some few miles in width (more or less, as the vein is
presumed to expand or contract); but never exceeds the
visual sweep from the whale-ship’s mast-heads, when
circumspectly gliding along this magic zone. The sum is,
that at particular seasons within that breadth and along that
path, migrating whales may with great confidence be
looked for.
   And hence not only at substantiated times, upon well
known separate feeding-grounds, could Ahab hope to
encounter his prey; but in crossing the widest expanses of
water between those grounds he could, by his art, so place
and time himself on his way, as even then not to be
wholly without prospect of a meeting.
   There was a circumstance which at first sight seemed to
entangle his delirious but still methodical scheme. But not
so in the reality, perhaps. Though the gregarious sperm


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whales have their regular seasons for particular grounds,
yet in general you cannot conclude that the herds which
haunted such and such a latitude or longitude this year,
say, will turn out to be identically the same with those that
were found there the preceding season; though there are
peculiar and unquestionable instances where the contrary
of this has proved true. In general, the same remark, only
within a less wide limit, applies to the solitaries and
hermits among the matured, aged sperm whales. So that
though Moby Dick had in a former year been seen, for
example, on what is called the Seychelle ground in the
Indian ocean, or Volcano Bay on the Japanese Coast; yet it
did not follow, that were the Pequod to visit either of
those spots at any subsequent corresponding season, she
would infallibly encounter him there. So, too, with some
other feeding grounds, where he had at times revealed
himself. But all these seemed only his casual stopping-
places and ocean-inns, so to speak, not his places of
prolonged abode. And where Ahab’s chances of
accomplishing his object have hitherto been spoken of,
allusion has only been made to whatever way-side,
antecedent, extra prospects were his, ere a particular set
time or place were attained, when all possibilities would
become probabilities, and, as Ahab fondly thought, every


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possibility the next thing to a certainty. That particular set
time and place were conjoined in the one technical
phrase—the Season-on-the-Line. For there and then, for
several consecutive years, Moby Dick had been
periodically descried, lingering in those waters for awhile,
as the sun, in its annual round, loiters for a predicted
interval in any one sign of the Zodiac. There it was, too,
that most of the deadly encounters with the white whale
had taken place; there the waves were storied with his
deeds; there also was that tragic spot where the
monomaniac old man had found the awful motive to his
vengeance. But in the cautious comprehensiveness and
unloitering vigilance with which Ahab threw his brooding
soul into this unfaltering hunt, he would not permit
himself to rest all his hopes upon the one crowning fact
above mentioned, however flattering it might be to those
hopes; nor in the sleeplessness of his vow could he so
tranquillize his unquiet heart as to postpone all intervening
quest.
   Now, the Pequod had sailed from Nantucket at the
very beginning of the Season-on-the-Line. No possible
endeavor then could enable her commander to make the
great passage southwards, double Cape Horn, and then
running down sixty degrees of latitude arrive in the


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equatorial Pacific in time to cruise there. Therefore, he
must wait for the next ensuing season. Yet the premature
hour of the Pequod’s sailing had, perhaps, been correctly
selected by Ahab, with a view to this very complexion of
things. Because, an interval of three hundred and sixty-five
days and nights was before him; an interval which, instead
of impatiently enduring ashore, he would spend in a
miscellaneous hunt; if by chance the White Whale,
spending his vacation in seas far remote from his periodical
feeding-grounds, should turn up his wrinkled brow off the
Persian Gulf, or in the Bengal Bay, or China Seas, or in
any other waters haunted by his race. So that Monsoons,
Pampas, Nor’-Westers, Harmattans, Trades; any wind but
the Levanter and Simoon, might blow Moby Dick into
the devious zig-zag world-circle of the Pequod’s
circumnavigating wake.
    But granting all this; yet, regarded discreetly and coolly,
seems it not but a mad idea, this; that in the broad
boundless ocean, one solitary whale, even if encountered,
should be thought capable of individual recognition from
his hunter, even as a white-bearded Mufti in the thronged
thoroughfares of Constantinople? Yes. For the peculiar
snow-white brow of Moby Dick, and his snow-white
hump, could not but be unmistakable. And have I not


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tallied the whale, Ahab would mutter to himself, as after
poring over his charts till long after midnight he would
throw himself back in reveries—tallied him, and shall he
escape? His broad fins are bored, and scalloped out like a
lost sheep’s ear! And here, his mad mind would run on in
a breathless race; till a weariness and faintness of pondering
came over him; and in the open air of the deck he would
seek to recover his strength. Ah, God! what trances of
torments does that man endure who is consumed with one
unachieved revengeful desire. He sleeps with clenched
hands; and wakes with his own bloody nails in his palms.
    Often, when forced from his hammock by exhausting
and intolerably vivid dreams of the night, which, resuming
his own intense thoughts through the day, carried them
on amid a clashing of phrensies, and whirled them round
and round and round in his blazing brain, till the very
throbbing of his life-spot became insufferable anguish; and
when, as was sometimes the case, these spiritual throes in
him heaved his being up from its base, and a chasm
seemed opening in him, from which forked flames and
lightnings shot up, and accursed fiends beckoned him to
leap down among them; when this hell in himself yawned
beneath him, a wild cry would be heard through the ship;
and with glaring eyes Ahab would burst from his state


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room, as though escaping from a bed that was on fire. Yet
these, perhaps, instead of being the unsuppressable
symptoms of some latent weakness, or fright at his own
resolve, were but the plainest tokens of its intensity. For,
at such times, crazy Ahab, the scheming, unappeasedly
steadfast hunter of the white whale; this Ahab that had
gone to his hammock, was not the agent that so caused
him to burst from it in horror again. The latter was the
eternal, living principle or soul in him; and in sleep, being
for the time dissociated from the characterizing mind,
which at other times employed it for its outer vehicle or
agent, it spontaneously sought escape from the scorching
contiguity of the frantic thing, of which, for the time, it
was no longer an integral. But as the mind does not exist
unless leagued with the soul, therefore it must have been
that, in Ahab’s case, yielding up all his thoughts and
fancies to his one supreme purpose; that purpose, by its
own sheer inveteracy of will, forced itself against gods and
devils into a kind of self-assumed, independent being of its
own. Nay, could grimly live and burn, while the common
vitality to which it was conjoined, fled horror-stricken
from the unbidden and unfathered birth. Therefore, the
tormented spirit that glared out of bodily eyes, when what
seemed Ahab rushed from his room, was for the time but


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a vacated thing, a formless somnambulistic being, a ray of
living light, to be sure, but without an object to colour,
and therefore a blankness in itself. God help thee, old man,
thy thoughts have created a creature in thee; and he whose
intense thinking thus makes him a Prometheus; a vulture
feeds upon that heart for ever; that vulture the very
creature he creates.




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                       Chapter 45

   The Affidavit.
   So far as what there may be of a narrative in this book;
and, indeed, as indirectly touching one or two very
interesting and curious particulars in the habits of sperm
whales, the foregoing chapter, in its earlier part, is as
important a one as will be found in this volume; but the
leading matter of it requires to be still further and more
familiarly enlarged upon, in order to be adequately
understood, and moreover to take away any incredulity
which a profound ignorance of the entire subject may
induce in some minds, as to the natural verity of the main
points of this affair.
   I care not to perform this part of my task methodically;
but shall be content to produce the desired impression by
separate citations of items, practically or reliably known to
me as a whaleman; and from these citations, I take it—the
conclusion aimed at will naturally follow of itself.
   First: I have personally known three instances where a
whale, after receiving a harpoon, has effected a complete
escape; and, after an interval (in one instance of three
years), has been again struck by the same hand, and slain;


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when the two irons, both marked by the same private
cypher, have been taken from the body. In the instance
where three years intervened between the flinging of the
two harpoons; and I think it may have been something
more than that; the man who darted them happening, in
the interval, to go in a trading ship on a voyage to Africa,
went ashore there, joined a discovery party, and
penetrated far into the interior, where he travelled for a
period of nearly two years, often endangered by serpents,
savages, tigers, poisonous miasmas, with all the other
common perils incident to wandering in the heart of
unknown regions. Meanwhile, the whale he had struck
must also have been on its travels; no doubt it had thrice
circumnavigated the globe, brushing with its flanks all the
coasts of Africa; but to no purpose. This man and this
whale again came together, and the one vanquished the
other. I say I, myself, have known three instances similar
to this; that is in two of them I saw the whales struck; and,
upon the second attack, saw the two irons with the
respective marks cut in them, afterwards taken from the
dead fish. In the three-year instance, it so fell out that I
was in the boat both times, first and last, and the last time
distinctly recognised a peculiar sort of huge mole under
the whale’s eye, which I had observed there three years


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previous. I say three years, but I am pretty sure it was
more than that. Here are three instances, then, which I
personally know the truth of; but I have heard of many
other instances from persons whose veracity in the matter
there is no good ground to impeach.
   Secondly: It is well known in the Sperm Whale
Fishery, however ignorant the world ashore may be of it,
that there have been several memorable historical instances
where a particular whale in the ocean has been at distant
times and places popularly cognisable. Why such a whale
became thus marked was not altogether and originally
owing to his bodily peculiarities as distinguished from
other whales; for however peculiar in that respect any
chance whale may be, they soon put an end to his
peculiarities by killing him, and boiling him down into a
peculiarly valuable oil. No: the reason was this: that from
the fatal experiences of the fishery there hung a terrible
prestige of perilousness about such a whale as there did
about Rinaldo Rinaldini, insomuch that most fishermen
were content to recognise him by merely touching their
tarpaulins when he would be discovered lounging by them
on the sea, without seeking to cultivate a more intimate
acquaintance. Like some poor devils ashore that happen to
know an irascible great man, they make distant


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unobtrusive salutations to him in the street, lest if they
pursued the acquaintance further, they might receive a
summary thump for their presumption.
    But not only did each of these famous whales enjoy
great individual celebrity—Nay, you may call it an ocean-
wide renown; not only was he famous in life and now is
immortal in forecastle stories after death, but he was
admitted into all the rights, privileges, and distinctions of a
name; had as much a name indeed as Cambyses or Caesar.
Was it not so, O Timor Tom! thou famed leviathan,
scarred like an iceberg, who so long did’st lurk in the
Oriental straits of that name, whose spout was oft seen
from the palmy beach of Ombay? Was it not so, O New
Zealand Jack! thou terror of all cruisers that crossed their
wakes in the vicinity of the Tattoo Land? Was it not so, O
Morquan! King of Japan, whose lofty jet they say at times
assumed the semblance of a snow-white cross against the
sky? Was it not so, O Don Miguel! thou Chilian whale,
marked like an old tortoise with mystic hieroglyphics
upon the back! In plain prose, here are four whales as well
known to the students of Cetacean History as Marius or
Sylla to the classic scholar.
    But this is not all. New Zealand Tom and Don Miguel,
after at various times creating great havoc among the boats


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of different vessels, were finally gone in quest of,
systematically hunted out, chased and killed by valiant
whaling captains, who heaved up their anchors with that
express object as much in view, as in setting out through
the Narragansett Woods, Captain Butler of old had it in
his mind to capture that notorious murderous savage
Annawon, the headmost warrior of the Indian King
Philip.
    I do not know where I can find a better place than just
here, to make mention of one or two other things, which
to me seem important, as in printed form establishing in all
respects the reasonableness of the whole story of the
White Whale, more especially the catastrophe. For this is
one of those disheartening instances where truth requires
full as much bolstering as error. So ignorant are most
landsmen of some of the plainest and most palpable
wonders of the world, that without some hints touching
the plain facts, historical and otherwise, of the fishery, they
might scout at Moby Dick as a monstrous fable, or still
worse and more detestable, a hideous and intolerable
allegory.
    First: Though most men have some vague flitting ideas
of the general perils of the grand fishery, yet they have
nothing like a fixed, vivid conception of those perils, and


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the frequency with which they recur. One reason perhaps
is, that not one in fifty of the actual disasters and deaths by
casualties in the fishery, ever finds a public record at home,
however transient and immediately forgotten that record.
Do you suppose that that poor fellow there, who this
moment perhaps caught by the whale-line off the coast of
New Guinea, is being carried down to the bottom of the
sea by the sounding leviathan—do you suppose that that
poor fellow’s name will appear in the newspaper obituary
you will read to-morrow at your breakfast? No: because
the mails are very irregular between here and New
Guinea. In fact, did you ever hear what might be called
regular news direct or indirect from New Guinea? Yet I
tell you that upon one particular voyage which I made to
the Pacific, among many others we spoke thirty different
ships, every one of which had had a death by a whale,
some of them more than one, and three that had each lost
a boat’s crew. For God’s sake, be economical with your
lamps and candles! not a gallon you burn, but at least one
drop of man’s blood was spilled for it.
    Secondly: People ashore have indeed some indefinite
idea that a whale is an enormous creature of enormous
power; but I have ever found that when narrating to them
some specific example of this two-fold enormousness, they


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have significantly complimented me upon my
facetiousness; when, I declare upon my soul, I had no
more idea of being facetious than Moses, when he wrote
the history of the plagues of Egypt.
   But fortunately the special point I here seek can be
established upon testimony entirely independent of my
own. That point is this: The Sperm Whale is in some cases
sufficiently powerful, knowing, and judiciously malicious,
as with direct aforethought to stave in, utterly destroy, and
sink a large ship; and what is more, the Sperm Whale HAS
done it.
   First: In the year 1820 the ship Essex, Captain Pollard,
of Nantucket, was cruising in the Pacific Ocean. One day
she saw spouts, lowered her boats, and gave chase to a
shoal of sperm whales. Ere long, several of the whales
were wounded; when, suddenly, a very large whale
escaping from the boats, issued from the shoal, and bore
directly down upon the ship. Dashing his forehead against
her hull, he so stove her in, that in less than ‘ten minutes’
she settled down and fell over. Not a surviving plank of
her has been seen since. After the severest exposure, part
of the crew reached the land in their boats. Being returned
home at last, Captain Pollard once more sailed for the
Pacific in command of another ship, but the gods


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shipwrecked him again upon unknown rocks and
breakers; for the second time his ship was utterly lost, and
forthwith forswearing the sea, he has never tempted it
since. At this day Captain Pollard is a resident of
Nantucket. I have seen Owen Chace, who was chief mate
of the Essex at the time of the tragedy; I have read his
plain and faithful narrative; I have conversed with his son;
and all this within a few miles of the scene of the
catastrophe.*
   *The following are extracts from Chace’s narrative:
‘Every fact seemed to warrant me in concluding that it was
anything but chance which directed his operations; he
made two several attacks upon the ship, at a short interval
between them, both of which, according to their
direction, were calculated to do us the most injury, by
being made ahead, and thereby combining the speed of
the two objects for the shock; to effect which, the exact
manoeuvres which he made were necessary. His aspect
was most horrible, and such as indicated resentment and
fury. He came directly from the shoal which we had just
before entered, and in which we had struck three of his
companions, as if fired with revenge for their sufferings.’
Again: ‘At all events, the whole circumstances taken
together, all happening before my own eyes, and


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producing, at the time, impressions in my mind of
decided, calculating mischief, on the part of the whale
(many of which impressions I cannot now recall), induce
me to be satisfied that I am correct in my opinion.’
   Here are his reflections some time after quitting the
ship, during a black night an open boat, when almost
despairing of reaching any hospitable shore. ‘The dark
ocean and swelling waters were nothing; the fears of being
swallowed up by some dreadful tempest, or dashed upon
hidden rocks, with all the other ordinary subjects of fearful
contemplation, seemed scarcely entitled to a moment’s
thought; the dismal looking wreck, and THE HORRID
ASPECT AND REVENGE OF THE WHALE, wholly
engrossed my reflections, until day again made its
appearance.’
   In another place—p. 45,—he speaks of ‘THE
MYSTERIOUS AND MORTAL ATTACK OF THE
ANIMAL.’
   Secondly: The ship Union, also of Nantucket, was in
the year 1807 totally lost off the Azores by a similar onset,
but the authentic particulars of this catastrophe I have
never chanced to encounter, though from the whale
hunters I have now and then heard casual allusions to it.



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    Thirdly: Some eighteen or twenty years ago
Commodore J—-, then commanding an American sloop-
of-war of the first class, happened to be dining with a
party of whaling captains, on board a Nantucket ship in
the harbor of Oahu, Sandwich Islands. Conversation
turning upon whales, the Commodore was pleased to be
sceptical touching the amazing strength ascribed to them
by the professional gentlemen present. He peremptorily
denied for example, that any whale could so smite his
stout sloop-of-war as to cause her to leak so much as a
thimbleful. Very good; but there is more coming. Some
weeks after, the Commodore set sail in this impregnable
craft for Valparaiso. But he was stopped on the way by a
portly sperm whale, that begged a few moments’
confidential business with him. That business consisted in
fetching the Commodore’s craft such a thwack, that with
all his pumps going he made straight for the nearest port to
heave down and repair. I am not superstitious, but I
consider the Commodore’s interview with that whale as
providential. Was not Saul of Tarsus converted from
unbelief by a similar fright? I tell you, the sperm whale
will stand no nonsense.
    I will now refer you to Langsdorff’s Voyages for a little
circumstance in point, peculiarly interesting to the writer


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hereof. Langsdorff, you must know by the way, was
attached to the Russian Admiral Krusenstern’s famous
Discovery Expedition in the beginning of the present
century. Captain Langsdorff thus begins his seventeenth
chapter:
    ‘By the thirteenth of May our ship was ready to sail,
and the next day we were out in the open sea, on our way
to Ochotsh. The weather was very clear and fine, but so
intolerably cold that we were obliged to keep on our fur
clothing. For some days we had very little wind; it was not
till the nineteenth that a brisk gale from the northwest
sprang up. An uncommon large whale, the body of which
was larger than the ship itself, lay almost at the surface of
the water, but was not perceived by any one on board till
the moment when the ship, which was in full sail, was
almost upon him, so that it was impossible to prevent its
striking against him. We were thus placed in the most
imminent danger, as this gigantic creature, setting up its
back, raised the ship three feet at least out of the water.
The masts reeled, and the sails fell altogether, while we
who were below all sprang instantly upon the deck,
concluding that we had struck upon some rock; instead of
this we saw the monster sailing off with the utmost gravity
and solemnity. Captain D’Wolf applied immediately to the


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pumps to examine whether or not the vessel had received
any damage from the shock, but we found that very
happily it had escaped entirely uninjured.’
    Now, the Captain D’Wolf here alluded to as
commanding the ship in question, is a New Englander,
who, after a long life of unusual adventures as a sea-
captain, this day resides in the village of Dorchester near
Boston. I have the honour of being a nephew of his. I
have particularly questioned him concerning this passage
in Langsdorff. He substantiates every word. The ship,
however, was by no means a large one: a Russian craft
built on the Siberian coast, and purchased by my uncle
after bartering away the vessel in which he sailed from
home.
    In that up and down manly book of old-fashioned
adventure, so full, too, of honest wonders—the voyage of
Lionel Wafer, one of ancient Dampier’s old chums—I
found a little matter set down so like that just quoted from
Langsdorff, that I cannot forbear inserting it here for a
corroborative example, if such be needed.
    Lionel, it seems, was on his way to ‘John Ferdinando,’
as he calls the modern Juan Fernandes. ‘In our way
thither,’ he says, ‘about four o’clock in the morning, when
we were about one hundred and fifty leagues from the


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Main of America, our ship felt a terrible shock, which put
our men in such consternation that they could hardly tell
where they were or what to think; but every one began to
prepare for death. And, indeed, the shock was so sudden
and violent, that we took it for granted the ship had struck
against a rock; but when the amazement was a little over,
we cast the lead, and sounded, but found no ground. ....
The suddenness of the shock made the guns leap in their
carriages, and several of the men were shaken out of their
hammocks. Captain Davis, who lay with his head on a
gun, was thrown out of his cabin!’ Lionel then goes on to
impute the shock to an earthquake, and seems to
substantiate the imputation by stating that a great
earthquake, somewhere about that time, did actually do
great mischief along the Spanish land. But I should not
much wonder if, in the darkness of that early hour of the
morning, the shock was after all caused by an unseen
whale vertically bumping the hull from beneath.
   I might proceed with several more examples, one way
or another known to me, of the great power and malice at
times of the sperm whale. In more than one instance, he
has been known, not only to chase the assailing boats back
to their ships, but to pursue the ship itself, and long
withstand all the lances hurled at him from its decks. The


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English ship Pusie Hall can tell a story on that head; and,
as for his strength, let me say, that there have been
examples where the lines attached to a running sperm
whale have, in a calm, been transferred to the ship, and
secured there; the whale towing her great hull through the
water, as a horse walks off with a cart. Again, it is very
often observed that, if the sperm whale, once struck, is
allowed time to rally, he then acts, not so often with blind
rage, as with wilful, deliberate designs of destruction to his
pursuers; nor is it without conveying some eloquent
indication of his character, that upon being attacked he
will frequently open his mouth, and retain it in that dread
expansion for several consecutive minutes. But I must be
content with only one more and a concluding illustration;
a remarkable and most significant one, by which you will
not fail to see, that not only is the most marvellous event
in this book corroborated by plain facts of the present day,
but that these marvels (like all marvels) are mere
repetitions of the ages; so that for the millionth time we
say amen with Solomon—Verily there is nothing new
under the sun.
    In the sixth Christian century lived Procopius, a
Christian magistrate of Constantinople, in the days when
Justinian was Emperor and Belisarius general. As many


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know, he wrote the history of his own times, a work
every way of uncommon value. By the best authorities, he
has always been considered a most trustworthy and
unexaggerating historian, except in some one or two
particulars, not at all affecting the matter presently to be
mentioned.
   Now, in this history of his, Procopius mentions that,
during the term of his prefecture at Constantinople, a
great sea-monster was captured in the neighboring
Propontis, or Sea of Marmora, after having destroyed
vessels at intervals in those waters for a period of more
than fifty years. A fact thus set down in substantial history
cannot easily be gainsaid. Nor is there any reason it should
be. Of what precise species this sea-monster was, is not
mentioned. But as he destroyed ships, as well as for other
reasons, he must have been a whale; and I am strongly
inclined to think a sperm whale. And I will tell you why.
For a long time I fancied that the sperm whale had been
always unknown in the Mediterranean and the deep
waters connecting with it. Even now I am certain that
those seas are not, and perhaps never can be, in the present
constitution of things, a place for his habitual gregarious
resort. But further investigations have recently proved to
me, that in modern times there have been isolated


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instances of the presence of the sperm whale in the
Mediterranean. I am told, on good authority, that on the
Barbary coast, a Commodore Davis of the British navy
found the skeleton of a sperm whale. Now, as a vessel of
war readily passes through the Dardanelles, hence a sperm
whale could, by the same route, pass out of the
Mediterranean into the Propontis.
   In the Propontis, as far as I can learn, none of that
peculiar substance called BRIT is to be found, the aliment
of the right whale. But I have every reason to believe that
the food of the sperm whale—squid or cuttle-fish—lurks
at the bottom of that sea, because large creatures, but by
no means the largest of that sort, have been found at its
surface. If, then, you properly put these statements
together, and reason upon them a bit, you will clearly
perceive that, according to all human reasoning,
Procopius’s sea-monster, that for half a century stove the
ships of a Roman Emperor, must in all probability have
been a sperm whale.




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                       Chapter 46

    Surmises.
    Though, consumed with the hot fire of his purpose,
Ahab in all his thoughts and actions ever had in view the
ultimate capture of Moby Dick; though he seemed ready
to sacrifice all mortal interests to that one passion;
nevertheless it may have been that he was by nature and
long habituation far too wedded to a fiery whaleman’s
ways, altogether to abandon the collateral prosecution of
the voyage. Or at least if this were otherwise, there were
not wanting other motives much more influential with
him. It would be refining too much, perhaps, even
considering his monomania, to hint that his vindictiveness
towards the White Whale might have possibly extended
itself in some degree to all sperm whales, and that the
more monsters he slew by so much the more he
multiplied the chances that each subsequently encountered
whale would prove to be the hated one he hunted. But if
such an hypothesis be indeed exceptionable, there were
still additional considerations which, though not so strictly
according with the wildness of his ruling passion, yet were
by no means incapable of swaying him.


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    To accomplish his object Ahab must use tools; and of
all tools used in the shadow of the moon, men are most
apt to get out of order. He knew, for example, that
however magnetic his ascendency in some respects was
over Starbuck, yet that ascendency did not cover the
complete spiritual man any more than mere corporeal
superiority involves intellectual mastership; for to the
purely spiritual, the intellectual but stand in a sort of
corporeal relation. Starbuck’s body and Starbuck’s coerced
will were Ahab’s, so long as Ahab kept his magnet at
Starbuck’s brain; still he knew that for all this the chief
mate, in his soul, abhorred his captain’s quest, and could
he, would joyfully disintegrate himself from it, or even
frustrate it. It might be that a long interval would elapse
ere the White Whale was seen. During that long interval
Starbuck would ever be apt to fall into open relapses of
rebellion against his captain’s leadership, unless some
ordinary, prudential, circumstantial influences were
brought to bear upon him. Not only that, but the subtle
insanity of Ahab respecting Moby Dick was noways more
significantly manifested than in his superlative sense and
shrewdness in foreseeing that, for the present, the hunt
should in some way be stripped of that strange imaginative
impiousness which naturally invested it; that the full terror


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of the voyage must be kept withdrawn into the obscure
background (for few men’s courage is proof against
protracted meditation unrelieved by action); that when
they stood their long night watches, his officers and men
must have some nearer things to think of than Moby
Dick. For however eagerly and impetuously the savage
crew had hailed the announcement of his quest; yet all
sailors of all sorts are more or less capricious and
unreliable—they live in the varying outer weather, and
they inhale its fickleness—and when retained for any
object remote and blank in the pursuit, however
promissory of life and passion in the end, it is above all
things requisite that temporary interests and employments
should intervene and hold them healthily suspended for
the final dash.
    Nor was Ahab unmindful of another thing. In times of
strong emotion mankind disdain all base considerations;
but such times are evanescent. The permanent
constitutional condition of the manufactured man,
thought Ahab, is sordidness. Granting that the White
Whale fully incites the hearts of this my savage crew, and
playing round their savageness even breeds a certain
generous knight-errantism in them, still, while for the love
of it they give chase to Moby Dick, they must also have


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food for their more common, daily appetites. For even the
high lifted and chivalric Crusaders of old times were not
content to traverse two thousand miles of land to fight for
their holy sepulchre, without committing burglaries,
picking pockets, and gaining other pious perquisites by the
way. Had they been strictly held to their one final and
romantic object—that final and romantic object, too many
would have turned from in disgust. I will not strip these
men, thought Ahab, of all hopes of cash—aye, cash. They
may scorn cash now; but let some months go by, and no
perspective promise of it to them, and then this same
quiescent cash all at once mutinying in them, this same
cash would soon cashier Ahab.
   Nor was there wanting still another precautionary
motive more related to Ahab personally. Having
impulsively, it is probable, and perhaps somewhat
prematurely revealed the prime but private purpose of the
Pequod’s voyage, Ahab was now entirely conscious that,
in so doing, he had indirectly laid himself open to the
unanswerable charge of usurpation; and with perfect
impunity, both moral and legal, his crew if so disposed,
and to that end competent, could refuse all further
obedience to him, and even violently wrest from him the
command. From even the barely hinted imputation of


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usurpation, and the possible consequences of such a
suppressed impression gaining ground, Ahab must of
course have been most anxious to protect himself. That
protection could only consist in his own predominating
brain and heart and hand, backed by a heedful, closely
calculating attention to every minute atmospheric
influence which it was possible for his crew to be
subjected to.
    For all these reasons then, and others perhaps too
analytic to be verbally developed here, Ahab plainly saw
that he must still in a good degree continue true to the
natural, nominal purpose of the Pequod’s voyage; observe
all customary usages; and not only that, but force himself
to evince all his well known passionate interest in the
general pursuit of his profession.
    Be all this as it may, his voice was now often heard
hailing the three mast-heads and admonishing them to
keep a bright look-out, and not omit reporting even a
porpoise. This vigilance was not long without reward.




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                      Chapter 47

    The Mat-Maker.
    It was a cloudy, sultry afternoon; the seamen were
lazily lounging about the decks, or vacantly gazing over
into the lead-coloured waters. Queequeg and I were
mildly employed weaving what is called a sword-mat, for
an additional lashing to our boat. So still and subdued and
yet somehow preluding was all the scene, and such an
incantation of reverie lurked in the air, that each silent
sailor seemed resolved into his own invisible self.
    I was the attendant or page of Queequeg, while busy at
the mat. As I kept passing and repassing the filling or woof
of marline between the long yarns of the warp, using my
own hand for the shuttle, and as Queequeg, standing
sideways, ever and anon slid his heavy oaken sword
between the threads, and idly looking off upon the water,
carelessly and unthinkingly drove home every yarn: I say
so strange a dreaminess did there then reign all over the
ship and all over the sea, only broken by the intermitting
dull sound of the sword, that it seemed as if this were the
Loom of Time, and I myself were a shuttle mechanically
weaving and weaving away at the Fates. There lay the


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fixed threads of the warp subject to but one single, ever
returning, unchanging vibration, and that vibration merely
enough to admit of the crosswise interblending of other
threads with its own. This warp seemed necessity; and
here, thought I, with my own hand I ply my own shuttle
and weave my own destiny into these unalterable threads.
Meantime, Queequeg’s impulsive, indifferent sword,
sometimes hitting the woof slantingly, or crookedly, or
strongly, or weakly, as the case might be; and by this
difference in the concluding blow producing a
corresponding contrast in the final aspect of the completed
fabric; this savage’s sword, thought I, which thus finally
shapes and fashions both warp and woof; this easy,
indifferent sword must be chance—aye, chance, free will,
and necessity—nowise incompatible—all interweavingly
working together. The straight warp of necessity, not to
be swerved from its ultimate course—its every alternating
vibration, indeed, only tending to that; free will still free
to ply her shuttle between given threads; and chance,
though restrained in its play within the right lines of
necessity, and sideways in its motions directed by free will,
though thus prescribed to by both, chance by turns rules
either, and has the last featuring blow at events.



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    Thus we were weaving and weaving away when I
started at a sound so strange, long drawn, and musically
wild and unearthly, that the ball of free will dropped from
my hand, and I stood gazing up at the clouds whence that
voice dropped like a wing. High aloft in the cross-trees
was that mad Gay-Header, Tashtego. His body was
reaching eagerly forward, his hand stretched out like a
wand, and at brief sudden intervals he continued his cries.
To be sure the same sound was that very moment perhaps
being heard all over the seas, from hundreds of
whalemen’s look-outs perched as high in the air; but from
few of those lungs could that accustomed old cry have
derived such a marvellous cadence as from Tashtego the
Indian’s.
    As he stood hovering over you half suspended in air, so
wildly and eagerly peering towards the horizon, you
would have thought him some prophet or seer beholding
the shadows of Fate, and by those wild cries announcing
their coming.
    ‘There she blows! there! there! there! she blows! she
blows!’
    ‘Where-away?’
    ‘On the lee-beam, about two miles off! a school of
them!’


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   Instantly all was commotion.
   The Sperm Whale blows as a clock ticks, with the same
undeviating and reliable uniformity. And thereby
whalemen distinguish this fish from other tribes of his
genus.
   ‘There go flukes!’ was now the cry from Tashtego; and
the whales disappeared.
   ‘Quick, steward!’ cried Ahab. ‘Time! time!’
   Dough-Boy hurried below, glanced at the watch, and
reported the exact minute to Ahab.
   The ship was now kept away from the wind, and she
went gently rolling before it. Tashtego reporting that the
whales had gone down heading to leeward, we
confidently looked to see them again directly in advance
of our bows. For that singular craft at times evinced by the
Sperm Whale when, sounding with his head in one
direction, he nevertheless, while concealed beneath the
surface, mills round, and swiftly swims off in the opposite
quarter—this deceitfulness of his could not now be in
action; for there was no reason to suppose that the fish
seen by Tashtego had been in any way alarmed, or indeed
knew at all of our vicinity. One of the men selected for
shipkeepers—that is, those not appointed to the boats, by
this time relieved the Indian at the main-mast head. The


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sailors at the fore and mizzen had come down; the line
tubs were fixed in their places; the cranes were thrust out;
the mainyard was backed, and the three boats swung over
the sea like three samphire baskets over high cliffs. Outside
of the bulwarks their eager crews with one hand clung to
the rail, while one foot was expectantly poised on the
gunwale. So look the long line of man-of-war’s men
about to throw themselves on board an enemy’s ship.
    But at this critical instant a sudden exclamation was
heard that took every eye from the whale. With a start all
glared at dark Ahab, who was surrounded by five dusky
phantoms that seemed fresh formed out of air.




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                      Chapter 48

   The First Lowering.
   The phantoms, for so they then seemed, were flitting
on the other side of the deck, and, with a noiseless
celerity, were casting loose the tackles and bands of the
boat which swung there. This boat had always been
deemed one of the spare boats, though technically called
the captain’s, on account of its hanging from the starboard
quarter. The figure that now stood by its bows was tall and
swart, with one white tooth evilly protruding from its
steel-like lips. A rumpled Chinese jacket of black cotton
funereally invested him, with wide black trowsers of the
same dark stuff. But strangely crowning this ebonness was
a glistening white plaited turban, the living hair braided
and coiled round and round upon his head. Less swart in
aspect, the companions of this figure were of that vivid,
tiger-yellow complexion peculiar to some of the
aboriginal natives of the Manillas;—a race notorious for a
certain diabolism of subtilty, and by some honest white
mariners supposed to be the paid spies and secret
confidential agents on the water of the devil, their lord,
whose counting-room they suppose to be elsewhere.


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    While yet the wondering ship’s company were gazing
upon these strangers, Ahab cried out to the white-
turbaned old man at their head, ‘All ready there, Fedallah?’
    ‘Ready,’ was the half-hissed reply.
    ‘Lower away then; d’ye hear?’ shouting across the deck.
‘Lower away there, I say.’
    Such was the thunder of his voice, that spite of their
amazement the men sprang over the rail; the sheaves
whirled round in the blocks; with a wallow, the three
boats dropped into the sea; while, with a dexterous, off-
handed daring, unknown in any other vocation, the
sailors, goat-like, leaped down the rolling ship’s side into
the tossed boats below.
    Hardly had they pulled out from under the ship’s lee,
when a fourth keel, coming from the windward side,
pulled round under the stern, and showed the five
strangers rowing Ahab, who, standing erect in the stern,
loudly hailed Starbuck, Stubb, and Flask, to spread
themselves widely, so as to cover a large expanse of water.
But with all their eyes again riveted upon the swart
Fedallah and his crew, the inmates of the other boats
obeyed not the command.
    ‘Captain Ahab?—’ said Starbuck.



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    ‘Spread yourselves,’ cried Ahab; ‘give way, all four
boats. Thou, Flask, pull out more to leeward!’
    ‘Aye, aye, sir,’ cheerily cried little King-Post, sweeping
round his great steering oar. ‘Lay back!’ addressing his
crew. ‘There!—there!—there again! There she blows right
ahead, boys!—lay back!’
    ‘Never heed yonder yellow boys, Archy.’
    ‘Oh, I don’t mind’em, sir,’ said Archy; ‘I knew it all
before now. Didn’t I hear ‘em in the hold? And didn’t I
tell Cabaco here of it? What say ye, Cabaco? They are
stowaways, Mr. Flask.’
    ‘Pull, pull, my fine hearts-alive; pull, my children; pull,
my little ones,’ drawlingly and soothingly sighed Stubb to
his crew, some of whom still showed signs of uneasiness.
‘Why don’t you break your backbones, my boys? What is
it you stare at? Those chaps in yonder boat? Tut! They are
only five more hands come to help us—never mind from
where—the more the merrier. Pull, then, do pull; never
mind the brimstone—devils are good fellows enough. So,
so; there you are now; that’s the stroke for a thousand
pounds; that’s the stroke to sweep the stakes! Hurrah for
the gold cup of sperm oil, my heroes! Three cheers,
men—all hearts alive! Easy, easy; don’t be in a hurry—
don’t be in a hurry. Why don’t you snap your oars, you


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rascals? Bite something, you dogs! So, so, so, then:—softly,
softly! That’s it—that’s it! long and strong. Give way
there, give way! The devil fetch ye, ye ragamuffin
rapscallions; ye are all asleep. Stop snoring, ye sleepers, and
pull. Pull, will ye? pull, can’t ye? pull, won’t ye? Why in
the name of gudgeons and ginger-cakes don’t ye pull?—
pull and break something! pull, and start your eyes out!
Here!’ whipping out the sharp knife from his girdle; ‘every
mother’s son of ye draw his knife, and pull with the blade
between his teeth. That’s it—that’s it. Now ye do
something; that looks like it, my steel-bits. Start her—start
her, my silver-spoons! Start her, marling-spikes!’
   Stubb’s exordium to his crew is given here at large,
because he had rather a peculiar way of talking to them in
general, and especially in inculcating the religion of
rowing. But you must not suppose from this specimen of
his sermonizings that he ever flew into downright passions
with his congregation. Not at all; and therein consisted his
chief peculiarity. He would say the most terrific things to
his crew, in a tone so strangely compounded of fun and
fury, and the fury seemed so calculated merely as a spice to
the fun, that no oarsman could hear such queer
invocations without pulling for dear life, and yet pulling
for the mere joke of the thing. Besides he all the time


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looked so easy and indolent himself, so loungingly
managed his steering-oar, and so broadly gaped—open-
mouthed at times—that the mere sight of such a yawning
commander, by sheer force of contrast, acted like a charm
upon the crew. Then again, Stubb was one of those odd
sort of humorists, whose jollity is sometimes so curiously
ambiguous, as to put all inferiors on their guard in the
matter of obeying them.
   In obedience to a sign from Ahab, Starbuck was now
pulling obliquely across Stubb’s bow; and when for a
minute or so the two boats were pretty near to each other,
Stubb hailed the mate.
   ‘Mr. Starbuck! larboard boat there, ahoy! a word with
ye, sir, if ye please!’
   ‘Halloa!’ returned Starbuck, turning round not a single
inch as he spoke; still earnestly but whisperingly urging his
crew; his face set like a flint from Stubb’s.
   ‘What think ye of those yellow boys, sir!
   ‘Smuggled on board, somehow, before the ship sailed.
(Strong, strong, boys!)’ in a whisper to his crew, then
speaking out loud again: ‘A sad business, Mr. Stubb!
(seethe her, seethe her, my lads!) but never mind, Mr.
Stubb, all for the best. Let all your crew pull strong, come
what will. (Spring, my men, spring!) There’s hogsheads of


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sperm ahead, Mr. Stubb, and that’s what ye came for.
(Pull, my boys!) Sperm, sperm’s the play! This at least is
duty; duty and profit hand in hand.’
    ‘Aye, aye, I thought as much,’ soliloquized Stubb,
when the boats diverged, ‘as soon as I clapt eye on ‘em, I
thought so. Aye, and that’s what he went into the after
hold for, so often, as Dough-Boy long suspected. They
were hidden down there. The White Whale’s at the
bottom of it. Well, well, so be it! Can’t be helped! All
right! Give way, men! It ain’t the White Whale to-day!
Give way!’
    Now the advent of these outlandish strangers at such a
critical instant as the lowering of the boats from the deck,
this had not unreasonably awakened a sort of superstitious
amazement in some of the ship’s company; but Archy’s
fancied discovery having some time previous got abroad
among them, though indeed not credited then, this had in
some small measure prepared them for the event. It took
off the extreme edge of their wonder; and so what with all
this and Stubb’s confident way of accounting for their
appearance, they were for the time freed from superstitious
surmisings; though the affair still left abundant room for all
manner of wild conjectures as to dark Ahab’s precise
agency in the matter from the beginning. For me, I


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silently recalled the mysterious shadows I had seen
creeping on board the Pequod during the dim Nantucket
dawn, as well as the enigmatical hintings of the
unaccountable Elijah.
    Meantime, Ahab, out of hearing of his officers, having
sided the furthest to windward, was still ranging ahead of
the other boats; a circumstance bespeaking how potent a
crew was pulling him. Those tiger yellow creatures of his
seemed all steel and whalebone; like five trip-hammers
they rose and fell with regular strokes of strength, which
periodically started the boat along the water like a
horizontal burst boiler out of a Mississippi steamer. As for
Fedallah, who was seen pulling the harpooneer oar, he had
thrown aside his black jacket, and displayed his naked
chest with the whole part of his body above the gunwale,
clearly cut against the alternating depressions of the watery
horizon; while at the other end of the boat Ahab, with
one arm, like a fencer’s, thrown half backward into the air,
as if to counterbalance any tendency to trip; Ahab was
seen steadily managing his steering oar as in a thousand
boat lowerings ere the White Whale had torn him. All at
once the outstretched arm gave a peculiar motion and
then remained fixed, while the boat’s five oars were seen
simultaneously peaked. Boat and crew sat motionless on


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the sea. Instantly the three spread boats in the rear paused
on their way. The whales had irregularly settled bodily
down into the blue, thus giving no distantly discernible
token of the movement, though from his closer vicinity
Ahab had observed it.
    ‘Every man look out along his oars!’ cried Starbuck.
‘Thou, Queequeg, stand up!’
    Nimbly springing up on the triangular raised box in the
bow, the savage stood erect there, and with intensely eager
eyes gazed off towards the spot where the chase had last
been descried. Likewise upon the extreme stern of the
boat where it was also triangularly platformed level with
the gunwale, Starbuck himself was seen coolly and adroitly
balancing himself to the jerking tossings of his chip of a
craft, and silently eyeing the vast blue eye of the sea.
    Not very far distant Flask’s boat was also lying
breathlessly still; its commander recklessly standing upon
the top of the loggerhead, a stout sort of post rooted in the
keel, and rising some two feet above the level of the stern
platform. It is used for catching turns with the whale line.
Its top is not more spacious than the palm of a man’s hand,
and standing upon such a base as that, Flask seemed
perched at the mast-head of some ship which had sunk to
all but her trucks. But little King-Post was small and short,


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and at the same time little King-Post was full of a large and
tall ambition, so that this loggerhead stand-point of his did
by no means satisfy King-Post.
    ‘I can’t see three seas off; tip us up an oar there, and let
me on to that.’
    Upon this, Daggoo, with either hand upon the
gunwale to steady his way, swiftly slid aft, and then
erecting himself volunteered his lofty shoulders for a
pedestal.
    ‘Good a mast-head as any, sir. Will you mount?’
    ‘That I will, and thank ye very much, my fine fellow;
only I wish you fifty feet taller.’
    Whereupon planting his feet firmly against two
opposite planks of the boat, the gigantic negro, stooping a
little, presented his flat palm to Flask’s foot, and then
putting Flask’s hand on his hearse-plumed head and
bidding him spring as he himself should toss, with one
dexterous fling landed the little man high and dry on his
shoulders. And here was Flask now standing, Daggoo with
one lifted arm furnishing him with a breastband to lean
against and steady himself by.
    At any time it is a strange sight to the tyro to see with
what wondrous habitude of unconscious skill the
whaleman will maintain an erect posture in his boat, even


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when pitched about by the most riotously perverse and
cross-running seas. Still more strange to see him giddily
perched upon the loggerhead itself, under such
circumstances. But the sight of little Flask mounted upon
gigantic Daggoo was yet more curious; for sustaining
himself with a cool, indifferent, easy, unthought of,
barbaric majesty, the noble negro to every roll of the sea
harmoniously rolled his fine form. On his broad back,
flaxen-haired Flask seemed a snow-flake. The bearer
looked nobler than the rider. Though truly vivacious,
tumultuous, ostentatious little Flask would now and then
stamp with impatience; but not one added heave did he
thereby give to the negro’s lordly chest. So have I seen
Passion and Vanity stamping the living magnanimous
earth, but the earth did not alter her tides and her seasons
for that.
    Meanwhile Stubb, the third mate, betrayed no such far-
gazing solicitudes. The whales might have made one of
their regular soundings, not a temporary dive from mere
fright; and if that were the case, Stubb, as his wont in such
cases, it seems, was resolved to solace the languishing
interval with his pipe. He withdrew it from his hatband,
where he always wore it aslant like a feather. He loaded it,
and rammed home the loading with his thumb-end; but


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hardly had he ignited his match across the rough sandpaper
of his hand, when Tashtego, his harpooneer, whose eyes
had been setting to windward like two fixed stars,
suddenly dropped like light from his erect attitude to his
seat, crying out in a quick phrensy of hurry, ‘Down, down
all, and give way!—there they are!’
    To a landsman, no whale, nor any sign of a herring,
would have been visible at that moment; nothing but a
troubled bit of greenish white water, and thin scattered
puffs of vapour hovering over it, and suffusingly blowing
off to leeward, like the confused scud from white rolling
billows. The air around suddenly vibrated and tingled, as it
were, like the air over intensely heated plates of iron.
Beneath this atmospheric waving and curling, and partially
beneath a thin layer of water, also, the whales were
swimming. Seen in advance of all the other indications,
the puffs of vapour they spouted, seemed their forerunning
couriers and detached flying outriders.
    All four boats were now in keen pursuit of that one
spot of troubled water and air. But it bade fair to outstrip
them; it flew on and on, as a mass of interblending bubbles
borne down a rapid stream from the hills.
    ‘Pull, pull, my good boys,’ said Starbuck, in the lowest
possible but intensest concentrated whisper to his men;


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while the sharp fixed glance from his eyes darted straight
ahead of the bow, almost seemed as two visible needles in
two unerring binnacle compasses. He did not say much to
his crew, though, nor did his crew say anything to him.
Only the silence of the boat was at intervals startlingly
pierced by one of his peculiar whispers, now harsh with
command, now soft with entreaty.
    How different the loud little King-Post. ‘Sing out and
say something, my hearties. Roar and pull, my
thunderbolts! Beach me, beach me on their black backs,
boys; only do that for me, and I’ll sign over to you my
Martha’s Vineyard plantation, boys; including wife and
children, boys. Lay me on—lay me on! O Lord, Lord! but
I shall go stark, staring mad! See! see that white water!’
And so shouting, he pulled his hat from his head, and
stamped up and down on it; then picking it up, flirted it
far off upon the sea; and finally fell to rearing and plunging
in the boat’s stern like a crazed colt from the prairie.
    ‘Look at that chap now,’ philosophically drawled
Stubb, who, with his unlighted short pipe, mechanically
retained between his teeth, at a short distance, followed
after—‘He’s got fits, that Flask has. Fits? yes, give him
fits—that’s the very word—pitch fits into ‘em. Merrily,
merrily, hearts-alive. Pudding for supper, you know;—


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merry’s the word. Pull, babes—pull, sucklings—pull, all.
But what the devil are you hurrying about? Softly, softly,
and steadily, my men. Only pull, and keep pulling;
nothing more. Crack all your backbones, and bite your
knives in two—that’s all. Take it easy—why don’t ye take
it easy, I say, and burst all your livers and lungs!’
    But what it was that inscrutable Ahab said to that tiger-
yellow crew of his—these were words best omitted here;
for you live under the blessed light of the evangelical land.
Only the infidel sharks in the audacious seas may give ear
to such words, when, with tornado brow, and eyes of red
murder, and foam-glued lips, Ahab leaped after his prey.
    Meanwhile, all the boats tore on. The repeated specific
allusions of Flask to ‘that whale,’ as he called the fictitious
monster which he declared to be incessantly tantalizing his
boat’s bow with its tail—these allusions of his were at
times so vivid and life-like, that they would cause some
one or two of his men to snatch a fearful look over the
shoulder. But this was against all rule; for the oarsmen
must put out their eyes, and ram a skewer through their
necks; usage pronouncing that they must have no organs
but ears, and no limbs but arms, in these critical moments.
    It was a sight full of quick wonder and awe! The vast
swells of the omnipotent sea; the surging, hollow roar they


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made, as they rolled along the eight gunwales, like gigantic
bowls in a boundless bowling-green; the brief suspended
agony of the boat, as it would tip for an instant on the
knife-like edge of the sharper waves, that almost seemed
threatening to cut it in two; the sudden profound dip into
the watery glens and hollows; the keen spurrings and
goadings to gain the top of the opposite hill; the headlong,
sled-like slide down its other side;—all these, with the
cries of the headsmen and harpooneers, and the
shuddering gasps of the oarsmen, with the wondrous sight
of the ivory Pequod bearing down upon her boats with
outstretched sails, like a wild hen after her screaming
brood;—all this was thrilling.
    Not the raw recruit, marching from the bosom of his
wife into the fever heat of his first battle; not the dead
man’s ghost encountering the first unknown phantom in
the other world;—neither of these can feel stranger and
stronger emotions than that man does, who for the first
time finds himself pulling into the charmed, churned circle
of the hunted sperm whale.
    The dancing white water made by the chase was now
becoming more and more visible, owing to the increasing
darkness of the dun cloud-shadows flung upon the sea.
The jets of vapour no longer blended, but tilted


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everywhere to right and left; the whales seemed separating
their wakes. The boats were pulled more apart; Starbuck
giving chase to three whales running dead to leeward. Our
sail was now set, and, with the still rising wind, we rushed
along; the boat going with such madness through the
water, that the lee oars could scarcely be worked rapidly
enough to escape being torn from the row-locks.
    Soon we were running through a suffusing wide veil of
mist; neither ship nor boat to be seen.
    ‘Give way, men,’ whispered Starbuck, drawing still
further aft the sheet of his sail; ‘there is time to kill a fish
yet before the squall comes. There’s white water again!—
close to! Spring!’
    Soon after, two cries in quick succession on each side
of us denoted that the other boats had got fast; but hardly
were they overheard, when with a lightning-like hurtling
whisper Starbuck said: ‘Stand up!’ and Queequeg, harpoon
in hand, sprang to his feet.
    Though not one of the oarsmen was then facing the life
and death peril so close to them ahead, yet with their eyes
on the intense countenance of the mate in the stern of the
boat, they knew that the imminent instant had come; they
heard, too, an enormous wallowing sound as of fifty
elephants stirring in their litter. Meanwhile the boat was


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still booming through the mist, the waves curling and
hissing around us like the erected crests of enraged
serpents.
    ‘That’s his hump. THERE, THERE, give it to him!’
whispered Starbuck.
    A short rushing sound leaped out of the boat; it was the
darted iron of Queequeg. Then all in one welded
commotion came an invisible push from astern, while
forward the boat seemed striking on a ledge; the sail
collapsed and exploded; a gush of scalding vapour shot up
near by; something rolled and tumbled like an earthquake
beneath us. The whole crew were half suffocated as they
were tossed helter-skelter into the white curdling cream of
the squall. Squall, whale, and harpoon had all blended
together; and the whale, merely grazed by the iron,
escaped.
    Though completely swamped, the boat was nearly
unharmed. Swimming round it we picked up the floating
oars, and lashing them across the gunwale, tumbled back
to our places. There we sat up to our knees in the sea, the
water covering every rib and plank, so that to our
downward gazing eyes the suspended craft seemed a coral
boat grown up to us from the bottom of the ocean.



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   The wind increased to a howl; the waves dashed their
bucklers together; the whole squall roared, forked, and
crackled around us like a white fire upon the prairie, in
which, unconsumed, we were burning; immortal in these
jaws of death! In vain we hailed the other boats; as well
roar to the live coals down the chimney of a flaming
furnace as hail those boats in that storm. Meanwhile the
driving scud, rack, and mist, grew darker with the shadows
of night; no sign of the ship could be seen. The rising sea
forbade all attempts to bale out the boat. The oars were
useless as propellers, performing now the office of life-
preservers. So, cutting the lashing of the waterproof match
keg, after many failures Starbuck contrived to ignite the
lamp in the lantern; then stretching it on a waif pole,
handed it to Queequeg as the standard-bearer of this
forlorn hope. There, then, he sat, holding up that imbecile
candle in the heart of that almighty forlornness. There,
then, he sat, the sign and symbol of a man without faith,
hopelessly holding up hope in the midst of despair.
   Wet, drenched through, and shivering cold, despairing
of ship or boat, we lifted up our eyes as the dawn came
on. The mist still spread over the sea, the empty lantern
lay crushed in the bottom of the boat. Suddenly
Queequeg started to his feet, hollowing his hand to his


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ear. We all heard a faint creaking, as of ropes and yards
hitherto muffled by the storm. The sound came nearer and
nearer; the thick mists were dimly parted by a huge, vague
form. Affrighted, we all sprang into the sea as the ship at
last loomed into view, bearing right down upon us within
a distance of not much more than its length.
    Floating on the waves we saw the abandoned boat, as
for one instant it tossed and gaped beneath the ship’s bows
like a chip at the base of a cataract; and then the vast hull
rolled over it, and it was seen no more till it came up
weltering astern. Again we swam for it, were dashed
against it by the seas, and were at last taken up and safely
landed on board. Ere the squall came close to, the other
boats had cut loose from their fish and returned to the ship
in good time. The ship had given us up, but was still
cruising, if haply it might light upon some token of our
perishing,—an oar or a lance pole.




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                       Chapter 49

    The Hyena.
    There are certain queer times and occasions in this
strange mixed affair we call life when a man takes this
whole universe for a vast practical joke, though the wit
thereof he but dimly discerns, and more than suspects that
the joke is at nobody’s expense but his own. However,
nothing dispirits, and nothing seems worth while
disputing. He bolts down all events, all creeds, and beliefs,
and persuasions, all hard things visible and invisible, never
mind how knobby; as an ostrich of potent digestion
gobbles down bullets and gun flints. And as for small
difficulties and worryings, prospects of sudden disaster,
peril of life and limb; all these, and death itself, seem to
him only sly, good-natured hits, and jolly punches in the
side bestowed by the unseen and unaccountable old joker.
That odd sort of wayward mood I am speaking of, comes
over a man only in some time of extreme tribulation; it
comes in the very midst of his earnestness, so that what
just before might have seemed to him a thing most
momentous, now seems but a part of the general joke.
There is nothing like the perils of whaling to breed this


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free and easy sort of genial, desperado philosophy; and
with it I now regarded this whole voyage of the Pequod,
and the great White Whale its object.
   ‘Queequeg,’ said I, when they had dragged me, the last
man, to the deck, and I was still shaking myself in my
jacket to fling off the water; ‘Queequeg, my fine friend,
does this sort of thing often happen?’ Without much
emotion, though soaked through just like me, he gave me
to understand that such things did often happen.
   ‘Mr. Stubb,’ said I, turning to that worthy, who,
buttoned up in his oil-jacket, was now calmly smoking his
pipe in the rain; ‘Mr. Stubb, I think I have heard you say
that of all whalemen you ever met, our chief mate, Mr.
Starbuck, is by far the most careful and prudent. I suppose
then, that going plump on a flying whale with your sail set
in a foggy squall is the height of a whaleman’s discretion?’
   ‘Certain. I’ve lowered for whales from a leaking ship in
a gale off Cape Horn.’
   ‘Mr. Flask,’ said I, turning to little King-Post, who was
standing close by; ‘you are experienced in these things,
and I am not. Will you tell me whether it is an unalterable
law in this fishery, Mr. Flask, for an oarsman to break his
own back pulling himself back-foremost into death’s
jaws?’


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    ‘Can’t you twist that smaller?’ said Flask. ‘Yes, that’s the
law. I should like to see a boat’s crew backing water up to
a whale face foremost. Ha, ha! the whale would give them
squint for squint, mind that!’
    Here then, from three impartial witnesses, I had a
deliberate statement of the entire case. Considering,
therefore, that squalls and capsizings in the water and
consequent bivouacks on the deep, were matters of
common occurrence in this kind of life; considering that
at the superlatively critical instant of going on to the whale
I must resign my life into the hands of him who steered
the boat—oftentimes a fellow who at that very moment is
in his impetuousness upon the point of scuttling the craft
with his own frantic stampings; considering that the
particular disaster to our own particular boat was chiefly to
be imputed to Starbuck’s driving on to his whale almost in
the teeth of a squall, and considering that Starbuck,
notwithstanding, was famous for his great heedfulness in
the fishery; considering that I belonged to this
uncommonly prudent Starbuck’s boat; and finally
considering in what a devil’s chase I was implicated,
touching the White Whale: taking all things together, I
say, I thought I might as well go below and make a rough



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draft of my will. ‘Queequeg,’ said I, ‘come along, you shall
be my lawyer, executor, and legatee.’
    It may seem strange that of all men sailors should be
tinkering at their last wills and testaments, but there are no
people in the world more fond of that diversion. This was
the fourth time in my nautical life that I had done the
same thing. After the ceremony was concluded upon the
present occasion, I felt all the easier; a stone was rolled
away from my heart. Besides, all the days I should now
live would be as good as the days that Lazarus lived after
his resurrection; a supplementary clean gain of so many
months or weeks as the case might be. I survived myself;
my death and burial were locked up in my chest. I looked
round me tranquilly and contentedly, like a quiet ghost
with a clean conscience sitting inside the bars of a snug
family vault.
    Now then, thought I, unconsciously rolling up the
sleeves of my frock, here goes for a cool, collected dive at
death and destruction, and the devil fetch the hindmost.




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                       Chapter 50

   Ahab’s Boat and Crew. Fedallah.
   ‘Who would have thought it, Flask!’ cried Stubb; ‘if I
had but one leg you would not catch me in a boat, unless
maybe to stop the plug-hole with my timber toe. Oh! he’s
a wonderful old man!’
   ‘I don’t think it so strange, after all, on that account,’
said Flask. ‘If his leg were off at the hip, now, it would be
a different thing. That would disable him; but he has one
knee, and good part of the other left, you know.’
   ‘I don’t know that, my little man; I never yet saw him
kneel.’
   Among whale-wise people it has often been argued
whether, considering the paramount importance of his life
to the success of the voyage, it is right for a whaling
captain to jeopardize that life in the active perils of the
chase. So Tamerlane’s soldiers often argued with tears in
their eyes, whether that invaluable life of his ought to be
carried into the thickest of the fight.
   But with Ahab the question assumed a modified aspect.
Considering that with two legs man is but a hobbling
wight in all times of danger; considering that the pursuit of


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whales is always under great and extraordinary difficulties;
that every individual moment, indeed, then comprises a
peril; under these circumstances is it wise for any maimed
man to enter a whale-boat in the hunt? As a general thing,
the joint-owners of the Pequod must have plainly thought
not.
    Ahab well knew that although his friends at home
would think little of his entering a boat in certain
comparatively harmless vicissitudes of the chase, for the
sake of being near the scene of action and giving his orders
in person, yet for Captain Ahab to have a boat actually
apportioned to him as a regular headsman in the hunt—
above all for Captain Ahab to be supplied with five extra
men, as that same boat’s crew, he well knew that such
generous conceits never entered the heads of the owners
of the Pequod. Therefore he had not solicited a boat’s
crew from them, nor had he in any way hinted his desires
on that head. Nevertheless he had taken private measures
of his own touching all that matter. Until Cabaco’s
published discovery, the sailors had little foreseen it,
though to be sure when, after being a little while out of
port, all hands had concluded the customary business of
fitting the whaleboats for service; when some time after
this Ahab was now and then found bestirring himself in


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the matter of making thole-pins with his own hands for
what was thought to be one of the spare boats, and even
solicitously cutting the small wooden skewers, which
when the line is running out are pinned over the groove
in the bow: when all this was observed in him, and
particularly his solicitude in having an extra coat of
sheathing in the bottom of the boat, as if to make it better
withstand the pointed pressure of his ivory limb; and also
the anxiety he evinced in exactly shaping the thigh board,
or clumsy cleat, as it is sometimes called, the horizontal
piece in the boat’s bow for bracing the knee against in
darting or stabbing at the whale; when it was observed
how often he stood up in that boat with his solitary knee
fixed in the semi-circular depression in the cleat, and with
the carpenter’s chisel gouged out a little here and
straightened it a little there; all these things, I say, had
awakened much interest and curiosity at the time. But
almost everybody supposed that this particular preparative
heedfulness in Ahab must only be with a view to the
ultimate chase of Moby Dick; for he had already revealed
his intention to hunt that mortal monster in person. But
such a supposition did by no means involve the remotest
suspicion as to any boat’s crew being assigned to that boat.



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   Now, with the subordinate phantoms, what wonder
remained soon waned away; for in a whaler wonders soon
wane. Besides, now and then such unaccountable odds
and ends of strange nations come up from the unknown
nooks and ash-holes of the earth to man these floating
outlaws of whalers; and the ships themselves often pick up
such queer castaway creatures found tossing about the
open sea on planks, bits of wreck, oars, whaleboats,
canoes, blown-off Japanese junks, and what not; that
Beelzebub himself might climb up the side and step down
into the cabin to chat with the captain, and it would not
create any unsubduable excitement in the forecastle.
   But be all this as it may, certain it is that while the
subordinate phantoms soon found their place among the
crew, though still as it were somehow distinct from them,
yet that hair-turbaned Fedallah remained a muffled
mystery to the last. Whence he came in a mannerly world
like this, by what sort of unaccountable tie he soon
evinced himself to be linked with Ahab’s peculiar fortunes;
nay, so far as to have some sort of a half-hinted influence;
Heaven knows, but it might have been even authority
over him; all this none knew. But one cannot sustain an
indifferent air concerning Fedallah. He was such a creature
as civilized, domestic people in the temperate zone only


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see in their dreams, and that but dimly; but the like of
whom now and then glide among the unchanging Asiatic
communities, especially the Oriental isles to the east of the
continent—those insulated, immemorial, unalterable
countries, which even in these modern days still preserve
much of the ghostly aboriginalness of earth’s primal
generations, when the memory of the first man was a
distinct recollection, and all men his descendants,
unknowing whence he came, eyed each other as real
phantoms, and asked of the sun and the moon why they
were created and to what end; when though, according to
Genesis, the angels indeed consorted with the daughters of
men, the devils also, add the uncanonical Rabbins,
indulged in mundane amours.




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                        Chapter 51

   The Spirit-Spout.
   Days, weeks passed, and under easy sail, the ivory
Pequod had slowly swept across four several cruising-
grounds; that off the Azores; off the Cape de Verdes; on
the Plate (so called), being off the mouth of the Rio de la
Plata; and the Carrol Ground, an unstaked, watery
locality, southerly from St. Helena.
   It was while gliding through these latter waters that one
serene and moonlight night, when all the waves rolled by
like scrolls of silver; and, by their soft, suffusing seethings,
made what seemed a silvery silence, not a solitude; on
such a silent night a silvery jet was seen far in advance of
the white bubbles at the bow. Lit up by the moon, it
looked celestial; seemed some plumed and glittering god
uprising from the sea. Fedallah first descried this jet. For of
these moonlight nights, it was his wont to mount to the
main-mast head, and stand a look-out there, with the same
precision as if it had been day. And yet, though herds of
whales were seen by night, not one whaleman in a
hundred would venture a lowering for them. You may
think with what emotions, then, the seamen beheld this


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old Oriental perched aloft at such unusual hours; his
turban and the moon, companions in one sky. But when,
after spending his uniform interval there for several
successive nights without uttering a single sound; when,
after all this silence, his unearthly voice was heard
announcing that silvery, moon-lit jet, every reclining
mariner started to his feet as if some winged spirit had
lighted in the rigging, and hailed the mortal crew. ‘There
she blows!’ Had the trump of judgment blown, they could
not have quivered more; yet still they felt no terror; rather
pleasure. For though it was a most unwonted hour, yet so
impressive was the cry, and so deliriously exciting, that
almost every soul on board instinctively desired a
lowering.
    Walking the deck with quick, side-lunging strides,
Ahab commanded the t’gallant sails and royals to be set,
and every stunsail spread. The best man in the ship must
take the helm. Then, with every mast-head manned, the
piled-up craft rolled down before the wind. The strange,
upheaving, lifting tendency of the taffrail breeze filling the
hollows of so many sails, made the buoyant, hovering
deck to feel like air beneath the feet; while still she rushed
along, as if two antagonistic influences were struggling in
her—one to mount direct to heaven, the other to drive


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yawingly to some horizontal goal. And had you watched
Ahab’s face that night, you would have thought that in
him also two different things were warring. While his one
live leg made lively echoes along the deck, every stroke of
his dead limb sounded like a coffin-tap. On life and death
this old man walked. But though the ship so swiftly sped,
and though from every eye, like arrows, the eager glances
shot, yet the silvery jet was no more seen that night. Every
sailor swore he saw it once, but not a second time.
    This midnight-spout had almost grown a forgotten
thing, when, some days after, lo! at the same silent hour, it
was again announced: again it was descried by all; but
upon making sail to overtake it, once more it disappeared
as if it had never been. And so it served us night after
night, till no one heeded it but to wonder at it.
Mysteriously jetted into the clear moonlight, or starlight,
as the case might be; disappearing again for one whole
day, or two days, or three; and somehow seeming at every
distinct repetition to be advancing still further and further
in our van, this solitary jet seemed for ever alluring us on.
    Nor with the immemorial superstition of their race,
and in accordance with the preternaturalness, as it seemed,
which in many things invested the Pequod, were there
wanting some of the seamen who swore that whenever


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and wherever descried; at however remote times, or in
however far apart latitudes and longitudes, that unnearable
spout was cast by one self-same whale; and that whale,
Moby Dick. For a time, there reigned, too, a sense of
peculiar dread at this flitting apparition, as if it were
treacherously beckoning us on and on, in order that the
monster might turn round upon us, and rend us at last in
the remotest and most savage seas.
    These temporary apprehensions, so vague but so awful,
derived a wondrous potency from the contrasting serenity
of the weather, in which, beneath all its blue blandness,
some thought there lurked a devilish charm, as for days
and days we voyaged along, through seas so wearily,
lonesomely mild, that all space, in repugnance to our
vengeful errand, seemed vacating itself of life before our
urn-like prow.
    But, at last, when turning to the eastward, the Cape
winds began howling around us, and we rose and fell
upon the long, troubled seas that are there; when the
ivory-tusked Pequod sharply bowed to the blast, and
gored the dark waves in her madness, till, like showers of
silver chips, the foam-flakes flew over her bulwarks; then
all this desolate vacuity of life went away, but gave place
to sights more dismal than before.


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    Close to our bows, strange forms in the water darted
hither and thither before us; while thick in our rear flew
the inscrutable sea-ravens. And every morning, perched
on our stays, rows of these birds were seen; and spite of
our hootings, for a long time obstinately clung to the
hemp, as though they deemed our ship some drifting,
uninhabited craft; a thing appointed to desolation, and
therefore fit roosting-place for their homeless selves. And
heaved and heaved, still unrestingly heaved the black sea,
as if its vast tides were a conscience; and the great
mundane soul were in anguish and remorse for the long
sin and suffering it had bred.
    Cape of Good Hope, do they call ye? Rather Cape
Tormentoto, as called of yore; for long allured by the
perfidious silences that before had attended us, we found
ourselves launched into this tormented sea, where guilty
beings transformed into those fowls and these fish, seemed
condemned to swim on everlastingly without any haven in
store, or beat that black air without any horizon. But calm,
snow-white, and unvarying; still directing its fountain of
feathers to the sky; still beckoning us on from before, the
solitary jet would at times be descried.
    During all this blackness of the elements, Ahab, though
assuming for the time the almost continual command of


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the drenched and dangerous deck, manifested the
gloomiest reserve; and more seldom than ever addressed
his mates. In tempestuous times like these, after everything
above and aloft has been secured, nothing more can be
done but passively to await the issue of the gale. Then
Captain and crew become practical fatalists. So, with his
ivory leg inserted into its accustomed hole, and with one
hand firmly grasping a shroud, Ahab for hours and hours
would stand gazing dead to windward, while an occasional
squall of sleet or snow would all but congeal his very
eyelashes together. Meantime, the crew driven from the
forward part of the ship by the perilous seas that burstingly
broke over its bows, stood in a line along the bulwarks in
the waist; and the better to guard against the leaping
waves, each man had slipped himself into a sort of bowline
secured to the rail, in which he swung as in a loosened
belt. Few or no words were spoken; and the silent ship, as
if manned by painted sailors in wax, day after day tore on
through all the swift madness and gladness of the
demoniac waves. By night the same muteness of humanity
before the shrieks of the ocean prevailed; still in silence the
men swung in the bowlines; still wordless Ahab stood up
to the blast. Even when wearied nature seemed
demanding repose he would not seek that repose in his


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hammock. Never could Starbuck forget the old man’s
aspect, when one night going down into the cabin to
mark how the barometer stood, he saw him with closed
eyes sitting straight in his floor-screwed chair; the rain and
half-melted sleet of the storm from which he had some
time before emerged, still slowly dripping from the
unremoved hat and coat. On the table beside him lay
unrolled one of those charts of tides and currents which
have previously been spoken of. His lantern swung from
his tightly clenched hand. Though the body was erect, the
head was thrown back so that the closed eyes were
pointed towards the needle of the tell-tale that swung
from a beam in the ceiling.*
    *The cabin-compass is called the tell-tale, because
without going to the compass at the helm, the Captain,
while below, can inform himself of the course of the ship.
    Terrible old man! thought Starbuck with a shudder,
sleeping in this gale, still thou steadfastly eyest thy purpose.




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                      Chapter 52

   The Albatross.
   South-eastward from the Cape, off the distant Crozetts,
a good cruising ground for Right Whalemen, a sail
loomed ahead, the Goney (Albatross) by name. As she
slowly drew nigh, from my lofty perch at the fore-mast-
head, I had a good view of that sight so remarkable to a
tyro in the far ocean fisheries—a whaler at sea, and long
absent from home.
   As if the waves had been fullers, this craft was bleached
like the skeleton of a stranded walrus. All down her sides,
this spectral appearance was traced with long channels of
reddened rust, while all her spars and her rigging were like
the thick branches of trees furred over with hoar-frost.
Only her lower sails were set. A wild sight it was to see
her long-bearded look-outs at those three mast-heads.
They seemed clad in the skins of beasts, so torn and
bepatched the raiment that had survived nearly four years
of cruising. Standing in iron hoops nailed to the mast, they
swayed and swung over a fathomless sea; and though,
when the ship slowly glided close under our stern, we six
men in the air came so nigh to each other that we might


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almost have leaped from the mast-heads of one ship to
those of the other; yet, those forlorn-looking fishermen,
mildly eyeing us as they passed, said not one word to our
own look-outs, while the quarter-deck hail was being
heard from below.
    ‘Ship ahoy! Have ye seen the White Whale?’
    But as the strange captain, leaning over the pallid
bulwarks, was in the act of putting his trumpet to his
mouth, it somehow fell from his hand into the sea; and the
wind now rising amain, he in vain strove to make himself
heard without it. Meantime his ship was still increasing the
distance between. While in various silent ways the seamen
of the Pequod were evincing their observance of this
ominous incident at the first mere mention of the White
Whale’s name to another ship, Ahab for a moment paused;
it almost seemed as though he would have lowered a boat
to board the stranger, had not the threatening wind
forbade. But taking advantage of his windward position,
he again seized his trumpet, and knowing by her aspect
that the stranger vessel was a Nantucketer and shortly
bound home, he loudly hailed—‘Ahoy there! This is the
Pequod, bound round the world! Tell them to address all
future letters to the Pacific ocean! and this time three
years, if I am not at home, tell them to address them to—‘


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   At that moment the two wakes were fairly crossed, and
instantly, then, in accordance with their singular ways,
shoals of small harmless fish, that for some days before had
been placidly swimming by our side, darted away with
what seemed shuddering fins, and ranged themselves fore
and aft with the stranger’s flanks. Though in the course of
his continual voyagings Ahab must often before have
noticed a similar sight, yet, to any monomaniac man, the
veriest trifles capriciously carry meanings.
   ‘Swim away from me, do ye?’ murmured Ahab, gazing
over into the water. There seemed but little in the words,
but the tone conveyed more of deep helpless sadness than
the insane old man had ever before evinced. But turning
to the steersman, who thus far had been holding the ship
in the wind to diminish her headway, he cried out in his
old lion voice,—‘Up helm! Keep her off round the
world!’
   Round the world! There is much in that sound to
inspire proud feelings; but whereto does all that
circumnavigation conduct? Only through numberless
perils to the very point whence we started, where those
that we left behind secure, were all the time before us.
   Were this world an endless plain, and by sailing
eastward we could for ever reach new distances, and


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discover sights more sweet and strange than any Cyclades
or Islands of King Solomon, then there were promise in
the voyage. But in pursuit of those far mysteries we dream
of, or in tormented chase of that demon phantom that,
some time or other, swims before all human hearts; while
chasing such over this round globe, they either lead us on
in barren mazes or midway leave us whelmed.




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                       Chapter 53

   The Gam.
   The ostensible reason why Ahab did not go on board
of the whaler we had spoken was this: the wind and sea
betokened storms. But even had this not been the case, he
would not after all, perhaps, have boarded her—judging
by his subsequent conduct on similar occasions—if so it
had been that, by the process of hailing, he had obtained a
negative answer to the question he put. For, as it
eventually turned out, he cared not to consort, even for
five minutes, with any stranger captain, except he could
contribute some of that information he so absorbingly
sought. But all this might remain inadequately estimated,
were not something said here of the peculiar usages of
whaling-vessels when meeting each other in foreign seas,
and especially on a common cruising-ground.
   If two strangers crossing the Pine Barrens in New York
State, or the equally desolate Salisbury Plain in England; if
casually encountering each other in such inhospitable
wilds, these twain, for the life of them, cannot well avoid a
mutual salutation; and stopping for a moment to
interchange the news; and, perhaps, sitting down for a


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while and resting in concert: then, how much more
natural that upon the illimitable Pine Barrens and Salisbury
Plains of the sea, two whaling vessels descrying each other
at the ends of the earth—off lone Fanning’s Island, or the
far away King’s Mills; how much more natural, I say, that
under such circumstances these ships should not only
interchange hails, but come into still closer, more friendly
and sociable contact. And especially would this seem to be
a matter of course, in the case of vessels owned in one
seaport, and whose captains, officers, and not a few of the
men are personally known to each other; and
consequently, have all sorts of dear domestic things to talk
about.
    For the long absent ship, the outward-bounder,
perhaps, has letters on board; at any rate, she will be sure
to let her have some papers of a date a year or two later
than the last one on her blurred and thumb-worn files.
And in return for that courtesy, the outward-bound ship
would receive the latest whaling intelligence from the
cruising-ground to which she may be destined, a thing of
the utmost importance to her. And in degree, all this will
hold true concerning whaling vessels crossing each other’s
track on the cruising-ground itself, even though they are
equally long absent from home. For one of them may


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have received a transfer of letters from some third, and
now far remote vessel; and some of those letters may be
for the people of the ship she now meets. Besides, they
would exchange the whaling news, and have an agreeable
chat. For not only would they meet with all the
sympathies of sailors, but likewise with all the peculiar
congenialities arising from a common pursuit and mutually
shared privations and perils.
   Nor would difference of country make any very
essential difference; that is, so long as both parties speak
one language, as is the case with Americans and English.
Though, to be sure, from the small number of English
whalers, such meetings do not very often occur, and when
they do occur there is too apt to be a sort of shyness
between them; for your Englishman is rather reserved, and
your Yankee, he does not fancy that sort of thing in
anybody but himself. Besides, the English whalers
sometimes affect a kind of metropolitan superiority over
the American whalers; regarding the long, lean
Nantucketer, with his nondescript provincialisms, as a sort
of sea-peasant. But where this superiority in the English
whalemen does really consist, it would be hard to say,
seeing that the Yankees in one day, collectively, kill more
whales than all the English, collectively, in ten years. But


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this is a harmless little foible in the English whale-hunters,
which the Nantucketer does not take much to heart;
probably, because he knows that he has a few foibles
himself.
    So, then, we see that of all ships separately sailing the
sea, the whalers have most reason to be sociable—and they
are so. Whereas, some merchant ships crossing each
other’s wake in the mid-Atlantic, will oftentimes pass on
without so much as a single word of recognition, mutually
cutting each other on the high seas, like a brace of dandies
in Broadway; and all the time indulging, perhaps, in finical
criticism upon each other’s rig. As for Men-of-War, when
they chance to meet at sea, they first go through such a
string of silly bowings and scrapings, such a ducking of
ensigns, that there does not seem to be much right-down
hearty good-will and brotherly love about it at all. As
touching Slave-ships meeting, why, they are in such a
prodigious hurry, they run away from each other as soon
as possible. And as for Pirates, when they chance to cross
each other’s cross-bones, the first hail is—‘How many
skulls?’—the same way that whalers hail—‘How many
barrels?’ And that question once answered, pirates
straightway steer apart, for they are infernal villains on



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both sides, and don’t like to see overmuch of each other’s
villanous likenesses.
    But look at the godly, honest, unostentatious,
hospitable, sociable, free-and-easy whaler! What does the
whaler do when she meets another whaler in any sort of
decent weather? She has a ‘GAM,’ a thing so utterly
unknown to all other ships that they never heard of the
name even; and if by chance they should hear of it, they
only grin at it, and repeat gamesome stuff about ‘spouters’
and ‘blubber-boilers,’ and such like pretty exclamations.
Why it is that all Merchant-seamen, and also all Pirates
and Man-of-War’s men, and Slave-ship sailors, cherish
such a scornful feeling towards Whale-ships; this is a
question it would be hard to answer. Because, in the case
of pirates, say, I should like to know whether that
profession of theirs has any peculiar glory about it. It
sometimes ends in uncommon elevation, indeed; but only
at the gallows. And besides, when a man is elevated in that
odd fashion, he has no proper foundation for his superior
altitude. Hence, I conclude, that in boasting himself to be
high lifted above a whaleman, in that assertion the pirate
has no solid basis to stand on.
    But what is a GAM? You might wear out your index-
finger running up and down the columns of dictionaries,


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and never find the word. Dr. Johnson never attained to
that erudition; Noah Webster’s ark does not hold it.
Nevertheless, this same expressive word has now for many
years been in constant use among some fifteen thousand
true born Yankees. Certainly, it needs a definition, and
should be incorporated into the Lexicon. With that view,
let me learnedly define it.
    GAM. NOUN—A SOCIAL MEETING OF TWO
(OR MORE) WHALESHIPS, GENERALLY ON A
CRUISING-GROUND;                      WHEN,           AFTER
EXCHANGING HAILS, THEY EXCHANGE VISITS
BY BOATS’ CREWS; THE TWO CAPTAINS
REMAINING, FOR THE TIME, ON BOARD OF
ONE SHIP, AND THE TWO CHIEF MATES ON
THE OTHER.
    There is another little item about Gamming which
must not be forgotten here. All professions have their own
little peculiarities of detail; so has the whale fishery. In a
pirate, man-of-war, or slave ship, when the captain is
rowed anywhere in his boat, he always sits in the stern
sheets on a comfortable, sometimes cushioned seat there,
and often steers himself with a pretty little milliner’s tiller
decorated with gay cords and ribbons. But the whale-boat
has no seat astern, no sofa of that sort whatever, and no


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tiller at all. High times indeed, if whaling captains were
wheeled about the water on castors like gouty old
aldermen in patent chairs. And as for a tiller, the whale-
boat never admits of any such effeminacy; and therefore as
in gamming a complete boat’s crew must leave the ship,
and hence as the boat steerer or harpooneer is of the
number, that subordinate is the steersman upon the
occasion, and the captain, having no place to sit in, is
pulled off to his visit all standing like a pine tree. And
often you will notice that being conscious of the eyes of
the whole visible world resting on him from the sides of
the two ships, this standing captain is all alive to the
importance of sustaining his dignity by maintaining his
legs. Nor is this any very easy matter; for in his rear is the
immense projecting steering oar hitting him now and then
in the small of his back, the after-oar reciprocating by
rapping his knees in front. He is thus completely wedged
before and behind, and can only expand himself sideways
by settling down on his stretched legs; but a sudden,
violent pitch of the boat will often go far to topple him,
because length of foundation is nothing without
corresponding breadth. Merely make a spread angle of two
poles, and you cannot stand them up. Then, again, it
would never do in plain sight of the world’s riveted eyes,


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it would never do, I say, for this straddling captain to be
seen steadying himself the slightest particle by catching
hold of anything with his hands; indeed, as token of his
entire, buoyant self-command, he generally carries his
hands in his trowsers’ pockets; but perhaps being generally
very large, heavy hands, he carries them there for ballast.
Nevertheless there have occurred instances, well
authenticated ones too, where the captain has been known
for an uncommonly critical moment or two, in a sudden
squall say—to seize hold of the nearest oarsman’s hair, and
hold on there like grim death.




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                      Chapter 54

    The Town-Ho’s Story.
    (AS TOLD AT THE GOLDEN INN)
    The Cape of Good Hope, and all the watery region
round about there, is much like some noted four corners
of a great highway, where you meet more travellers than
in any other part.
    It was not very long after speaking the Goney that
another homeward-bound whaleman, the Town-Ho,*
was encountered. She was manned almost wholly by
Polynesians. In the short gam that ensued she gave us
strong news of Moby Dick. To some the general interest
in the White Whale was now wildly heightened by a
circumstance of the Town-Ho’s story, which seemed
obscurely to involve with the whale a certain wondrous,
inverted visitation of one of those so called judgments of
God which at times are said to overtake some men. This
latter    circumstance,    with    its    own     particular
accompaniments, forming what may be called the secret
part of the tragedy about to be narrated, never reached the
ears of Captain Ahab or his mates. For that secret part of
the story was unknown to the captain of the Town-Ho


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himself. It was the private property of three confederate
white seamen of that ship, one of whom, it seems,
communicated it to Tashtego with Romish injunctions of
secrecy, but the following night Tashtego rambled in his
sleep, and revealed so much of it in that way, that when
he was wakened he could not well withhold the rest.
Nevertheless, so potent an influence did this thing have on
those seamen in the Pequod who came to the full
knowledge of it, and by such a strange delicacy, to call it
so, were they governed in this matter, that they kept the
secret among themselves so that it never transpired abaft
the Pequod’s main-mast. Interweaving in its proper place
this darker thread with the story as publicly narrated on
the ship, the whole of this strange affair I now proceed to
put on lasting record.
    *The ancient whale-cry upon first sighting a whale
from the mast-head, still used by whalemen in hunting the
famous Gallipagos terrapin.
    For my humor’s sake, I shall preserve the style in which
I once narrated it at Lima, to a lounging circle of my
Spanish friends, one saint’s eve, smoking upon the thick-
gilt tiled piazza of the Golden Inn. Of those fine cavaliers,
the young Dons, Pedro and Sebastian, were on the closer



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terms with me; and hence the interluding questions they
occasionally put, and which are duly answered at the time.
   ‘Some two years prior to my first learning the events
which I am about rehearsing to you, gentlemen, the
Town-Ho, Sperm Whaler of Nantucket, was cruising in
your Pacific here, not very many days’ sail eastward from
the eaves of this good Golden Inn. She was somewhere to
the northward of the Line. One morning upon handling
the pumps, according to daily usage, it was observed that
she made more water in her hold than common. They
supposed a sword-fish had stabbed her, gentlemen. But the
captain, having some unusual reason for believing that rare
good luck awaited him in those latitudes; and therefore
being very averse to quit them, and the leak not being
then considered at all dangerous, though, indeed, they
could not find it after searching the hold as low down as
was possible in rather heavy weather, the ship still
continued her cruisings, the mariners working at the
pumps at wide and easy intervals; but no good luck came;
more days went by, and not only was the leak yet
undiscovered, but it sensibly increased. So much so, that
now taking some alarm, the captain, making all sail, stood
away for the nearest harbor among the islands, there to
have his hull hove out and repaired.


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    ‘Though no small passage was before her, yet, if the
commonest chance favoured, he did not at all fear that his
ship would founder by the way, because his pumps were
of the best, and being periodically relieved at them, those
six-and-thirty men of his could easily keep the ship free;
never mind if the leak should double on her. In truth, well
nigh the whole of this passage being attended by very
prosperous breezes, the Town-Ho had all but certainly
arrived in perfect safety at her port without the occurrence
of the least fatality, had it not been for the brutal
overbearing of Radney, the mate, a Vineyarder, and the
bitterly provoked vengeance of Steelkilt, a Lakeman and
desperado from Buffalo.
    ‘‘Lakeman!—Buffalo! Pray, what is a Lakeman, and
where is Buffalo?’ said Don Sebastian, rising in his
swinging mat of grass.
    ‘On the eastern shore of our Lake Erie, Don; but—I
crave your courtesy—may be, you shall soon hear further
of all that. Now, gentlemen, in square-sail brigs and three-
masted ships, well-nigh as large and stout as any that ever
sailed out of your old Callao to far Manilla; this Lakeman,
in the land-locked heart of our America, had yet been
nurtured by all those agrarian freebooting impressions
popularly connected with the open ocean. For in their


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interflowing aggregate, those grand fresh-water seas of
ours,—Erie, and Ontario, and Huron, and Superior, and
Michigan,—possess an ocean-like expansiveness, with
many of the ocean’s noblest traits; with many of its
rimmed varieties of races and of climes. They contain
round archipelagoes of romantic isles, even as the
Polynesian waters do; in large part, are shored by two
great contrasting nations, as the Atlantic is; they furnish
long maritime approaches to our numerous territorial
colonies from the East, dotted all round their banks; here
and there are frowned upon by batteries, and by the goat-
like craggy guns of lofty Mackinaw; they have heard the
fleet thunderings of naval victories; at intervals, they yield
their beaches to wild barbarians, whose red painted faces
flash from out their peltry wigwams; for leagues and
leagues are flanked by ancient and unentered forests,
where the gaunt pines stand like serried lines of kings in
Gothic genealogies; those same woods harboring wild
Afric beasts of prey, and silken creatures whose exported
furs give robes to Tartar Emperors; they mirror the paved
capitals of Buffalo and Cleveland, as well as Winnebago
villages; they float alike the full-rigged merchant ship, the
armed cruiser of the State, the steamer, and the beech
canoe; they are swept by Borean and dismasting blasts as


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direful as any that lash the salted wave; they know what
shipwrecks are, for out of sight of land, however inland,
they have drowned full many a midnight ship with all its
shrieking crew. Thus, gentlemen, though an inlander,
Steelkilt was wild-ocean born, and wild-ocean nurtured;
as much of an audacious mariner as any. And for Radney,
though in his infancy he may have laid him down on the
lone Nantucket beach, to nurse at his maternal sea; though
in after life he had long followed our austere Atlantic and
your contemplative Pacific; yet was he quite as vengeful
and full of social quarrel as the backwoods seaman, fresh
from the latitudes of buck-horn handled bowie-knives.
Yet was this Nantucketer a man with some good-hearted
traits; and this Lakeman, a mariner, who though a sort of
devil indeed, might yet by inflexible firmness, only
tempered by that common decency of human recognition
which is the meanest slave’s right; thus treated, this
Steelkilt had long been retained harmless and docile. At all
events, he had proved so thus far; but Radney was
doomed and made mad, and Steelkilt—but, gentlemen,
you shall hear.
    ‘It was not more than a day or two at the furthest after
pointing her prow for her island haven, that the Town-
Ho’s leak seemed again increasing, but only so as to


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require an hour or more at the pumps every day. You
must know that in a settled and civilized ocean like our
Atlantic, for example, some skippers think little of
pumping their whole way across it; though of a still, sleepy
night, should the officer of the deck happen to forget his
duty in that respect, the probability would be that he and
his shipmates would never again remember it, on account
of all hands gently subsiding to the bottom. Nor in the
solitary and savage seas far from you to the westward,
gentlemen, is it altogether unusual for ships to keep
clanging at their pump-handles in full chorus even for a
voyage of considerable length; that is, if it lie along a
tolerably accessible coast, or if any other reasonable retreat
is afforded them. It is only when a leaky vessel is in some
very out of the way part of those waters, some really
landless latitude, that her captain begins to feel a little
anxious.
    ‘Much this way had it been with the Town-Ho; so
when her leak was found gaining once more, there was in
truth some small concern manifested by several of her
company; especially by Radney the mate. He commanded
the upper sails to be well hoisted, sheeted home anew, and
every way expanded to the breeze. Now this Radney, I
suppose, was as little of a coward, and as little inclined to


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any sort of nervous apprehensiveness touching his own
person as any fearless, unthinking creature on land or on
sea that you can conveniently imagine, gentlemen.
Therefore when he betrayed this solicitude about the
safety of the ship, some of the seamen declared that it was
only on account of his being a part owner in her. So when
they were working that evening at the pumps, there was
on this head no small gamesomeness slily going on among
them, as they stood with their feet continually overflowed
by the rippling clear water; clear as any mountain spring,
gentlemen—that bubbling from the pumps ran across the
deck, and poured itself out in steady spouts at the lee
scupper-holes.
    ‘Now, as you well know, it is not seldom the case in
this conventional world of ours—watery or otherwise; that
when a person placed in command over his fellow-men
finds one of them to be very significantly his superior in
general pride of manhood, straightway against that man he
conceives an unconquerable dislike and bitterness; and if
he have a chance he will pull down and pulverize that
subaltern’s tower, and make a little heap of dust of it. Be
this conceit of mine as it may, gentlemen, at all events
Steelkilt was a tall and noble animal with a head like a
Roman, and a flowing golden beard like the tasseled


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housings of your last viceroy’s snorting charger; and a
brain, and a heart, and a soul in him, gentlemen, which
had made Steelkilt Charlemagne, had he been born son to
Charlemagne’s father. But Radney, the mate, was ugly as a
mule; yet as hardy, as stubborn, as malicious. He did not
love Steelkilt, and Steelkilt knew it.
    ‘Espying the mate drawing near as he was toiling at the
pump with the rest, the Lakeman affected not to notice
him, but unawed, went on with his gay banterings.
    ‘‘Aye, aye, my merry lads, it’s a lively leak this; hold a
cannikin, one of ye, and let’s have a taste. By the Lord, it’s
worth bottling! I tell ye what, men, old Rad’s investment
must go for it! he had best cut away his part of the hull
and tow it home. The fact is, boys, that sword-fish only
began the job; he’s come back again with a gang of ship-
carpenters, saw-fish, and file-fish, and what not; and the
whole posse of ‘em are now hard at work cutting and
slashing at the bottom; making improvements, I suppose.
If old Rad were here now, I’d tell him to jump overboard
and scatter ‘em. They’re playing the devil with his estate, I
can tell him. But he’s a simple old soul,—Rad, and a
beauty too. Boys, they say the rest of his property is
invested in looking-glasses. I wonder if he’d give a poor
devil like me the model of his nose.’


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    ‘‘Damn your eyes! what’s that pump stopping for?’
roared Radney, pretending not to have heard the sailors’
talk. ‘Thunder away at it!’
    ’Aye, aye, sir,’ said Steelkilt, merry as a cricket. ‘Lively,
boys, lively, now!’ And with that the pump clanged like
fifty fire-engines; the men tossed their hats off to it, and
ere long that peculiar gasping of the lungs was heard
which denotes the fullest tension of life’s utmost energies.
    ‘Quitting the pump at last, with the rest of his band,
the Lakeman went forward all panting, and sat himself
down on the windlass; his face fiery red, his eyes
bloodshot, and wiping the profuse sweat from his brow.
Now what cozening fiend it was, gentlemen, that
possessed Radney to meddle with such a man in that
corporeally exasperated state, I know not; but so it
happened. Intolerably striding along the deck, the mate
commanded him to get a broom and sweep down the
planks, and also a shovel, and remove some offensive
matters consequent upon allowing a pig to run at large.
    ‘Now, gentlemen, sweeping a ship’s deck at sea is a
piece of household work which in all times but raging
gales is regularly attended to every evening; it has been
known to be done in the case of ships actually foundering
at the time. Such, gentlemen, is the inflexibility of sea-


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usages and the instinctive love of neatness in seamen; some
of whom would not willingly drown without first washing
their faces. But in all vessels this broom business is the
prescriptive province of the boys, if boys there be aboard.
Besides, it was the stronger men in the Town-Ho that had
been divided into gangs, taking turns at the pumps; and
being the most athletic seaman of them all, Steelkilt had
been regularly assigned captain of one of the gangs;
consequently he should have been freed from any trivial
business not connected with truly nautical duties, such
being the case with his comrades. I mention all these
particulars so that you may understand exactly how this
affair stood between the two men.
    ‘But there was more than this: the order about the
shovel was almost as plainly meant to sting and insult
Steelkilt, as though Radney had spat in his face. Any man
who has gone sailor in a whale-ship will understand this;
and all this and doubtless much more, the Lakeman fully
comprehended when the mate uttered his command. But
as he sat still for a moment, and as he steadfastly looked
into the mate’s malignant eye and perceived the stacks of
powder-casks heaped up in him and the slow-match
silently burning along towards them; as he instinctively
saw all this, that strange forbearance and unwillingness to


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stir up the deeper passionateness in any already ireful
being—a repugnance most felt, when felt at all, by really
valiant men even when aggrieved—this nameless phantom
feeling, gentlemen, stole over Steelkilt.
    ‘Therefore, in his ordinary tone, only a little broken by
the bodily exhaustion he was temporarily in, he answered
him saying that sweeping the deck was not his business,
and he would not do it. And then, without at all alluding
to the shovel, he pointed to three lads as the customary
sweepers; who, not being billeted at the pumps, had done
little or nothing all day. To this, Radney replied with an
oath, in a most domineering and outrageous manner
unconditionally reiterating his command; meanwhile
advancing upon the still seated Lakeman, with an uplifted
cooper’s club hammer which he had snatched from a cask
near by.
    ‘Heated and irritated as he was by his spasmodic toil at
the pumps, for all his first nameless feeling of forbearance
the sweating Steelkilt could but ill brook this bearing in
the mate; but somehow still smothering the conflagration
within him, without speaking he remained doggedly
rooted to his seat, till at last the incensed Radney shook
the hammer within a few inches of his face, furiously
commanding him to do his bidding.


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   ‘Steelkilt rose, and slowly retreating round the windlass,
steadily followed by the mate with his menacing hammer,
deliberately repeated his intention not to obey. Seeing,
however, that his forbearance had not the slightest effect,
by an awful and unspeakable intimation with his twisted
hand he warned off the foolish and infatuated man; but it
was to no purpose. And in this way the two went once
slowly round the windlass; when, resolved at last no longer
to retreat, bethinking him that he had now forborne as
much as comported with his humor, the Lakeman paused
on the hatches and thus spoke to the officer:
   ‘‘Mr. Radney, I will not obey you. Take that hammer
away, or look to yourself.’ But the predestinated mate
coming still closer to him, where the Lakeman stood
fixed, now shook the heavy hammer within an inch of his
teeth; meanwhile repeating a string of insufferable
maledictions. Retreating not the thousandth part of an
inch; stabbing him in the eye with the unflinching poniard
of his glance, Steelkilt, clenching his right hand behind
him and creepingly drawing it back, told his persecutor
that if the hammer but grazed his cheek he (Steelkilt)
would murder him. But, gentlemen, the fool had been
branded for the slaughter by the gods. Immediately the
hammer touched the cheek; the next instant the lower jaw


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of the mate was stove in his head; he fell on the hatch
spouting blood like a whale.
   ‘Ere the cry could go aft Steelkilt was shaking one of
the backstays leading far aloft to where two of his
comrades were standing their mastheads. They were both
Canallers.
   ‘‘Canallers!’ cried Don Pedro. ‘We have seen many
whale-ships in our harbours, but never heard of your
Canallers. Pardon: who and what are they?’
   ‘‘Canallers, Don, are the boatmen belonging to our
grand Erie Canal. You must have heard of it.’
   ‘‘Nay, Senor; hereabouts in this dull, warm, most lazy,
and hereditary land, we know but little of your vigorous
North.’
   ‘‘Aye? Well then, Don, refill my cup. Your chicha’s
very fine; and ere proceeding further I will tell ye what
our Canallers are; for such information may throw side-
light upon my story.’
   ‘For three hundred and sixty miles, gentlemen, through
the entire breadth of the state of New York; through
numerous populous cities and most thriving villages;
through long, dismal, uninhabited swamps, and affluent,
cultivated fields, unrivalled for fertility; by billiard-room
and bar-room; through the holy-of-holies of great forests;


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on Roman arches over Indian rivers; through sun and
shade; by happy hearts or broken; through all the wide
contrasting scenery of those noble Mohawk counties; and
especially, by rows of snow-white chapels, whose spires
stand almost like milestones, flows one continual stream of
Venetianly corrupt and often lawless life. There’s your true
Ashantee, gentlemen; there howl your pagans; where you
ever find them, next door to you; under the long-flung
shadow, and the snug patronising lee of churches. For by
some curious fatality, as it is often noted of your
metropolitan freebooters that they ever encamp around
the halls of justice, so sinners, gentlemen, most abound in
holiest vicinities.
   ‘‘Is that a friar passing?’ said Don Pedro, looking
downwards into the crowded plazza, with humorous
concern.
   ‘‘Well for our northern friend, Dame Isabella’s
Inquisition wanes in Lima,’ laughed Don Sebastian.
‘Proceed, Senor.’
   ‘‘A moment! Pardon!’ cried another of the company.
‘In the name of all us Limeese, I but desire to express to
you, sir sailor, that we have by no means overlooked your
delicacy in not substituting present Lima for distant Venice
in your corrupt comparison. Oh! do not bow and look


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surprised; you know the proverb all along this coast—
‘Corrupt as Lima.’ It but bears out your saying, too;
churches more plentiful than billiard-tables, and for ever
open—and ‘Corrupt as Lima.’ So, too, Venice; I have
been there; the holy city of the blessed evangelist, St.
Mark!—St. Dominic, purge it! Your cup! Thanks: here I
refill; now, you pour out again.’
    ‘Freely depicted in his own vocation, gentlemen, the
Canaller would make a fine dramatic hero, so abundantly
and picturesquely wicked is he. Like Mark Antony, for
days and days along his green-turfed, flowery Nile, he
indolently floats, openly toying with his red-cheeked
Cleopatra, ripening his apricot thigh upon the sunny deck.
But ashore, all this effeminacy is dashed. The brigandish
guise which the Canaller so proudly sports; his slouched
and gaily-ribboned hat betoken his grand features. A terror
to the smiling innocence of the villages through which he
floats; his swart visage and bold swagger are not
unshunned in cities. Once a vagabond on his own canal, I
have received good turns from one of these Canallers; I
thank him heartily; would fain be not ungrateful; but it is
often one of the prime redeeming qualities of your man of
violence, that at times he has as stiff an arm to back a poor
stranger in a strait, as to plunder a wealthy one. In sum,


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gentlemen, what the wildness of this canal life is, is
emphatically evinced by this; that our wild whale-fishery
contains so many of its most finished graduates, and that
scarce any race of mankind, except Sydney men, are so
much distrusted by our whaling captains. Nor does it at all
diminish the curiousness of this matter, that to many
thousands of our rural boys and young men born along its
line, the probationary life of the Grand Canal furnishes the
sole transition between quietly reaping in a Christian
corn-field, and recklessly ploughing the waters of the most
barbaric seas.
    ‘‘I see! I see!’ impetuously exclaimed Don Pedro,
spilling his chicha upon his silvery ruffles. ‘No need to
travel! The world’s one Lima. I had thought, now, that at
your temperate North the generations were cold and holy
as the hills.—But the story.’
    ‘I left off, gentlemen, where the Lakeman shook the
backstay. Hardly had he done so, when he was surrounded
by the three junior mates and the four harpooneers, who
all crowded him to the deck. But sliding down the ropes
like baleful comets, the two Canallers rushed into the
uproar, and sought to drag their man out of it towards the
forecastle. Others of the sailors joined with them in this
attempt, and a twisted turmoil ensued; while standing out


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of harm’s way, the valiant captain danced up and down
with a whale-pike, calling upon his officers to manhandle
that atrocious scoundrel, and smoke him along to the
quarter-deck. At intervals, he ran close up to the revolving
border of the confusion, and prying into the heart of it
with his pike, sought to prick out the object of his
resentment. But Steelkilt and his desperadoes were too
much for them all; they succeeded in gaining the forecastle
deck, where, hastily slewing about three or four large casks
in a line with the windlass, these sea-Parisians entrenched
themselves behind the barricade.
   ‘‘Come out of that, ye pirates!’ roared the captain, now
menacing them with a pistol in each hand, just brought to
him by the steward. ‘Come out of that, ye cut-throats!’
   ‘Steelkilt leaped on the barricade, and striding up and
down there, defied the worst the pistols could do; but
gave the captain to understand distinctly, that his
(Steelkilt’s) death would be the signal for a murderous
mutiny on the part of all hands. Fearing in his heart lest
this might prove but too true, the captain a little desisted,
but still commanded the insurgents instantly to return to
their duty.
   ‘‘Will you promise not to touch us, if we do?’
demanded their ringleader.


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   ‘‘Turn to! turn to!—I make no promise;—to your
duty! Do you want to sink the ship, by knocking off at a
time like this? Turn to!’ and he once more raised a pistol.
   ‘‘Sink the ship?’ cried Steelkilt. ‘Aye, let her sink. Not a
man of us turns to, unless you swear not to raise a rope-
yarn against us. What say ye, men?’ turning to his
comrades. A fierce cheer was their response.
   ‘The Lakeman now patrolled the barricade, all the
while keeping his eye on the Captain, and jerking out
such sentences as these:—’It’s not our fault; we didn’t
want it; I told him to take his hammer away; it was boy’s
business; he might have known me before this; I told him
not to prick the buffalo; I believe I have broken a finger
here against his cursed jaw; ain’t those mincing knives
down in the forecastle there, men? look to those
handspikes, my hearties. Captain, by God, look to
yourself; say the word; don’t be a fool; forget it all; we are
ready to turn to; treat us decently, and we’re your men;
but we won’t be flogged.’
   ‘‘Turn to! I make no promises, turn to, I say!’
   ‘‘Look ye, now,’ cried the Lakeman, flinging out his
arm towards him, ‘there are a few of us here (and I am
one of them) who have shipped for the cruise, d’ye see;
now as you well know, sir, we can claim our discharge as


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soon as the anchor is down; so we don’t want a row; it’s
not our interest; we want to be peaceable; we are ready to
work, but we won’t be flogged.’
   ‘‘Turn to!’ roared the Captain.
   ‘Steelkilt glanced round him a moment, and then
said:—’I tell you what it is now, Captain, rather than kill
ye, and be hung for such a shabby rascal, we won’t lift a
hand against ye unless ye attack us; but till you say the
word about not flogging us, we don’t do a hand’s turn.’
   ‘‘Down into the forecastle then, down with ye, I’ll
keep ye there till ye’re sick of it. Down ye go.’
   ‘‘Shall we?’ cried the ringleader to his men. Most of
them were against it; but at length, in obedience to
Steelkilt, they preceded him down into their dark den,
growlingly disappearing, like bears into a cave.
   ‘As the Lakeman’s bare head was just level with the
planks, the Captain and his posse leaped the barricade, and
rapidly drawing over the slide of the scuttle, planted their
group of hands upon it, and loudly called for the steward
to bring the heavy brass padlock belonging to the
companionway.
   Then opening the slide a little, the Captain whispered
something down the crack, closed it, and turned the key



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upon them—ten in number—leaving on deck some
twenty or more, who thus far had remained neutral.
    ‘All night a wide-awake watch was kept by all the
officers, forward and aft, especially about the forecastle
scuttle and fore hatchway; at which last place it was feared
the insurgents might emerge, after breaking through the
bulkhead below. But the hours of darkness passed in
peace; the men who still remained at their duty toiling
hard at the pumps, whose clinking and clanking at
intervals through the dreary night dismally resounded
through the ship.
    ‘At sunrise the Captain went forward, and knocking on
the deck, summoned the prisoners to work; but with a yell
they refused. Water was then lowered down to them, and
a couple of handfuls of biscuit were tossed after it; when
again turning the key upon them and pocketing it, the
Captain returned to the quarter-deck. Twice every day for
three days this was repeated; but on the fourth morning a
confused wrangling, and then a scuffling was heard, as the
customary summons was delivered; and suddenly four men
burst up from the forecastle, saying they were ready to
turn to. The fetid closeness of the air, and a famishing diet,
united perhaps to some fears of ultimate retribution, had
constrained them to surrender at discretion. Emboldened


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by this, the Captain reiterated his demand to the rest, but
Steelkilt shouted up to him a terrific hint to stop his
babbling and betake himself where he belonged. On the
fifth morning three others of the mutineers bolted up into
the air from the desperate arms below that sought to
restrain them. Only three were left.
    ‘‘Better turn to, now?’ said the Captain with a heartless
jeer.
    ‘‘Shut us up again, will ye!’ cried Steelkilt.
    ‘‘Oh certainly,’ the Captain, and the key clicked.
    ‘It was at this point, gentlemen, that enraged by the
defection of seven of his former associates, and stung by
the mocking voice that had last hailed him, and maddened
by his long entombment in a place as black as the bowels
of despair; it was then that Steelkilt proposed to the two
Canallers, thus far apparently of one mind with him, to
burst out of their hole at the next summoning of the
garrison; and armed with their keen mincing knives (long,
crescentic, heavy implements with a handle at each end)
run amuck from the bowsprit to the taffrail; and if by any
devilishness of desperation possible, seize the ship. For
himself, he would do this, he said, whether they joined
him or not. That was the last night he should spend in that
den. But the scheme met with no opposition on the part


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of the other two; they swore they were ready for that, or
for any other mad thing, for anything in short but a
surrender. And what was more, they each insisted upon
being the first man on deck, when the time to make the
rush should come. But to this their leader as fiercely
objected, reserving that priority for himself; particularly as
his two comrades would not yield, the one to the other, in
the matter; and both of them could not be first, for the
ladder would but admit one man at a time. And here,
gentlemen, the foul play of these miscreants must come
out.
    ‘Upon hearing the frantic project of their leader, each
in his own separate soul had suddenly lighted, it would
seem, upon the same piece of treachery, namely: to be
foremost in breaking out, in order to be the first of the
three, though the last of the ten, to surrender; and thereby
secure whatever small chance of pardon such conduct
might merit. But when Steelkilt made known his
determination still to lead them to the last, they in some
way, by some subtle chemistry of villany, mixed their
before secret treacheries together; and when their leader
fell into a doze, verbally opened their souls to each other
in three sentences; and bound the sleeper with cords, and



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gagged him with cords; and shrieked out for the Captain
at midnight.
    ‘Thinking murder at hand, and smelling in the dark for
the blood, he and all his armed mates and harpooneers
rushed for the forecastle. In a few minutes the scuttle was
opened, and, bound hand and foot, the still struggling
ringleader was shoved up into the air by his perfidious
allies, who at once claimed the honour of securing a man
who had been fully ripe for murder. But all these were
collared, and dragged along the deck like dead cattle; and,
side by side, were seized up into the mizzen rigging, like
three quarters of meat, and there they hung till morning.
‘Damn ye,’ cried the Captain, pacing to and fro before
them, ‘the vultures would not touch ye, ye villains!’
    ‘At sunrise he summoned all hands; and separating
those who had rebelled from those who had taken no part
in the mutiny, he told the former that he had a good mind
to flog them all round—thought, upon the whole, he
would do so—he ought to—justice demanded it; but for
the present, considering their timely surrender, he would
let them go with a reprimand, which he accordingly
administered in the vernacular.
    ‘‘But as for you, ye carrion rogues,’ turning to the three
men in the rigging—’for you, I mean to mince ye up for


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the try-pots;’ and, seizing a rope, he applied it with all his
might to the backs of the two traitors, till they yelled no
more, but lifelessly hung their heads sideways, as the two
crucified thieves are drawn.
   ‘‘My wrist is sprained with ye!’ he cried, at last; ‘but
there is still rope enough left for you, my fine bantam, that
wouldn’t give up. Take that gag from his mouth, and let
us hear what he can say for himself.’
   ‘For a moment the exhausted mutineer made a
tremulous motion of his cramped jaws, and then painfully
twisting round his head, said in a sort of hiss, ‘What I say is
this—and mind it well—if you flog me, I murder you!’
   ‘‘Say ye so? then see how ye frighten me’—and the
Captain drew off with the rope to strike.
   ‘‘Best not,’ hissed the Lakeman.
   ‘‘But I must,’—and the rope was once more drawn
back for the stroke.
   ‘Steelkilt here hissed out something, inaudible to all but
the Captain; who, to the amazement of all hands, started
back, paced the deck rapidly two or three times, and then
suddenly throwing down his rope, said, ‘I won’t do it—let
him go—cut him down: d’ye hear?’
   But as the junior mates were hurrying to execute the
order, a pale man, with a bandaged head, arrested them—


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Radney the chief mate. Ever since the blow, he had lain
in his berth; but that morning, hearing the tumult on the
deck, he had crept out, and thus far had watched the
whole scene. Such was the state of his mouth, that he
could hardly speak; but mumbling something about his
being willing and able to do what the captain dared not
attempt, he snatched the rope and advanced to his
pinioned foe.
    ‘‘You are a coward!’ hissed the Lakeman.
    ‘‘So I am, but take that.’ The mate was in the very act
of striking, when another hiss stayed his uplifted arm. He
paused: and then pausing no more, made good his word,
spite of Steelkilt’s threat, whatever that might have been.
The three men were then cut down, all hands were turned
to, and, sullenly worked by the moody seamen, the iron
pumps clanged as before.
    ‘Just after dark that day, when one watch had retired
below, a clamor was heard in the forecastle; and the two
trembling traitors running up, besieged the cabin door,
saying they durst not consort with the crew. Entreaties,
cuffs, and kicks could not drive them back, so at their own
instance they were put down in the ship’s run for
salvation. Still, no sign of mutiny reappeared among the
rest. On the contrary, it seemed, that mainly at Steelkilt’s


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instigation, they had resolved to maintain the strictest
peacefulness, obey all orders to the last, and, when the ship
reached port, desert her in a body. But in order to insure
the speediest end to the voyage, they all agreed to another
thing—namely, not to sing out for whales, in case any
should be discovered. For, spite of her leak, and spite of all
her other perils, the Town-Ho still maintained her mast-
heads, and her captain was just as willing to lower for a
fish that moment, as on the day his craft first struck the
cruising ground; and Radney the mate was quite as ready
to change his berth for a boat, and with his bandaged
mouth seek to gag in death the vital jaw of the whale.
    ‘But though the Lakeman had induced the seamen to
adopt this sort of passiveness in their conduct, he kept his
own counsel (at least till all was over) concerning his own
proper and private revenge upon the man who had stung
him in the ventricles of his heart. He was in Radney the
chief mate’s watch; and as if the infatuated man sought to
run more than half way to meet his doom, after the scene
at the rigging, he insisted, against the express counsel of
the captain, upon resuming the head of his watch at night.
Upon this, and one or two other circumstances, Steelkilt
systematically built the plan of his revenge.



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    ‘During the night, Radney had an unseamanlike way of
sitting on the bulwarks of the quarter-deck, and leaning
his arm upon the gunwale of the boat which was hoisted
up there, a little above the ship’s side. In this attitude, it
was well known, he sometimes dozed. There was a
considerable vacancy between the boat and the ship, and
down between this was the sea. Steelkilt calculated his
time, and found that his next trick at the helm would
come round at two o’clock, in the morning of the third
day from that in which he had been betrayed. At his
leisure, he employed the interval in braiding something
very carefully in his watches below.
    ‘‘What are you making there?’ said a shipmate.
    ‘‘What do you think? what does it look like?’
    ‘‘Like a lanyard for your bag; but it’s an odd one, seems
to me.’
    ’Yes, rather oddish,’ said the Lakeman, holding it at
arm’s length before him; ‘but I think it will answer.
Shipmate, I haven’t enough twine,—have you any?’
    ‘But there was none in the forecastle.
    ‘‘Then I must get some from old Rad;’ and he rose to
go aft.
    ‘‘You don’t mean to go a begging to HIM!’ said a
sailor.


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    ‘‘Why not? Do you think he won’t do me a turn,
when it’s to help himself in the end, shipmate?’ and going
to the mate, he looked at him quietly, and asked him for
some twine to mend his hammock. It was given him—
neither twine nor lanyard were seen again; but the next
night an iron ball, closely netted, partly rolled from the
pocket of the Lakeman’s monkey jacket, as he was tucking
the coat into his hammock for a pillow. Twenty-four
hours after, his trick at the silent helm—nigh to the man
who was apt to doze over the grave always ready dug to
the seaman’s hand—that fatal hour was then to come; and
in the fore-ordaining soul of Steelkilt, the mate was
already stark and stretched as a corpse, with his forehead
crushed in.
    ‘But, gentlemen, a fool saved the would-be murderer
from the bloody deed he had planned. Yet complete
revenge he had, and without being the avenger. For by a
mysterious fatality, Heaven itself seemed to step in to take
out of his hands into its own the damning thing he would
have done.
    ‘It was just between daybreak and sunrise of the
morning of the second day, when they were washing
down the decks, that a stupid Teneriffe man, drawing
water in the main-chains, all at once shouted out, ‘There


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she rolls! there she rolls!’ Jesu, what a whale! It was Moby
Dick.
    ‘‘Moby Dick!’ cried Don Sebastian; ‘St. Dominic! Sir
sailor, but do whales have christenings? Whom call you
Moby Dick?’
    ‘‘A very white, and famous, and most deadly immortal
monster, Don;—but that would be too long a story.’
    ‘‘How? how?’ cried all the young Spaniards, crowding.
    ‘‘Nay, Dons, Dons—nay, nay! I cannot rehearse that
now. Let me get more into the air, Sirs.’
    ‘‘The chicha! the chicha!’ cried Don Pedro; ‘our
vigorous friend looks faint;—fill up his empty glass!’
    ‘No need, gentlemen; one moment, and I proceed.—
Now, gentlemen, so suddenly perceiving the snowy whale
within fifty yards of the ship—forgetful of the compact
among the crew—in the excitement of the moment, the
Teneriffe man had instinctively and involuntarily lifted his
voice for the monster, though for some little time past it
had been plainly beheld from the three sullen mast-heads.
All was now a phrensy. ‘The White Whale—the White
Whale!’ was the cry from captain, mates, and harpooneers,
who, undeterred by fearful rumours, were all anxious to
capture so famous and precious a fish; while the dogged
crew eyed askance, and with curses, the appalling beauty


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of the vast milky mass, that lit up by a horizontal spangling
sun, shifted and glistened like a living opal in the blue
morning sea. Gentlemen, a strange fatality pervades the
whole career of these events, as if verily mapped out
before the world itself was charted. The mutineer was the
bowsman of the mate, and when fast to a fish, it was his
duty to sit next him, while Radney stood up with his
lance in the prow, and haul in or slacken the line, at the
word of command. Moreover, when the four boats were
lowered, the mate’s got the start; and none howled more
fiercely with delight than did Steelkilt, as he strained at his
oar. After a stiff pull, their harpooneer got fast, and, spear
in hand, Radney sprang to the bow. He was always a
furious man, it seems, in a boat. And now his bandaged
cry was, to beach him on the whale’s topmost back.
Nothing loath, his bowsman hauled him up and up,
through a blinding foam that blent two whitenesses
together; till of a sudden the boat struck as against a
sunken ledge, and keeling over, spilled out the standing
mate. That instant, as he fell on the whale’s slippery back,
the boat righted, and was dashed aside by the swell, while
Radney was tossed over into the sea, on the other flank of
the whale. He struck out through the spray, and, for an
instant, was dimly seen through that veil, wildly seeking to


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remove himself from the eye of Moby Dick. But the
whale rushed round in a sudden maelstrom; seized the
swimmer between his jaws; and rearing high up with him,
plunged headlong again, and went down.
   ‘Meantime, at the first tap of the boat’s bottom, the
Lakeman had slackened the line, so as to drop astern from
the whirlpool; calmly looking on, he thought his own
thoughts. But a sudden, terrific, downward jerking of the
boat, quickly brought his knife to the line. He cut it; and
the whale was free. But, at some distance, Moby Dick rose
again, with some tatters of Radney’s red woollen shirt,
caught in the teeth that had destroyed him. All four boats
gave chase again; but the whale eluded them, and finally
wholly disappeared.
   ‘In good time, the Town-Ho reached her port—a
savage, solitary place—where no civilized creature resided.
There, headed by the Lakeman, all but five or six of the
foremastmen deliberately deserted among the palms;
eventually, as it turned out, seizing a large double war-
canoe of the savages, and setting sail for some other
harbor.
   ‘The ship’s company being reduced to but a handful,
the captain called upon the Islanders to assist him in the
laborious business of heaving down the ship to stop the


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leak. But to such unresting vigilance over their dangerous
allies was this small band of whites necessitated, both by
night and by day, and so extreme was the hard work they
underwent, that upon the vessel being ready again for sea,
they were in such a weakened condition that the captain
durst not put off with them in so heavy a vessel. After
taking counsel with his officers, he anchored the ship as far
off shore as possible; loaded and ran out his two cannon
from the bows; stacked his muskets on the poop; and
warning the Islanders not to approach the ship at their
peril, took one man with him, and setting the sail of his
best whale-boat, steered straight before the wind for
Tahiti, five hundred miles distant, to procure a
reinforcement to his crew.
    ‘On the fourth day of the sail, a large canoe was
descried, which seemed to have touched at a low isle of
corals. He steered away from it; but the savage craft bore
down on him; and soon the voice of Steelkilt hailed him
to heave to, or he would run him under water. The
captain presented a pistol. With one foot on each prow of
the yoked war-canoes, the Lakeman laughed him to scorn;
assuring him that if the pistol so much as clicked in the
lock, he would bury him in bubbles and foam.
    ‘‘What do you want of me?’ cried the captain.


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   ‘‘Where are you bound? and for what are you bound?’
demanded Steelkilt; ‘no lies.’
   ‘‘I am bound to Tahiti for more men.’
   ‘‘Very good. Let me board you a moment—I come in
peace.’ With that he leaped from the canoe, swam to the
boat; and climbing the gunwale, stood face to face with
the captain.
   ‘‘Cross your arms, sir; throw back your head. Now,
repeat after me. As soon as Steelkilt leaves me, I swear to
beach this boat on yonder island, and remain there six
days. If I do not, may lightning strike me!’
   ‘‘A pretty scholar,’ laughed the Lakeman. ‘Adios,
Senor!’ and leaping into the sea, he swam back to his
comrades.
   ‘Watching the boat till it was fairly beached, and drawn
up to the roots of the cocoa-nut trees, Steelkilt made sail
again, and in due time arrived at Tahiti, his own place of
destination. There, luck befriended him; two ships were
about to sail for France, and were providentially in want of
precisely that number of men which the sailor headed.
They embarked; and so for ever got the start of their
former captain, had he been at all minded to work them
legal retribution.



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   ‘Some ten days after the French ships sailed, the whale-
boat arrived, and the captain was forced to enlist some of
the more civilized Tahitians, who had been somewhat
used to the sea. Chartering a small native schooner, he
returned with them to his vessel; and finding all right
there, again resumed his cruisings.
   ‘Where Steelkilt now is, gentlemen, none know; but
upon the island of Nantucket, the widow of Radney still
turns to the sea which refuses to give up its dead; still in
dreams sees the awful white whale that destroyed him.
   ‘‘Are you through?’ said Don Sebastian, quietly.
   ‘‘I am, Don.’
   ‘‘Then I entreat you, tell me if to the best of your own
convictions, this your story is in substance really true? It is
so passing wonderful! Did you get it from an
unquestionable source? Bear with me if I seem to press.’
   ‘‘Also bear with all of us, sir sailor; for we all join in
Don Sebastian’s suit,’ cried the company, with exceeding
interest.
   ‘‘Is there a copy of the Holy Evangelists in the Golden
Inn, gentlemen?’
   ‘‘Nay,’ said Don Sebastian; ‘but I know a worthy priest
near by, who will quickly procure one for me. I go for it;
but are you well advised? this may grow too serious.’


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   ‘‘Will you be so good as to bring the priest also, Don?’
   ‘‘Though there are no Auto-da-Fe’s in Lima now,’ said
one of the company to another; ‘I fear our sailor friend
runs risk of the archiepiscopacy. Let us withdraw more out
of the moonlight. I see no need of this.’
   ‘‘Excuse me for running after you, Don Sebastian; but
may I also beg that you will be particular in procuring the
largest sized Evangelists you can.’
   ’This is the priest, he brings you the Evangelists,’ said
Don Sebastian, gravely, returning with a tall and solemn
figure.
   ‘‘Let me remove my hat. Now, venerable priest, further
into the light, and hold the Holy Book before me that I
may touch it.
   ‘‘So help me Heaven, and on my honour the story I
have told ye, gentlemen, is in substance and its great items,
true. I know it to be true; it happened on this ball; I trod
the ship; I knew the crew; I have seen and talked with
Steelkilt since the death of Radney.’’




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                      Chapter 55

   Of the Monstrous Pictures of Whales.
   I shall ere long paint to you as well as one can without
canvas, something like the true form of the whale as he
actually appears to the eye of the whaleman when in his
own absolute body the whale is moored alongside the
whale-ship so that he can be fairly stepped upon there. It
may be worth while, therefore, previously to advert to
those curious imaginary portraits of him which even down
to the present day confidently challenge the faith of the
landsman. It is time to set the world right in this matter,
by proving such pictures of the whale all wrong.
   It may be that the primal source of all those pictorial
delusions will be found among the oldest Hindoo,
Egyptian, and Grecian sculptures. For ever since those
inventive but unscrupulous times when on the marble
panellings of temples, the pedestals of statues, and on
shields, medallions, cups, and coins, the dolphin was
drawn in scales of chain-armor like Saladin’s, and a
helmeted head like St. George’s; ever since then has
something of the same sort of license prevailed, not only




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in most popular pictures of the whale, but in many
scientific presentations of him.
    Now, by all odds, the most ancient extant portrait
anyways purporting to be the whale’s, is to be found in
the famous cavern-pagoda of Elephanta, in India. The
Brahmins maintain that in the almost endless sculptures of
that immemorial pagoda, all the trades and pursuits, every
conceivable avocation of man, were prefigured ages before
any of them actually came into being. No wonder then,
that in some sort our noble profession of whaling should
have been there shadowed forth. The Hindoo whale
referred to, occurs in a separate department of the wall,
depicting the incarnation of Vishnu in the form of
leviathan, learnedly known as the Matse Avatar. But
though this sculpture is half man and half whale, so as only
to give the tail of the latter, yet that small section of him is
all wrong. It looks more like the tapering tail of an
anaconda, than the broad palms of the true whale’s
majestic flukes.
    But go to the old Galleries, and look now at a great
Christian painter’s portrait of this fish; for he succeeds no
better than the antediluvian Hindoo. It is Guido’s picture
of Perseus rescuing Andromeda from the sea-monster or
whale. Where did Guido get the model of such a strange


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creature as that? Nor does Hogarth, in painting the same
scene in his own ‘Perseus Descending,’ make out one whit
better. The huge corpulence of that Hogarthian monster
undulates on the surface, scarcely drawing one inch of
water. It has a sort of howdah on its back, and its
distended tusked mouth into which the billows are rolling,
might be taken for the Traitors’ Gate leading from the
Thames by water into the Tower. Then, there are the
Prodromus whales of old Scotch Sibbald, and Jonah’s
whale, as depicted in the prints of old Bibles and the cuts
of old primers. What shall be said of these? As for the
book-binder’s whale winding like a vine-stalk round the
stock of a descending anchor—as stamped and gilded on
the backs and title-pages of many books both old and
new—that is a very picturesque but purely fabulous
creature, imitated, I take it, from the like figures on
antique vases. Though universally denominated a dolphin,
I nevertheless call this book-binder’s fish an attempt at a
whale; because it was so intended when the device was
first introduced. It was introduced by an old Italian
publisher somewhere about the 15th century, during the
Revival of Learning; and in those days, and even down to
a comparatively late period, dolphins were popularly
supposed to be a species of the Leviathan.


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    In the vignettes and other embellishments of some
ancient books you will at times meet with very curious
touches at the whale, where all manner of spouts, jets
d’eau, hot springs and cold, Saratoga and Baden-Baden,
come bubbling up from his unexhausted brain. In the
title-page of the original edition of the ‘Advancement of
Learning’ you will find some curious whales.
    But quitting all these unprofessional attempts, let us
glance at those pictures of leviathan purporting to be
sober, scientific delineations, by those who know. In old
Harris’s collection of voyages there are some plates of
whales extracted from a Dutch book of voyages, A.D.
1671, entitled ‘A Whaling Voyage to Spitzbergen in the
ship Jonas in the Whale, Peter Peterson of Friesland,
master.’ In one of those plates the whales, like great rafts of
logs, are represented lying among ice-isles, with white
bears running over their living backs. In another plate, the
prodigious blunder is made of representing the whale with
perpendicular flukes.
    Then again, there is an imposing quarto, written by
one Captain Colnett, a Post Captain in the English navy,
entitled ‘A Voyage round Cape Horn into the South Seas,
for the purpose of extending the Spermaceti Whale
Fisheries.’ In this book is an outline purporting to be a


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‘Picture of a Physeter or Spermaceti whale, drawn by scale
from one killed on the coast of Mexico, August, 1793, and
hoisted on deck.’ I doubt not the captain had this
veracious picture taken for the benefit of his marines. To
mention but one thing about it, let me say that it has an
eye which applied, according to the accompanying scale,
to a full grown sperm whale, would make the eye of that
whale a bow-window some five feet long. Ah, my gallant
captain, why did ye not give us Jonah looking out of that
eye!
   Nor are the most conscientious compilations of Natural
History for the benefit of the young and tender, free from
the same heinousness of mistake. Look at that popular
work ‘Goldsmith’s Animated Nature.’ In the abridged
London edition of 1807, there are plates of an alleged
‘whale’ and a ‘narwhale.’ I do not wish to seem inelegant,
but this unsightly whale looks much like an amputated
sow; and, as for the narwhale, one glimpse at it is enough
to amaze one, that in this nineteenth century such a
hippogriff could be palmed for genuine upon any
intelligent public of schoolboys.
   Then, again, in 1825, Bernard Germain, Count de
Lacepede, a great naturalist, published a scientific
systemized whale book, wherein are several pictures of the


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different species of the Leviathan. All these are not only
incorrect, but the picture of the Mysticetus or Greenland
whale (that is to say, the Right whale), even Scoresby, a
long experienced man as touching that species, declares
not to have its counterpart in nature.
    But the placing of the cap-sheaf to all this blundering
business was reserved for the scientific Frederick Cuvier,
brother to the famous Baron. In 1836, he published a
Natural History of Whales, in which he gives what he calls
a picture of the Sperm Whale. Before showing that picture
to any Nantucketer, you had best provide for your
summary retreat from Nantucket. In a word, Frederick
Cuvier’s Sperm Whale is not a Sperm Whale, but a
squash. Of course, he never had the benefit of a whaling
voyage (such men seldom have), but whence he derived
that picture, who can tell? Perhaps he got it as his scientific
predecessor in the same field, Desmarest, got one of his
authentic abortions; that is, from a Chinese drawing. And
what sort of lively lads with the pencil those Chinese are,
many queer cups and saucers inform us.
    As for the sign-painters’ whales seen in the streets
hanging over the shops of oil-dealers, what shall be said of
them? They are generally Richard III. whales, with
dromedary humps, and very savage; breakfasting on three


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or four sailor tarts, that is whaleboats full of mariners: their
deformities floundering in seas of blood and blue paint.
   But these manifold mistakes in depicting the whale are
not so very surprising after all. Consider! Most of the
scientific drawings have been taken from the stranded fish;
and these are about as correct as a drawing of a wrecked
ship, with broken back, would correctly represent the
noble animal itself in all its undashed pride of hull and
spars. Though elephants have stood for their full-lengths,
the living Leviathan has never yet fairly floated himself for
his portrait. The living whale, in his full majesty and
significance, is only to be seen at sea in unfathomable
waters; and afloat the vast bulk of him is out of sight, like a
launched line-of-battle ship; and out of that element it is a
thing eternally impossible for mortal man to hoist him
bodily into the air, so as to preserve all his mighty swells
and undulations. And, not to speak of the highly
presumable difference of contour between a young
sucking whale and a full-grown Platonian Leviathan; yet,
even in the case of one of those young sucking whales
hoisted to a ship’s deck, such is then the outlandish, eel-
like, limbered, varying shape of him, that his precise
expression the devil himself could not catch.



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    But it may be fancied, that from the naked skeleton of
the stranded whale, accurate hints may be derived
touching his true form. Not at all. For it is one of the
more curious things about this Leviathan, that his skeleton
gives very little idea of his general shape. Though Jeremy
Bentham’s skeleton, which hangs for candelabra in the
library of one of his executors, correctly conveys the idea
of a burly-browed utilitarian old gentleman, with all
Jeremy’s other leading personal characteristics; yet nothing
of this kind could be inferred from any leviathan’s
articulated bones. In fact, as the great Hunter says, the
mere skeleton of the whale bears the same relation to the
fully invested and padded animal as the insect does to the
chrysalis that so roundingly envelopes it. This peculiarity is
strikingly evinced in the head, as in some part of this book
will be incidentally shown. It is also very curiously
displayed in the side fin, the bones of which almost exactly
answer to the bones of the human hand, minus only the
thumb. This fin has four regular bone-fingers, the index,
middle, ring, and little finger. But all these are
permanently lodged in their fleshy covering, as the human
fingers in an artificial covering. ‘However recklessly the
whale may sometimes serve us,’ said humorous Stubb one



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day, ‘he can never be truly said to handle us without
mittens.’
   For all these reasons, then, any way you may look at it,
you must needs conclude that the great Leviathan is that
one creature in the world which must remain unpainted
to the last. True, one portrait may hit the mark much
nearer than another, but none can hit it with any very
considerable degree of exactness. So there is no earthly
way of finding out precisely what the whale really looks
like. And the only mode in which you can derive even a
tolerable idea of his living contour, is by going a whaling
yourself; but by so doing, you run no small risk of being
eternally stove and sunk by him. Wherefore, it seems to
me you had best not be too fastidious in your curiosity
touching this Leviathan.




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                       Chapter 56

    Of the Less Erroneous Pictures of Whales, and the
True Pictures of Whaling Scenes.
    In connexion with the monstrous pictures of whales, I
am strongly tempted here to enter upon those still more
monstrous stories of them which are to be found in certain
books, both ancient and modern, especially in Pliny,
Purchas, Hackluyt, Harris, Cuvier, etc. But I pass that
matter by.
    I know of only four published outlines of the great
Sperm Whale; Colnett’s, Huggins’s, Frederick Cuvier’s,
and Beale’s. In the previous chapter Colnett and Cuvier
have been referred to. Huggins’s is far better than theirs;
but, by great odds, Beale’s is the best. All Beale’s drawings
of this whale are good, excepting the middle figure in the
picture of three whales in various attitudes, capping his
second chapter. His frontispiece, boats attacking Sperm
Whales, though no doubt calculated to excite the civil
scepticism of some parlor men, is admirably correct and
life-like in its general effect. Some of the Sperm Whale
drawings in J. Ross Browne are pretty correct in contour;




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but they are wretchedly engraved. That is not his fault
though.
    Of the Right Whale, the best outline pictures are in
Scoresby; but they are drawn on too small a scale to
convey a desirable impression. He has but one picture of
whaling scenes, and this is a sad deficiency, because it is by
such pictures only, when at all well done, that you can
derive anything like a truthful idea of the living whale as
seen by his living hunters.
    But, taken for all in all, by far the finest, though in
some details not the most correct, presentations of whales
and whaling scenes to be anywhere found, are two large
French engravings, well executed, and taken from
paintings by one Garnery. Respectively, they represent
attacks on the Sperm and Right Whale. In the first
engraving a noble Sperm Whale is depicted in full majesty
of might, just risen beneath the boat from the profundities
of the ocean, and bearing high in the air upon his back the
terrific wreck of the stoven planks. The prow of the boat
is partially unbroken, and is drawn just balancing upon the
monster’s spine; and standing in that prow, for that one
single incomputable flash of time, you behold an oarsman,
half shrouded by the incensed boiling spout of the whale,
and in the act of leaping, as if from a precipice. The action


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of the whole thing is wonderfully good and true. The
half-emptied line-tub floats on the whitened sea; the
wooden poles of the spilled harpoons obliquely bob in it;
the heads of the swimming crew are scattered about the
whale in contrasting expressions of affright; while in the
black stormy distance the ship is bearing down upon the
scene. Serious fault might be found with the anatomical
details of this whale, but let that pass; since, for the life of
me, I could not draw so good a one.
    In the second engraving, the boat is in the act of
drawing alongside the barnacled flank of a large running
Right Whale, that rolls his black weedy bulk in the sea
like some mossy rock-slide from the Patagonian cliffs. His
jets are erect, full, and black like soot; so that from so
abounding a smoke in the chimney, you would think
there must be a brave supper cooking in the great bowels
below. Sea fowls are pecking at the small crabs, shell-fish,
and other sea candies and maccaroni, which the Right
Whale sometimes carries on his pestilent back. And all the
while the thick-lipped leviathan is rushing through the
deep, leaving tons of tumultuous white curds in his wake,
and causing the slight boat to rock in the swells like a skiff
caught nigh the paddle-wheels of an ocean steamer. Thus,
the foreground is all raging commotion; but behind, in


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admirable artistic contrast, is the glassy level of a sea
becalmed, the drooping unstarched sails of the powerless
ship, and the inert mass of a dead whale, a conquered
fortress, with the flag of capture lazily hanging from the
whale-pole inserted into his spout-hole.
    Who Garnery the painter is, or was, I know not. But
my life for it he was either practically conversant with his
subject, or else marvellously tutored by some experienced
whaleman. The French are the lads for painting action. Go
and gaze upon all the paintings of Europe, and where will
you find such a gallery of living and breathing commotion
on canvas, as in that triumphal hall at Versailles; where the
beholder fights his way, pell-mell, through the consecutive
great battles of France; where every sword seems a flash of
the Northern Lights, and the successive armed kings and
Emperors dash by, like a charge of crowned centaurs? Not
wholly unworthy of a place in that gallery, are these sea
battle-pieces of Garnery.
    The natural aptitude of the French for seizing the
picturesqueness of things seems to be peculiarly evinced in
what paintings and engravings they have of their whaling
scenes. With not one tenth of England’s experience in the
fishery, and not the thousandth part of that of the
Americans, they have nevertheless furnished both nations


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with the only finished sketches at all capable of conveying
the real spirit of the whale hunt. For the most part, the
English and American whale draughtsmen seem entirely
content with presenting the mechanical outline of things,
such as the vacant profile of the whale; which, so far as
picturesqueness of effect is concerned, is about tantamount
to sketching the profile of a pyramid. Even Scoresby, the
justly renowned Right whaleman, after giving us a stiff full
length of the Greenland whale, and three or four delicate
miniatures of narwhales and porpoises, treats us to a series
of classical engravings of boat hooks, chopping knives, and
grapnels; and with the microscopic diligence of a
Leuwenhoeck submits to the inspection of a shivering
world ninety-six fac-similes of magnified Arctic snow
crystals. I mean no disparagement to the excellent voyager
(I honour him for a veteran), but in so important a matter
it was certainly an oversight not to have procured for
every crystal a sworn affidavit taken before a Greenland
Justice of the Peace.
   In addition to those fine engravings from Garnery,
there are two other French engravings worthy of note, by
some one who subscribes himself ‘H. Durand.’ One of
them, though not precisely adapted to our present
purpose, nevertheless deserves mention on other accounts.


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It is a quiet noon-scene among the isles of the Pacific; a
French whaler anchored, inshore, in a calm, and lazily
taking water on board; the loosened sails of the ship, and
the long leaves of the palms in the background, both
drooping together in the breezeless air. The effect is very
fine, when considered with reference to its presenting the
hardy fishermen under one of their few aspects of oriental
repose. The other engraving is quite a different affair: the
ship hove-to upon the open sea, and in the very heart of
the Leviathanic life, with a Right Whale alongside; the
vessel (in the act of cutting-in) hove over to the monster
as if to a quay; and a boat, hurriedly pushing off from this
scene of activity, is about giving chase to whales in the
distance. The harpoons and lances lie levelled for use;
three oarsmen are just setting the mast in its hole; while
from a sudden roll of the sea, the little craft stands half-
erect out of the water, like a rearing horse. From the ship,
the smoke of the torments of the boiling whale is going up
like the smoke over a village of smithies; and to
windward, a black cloud, rising up with earnest of squalls
and rains, seems to quicken the activity of the excited
seamen.




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                      Chapter 57

    Of Whales in Paint; in Teeth; in Wood; in Sheet-Iron;
in Stone; in Mountains; in Stars.
    On Tower-hill, as you go down to the London docks,
you may have seen a crippled beggar (or KEDGER, as the
sailors say) holding a painted board before him,
representing the tragic scene in which he lost his leg.
There are three whales and three boats; and one of the
boats (presumed to contain the missing leg in all its
original integrity) is being crunched by the jaws of the
foremost whale. Any time these ten years, they tell me, has
that man held up that picture, and exhibited that stump to
an incredulous world. But the time of his justification has
now come. His three whales are as good whales as were
ever published in Wapping, at any rate; and his stump as
unquestionable a stump as any you will find in the western
clearings. But, though for ever mounted on that stump,
never a stump-speech does the poor whaleman make; but,
with downcast eyes, stands ruefully contemplating his own
amputation.
    Throughout the Pacific, and also in Nantucket, and
New Bedford, and Sag Harbor, you will come across


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lively sketches of whales and whaling-scenes, graven by
the fishermen themselves on Sperm Whale-teeth, or ladies’
busks wrought out of the Right Whale-bone, and other
like skrimshander articles, as the whalemen call the
numerous little ingenious contrivances they elaborately
carve out of the rough material, in their hours of ocean
leisure. Some of them have little boxes of dentistical-
looking implements, specially intended for the
skrimshandering business. But, in general, they toil with
their jack-knives alone; and, with that almost omnipotent
tool of the sailor, they will turn you out anything you
please, in the way of a mariner’s fancy.
    Long exile from Christendom and civilization
inevitably restores a man to that condition in which God
placed him, i.e. what is called savagery. Your true whale-
hunter is as much a savage as an Iroquois. I myself am a
savage, owning no allegiance but to the King of the
Cannibals; and ready at any moment to rebel against him.
    Now, one of the peculiar characteristics of the savage in
his domestic hours, is his wonderful patience of industry.
An ancient Hawaiian war-club or spear-paddle, in its full
multiplicity and elaboration of carving, is as great a trophy
of human perseverance as a Latin lexicon. For, with but a
bit of broken sea-shell or a shark’s tooth, that miraculous


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intricacy of wooden net-work has been achieved; and it
has cost steady years of steady application.
   As with the Hawaiian savage, so with the white sailor-
savage. With the same marvellous patience, and with the
same single shark’s tooth, of his one poor jack-knife, he
will carve you a bit of bone sculpture, not quite as
workmanlike, but as close packed in its maziness of design,
as the Greek savage, Achilles’s shield; and full of barbaric
spirit and suggestiveness, as the prints of that fine old
Dutch savage, Albert Durer.
   Wooden whales, or whales cut in profile out of the
small dark slabs of the noble South Sea war-wood, are
frequently met with in the forecastles of American
whalers. Some of them are done with much accuracy.
   At some old gable-roofed country houses you will see
brass whales hung by the tail for knockers to the road-side
door. When the porter is sleepy, the anvil-headed whale
would be best. But these knocking whales are seldom
remarkable as faithful essays. On the spires of some old-
fashioned churches you will see sheet-iron whales placed
there for weather-cocks; but they are so elevated, and
besides that are to all intents and purposes so labelled with
‘HANDS OFF!’ you cannot examine them closely enough
to decide upon their merit.


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    In bony, ribby regions of the earth, where at the base
of high broken cliffs masses of rock lie strewn in fantastic
groupings upon the plain, you will often discover images
as of the petrified forms of the Leviathan partly merged in
grass, which of a windy day breaks against them in a surf
of green surges.
    Then, again, in mountainous countries where the
traveller is continually girdled by amphitheatrical heights;
here and there from some lucky point of view you will
catch passing glimpses of the profiles of whales defined
along the undulating ridges. But you must be a thorough
whaleman, to see these sights; and not only that, but if you
wish to return to such a sight again, you must be sure and
take the exact intersecting latitude and longitude of your
first stand-point, else so chance-like are such observations
of the hills, that your precise, previous stand-point would
require a laborious re-discovery; like the Soloma Islands,
which still remain incognita, though once high-ruffed
Mendanna trod them and old Figuera chronicled them.
    Nor when expandingly lifted by your subject, can you
fail to trace out great whales in the starry heavens, and
boats in pursuit of them; as when long filled with thoughts
of war the Eastern nations saw armies locked in battle
among the clouds. Thus at the North have I chased


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Leviathan round and round the Pole with the revolutions
of the bright points that first defined him to me. And
beneath the effulgent Antarctic skies I have boarded the
Argo-Navis, and joined the chase against the starry Cetus
far beyond the utmost stretch of Hydrus and the Flying
Fish.
   With a frigate’s anchors for my bridle-bitts and fasces of
harpoons for spurs, would I could mount that whale and
leap the topmost skies, to see whether the fabled heavens
with all their countless tents really lie encamped beyond
my mortal sight!




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                      Chapter 58

    Brit.
    Steering north-eastward from the Crozetts, we fell in
with vast meadows of brit, the minute, yellow substance,
upon which the Right Whale largely feeds. For leagues
and leagues it undulated round us, so that we seemed to be
sailing through boundless fields of ripe and golden wheat.
    On the second day, numbers of Right Whales were
seen, who, secure from the attack of a Sperm Whaler like
the Pequod, with open jaws sluggishly swam through the
brit, which, adhering to the fringing fibres of that
wondrous Venetian blind in their mouths, was in that
manner separated from the water that escaped at the lip.
    As morning mowers, who side by side slowly and
seethingly advance their scythes through the long wet grass
of marshy meads; even so these monsters swam, making a
strange, grassy, cutting sound; and leaving behind them
endless swaths of blue upon the yellow sea.*
    *That part of the sea known among whalemen as the
‘Brazil Banks’ does not bear that name as the Banks of
Newfoundland do, because of there being shallows and
soundings there, but because of this remarkable meadow-


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like appearance, caused by the vast drifts of brit continually
floating in those latitudes, where the Right Whale is often
chased.
    But it was only the sound they made as they parted the
brit which at all reminded one of mowers. Seen from the
mast-heads, especially when they paused and were
stationary for a while, their vast black forms looked more
like lifeless masses of rock than anything else. And as in the
great hunting countries of India, the stranger at a distance
will sometimes pass on the plains recumbent elephants
without knowing them to be such, taking them for bare,
blackened elevations of the soil; even so, often, with him,
who for the first time beholds this species of the leviathans
of the sea. And even when recognised at last, their
immense magnitude renders it very hard really to believe
that such bulky masses of overgrowth can possibly be
instinct, in all parts, with the same sort of life that lives in a
dog or a horse.
    Indeed, in other respects, you can hardly regard any
creatures of the deep with the same feelings that you do
those of the shore. For though some old naturalists have
maintained that all creatures of the land are of their kind in
the sea; and though taking a broad general view of the
thing, this may very well be; yet coming to specialties,


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where, for example, does the ocean furnish any fish that in
disposition answers to the sagacious kindness of the dog?
The accursed shark alone can in any generic respect be
said to bear comparative analogy to him.
    But though, to landsmen in general, the native
inhabitants of the seas have ever been regarded with
emotions unspeakably unsocial and repelling; though we
know the sea to be an everlasting terra incognita, so that
Columbus sailed over numberless unknown worlds to
discover his one superficial western one; though, by vast
odds, the most terrific of all mortal disasters have
immemorially and indiscriminately befallen tens and
hundreds of thousands of those who have gone upon the
waters; though but a moment’s consideration will teach,
that however baby man may brag of his science and skill,
and however much, in a flattering future, that science and
skill may augment; yet for ever and for ever, to the crack
of doom, the sea will insult and murder him, and pulverize
the stateliest, stiffest frigate he can make; nevertheless, by
the continual repetition of these very impressions, man has
lost that sense of the full awfulness of the sea which
aboriginally belongs to it.
    The first boat we read of, floated on an ocean, that
with Portuguese vengeance had whelmed a whole world


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without leaving so much as a widow. That same ocean
rolls now; that same ocean destroyed the wrecked ships of
last year. Yea, foolish mortals, Noah’s flood is not yet
subsided; two thirds of the fair world it yet covers.
    Wherein differ the sea and the land, that a miracle upon
one is not a miracle upon the other? Preternatural terrors
rested upon the Hebrews, when under the feet of Korah
and his company the live ground opened and swallowed
them up for ever; yet not a modern sun ever sets, but in
precisely the same manner the live sea swallows up ships
and crews.
    But not only is the sea such a foe to man who is an
alien to it, but it is also a fiend to its own off-spring; worse
than the Persian host who murdered his own guests;
sparing not the creatures which itself hath spawned. Like a
savage tigress that tossing in the jungle overlays her own
cubs, so the sea dashes even the mightiest whales against
the rocks, and leaves them there side by side with the split
wrecks of ships. No mercy, no power but its own controls
it. Panting and snorting like a mad battle steed that has lost
its rider, the masterless ocean overruns the globe.
    Consider the subtleness of the sea; how its most
dreaded creatures glide under water, unapparent for the
most part, and treacherously hidden beneath the loveliest


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tints of azure. Consider also the devilish brilliance and
beauty of many of its most remorseless tribes, as the dainty
embellished shape of many species of sharks. Consider,
once more, the universal cannibalism of the sea; all whose
creatures prey upon each other, carrying on eternal war
since the world began.
   Consider all this; and then turn to this green, gentle,
and most docile earth; consider them both, the sea and the
land; and do you not find a strange analogy to something
in yourself? For as this appalling ocean surrounds the
verdant land, so in the soul of man there lies one insular
Tahiti, full of peace and joy, but encompassed by all the
horrors of the half known life. God keep thee! Push not
off from that isle, thou canst never return!




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                        Chapter 59

    Squid.
    Slowly wading through the meadows of brit, the
Pequod still held on her way north-eastward towards the
island of Java; a gentle air impelling her keel, so that in the
surrounding serenity her three tall tapering masts mildly
waved to that languid breeze, as three mild palms on a
plain. And still, at wide intervals in the silvery night, the
lonely, alluring jet would be seen.
    But one transparent blue morning, when a stillness
almost preternatural spread over the sea, however
unattended with any stagnant calm; when the long
burnished sun-glade on the waters seemed a golden finger
laid across them, enjoining some secrecy; when the
slippered waves whispered together as they softly ran on;
in this profound hush of the visible sphere a strange
spectre was seen by Daggoo from the main-mast-head.
    In the distance, a great white mass lazily rose, and rising
higher and higher, and disentangling itself from the azure,
at last gleamed before our prow like a snow-slide, new slid
from the hills. Thus glistening for a moment, as slowly it
subsided, and sank. Then once more arose, and silently


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gleamed. It seemed not a whale; and yet is this Moby
Dick? thought Daggoo. Again the phantom went down,
but on re-appearing once more, with a stiletto-like cry
that startled every man from his nod, the negro yelled
out—‘There! there again! there she breaches! right ahead!
The White Whale, the White Whale!’
    Upon this, the seamen rushed to the yard-arms, as in
swarming-time the bees rush to the boughs. Bare-headed
in the sultry sun, Ahab stood on the bowsprit, and with
one hand pushed far behind in readiness to wave his orders
to the helmsman, cast his eager glance in the direction
indicated aloft by the outstretched motionless arm of
Daggoo.
    Whether the flitting attendance of the one still and
solitary jet had gradually worked upon Ahab, so that he
was now prepared to connect the ideas of mildness and
repose with the first sight of the particular whale he
pursued; however this was, or whether his eagerness
betrayed him; whichever way it might have been, no
sooner did he distinctly perceive the white mass, than with
a quick intensity he instantly gave orders for lowering.
    The four boats were soon on the water; Ahab’s in
advance, and all swiftly pulling towards their prey. Soon it
went down, and while, with oars suspended, we were


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awaiting its reappearance, lo! in the same spot where it
sank, once more it slowly rose. Almost forgetting for the
moment all thoughts of Moby Dick, we now gazed at the
most wondrous phenomenon which the secret seas have
hitherto revealed to mankind. A vast pulpy mass, furlongs
in length and breadth, of a glancing cream-colour, lay
floating on the water, innumerable long arms radiating
from its centre, and curling and twisting like a nest of
anacondas, as if blindly to clutch at any hapless object
within reach. No perceptible face or front did it have; no
conceivable token of either sensation or instinct; but
undulated there on the billows, an unearthly, formless,
chance-like apparition of life.
   As with a low sucking sound it slowly disappeared
again, Starbuck still gazing at the agitated waters where it
had sunk, with a wild voice exclaimed—‘Almost rather
had I seen Moby Dick and fought him, than to have seen
thee, thou white ghost!’
   ‘What was it, Sir?’ said Flask.
   ‘The great live squid, which, they say, few whale-ships
ever beheld, and returned to their ports to tell of it.’
   But Ahab said nothing; turning his boat, he sailed back
to the vessel; the rest as silently following.



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    Whatever superstitions the sperm whalemen in general
have connected with the sight of this object, certain it is,
that a glimpse of it being so very unusual, that
circumstance has gone far to invest it with portentousness.
So rarely is it beheld, that though one and all of them
declare it to be the largest animated thing in the ocean, yet
very few of them have any but the most vague ideas
concerning its true nature and form; notwithstanding, they
believe it to furnish to the sperm whale his only food. For
though other species of whales find their food above
water, and may be seen by man in the act of feeding, the
spermaceti whale obtains his whole food in unknown
zones below the surface; and only by inference is it that
any one can tell of what, precisely, that food consists. At
times, when closely pursued, he will disgorge what are
supposed to be the detached arms of the squid; some of
them thus exhibited exceeding twenty and thirty feet in
length. They fancy that the monster to which these arms
belonged ordinarily clings by them to the bed of the
ocean; and that the sperm whale, unlike other species, is
supplied with teeth in order to attack and tear it.
    There seems some ground to imagine that the great
Kraken of Bishop Pontoppodan may ultimately resolve
itself into Squid. The manner in which the Bishop


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describes it, as alternately rising and sinking, with some
other particulars he narrates, in all this the two correspond.
But much abatement is necessary with respect to the
incredible bulk he assigns it.
   By some naturalists who have vaguely heard rumors of
the mysterious creature, here spoken of, it is included
among the class of cuttle-fish, to which, indeed, in certain
external respects it would seem to belong, but only as the
Anak of the tribe.




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                       Chapter 60

    The Line.
    With reference to the whaling scene shortly to be
described, as well as for the better understanding of all
similar scenes elsewhere presented, I have here to speak of
the magical, sometimes horrible whale-line.
    The line originally used in the fishery was of the best
hemp, slightly vapoured with tar, not impregnated with it,
as in the case of ordinary ropes; for while tar, as ordinarily
used, makes the hemp more pliable to the rope-maker,
and also renders the rope itself more convenient to the
sailor for common ship use; yet, not only would the
ordinary quantity too much stiffen the whale-line for the
close coiling to which it must be subjected; but as most
seamen are beginning to learn, tar in general by no means
adds to the rope’s durability or strength, however much it
may give it compactness and gloss.
    Of late years the Manilla rope has in the American
fishery almost entirely superseded hemp as a material for
whale-lines; for, though not so durable as hemp, it is
stronger, and far more soft and elastic; and I will add (since
there is an aesthetics in all things), is much more


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handsome and becoming to the boat, than hemp. Hemp is
a dusky, dark fellow, a sort of Indian; but Manilla is as a
golden-haired Circassian to behold.
    The whale-line is only two-thirds of an inch in
thickness. At first sight, you would not think it so strong as
it really is. By experiment its one and fifty yarns will each
suspend a weight of one hundred and twenty pounds; so
that the whole rope will bear a strain nearly equal to three
tons. In length, the common sperm whale-line measures
something over two hundred fathoms. Towards the stern
of the boat it is spirally coiled away in the tub, not like the
worm-pipe of a still though, but so as to form one round,
cheese-shaped mass of densely bedded ‘sheaves,’ or layers
of concentric spiralizations, without any hollow but the
‘heart,’ or minute vertical tube formed at the axis of the
cheese. As the least tangle or kink in the coiling would, in
running out, infallibly take somebody’s arm, leg, or entire
body off, the utmost precaution is used in stowing the line
in its tub. Some harpooneers will consume almost an
entire morning in this business, carrying the line high aloft
and then reeving it downwards through a block towards
the tub, so as in the act of coiling to free it from all
possible wrinkles and twists.



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    In the English boats two tubs are used instead of one;
the same line being continuously coiled in both tubs.
There is some advantage in this; because these twin-tubs
being so small they fit more readily into the boat, and do
not strain it so much; whereas, the American tub, nearly
three feet in diameter and of proportionate depth, makes a
rather bulky freight for a craft whose planks are but one
half-inch in thickness; for the bottom of the whale-boat is
like critical ice, which will bear up a considerable
distributed weight, but not very much of a concentrated
one. When the painted canvas cover is clapped on the
American line-tub, the boat looks as if it were pulling off
with a prodigious great wedding-cake to present to the
whales.
    Both ends of the line are exposed; the lower end
terminating in an eye-splice or loop coming up from the
bottom against the side of the tub, and hanging over its
edge completely disengaged from everything. This
arrangement of the lower end is necessary on two
accounts. First: In order to facilitate the fastening to it of
an additional line from a neighboring boat, in case the
stricken whale should sound so deep as to threaten to carry
off the entire line originally attached to the harpoon. In
these instances, the whale of course is shifted like a mug of


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ale, as it were, from the one boat to the other; though the
first boat always hovers at hand to assist its consort.
Second: This arrangement is indispensable for common
safety’s sake; for were the lower end of the line in any way
attached to the boat, and were the whale then to run the
line out to the end almost in a single, smoking minute as
he sometimes does, he would not stop there, for the
doomed boat would infallibly be dragged down after him
into the profundity of the sea; and in that case no town-
crier would ever find her again.
    Before lowering the boat for the chase, the upper end
of the line is taken aft from the tub, and passing round the
loggerhead there, is again carried forward the entire length
of the boat, resting crosswise upon the loom or handle of
every man’s oar, so that it jogs against his wrist in rowing;
and also passing between the men, as they alternately sit at
the opposite gunwales, to the leaded chocks or grooves in
the extreme pointed prow of the boat, where a wooden
pin or skewer the size of a common quill, prevents it from
slipping out. From the chocks it hangs in a slight festoon
over the bows, and is then passed inside the boat again;
and some ten or twenty fathoms (called box-line) being
coiled upon the box in the bows, it continues its way to
the gunwale still a little further aft, and is then attached to


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the short-warp—the rope which is immediately connected
with the harpoon; but previous to that connexion, the
short-warp goes through sundry mystifications too tedious
to detail.
   Thus the whale-line folds the whole boat in its
complicated coils, twisting and writhing around it in
almost every direction. All the oarsmen are involved in its
perilous contortions; so that to the timid eye of the
landsman, they seem as Indian jugglers, with the deadliest
snakes sportively festooning their limbs. Nor can any son
of mortal woman, for the first time, seat himself amid
those hempen intricacies, and while straining his utmost at
the oar, bethink him that at any unknown instant the
harpoon may be darted, and all these horrible contortions
be put in play like ringed lightnings; he cannot be thus
circumstanced without a shudder that makes the very
marrow in his bones to quiver in him like a shaken jelly.
Yet habit—strange thing! what cannot habit
accomplish?—Gayer sallies, more merry mirth, better
jokes, and brighter repartees, you never heard over your
mahogany, than you will hear over the half-inch white
cedar of the whale-boat, when thus hung in hangman’s
nooses; and, like the six burghers of Calais before King
Edward, the six men composing the crew pull into the


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jaws of death, with a halter around every neck, as you may
say.
    Perhaps a very little thought will now enable you to
account for those repeated whaling disasters—some few of
which are casually chronicled—of this man or that man
being taken out of the boat by the line, and lost. For,
when the line is darting out, to be seated then in the boat,
is like being seated in the midst of the manifold whizzings
of a steam-engine in full play, when every flying beam,
and shaft, and wheel, is grazing you. It is worse; for you
cannot sit motionless in the heart of these perils, because
the boat is rocking like a cradle, and you are pitched one
way and the other, without the slightest warning; and only
by a certain self-adjusting buoyancy and simultaneousness
of volition and action, can you escape being made a
Mazeppa of, and run away with where the all-seeing sun
himself could never pierce you out.
    Again: as the profound calm which only apparently
precedes and prophesies of the storm, is perhaps more
awful than the storm itself; for, indeed, the calm is but the
wrapper and envelope of the storm; and contains it in
itself, as the seemingly harmless rifle holds the fatal
powder, and the ball, and the explosion; so the graceful
repose of the line, as it silently serpentines about the


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oarsmen before being brought into actual play—this is a
thing which carries more of true terror than any other
aspect of this dangerous affair. But why say more? All men
live enveloped in whale-lines. All are born with halters
round their necks; but it is only when caught in the swift,
sudden turn of death, that mortals realize the silent, subtle,
ever-present perils of life. And if you be a philosopher,
though seated in the whale-boat, you would not at heart
feel one whit more of terror, than though seated before
your evening fire with a poker, and not a harpoon, by
your side.




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                       Chapter 61

    Stubb Kills a Whale.
    If to Starbuck the apparition of the Squid was a thing of
portents, to Queequeg it was quite a different object.
    ‘When you see him ‘quid,’ said the savage, honing his
harpoon in the bow of his hoisted boat, ‘then you quick
see him ‘parm whale.’
    The next day was exceedingly still and sultry, and with
nothing special to engage them, the Pequod’s crew could
hardly resist the spell of sleep induced by such a vacant sea.
For this part of the Indian Ocean through which we then
were voyaging is not what whalemen call a lively ground;
that is, it affords fewer glimpses of porpoises, dolphins,
flying-fish, and other vivacious denizens of more stirring
waters, than those off the Rio de la Plata, or the in-shore
ground off Peru.
    It was my turn to stand at the foremast-head; and with
my shoulders leaning against the slackened royal shrouds,
to and fro I idly swayed in what seemed an enchanted air.
No resolution could withstand it; in that dreamy mood
losing all consciousness, at last my soul went out of my
body; though my body still continued to sway as a


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pendulum will, long after the power which first moved it
is withdrawn.
    Ere forgetfulness altogether came over me, I had
noticed that the seamen at the main and mizzen-mast-
heads were already drowsy. So that at last all three of us
lifelessly swung from the spars, and for every swing that
we made there was a nod from below from the slumbering
helmsman. The waves, too, nodded their indolent crests;
and across the wide trance of the sea, east nodded to west,
and the sun over all.
    Suddenly bubbles seemed bursting beneath my closed
eyes; like vices my hands grasped the shrouds; some
invisible, gracious agency preserved me; with a shock I
came back to life. And lo! close under our lee, not forty
fathoms off, a gigantic Sperm Whale lay rolling in the
water like the capsized hull of a frigate, his broad, glossy
back, of an Ethiopian hue, glistening in the sun’s rays like
a mirror. But lazily undulating in the trough of the sea,
and ever and anon tranquilly spouting his vapoury jet, the
whale looked like a portly burgher smoking his pipe of a
warm afternoon. But that pipe, poor whale, was thy last.
As if struck by some enchanter’s wand, the sleepy ship and
every sleeper in it all at once started into wakefulness; and
more than a score of voices from all parts of the vessel,


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simultaneously with the three notes from aloft, shouted
forth the accustomed cry, as the great fish slowly and
regularly spouted the sparkling brine into the air.
    ‘Clear away the boats! Luff!’ cried Ahab. And obeying
his own order, he dashed the helm down before the
helmsman could handle the spokes.
    The sudden exclamations of the crew must have
alarmed the whale; and ere the boats were down,
majestically turning, he swam away to the leeward, but
with such a steady tranquillity, and making so few ripples
as he swam, that thinking after all he might not as yet be
alarmed, Ahab gave orders that not an oar should be used,
and no man must speak but in whispers. So seated like
Ontario Indians on the gunwales of the boats, we swiftly
but silently paddled along; the calm not admitting of the
noiseless sails being set. Presently, as we thus glided in
chase, the monster perpendicularly flitted his tail forty feet
into the air, and then sank out of sight like a tower
swallowed up.
    ‘There go flukes!’ was the cry, an announcement
immediately followed by Stubb’s producing his match and
igniting his pipe, for now a respite was granted. After the
full interval of his sounding had elapsed, the whale rose
again, and being now in advance of the smoker’s boat, and


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much nearer to it than to any of the others, Stubb counted
upon the honour of the capture. It was obvious, now, that
the whale had at length become aware of his pursuers. All
silence of cautiousness was therefore no longer of use.
Paddles were dropped, and oars came loudly into play.
And still puffing at his pipe, Stubb cheered on his crew to
the assault.
    Yes, a mighty change had come over the fish. All alive
to his jeopardy, he was going ‘head out"; that part
obliquely projecting from the mad yeast which he
brewed.*
    *It will be seen in some other place of what a very light
substance the entire interior of the sperm whale’s
enormous head consists. Though apparently the most
massive, it is by far the most buoyant part about him. So
that with ease he elevates it in the air, and invariably does
so when going at his utmost speed. Besides, such is the
breadth of the upper part of the front of his head, and such
the tapering cut-water formation of the lower part, that by
obliquely elevating his head, he thereby may be said to
transform himself from a bluff-bowed sluggish galliot into
a sharppointed New York pilot-boat.
    ‘Start her, start her, my men! Don’t hurry yourselves;
take plenty of time—but start her; start her like thunder-


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claps, that’s all,’ cried Stubb, spluttering out the smoke as
he spoke. ‘Start her, now; give ‘em the long and strong
stroke, Tashtego. Start her, Tash, my boy—start her, all;
but keep cool, keep cool—cucumbers is the word—easy,
easy—only start her like grim death and grinning devils,
and raise the buried dead perpendicular out of their graves,
boys—that’s all. Start her!’
    ‘Woo-hoo! Wa-hee!’ screamed the Gay-Header in
reply, raising some old war-whoop to the skies; as every
oarsman in the strained boat involuntarily bounced
forward with the one tremendous leading stroke which
the eager Indian gave.
    But his wild screams were answered by others quite as
wild. ‘Kee-hee! Kee-hee!’ yelled Daggoo, straining
forwards and backwards on his seat, like a pacing tiger in
his cage.
    ‘Ka-la! Koo-loo!’ howled Queequeg, as if smacking his
lips over a mouthful of Grenadier’s steak. And thus with
oars and yells the keels cut the sea. Meanwhile, Stubb
retaining his place in the van, still encouraged his men to
the onset, all the while puffing the smoke from his mouth.
Like desperadoes they tugged and they strained, till the
welcome cry was heard—‘Stand up, Tashtego!—give it to
him!’ The harpoon was hurled. ‘Stern all!’ The oarsmen


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backed water; the same moment something went hot and
hissing along every one of their wrists. It was the magical
line. An instant before, Stubb had swiftly caught two
additional turns with it round the loggerhead, whence, by
reason of its increased rapid circlings, a hempen blue
smoke now jetted up and mingled with the steady fumes
from his pipe. As the line passed round and round the
loggerhead; so also, just before reaching that point, it
blisteringly passed through and through both of Stubb’s
hands, from which the hand-cloths, or squares of quilted
canvas sometimes worn at these times, had accidentally
dropped. It was like holding an enemy’s sharp two-edged
sword by the blade, and that enemy all the time striving to
wrest it out of your clutch.
    ‘Wet the line! wet the line!’ cried Stubb to the tub
oarsman (him seated by the tub) who, snatching off his
hat, dashed sea-water into it.* More turns were taken, so
that the line began holding its place. The boat now flew
through the boiling water like a shark all fins. Stubb and
Tashtego here changed places—stem for stern—a
staggering business truly in that rocking commotion.
    *Partly to show the indispensableness of this act, it may
here be stated, that, in the old Dutch fishery, a mop was
used to dash the running line with water; in many other


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ships, a wooden piggin, or bailer, is set apart for that
purpose. Your hat, however, is the most convenient.
    From the vibrating line extending the entire length of
the upper part of the boat, and from its now being more
tight than a harpstring, you would have thought the craft
had two keels—one cleaving the water, the other the
air—as the boat churned on through both opposing
elements at once. A continual cascade played at the bows;
a ceaseless whirling eddy in her wake; and, at the slightest
motion from within, even but of a little finger, the
vibrating, cracking craft canted over her spasmodic
gunwale into the sea. Thus they rushed; each man with
might and main clinging to his seat, to prevent being
tossed to the foam; and the tall form of Tashtego at the
steering oar crouching almost double, in order to bring
down his centre of gravity. Whole Atlantics and Pacifics
seemed passed as they shot on their way, till at length the
whale somewhat slackened his flight.
    ‘Haul in—haul in!’ cried Stubb to the bowsman! and,
facing round towards the whale, all hands began pulling
the boat up to him, while yet the boat was being towed
on. Soon ranging up by his flank, Stubb, firmly planting
his knee in the clumsy cleat, darted dart after dart into the
flying fish; at the word of command, the boat alternately


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sterning out of the way of the whale’s horrible wallow,
and then ranging up for another fling.
    The red tide now poured from all sides of the monster
like brooks down a hill. His tormented body rolled not in
brine but in blood, which bubbled and seethed for
furlongs behind in their wake. The slanting sun playing
upon this crimson pond in the sea, sent back its reflection
into every face, so that they all glowed to each other like
red men. And all the while, jet after jet of white smoke
was agonizingly shot from the spiracle of the whale, and
vehement puff after puff from the mouth of the excited
headsman; as at every dart, hauling in upon his crooked
lance (by the line attached to it), Stubb straightened it
again and again, by a few rapid blows against the gunwale,
then again and again sent it into the whale.
    ‘Pull up—pull up!’ he now cried to the bowsman, as
the waning whale relaxed in his wrath. ‘Pull up!—close
to!’ and the boat ranged along the fish’s flank. When
reaching far over the bow, Stubb slowly churned his long
sharp lance into the fish, and kept it there, carefully
churning and churning, as if cautiously seeking to feel after
some gold watch that the whale might have swallowed,
and which he was fearful of breaking ere he could hook it
out. But that gold watch he sought was the innermost life


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of the fish. And now it is struck; for, starting from his
trance into that unspeakable thing called his ‘flurry,’ the
monster horribly wallowed in his blood, overwrapped
himself in impenetrable, mad, boiling spray, so that the
imperilled craft, instantly dropping astern, had much ado
blindly to struggle out from that phrensied twilight into
the clear air of the day.
   And now abating in his flurry, the whale once more
rolled out into view; surging from side to side;
spasmodically dilating and contracting his spout-hole, with
sharp, cracking, agonized respirations. At last, gush after
gush of clotted red gore, as if it had been the purple lees of
red wine, shot into the frighted air; and falling back again,
ran dripping down his motionless flanks into the sea. His
heart had burst!
   ‘He’s dead, Mr. Stubb,’ said Daggoo.
   ‘Yes; both pipes smoked out!’ and withdrawing his
own from his mouth, Stubb scattered the dead ashes over
the water; and, for a moment, stood thoughtfully eyeing
the vast corpse he had made.




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                       Chapter 62

    The Dart.
    A word concerning an incident in the last chapter.
    According to the invariable usage of the fishery, the
whale-boat pushes off from the ship, with the headsman or
whale-killer as temporary steersman, and the harpooneer
or whale-fastener pulling the foremost oar, the one known
as the harpooneer-oar. Now it needs a strong, nervous
arm to strike the first iron into the fish; for often, in what
is called a long dart, the heavy implement has to be flung
to the distance of twenty or thirty feet. But however
prolonged and exhausting the chase, the harpooneer is
expected to pull his oar meanwhile to the uttermost;
indeed, he is expected to set an example of superhuman
activity to the rest, not only by incredible rowing, but by
repeated loud and intrepid exclamations; and what it is to
keep shouting at the top of one’s compass, while all the
other muscles are strained and half started—what that is
none know but those who have tried it. For one, I cannot
bawl very heartily and work very recklessly at one and the
same time. In this straining, bawling state, then, with his
back to the fish, all at once the exhausted harpooneer


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hears the exciting cry—‘Stand up, and give it to him!’ He
now has to drop and secure his oar, turn round on his
centre half way, seize his harpoon from the crotch, and
with what little strength may remain, he essays to pitch it
somehow into the whale. No wonder, taking the whole
fleet of whalemen in a body, that out of fifty fair chances
for a dart, not five are successful; no wonder that so many
hapless harpooneers are madly cursed and disrated; no
wonder that some of them actually burst their blood-
vessels in the boat; no wonder that some sperm whalemen
are absent four years with four barrels; no wonder that to
many ship owners, whaling is but a losing concern; for it is
the harpooneer that makes the voyage, and if you take the
breath out of his body how can you expect to find it there
when most wanted!
    Again, if the dart be successful, then at the second
critical instant, that is, when the whale starts to run, the
boatheader and harpooneer likewise start to running fore
and aft, to the imminent jeopardy of themselves and every
one else. It is then they change places; and the headsman,
the chief officer of the little craft, takes his proper station
in the bows of the boat.
    Now, I care not who maintains the contrary, but all
this is both foolish and unnecessary. The headsman should


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stay in the bows from first to last; he should both dart the
harpoon and the lance, and no rowing whatever should be
expected of him, except under circumstances obvious to
any fisherman. I know that this would sometimes involve
a slight loss of speed in the chase; but long experience in
various whalemen of more than one nation has convinced
me that in the vast majority of failures in the fishery, it has
not by any means been so much the speed of the whale as
the before described exhaustion of the harpooneer that has
caused them.
    To insure the greatest efficiency in the dart, the
harpooneers of this world must start to their feet from out
of idleness, and not from out of toil.




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                       Chapter 63

   The Crotch.
   Out of the trunk, the branches grow; out of them, the
twigs. So, in productive subjects, grow the chapters.
   The crotch alluded to on a previous page deserves
independent mention. It is a notched stick of a peculiar
form, some two feet in length, which is perpendicularly
inserted into the starboard gunwale near the bow, for the
purpose of furnishing a rest for the wooden extremity of
the harpoon, whose other naked, barbed end slopingly
projects from the prow. Thereby the weapon is instantly at
hand to its hurler, who snatches it up as readily from its
rest as a backwoodsman swings his rifle from the wall. It is
customary to have two harpoons reposing in the crotch,
respectively called the first and second irons.
   But these two harpoons, each by its own cord, are both
connected with the line; the object being this: to dart
them both, if possible, one instantly after the other into
the same whale; so that if, in the coming drag, one should
draw out, the other may still retain a hold. It is a doubling
of the chances. But it very often happens that owing to
the instantaneous, violent, convulsive running of the


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whale upon receiving the first iron, it becomes impossible
for the harpooneer, however lightning-like in his
movements, to pitch the second iron into him.
Nevertheless, as the second iron is already connected with
the line, and the line is running, hence that weapon must,
at all events, be anticipatingly tossed out of the boat,
somehow and somewhere; else the most terrible jeopardy
would involve all hands. Tumbled into the water, it
accordingly is in such cases; the spare coils of box line
(mentioned in a preceding chapter) making this feat, in
most instances, prudently practicable. But this critical act is
not always unattended with the saddest and most fatal
casualties.
    Furthermore: you must know that when the second
iron is thrown overboard, it thenceforth becomes a
dangling, sharp-edged terror, skittishly curvetting about
both boat and whale, entangling the lines, or cutting them,
and making a prodigious sensation in all directions. Nor,
in general, is it possible to secure it again until the whale is
fairly captured and a corpse.
    Consider, now, how it must be in the case of four boats
all engaging one unusually strong, active, and knowing
whale; when owing to these qualities in him, as well as to
the thousand concurring accidents of such an audacious


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enterprise, eight or ten loose second irons may be
simultaneously dangling about him. For, of course, each
boat is supplied with several harpoons to bend on to the
line should the first one be ineffectually darted without
recovery. All these particulars are faithfully narrated here,
as they will not fail to elucidate several most important,
however intricate passages, in scenes hereafter to be
painted.




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                      Chapter 64

    Stubb’s Supper.
    Stubb’s whale had been killed some distance from the
ship. It was a calm; so, forming a tandem of three boats,
we commenced the slow business of towing the trophy to
the Pequod. And now, as we eighteen men with our
thirty-six arms, and one hundred and eighty thumbs and
fingers, slowly toiled hour after hour upon that inert,
sluggish corpse in the sea; and it seemed hardly to budge at
all, except at long intervals; good evidence was hereby
furnished of the enormousness of the mass we moved. For,
upon the great canal of Hang-Ho, or whatever they call it,
in China, four or five laborers on the foot-path will draw a
bulky freighted junk at the rate of a mile an hour; but this
grand argosy we towed heavily forged along, as if laden
with pig-lead in bulk.
    Darkness came on; but three lights up and down in the
Pequod’s main-rigging dimly guided our way; till drawing
nearer we saw Ahab dropping one of several more lanterns
over the bulwarks. Vacantly eyeing the heaving whale for
a moment, he issued the usual orders for securing it for the
night, and then handing his lantern to a seaman, went his


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way into the cabin, and did not come forward again until
morning.
   Though, in overseeing the pursuit of this whale,
Captain Ahab had evinced his customary activity, to call it
so; yet now that the creature was dead, some vague
dissatisfaction, or impatience, or despair, seemed working
in him; as if the sight of that dead body reminded him that
Moby Dick was yet to be slain; and though a thousand
other whales were brought to his ship, all that would not
one jot advance his grand, monomaniac object. Very soon
you would have thought from the sound on the Pequod’s
decks, that all hands were preparing to cast anchor in the
deep; for heavy chains are being dragged along the deck,
and thrust rattling out of the port-holes. But by those
clanking links, the vast corpse itself, not the ship, is to be
moored. Tied by the head to the stern, and by the tail to
the bows, the whale now lies with its black hull close to
the vessel’s and seen through the darkness of the night,
which obscured the spars and rigging aloft, the two—ship
and whale, seemed yoked together like colossal bullocks,
whereof one reclines while the other remains standing.*
   *A little item may as well be related here. The strongest
and most reliable hold which the ship has upon the whale
when moored alongside, is by the flukes or tail; and as


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from its greater density that part is relatively heavier than
any other (excepting the side-fins), its flexibility even in
death, causes it to sink low beneath the surface; so that
with the hand you cannot get at it from the boat, in order
to put the chain round it. But this difficulty is ingeniously
overcome: a small, strong line is prepared with a wooden
float at its outer end, and a weight in its middle, while the
other end is secured to the ship. By adroit management
the wooden float is made to rise on the other side of the
mass, so that now having girdled the whale, the chain is
readily made to follow suit; and being slipped along the
body, is at last locked fast round the smallest part of the
tail, at the point of junction with its broad flukes or lobes.
    If moody Ahab was now all quiescence, at least so far as
could be known on deck, Stubb, his second mate, flushed
with conquest, betrayed an unusual but still good-natured
excitement. Such an unwonted bustle was he in that the
staid Starbuck, his official superior, quietly resigned to him
for the time the sole management of affairs. One small,
helping cause of all this liveliness in Stubb, was soon made
strangely manifest. Stubb was a high liver; he was
somewhat intemperately fond of the whale as a flavorish
thing to his palate.



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   ‘A steak, a steak, ere I sleep! You, Daggoo! overboard
you go, and cut me one from his small!’
   Here be it known, that though these wild fishermen do
not, as a general thing, and according to the great military
maxim, make the enemy defray the current expenses of
the war (at least before realizing the proceeds of the
voyage), yet now and then you find some of these
Nantucketers who have a genuine relish for that particular
part of the Sperm Whale designated by Stubb; comprising
the tapering extremity of the body.
   About midnight that steak was cut and cooked; and
lighted by two lanterns of sperm oil, Stubb stoutly stood
up to his spermaceti supper at the capstan-head, as if that
capstan were a sideboard. Nor was Stubb the only
banqueter on whale’s flesh that night. Mingling their
mumblings with his own mastications, thousands on
thousands of sharks, swarming round the dead leviathan,
smackingly feasted on its fatness. The few sleepers below
in their bunks were often startled by the sharp slapping of
their tails against the hull, within a few inches of the
sleepers’ hearts. Peering over the side you could just see
them (as before you heard them) wallowing in the sullen,
black waters, and turning over on their backs as they
scooped out huge globular pieces of the whale of the


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bigness of a human head. This particular feat of the shark
seems all but miraculous. How at such an apparently
unassailable surface, they contrive to gouge out such
symmetrical mouthfuls, remains a part of the universal
problem of all things. The mark they thus leave on the
whale, may best be likened to the hollow made by a
carpenter in countersinking for a screw.
    Though amid all the smoking horror and diabolism of a
sea-fight, sharks will be seen longingly gazing up to the
ship’s decks, like hungry dogs round a table where red
meat is being carved, ready to bolt down every killed man
that is tossed to them; and though, while the valiant
butchers over the deck-table are thus cannibally carving
each other’s live meat with carving-knives all gilded and
tasselled, the sharks, also, with their jewel-hilted mouths,
are quarrelsomely carving away under the table at the dead
meat; and though, were you to turn the whole affair
upside down, it would still be pretty much the same thing,
that is to say, a shocking sharkish business enough for all
parties; and though sharks also are the invariable outriders
of all slave ships crossing the Atlantic, systematically
trotting alongside, to be handy in case a parcel is to be
carried anywhere, or a dead slave to be decently buried;
and though one or two other like instances might be set


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down, touching the set terms, places, and occasions, when
sharks do most socially congregate, and most hilariously
feast; yet is there no conceivable time or occasion when
you will find them in such countless numbers, and in
gayer or more jovial spirits, than around a dead sperm
whale, moored by night to a whaleship at sea. If you have
never seen that sight, then suspend your decision about
the propriety of devil-worship, and the expediency of
conciliating the devil.
   But, as yet, Stubb heeded not the mumblings of the
banquet that was going on so nigh him, no more than the
sharks heeded the smacking of his own epicurean lips.
   ‘Cook, cook!—where’s that old Fleece?’ he cried at
length, widening his legs still further, as if to form a more
secure base for his supper; and, at the same time darting his
fork into the dish, as if stabbing with his lance; ‘cook, you
cook!—sail this way, cook!’
   The old black, not in any very high glee at having been
previously roused from his warm hammock at a most
unseasonable hour, came shambling along from his galley,
for, like many old blacks, there was something the matter
with his knee-pans, which he did not keep well scoured
like his other pans; this old Fleece, as they called him,
came shuffling and limping along, assisting his step with


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his tongs, which, after a clumsy fashion, were made of
straightened iron hoops; this old Ebony floundered along,
and in obedience to the word of command, came to a
dead stop on the opposite side of Stubb’s sideboard; when,
with both hands folded before him, and resting on his
two-legged cane, he bowed his arched back still further
over, at the same time sideways inclining his head, so as to
bring his best ear into play.
    ‘Cook,’ said Stubb, rapidly lifting a rather reddish
morsel to his mouth, ‘don’t you think this steak is rather
overdone? You’ve been beating this steak too much,
cook; it’s too tender. Don’t I always say that to be good, a
whale-steak must be tough? There are those sharks now
over the side, don’t you see they prefer it tough and rare?
What a shindy they are kicking up! Cook, go and talk to
‘em; tell ‘em they are welcome to help themselves civilly,
and in moderation, but they must keep quiet. Blast me, if I
can hear my own voice. Away, cook, and deliver my
message. Here, take this lantern,’ snatching one from his
sideboard; ‘now then, go and preach to ‘em!’
    Sullenly taking the offered lantern, old Fleece limped
across the deck to the bulwarks; and then, with one hand
dropping his light low over the sea, so as to get a good
view of his congregation, with the other hand he solemnly


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flourished his tongs, and leaning far over the side in a
mumbling voice began addressing the sharks, while Stubb,
softly crawling behind, overheard all that was said.
   ‘Fellow-critters: I’se ordered here to say dat you must
stop dat dam noise dare. You hear? Stop dat dam smackin’
ob de lips! Massa Stubb say dat you can fill your dam
bellies up to de hatchings, but by Gor! you must stop dat
dam racket!’
   ‘Cook,’ here interposed Stubb, accompanying the word
with a sudden slap on the shoulder,—‘Cook! why, damn
your eyes, you mustn’t swear that way when you’re
preaching. That’s no way to convert sinners, cook!’
   ‘Who dat? Den preach to him yourself,’ sullenly
turning to go.
   ‘No, cook; go on, go on.’
   ‘Well, den, Belubed fellow-critters:’-
   ‘Right!’ exclaimed Stubb, approvingly, ‘coax ‘em to it;
try that,’ and Fleece continued.
   ‘Do you is all sharks, and by natur wery woracious, yet
I zay to you, fellow-critters, dat dat woraciousness—’top
dat dam slappin’ ob de tail! How you tink to hear, spose
you keep up such a dam slappin’ and bitin’ dare?’
   ‘Cook,’ cried Stubb, collaring him, ‘I won’t have that
swearing. Talk to ‘em gentlemanly.’


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    Once more the sermon proceeded.
    ‘Your woraciousness, fellow-critters, I don’t blame ye
so much for; dat is natur, and can’t be helped; but to
gobern dat wicked natur, dat is de pint. You is sharks,
sartin; but if you gobern de shark in you, why den you be
angel; for all angel is not’ing more dan de shark well
goberned. Now, look here, bred’ren, just try wonst to be
cibil, a helping yourselbs from dat whale. Don’t be tearin’
de blubber out your neighbour’s mout, I say. Is not one
shark dood right as toder to dat whale? And, by Gor, none
on you has de right to dat whale; dat whale belong to
some one else. I know some o’ you has berry brig mout,
brigger dan oders; but den de brig mouts sometimes has de
small bellies; so dat de brigness of de mout is not to swaller
wid, but to bit off de blubber for de small fry ob sharks,
dat can’t get into de scrouge to help demselves.’
    ‘Well done, old Fleece!’ cried Stubb, ‘that’s
Christianity; go on.’
    ‘No use goin’ on; de dam willains will keep a scougin’
and slappin’ each oder, Massa Stubb; dey don’t hear one
word; no use a-preaching to such dam g’uttons as you call
‘em, till dare bellies is full, and dare bellies is bottomless;
and when dey do get ‘em full, dey wont hear you den; for



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den dey sink in the sea, go fast to sleep on de coral, and
can’t hear noting at all, no more, for eber and eber.’
   ‘Upon my soul, I am about of the same opinion; so
give the benediction, Fleece, and I’ll away to my supper.’
   Upon this, Fleece, holding both hands over the fishy
mob, raised his shrill voice, and cried—
   ‘Cussed fellow-critters! Kick up de damndest row as
ever you can; fill your dam bellies ‘till dey bust—and den
die.’
   ‘Now, cook,’ said Stubb, resuming his supper at the
capstan; ‘stand just where you stood before, there, over
against me, and pay particular attention.’
   ‘All ‘dention,’ said Fleece, again stooping over upon his
tongs in the desired position.
   ‘Well,’ said Stubb, helping himself freely meanwhile; ‘I
shall now go back to the subject of this steak. In the first
place, how old are you, cook?’
   ‘What dat do wid de ‘teak,’ said the old black, testily.
   ‘Silence! How old are you, cook?’
   ‘‘Bout ninety, dey say,’ he gloomily muttered.
   ‘And you have lived in this world hard upon one
hundred years, cook, and don’t know yet how to cook a
whale-steak?’ rapidly bolting another mouthful at the last



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word, so that morsel seemed a continuation of the
question. ‘Where were you born, cook?’
    ‘‘Hind de hatchway, in ferry-boat, goin’ ober de
Roanoke.’
    ‘Born in a ferry-boat! That’s queer, too. But I want to
know what country you were born in, cook!’
    ‘Didn’t I say de Roanoke country?’ he cried sharply.
    ‘No, you didn’t, cook; but I’ll tell you what I’m
coming to, cook. You must go home and be born over
again; you don’t know how to cook a whale-steak yet.’
    ‘Bress my soul, if I cook noder one,’ he growled,
angrily, turning round to depart.
    ‘Come back here, cook;—here, hand me those
tongs;—now take that bit of steak there, and tell me if you
think that steak cooked as it should be? Take it, I say’—
holding the tongs towards him—‘take it, and taste it.’
    Faintly smacking his withered lips over it for a
moment, the old negro muttered, ‘Best cooked ‘teak I
eber taste; joosy, berry joosy.’
    ‘Cook,’ said Stubb, squaring himself once more; ‘do
you belong to the church?’
    ‘Passed one once in Cape-Down,’ said the old man
sullenly.



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    ‘And you have once in your life passed a holy church
in Cape-Town, where you doubtless overheard a holy
parson addressing his hearers as his beloved fellow-
creatures, have you, cook! And yet you come here, and
tell me such a dreadful lie as you did just now, eh?’ said
Stubb. ‘Where do you expect to go to, cook?’
    ‘Go to bed berry soon,’ he mumbled, half-turning as he
spoke.
    ‘Avast! heave to! I mean when you die, cook. It’s an
awful question. Now what’s your answer?’
    ‘When dis old brack man dies,’ said the negro slowly,
changing his whole air and demeanor, ‘he hisself won’t go
nowhere; but some bressed angel will come and fetch
him.’
    ‘Fetch him? How? In a coach and four, as they fetched
Elijah? And fetch him where?’
    ‘Up dere,’ said Fleece, holding his tongs straight over
his head, and keeping it there very solemnly.
    ‘So, then, you expect to go up into our main-top, do
you, cook, when you are dead? But don’t you know the
higher you climb, the colder it gets? Main-top, eh?’
    ‘Didn’t say dat t’all,’ said Fleece, again in the sulks.
    ‘You said up there, didn’t you? and now look yourself,
and see where your tongs are pointing. But, perhaps you


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expect to get into heaven by crawling through the lubber’s
hole, cook; but, no, no, cook, you don’t get there, except
you go the regular way, round by the rigging. It’s a
ticklish business, but must be done, or else it’s no go. But
none of us are in heaven yet. Drop your tongs, cook, and
hear my orders. Do ye hear? Hold your hat in one hand,
and clap t’other a’top of your heart, when I’m giving my
orders, cook. What! that your heart, there?—that’s your
gizzard! Aloft! aloft!—that’s it—now you have it. Hold it
there now, and pay attention.’
    ‘All ‘dention,’ said the old black, with both hands
placed as desired, vainly wriggling his grizzled head, as if
to get both ears in front at one and the same time.
    ‘Well then, cook, you see this whale-steak of yours was
so very bad, that I have put it out of sight as soon as
possible; you see that, don’t you? Well, for the future,
when you cook another whale-steak for my private table
here, the capstan, I’ll tell you what to do so as not to spoil
it by overdoing. Hold the steak in one hand, and show a
live coal to it with the other; that done, dish it; d’ye hear?
And now to-morrow, cook, when we are cutting in the
fish, be sure you stand by to get the tips of his fins; have
them put in pickle. As for the ends of the flukes, have
them soused, cook. There, now ye may go.’


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   But Fleece had hardly got three paces off, when he was
recalled.
   ‘Cook, give me cutlets for supper to-morrow night in
the mid-watch. D’ye hear? away you sail, then.—Halloa!
stop! make a bow before you go.—Avast heaving again!
Whale-balls for breakfast—don’t forget.’
   ‘Wish, by gor! whale eat him, ‘stead of him eat whale.
I’m bressed if he ain’t more of shark dan Massa Shark
hisself,’ muttered the old man, limping away; with which
sage ejaculation he went to his hammock.




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                       Chapter 65

   The Whale as a Dish.
   That mortal man should feed upon the creature that
feeds his lamp, and, like Stubb, eat him by his own light,
as you may say; this seems so outlandish a thing that one
must needs go a little into the history and philosophy of it.
   It is upon record, that three centuries ago the tongue of
the Right Whale was esteemed a great delicacy in France,
and commanded large prices there. Also, that in Henry
VIIIth’s time, a certain cook of the court obtained a
handsome reward for inventing an admirable sauce to be
eaten with barbacued porpoises, which, you remember,
are a species of whale. Porpoises, indeed, are to this day
considered fine eating. The meat is made into balls about
the size of billiard balls, and being well seasoned and
spiced might be taken for turtle-balls or veal balls. The old
monks of Dunfermline were very fond of them. They had
a great porpoise grant from the crown.
   The fact is, that among his hunters at least, the whale
would by all hands be considered a noble dish, were there
not so much of him; but when you come to sit down
before a meat-pie nearly one hundred feet long, it takes


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away your appetite. Only the most unprejudiced of men
like Stubb, nowadays partake of cooked whales; but the
Esquimaux are not so fastidious. We all know how they
live upon whales, and have rare old vintages of prime old
train oil. Zogranda, one of their most famous doctors,
recommends strips of blubber for infants, as being
exceedingly juicy and nourishing. And this reminds me
that certain Englishmen, who long ago were accidentally
left in Greenland by a whaling vessel—that these men
actually lived for several months on the mouldy scraps of
whales which had been left ashore after trying out the
blubber. Among the Dutch whalemen these scraps are
called ‘fritters"; which, indeed, they greatly resemble,
being brown and crisp, and smelling something like old
Amsterdam housewives’ dough-nuts or oly-cooks, when
fresh. They have such an eatable look that the most self-
denying stranger can hardly keep his hands off.
    But what further depreciates the whale as a civilized
dish, is his exceeding richness. He is the great prize ox of
the sea, too fat to be delicately good. Look at his hump,
which would be as fine eating as the buffalo’s (which is
esteemed a rare dish), were it not such a solid pyramid of
fat. But the spermaceti itself, how bland and creamy that
is; like the transparent, half-jellied, white meat of a


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cocoanut in the third month of its growth, yet far too rich
to supply a substitute for butter. Nevertheless, many
whalemen have a method of absorbing it into some other
substance, and then partaking of it. In the long try watches
of the night it is a common thing for the seamen to dip
their ship-biscuit into the huge oil-pots and let them fry
there awhile. Many a good supper have I thus made.
   In the case of a small Sperm Whale the brains are
accounted a fine dish. The casket of the skull is broken
into with an axe, and the two plump, whitish lobes being
withdrawn (precisely resembling two large puddings), they
are then mixed with flour, and cooked into a most
delectable mess, in flavor somewhat resembling calves’
head, which is quite a dish among some epicures; and
every one knows that some young bucks among the
epicures, by continually dining upon calves’ brains, by and
by get to have a little brains of their own, so as to be able
to tell a calf’s head from their own heads; which, indeed,
requires uncommon discrimination. And that is the reason
why a young buck with an intelligent looking calf’s head
before him, is somehow one of the saddest sights you can
see. The head looks a sort of reproachfully at him, with an
‘Et tu Brute!’ expression.



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    It is not, perhaps, entirely because the whale is so
excessively unctuous that landsmen seem to regard the
eating of him with abhorrence; that appears to result, in
some way, from the consideration before mentioned: i.e.
that a man should eat a newly murdered thing of the sea,
and eat it too by its own light. But no doubt the first man
that ever murdered an ox was regarded as a murderer;
perhaps he was hung; and if he had been put on his trial
by oxen, he certainly would have been; and he certainly
deserved it if any murderer does. Go to the meat-market
of a Saturday night and see the crowds of live bipeds
staring up at the long rows of dead quadrupeds. Does not
that sight take a tooth out of the cannibal’s jaw?
Cannibals? who is not a cannibal? I tell you it will be more
tolerable for the Fejee that salted down a lean missionary
in his cellar against a coming famine; it will be more
tolerable for that provident Fejee, I say, in the day of
judgment, than for thee, civilized and enlightened
gourmand, who nailest geese to the ground and feastest on
their bloated livers in thy pate-de-foie-gras.
    But Stubb, he eats the whale by its own light, does he?
and that is adding insult to injury, is it? Look at your
knife-handle, there, my civilized and enlightened
gourmand dining off that roast beef, what is that handle


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made of?—what but the bones of the brother of the very
ox you are eating? And what do you pick your teeth with,
after devouring that fat goose? With a feather of the same
fowl. And with what quill did the Secretary of the Society
for the Suppression of Cruelty to Ganders formally indite
his circulars? It is only within the last month or two that
that society passed a resolution to patronise nothing but
steel pens.




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                       Chapter 66

   The Shark Massacre.
   When in the Southern Fishery, a captured Sperm
Whale, after long and weary toil, is brought alongside late
at night, it is not, as a general thing at least, customary to
proceed at once to the business of cutting him in. For that
business is an exceedingly laborious one; is not very soon
completed; and requires all hands to set about it.
Therefore, the common usage is to take in all sail; lash the
helm a’lee; and then send every one below to his
hammock till daylight, with the reservation that, until that
time, anchor-watches shall be kept; that is, two and two
for an hour, each couple, the crew in rotation shall mount
the deck to see that all goes well.
   But sometimes, especially upon the Line in the Pacific,
this plan will not answer at all; because such incalculable
hosts of sharks gather round the moored carcase, that were
he left so for six hours, say, on a stretch, little more than
the skeleton would be visible by morning. In most other
parts of the ocean, however, where these fish do not so
largely abound, their wondrous voracity can be at times
considerably diminished, by vigorously stirring them up


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with sharp whaling-spades, a procedure notwithstanding,
which, in some instances, only seems to tickle them into
still greater activity. But it was not thus in the present case
with the Pequod’s sharks; though, to be sure, any man
unaccustomed to such sights, to have looked over her side
that night, would have almost thought the whole round
sea was one huge cheese, and those sharks the maggots in
it.
    Nevertheless, upon Stubb setting the anchor-watch
after his supper was concluded; and when, accordingly,
Queequeg and a forecastle seaman came on deck, no small
excitement was created among the sharks; for immediately
suspending the cutting stages over the side, and lowering
three lanterns, so that they cast long gleams of light over
the turbid sea, these two mariners, darting their long
whaling-spades, kept up an incessant murdering of the
sharks,* by striking the keen steel deep into their skulls,
seemingly their only vital part. But in the foamy confusion
of their mixed and struggling hosts, the marksmen could
not always hit their mark; and this brought about new
revelations of the incredible ferocity of the foe. They
viciously snapped, not only at each other’s
disembowelments, but like flexible bows, bent round, and
bit their own; till those entrails seemed swallowed over


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and over again by the same mouth, to be oppositely
voided by the gaping wound. Nor was this all. It was
unsafe to meddle with the corpses and ghosts of these
creatures. A sort of generic or Pantheistic vitality seemed
to lurk in their very joints and bones, after what might be
called the individual life had departed. Killed and hoisted
on deck for the sake of his skin, one of these sharks almost
took poor Queequeg’s hand off, when he tried to shut
down the dead lid of his murderous jaw.
    *The whaling-spade used for cutting-in is made of the
very best steel; is about the bigness of a man’s spread hand;
and in general shape, corresponds to the garden implement
after which it is named; only its sides are perfectly flat, and
its upper end considerably narrower than the lower. This
weapon is always kept as sharp as possible; and when being
used is occasionally honed, just like a razor. In its socket, a
stiff pole, from twenty to thirty feet long, is inserted for a
handle.
    ‘Queequeg no care what god made him shark,’ said the
savage, agonizingly lifting his hand up and down; ‘wedder
Fejee god or Nantucket god; but de god wat made shark
must be one dam Ingin.’




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                      Chapter 67

   Cutting In.
   It was a Saturday night, and such a Sabbath as followed!
Ex officio professors of Sabbath breaking are all whalemen.
The ivory Pequod was turned into what seemed a
shamble; every sailor a butcher. You would have thought
we were offering up ten thousand red oxen to the sea
gods.
   In the first place, the enormous cutting tackles, among
other ponderous things comprising a cluster of blocks
generally painted green, and which no single man can
possibly lift—this vast bunch of grapes was swayed up to
the main-top and firmly lashed to the lower mast-head,
the strongest point anywhere above a ship’s deck. The end
of the hawser-like rope winding through these intricacies,
was then conducted to the windlass, and the huge lower
block of the tackles was swung over the whale; to this
block the great blubber hook, weighing some one
hundred pounds, was attached. And now suspended in
stages over the side, Starbuck and Stubb, the mates, armed
with their long spades, began cutting a hole in the body
for the insertion of the hook just above the nearest of the


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two side-fins. This done, a broad, semicircular line is cut
round the hole, the hook is inserted, and the main body of
the crew striking up a wild chorus, now commence
heaving in one dense crowd at the windlass. When
instantly, the entire ship careens over on her side; every
bolt in her starts like the nail-heads of an old house in
frosty weather; she trembles, quivers, and nods her
frighted mast-heads to the sky. More and more she leans
over to the whale, while every gasping heave of the
windlass is answered by a helping heave from the billows;
till at last, a swift, startling snap is heard; with a great swash
the ship rolls upwards and backwards from the whale, and
the triumphant tackle rises into sight dragging after it the
disengaged semicircular end of the first strip of blubber.
Now as the blubber envelopes the whale precisely as the
rind does an orange, so is it stripped off from the body
precisely as an orange is sometimes stripped by spiralizing
it. For the strain constantly kept up by the windlass
continually keeps the whale rolling over and over in the
water, and as the blubber in one strip uniformly peels off
along the line called the ‘scarf,’ simultaneously cut by the
spades of Starbuck and Stubb, the mates; and just as fast as
it is thus peeled off, and indeed by that very act itself, it is
all the time being hoisted higher and higher aloft till its


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upper end grazes the main-top; the men at the windlass
then cease heaving, and for a moment or two the
prodigious blood-dripping mass sways to and fro as if let
down from the sky, and every one present must take good
heed to dodge it when it swings, else it may box his ears
and pitch him headlong overboard.
   One of the attending harpooneers now advances with a
long, keen weapon called a boarding-sword, and watching
his chance he dexterously slices out a considerable hole in
the lower part of the swaying mass. Into this hole, the end
of the second alternating great tackle is then hooked so as
to retain a hold upon the blubber, in order to prepare for
what follows. Whereupon, this accomplished swordsman,
warning all hands to stand off, once more makes a
scientific dash at the mass, and with a few sidelong,
desperate, lunging slicings, severs it completely in twain;
so that while the short lower part is still fast, the long
upper strip, called a blanket-piece, swings clear, and is all
ready for lowering. The heavers forward now resume their
song, and while the one tackle is peeling and hoisting a
second strip from the whale, the other is slowly slackened
away, and down goes the first strip through the main
hatchway right beneath, into an unfurnished parlor called
the blubber-room. Into this twilight apartment sundry


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nimble hands keep coiling away the long blanket-piece as
if it were a great live mass of plaited serpents. And thus the
work proceeds; the two tackles hoisting and lowering
simultaneously; both whale and windlass heaving, the
heavers singing, the blubber-room gentlemen coiling, the
mates scarfing, the ship straining, and all hands swearing
occasionally, by way of assuaging the general friction.




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                      Chapter 68

   The Blanket.
   I have given no small attention to that not unvexed
subject, the skin of the whale. I have had controversies
about it with experienced whalemen afloat, and learned
naturalists ashore. My original opinion remains unchanged;
but it is only an opinion.
   The question is, what and where is the skin of the
whale? Already you know what his blubber is. That
blubber is something of the consistence of firm, close-
grained beef, but tougher, more elastic and compact, and
ranges from eight or ten to twelve and fifteen inches in
thickness.
   Now, however preposterous it may at first seem to talk
of any creature’s skin as being of that sort of consistence
and thickness, yet in point of fact these are no arguments
against such a presumption; because you cannot raise any
other dense enveloping layer from the whale’s body but
that same blubber; and the outermost enveloping layer of
any animal, if reasonably dense, what can that be but the
skin? True, from the unmarred dead body of the whale,
you may scrape off with your hand an infinitely thin,


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transparent substance, somewhat resembling the thinnest
shreds of isinglass, only it is almost as flexible and soft as
satin; that is, previous to being dried, when it not only
contracts and thickens, but becomes rather hard and
brittle. I have several such dried bits, which I use for marks
in my whale-books. It is transparent, as I said before; and
being laid upon the printed page, I have sometimes
pleased myself with fancying it exerted a magnifying
influence. At any rate, it is pleasant to read about whales
through their own spectacles, as you may say. But what I
am driving at here is this. That same infinitely thin,
isinglass substance, which, I admit, invests the entire body
of the whale, is not so much to be regarded as the skin of
the creature, as the skin of the skin, so to speak; for it were
simply ridiculous to say, that the proper skin of the
tremendous whale is thinner and more tender than the
skin of a new-born child. But no more of this.
    Assuming the blubber to be the skin of the whale; then,
when this skin, as in the case of a very large Sperm Whale,
will yield the bulk of one hundred barrels of oil; and,
when it is considered that, in quantity, or rather weight,
that oil, in its expressed state, is only three fourths, and not
the entire substance of the coat; some idea may hence be
had of the enormousness of that animated mass, a mere


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part of whose mere integument yields such a lake of liquid
as that. Reckoning ten barrels to the ton, you have ten
tons for the net weight of only three quarters of the stuff
of the whale’s skin.
    In life, the visible surface of the Sperm Whale is not the
least among the many marvels he presents. Almost
invariably it is all over obliquely crossed and re-crossed
with numberless straight marks in thick array, something
like those in the finest Italian line engravings. But these
marks do not seem to be impressed upon the isinglass
substance above mentioned, but seem to be seen through
it, as if they were engraved upon the body itself. Nor is
this all. In some instances, to the quick, observant eye,
those linear marks, as in a veritable engraving, but afford
the ground for far other delineations. These are
hieroglyphical; that is, if you call those mysterious cyphers
on the walls of pyramids hieroglyphics, then that is the
proper word to use in the present connexion. By my
retentive memory of the hieroglyphics upon one Sperm
Whale in particular, I was much struck with a plate
representing the old Indian characters chiselled on the
famous hieroglyphic palisades on the banks of the Upper
Mississippi. Like those mystic rocks, too, the mystic-
marked whale remains undecipherable. This allusion to the


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Indian rocks reminds me of another thing. Besides all the
other phenomena which the exterior of the Sperm Whale
presents, he not seldom displays the back, and more
especially his flanks, effaced in great part of the regular
linear appearance, by reason of numerous rude scratches,
altogether of an irregular, random aspect. I should say that
those New England rocks on the sea-coast, which Agassiz
imagines to bear the marks of violent scraping contact
with vast floating icebergs—I should say, that those rocks
must not a little resemble the Sperm Whale in this
particular. It also seems to me that such scratches in the
whale are probably made by hostile contact with other
whales; for I have most remarked them in the large, full-
grown bulls of the species.
    A word or two more concerning this matter of the skin
or blubber of the whale. It has already been said, that it is
stript from him in long pieces, called blanket-pieces. Like
most sea-terms, this one is very happy and significant. For
the whale is indeed wrapt up in his blubber as in a real
blanket or counterpane; or, still better, an Indian poncho
slipt over his head, and skirting his extremity. It is by
reason of this cosy blanketing of his body, that the whale is
enabled to keep himself comfortable in all weathers, in all
seas, times, and tides. What would become of a Greenland


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whale, say, in those shuddering, icy seas of the North, if
unsupplied with his cosy surtout? True, other fish are
found exceedingly brisk in those Hyperborean waters; but
these, be it observed, are your cold-blooded, lungless fish,
whose very bellies are refrigerators; creatures, that warm
themselves under the lee of an iceberg, as a traveller in
winter would bask before an inn fire; whereas, like man,
the whale has lungs and warm blood. Freeze his blood,
and he dies. How wonderful is it then—except after
explanation—that this great monster, to whom corporeal
warmth is as indispensable as it is to man; how wonderful
that he should be found at home, immersed to his lips for
life in those Arctic waters! where, when seamen fall
overboard, they are sometimes found, months afterwards,
perpendicularly frozen into the hearts of fields of ice, as a
fly is found glued in amber. But more surprising is it to
know, as has been proved by experiment, that the blood
of a Polar whale is warmer than that of a Borneo negro in
summer.
    It does seem to me, that herein we see the rare virtue
of a strong individual vitality, and the rare virtue of thick
walls, and the rare virtue of interior spaciousness. Oh,
man! admire and model thyself after the whale! Do thou,
too, remain warm among ice. Do thou, too, live in this


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world without being of it. Be cool at the equator; keep
thy blood fluid at the Pole. Like the great dome of St.
Peter’s, and like the great whale, retain, O man! in all
seasons a temperature of thine own.
   But how easy and how hopeless to teach these fine
things! Of erections, how few are domed like St. Peter’s!
of creatures, how few vast as the whale!




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                       Chapter 69

   The Funeral.
   Haul in the chains! Let the carcase go astern!
   The vast tackles have now done their duty. The peeled
white body of the beheaded whale flashes like a marble
sepulchre; though changed in hue, it has not perceptibly
lost anything in bulk. It is still colossal. Slowly it floats
more and more away, the water round it torn and splashed
by the insatiate sharks, and the air above vexed with
rapacious flights of screaming fowls, whose beaks are like
so many insulting poniards in the whale. The vast white
headless phantom floats further and further from the ship,
and every rod that it so floats, what seem square roods of
sharks and cubic roods of fowls, augment the murderous
din. For hours and hours from the almost stationary ship
that hideous sight is seen. Beneath the unclouded and mild
azure sky, upon the fair face of the pleasant sea, wafted by
the joyous breezes, that great mass of death floats on and
on, till lost in infinite perspectives.
   There’s a most doleful and most mocking funeral! The
sea-vultures all in pious mourning, the air-sharks all
punctiliously in black or speckled. In life but few of them


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would have helped the whale, I ween, if peradventure he
had needed it; but upon the banquet of his funeral they
most piously do pounce. Oh, horrible vultureism of earth!
from which not the mightiest whale is free.
    Nor is this the end. Desecrated as the body is, a
vengeful ghost survives and hovers over it to scare. Espied
by some timid man-of-war or blundering discovery-vessel
from afar, when the distance obscuring the swarming
fowls, nevertheless still shows the white mass floating in
the sun, and the white spray heaving high against it;
straightway the whale’s unharming corpse, with trembling
fingers is set down in the log—SHOALS, ROCKS, AND
BREAKERS HEREABOUTS: BEWARE! And for years
afterwards, perhaps, ships shun the place; leaping over it as
silly sheep leap over a vacuum, because their leader
originally leaped there when a stick was held. There’s your
law of precedents; there’s your utility of traditions; there’s
the story of your obstinate survival of old beliefs never
bottomed on the earth, and now not even hovering in the
air! There’s orthodoxy!
    Thus, while in life the great whale’s body may have
been a real terror to his foes, in his death his ghost
becomes a powerless panic to a world.



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   Are you a believer in ghosts, my friend? There are
other ghosts than the Cock-Lane one, and far deeper men
than Doctor Johnson who believe in them.




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                       Chapter 70

    The Sphynx.
    It should not have been omitted that previous to
completely stripping the body of the leviathan, he was
beheaded. Now, the beheading of the Sperm Whale is a
scientific anatomical feat, upon which experienced whale
surgeons very much pride themselves: and not without
reason.
    Consider that the whale has nothing that can properly
be called a neck; on the contrary, where his head and
body seem to join, there, in that very place, is the thickest
part of him. Remember, also, that the surgeon must
operate from above, some eight or ten feet intervening
between him and his subject, and that subject almost
hidden in a discoloured, rolling, and oftentimes
tumultuous and bursting sea. Bear in mind, too, that under
these untoward circumstances he has to cut many feet
deep in the flesh; and in that subterraneous manner,
without so much as getting one single peep into the ever-
contracting gash thus made, he must skilfully steer clear of
all adjacent, interdicted parts, and exactly divide the spine
at a critical point hard by its insertion into the skull. Do


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you not marvel, then, at Stubb’s boast, that he demanded
but ten minutes to behead a sperm whale?
    When first severed, the head is dropped astern and held
there by a cable till the body is stripped. That done, if it
belong to a small whale it is hoisted on deck to be
deliberately disposed of. But, with a full grown leviathan
this is impossible; for the sperm whale’s head embraces
nearly one third of his entire bulk, and completely to
suspend such a burden as that, even by the immense
tackles of a whaler, this were as vain a thing as to attempt
weighing a Dutch barn in jewellers’ scales.
    The Pequod’s whale being decapitated and the body
stripped, the head was hoisted against the ship’s side—
about half way out of the sea, so that it might yet in great
part be buoyed up by its native element. And there with
the strained craft steeply leaning over to it, by reason of
the enormous downward drag from the lower mast-head,
and every yard-arm on that side projecting like a crane
over the waves; there, that blood-dripping head hung to
the Pequod’s waist like the giant Holofernes’s from the
girdle of Judith.
    When this last task was accomplished it was noon, and
the seamen went below to their dinner. Silence reigned
over the before tumultuous but now deserted deck. An


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intense copper calm, like a universal yellow lotus, was
more and more unfolding its noiseless measureless leaves
upon the sea.
    A short space elapsed, and up into this noiselessness
came Ahab alone from his cabin. Taking a few turns on
the quarter-deck, he paused to gaze over the side, then
slowly getting into the main-chains he took Stubb’s long
spade—still remaining there after the whale’s
Decapitation—and striking it into the lower part of the
half-suspended mass, placed its other end crutch-wise
under one arm, and so stood leaning over with eyes
attentively fixed on this head.
    It was a black and hooded head; and hanging there in
the midst of so intense a calm, it seemed the Sphynx’s in
the desert. ‘Speak, thou vast and venerable head,’ muttered
Ahab, ‘which, though ungarnished with a beard, yet here
and there lookest hoary with mosses; speak, mighty head,
and tell us the secret thing that is in thee. Of all divers,
thou hast dived the deepest. That head upon which the
upper sun now gleams, has moved amid this world’s
foundations. Where unrecorded names and navies rust,
and untold hopes and anchors rot; where in her
murderous hold this frigate earth is ballasted with bones of
millions of the drowned; there, in that awful water-land,


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there was thy most familiar home. Thou hast been where
bell or diver never went; hast slept by many a sailor’s side,
where sleepless mothers would give their lives to lay them
down. Thou saw’st the locked lovers when leaping from
their flaming ship; heart to heart they sank beneath the
exulting wave; true to each other, when heaven seemed
false to them. Thou saw’st the murdered mate when tossed
by pirates from the midnight deck; for hours he fell into
the deeper midnight of the insatiate maw; and his
murderers still sailed on unharmed—while swift lightnings
shivered the neighboring ship that would have borne a
righteous husband to outstretched, longing arms. O head!
thou hast seen enough to split the planets and make an
infidel of Abraham, and not one syllable is thine!’
    ‘Sail ho!’ cried a triumphant voice from the main-mast-
head.
    ‘Aye? Well, now, that’s cheering,’ cried Ahab, suddenly
erecting himself, while whole thunder-clouds swept aside
from his brow. ‘That lively cry upon this deadly calm
might almost convert a better man.—Where away?’
    ‘Three points on the starboard bow, sir, and bringing
down her breeze to us!
    ‘Better and better, man. Would now St. Paul would
come along that way, and to my breezelessness bring his


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breeze! O Nature, and O soul of man! how far beyond all
utterance are your linked analogies! not the smallest atom
stirs or lives on matter, but has its cunning duplicate in
mind.’




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                        Chapter 71

    The Jeroboam’s Story.
    Hand in hand, ship and breeze blew on; but the breeze
came faster than the ship, and soon the Pequod began to
rock.
    By and by, through the glass the stranger’s boats and
manned mast-heads proved her a whale-ship. But as she
was so far to windward, and shooting by, apparently
making a passage to some other ground, the Pequod could
not hope to reach her. So the signal was set to see what
response would be made.
    Here be it said, that like the vessels of military marines,
the ships of the American Whale Fleet have each a private
signal; all which signals being collected in a book with the
names of the respective vessels attached, every captain is
provided with it. Thereby, the whale commanders are
enabled to recognise each other upon the ocean, even at
considerable distances and with no small facility.
    The Pequod’s signal was at last responded to by the
stranger’s setting her own; which proved the ship to be
the Jeroboam of Nantucket. Squaring her yards, she bore
down, ranged abeam under the Pequod’s lee, and lowered


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a boat; it soon drew nigh; but, as the side-ladder was being
rigged by Starbuck’s order to accommodate the visiting
captain, the stranger in question waved his hand from his
boat’s stern in token of that proceeding being entirely
unnecessary. It turned out that the Jeroboam had a
malignant epidemic on board, and that Mayhew, her
captain, was fearful of infecting the Pequod’s company.
For, though himself and boat’s crew remained untainted,
and though his ship was half a rifle-shot off, and an
incorruptible sea and air rolling and flowing between; yet
conscientiously adhering to the timid quarantine of the
land, he peremptorily refused to come into direct contact
with the Pequod.
   But this did by no means prevent all communications.
Preserving an interval of some few yards between itself and
the ship, the Jeroboam’s boat by the occasional use of its
oars contrived to keep parallel to the Pequod, as she
heavily forged through the sea (for by this time it blew
very fresh), with her main-topsail aback; though, indeed,
at times by the sudden onset of a large rolling wave, the
boat would be pushed some way ahead; but would be
soon skilfully brought to her proper bearings again.
Subject to this, and other the like interruptions now and
then, a conversation was sustained between the two


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parties; but at intervals not without still another
interruption of a very different sort.
   Pulling an oar in the Jeroboam’s boat, was a man of a
singular appearance, even in that wild whaling life where
individual notabilities make up all totalities. He was a
small, short, youngish man, sprinkled all over his face with
freckles, and wearing redundant yellow hair. A long-
skirted, cabalistically-cut coat of a faded walnut tinge
enveloped him; the overlapping sleeves of which were
rolled up on his wrists. A deep, settled, fanatic delirium
was in his eyes.
   So soon as this figure had been first descried, Stubb had
exclaimed—‘That’s he! that’s he!—the long-togged
scaramouch the Town-Ho’s company told us of!’ Stubb
here alluded to a strange story told of the Jeroboam, and a
certain man among her crew, some time previous when
the Pequod spoke the Town-Ho. According to this
account and what was subsequently learned, it seemed that
the scaramouch in question had gained a wonderful
ascendency over almost everybody in the Jeroboam. His
story was this:
   He had been originally nurtured among the crazy
society of Neskyeuna Shakers, where he had been a great
prophet; in their cracked, secret meetings having several


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times descended from heaven by the way of a trap-door,
announcing the speedy opening of the seventh vial, which
he carried in his vest-pocket; but, which, instead of
containing gunpowder, was supposed to be charged with
laudanum. A strange, apostolic whim having seized him,
he had left Neskyeuna for Nantucket, where, with that
cunning peculiar to craziness, he assumed a steady,
common-sense exterior, and offered himself as a green-
hand candidate for the Jeroboam’s whaling voyage. They
engaged him; but straightway upon the ship’s getting out
of sight of land, his insanity broke out in a freshet. He
announced himself as the archangel Gabriel, and
commanded the captain to jump overboard. He published
his manifesto, whereby he set himself forth as the deliverer
of the isles of the sea and vicar-general of all Oceanica.
The unflinching earnestness with which he declared these
things;—the dark, daring play of his sleepless, excited
imagination, and all the preternatural terrors of real
delirium, united to invest this Gabriel in the minds of the
majority of the ignorant crew, with an atmosphere of
sacredness. Moreover, they were afraid of him. As such a
man, however, was not of much practical use in the ship,
especially as he refused to work except when he pleased,
the incredulous captain would fain have been rid of him;


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but apprised that that individual’s intention was to land
him in the first convenient port, the archangel forthwith
opened all his seals and vials—devoting the ship and all
hands to unconditional perdition, in case this intention
was carried out. So strongly did he work upon his disciples
among the crew, that at last in a body they went to the
captain and told him if Gabriel was sent from the ship, not
a man of them would remain. He was therefore forced to
relinquish his plan. Nor would they permit Gabriel to be
any way maltreated, say or do what he would; so that it
came to pass that Gabriel had the complete freedom of the
ship. The consequence of all this was, that the archangel
cared little or nothing for the captain and mates; and since
the epidemic had broken out, he carried a higher hand
than ever; declaring that the plague, as he called it, was at
his sole command; nor should it be stayed but according
to his good pleasure. The sailors, mostly poor devils,
cringed, and some of them fawned before him; in
obedience to his instructions, sometimes rendering him
personal homage, as to a god. Such things may seem
incredible; but, however wondrous, they are true. Nor is
the history of fanatics half so striking in respect to the
measureless self-deception of the fanatic himself, as his



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measureless power of deceiving and bedevilling so many
others. But it is time to return to the Pequod.
    ‘I fear not thy epidemic, man,’ said Ahab from the
bulwarks, to Captain Mayhew, who stood in the boat’s
stern; ‘come on board.’
    But now Gabriel started to his feet.
    ‘Think, think of the fevers, yellow and bilious! Beware
of the horrible plague!’
    ‘Gabriel! Gabriel!’ cried Captain Mayhew; ‘thou must
either—’ But that instant a headlong wave shot the boat
far ahead, and its seethings drowned all speech.
    ‘Hast thou seen the White Whale?’ demanded Ahab,
when the boat drifted back.
    ‘Think, think of thy whale-boat, stoven and sunk!
Beware of the horrible tail!’
    ‘I tell thee again, Gabriel, that—’ But again the boat
tore ahead as if dragged by fiends. Nothing was said for
some moments, while a succession of riotous waves rolled
by, which by one of those occasional caprices of the seas
were tumbling, not heaving it. Meantime, the hoisted
sperm whale’s head jogged about very violently, and
Gabriel was seen eyeing it with rather more
apprehensiveness than his archangel nature seemed to
warrant.


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    When this interlude was over, Captain Mayhew began
a dark story concerning Moby Dick; not, however,
without frequent interruptions from Gabriel, whenever his
name was mentioned, and the crazy sea that seemed
leagued with him.
    It seemed that the Jeroboam had not long left home,
when upon speaking a whale-ship, her people were
reliably apprised of the existence of Moby Dick, and the
havoc he had made. Greedily sucking in this intelligence,
Gabriel solemnly warned the captain against attacking the
White Whale, in case the monster should be seen; in his
gibbering insanity, pronouncing the White Whale to be
no less a being than the Shaker God incarnated; the
Shakers receiving the Bible. But when, some year or two
afterwards, Moby Dick was fairly sighted from the mast-
heads, Macey, the chief mate, burned with ardour to
encounter him; and the captain himself being not
unwilling to let him have the opportunity, despite all the
archangel’s denunciations and forewarnings, Macey
succeeded in persuading five men to man his boat. With
them he pushed off; and, after much weary pulling, and
many perilous, unsuccessful onsets, he at last succeeded in
getting one iron fast. Meantime, Gabriel, ascending to the
main-royal mast-head, was tossing one arm in frantic


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gestures, and hurling forth prophecies of speedy doom to
the sacrilegious assailants of his divinity. Now, while
Macey, the mate, was standing up in his boat’s bow, and
with all the reckless energy of his tribe was venting his
wild exclamations upon the whale, and essaying to get a
fair chance for his poised lance, lo! a broad white shadow
rose from the sea; by its quick, fanning motion,
temporarily taking the breath out of the bodies of the
oarsmen. Next instant, the luckless mate, so full of furious
life, was smitten bodily into the air, and making a long arc
in his descent, fell into the sea at the distance of about fifty
yards. Not a chip of the boat was harmed, nor a hair of
any oarsman’s head; but the mate for ever sank.
    It is well to parenthesize here, that of the fatal accidents
in the Sperm-Whale Fishery, this kind is perhaps almost as
frequent as any. Sometimes, nothing is injured but the
man who is thus annihilated; oftener the boat’s bow is
knocked off, or the thigh-board, in which the headsman
stands, is torn from its place and accompanies the body.
But strangest of all is the circumstance, that in more
instances than one, when the body has been recovered,
not a single mark of violence is discernible; the man being
stark dead.



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    The whole calamity, with the falling form of Macey,
was plainly descried from the ship. Raising a piercing
shriek—‘The vial! the vial!’ Gabriel called off the terror-
stricken crew from the further hunting of the whale. This
terrible event clothed the archangel with added influence;
because his credulous disciples believed that he had
specifically fore-announced it, instead of only making a
general prophecy, which any one might have done, and so
have chanced to hit one of many marks in the wide
margin allowed. He became a nameless terror to the ship.
    Mayhew having concluded his narration, Ahab put
such questions to him, that the stranger captain could not
forbear inquiring whether he intended to hunt the White
Whale, if opportunity should offer. To which Ahab
answered—‘Aye.’ Straightway, then, Gabriel once more
started to his feet, glaring upon the old man, and
vehemently exclaimed, with downward pointed finger—
‘Think, think of the blasphemer—dead, and down
there!—beware of the blasphemer’s end!’
    Ahab stolidly turned aside; then said to Mayhew,
‘Captain, I have just bethought me of my letter-bag; there
is a letter for one of thy officers, if I mistake not. Starbuck,
look over the bag.’



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    Every whale-ship takes out a goodly number of letters
for various ships, whose delivery to the persons to whom
they may be addressed, depends upon the mere chance of
encountering them in the four oceans. Thus, most letters
never reach their mark; and many are only received after
attaining an age of two or three years or more.
    Soon Starbuck returned with a letter in his hand. It was
sorely tumbled, damp, and covered with a dull, spotted,
green mould, in consequence of being kept in a dark
locker of the cabin. Of such a letter, Death himself might
well have been the post-boy.
    ‘Can’st not read it?’ cried Ahab. ‘Give it me, man. Aye,
aye, it’s but a dim scrawl;—what’s this?’ As he was
studying it out, Starbuck took a long cutting-spade pole,
and with his knife slightly split the end, to insert the letter
there, and in that way, hand it to the boat, without its
coming any closer to the ship.
    Meantime, Ahab holding the letter, muttered, ‘Mr.
Har—yes, Mr. Harry—(a woman’s pinny hand,—the
man’s wife, I’ll wager)—Aye—Mr. Harry Macey, Ship
Jeroboam;—why it’s Macey, and he’s dead!’
    ‘Poor fellow! poor fellow! and from his wife,’ sighed
Mayhew; ‘but let me have it.’



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    ‘Nay, keep it thyself,’ cried Gabriel to Ahab; ‘thou art
soon going that way.’
    ‘Curses throttle thee!’ yelled Ahab. ‘Captain Mayhew,
stand by now to receive it"; and taking the fatal missive
from Starbuck’s hands, he caught it in the slit of the pole,
and reached it over towards the boat. But as he did so, the
oarsmen expectantly desisted from rowing; the boat drifted
a little towards the ship’s stern; so that, as if by magic, the
letter suddenly ranged along with Gabriel’s eager hand. He
clutched it in an instant, seized the boat-knife, and
impaling the letter on it, sent it thus loaded back into the
ship. It fell at Ahab’s feet. Then Gabriel shrieked out to his
comrades to give way with their oars, and in that manner
the mutinous boat rapidly shot away from the Pequod.
    As, after this interlude, the seamen resumed their work
upon the jacket of the whale, many strange things were
hinted in reference to this wild affair.




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                      Chapter 72

   The Monkey-Rope.
   In the tumultuous business of cutting-in and attending
to a whale, there is much running backwards and forwards
among the crew. Now hands are wanted here, and then
again hands are wanted there. There is no staying in any
one place; for at one and the same time everything has to
be done everywhere. It is much the same with him who
endeavors the description of the scene. We must now
retrace our way a little. It was mentioned that upon first
breaking ground in the whale’s back, the blubber-hook
was inserted into the original hole there cut by the spades
of the mates. But how did so clumsy and weighty a mass
as that same hook get fixed in that hole? It was inserted
there by my particular friend Queequeg, whose duty it
was, as harpooneer, to descend upon the monster’s back
for the special purpose referred to. But in very many cases,
circumstances require that the harpooneer shall remain on
the whale till the whole tensing or stripping operation is
concluded. The whale, be it observed, lies almost entirely
submerged, excepting the immediate parts operated upon.
So down there, some ten feet below the level of the deck,


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the poor harpooneer flounders about, half on the whale
and half in the water, as the vast mass revolves like a tread-
mill beneath him. On the occasion in question, Queequeg
figured in the Highland costume—a shirt and socks—in
which to my eyes, at least, he appeared to uncommon
advantage; and no one had a better chance to observe him,
as will presently be seen.
    Being the savage’s bowsman, that is, the person who
pulled the bow-oar in his boat (the second one from
forward), it was my cheerful duty to attend upon him
while taking that hard-scrabble scramble upon the dead
whale’s back. You have seen Italian organ-boys holding a
dancing-ape by a long cord. Just so, from the ship’s steep
side, did I hold Queequeg down there in the sea, by what
is technically called in the fishery a monkey-rope, attached
to a strong strip of canvas belted round his waist.
    It was a humorously perilous business for both of us.
For, before we proceed further, it must be said that the
monkey-rope was fast at both ends; fast to Queequeg’s
broad canvas belt, and fast to my narrow leather one. So
that for better or for worse, we two, for the time, were
wedded; and should poor Queequeg sink to rise no more,
then both usage and honour demanded, that instead of
cutting the cord, it should drag me down in his wake. So,


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then, an elongated Siamese ligature united us. Queequeg
was my own inseparable twin brother; nor could I any
way get rid of the dangerous liabilities which the hempen
bond entailed.
    So strongly and metaphysically did I conceive of my
situation then, that while earnestly watching his motions, I
seemed distinctly to perceive that my own individuality
was now merged in a joint stock company of two; that my
free will had received a mortal wound; and that another’s
mistake or misfortune might plunge innocent me into
unmerited disaster and death. Therefore, I saw that here
was a sort of interregnum in Providence; for its even-
handed equity never could have so gross an injustice. And
yet still further pondering—while I jerked him now and
then from between the whale and ship, which would
threaten to jam him—still further pondering, I say, I saw
that this situation of mine was the precise situation of
every mortal that breathes; only, in most cases, he, one
way or other, has this Siamese connexion with a plurality
of other mortals. If your banker breaks, you snap; if your
apothecary by mistake sends you poison in your pills, you
die. True, you may say that, by exceeding caution, you
may possibly escape these and the multitudinous other evil
chances of life. But handle Queequeg’s monkey-rope


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heedfully as I would, sometimes he jerked it so, that I
came very near sliding overboard. Nor could I possibly
forget that, do what I would, I only had the management
of one end of it.*
    *The monkey-rope is found in all whalers; but it was
only in the Pequod that the monkey and his holder were
ever tied together. This improvement upon the original
usage was introduced by no less a man than Stubb, in
order to afford the imperilled harpooneer the strongest
possible guarantee for the faithfulness and vigilance of his
monkey-rope holder.
    I have hinted that I would often jerk poor Queequeg
from between the whale and the ship—where he would
occasionally fall, from the incessant rolling and swaying of
both. But this was not the only jamming jeopardy he was
exposed to. Unappalled by the massacre made upon them
during the night, the sharks now freshly and more keenly
allured by the before pent blood which began to flow
from the carcass—the rabid creatures swarmed round it
like bees in a beehive.
    And right in among those sharks was Queequeg; who
often pushed them aside with his floundering feet. A thing
altogether incredible were it not that attracted by such



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prey as a dead whale, the otherwise miscellaneously
carnivorous shark will seldom touch a man.
    Nevertheless, it may well be believed that since they
have such a ravenous finger in the pie, it is deemed but
wise to look sharp to them. Accordingly, besides the
monkey-rope, with which I now and then jerked the poor
fellow from too close a vicinity to the maw of what
seemed a peculiarly ferocious shark—he was provided
with still another protection. Suspended over the side in
one of the stages, Tashtego and Daggoo continually
flourished over his head a couple of keen whale-spades,
wherewith they slaughtered as many sharks as they could
reach. This procedure of theirs, to be sure, was very
disinterested and benevolent of them. They meant
Queequeg’s best happiness, I admit; but in their hasty zeal
to befriend him, and from the circumstance that both he
and the sharks were at times half hidden by the blood-
muddled water, those indiscreet spades of theirs would
come nearer amputating a leg than a tall. But poor
Queequeg, I suppose, straining and gasping there with that
great iron hook—poor Queequeg, I suppose, only prayed
to his Yojo, and gave up his life into the hands of his gods.
    Well, well, my dear comrade and twin-brother,
thought I, as I drew in and then slacked off the rope to


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every swell of the sea—what matters it, after all? Are you
not the precious image of each and all of us men in this
whaling world? That unsounded ocean you gasp in, is
Life; those sharks, your foes; those spades, your friends;
and what between sharks and spades you are in a sad
pickle and peril, poor lad.
    But courage! there is good cheer in store for you,
Queequeg. For now, as with blue lips and blood-shot eyes
the exhausted savage at last climbs up the chains and stands
all dripping and involuntarily trembling over the side; the
steward advances, and with a benevolent, consolatory
glance hands him—what? Some hot Cognac? No! hands
him, ye gods! hands him a cup of tepid ginger and water!
    ‘Ginger? Do I smell ginger?’ suspiciously asked Stubb,
coming near. ‘Yes, this must be ginger,’ peering into the
as yet untasted cup. Then standing as if incredulous for a
while, he calmly walked towards the astonished steward
slowly saying, ‘Ginger? ginger? and will you have the
goodness to tell me, Mr. Dough-Boy, where lies the
virtue of ginger? Ginger! is ginger the sort of fuel you use,
Dough-boy, to kindle a fire in this shivering cannibal?
Ginger!—what the devil is ginger?—sea-coal? firewood?—
lucifer matches?—tinder?—gunpowder?—what the devil is



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ginger, I say, that you offer this cup to our poor
Queequeg here.’
   ‘There is some sneaking Temperance Society
movement about this business,’ he suddenly added, now
approaching Starbuck, who had just come from forward.
‘Will you look at that kannakin, sir; smell of it, if you
please.’ Then watching the mate’s countenance, he added,
‘The steward, Mr. Starbuck, had the face to offer that
calomel and jalap to Queequeg, there, this instant off the
whale. Is the steward an apothecary, sir? and may I ask
whether this is the sort of bitters by which he blows back
the life into a half-drowned man?’
   ‘I trust not,’ said Starbuck, ‘it is poor stuff enough.’
   ‘Aye, aye, steward,’ cried Stubb, ‘we’ll teach you to
drug it harpooneer; none of your apothecary’s medicine
here; you want to poison us, do ye? You have got out
insurances on our lives and want to murder us all, and
pocket the proceeds, do ye?’
   ‘It was not me,’ cried Dough-Boy, ‘it was Aunt
Charity that brought the ginger on board; and bade me
never give the harpooneers any spirits, but only this
ginger-jub—so she called it.’
   ‘Ginger-jub! you gingerly rascal! take that! and run
along with ye to the lockers, and get something better. I


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hope I do no wrong, Mr. Starbuck. It is the captain’s
orders—grog for the harpooneer on a whale.’
   ‘Enough,’ replied Starbuck, ‘only don’t hit him again,
but—‘
   ‘Oh, I never hurt when I hit, except when I hit a
whale or something of that sort; and this fellow’s a weazel.
What were you about saying, sir?’
   ‘Only this: go down with him, and get what thou
wantest thyself.’
   When Stubb reappeared, he came with a dark flask in
one hand, and a sort of tea-caddy in the other. The first
contained strong spirits, and was handed to Queequeg; the
second was Aunt Charity’s gift, and that was freely given
to the waves.




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                      Chapter 73

    Stubb and Flask Kill a Right Whale; and Then Have a
Talk Over Him.
    It must be borne in mind that all this time we have a
Sperm Whale’s prodigious head hanging to the Pequod’s
side. But we must let it continue hanging there a while till
we can get a chance to attend to it. For the present other
matters press, and the best we can do now for the head, is
to pray heaven the tackles may hold.
    Now, during the past night and forenoon, the Pequod
had gradually drifted into a sea, which, by its occasional
patches of yellow brit, gave unusual tokens of the vicinity
of Right Whales, a species of the Leviathan that but few
supposed to be at this particular time lurking anywhere
near. And though all hands commonly disdained the
capture of those inferior creatures; and though the Pequod
was not commissioned to cruise for them at all, and
though she had passed numbers of them near the Crozetts
without lowering a boat; yet now that a Sperm Whale had
been brought alongside and beheaded, to the surprise of
all, the announcement was made that a Right Whale
should be captured that day, if opportunity offered.


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   Nor was this long wanting. Tall spouts were seen to
leeward; and two boats, Stubb’s and Flask’s, were detached
in pursuit. Pulling further and further away, they at last
became almost invisible to the men at the mast-head. But
suddenly in the distance, they saw a great heap of
tumultuous white water, and soon after news came from
aloft that one or both the boats must be fast. An interval
passed and the boats were in plain sight, in the act of being
dragged right towards the ship by the towing whale. So
close did the monster come to the hull, that at first it
seemed as if he meant it malice; but suddenly going down
in a maelstrom, within three rods of the planks, he wholly
disappeared from view, as if diving under the keel. ‘Cut,
cut!’ was the cry from the ship to the boats, which, for
one instant, seemed on the point of being brought with a
deadly dash against the vessel’s side. But having plenty of
line yet in the tubs, and the whale not sounding very
rapidly, they paid out abundance of rope, and at the same
time pulled with all their might so as to get ahead of the
ship. For a few minutes the struggle was intensely critical;
for while they still slacked out the tightened line in one
direction, and still plied their oars in another, the
contending strain threatened to take them under. But it
was only a few feet advance they sought to gain. And they


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stuck to it till they did gain it; when instantly, a swift
tremor was felt running like lightning along the keel, as
the strained line, scraping beneath the ship, suddenly rose
to view under her bows, snapping and quivering; and so
flinging off its drippings, that the drops fell like bits of
broken glass on the water, while the whale beyond also
rose to sight, and once more the boats were free to fly.
But the fagged whale abated his speed, and blindly altering
his course, went round the stern of the ship towing the
two boats after him, so that they performed a complete
circuit.
    Meantime, they hauled more and more upon their
lines, till close flanking him on both sides, Stubb answered
Flask with lance for lance; and thus round and round the
Pequod the battle went, while the multitudes of sharks
that had before swum round the Sperm Whale’s body,
rushed to the fresh blood that was spilled, thirstily drinking
at every new gash, as the eager Israelites did at the new
bursting fountains that poured from the smitten rock.
    At last his spout grew thick, and with a frightful roll
and vomit, he turned upon his back a corpse.
    While the two headsmen were engaged in making fast
cords to his flukes, and in other ways getting the mass in



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readiness for towing, some conversation ensued between
them.
    ‘I wonder what the old man wants with this lump of
foul lard,’ said Stubb, not without some disgust at the
thought of having to do with so ignoble a leviathan.
    ‘Wants with it?’ said Flask, coiling some spare line in
the boat’s bow, ‘did you never hear that the ship which
but once has a Sperm Whale’s head hoisted on her
starboard side, and at the same time a Right Whale’s on
the larboard; did you never hear, Stubb, that that ship can
never afterwards capsize?’
    ‘Why not?
    ‘I don’t know, but I heard that gamboge ghost of a
Fedallah saying so, and he seems to know all about ships’
charms. But I sometimes think he’ll charm the ship to no
good at last. I don’t half like that chap, Stubb. Did you
ever notice how that tusk of his is a sort of carved into a
snake’s head, Stubb?’
    ‘Sink him! I never look at him at all; but if ever I get a
chance of a dark night, and he standing hard by the
bulwarks, and no one by; look down there, Flask’—
pointing into the sea with a peculiar motion of both
hands—‘Aye, will I! Flask, I take that Fedallah to be the
devil in disguise. Do you believe that cock and bull story


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about his having been stowed away on board ship? He’s
the devil, I say. The reason why you don’t see his tail, is
because he tucks it up out of sight; he carries it coiled
away in his pocket, I guess. Blast him! now that I think of
it, he’s always wanting oakum to stuff into the toes of his
boots.’
    ‘He sleeps in his boots, don’t he? He hasn’t got any
hammock; but I’ve seen him lay of nights in a coil of
rigging.’
    ‘No doubt, and it’s because of his cursed tail; he coils it
down, do ye see, in the eye of the rigging.’
    ‘What’s the old man have so much to do with him for?’
    ‘Striking up a swap or a bargain, I suppose.’
    ‘Bargain?—about what?’
    ‘Why, do ye see, the old man is hard bent after that
White Whale, and the devil there is trying to come round
him, and get him to swap away his silver watch, or his
soul, or something of that sort, and then he’ll surrender
Moby Dick.’
    ‘Pooh! Stubb, you are skylarking; how can Fedallah do
that?’
    ‘I don’t know, Flask, but the devil is a curious chap,
and a wicked one, I tell ye. Why, they say as how he went
a sauntering into the old flag-ship once, switching his tail


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about devilish easy and gentlemanlike, and inquiring if the
old governor was at home. Well, he was at home, and
asked the devil what he wanted. The devil, switching his
hoofs, up and says, ‘I want John.’ ‘What for?’ says the old
governor. ‘What business is that of yours,’ says the devil,
getting mad,—’I want to use him.’ ‘Take him,’ says the
governor—and by the Lord, Flask, if the devil didn’t give
John the Asiatic cholera before he got through with him,
I’ll eat this whale in one mouthful. But look sharp—ain’t
you all ready there? Well, then, pull ahead, and let’s get
the whale alongside.’
    ‘I think I remember some such story as you were
telling,’ said Flask, when at last the two boats were slowly
advancing with their burden towards the ship, ‘but I can’t
remember where.’
    ‘Three Spaniards? Adventures of those three bloody-
minded soladoes? Did ye read it there, Flask? I guess ye
did?’
    ‘No: never saw such a book; heard of it, though. But
now, tell me, Stubb, do you suppose that that devil you
was speaking of just now, was the same you say is now on
board the Pequod?’
    ‘Am I the same man that helped kill this whale?
Doesn’t the devil live for ever; who ever heard that the


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devil was dead? Did you ever see any parson a wearing
mourning for the devil? And if the devil has a latch-key to
get into the admiral’s cabin, don’t you suppose he can
crawl into a porthole? Tell me that, Mr. Flask?’
   ‘How old do you suppose Fedallah is, Stubb?’
   ‘Do you see that mainmast there?’ pointing to the ship;
‘well, that’s the figure one; now take all the hoops in the
Pequod’s hold, and string along in a row with that mast,
for oughts, do you see; well, that wouldn’t begin to be
Fedallah’s age. Nor all the coopers in creation couldn’t
show hoops enough to make oughts enough.’
   ‘But see here, Stubb, I thought you a little boasted just
now, that you meant to give Fedallah a sea-toss, if you got
a good chance. Now, if he’s so old as all those hoops of
yours come to, and if he is going to live for ever, what
good will it do to pitch him overboard—tell me that?
   ‘Give him a good ducking, anyhow.’
   ‘But he’d crawl back.’
   ‘Duck him again; and keep ducking him.’
   ‘Suppose he should take it into his head to duck you,
though—yes, and drown you—what then?’
   ‘I should like to see him try it; I’d give him such a pair
of black eyes that he wouldn’t dare to show his face in the
admiral’s cabin again for a long while, let alone down in


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the orlop there, where he lives, and hereabouts on the
upper decks where he sneaks so much. Damn the devil,
Flask; so you suppose I’m afraid of the devil? Who’s afraid
of him, except the old governor who daresn’t catch him
and put him in double-darbies, as he deserves, but lets him
go about kidnapping people; aye, and signed a bond with
him, that all the people the devil kidnapped, he’d roast for
him? There’s a governor!’
   ‘Do you suppose Fedallah wants to kidnap Captain
Ahab?’
   ‘Do I suppose it? You’ll know it before long, Flask. But
I am going now to keep a sharp look-out on him; and if I
see anything very suspicious going on, I’ll just take him by
the nape of his neck, and say—Look here, Beelzebub, you
don’t do it; and if he makes any fuss, by the Lord I’ll make
a grab into his pocket for his tail, take it to the capstan,
and give him such a wrenching and heaving, that his tail
will come short off at the stump—do you see; and then, I
rather guess when he finds himself docked in that queer
fashion, he’ll sneak off without the poor satisfaction of
feeling his tail between his legs.’
   ‘And what will you do with the tail, Stubb?’
   ‘Do with it? Sell it for an ox whip when we get
home;—what else?’


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   ‘Now, do you mean what you say, and have been
saying all along, Stubb?’
   ‘Mean or not mean, here we are at the ship.’
   The boats were here hailed, to tow the whale on the
larboard side, where fluke chains and other necessaries
were already prepared for securing him.
   ‘Didn’t I tell you so?’ said Flask; ‘yes, you’ll soon see
this right whale’s head hoisted up opposite that
parmacetti’s.’
   In good time, Flask’s saying proved true. As before, the
Pequod steeply leaned over towards the sperm whale’s
head, now, by the counterpoise of both heads, she
regained her even keel; though sorely strained, you may
well believe. So, when on one side you hoist in Locke’s
head, you go over that way; but now, on the other side,
hoist in Kant’s and you come back again; but in very poor
plight. Thus, some minds for ever keep trimming boat.
Oh, ye foolish! throw all these thunder-heads overboard,
and then you will float light and right.
   In disposing of the body of a right whale, when
brought alongside the ship, the same preliminary
proceedings commonly take place as in the case of a sperm
whale; only, in the latter instance, the head is cut off
whole, but in the former the lips and tongue are separately


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removed and hoisted on deck, with all the well known
black bone attached to what is called the crown-piece. But
nothing like this, in the present case, had been done. The
carcases of both whales had dropped astern; and the head-
laden ship not a little resembled a mule carrying a pair of
overburdening panniers.
   Meantime, Fedallah was calmly eyeing the right whale’s
head, and ever and anon glancing from the deep wrinkles
there to the lines in his own hand. And Ahab chanced so
to stand, that the Parsee occupied his shadow; while, if the
Parsee’s shadow was there at all it seemed only to blend
with, and lengthen Ahab’s. As the crew toiled on,
Laplandish speculations were bandied among them,
concerning all these passing things.




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                       Chapter 74

    The Sperm Whale’s Head—Contrasted View.
    Here, now, are two great whales, laying their heads
together; let us join them, and lay together our own.
    Of the grand order of folio leviathans, the Sperm
Whale and the Right Whale are by far the most
noteworthy. They are the only whales regularly hunted by
man. To the Nantucketer, they present the two extremes
of all the known varieties of the whale. As the external
difference between them is mainly observable in their
heads; and as a head of each is this moment hanging from
the Pequod’s side; and as we may freely go from one to
the other, by merely stepping across the deck:—where, I
should like to know, will you obtain a better chance to
study practical cetology than here?
    In the first place, you are struck by the general contrast
between these heads. Both are massive enough in all
conscience; but there is a certain mathematical symmetry
in the Sperm Whale’s which the Right Whale’s sadly
lacks. There is more character in the Sperm Whale’s head.
As you behold it, you involuntarily yield the immense
superiority to him, in point of pervading dignity. In the


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present instance, too, this dignity is heightened by the
pepper and salt colour of his head at the summit, giving
token of advanced age and large experience. In short, he is
what the fishermen technically call a ‘grey-headed whale.’
    Let us now note what is least dissimilar in these heads—
namely, the two most important organs, the eye and the
ear. Far back on the side of the head, and low down, near
the angle of either whale’s jaw, if you narrowly search,
you will at last see a lashless eye, which you would fancy
to be a young colt’s eye; so out of all proportion is it to
the magnitude of the head.
    Now, from this peculiar sideway position of the whale’s
eyes, it is plain that he can never see an object which is
exactly ahead, no more than he can one exactly astern. In
a word, the position of the whale’s eyes corresponds to
that of a man’s ears; and you may fancy, for yourself, how
it would fare with you, did you sideways survey objects
through your ears. You would find that you could only
command some thirty degrees of vision in advance of the
straight side-line of sight; and about thirty more behind it.
If your bitterest foe were walking straight towards you,
with dagger uplifted in broad day, you would not be able
to see him, any more than if he were stealing upon you
from behind. In a word, you would have two backs, so to


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speak; but, at the same time, also, two fronts (side fronts):
for what is it that makes the front of a man—what, indeed,
but his eyes?
    Moreover, while in most other animals that I can now
think of, the eyes are so planted as imperceptibly to blend
their visual power, so as to produce one picture and not
two to the brain; the peculiar position of the whale’s eyes,
effectually divided as they are by many cubic feet of solid
head, which towers between them like a great mountain
separating two lakes in valleys; this, of course, must wholly
separate the impressions which each independent organ
imparts. The whale, therefore, must see one distinct
picture on this side, and another distinct picture on that
side; while all between must be profound darkness and
nothingness to him. Man may, in effect, be said to look
out on the world from a sentry-box with two joined
sashes for his window. But with the whale, these two
sashes are separately inserted, making two distinct
windows, but sadly impairing the view. This peculiarity of
the whale’s eyes is a thing always to be borne in mind in
the fishery; and to be remembered by the reader in some
subsequent scenes.
    A curious and most puzzling question might be started
concerning this visual matter as touching the Leviathan.


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But I must be content with a hint. So long as a man’s eyes
are open in the light, the act of seeing is involuntary; that
is, he cannot then help mechanically seeing whatever
objects are before him. Nevertheless, any one’s experience
will teach him, that though he can take in an
undiscriminating sweep of things at one glance, it is quite
impossible for him, attentively, and completely, to
examine any two things—however large or however
small—at one and the same instant of time; never mind if
they lie side by side and touch each other. But if you now
come to separate these two objects, and surround each by
a circle of profound darkness; then, in order to see one of
them, in such a manner as to bring your mind to bear on
it, the other will be utterly excluded from your
contemporary consciousness. How is it, then, with the
whale? True, both his eyes, in themselves, must
simultaneously act; but is his brain so much more
comprehensive, combining, and subtle than man’s, that he
can at the same moment of time attentively examine two
distinct prospects, one on one side of him, and the other
in an exactly opposite direction? If he can, then is it as
marvellous a thing in him, as if a man were able
simultaneously to go through the demonstrations of two



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distinct problems in Euclid. Nor, strictly investigated, is
there any incongruity in this comparison.
    It may be but an idle whim, but it has always seemed to
me, that the extraordinary vacillations of movement
displayed by some whales when beset by three or four
boats; the timidity and liability to queer frights, so
common to such whales; I think that all this indirectly
proceeds from the helpless perplexity of volition, in which
their divided and diametrically opposite powers of vision
must involve them.
    But the ear of the whale is full as curious as the eye. If
you are an entire stranger to their race, you might hunt
over these two heads for hours, and never discover that
organ. The ear has no external leaf whatever; and into the
hole itself you can hardly insert a quill, so wondrously
minute is it. It is lodged a little behind the eye. With
respect to their ears, this important difference is to be
observed between the sperm whale and the right. While
the ear of the former has an external opening, that of the
latter is entirely and evenly covered over with a
membrane, so as to be quite imperceptible from without.
    Is it not curious, that so vast a being as the whale
should see the world through so small an eye, and hear the
thunder through an ear which is smaller than a hare’s? But


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if his eyes were broad as the lens of Herschel’s great
telescope; and his ears capacious as the porches of
cathedrals; would that make him any longer of sight, or
sharper of hearing? Not at all.—Why then do you try to
‘enlarge’ your mind? Subtilize it.
    Let us now with whatever levers and steam-engines we
have at hand, cant over the sperm whale’s head, that it
may lie bottom up; then, ascending by a ladder to the
summit, have a peep down the mouth; and were it not
that the body is now completely separated from it, with a
lantern we might descend into the great Kentucky
Mammoth Cave of his stomach. But let us hold on here
by this tooth, and look about us where we are. What a
really beautiful and chaste-looking mouth! from floor to
ceiling, lined, or rather papered with a glistening white
membrane, glossy as bridal satins.
    But come out now, and look at this portentous lower
jaw, which seems like the long narrow lid of an immense
snuff-box, with the hinge at one end, instead of one side.
If you pry it up, so as to get it overhead, and expose its
rows of teeth, it seems a terrific portcullis; and such, alas! it
proves to many a poor wight in the fishery, upon whom
these spikes fall with impaling force. But far more terrible
is it to behold, when fathoms down in the sea, you see


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some sulky whale, floating there suspended, with his
prodigious jaw, some fifteen feet long, hanging straight
down at right-angles with his body, for all the world like a
ship’s jib-boom. This whale is not dead; he is only
dispirited; out of sorts, perhaps; hypochondriac; and so
supine, that the hinges of his jaw have relaxed, leaving
him there in that ungainly sort of plight, a reproach to all
his tribe, who must, no doubt, imprecate lock-jaws upon
him.
    In most cases this lower jaw—being easily unhinged by
a practised artist—is disengaged and hoisted on deck for
the purpose of extracting the ivory teeth, and furnishing a
supply of that hard white whalebone with which the
fishermen fashion all sorts of curious articles, including
canes, umbrella-stocks, and handles to riding-whips.
    With a long, weary hoist the jaw is dragged on board,
as if it were an anchor; and when the proper time
comes—some few days after the other work—Queequeg,
Daggoo, and Tashtego, being all accomplished dentists, are
set to drawing teeth. With a keen cutting-spade,
Queequeg lances the gums; then the jaw is lashed down to
ringbolts, and a tackle being rigged from aloft, they drag
out these teeth, as Michigan oxen drag stumps of old oaks
out of wild wood lands. There are generally forty-two


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teeth in all; in old whales, much worn down, but
undecayed; nor filled after our artificial fashion. The jaw is
afterwards sawn into slabs, and piled away like joists for
building houses.




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                       Chapter 75

    The Right Whale’s Head—Contrasted View.
    Crossing the deck, let us now have a good long look at
the Right Whale’s head.
    As in general shape the noble Sperm Whale’s head may
be compared to a Roman war-chariot (especially in front,
where it is so broadly rounded); so, at a broad view, the
Right Whale’s head bears a rather inelegant resemblance
to a gigantic galliot-toed shoe. Two hundred years ago an
old Dutch voyager likened its shape to that of a
shoemaker’s last. And in this same last or shoe, that old
woman of the nursery tale, with the swarming brood,
might very comfortably be lodged, she and all her
progeny.
    But as you come nearer to this great head it begins to
assume different aspects, according to your point of view.
If you stand on its summit and look at these two F-shaped
spoutholes, you would take the whole head for an
enormous bass-viol, and these spiracles, the apertures in its
sounding-board. Then, again, if you fix your eye upon
this strange, crested, comb-like incrustation on the top of
the mass—this green, barnacled thing, which the


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Greenlanders call the ‘crown,’ and the Southern fishers the
‘bonnet’ of the Right Whale; fixing your eyes solely on
this, you would take the head for the trunk of some huge
oak, with a bird’s nest in its crotch. At any rate, when you
watch those live crabs that nestle here on this bonnet, such
an idea will be almost sure to occur to you; unless, indeed,
your fancy has been fixed by the technical term ‘crown’
also bestowed upon it; in which case you will take great
interest in thinking how this mighty monster is actually a
diademed king of the sea, whose green crown has been
put together for him in this marvellous manner. But if this
whale be a king, he is a very sulky looking fellow to grace
a diadem. Look at that hanging lower lip! what a huge
sulk and pout is there! a sulk and pout, by carpenter’s
measurement, about twenty feet long and five feet deep; a
sulk and pout that will yield you some 500 gallons of oil
and more.
    A great pity, now, that this unfortunate whale should
be hare-lipped. The fissure is about a foot across. Probably
the mother during an important interval was sailing down
the Peruvian coast, when earthquakes caused the beach to
gape. Over this lip, as over a slippery threshold, we now
slide into the mouth. Upon my word were I at Mackinaw,
I should take this to be the inside of an Indian wigwam.


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Good Lord! is this the road that Jonah went? The roof is
about twelve feet high, and runs to a pretty sharp angle, as
if there were a regular ridge-pole there; while these
ribbed, arched, hairy sides, present us with those
wondrous, half vertical, scimetar-shaped slats of
whalebone, say three hundred on a side, which depending
from the upper part of the head or crown bone, form
those Venetian blinds which have elsewhere been cursorily
mentioned. The edges of these bones are fringed with
hairy fibres, through which the Right Whale strains the
water, and in whose intricacies he retains the small fish,
when openmouthed he goes through the seas of brit in
feeding time. In the central blinds of bone, as they stand in
their natural order, there are certain curious marks, curves,
hollows, and ridges, whereby some whalemen calculate
the creature’s age, as the age of an oak by its circular rings.
Though the certainty of this criterion is far from
demonstrable, yet it has the savor of analogical probability.
At any rate, if we yield to it, we must grant a far greater
age to the Right Whale than at first glance will seem
reasonable.
   In old times, there seem to have prevailed the most
curious fancies concerning these blinds. One voyager in
Purchas calls them the wondrous ‘whiskers’ inside of the


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whale’s mouth;* another, ‘hogs’ bristles"; a third old
gentleman in Hackluyt uses the following elegant
language: ‘There are about two hundred and fifty fins
growing on each side of his upper CHOP, which arch
over his tongue on each side of his mouth.’
   *This reminds us that the Right Whale really has a sort
of whisker, or rather a moustache, consisting of a few
scattered white hairs on the upper part of the outer end of
the lower jaw. Sometimes these tufts impart a rather
brigandish expression to his otherwise solemn
countenance.
   As every one knows, these same ‘hogs’ bristles,’ ‘fins,’
‘whiskers,’ ‘blinds,’ or whatever you please, furnish to the
ladies their busks and other stiffening contrivances. But in
this particular, the demand has long been on the decline. It
was in Queen Anne’s time that the bone was in its glory,
the farthingale being then all the fashion. And as those
ancient dames moved about gaily, though in the jaws of
the whale, as you may say; even so, in a shower, with the
like thoughtlessness, do we nowadays fly under the same
jaws for protection; the umbrella being a tent spread over
the same bone.
   But now forget all about blinds and whiskers for a
moment, and, standing in the Right Whale’s mouth, look


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around you afresh. Seeing all these colonnades of bone so
methodically ranged about, would you not think you were
inside of the great Haarlem organ, and gazing upon its
thousand pipes? For a carpet to the organ we have a rug of
the softest Turkey—the tongue, which is glued, as it were,
to the floor of the mouth. It is very fat and tender, and apt
to tear in pieces in hoisting it on deck. This particular
tongue now before us; at a passing glance I should say it
was a six-barreler; that is, it will yield you about that
amount of oil.
    Ere this, you must have plainly seen the truth of what I
started with—that the Sperm Whale and the Right Whale
have almost entirely different heads. To sum up, then: in
the Right Whale’s there is no great well of sperm; no
ivory teeth at all; no long, slender mandible of a lower
jaw, like the Sperm Whale’s. Nor in the Sperm Whale are
there any of those blinds of bone; no huge lower lip; and
scarcely anything of a tongue. Again, the Right Whale has
two external spout-holes, the Sperm Whale only one.
    Look your last, now, on these venerable hooded heads,
while they yet lie together; for one will soon sink,
unrecorded, in the sea; the other will not be very long in
following.



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   Can you catch the expression of the Sperm Whale’s
there? It is the same he died with, only some of the longer
wrinkles in the forehead seem now faded away. I think his
broad brow to be full of a prairie-like placidity, born of a
speculative indifference as to death. But mark the other
head’s expression. See that amazing lower lip, pressed by
accident against the vessel’s side, so as firmly to embrace
the jaw. Does not this whole head seem to speak of an
enormous practical resolution in facing death? This Right
Whale I take to have been a Stoic; the Sperm Whale, a
Platonian, who might have taken up Spinoza in his latter
years.




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                      Chapter 76

    The Battering-Ram.
    Ere quitting, for the nonce, the Sperm Whale’s head, I
would have you, as a sensible physiologist, simply—
particularly remark its front aspect, in all its compacted
collectedness. I would have you investigate it now with
the sole view of forming to yourself some unexaggerated,
intelligent estimate of whatever battering-ram power may
be lodged there. Here is a vital point; for you must either
satisfactorily settle this matter with yourself, or for ever
remain an infidel as to one of the most appalling, but not
the less true events, perhaps anywhere to be found in all
recorded history.
    You observe that in the ordinary swimming position of
the Sperm Whale, the front of his head presents an almost
wholly vertical plane to the water; you observe that the
lower part of that front slopes considerably backwards, so
as to furnish more of a retreat for the long socket which
receives the boom-like lower jaw; you observe that the
mouth is entirely under the head, much in the same way,
indeed, as though your own mouth were entirely under
your chin. Moreover you observe that the whale has no


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external nose; and that what nose he has—his spout
hole—is on the top of his head; you observe that his eyes
and ears are at the sides of his head, nearly one third of his
entire length from the front. Wherefore, you must now
have perceived that the front of the Sperm Whale’s head is
a dead, blind wall, without a single organ or tender
prominence of any sort whatsoever. Furthermore, you are
now to consider that only in the extreme, lower,
backward sloping part of the front of the head, is there the
slightest vestige of bone; and not till you get near twenty
feet from the forehead do you come to the full cranial
development. So that this whole enormous boneless mass
is as one wad. Finally, though, as will soon be revealed, its
contents partly comprise the most delicate oil; yet, you are
now to be apprised of the nature of the substance which so
impregnably invests all that apparent effeminacy. In some
previous place I have described to you how the blubber
wraps the body of the whale, as the rind wraps an orange.
Just so with the head; but with this difference: about the
head this envelope, though not so thick, is of a boneless
toughness, inestimable by any man who has not handled
it. The severest pointed harpoon, the sharpest lance darted
by the strongest human arm, impotently rebounds from it.
It is as though the forehead of the Sperm Whale were


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paved with horses’ hoofs. I do not think that any sensation
lurks in it.
    Bethink yourself also of another thing. When two
large, loaded Indiamen chance to crowd and crush towards
each other in the docks, what do the sailors do? They do
not suspend between them, at the point of coming
contact, any merely hard substance, like iron or wood.
No, they hold there a large, round wad of tow and cork,
enveloped in the thickest and toughest of ox-hide. That
bravely and uninjured takes the jam which would have
snapped all their oaken handspikes and iron crow-bars. By
itself this sufficiently illustrates the obvious fact I drive at.
But supplementary to this, it has hypothetically occurred
to me, that as ordinary fish possess what is called a
swimming bladder in them, capable, at will, of distension
or contraction; and as the Sperm Whale, as far as I know,
has no such provision in him; considering, too, the
otherwise inexplicable manner in which he now depresses
his head altogether beneath the surface, and anon swims
with it high elevated out of the water; considering the
unobstructed elasticity of its envelope; considering the
unique interior of his head; it has hypothetically occurred
to me, I say, that those mystical lung-celled honeycombs
there may possibly have some hitherto unknown and


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unsuspected connexion with the outer air, so as to be
susceptible to atmospheric distension and contraction. If
this be so, fancy the irresistibleness of that might, to which
the most impalpable and destructive of all elements
contributes.
   Now, mark. Unerringly impelling this dead,
impregnable, uninjurable wall, and this most buoyant
thing within; there swims behind it all a mass of
tremendous life, only to be adequately estimated as piled
wood is—by the cord; and all obedient to one volition, as
the smallest insect. So that when I shall hereafter detail to
you all the specialities and concentrations of potency
everywhere lurking in this expansive monster; when I shall
show you some of his more inconsiderable braining feats; I
trust you will have renounced all ignorant incredulity, and
be ready to abide by this; that though the Sperm Whale
stove a passage through the Isthmus of Darien, and mixed
the Atlantic with the Pacific, you would not elevate one
hair of your eye-brow. For unless you own the whale, you
are but a provincial and sentimentalist in Truth. But clear
Truth is a thing for salamander giants only to encounter;
how small the chances for the provincials then? What
befell the weakling youth lifting the dread goddess’s veil at
Lais?


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                      Chapter 77

   The Great Heidelburgh Tun.
   Now comes the Baling of the Case. But to
comprehend it aright, you must know something of the
curious internal structure of the thing operated upon.
   Regarding the Sperm Whale’s head as a solid oblong,
you may, on an inclined plane, sideways divide it into two
quoins,* whereof the lower is the bony structure, forming
the cranium and jaws, and the upper an unctuous mass
wholly free from bones; its broad forward end forming the
expanded vertical apparent forehead of the whale. At the
middle of the forehead horizontally subdivide this upper
quoin, and then you have two almost equal parts, which
before were naturally divided by an internal wall of a thick
tendinous substance.
   *Quoin is not a Euclidean term. It belongs to the pure
nautical mathematics. I know not that it has been defined
before. A quoin is a solid which differs from a wedge in
having its sharp end formed by the steep inclination of one
side, instead of the mutual tapering of both sides.
   The lower subdivided part, called the junk, is one
immense honeycomb of oil, formed by the crossing and


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recrossing, into ten thousand infiltrated cells, of tough
elastic white fibres throughout its whole extent. The
upper part, known as the Case, may be regarded as the
great Heidelburgh Tun of the Sperm Whale. And as that
famous great tierce is mystically carved in front, so the
whale’s vast plaited forehead forms innumerable strange
devices for the emblematical adornment of his wondrous
tun. Moreover, as that of Heidelburgh was always
replenished with the most excellent of the wines of the
Rhenish valleys, so the tun of the whale contains by far
the most precious of all his oily vintages; namely, the
highly-prized spermaceti, in its absolutely pure, limpid,
and odoriferous state. Nor is this precious substance found
unalloyed in any other part of the creature. Though in life
it remains perfectly fluid, yet, upon exposure to the air,
after death, it soon begins to concrete; sending forth
beautiful crystalline shoots, as when the first thin delicate
ice is just forming in water. A large whale’s case generally
yields about five hundred gallons of sperm, though from
unavoidable circumstances, considerable of it is spilled,
leaks, and dribbles away, or is otherwise irrevocably lost in
the ticklish business of securing what you can.
    I know not with what fine and costly material the
Heidelburgh Tun was coated within, but in superlative


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richness that coating could not possibly have compared
with the silken pearl-coloured membrane, like the lining
of a fine pelisse, forming the inner surface of the Sperm
Whale’s case.
    It will have been seen that the Heidelburgh Tun of the
Sperm Whale embraces the entire length of the entire top
of the head; and since—as has been elsewhere set forth—
the head embraces one third of the whole length of the
creature, then setting that length down at eighty feet for a
good sized whale, you have more than twenty-six feet for
the depth of the tun, when it is lengthwise hoisted up and
down against a ship’s side.
    As in decapitating the whale, the operator’s instrument
is brought close to the spot where an entrance is
subsequently forced into the spermaceti magazine; he has,
therefore, to be uncommonly heedful, lest a careless,
untimely stroke should invade the sanctuary and wastingly
let out its invaluable contents. It is this decapitated end of
the head, also, which is at last elevated out of the water,
and retained in that position by the enormous cutting
tackles, whose hempen combinations, on one side, make
quite a wilderness of ropes in that quarter.
    Thus much being said, attend now, I pray you, to that
marvellous and—in this particular instance—almost fatal


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operation whereby the Sperm Whale’s great Heidelburgh
Tun is tapped.




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                      Chapter 78

    Cistern and Buckets.
    Nimble as a cat, Tashtego mounts aloft; and without
altering his erect posture, runs straight out upon the
overhanging mainyard-arm, to the part where it exactly
projects over the hoisted Tun. He has carried with him a
light tackle called a whip, consisting of only two parts,
travelling through a single-sheaved block. Securing this
block, so that it hangs down from the yard-arm, he swings
one end of the rope, till it is caught and firmly held by a
hand on deck. Then, hand-over-hand, down the other
part, the Indian drops through the air, till dexterously he
lands on the summit of the head. There—still high
elevated above the rest of the company, to whom he
vivaciously cries—he seems some Turkish Muezzin calling
the good people to prayers from the top of a tower. A
short-handled sharp spade being sent up to him, he
diligently searches for the proper place to begin breaking
into the Tun. In this business he proceeds very heedfully,
like a treasure-hunter in some old house, sounding the
walls to find where the gold is masoned in. By the time
this cautious search is over, a stout iron-bound bucket,


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precisely like a well-bucket, has been attached to one end
of the whip; while the other end, being stretched across
the deck, is there held by two or three alert hands. These
last now hoist the bucket within grasp of the Indian, to
whom another person has reached up a very long pole.
Inserting this pole into the bucket, Tashtego downward
guides the bucket into the Tun, till it entirely disappears;
then giving the word to the seamen at the whip, up comes
the bucket again, all bubbling like a dairy-maid’s pail of
new milk. Carefully lowered from its height, the full-
freighted vessel is caught by an appointed hand, and
quickly emptied into a large tub. Then remounting aloft,
it again goes through the same round until the deep cistern
will yield no more. Towards the end, Tashtego has to ram
his long pole harder and harder, and deeper and deeper
into the Tun, until some twenty feet of the pole have
gone down.
    Now, the people of the Pequod had been baling some
time in this way; several tubs had been filled with the
fragrant sperm; when all at once a queer accident
happened. Whether it was that Tashtego, that wild Indian,
was so heedless and reckless as to let go for a moment his
one-handed hold on the great cabled tackles suspending
the head; or whether the place where he stood was so


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treacherous and oozy; or whether the Evil One himself
would have it to fall out so, without stating his particular
reasons; how it was exactly, there is no telling now; but,
on a sudden, as the eightieth or ninetieth bucket came
suckingly up—my God! poor Tashtego—like the twin
reciprocating bucket in a veritable well, dropped head-
foremost down into this great Tun of Heidelburgh, and
with a horrible oily gurgling, went clean out of sight!
    ‘Man overboard!’ cried Daggoo, who amid the general
consternation first came to his senses. ‘Swing the bucket
this way!’ and putting one foot into it, so as the better to
secure his slippery hand-hold on the whip itself, the
hoisters ran him high up to the top of the head, almost
before Tashtego could have reached its interior bottom.
Meantime, there was a terrible tumult. Looking over the
side, they saw the before lifeless head throbbing and
heaving just below the surface of the sea, as if that
moment seized with some momentous idea; whereas it
was only the poor Indian unconsciously revealing by those
struggles the perilous depth to which he had sunk.
    At this instant, while Daggoo, on the summit of the
head, was clearing the whip—which had somehow got
foul of the great cutting tackles—a sharp cracking noise
was heard; and to the unspeakable horror of all, one of the


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two enormous hooks suspending the head tore out, and
with a vast vibration the enormous mass sideways swung,
till the drunk ship reeled and shook as if smitten by an
iceberg. The one remaining hook, upon which the entire
strain now depended, seemed every instant to be on the
point of giving way; an event still more likely from the
violent motions of the head.
    ‘Come down, come down!’ yelled the seamen to
Daggoo, but with one hand holding on to the heavy
tackles, so that if the head should drop, he would still
remain suspended; the negro having cleared the foul line,
rammed down the bucket into the now collapsed well,
meaning that the buried harpooneer should grasp it, and so
be hoisted out.
    ‘In heaven’s name, man,’ cried Stubb, ‘are you
ramming home a cartridge there?—Avast! How will that
help him; jamming that iron-bound bucket on top of his
head? Avast, will ye!’
    ‘Stand clear of the tackle!’ cried a voice like the
bursting of a rocket.
    Almost in the same instant, with a thunder-boom, the
enormous mass dropped into the sea, like Niagara’s Table-
Rock into the whirlpool; the suddenly relieved hull rolled
away from it, to far down her glittering copper; and all


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caught their breath, as half swinging—now over the
sailors’ heads, and now over the water—Daggoo, through
a thick mist of spray, was dimly beheld clinging to the
pendulous tackles, while poor, buried-alive Tashtego was
sinking utterly down to the bottom of the sea! But hardly
had the blinding vapour cleared away, when a naked
figure with a boarding-sword in his hand, was for one
swift moment seen hovering over the bulwarks. The next,
a loud splash announced that my brave Queequeg had
dived to the rescue. One packed rush was made to the
side, and every eye counted every ripple, as moment
followed moment, and no sign of either the sinker or the
diver could be seen. Some hands now jumped into a boat
alongside, and pushed a little off from the ship.
    ‘Ha! ha!’ cried Daggoo, all at once, from his now quiet,
swinging perch overhead; and looking further off from the
side, we saw an arm thrust upright from the blue waves; a
sight strange to see, as an arm thrust forth from the grass
over a grave.
    ‘Both! both!—it is both!’—cried Daggoo again with a
joyful shout; and soon after, Queequeg was seen boldly
striking out with one hand, and with the other clutching
the long hair of the Indian. Drawn into the waiting boat,



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they were quickly brought to the deck; but Tashtego was
long in coming to, and Queequeg did not look very brisk.
    Now, how had this noble rescue been accomplished?
Why, diving after the slowly descending head, Queequeg
with his keen sword had made side lunges near its bottom,
so as to scuttle a large hole there; then dropping his sword,
had thrust his long arm far inwards and upwards, and so
hauled out poor Tash by the head. He averred, that upon
first thrusting in for him, a leg was presented; but well
knowing that that was not as it ought to be, and might
occasion great trouble;—he had thrust back the leg, and
by a dexterous heave and toss, had wrought a somerset
upon the Indian; so that with the next trial, he came forth
in the good old way—head foremost. As for the great
head itself, that was doing as well as could be expected.
    And thus, through the courage and great skill in
obstetrics of Queequeg, the deliverance, or rather, delivery
of Tashtego, was successfully accomplished, in the teeth,
too, of the most untoward and apparently hopeless
impediments; which is a lesson by no means to be
forgotten. Midwifery should be taught in the same course
with fencing and boxing, riding and rowing.
    I know that this queer adventure of the Gay-Header’s
will be sure to seem incredible to some landsmen, though


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they themselves may have either seen or heard of some
one’s falling into a cistern ashore; an accident which not
seldom happens, and with much less reason too than the
Indian’s, considering the exceeding slipperiness of the curb
of the Sperm Whale’s well.
    But, peradventure, it may be sagaciously urged, how is
this? We thought the tissued, infiltrated head of the Sperm
Whale, was the lightest and most corky part about him;
and yet thou makest it sink in an element of a far greater
specific gravity than itself. We have thee there. Not at all,
but I have ye; for at the time poor Tash fell in, the case
had been nearly emptied of its lighter contents, leaving
little but the dense tendinous wall of the well—a double
welded, hammered substance, as I have before said, much
heavier than the sea water, and a lump of which sinks in it
like lead almost. But the tendency to rapid sinking in this
substance was in the present instance materially
counteracted by the other parts of the head remaining
undetached from it, so that it sank very slowly and
deliberately indeed, affording Queequeg a fair chance for
performing his agile obstetrics on the run, as you may say.
Yes, it was a running delivery, so it was.
    Now, had Tashtego perished in that head, it had been a
very precious perishing; smothered in the very whitest and


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daintiest of fragrant spermaceti; coffined, hearsed, and
tombed in the secret inner chamber and sanctum
sanctorum of the whale. Only one sweeter end can readily
be recalled—the delicious death of an Ohio honey-hunter,
who seeking honey in the crotch of a hollow tree, found
such exceeding store of it, that leaning too far over, it
sucked him in, so that he died embalmed. How many,
think ye, have likewise fallen into Plato’s honey head, and
sweetly perished there?




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                       Chapter 79

    The Prairie.
    To scan the lines of his face, or feel the bumps on the
head of this Leviathan; this is a thing which no
Physiognomist or Phrenologist has as yet undertaken. Such
an enterprise would seem almost as hopeful as for Lavater
to have scrutinized the wrinkles on the Rock of Gibraltar,
or for Gall to have mounted a ladder and manipulated the
Dome of the Pantheon. Still, in that famous work of his,
Lavater not only treats of the various faces of men, but also
attentively studies the faces of horses, birds, serpents, and
fish; and dwells in detail upon the modifications of
expression discernible therein. Nor have Gall and his
disciple Spurzheim failed to throw out some hints
touching the phrenological characteristics of other beings
than man. Therefore, though I am but ill qualified for a
pioneer, in the application of these two semi-sciences to
the whale, I will do my endeavor. I try all things; I achieve
what I can.
    Physiognomically regarded, the Sperm Whale is an
anomalous creature. He has no proper nose. And since the
nose is the central and most conspicuous of the features;


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and since it perhaps most modifies and finally controls
their combined expression; hence it would seem that its
entire absence, as an external appendage, must very largely
affect the countenance of the whale. For as in landscape
gardening, a spire, cupola, monument, or tower of some
sort, is deemed almost indispensable to the completion of
the scene; so no face can be physiognomically in keeping
without the elevated open-work belfry of the nose. Dash
the nose from Phidias’s marble Jove, and what a sorry
remainder! Nevertheless, Leviathan is of so mighty a
magnitude, all his proportions are so stately, that the same
deficiency which in the sculptured Jove were hideous, in
him is no blemish at all. Nay, it is an added grandeur. A
nose to the whale would have been impertinent. As on
your physiognomical voyage you sail round his vast head
in your jolly-boat, your noble conceptions of him are
never insulted by the reflection that he has a nose to be
pulled. A pestilent conceit, which so often will insist upon
obtruding even when beholding the mightiest royal beadle
on his throne.
    In some particulars, perhaps the most imposing
physiognomical view to be had of the Sperm Whale, is
that of the full front of his head. This aspect is sublime.



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   In thought, a fine human brow is like the East when
troubled with the morning. In the repose of the pasture,
the curled brow of the bull has a touch of the grand in it.
Pushing heavy cannon up mountain defiles, the elephant’s
brow is majestic. Human or animal, the mystical brow is as
that great golden seal affixed by the German Emperors to
their decrees. It signifies—‘God: done this day by my
hand.’ But in most creatures, nay in man himself, very
often the brow is but a mere strip of alpine land lying
along the snow line. Few are the foreheads which like
Shakespeare’s or Melancthon’s rise so high, and descend so
low, that the eyes themselves seem clear, eternal, tideless
mountain lakes; and all above them in the forehead’s
wrinkles, you seem to track the antlered thoughts
descending there to drink, as the Highland hunters track
the snow prints of the deer. But in the great Sperm
Whale, this high and mighty god-like dignity inherent in
the brow is so immensely amplified, that gazing on it, in
that full front view, you feel the Deity and the dread
powers more forcibly than in beholding any other object
in living nature. For you see no one point precisely; not
one distinct feature is revealed; no nose, eyes, ears, or
mouth; no face; he has none, proper; nothing but that one
broad firmament of a forehead, pleated with riddles;


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dumbly lowering with the doom of boats, and ships, and
men. Nor, in profile, does this wondrous brow diminish;
though that way viewed its grandeur does not domineer
upon you so. In profile, you plainly perceive that
horizontal, semi-crescentic depression in the forehead’s
middle, which, in man, is Lavater’s mark of genius.
    But how? Genius in the Sperm Whale? Has the Sperm
Whale ever written a book, spoken a speech? No, his great
genius is declared in his doing nothing particular to prove
it. It is moreover declared in his pyramidical silence. And
this reminds me that had the great Sperm Whale been
known to the young Orient World, he would have been
deified by their child-magian thoughts. They deified the
crocodile of the Nile, because the crocodile is tongueless;
and the Sperm Whale has no tongue, or at least it is so
exceedingly small, as to be incapable of protrusion. If
hereafter any highly cultured, poetical nation shall lure
back to their birth-right, the merry May-day gods of old;
and livingly enthrone them again in the now egotistical
sky; in the now unhaunted hill; then be sure, exalted to
Jove’s high seat, the great Sperm Whale shall lord it.
    Champollion deciphered the wrinkled granite
hieroglyphics. But there is no Champollion to decipher
the Egypt of every man’s and every being’s face.


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Physiognomy, like every other human science, is but a
passing fable. If then, Sir William Jones, who read in thirty
languages, could not read the simplest peasant’s face in its
profounder and more subtle meanings, how may
unlettered Ishmael hope to read the awful Chaldee of the
Sperm Whale’s brow? I but put that brow before you.
Read it if you can.




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                       Chapter 80

    The Nut.
    If the Sperm Whale be physiognomically a Sphinx, to
the phrenologist his brain seems that geometrical circle
which it is impossible to square.
    In the full-grown creature the skull will measure at least
twenty feet in length. Unhinge the lower jaw, and the side
view of this skull is as the side of a moderately inclined
plane resting throughout on a level base. But in life—as
we have elsewhere seen—this inclined plane is angularly
filled up, and almost squared by the enormous
superincumbent mass of the junk and sperm. At the high
end the skull forms a crater to bed that part of the mass;
while under the long floor of this crater—in another
cavity seldom exceeding ten inches in length and as many
in depth—reposes the mere handful of this monster’s
brain. The brain is at least twenty feet from his apparent
forehead in life; it is hidden away behind its vast outworks,
like the innermost citadel within the amplified
fortifications of Quebec. So like a choice casket is it
secreted in him, that I have known some whalemen who
peremptorily deny that the Sperm Whale has any other


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brain than that palpable semblance of one formed by the
cubic-yards of his sperm magazine. Lying in strange folds,
courses, and convolutions, to their apprehensions, it seems
more in keeping with the idea of his general might to
regard that mystic part of him as the seat of his
intelligence.
    It is plain, then, that phrenologically the head of this
Leviathan, in the creature’s living intact state, is an entire
delusion. As for his true brain, you can then see no
indications of it, nor feel any. The whale, like all things
that are mighty, wears a false brow to the common world.
    If you unload his skull of its spermy heaps and then
take a rear view of its rear end, which is the high end, you
will be struck by its resemblance to the human skull,
beheld in the same situation, and from the same point of
view. Indeed, place this reversed skull (scaled down to the
human magnitude) among a plate of men’s skulls, and you
would involuntarily confound it with them; and
remarking the depressions on one part of its summit, in
phrenological phrase you would say—This man had no
self-esteem, and no veneration. And by those negations,
considered along with the affirmative fact of his prodigious
bulk and power, you can best form to yourself the truest,



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though not the most exhilarating conception of what the
most exalted potency is.
    But if from the comparative dimensions of the whale’s
proper brain, you deem it incapable of being adequately
charted, then I have another idea for you. If you
attentively regard almost any quadruped’s spine, you will
be struck with the resemblance of its vertebrae to a strung
necklace of dwarfed skulls, all bearing rudimental
resemblance to the skull proper. It is a German conceit,
that the vertebrae are absolutely undeveloped skulls. But
the curious external resemblance, I take it the Germans
were not the first men to perceive. A foreign friend once
pointed it out to me, in the skeleton of a foe he had slain,
and with the vertebrae of which he was inlaying, in a sort
of basso-relievo, the beaked prow of his canoe. Now, I
consider that the phrenologists have omitted an important
thing in not pushing their investigations from the
cerebellum through the spinal canal. For I believe that
much of a man’s character will be found betokened in his
backbone. I would rather feel your spine than your skull,
whoever you are. A thin joist of a spine never yet upheld a
full and noble soul. I rejoice in my spine, as in the firm
audacious staff of that flag which I fling half out to the
world.


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    Apply this spinal branch of phrenology to the Sperm
Whale. His cranial cavity is continuous with the first neck-
vertebra; and in that vertebra the bottom of the spinal
canal will measure ten inches across, being eight in height,
and of a triangular figure with the base downwards. As it
passes through the remaining vertebrae the canal tapers in
size, but for a considerable distance remains of large
capacity. Now, of course, this canal is filled with much the
same strangely fibrous substance—the spinal cord—as the
brain; and directly communicates with the brain. And
what is still more, for many feet after emerging from the
brain’s cavity, the spinal cord remains of an undecreasing
girth, almost equal to that of the brain. Under all these
circumstances, would it be unreasonable to survey and
map out the whale’s spine phrenologically? For, viewed in
this light, the wonderful comparative smallness of his brain
proper is more than compensated by the wonderful
comparative magnitude of his spinal cord.
    But leaving this hint to operate as it may with the
phrenologists, I would merely assume the spinal theory for
a moment, in reference to the Sperm Whale’s hump. This
august hump, if I mistake not, rises over one of the larger
vertebrae, and is, therefore, in some sort, the outer convex
mould of it. From its relative situation then, I should call


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this high hump the organ of firmness or indomitableness
in the Sperm Whale. And that the great monster is
indomitable, you will yet have reason to know.




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                      Chapter 81

   The Pequod Meets The Virgin.
   The predestinated day arrived, and we duly met the
ship Jungfrau, Derick De Deer, master, of Bremen.
   At one time the greatest whaling people in the world,
the Dutch and Germans are now among the least; but here
and there at very wide intervals of latitude and longitude,
you still occasionally meet with their flag in the Pacific.
   For some reason, the Jungfrau seemed quite eager to
pay her respects. While yet some distance from the
Pequod, she rounded to, and dropping a boat, her captain
was impelled towards us, impatiently standing in the bows
instead of the stern.
   ‘What has he in his hand there?’ cried Starbuck,
pointing to something wavingly held by the German.
‘Impossible!—a lamp-feeder!’
   ‘Not that,’ said Stubb, ‘no, no, it’s a coffee-pot, Mr.
Starbuck; he’s coming off to make us our coffee, is the
Yarman; don’t you see that big tin can there alongside of
him?—that’s his boiling water. Oh! he’s all right, is the
Yarman.’




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   ‘Go along with you,’ cried Flask, ‘it’s a lamp-feeder and
an oil-can. He’s out of oil, and has come a-begging.’
   However curious it may seem for an oil-ship to be
borrowing oil on the whale-ground, and however much it
may invertedly contradict the old proverb about carrying
coals to Newcastle, yet sometimes such a thing really
happens; and in the present case Captain Derick De Deer
did indubitably conduct a lamp-feeder as Flask did declare.
   As he mounted the deck, Ahab abruptly accosted him,
without at all heeding what he had in his hand; but in his
broken lingo, the German soon evinced his complete
ignorance of the White Whale; immediately turning the
conversation to his lamp-feeder and oil can, with some
remarks touching his having to turn into his hammock at
night in profound darkness—his last drop of Bremen oil
being gone, and not a single flying-fish yet captured to
supply the deficiency; concluding by hinting that his ship
was indeed what in the Fishery is technically called a
CLEAN one (that is, an empty one), well deserving the
name of Jungfrau or the Virgin.
   His necessities supplied, Derick departed; but he had
not gained his ship’s side, when whales were almost
simultaneously raised from the mast-heads of both vessels;
and so eager for the chase was Derick, that without


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pausing to put his oil-can and lamp-feeder aboard, he
slewed round his boat and made after the leviathan lamp-
feeders.
   Now, the game having risen to leeward, he and the
other three German boats that soon followed him, had
considerably the start of the Pequod’s keels. There were
eight whales, an average pod. Aware of their danger, they
were going all abreast with great speed straight before the
wind, rubbing their flanks as closely as so many spans of
horses in harness. They left a great, wide wake, as though
continually unrolling a great wide parchment upon the
sea.
   Full in this rapid wake, and many fathoms in the rear,
swam a huge, humped old bull, which by his
comparatively slow progress, as well as by the unusual
yellowish incrustations overgrowing him, seemed afflicted
with the jaundice, or some other infirmity. Whether this
whale belonged to the pod in advance, seemed
questionable; for it is not customary for such venerable
leviathans to be at all social. Nevertheless, he stuck to their
wake, though indeed their back water must have retarded
him, because the white-bone or swell at his broad muzzle
was a dashed one, like the swell formed when two hostile
currents meet. His spout was short, slow, and laborious;


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coming forth with a choking sort of gush, and spending
itself in torn shreds, followed by strange subterranean
commotions in him, which seemed to have egress at his
other buried extremity, causing the waters behind him to
upbubble.
    ‘Who’s got some paregoric?’ said Stubb, ‘he has the
stomach-ache, I’m afraid. Lord, think of having half an
acre of stomach-ache! Adverse winds are holding mad
Christmas in him, boys. It’s the first foul wind I ever knew
to blow from astern; but look, did ever whale yaw so
before? it must be, he’s lost his tiller.’
    As an overladen Indiaman bearing down the Hindostan
coast with a deck load of frightened horses, careens,
buries, rolls, and wallows on her way; so did this old
whale heave his aged bulk, and now and then partly
turning over on his cumbrous rib-ends, expose the cause
of his devious wake in the unnatural stump of his starboard
fin. Whether he had lost that fin in battle, or had been
born without it, it were hard to say.
    ‘Only wait a bit, old chap, and I’ll give ye a sling for
that wounded arm,’ cried cruel Flask, pointing to the
whale-line near him.
    ‘Mind he don’t sling thee with it,’ cried Starbuck.
‘Give way, or the German will have him.’


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    With one intent all the combined rival boats were
pointed for this one fish, because not only was he the
largest, and therefore the most valuable whale, but he was
nearest to them, and the other whales were going with
such great velocity, moreover, as almost to defy pursuit for
the time. At this juncture the Pequod’s keels had shot by
the three German boats last lowered; but from the great
start he had had, Derick’s boat still led the chase, though
every moment neared by his foreign rivals. The only thing
they feared, was, that from being already so nigh to his
mark, he would be enabled to dart his iron before they
could completely overtake and pass him. As for Derick, he
seemed quite confident that this would be the case, and
occasionally with a deriding gesture shook his lamp-feeder
at the other boats.
    ‘The ungracious and ungrateful dog!’ cried Starbuck;
‘he mocks and dares me with the very poor-box I filled
for him not five minutes ago!’—then in his old intense
whisper—‘Give way, greyhounds! Dog to it!’
    ‘I tell ye what it is, men’—cried Stubb to his crew—
‘it’s against my religion to get mad; but I’d like to eat that
villainous Yarman—Pull—won’t ye? Are ye going to let
that rascal beat ye? Do ye love brandy? A hogshead of
brandy, then, to the best man. Come, why don’t some of


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ye burst a blood-vessel? Who’s that been dropping an
anchor overboard—we don’t budge an inch—we’re
becalmed. Halloo, here’s grass growing in the boat’s
bottom—and by the Lord, the mast there’s budding. This
won’t do, boys. Look at that Yarman! The short and long
of it is, men, will ye spit fire or not?’
   ‘Oh! see the suds he makes!’ cried Flask, dancing up
and down—‘What a hump—Oh, DO pile on the beef—
lays like a log! Oh! my lads, DO spring—slap-jacks and
quahogs for supper, you know, my lads—baked clams and
muffins—oh, DO, DO, spring,—he’s a hundred
barreller—don’t lose him now—don’t oh, DON’T!—see
that Yarman—Oh, won’t ye pull for your duff, my lads—
such a sog! such a sogger! Don’t ye love sperm? There
goes three thousand dollars, men!—a bank!—a whole
bank! The bank of England!—Oh, DO, DO, DO!—
What’s that Yarman about now?’
   At this moment Derick was in the act of pitching his
lamp-feeder at the advancing boats, and also his oil-can;
perhaps with the double view of retarding his rivals’ way,
and at the same time economically accelerating his own by
the momentary impetus of the backward toss.
   ‘The unmannerly Dutch dogger!’ cried Stubb. ‘Pull
now, men, like fifty thousand line-of-battle-ship loads of


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red-haired devils. What d’ye say, Tashtego; are you the
man to snap your spine in two-and-twenty pieces for the
honour of old Gayhead? What d’ye say?’
   ‘I say, pull like god-dam,’—cried the Indian.
   Fiercely, but evenly incited by the taunts of the
German, the Pequod’s three boats now began ranging
almost abreast; and, so disposed, momentarily neared him.
In that fine, loose, chivalrous attitude of the headsman
when drawing near to his prey, the three mates stood up
proudly, occasionally backing the after oarsman with an
exhilarating cry of, ‘There she slides, now! Hurrah for the
white-ash breeze! Down with the Yarman! Sail over him!’
   But so decided an original start had Derick had, that
spite of all their gallantry, he would have proved the victor
in this race, had not a righteous judgment descended upon
him in a crab which caught the blade of his midship
oarsman. While this clumsy lubber was striving to free his
white-ash, and while, in consequence, Derick’s boat was
nigh to capsizing, and he thundering away at his men in a
mighty rage;—that was a good time for Starbuck, Stubb,
and Flask. With a shout, they took a mortal start forwards,
and slantingly ranged up on the German’s quarter. An
instant more, and all four boats were diagonically in the



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whale’s immediate wake, while stretching from them, on
both sides, was the foaming swell that he made.
    It was a terrific, most pitiable, and maddening sight.
The whale was now going head out, and sending his spout
before him in a continual tormented jet; while his one
poor fin beat his side in an agony of fright. Now to this
hand, now to that, he yawed in his faltering flight, and still
at every billow that he broke, he spasmodically sank in the
sea, or sideways rolled towards the sky his one beating fin.
So have I seen a bird with clipped wing making affrighted
broken circles in the air, vainly striving to escape the
piratical hawks. But the bird has a voice, and with
plaintive cries will make known her fear; but the fear of
this vast dumb brute of the sea, was chained up and
enchanted in him; he had no voice, save that choking
respiration through his spiracle, and this made the sight of
him unspeakably pitiable; while still, in his amazing bulk,
portcullis jaw, and omnipotent tail, there was enough to
appal the stoutest man who so pitied.
    Seeing now that but a very few moments more would
give the Pequod’s boats the advantage, and rather than be
thus foiled of his game, Derick chose to hazard what to
him must have seemed a most unusually long dart, ere the
last chance would for ever escape.


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    But no sooner did his harpooneer stand up for the
stroke, than all three tigers—Queequeg, Tashtego,
Daggoo—instinctively sprang to their feet, and standing in
a diagonal row, simultaneously pointed their barbs; and
darted over the head of the German harpooneer, their
three Nantucket irons entered the whale. Blinding vapours
of foam and white-fire! The three boats, in the first fury of
the whale’s headlong rush, bumped the German’s aside
with such force, that both Derick and his baffled
harpooneer were spilled out, and sailed over by the three
flying keels.
    ‘Don’t be afraid, my butter-boxes,’ cried Stubb, casting
a passing glance upon them as he shot by; ‘ye’ll be picked
up presently—all right—I saw some sharks astern—St.
Bernard’s dogs, you know—relieve distressed travellers.
Hurrah! this is the way to sail now. Every keel a sunbeam!
Hurrah!—Here we go like three tin kettles at the tail of a
mad cougar! This puts me in mind of fastening to an
elephant in a tilbury on a plain—makes the wheel-spokes
fly, boys, when you fasten to him that way; and there’s
danger of being pitched out too, when you strike a hill.
Hurrah! this is the way a fellow feels when he’s going to
Davy Jones—all a rush down an endless inclined plane!
Hurrah! this whale carries the everlasting mail!’


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    But the monster’s run was a brief one. Giving a sudden
gasp, he tumultuously sounded. With a grating rush, the
three lines flew round the loggerheads with such a force as
to gouge deep grooves in them; while so fearful were the
harpooneers that this rapid sounding would soon exhaust
the lines, that using all their dexterous might, they caught
repeated smoking turns with the rope to hold on; till at
last—owing to the perpendicular strain from the lead-lined
chocks of the boats, whence the three ropes went straight
down into the blue—the gunwales of the bows were
almost even with the water, while the three sterns tilted
high in the air. And the whale soon ceasing to sound, for
some time they remained in that attitude, fearful of
expending more line, though the position was a little
ticklish. But though boats have been taken down and lost
in this way, yet it is this ‘holding on,’ as it is called; this
hooking up by the sharp barbs of his live flesh from the
back; this it is that often torments the Leviathan into soon
rising again to meet the sharp lance of his foes. Yet not to
speak of the peril of the thing, it is to be doubted whether
this course is always the best; for it is but reasonable to
presume, that the longer the stricken whale stays under
water, the more he is exhausted. Because, owing to the
enormous surface of him—in a full grown sperm whale


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something less than 2000 square feet—the pressure of the
water is immense. We all know what an astonishing
atmospheric weight we ourselves stand up under; even
here, above-ground, in the air; how vast, then, the burden
of a whale, bearing on his back a column of two hundred
fathoms of ocean! It must at least equal the weight of fifty
atmospheres. One whaleman has estimated it at the weight
of twenty line-of-battle ships, with all their guns, and
stores, and men on board.
   As the three boats lay there on that gently rolling sea,
gazing down into its eternal blue noon; and as not a single
groan or cry of any sort, nay, not so much as a ripple or a
bubble came up from its depths; what landsman would
have thought, that beneath all that silence and placidity,
the utmost monster of the seas was writhing and
wrenching in agony! Not eight inches of perpendicular
rope were visible at the bows. Seems it credible that by
three such thin threads the great Leviathan was suspended
like the big weight to an eight day clock. Suspended? and
to what? To three bits of board. Is this the creature of
whom it was once so triumphantly said—‘Canst thou fill
his skin with barbed irons? or his head with fish-spears?
The sword of him that layeth at him cannot hold, the
spear, the dart, nor the habergeon: he esteemeth iron as


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straw; the arrow cannot make him flee; darts are counted
as stubble; he laugheth at the shaking of a spear!’ This the
creature? this he? Oh! that unfulfilments should follow the
prophets. For with the strength of a thousand thighs in his
tail, Leviathan had run his head under the mountains of
the sea, to hide him from the Pequod’s fish-spears!
    In that sloping afternoon sunlight, the shadows that the
three boats sent down beneath the surface, must have been
long enough and broad enough to shade half Xerxes’
army. Who can tell how appalling to the wounded whale
must have been such huge phantoms flitting over his head!
    ‘Stand by, men; he stirs,’ cried Starbuck, as the three
lines suddenly vibrated in the water, distinctly conducting
upwards to them, as by magnetic wires, the life and death
throbs of the whale, so that every oarsman felt them in his
seat. The next moment, relieved in great part from the
downward strain at the bows, the boats gave a sudden
bounce upwards, as a small icefield will, when a dense
herd of white bears are scared from it into the sea.
    ‘Haul in! Haul in!’ cried Starbuck again; ‘he’s rising.’
    The lines, of which, hardly an instant before, not one
hand’s breadth could have been gained, were now in long
quick coils flung back all dripping into the boats, and soon



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the whale broke water within two ship’s lengths of the
hunters.
   His motions plainly denoted his extreme exhaustion. In
most land animals there are certain valves or flood-gates in
many of their veins, whereby when wounded, the blood is
in some degree at least instantly shut off in certain
directions. Not so with the whale; one of whose
peculiarities it is to have an entire non-valvular structure
of the blood-vessels, so that when pierced even by so small
a point as a harpoon, a deadly drain is at once begun upon
his whole arterial system; and when this is heightened by
the extraordinary pressure of water at a great distance
below the surface, his life may be said to pour from him in
incessant streams. Yet so vast is the quantity of blood in
him, and so distant and numerous its interior fountains,
that he will keep thus bleeding and bleeding for a
considerable period; even as in a drought a river will flow,
whose source is in the well-springs of far-off and
undiscernible hills. Even now, when the boats pulled upon
this whale, and perilously drew over his swaying flukes,
and the lances were darted into him, they were followed
by steady jets from the new made wound, which kept
continually playing, while the natural spout-hole in his
head was only at intervals, however rapid, sending its


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affrighted moisture into the air. From this last vent no
blood yet came, because no vital part of him had thus far
been struck. His life, as they significantly call it, was
untouched.
    As the boats now more closely surrounded him, the
whole upper part of his form, with much of it that is
ordinarily submerged, was plainly revealed. His eyes, or
rather the places where his eyes had been, were beheld. As
strange misgrown masses gather in the knot-holes of the
noblest oaks when prostrate, so from the points which the
whale’s eyes had once occupied, now protruded blind
bulbs, horribly pitiable to see. But pity there was none.
For all his old age, and his one arm, and his blind eyes, he
must die the death and be murdered, in order to light the
gay bridals and other merry-makings of men, and also to
illuminate the solemn churches that preach unconditional
inoffensiveness by all to all. Still rolling in his blood, at last
he partially disclosed a strangely discoloured bunch or
protuberance, the size of a bushel, low down on the flank.
    ‘A nice spot,’ cried Flask; ‘just let me prick him there
once.’
    ‘Avast!’ cried Starbuck, ‘there’s no need of that!’
    But humane Starbuck was too late. At the instant of the
dart an ulcerous jet shot from this cruel wound, and


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goaded by it into more than sufferable anguish, the whale
now spouting thick blood, with swift fury blindly darted at
the craft, bespattering them and their glorying crews all
over with showers of gore, capsizing Flask’s boat and
marring the bows. It was his death stroke. For, by this
time, so spent was he by loss of blood, that he helplessly
rolled away from the wreck he had made; lay panting on
his side, impotently flapped with his stumped fin, then
over and over slowly revolved like a waning world; turned
up the white secrets of his belly; lay like a log, and died. It
was most piteous, that last expiring spout. As when by
unseen hands the water is gradually drawn off from some
mighty fountain, and with half-stifled melancholy
gurglings the spray-column lowers and lowers to the
ground—so the last long dying spout of the whale.
   Soon, while the crews were awaiting the arrival of the
ship, the body showed symptoms of sinking with all its
treasures unrifled. Immediately, by Starbuck’s orders, lines
were secured to it at different points, so that ere long
every boat was a buoy; the sunken whale being suspended
a few inches beneath them by the cords. By very heedful
management, when the ship drew nigh, the whale was
transferred to her side, and was strongly secured there by
the stiffest fluke-chains, for it was plain that unless


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artificially upheld, the body would at once sink to the
bottom.
    It so chanced that almost upon first cutting into him
with the spade, the entire length of a corroded harpoon
was found imbedded in his flesh, on the lower part of the
bunch before described. But as the stumps of harpoons are
frequently found in the dead bodies of captured whales,
with the flesh perfectly healed around them, and no
prominence of any kind to denote their place; therefore,
there must needs have been some other unknown reason
in the present case fully to account for the ulceration
alluded to. But still more curious was the fact of a lance-
head of stone being found in him, not far from the buried
iron, the flesh perfectly firm about it. Who had darted that
stone lance? And when? It might have been darted by
some Nor’ West Indian long before America was
discovered.
    What other marvels might have been rummaged out of
this monstrous cabinet there is no telling. But a sudden
stop was put to further discoveries, by the ship’s being
unprecedentedly dragged over sideways to the sea, owing
to the body’s immensely increasing tendency to sink.
However, Starbuck, who had the ordering of affairs, hung
on to it to the last; hung on to it so resolutely, indeed, that


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when at length the ship would have been capsized, if still
persisting in locking arms with the body; then, when the
command was given to break clear from it, such was the
immovable strain upon the timber-heads to which the
fluke-chains and cables were fastened, that it was
impossible to cast them off. Meantime everything in the
Pequod was aslant. To cross to the other side of the deck
was like walking up the steep gabled roof of a house. The
ship groaned and gasped. Many of the ivory inlayings of
her bulwarks and cabins were started from their places, by
the unnatural dislocation. In vain handspikes and crows
were brought to bear upon the immovable fluke-chains,
to pry them adrift from the timberheads; and so low had
the whale now settled that the submerged ends could not
be at all approached, while every moment whole tons of
ponderosity seemed added to the sinking bulk, and the
ship seemed on the point of going over.
   ‘Hold on, hold on, won’t ye?’ cried Stubb to the body,
‘don’t be in such a devil of a hurry to sink! By thunder,
men, we must do something or go for it. No use prying
there; avast, I say with your handspikes, and run one of ye
for a prayer book and a pen-knife, and cut the big chains.’
   ‘Knife? Aye, aye,’ cried Queequeg, and seizing the
carpenter’s heavy hatchet, he leaned out of a porthole, and


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steel to iron, began slashing at the largest fluke-chains. But
a few strokes, full of sparks, were given, when the
exceeding strain effected the rest. With a terrific snap,
every fastening went adrift; the ship righted, the carcase
sank.
    Now, this occasional inevitable sinking of the recently
killed Sperm Whale is a very curious thing; nor has any
fisherman yet adequately accounted for it. Usually the
dead Sperm Whale floats with great buoyancy, with its
side or belly considerably elevated above the surface. If the
only whales that thus sank were old, meagre, and broken-
hearted creatures, their pads of lard diminished and all
their bones heavy and rheumatic; then you might with
some reason assert that this sinking is caused by an
uncommon specific gravity in the fish so sinking,
consequent upon this absence of buoyant matter in him.
But it is not so. For young whales, in the highest health,
and swelling with noble aspirations, prematurely cut off in
the warm flush and May of life, with all their panting lard
about them; even these brawny, buoyant heroes do
sometimes sink.
    Be it said, however, that the Sperm Whale is far less
liable to this accident than any other species. Where one
of that sort go down, twenty Right Whales do. This


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difference in the species is no doubt imputable in no small
degree to the greater quantity of bone in the Right
Whale; his Venetian blinds alone sometimes weighing
more than a ton; from this incumbrance the Sperm Whale
is wholly free. But there are instances where, after the
lapse of many hours or several days, the sunken whale
again rises, more buoyant than in life. But the reason of
this is obvious. Gases are generated in him; he swells to a
prodigious magnitude; becomes a sort of animal balloon. A
line-of-battle ship could hardly keep him under then. In
the Shore Whaling, on soundings, among the Bays of
New Zealand, when a Right Whale gives token of
sinking, they fasten buoys to him, with plenty of rope; so
that when the body has gone down, they know where to
look for it when it shall have ascended again.
    It was not long after the sinking of the body that a cry
was heard from the Pequod’s mast-heads, announcing that
the Jungfrau was again lowering her boats; though the
only spout in sight was that of a Fin-Back, belonging to
the species of uncapturable whales, because of its
incredible power of swimming. Nevertheless, the Fin-
Back’s spout is so similar to the Sperm Whale’s, that by
unskilful fishermen it is often mistaken for it. And
consequently Derick and all his host were now in valiant


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chase of this unnearable brute. The Virgin crowding all
sail, made after her four young keels, and thus they all
disappeared far to leeward, still in bold, hopeful chase.
    Oh! many are the Fin-Backs, and many are the
Dericks, my friend.




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                      Chapter 82

   The Honour and Glory of Whaling.
   There are some enterprises in which a careful
disorderliness is the true method.
   The more I dive into this matter of whaling, and push
my researches up to the very spring-head of it so much the
more am I impressed with its great honourableness and
antiquity; and especially when I find so many great demi-
gods and heroes, prophets of all sorts, who one way or
other have shed distinction upon it, I am transported with
the reflection that I myself belong, though but
subordinately, to so emblazoned a fraternity.
   The gallant Perseus, a son of Jupiter, was the first
whaleman; and to the eternal honour of our calling be it
said, that the first whale attacked by our brotherhood was
not killed with any sordid intent. Those were the knightly
days of our profession, when we only bore arms to succor
the distressed, and not to fill men’s lamp-feeders. Every
one knows the fine story of Perseus and Andromeda; how
the lovely Andromeda, the daughter of a king, was tied to
a rock on the sea-coast, and as Leviathan was in the very
act of carrying her off, Perseus, the prince of whalemen,


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intrepidly advancing, harpooned the monster, and
delivered and married the maid. It was an admirable
artistic exploit, rarely achieved by the best harpooneers of
the present day; inasmuch as this Leviathan was slain at the
very first dart. And let no man doubt this Arkite story; for
in the ancient Joppa, now Jaffa, on the Syrian coast, in one
of the Pagan temples, there stood for many ages the vast
skeleton of a whale, which the city’s legends and all the
inhabitants asserted to be the identical bones of the
monster that Perseus slew. When the Romans took Joppa,
the same skeleton was carried to Italy in triumph. What
seems most singular and suggestively important in this
story, is this: it was from Joppa that Jonah set sail.
    Akin to the adventure of Perseus and Andromeda—
indeed, by some supposed to be indirectly derived from
it—is that famous story of St. George and the Dragon;
which dragon I maintain to have been a whale; for in
many old chronicles whales and dragons are strangely
jumbled together, and often stand for each other. ‘Thou
art as a lion of the waters, and as a dragon of the sea,’ saith
Ezekiel; hereby, plainly meaning a whale; in truth, some
versions of the Bible use that word itself. Besides, it would
much subtract from the glory of the exploit had St.
George but encountered a crawling reptile of the land,


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instead of doing battle with the great monster of the deep.
Any man may kill a snake, but only a Perseus, a St.
George, a Coffin, have the heart in them to march boldly
up to a whale.
    Let not the modern paintings of this scene mislead us;
for though the creature encountered by that valiant
whaleman of old is vaguely represented of a griffin-like
shape, and though the battle is depicted on land and the
saint on horseback, yet considering the great ignorance of
those times, when the true form of the whale was
unknown to artists; and considering that as in Perseus’
case, St. George’s whale might have crawled up out of the
sea on the beach; and considering that the animal ridden
by St. George might have been only a large seal, or sea-
horse; bearing all this in mind, it will not appear altogether
incompatible with the sacred legend and the ancientest
draughts of the scene, to hold this so-called dragon no
other than the great Leviathan himself. In fact, placed
before the strict and piercing truth, this whole story will
fare like that fish, flesh, and fowl idol of the Philistines,
Dagon by name; who being planted before the ark of
Israel, his horse’s head and both the palms of his hands fell
off from him, and only the stump or fishy part of him
remained. Thus, then, one of our own noble stamp, even


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a whaleman, is the tutelary guardian of England; and by
good rights, we harpooneers of Nantucket should be
enrolled in the most noble order of St. George. And
therefore, let not the knights of that honourable company
(none of whom, I venture to say, have ever had to do
with a whale like their great patron), let them never eye a
Nantucketer with disdain, since even in our woollen
frocks and tarred trowsers we are much better entitled to
St. George’s decoration than they.
    Whether to admit Hercules among us or not,
concerning this I long remained dubious: for though
according to the Greek mythologies, that antique Crockett
and Kit Carson—that brawny doer of rejoicing good
deeds, was swallowed down and thrown up by a whale;
still, whether that strictly makes a whaleman of him, that
might be mooted. It nowhere appears that he ever actually
harpooned his fish, unless, indeed, from the inside.
Nevertheless, he may be deemed a sort of involuntary
whaleman; at any rate the whale caught him, if he did not
the whale. I claim him for one of our clan.
    But, by the best contradictory authorities, this Grecian
story of Hercules and the whale is considered to be
derived from the still more ancient Hebrew story of Jonah



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and the whale; and vice versa; certainly they are very
similar. If I claim the demigod then, why not the prophet?
    Nor do heroes, saints, demigods, and prophets alone
comprise the whole roll of our order. Our grand master is
still to be named; for like royal kings of old times, we find
the head waters of our fraternity in nothing short of the
great gods themselves. That wondrous oriental story is
now to be rehearsed from the Shaster, which gives us the
dread Vishnoo, one of the three persons in the godhead of
the Hindoos; gives us this divine Vishnoo himself for our
Lord;—Vishnoo, who, by the first of his ten earthly
incarnations, has for ever set apart and sanctified the
whale. When Brahma, or the God of Gods, saith the
Shaster, resolved to recreate the world after one of its
periodical dissolutions, he gave birth to Vishnoo, to
preside over the work; but the Vedas, or mystical books,
whose perusal would seem to have been indispensable to
Vishnoo before beginning the creation, and which
therefore must have contained something in the shape of
practical hints to young architects, these Vedas were lying
at the bottom of the waters; so Vishnoo became incarnate
in a whale, and sounding down in him to the uttermost
depths, rescued the sacred volumes. Was not this Vishnoo



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a whaleman, then? even as a man who rides a horse is
called a horseman?
    Perseus, St. George, Hercules, Jonah, and Vishnoo!
there’s a member-roll for you! What club but the
whaleman’s can head off like that?




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                      Chapter 83

   Jonah Historically Regarded.
   Reference was made to the historical story of Jonah and
the whale in the preceding chapter. Now some
Nantucketers rather distrust this historical story of Jonah
and the whale. But then there were some sceptical Greeks
and Romans, who, standing out from the orthodox pagans
of their times, equally doubted the story of Hercules and
the whale, and Arion and the dolphin; and yet their
doubting those traditions did not make those traditions
one whit the less facts, for all that.
   One old Sag-Harbor whaleman’s chief reason for
questioning the Hebrew story was this:—He had one of
those quaint old-fashioned Bibles, embellished with
curious, unscientific plates; one of which represented
Jonah’s whale with two spouts in his head—a peculiarity
only true with respect to a species of the Leviathan (the
Right Whale, and the varieties of that order), concerning
which the fishermen have this saying, ‘A penny roll would
choke him"; his swallow is so very small. But, to this,
Bishop Jebb’s anticipative answer is ready. It is not
necessary, hints the Bishop, that we consider Jonah as


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tombed in the whale’s belly, but as temporarily lodged in
some part of his mouth. And this seems reasonable enough
in the good Bishop. For truly, the Right Whale’s mouth
would accommodate a couple of whist-tables, and
comfortably seat all the players. Possibly, too, Jonah might
have ensconced himself in a hollow tooth; but, on second
thoughts, the Right Whale is toothless.
    Another reason which Sag-Harbor (he went by that
name) urged for his want of faith in this matter of the
prophet, was something obscurely in reference to his
incarcerated body and the whale’s gastric juices. But this
objection likewise falls to the ground, because a German
exegetist supposes that Jonah must have taken refuge in
the floating body of a DEAD whale—even as the French
soldiers in the Russian campaign turned their dead horses
into tents, and crawled into them. Besides, it has been
divined by other continental commentators, that when
Jonah was thrown overboard from the Joppa ship, he
straightway effected his escape to another vessel near by,
some vessel with a whale for a figure-head; and, I would
add, possibly called ‘The Whale,’ as some craft are
nowadays christened the ‘Shark,’ the ‘Gull,’ the ‘Eagle.’
Nor have there been wanting learned exegetists who have
opined that the whale mentioned in the book of Jonah


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merely meant a life-preserver—an inflated bag of wind—
which the endangered prophet swam to, and so was saved
from a watery doom. Poor Sag-Harbor, therefore, seems
worsted all round. But he had still another reason for his
want of faith. It was this, if I remember right: Jonah was
swallowed by the whale in the Mediterranean Sea, and
after three days he was vomited up somewhere within
three days’ journey of Nineveh, a city on the Tigris, very
much more than three days’ journey across from the
nearest point of the Mediterranean coast. How is that?
    But was there no other way for the whale to land the
prophet within that short distance of Nineveh? Yes. He
might have carried him round by the way of the Cape of
Good Hope. But not to speak of the passage through the
whole length of the Mediterranean, and another passage
up the Persian Gulf and Red Sea, such a supposition
would involve the complete circumnavigation of all Africa
in three days, not to speak of the Tigris waters, near the
site of Nineveh, being too shallow for any whale to swim
in. Besides, this idea of Jonah’s weathering the Cape of
Good Hope at so early a day would wrest the honour of
the discovery of that great headland from Bartholomew
Diaz, its reputed discoverer, and so make modern history a
liar.


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   But all these foolish arguments of old Sag-Harbor only
evinced his foolish pride of reason—a thing still more
reprehensible in him, seeing that he had but little learning
except what he had picked up from the sun and the sea. I
say it only shows his foolish, impious pride, and
abominable, devilish rebellion against the reverend clergy.
For by a Portuguese Catholic priest, this very idea of
Jonah’s going to Nineveh via the Cape of Good Hope was
advanced as a signal magnification of the general miracle.
And so it was. Besides, to this day, the highly enlightened
Turks devoutly believe in the historical story of Jonah.
And some three centuries ago, an English traveller in old
Harris’s Voyages, speaks of a Turkish Mosque built in
honour of Jonah, in which Mosque was a miraculous lamp
that burnt without any oil.




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                        Chapter 84

    Pitchpoling.
    To make them run easily and swiftly, the axles of
carriages are anointed; and for much the same purpose,
some whalers perform an analogous operation upon their
boat; they grease the bottom. Nor is it to be doubted that
as such a procedure can do no harm, it may possibly be of
no contemptible advantage; considering that oil and water
are hostile; that oil is a sliding thing, and that the object in
view is to make the boat slide bravely. Queequeg believed
strongly in anointing his boat, and one morning not long
after the German ship Jungfrau disappeared, took more
than customary pains in that occupation; crawling under
its bottom, where it hung over the side, and rubbing in
the unctuousness as though diligently seeking to insure a
crop of hair from the craft’s bald keel. He seemed to be
working in obedience to some particular presentiment.
Nor did it remain unwarranted by the event.
    Towards noon whales were raised; but so soon as the
ship sailed down to them, they turned and fled with swift
precipitancy; a disordered flight, as of Cleopatra’s barges
from Actium.


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    Nevertheless, the boats pursued, and Stubb’s was
foremost. By great exertion, Tashtego at last succeeded in
planting one iron; but the stricken whale, without at all
sounding, still continued his horizontal flight, with added
fleetness. Such unintermitted strainings upon the planted
iron must sooner or later inevitably extract it. It became
imperative to lance the flying whale, or be content to lose
him. But to haul the boat up to his flank was impossible,
he swam so fast and furious. What then remained?
    Of all the wondrous devices and dexterities, the sleights
of hand and countless subtleties, to which the veteran
whaleman is so often forced, none exceed that fine
manoeuvre with the lance called pitchpoling. Small sword,
or broad sword, in all its exercises boasts nothing like it. It
is only indispensable with an inveterate running whale; its
grand fact and feature is the wonderful distance to which
the long lance is accurately darted from a violently
rocking, jerking boat, under extreme headway. Steel and
wood included, the entire spear is some ten or twelve feet
in length; the staff is much slighter than that of the
harpoon, and also of a lighter material—pine. It is
furnished with a small rope called a warp, of considerable
length, by which it can be hauled back to the hand after
darting.


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    But before going further, it is important to mention
here, that though the harpoon may be pitchpoled in the
same way with the lance, yet it is seldom done; and when
done, is still less frequently successful, on account of the
greater weight and inferior length of the harpoon as
compared with the lance, which in effect become serious
drawbacks. As a general thing, therefore, you must first get
fast to a whale, before any pitchpoling comes into play.
    Look now at Stubb; a man who from his humorous,
deliberate coolness and equanimity in the direst
emergencies, was specially qualified to excel in
pitchpoling. Look at him; he stands upright in the tossed
bow of the flying boat; wrapt in fleecy foam, the towing
whale is forty feet ahead. Handling the long lance lightly,
glancing twice or thrice along its length to see if it be
exactly straight, Stubb whistlingly gathers up the coil of
the warp in one hand, so as to secure its free end in his
grasp, leaving the rest unobstructed. Then holding the
lance full before his waistband’s middle, he levels it at the
whale; when, covering him with it, he steadily depresses
the butt-end in his hand, thereby elevating the point till
the weapon stands fairly balanced upon his palm, fifteen
feet in the air. He minds you somewhat of a juggler,
balancing a long staff on his chin. Next moment with a


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rapid, nameless impulse, in a superb lofty arch the bright
steel spans the foaming distance, and quivers in the life
spot of the whale. Instead of sparkling water, he now
spouts red blood.
   ‘That drove the spigot out of him!’ cried Stubb. ‘‘Tis
July’s immortal Fourth; all fountains must run wine today!
Would now, it were old Orleans whiskey, or old Ohio, or
unspeakable old Monongahela! Then, Tashtego, lad, I’d
have ye hold a canakin to the jet, and we’d drink round it!
Yea, verily, hearts alive, we’d brew choice punch in the
spread of his spout-hole there, and from that live punch-
bowl quaff the living stuff.’
   Again and again to such gamesome talk, the dexterous
dart is repeated, the spear returning to its master like a
greyhound held in skilful leash. The agonized whale goes
into his flurry; the tow-line is slackened, and the
pitchpoler dropping astern, folds his hands, and mutely
watches the monster die.




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                      Chapter 85

   The Fountain.
   That for six thousand years—and no one knows how
many millions of ages before—the great whales should
have been spouting all over the sea, and sprinkling and
mistifying the gardens of the deep, as with so many
sprinkling or mistifying pots; and that for some centuries
back, thousands of hunters should have been close by the
fountain of the whale, watching these sprinklings and
spoutings—that all this should be, and yet, that down to
this blessed minute (fifteen and a quarter minutes past one
o’clock P.M. of this sixteenth day of December, A.D.
1851), it should still remain a problem, whether these
spoutings are, after all, really water, or nothing but
vapour—this is surely a noteworthy thing.
   Let us, then, look at this matter, along with some
interesting items contingent. Every one knows that by the
peculiar cunning of their gills, the finny tribes in general
breathe the air which at all times is combined with the
element in which they swim; hence, a herring or a cod
might live a century, and never once raise its head above
the surface. But owing to his marked internal structure


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which gives him regular lungs, like a human being’s, the
whale can only live by inhaling the disengaged air in the
open atmosphere. Wherefore the necessity for his
periodical visits to the upper world. But he cannot in any
degree breathe through his mouth, for, in his ordinary
attitude, the Sperm Whale’s mouth is buried at least eight
feet beneath the surface; and what is still more, his
windpipe has no connexion with his mouth. No, he
breathes through his spiracle alone; and this is on the top
of his head.
    If I say, that in any creature breathing is only a function
indispensable to vitality, inasmuch as it withdraws from
the air a certain element, which being subsequently
brought into contact with the blood imparts to the blood
its vivifying principle, I do not think I shall err; though I
may possibly use some superfluous scientific words.
Assume it, and it follows that if all the blood in a man
could be aerated with one breath, he might then seal up
his nostrils and not fetch another for a considerable time.
That is to say, he would then live without breathing.
Anomalous as it may seem, this is precisely the case with
the whale, who systematically lives, by intervals, his full
hour and more (when at the bottom) without drawing a
single breath, or so much as in any way inhaling a particle


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of air; for, remember, he has no gills. How is this?
Between his ribs and on each side of his spine he is
supplied with a remarkable involved Cretan labyrinth of
vermicelli-like vessels, which vessels, when he quits the
surface, are completely distended with oxygenated blood.
So that for an hour or more, a thousand fathoms in the
sea, he carries a surplus stock of vitality in him, just as the
camel crossing the waterless desert carries a surplus supply
of drink for future use in its four supplementary stomachs.
The anatomical fact of this labyrinth is indisputable; and
that the supposition founded upon it is reasonable and
true, seems the more cogent to me, when I consider the
otherwise inexplicable obstinacy of that leviathan in
HAVING HIS SPOUTINGS OUT, as the fishermen
phrase it. This is what I mean. If unmolested, upon rising
to the surface, the Sperm Whale will continue there for a
period of time exactly uniform with all his other
unmolested risings. Say he stays eleven minutes, and jets
seventy times, that is, respires seventy breaths; then
whenever he rises again, he will be sure to have his
seventy breaths over again, to a minute. Now, if after he
fetches a few breaths you alarm him, so that he sounds, he
will be always dodging up again to make good his regular
allowance of air. And not till those seventy breaths are


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told, will he finally go down to stay out his full term
below. Remark, however, that in different individuals
these rates are different; but in any one they are alike.
Now, why should the whale thus insist upon having his
spoutings out, unless it be to replenish his reservoir of air,
ere descending for good? How obvious is it, too, that this
necessity for the whale’s rising exposes him to all the fatal
hazards of the chase. For not by hook or by net could this
vast leviathan be caught, when sailing a thousand fathoms
beneath the sunlight. Not so much thy skill, then, O
hunter, as the great necessities that strike the victory to
thee!
   In man, breathing is incessantly going on—one breath
only serving for two or three pulsations; so that whatever
other business he has to attend to, waking or sleeping,
breathe he must, or die he will. But the Sperm Whale
only breathes about one seventh or Sunday of his time.
   It has been said that the whale only breathes through
his spout-hole; if it could truthfully be added that his
spouts are mixed with water, then I opine we should be
furnished with the reason why his sense of smell seems
obliterated in him; for the only thing about him that at all
answers to his nose is that identical spout-hole; and being
so clogged with two elements, it could not be expected to


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have the power of smelling. But owing to the mystery of
the spout—whether it be water or whether it be vapour—
no absolute certainty can as yet be arrived at on this head.
Sure it is, nevertheless, that the Sperm Whale has no
proper olfactories. But what does he want of them? No
roses, no violets, no Cologne-water in the sea.
    Furthermore, as his windpipe solely opens into the tube
of his spouting canal, and as that long canal—like the
grand Erie Canal—is furnished with a sort of locks (that
open and shut) for the downward retention of air or the
upward exclusion of water, therefore the whale has no
voice; unless you insult him by saying, that when he so
strangely rumbles, he talks through his nose. But then
again, what has the whale to say? Seldom have I known
any profound being that had anything to say to this world,
unless forced to stammer out something by way of getting
a living. Oh! happy that the world is such an excellent
listener!
    Now, the spouting canal of the Sperm Whale, chiefly
intended as it is for the conveyance of air, and for several
feet laid along, horizontally, just beneath the upper surface
of his head, and a little to one side; this curious canal is
very much like a gas-pipe laid down in a city on one side
of a street. But the question returns whether this gas-pipe


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is also a water-pipe; in other words, whether the spout of
the Sperm Whale is the mere vapour of the exhaled
breath, or whether that exhaled breath is mixed with
water taken in at the mouth, and discharged through the
spiracle. It is certain that the mouth indirectly
communicates with the spouting canal; but it cannot be
proved that this is for the purpose of discharging water
through the spiracle. Because the greatest necessity for so
doing would seem to be, when in feeding he accidentally
takes in water. But the Sperm Whale’s food is far beneath
the surface, and there he cannot spout even if he would.
Besides, if you regard him very closely, and time him with
your watch, you will find that when unmolested, there is
an undeviating rhyme between the periods of his jets and
the ordinary periods of respiration.
    But why pester one with all this reasoning on the
subject? Speak out! You have seen him spout; then declare
what the spout is; can you not tell water from air? My
dear sir, in this world it is not so easy to settle these plain
things. I have ever found your plain things the knottiest of
all. And as for this whale spout, you might almost stand in
it, and yet be undecided as to what it is precisely.
    The central body of it is hidden in the snowy sparkling
mist enveloping it; and how can you certainly tell whether


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any water falls from it, when, always, when you are close
enough to a whale to get a close view of his spout, he is in
a prodigious commotion, the water cascading all around
him. And if at such times you should think that you really
perceived drops of moisture in the spout, how do you
know that they are not merely condensed from its vapour;
or how do you know that they are not those identical
drops superficially lodged in the spout-hole fissure, which
is countersunk into the summit of the whale’s head? For
even when tranquilly swimming through the mid-day sea
in a calm, with his elevated hump sun-dried as a
dromedary’s in the desert; even then, the whale always
carries a small basin of water on his head, as under a
blazing sun you will sometimes see a cavity in a rock filled
up with rain.
    Nor is it at all prudent for the hunter to be over curious
touching the precise nature of the whale spout. It will not
do for him to be peering into it, and putting his face in it.
You cannot go with your pitcher to this fountain and fill
it, and bring it away. For even when coming into slight
contact with the outer, vapoury shreds of the jet, which
will often happen, your skin will feverishly smart, from the
acridness of the thing so touching it. And I know one,
who coming into still closer contact with the spout,


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whether with some scientific object in view, or otherwise,
I cannot say, the skin peeled off from his cheek and arm.
Wherefore, among whalemen, the spout is deemed
poisonous; they try to evade it. Another thing; I have
heard it said, and I do not much doubt it, that if the jet is
fairly spouted into your eyes, it will blind you. The wisest
thing the investigator can do then, it seems to me, is to let
this deadly spout alone.
    Still, we can hypothesize, even if we cannot prove and
establish. My hypothesis is this: that the spout is nothing
but mist. And besides other reasons, to this conclusion I
am impelled, by considerations touching the great inherent
dignity and sublimity of the Sperm Whale; I account him
no common, shallow being, inasmuch as it is an
undisputed fact that he is never found on soundings, or
near shores; all other whales sometimes are. He is both
ponderous and profound. And I am convinced that from
the heads of all ponderous profound beings, such as Plato,
Pyrrho, the Devil, Jupiter, Dante, and so on, there always
goes up a certain semi-visible steam, while in the act of
thinking deep thoughts. While composing a little treatise
on Eternity, I had the curiosity to place a mirror before
me; and ere long saw reflected there, a curious involved
worming and undulation in the atmosphere over my head.


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The invariable moisture of my hair, while plunged in deep
thought, after six cups of hot tea in my thin shingled attic,
of an August noon; this seems an additional argument for
the above supposition.
    And how nobly it raises our conceit of the mighty,
misty monster, to behold him solemnly sailing through a
calm tropical sea; his vast, mild head overhung by a
canopy of vapour, engendered by his incommunicable
contemplations, and that vapour—as you will sometimes
see it—glorified by a rainbow, as if Heaven itself had put
its seal upon his thoughts. For, d’ye see, rainbows do not
visit the clear air; they only irradiate vapour. And so,
through all the thick mists of the dim doubts in my mind,
divine intuitions now and then shoot, enkindling my fog
with a heavenly ray. And for this I thank God; for all have
doubts; many deny; but doubts or denials, few along with
them, have intuitions. Doubts of all things earthly, and
intuitions of some things heavenly; this combination
makes neither believer nor infidel, but makes a man who
regards them both with equal eye.




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                      Chapter 86

    The Tail.
    Other poets have warbled the praises of the soft eye of
the antelope, and the lovely plumage of the bird that never
alights; less celestial, I celebrate a tail.
    Reckoning the largest sized Sperm Whale’s tail to
begin at that point of the trunk where it tapers to about
the girth of a man, it comprises upon its upper surface
alone, an area of at least fifty square feet. The compact
round body of its root expands into two broad, firm, flat
palms or flukes, gradually shoaling away to less than an
inch in thickness. At the crotch or junction, these flukes
slightly overlap, then sideways recede from each other like
wings, leaving a wide vacancy between. In no living thing
are the lines of beauty more exquisitely defined than in the
crescentic borders of these flukes. At its utmost expansion
in the full grown whale, the tail will considerably exceed
twenty feet across.
    The entire member seems a dense webbed bed of
welded sinews; but cut into it, and you find that three
distinct strata compose it:—upper, middle, and lower. The
fibres in the upper and lower layers, are long and


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horizontal; those of the middle one, very short, and
running crosswise between the outside layers. This triune
structure, as much as anything else, imparts power to the
tail. To the student of old Roman walls, the middle layer
will furnish a curious parallel to the thin course of tiles
always alternating with the stone in those wonderful relics
of the antique, and which undoubtedly contribute so
much to the great strength of the masonry.
    But as if this vast local power in the tendinous tail were
not enough, the whole bulk of the leviathan is knit over
with a warp and woof of muscular fibres and filaments,
which passing on either side the loins and running down
into the flukes, insensibly blend with them, and largely
contribute to their might; so that in the tail the confluent
measureless force of the whole whale seems concentrated
to a point. Could annihilation occur to matter, this were
the thing to do it.
    Nor does this—its amazing strength, at all tend to
cripple the graceful flexion of its motions; where
infantileness of ease undulates through a Titanism of
power. On the contrary, those motions derive their most
appalling beauty from it. Real strength never impairs
beauty or harmony, but it often bestows it; and in
everything imposingly beautiful, strength has much to do


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with the magic. Take away the tied tendons that all over
seem bursting from the marble in the carved Hercules, and
its charm would be gone. As devout Eckerman lifted the
linen sheet from the naked corpse of Goethe, he was
overwhelmed with the massive chest of the man, that
seemed as a Roman triumphal arch. When Angelo paints
even God the Father in human form, mark what
robustness is there. And whatever they may reveal of the
divine love in the Son, the soft, curled, hermaphroditical
Italian pictures, in which his idea has been most
successfully embodied; these pictures, so destitute as they
are of all brawniness, hint nothing of any power, but the
mere negative, feminine one of submission and endurance,
which on all hands it is conceded, form the peculiar
practical virtues of his teachings.
    Such is the subtle elasticity of the organ I treat of, that
whether wielded in sport, or in earnest, or in anger,
whatever be the mood it be in, its flexions are invariably
marked by exceeding grace. Therein no fairy’s arm can
transcend it.
    Five great motions are peculiar to it. First, when used as
a fin for progression; Second, when used as a mace in
battle; Third, in sweeping; Fourth, in lobtailing; Fifth, in
peaking flukes.


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    First: Being horizontal in its position, the Leviathan’s
tail acts in a different manner from the tails of all other sea
creatures. It never wriggles. In man or fish, wriggling is a
sign of inferiority. To the whale, his tail is the sole means
of propulsion. Scroll-wise coiled forwards beneath the
body, and then rapidly sprung backwards, it is this which
gives that singular darting, leaping motion to the monster
when furiously swimming. His side-fins only serve to steer
by.
    Second: It is a little significant, that while one sperm
whale only fights another sperm whale with his head and
jaw, nevertheless, in his conflicts with man, he chiefly and
contemptuously uses his tail. In striking at a boat, he
swiftly curves away his flukes from it, and the blow is only
inflicted by the recoil. If it be made in the unobstructed
air, especially if it descend to its mark, the stroke is then
simply irresistible. No ribs of man or boat can withstand it.
Your only salvation lies in eluding it; but if it comes
sideways through the opposing water, then partly owing
to the light buoyancy of the whale boat, and the elasticity
of its materials, a cracked rib or a dashed plank or two, a
sort of stitch in the side, is generally the most serious
result. These submerged side blows are so often received



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in the fishery, that they are accounted mere child’s play.
Some one strips off a frock, and the hole is stopped.
    Third: I cannot demonstrate it, but it seems to me, that
in the whale the sense of touch is concentrated in the tail;
for in this respect there is a delicacy in it only equalled by
the daintiness of the elephant’s trunk. This delicacy is
chiefly evinced in the action of sweeping, when in
maidenly gentleness the whale with a certain soft slowness
moves his immense flukes from side to side upon the
surface of the sea; and if he feel but a sailor’s whisker, woe
to that sailor, whiskers and all. What tenderness there is in
that preliminary touch! Had this tail any prehensile power,
I should straightway bethink me of Darmonodes’ elephant
that so frequented the flower-market, and with low
salutations presented nosegays to damsels, and then
caressed their zones. On more accounts than one, a pity it
is that the whale does not possess this prehensile virtue in
his tail; for I have heard of yet another elephant, that
when wounded in the fight, curved round his trunk and
extracted the dart.
    Fourth: Stealing unawares upon the whale in the
fancied security of the middle of solitary seas, you find him
unbent from the vast corpulence of his dignity, and kitten-
like, he plays on the ocean as if it were a hearth. But still


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you see his power in his play. The broad palms of his tail
are flirted high into the air; then smiting the surface, the
thunderous concussion resounds for miles. You would
almost think a great gun had been discharged; and if you
noticed the light wreath of vapour from the spiracle at his
other extremity, you would think that that was the smoke
from the touch-hole.
   Fifth: As in the ordinary floating posture of the
leviathan the flukes lie considerably below the level of his
back, they are then completely out of sight beneath the
surface; but when he is about to plunge into the deeps, his
entire flukes with at least thirty feet of his body are tossed
erect in the air, and so remain vibrating a moment, till
they downwards shoot out of view. Excepting the sublime
BREACH—somewhere else to be described—this
peaking of the whale’s flukes is perhaps the grandest sight
to be seen in all animated nature. Out of the bottomless
profundities the gigantic tail seems spasmodically snatching
at the highest heaven. So in dreams, have I seen majestic
Satan thrusting forth his tormented colossal claw from the
flame Baltic of Hell. But in gazing at such scenes, it is all
in all what mood you are in; if in the Dantean, the devils
will occur to you; if in that of Isaiah, the archangels.
Standing at the mast-head of my ship during a sunrise that


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crimsoned sky and sea, I once saw a large herd of whales
in the east, all heading towards the sun, and for a moment
vibrating in concert with peaked flukes. As it seemed to
me at the time, such a grand embodiment of adoration of
the gods was never beheld, even in Persia, the home of
the fire worshippers. As Ptolemy Philopater testified of the
African elephant, I then testified of the whale,
pronouncing him the most devout of all beings. For
according to King Juba, the military elephants of antiquity
often hailed the morning with their trunks uplifted in the
profoundest silence.
   The chance comparison in this chapter, between the
whale and the elephant, so far as some aspects of the tail of
the one and the trunk of the other are concerned, should
not tend to place those two opposite organs on an
equality, much less the creatures to which they
respectively belong. For as the mightiest elephant is but a
terrier to Leviathan, so, compared with Leviathan’s tail, his
trunk is but the stalk of a lily. The most direful blow from
the elephant’s trunk were as the playful tap of a fan,
compared with the measureless crush and crash of the
sperm whale’s ponderous flukes, which in repeated
instances have one after the other hurled entire boats with



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all their oars and crews into the air, very much as an
Indian juggler tosses his balls.*
    *Though all comparison in the way of general bulk
between the whale and the elephant is preposterous,
inasmuch as in that particular the elephant stands in much
the same respect to the whale that a dog does to the
elephant; nevertheless, there are not wanting some points
of curious similitude; among these is the spout. It is well
known that the elephant will often draw up water or dust
in his trunk, and then elevating it, jet it forth in a stream.
    The more I consider this mighty tail, the more do I
deplore my inability to express it. At times there are
gestures in it, which, though they would well grace the
hand of man, remain wholly inexplicable. In an extensive
herd, so remarkable, occasionally, are these mystic
gestures, that I have heard hunters who have declared
them akin to Free-Mason signs and symbols; that the
whale, indeed, by these methods intelligently conversed
with the world. Nor are there wanting other motions of
the whale in his general body, full of strangeness, and
unaccountable to his most experienced assailant. Dissect
him how I may, then, I but go skin deep; I know him not,
and never will. But if I know not even the tail of this
whale, how understand his head? much more, how


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comprehend his face, when face he has none? Thou shalt
see my back parts, my tail, he seems to say, but my face
shall not be seen. But I cannot completely make out his
back parts; and hint what he will about his face, I say again
he has no face.




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                      Chapter 87

    The Grand Armada.
    The long and narrow peninsula of Malacca, extending
south-eastward from the territories of Birmah, forms the
most southerly point of all Asia. In a continuous line from
that peninsula stretch the long islands of Sumatra, Java,
Bally, and Timor; which, with many others, form a vast
mole, or rampart, lengthwise connecting Asia with
Australia, and dividing the long unbroken Indian ocean
from the thickly studded oriental archipelagoes. This
rampart is pierced by several sally-ports for the
convenience of ships and whales; conspicuous among
which are the straits of Sunda and Malacca. By the straits
of Sunda, chiefly, vessels bound to China from the west,
emerge into the China seas.
    Those narrow straits of Sunda divide Sumatra from
Java; and standing midway in that vast rampart of islands,
buttressed by that bold green promontory, known to
seamen as Java Head; they not a little correspond to the
central gateway opening into some vast walled empire:
and considering the inexhaustible wealth of spices, and
silks, and jewels, and gold, and ivory, with which the


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thousand islands of that oriental sea are enriched, it seems a
significant provision of nature, that such treasures, by the
very formation of the land, should at least bear the
appearance, however ineffectual, of being guarded from
the all-grasping western world. The shores of the Straits of
Sunda are unsupplied with those domineering fortresses
which guard the entrances to the Mediterranean, the
Baltic, and the Propontis. Unlike the Danes, these
Orientals do not demand the obsequious homage of
lowered top-sails from the endless procession of ships
before the wind, which for centuries past, by night and by
day, have passed between the islands of Sumatra and Java,
freighted with the costliest cargoes of the east. But while
they freely waive a ceremonial like this, they do by no
means renounce their claim to more solid tribute.
    Time out of mind the piratical proas of the Malays,
lurking among the low shaded coves and islets of Sumatra,
have sallied out upon the vessels sailing through the straits,
fiercely demanding tribute at the point of their spears.
Though by the repeated bloody chastisements they have
received at the hands of European cruisers, the audacity of
these corsairs has of late been somewhat repressed; yet,
even at the present day, we occasionally hear of English



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and American vessels, which, in those waters, have been
remorselessly boarded and pillaged.
   With a fair, fresh wind, the Pequod was now drawing
nigh to these straits; Ahab purposing to pass through them
into the Javan sea, and thence, cruising northwards, over
waters known to be frequented here and there by the
Sperm Whale, sweep inshore by the Philippine Islands,
and gain the far coast of Japan, in time for the great
whaling season there. By these means, the
circumnavigating Pequod would sweep almost all the
known Sperm Whale cruising grounds of the world,
previous to descending upon the Line in the Pacific;
where Ahab, though everywhere else foiled in his pursuit,
firmly counted upon giving battle to Moby Dick, in the
sea he was most known to frequent; and at a season when
he might most reasonably be presumed to be haunting it.
   But how now? in this zoned quest, does Ahab touch no
land? does his crew drink air? Surely, he will stop for
water. Nay. For a long time, now, the circus-running sun
has raced within his fiery ring, and needs no sustenance
but what’s in himself. So Ahab. Mark this, too, in the
whaler. While other hulls are loaded down with alien
stuff, to be transferred to foreign wharves; the world-
wandering whale-ship carries no cargo but herself and


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crew, their weapons and their wants. She has a whole
lake’s contents bottled in her ample hold. She is ballasted
with utilities; not altogether with unusable pig-lead and
kentledge. She carries years’ water in her. Clear old prime
Nantucket water; which, when three years afloat, the
Nantucketer, in the Pacific, prefers to drink before the
brackish fluid, but yesterday rafted off in casks, from the
Peruvian or Indian streams. Hence it is, that, while other
ships may have gone to China from New York, and back
again, touching at a score of ports, the whale-ship, in all
that interval, may not have sighted one grain of soil; her
crew having seen no man but floating seamen like
themselves. So that did you carry them the news that
another flood had come; they would only answer—‘Well,
boys, here’s the ark!’
    Now, as many Sperm Whales had been captured off the
western coast of Java, in the near vicinity of the Straits of
Sunda; indeed, as most of the ground, roundabout, was
generally recognised by the fishermen as an excellent spot
for cruising; therefore, as the Pequod gained more and
more upon Java Head, the look-outs were repeatedly
hailed, and admonished to keep wide awake. But though
the green palmy cliffs of the land soon loomed on the
starboard bow, and with delighted nostrils the fresh


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cinnamon was snuffed in the air, yet not a single jet was
descried. Almost renouncing all thought of falling in with
any game hereabouts, the ship had well nigh entered the
straits, when the customary cheering cry was heard from
aloft, and ere long a spectacle of singular magnificence
saluted us.
    But here be it premised, that owing to the unwearied
activity with which of late they have been hunted over all
four oceans, the Sperm Whales, instead of almost
invariably sailing in small detached companies, as in former
times, are now frequently met with in extensive herds,
sometimes embracing so great a multitude, that it would
almost seem as if numerous nations of them had sworn
solemn league and covenant for mutual assistance and
protection. To this aggregation of the Sperm Whale into
such immense caravans, may be imputed the circumstance
that even in the best cruising grounds, you may now
sometimes sail for weeks and months together, without
being greeted by a single spout; and then be suddenly
saluted by what sometimes seems thousands on thousands.
    Broad on both bows, at the distance of some two or
three miles, and forming a great semicircle, embracing one
half of the level horizon, a continuous chain of whale-jets
were up-playing and sparkling in the noon-day air. Unlike


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the straight perpendicular twin-jets of the Right Whale,
which, dividing at top, fall over in two branches, like the
cleft drooping boughs of a willow, the single forward-
slanting spout of the Sperm Whale presents a thick curled
bush of white mist, continually rising and falling away to
leeward.
    Seen from the Pequod’s deck, then, as she would rise
on a high hill of the sea, this host of vapoury spouts,
individually curling up into the air, and beheld through a
blending atmosphere of bluish haze, showed like the
thousand cheerful chimneys of some dense metropolis,
descried of a balmy autumnal morning, by some horseman
on a height.
    As marching armies approaching an unfriendly defile in
the mountains, accelerate their march, all eagerness to
place that perilous passage in their rear, and once more
expand in comparative security upon the plain; even so
did this vast fleet of whales now seem hurrying forward
through the straits; gradually contracting the wings of their
semicircle, and swimming on, in one solid, but still
crescentic centre.
    Crowding all sail the Pequod pressed after them; the
harpooneers handling their weapons, and loudly cheering
from the heads of their yet suspended boats. If the wind


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only held, little doubt had they, that chased through these
Straits of Sunda, the vast host would only deploy into the
Oriental seas to witness the capture of not a few of their
number. And who could tell whether, in that congregated
caravan, Moby Dick himself might not temporarily be
swimming, like the worshipped white-elephant in the
coronation procession of the Siamese! So with stun-sail
piled on stun-sail, we sailed along, driving these leviathans
before us; when, of a sudden, the voice of Tashtego was
heard, loudly directing attention to something in our
wake.
    Corresponding to the crescent in our van, we beheld
another in our rear. It seemed formed of detached white
vapours, rising and falling something like the spouts of the
whales; only they did not so completely come and go; for
they constantly hovered, without finally disappearing.
Levelling his glass at this sight, Ahab quickly revolved in
his pivot-hole, crying, ‘Aloft there, and rig whips and
buckets to wet the sails;—Malays, sir, and after us!’
    As if too long lurking behind the headlands, till the
Pequod should fairly have entered the straits, these rascally
Asiatics were now in hot pursuit, to make up for their
over-cautious delay. But when the swift Pequod, with a
fresh leading wind, was herself in hot chase; how very


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kind of these tawny philanthropists to assist in speeding
her on to her own chosen pursuit,—mere riding-whips
and rowels to her, that they were. As with glass under
arm, Ahab to-and-fro paced the deck; in his forward turn
beholding the monsters he chased, and in the after one the
bloodthirsty pirates chasing him; some such fancy as the
above seemed his. And when he glanced upon the green
walls of the watery defile in which the ship was then
sailing, and bethought him that through that gate lay the
route to his vengeance, and beheld, how that through that
same gate he was now both chasing and being chased to
his deadly end; and not only that, but a herd of remorseless
wild pirates and inhuman atheistical devils were infernally
cheering him on with their curses;—when all these
conceits had passed through his brain, Ahab’s brow was
left gaunt and ribbed, like the black sand beach after some
stormy tide has been gnawing it, without being able to
drag the firm thing from its place.
    But thoughts like these troubled very few of the
reckless crew; and when, after steadily dropping and
dropping the pirates astern, the Pequod at last shot by the
vivid green Cockatoo Point on the Sumatra side,
emerging at last upon the broad waters beyond; then, the
harpooneers seemed more to grieve that the swift whales


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had been gaining upon the ship, than to rejoice that the
ship had so victoriously gained upon the Malays. But still
driving on in the wake of the whales, at length they
seemed abating their speed; gradually the ship neared
them; and the wind now dying away, word was passed to
spring to the boats. But no sooner did the herd, by some
presumed wonderful instinct of the Sperm Whale, become
notified of the three keels that were after them,—though
as yet a mile in their rear,—than they rallied again, and
forming in close ranks and battalions, so that their spouts
all looked like flashing lines of stacked bayonets, moved on
with redoubled velocity.
    Stripped to our shirts and drawers, we sprang to the
white-ash, and after several hours’ pulling were almost
disposed to renounce the chase, when a general pausing
commotion among the whales gave animating token that
they were now at last under the influence of that strange
perplexity of inert irresolution, which, when the
fishermen perceive it in the whale, they say he is gallied.
The compact martial columns in which they had been
hitherto rapidly and steadily swimming, were now broken
up in one measureless rout; and like King Porus’ elephants
in the Indian battle with Alexander, they seemed going
mad with consternation. In all directions expanding in vast


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irregular circles, and aimlessly swimming hither and
thither, by their short thick spoutings, they plainly
betrayed their distraction of panic. This was still more
strangely evinced by those of their number, who,
completely paralysed as it were, helplessly floated like
water-logged dismantled ships on the sea. Had these
Leviathans been but a flock of simple sheep, pursued over
the pasture by three fierce wolves, they could not possibly
have evinced such excessive dismay. But this occasional
timidity is characteristic of almost all herding creatures.
Though banding together in tens of thousands, the lion-
maned buffaloes of the West have fled before a solitary
horseman. Witness, too, all human beings, how when
herded together in the sheepfold of a theatre’s pit, they
will, at the slightest alarm of fire, rush helter-skelter for the
outlets, crowding, trampling, jamming, and remorselessly
dashing each other to death. Best, therefore, withhold any
amazement at the strangely gallied whales before us, for
there is no folly of the beasts of the earth which is not
infinitely outdone by the madness of men.
    Though many of the whales, as has been said, were in
violent motion, yet it is to be observed that as a whole the
herd neither advanced nor retreated, but collectively
remained in one place. As is customary in those cases, the


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boats at once separated, each making for some one lone
whale on the outskirts of the shoal. In about three
minutes’ time, Queequeg’s harpoon was flung; the
stricken fish darted blinding spray in our faces, and then
running away with us like light, steered straight for the
heart of the herd. Though such a movement on the part
of the whale struck under such circumstances, is in no
wise unprecedented; and indeed is almost always more or
less anticipated; yet does it present one of the more
perilous vicissitudes of the fishery. For as the swift monster
drags you deeper and deeper into the frantic shoal, you bid
adieu to circumspect life and only exist in a delirious
throb.
    As, blind and deaf, the whale plunged forward, as if by
sheer power of speed to rid himself of the iron leech that
had fastened to him; as we thus tore a white gash in the
sea, on all sides menaced as we flew, by the crazed
creatures to and fro rushing about us; our beset boat was
like a ship mobbed by ice-isles in a tempest, and striving to
steer through their complicated channels and straits,
knowing not at what moment it may be locked in and
crushed.
    But not a bit daunted, Queequeg steered us manfully;
now sheering off from this monster directly across our


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route in advance; now edging away from that, whose
colossal flukes were suspended overhead, while all the
time, Starbuck stood up in the bows, lance in hand,
pricking out of our way whatever whales he could reach
by short darts, for there was no time to make long ones.
Nor were the oarsmen quite idle, though their wonted
duty was now altogether dispensed with. They chiefly
attended to the shouting part of the business. ‘Out of the
way, Commodore!’ cried one, to a great dromedary that
of a sudden rose bodily to the surface, and for an instant
threatened to swamp us. ‘Hard down with your tail,
there!’ cried a second to another, which, close to our
gunwale, seemed calmly cooling himself with his own fan-
like extremity.
    All whaleboats carry certain curious contrivances,
originally invented by the Nantucket Indians, called
druggs. Two thick squares of wood of equal size are
stoutly clenched together, so that they cross each other’s
grain at right angles; a line of considerable length is then
attached to the middle of this block, and the other end of
the line being looped, it can in a moment be fastened to a
harpoon. It is chiefly among gallied whales that this drugg
is used. For then, more whales are close round you than
you can possibly chase at one time. But sperm whales are


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not every day encountered; while you may, then, you
must kill all you can. And if you cannot kill them all at
once, you must wing them, so that they can be afterwards
killed at your leisure. Hence it is, that at times like these
the drugg, comes into requisition. Our boat was furnished
with three of them. The first and second were successfully
darted, and we saw the whales staggeringly running off,
fettered by the enormous sidelong resistance of the towing
drugg. They were cramped like malefactors with the chain
and ball. But upon flinging the third, in the act of tossing
overboard the clumsy wooden block, it caught under one
of the seats of the boat, and in an instant tore it out and
carried it away, dropping the oarsman in the boat’s bottom
as the seat slid from under him. On both sides the sea
came in at the wounded planks, but we stuffed two or
three drawers and shirts in, and so stopped the leaks for the
time.
    It had been next to impossible to dart these drugged-
harpoons, were it not that as we advanced into the herd,
our whale’s way greatly diminished; moreover, that as we
went still further and further from the circumference of
commotion, the direful disorders seemed waning. So that
when at last the jerking harpoon drew out, and the towing
whale sideways vanished; then, with the tapering force of


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his parting momentum, we glided between two whales
into the innermost heart of the shoal, as if from some
mountain torrent we had slid into a serene valley lake.
Here the storms in the roaring glens between the
outermost whales, were heard but not felt. In this central
expanse the sea presented that smooth satin-like surface,
called a sleek, produced by the subtle moisture thrown off
by the whale in his more quiet moods. Yes, we were now
in that enchanted calm which they say lurks at the heart of
every commotion. And still in the distracted distance we
beheld the tumults of the outer concentric circles, and saw
successive pods of whales, eight or ten in each, swiftly
going round and round, like multiplied spans of horses in a
ring; and so closely shoulder to shoulder, that a Titanic
circus-rider might easily have over-arched the middle
ones, and so have gone round on their backs. Owing to
the density of the crowd of reposing whales, more
immediately surrounding the embayed axis of the herd, no
possible chance of escape was at present afforded us. We
must watch for a breach in the living wall that hemmed us
in; the wall that had only admitted us in order to shut us
up. Keeping at the centre of the lake, we were
occasionally visited by small tame cows and calves; the
women and children of this routed host.


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   Now, inclusive of the occasional wide intervals
between the revolving outer circles, and inclusive of the
spaces between the various pods in any one of those
circles, the entire area at this juncture, embraced by the
whole multitude, must have contained at least two or
three square miles. At any rate—though indeed such a test
at such a time might be deceptive—spoutings might be
discovered from our low boat that seemed playing up
almost from the rim of the horizon. I mention this
circumstance, because, as if the cows and calves had been
purposely locked up in this innermost fold; and as if the
wide extent of the herd had hitherto prevented them from
learning the precise cause of its stopping; or, possibly,
being so young, unsophisticated, and every way innocent
and inexperienced; however it may have been, these
smaller whales—now and then visiting our becalmed boat
from the margin of the lake—evinced a wondrous
fearlessness and confidence, or else a still becharmed panic
which it was impossible not to marvel at. Like household
dogs they came snuffling round us, right up to our
gunwales, and touching them; till it almost seemed that
some spell had suddenly domesticated them. Queequeg
patted their foreheads; Starbuck scratched their backs with



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his lance; but fearful of the consequences, for the time
refrained from darting it.
    But far beneath this wondrous world upon the surface,
another and still stranger world met our eyes as we gazed
over the side. For, suspended in those watery vaults,
floated the forms of the nursing mothers of the whales,
and those that by their enormous girth seemed shortly to
become mothers. The lake, as I have hinted, was to a
considerable depth exceedingly transparent; and as human
infants while suckling will calmly and fixedly gaze away
from the breast, as if leading two different lives at the time;
and while yet drawing mortal nourishment, be still
spiritually feasting upon some unearthly reminiscence;—
even so did the young of these whales seem looking up
towards us, but not at us, as if we were but a bit of
Gulfweed in their new-born sight. Floating on their sides,
the mothers also seemed quietly eyeing us. One of these
little infants, that from certain queer tokens seemed hardly
a day old, might have measured some fourteen feet in
length, and some six feet in girth. He was a little frisky;
though as yet his body seemed scarce yet recovered from
that irksome position it had so lately occupied in the
maternal reticule; where, tail to head, and all ready for the
final spring, the unborn whale lies bent like a Tartar’s


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bow. The delicate side-fins, and the palms of his flukes,
still freshly retained the plaited crumpled appearance of a
baby’s ears newly arrived from foreign parts.
    ‘Line! line!’ cried Queequeg, looking over the
gunwale; ‘him fast! him fast!—Who line him! Who
struck?—Two whale; one big, one little!’
    ‘What ails ye, man?’ cried Starbuck.
    ‘Look-e here,’ said Queequeg, pointing down.
    As when the stricken whale, that from the tub has
reeled out hundreds of fathoms of rope; as, after deep
sounding, he floats up again, and shows the slackened
curling line buoyantly rising and spiralling towards the air;
so now, Starbuck saw long coils of the umbilical cord of
Madame Leviathan, by which the young cub seemed still
tethered to its dam. Not seldom in the rapid vicissitudes of
the chase, this natural line, with the maternal end loose,
becomes entangled with the hempen one, so that the cub
is thereby trapped. Some of the subtlest secrets of the seas
seemed divulged to us in this enchanted pond. We saw
young Leviathan amours in the deep.*
    *The sperm whale, as with all other species of the
Leviathan, but unlike most other fish, breeds indifferently
at all seasons; after a gestation which may probably be set
down at nine months, producing but one at a time;


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though in some few known instances giving birth to an
Esau and Jacob:—a contingency provided for in suckling
by two teats, curiously situated, one on each side of the
anus; but the breasts themselves extend upwards from that.
When by chance these precious parts in a nursing whale
are cut by the hunter’s lance, the mother’s pouring milk
and blood rivallingly discolour the sea for rods. The milk
is very sweet and rich; it has been tasted by man; it might
do well with strawberries. When overflowing with mutual
esteem, the whales salute MORE HOMINUM.
    And thus, though surrounded by circle upon circle of
consternations and affrights, did these inscrutable creatures
at the centre freely and fearlessly indulge in all peaceful
concernments; yea, serenely revelled in dalliance and
delight. But even so, amid the tornadoed Atlantic of my
being, do I myself still for ever centrally disport in mute
calm; and while ponderous planets of unwaning woe
revolve round me, deep down and deep inland there I still
bathe me in eternal mildness of joy.
    Meanwhile, as we thus lay entranced, the occasional
sudden frantic spectacles in the distance evinced the
activity of the other boats, still engaged in drugging the
whales on the frontier of the host; or possibly carrying on
the war within the first circle, where abundance of room


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and some convenient retreats were afforded them. But the
sight of the enraged drugged whales now and then blindly
darting to and fro across the circles, was nothing to what at
last met our eyes. It is sometimes the custom when fast to
a whale more than commonly powerful and alert, to seek
to hamstring him, as it were, by sundering or maiming his
gigantic tail-tendon. It is done by darting a short-handled
cutting-spade, to which is attached a rope for hauling it
back again. A whale wounded (as we afterwards learned)
in this part, but not effectually, as it seemed, had broken
away from the boat, carrying along with him half of the
harpoon line; and in the extraordinary agony of the
wound, he was now dashing among the revolving circles
like the lone mounted desperado Arnold, at the battle of
Saratoga, carrying dismay wherever he went.
    But agonizing as was the wound of this whale, and an
appalling spectacle enough, any way; yet the peculiar
horror with which he seemed to inspire the rest of the
herd, was owing to a cause which at first the intervening
distance obscured from us. But at length we perceived that
by one of the unimaginable accidents of the fishery, this
whale had become entangled in the harpoon-line that he
towed; he had also run away with the cutting-spade in
him; and while the free end of the rope attached to that


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weapon, had permanently caught in the coils of the
harpoon-line round his tail, the cutting-spade itself had
worked loose from his flesh. So that tormented to
madness, he was now churning through the water,
violently flailing with his flexible tail, and tossing the keen
spade about him, wounding and murdering his own
comrades.
   This terrific object seemed to recall the whole herd
from their stationary fright. First, the whales forming the
margin of our lake began to crowd a little, and tumble
against each other, as if lifted by half spent billows from
afar; then the lake itself began faintly to heave and swell;
the submarine bridal-chambers and nurseries vanished; in
more and more contracting orbits the whales in the more
central circles began to swim in thickening clusters. Yes,
the long calm was departing. A low advancing hum was
soon heard; and then like to the tumultuous masses of
block-ice when the great river Hudson breaks up in
Spring, the entire host of whales came tumbling upon
their inner centre, as if to pile themselves up in one
common mountain. Instantly Starbuck and Queequeg
changed places; Starbuck taking the stern.
   ‘Oars! Oars!’ he intensely whispered, seizing the
helm—‘gripe your oars, and clutch your souls, now! My


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God, men, stand by! Shove him off, you Queequeg—the
whale there!—prick him!—hit him! Stand up—stand up,
and stay so! Spring, men—pull, men; never mind their
backs—scrape them!—scrape away!’
   The boat was now all but jammed between two vast
black bulks, leaving a narrow Dardanelles between their
long lengths. But by desperate endeavor we at last shot
into a temporary opening; then giving way rapidly, and at
the same time earnestly watching for another outlet. After
many similar hair-breadth escapes, we at last swiftly glided
into what had just been one of the outer circles, but now
crossed by random whales, all violently making for one
centre. This lucky salvation was cheaply purchased by the
loss of Queequeg’s hat, who, while standing in the bows
to prick the fugitive whales, had his hat taken clean from
his head by the air-eddy made by the sudden tossing of a
pair of broad flukes close by.
   Riotous and disordered as the universal commotion
now was, it soon resolved itself into what seemed a
systematic movement; for having clumped together at last
in one dense body, they then renewed their onward flight
with augmented fleetness. Further pursuit was useless; but
the boats still lingered in their wake to pick up what
drugged whales might be dropped astern, and likewise to


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secure one which Flask had killed and waifed. The waif is
a pennoned pole, two or three of which are carried by
every boat; and which, when additional game is at hand,
are inserted upright into the floating body of a dead whale,
both to mark its place on the sea, and also as token of
prior possession, should the boats of any other ship draw
near.
    The result of this lowering was somewhat illustrative of
that sagacious saying in the Fishery,—the more whales the
less fish. Of all the drugged whales only one was captured.
The rest contrived to escape for the time, but only to be
taken, as will hereafter be seen, by some other craft than
the Pequod.




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                      Chapter 88

    Schools and Schoolmasters.
    The previous chapter gave account of an immense
body or herd of Sperm Whales, and there was also then
given the probable cause inducing those vast aggregations.
    Now, though such great bodies are at times
encountered, yet, as must have been seen, even at the
present day, small detached bands are occasionally
observed, embracing from twenty to fifty individuals each.
Such bands are known as schools. They generally are of
two sorts; those composed almost entirely of females, and
those mustering none but young vigorous males, or bulls,
as they are familiarly designated.
    In cavalier attendance upon the school of females, you
invariably see a male of full grown magnitude, but not old;
who, upon any alarm, evinces his gallantry by falling in the
rear and covering the flight of his ladies. In truth, this
gentleman is a luxurious Ottoman, swimming about over
the watery world, surroundingly accompanied by all the
solaces and endearments of the harem. The contrast
between this Ottoman and his concubines is striking;
because, while he is always of the largest leviathanic


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proportions, the ladies, even at full growth, are not more
than one-third of the bulk of an average-sized male. They
are comparatively delicate, indeed; I dare say, not to
exceed half a dozen yards round the waist. Nevertheless, it
cannot be denied, that upon the whole they are
hereditarily entitled to EMBONPOINT.
   It is very curious to watch this harem and its lord in
their indolent ramblings. Like fashionables, they are for
ever on the move in leisurely search of variety. You meet
them on the Line in time for the full flower of the
Equatorial feeding season, having just returned, perhaps,
from spending the summer in the Northern seas, and so
cheating summer of all unpleasant weariness and warmth.
By the time they have lounged up and down the
promenade of the Equator awhile, they start for the
Oriental waters in anticipation of the cool season there,
and so evade the other excessive temperature of the year.
   When serenely advancing on one of these journeys, if
any strange suspicious sights are seen, my lord whale keeps
a wary eye on his interesting family. Should any
unwarrantably pert young Leviathan coming that way,
presume to draw confidentially close to one of the ladies,
with what prodigious fury the Bashaw assails him, and
chases him away! High times, indeed, if unprincipled


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young rakes like him are to be permitted to invade the
sanctity of domestic bliss; though do what the Bashaw
will, he cannot keep the most notorious Lothario out of
his bed; for, alas! all fish bed in common. As ashore, the
ladies often cause the most terrible duels among their rival
admirers; just so with the whales, who sometimes come to
deadly battle, and all for love. They fence with their long
lower jaws, sometimes locking them together, and so
striving for the supremacy like elks that warringly
interweave their antlers. Not a few are captured having
the deep scars of these encounters,—furrowed heads,
broken teeth, scolloped fins; and in some instances,
wrenched and dislocated mouths.
    But supposing the invader of domestic bliss to betake
himself away at the first rush of the harem’s lord, then is it
very diverting to watch that lord. Gently he insinuates his
vast bulk among them again and revels there awhile, still
in tantalizing vicinity to young Lothario, like pious
Solomon devoutly worshipping among his thousand
concubines. Granting other whales to be in sight, the
fishermen will seldom give chase to one of these Grand
Turks; for these Grand Turks are too lavish of their
strength, and hence their unctuousness is small. As for the
sons and the daughters they beget, why, those sons and


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daughters must take care of themselves; at least, with only
the maternal help. For like certain other omnivorous
roving lovers that might be named, my Lord Whale has no
taste for the nursery, however much for the bower; and
so, being a great traveller, he leaves his anonymous babies
all over the world; every baby an exotic. In good time,
nevertheless, as the ardour of youth declines; as years and
dumps increase; as reflection lends her solemn pauses; in
short, as a general lassitude overtakes the sated Turk; then
a love of ease and virtue supplants the love for maidens;
our Ottoman enters upon the impotent, repentant,
admonitory stage of life, forswears, disbands the harem,
and grown to an exemplary, sulky old soul, goes about all
alone among the meridians and parallels saying his prayers,
and warning each young Leviathan from his amorous
errors.
    Now, as the harem of whales is called by the fishermen
a school, so is the lord and master of that school
technically known as the schoolmaster. It is therefore not
in strict character, however admirably satirical, that after
going to school himself, he should then go abroad
inculcating not what he learned there, but the folly of it.
His title, schoolmaster, would very naturally seem derived
from the name bestowed upon the harem itself, but some


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have surmised that the man who first thus entitled this sort
of Ottoman whale, must have read the memoirs of
Vidocq, and informed himself what sort of a country-
schoolmaster that famous Frenchman was in his younger
days, and what was the nature of those occult lessons he
inculcated into some of his pupils.
    The same secludedness and isolation to which the
schoolmaster whale betakes himself in his advancing years,
is true of all aged Sperm Whales. Almost universally, a
lone whale—as a solitary Leviathan is called—proves an
ancient one. Like venerable moss-bearded Daniel Boone,
he will have no one near him but Nature herself; and her
he takes to wife in the wilderness of waters, and the best of
wives she is, though she keeps so many moody secrets.
    The schools composing none but young and vigorous
males, previously mentioned, offer a strong contrast to the
harem schools. For while those female whales are
characteristically timid, the young males, or forty-barrel-
bulls, as they call them, are by far the most pugnacious of
all Leviathans, and proverbially the most dangerous to
encounter; excepting those wondrous grey-headed,
grizzled whales, sometimes met, and these will fight you
like grim fiends exasperated by a penal gout.



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   The Forty-barrel-bull schools are larger than the harem
schools. Like a mob of young collegians, they are full of
fight, fun, and wickedness, tumbling round the world at
such a reckless, rollicking rate, that no prudent
underwriter would insure them any more than he would a
riotous lad at Yale or Harvard. They soon relinquish this
turbulence though, and when about three-fourths grown,
break up, and separately go about in quest of settlements,
that is, harems.
   Another point of difference between the male and
female schools is still more characteristic of the sexes. Say
you strike a Forty-barrel-bull—poor devil! all his comrades
quit him. But strike a member of the harem school, and
her companions swim around her with every token of
concern, sometimes lingering so near her and so long, as
themselves to fall a prey.




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                      Chapter 89

   Fast-Fish and Loose-Fish.
   The allusion to the waif and waif-poles in the last
chapter but one, necessitates some account of the laws and
regulations of the whale fishery, of which the waif may be
deemed the grand symbol and badge.
   It frequently happens that when several ships are
cruising in company, a whale may be struck by one vessel,
then escape, and be finally killed and captured by another
vessel; and herein are indirectly comprised many minor
contingencies, all partaking of this one grand feature. For
example,—after a weary and perilous chase and capture of
a whale, the body may get loose from the ship by reason
of a violent storm; and drifting far away to leeward, be
retaken by a second whaler, who, in a calm, snugly tows it
alongside, without risk of life or line. Thus the most
vexatious and violent disputes would often arise between
the fishermen, were there not some written or unwritten,
universal, undisputed law applicable to all cases.
   Perhaps the only formal whaling code authorized by
legislative enactment, was that of Holland. It was decreed
by the States-General in A.D. 1695. But though no other


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nation has ever had any written whaling law, yet the
American fishermen have been their own legislators and
lawyers in this matter. They have provided a system which
for terse comprehensiveness surpasses Justinian’s Pandects
and the By-laws of the Chinese Society for the
Suppression of Meddling with other People’s Business.
Yes; these laws might be engraven on a Queen Anne’s
forthing, or the barb of a harpoon, and worn round the
neck, so small are they.
   I. A Fast-Fish belongs to the party fast to it.
   II. A Loose-Fish is fair game for anybody who can
soonest catch it.
   But what plays the mischief with this masterly code is
the admirable brevity of it, which necessitates a vast
volume of commentaries to expound it.
   First: What is a Fast-Fish? Alive or dead a fish is
technically fast, when it is connected with an occupied
ship or boat, by any medium at all controllable by the
occupant or occupants,—a mast, an oar, a nine-inch cable,
a telegraph wire, or a strand of cobweb, it is all the same.
Likewise a fish is technically fast when it bears a waif, or
any other recognised symbol of possession; so long as the
party waifing it plainly evince their ability at any time to
take it alongside, as well as their intention so to do.


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   These are scientific commentaries; but the
commentaries of the whalemen themselves sometimes
consist in hard words and harder knocks—the Coke-
upon-Littleton of the fist. True, among the more upright
and honourable whalemen allowances are always made for
peculiar cases, where it would be an outrageous moral
injustice for one party to claim possession of a whale
previously chased or killed by another party. But others
are by no means so scrupulous.
   Some fifty years ago there was a curious case of whale-
trover litigated in England, wherein the plaintiffs set forth
that after a hard chase of a whale in the Northern seas; and
when indeed they (the plaintiffs) had succeeded in
harpooning the fish; they were at last, through peril of
their lives, obliged to forsake not only their lines, but their
boat itself. Ultimately the defendants (the crew of another
ship) came up with the whale, struck, killed, seized, and
finally appropriated it before the very eyes of the plaintiffs.
And when those defendants were remonstrated with, their
captain snapped his fingers in the plaintiffs’ teeth, and
assured them that by way of doxology to the deed he had
done, he would now retain their line, harpoons, and boat,
which had remained attached to the whale at the time of
the seizure. Wherefore the plaintiffs now sued for the


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recovery of the value of their whale, line, harpoons, and
boat.
    Mr. Erskine was counsel for the defendants; Lord
Ellenborough was the judge. In the course of the defence,
the witty Erskine went on to illustrate his position, by
alluding to a recent crim. con. case, wherein a gentleman,
after in vain trying to bridle his wife’s viciousness, had at
last abandoned her upon the seas of life; but in the course
of years, repenting of that step, he instituted an action to
recover possession of her. Erskine was on the other side;
and he then supported it by saying, that though the
gentleman had originally harpooned the lady, and had
once had her fast, and only by reason of the great stress of
her plunging viciousness, had at last abandoned her; yet
abandon her he did, so that she became a loose-fish; and
therefore when a subsequent gentleman re-harpooned her,
the lady then became that subsequent gentleman’s
property, along with whatever harpoon might have been
found sticking in her.
    Now in the present case Erskine contended that the
examples of the whale and the lady were reciprocally
illustrative of each other.
    These pleadings, and the counter pleadings, being duly
heard, the very learned Judge in set terms decided, to


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wit,—That as for the boat, he awarded it to the plaintiffs,
because they had merely abandoned it to save their lives;
but that with regard to the controverted whale, harpoons,
and line, they belonged to the defendants; the whale,
because it was a Loose-Fish at the time of the final
capture; and the harpoons and line because when the fish
made off with them, it (the fish) acquired a property in
those articles; and hence anybody who afterwards took the
fish had a right to them. Now the defendants afterwards
took the fish; ergo, the aforesaid articles were theirs.
    A common man looking at this decision of the very
learned Judge, might possibly object to it. But ploughed
up to the primary rock of the matter, the two great
principles laid down in the twin whaling laws previously
quoted, and applied and elucidated by Lord Ellenborough
in the above cited case; these two laws touching Fast-Fish
and Loose-Fish, I say, will, on reflection, be found the
fundamentals of all human jurisprudence; for
notwithstanding its complicated tracery of sculpture, the
Temple of the Law, like the Temple of the Philistines, has
but two props to stand on.
    Is it not a saying in every one’s mouth, Possession is
half of the law: that is, regardless of how the thing came
into possession? But often possession is the whole of the


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law. What are the sinews and souls of Russian serfs and
Republican slaves but Fast-Fish, whereof possession is the
whole of the law? What to the rapacious landlord is the
widow’s last mite but a Fast-Fish? What is yonder
undetected villain’s marble mansion with a door-plate for
a waif; what is that but a Fast-Fish? What is the ruinous
discount which Mordecai, the broker, gets from poor
Woebegone, the bankrupt, on a loan to keep
Woebegone’s family from starvation; what is that ruinous
discount but a Fast-Fish? What is the Archbishop of
Savesoul’s income of L100,000 seized from the scant bread
and cheese of hundreds of thousands of broken-backed
laborers (all sure of heaven without any of Savesoul’s help)
what is that globular L100,000 but a Fast-Fish? What are
the Duke of Dunder’s hereditary towns and hamlets but
Fast-Fish? What to that redoubted harpooneer, John Bull,
is poor Ireland, but a Fast-Fish? What to that apostolic
lancer, Brother Jonathan, is Texas but a Fast-Fish? And
concerning all these, is not Possession the whole of the
law?
   But if the doctrine of Fast-Fish be pretty generally
applicable, the kindred doctrine of Loose-Fish is still more
widely so. That is internationally and universally
applicable.


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   What was America in 1492 but a Loose-Fish, in which
Columbus struck the Spanish standard by way of waifing it
for his royal master and mistress? What was Poland to the
Czar? What Greece to the Turk? What India to England?
What at last will Mexico be to the United States? All
Loose-Fish.
   What are the Rights of Man and the Liberties of the
World but Loose-Fish? What all men’s minds and
opinions but Loose-Fish? What is the principle of religious
belief in them but a Loose-Fish? What to the ostentatious
smuggling verbalists are the thoughts of thinkers but
Loose-Fish? What is the great globe itself but a Loose-
Fish? And what are you, reader, but a Loose-Fish and a
Fast-Fish, too?




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                      Chapter 90

    Heads or Tails.
    ‘De balena vero sufficit, si rex habeat caput, et regina
caudam.’ BRACTON, L. 3, C. 3.
    Latin from the books of the Laws of England, which
taken along with the context, means, that of all whales
captured by anybody on the coast of that land, the King,
as Honourary Grand Harpooneer, must have the head, and
the Queen be respectfully presented with the tail. A
division which, in the whale, is much like halving an
apple; there is no intermediate remainder. Now as this
law, under a modified form, is to this day in force in
England; and as it offers in various respects a strange
anomaly touching the general law of Fast and Loose-Fish,
it is here treated of in a separate chapter, on the same
courteous principle that prompts the English railways to be
at the expense of a separate car, specially reserved for the
accommodation of royalty. In the first place, in curious
proof of the fact that the above-mentioned law is still in
force, I proceed to lay before you a circumstance that
happened within the last two years.




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   It seems that some honest mariners of Dover, or
Sandwich, or some one of the Cinque Ports, had after a
hard chase succeeded in killing and beaching a fine whale
which they had originally descried afar off from the shore.
Now the Cinque Ports are partially or somehow under the
jurisdiction of a sort of policeman or beadle, called a Lord
Warden. Holding the office directly from the crown, I
believe, all the royal emoluments incident to the Cinque
Port territories become by assignment his. By some writers
this office is called a sinecure. But not so. Because the
Lord Warden is busily employed at times in fobbing his
perquisites; which are his chiefly by virtue of that same
fobbing of them.
   Now when these poor sun-burnt mariners, bare-
footed, and with their trowsers rolled high up on their
eely legs, had wearily hauled their fat fish high and dry,
promising themselves a good L150 from the precious oil
and bone; and in fantasy sipping rare tea with their wives,
and good ale with their cronies, upon the strength of their
respective shares; up steps a very learned and most
Christian and charitable gentleman, with a copy of
Blackstone under his arm; and laying it upon the whale’s
head, he says—‘Hands off! this fish, my masters, is a Fast-
Fish. I seize it as the Lord Warden’s.’ Upon this the poor


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mariners in their respectful consternation—so truly
English—knowing not what to say, fall to vigorously
scratching their heads all round; meanwhile ruefully
glancing from the whale to the stranger. But that did in
nowise mend the matter, or at all soften the hard heart of
the learned gentleman with the copy of Blackstone. At
length one of them, after long scratching about for his
ideas, made bold to speak,
   ‘Please, sir, who is the Lord Warden?’
   ‘The Duke.’
   ‘But the duke had nothing to do with taking this fish?’
   ‘It is his.’
   ‘We have been at great trouble, and peril, and some
expense, and is all that to go to the Duke’s benefit; we
getting nothing at all for our pains but our blisters?’
   ‘It is his.’
   ‘Is the Duke so very poor as to be forced to this
desperate mode of getting a livelihood?’
   ‘It is his.’
   ‘I thought to relieve my old bed-ridden mother by part
of my share of this whale.’
   ‘It is his.’
   ‘Won’t the Duke be content with a quarter or a half?’
   ‘It is his.’


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    In a word, the whale was seized and sold, and his Grace
the Duke of Wellington received the money. Thinking
that viewed in some particular lights, the case might by a
bare possibility in some small degree be deemed, under the
circumstances, a rather hard one, an honest clergyman of
the town respectfully addressed a note to his Grace,
begging him to take the case of those unfortunate mariners
into full consideration. To which my Lord Duke in
substance replied (both letters were published) that he had
already done so, and received the money, and would be
obliged to the reverend gentleman if for the future he (the
reverend gentleman) would decline meddling with other
people’s business. Is this the still militant old man, standing
at the corners of the three kingdoms, on all hands coercing
alms of beggars?
    It will readily be seen that in this case the alleged right
of the Duke to the whale was a delegated one from the
Sovereign. We must needs inquire then on what principle
the Sovereign is originally invested with that right. The
law itself has already been set forth. But Plowdon gives us
the reason for it. Says Plowdon, the whale so caught
belongs to the King and Queen, ‘because of its superior
excellence.’ And by the soundest commentators this has
ever been held a cogent argument in such matters.


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    But why should the King have the head, and the
Queen the tail? A reason for that, ye lawyers!
    In his treatise on ‘Queen-Gold,’ or Queen-pinmoney,
an old King’s Bench author, one William Prynne, thus
discourseth: ‘Ye tail is ye Queen’s, that ye Queen’s
wardrobe may be supplied with ye whalebone.’ Now this
was written at a time when the black limber bone of the
Greenland or Right whale was largely used in ladies’
bodices. But this same bone is not in the tail; it is in the
head, which is a sad mistake for a sagacious lawyer like
Prynne. But is the Queen a mermaid, to be presented with
a tail? An allegorical meaning may lurk here.
    There are two royal fish so styled by the English law
writers—the whale and the sturgeon; both royal property
under certain limitations, and nominally supplying the
tenth branch of the crown’s ordinary revenue. I know not
that any other author has hinted of the matter; but by
inference it seems to me that the sturgeon must be divided
in the same way as the whale, the King receiving the
highly dense and elastic head peculiar to that fish, which,
symbolically regarded, may possibly be humorously
grounded upon some presumed congeniality. And thus
there seems a reason in all things, even in law.



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                       Chapter 91

   The Pequod Meets The Rose-Bud.
   ‘In vain it was to rake for Ambergriese in the paunch of
this Leviathan, insufferable fetor denying not inquiry.’ SIR
T. BROWNE, V.E.
   It was a week or two after the last whaling scene
recounted, and when we were slowly sailing over a sleepy,
vapoury, mid-day sea, that the many noses on the
Pequod’s deck proved more vigilant discoverers than the
three pairs of eyes aloft. A peculiar and not very pleasant
smell was smelt in the sea.
   ‘I will bet something now,’ said Stubb, ‘that
somewhere hereabouts are some of those drugged whales
we tickled the other day. I thought they would keel up
before long.’
   Presently, the vapours in advance slid aside; and there
in the distance lay a ship, whose furled sails betokened that
some sort of whale must be alongside. As we glided
nearer, the stranger showed French colours from his peak;
and by the eddying cloud of vulture sea-fowl that circled,
and hovered, and swooped around him, it was plain that
the whale alongside must be what the fishermen call a


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blasted whale, that is, a whale that has died unmolested on
the sea, and so floated an unappropriated corpse. It may
well be conceived, what an unsavory odor such a mass
must exhale; worse than an Assyrian city in the plague,
when the living are incompetent to bury the departed. So
intolerable indeed is it regarded by some, that no cupidity
could persuade them to moor alongside of it. Yet are there
those who will still do it; notwithstanding the fact that the
oil obtained from such subjects is of a very inferior quality,
and by no means of the nature of attar-of-rose.
    Coming still nearer with the expiring breeze, we saw
that the Frenchman had a second whale alongside; and this
second whale seemed even more of a nosegay than the
first. In truth, it turned out to be one of those
problematical whales that seem to dry up and die with a
sort of prodigious dyspepsia, or indigestion; leaving their
defunct bodies almost entirely bankrupt of anything like
oil. Nevertheless, in the proper place we shall see that no
knowing fisherman will ever turn up his nose at such a
whale as this, however much he may shun blasted whales
in general.
    The Pequod had now swept so nigh to the stranger,
that Stubb vowed he recognised his cutting spade-pole



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entangled in the lines that were knotted round the tail of
one of these whales.
   ‘There’s a pretty fellow, now,’ he banteringly laughed,
standing in the ship’s bows, ‘there’s a jackal for ye! I well
know that these Crappoes of Frenchmen are but poor
devils in the fishery; sometimes lowering their boats for
breakers, mistaking them for Sperm Whale spouts; yes,
and sometimes sailing from their port with their hold full
of boxes of tallow candles, and cases of snuffers, foreseeing
that all the oil they will get won’t be enough to dip the
Captain’s wick into; aye, we all know these things; but
look ye, here’s a Crappo that is content with our leavings,
the drugged whale there, I mean; aye, and is content too
with scraping the dry bones of that other precious fish he
has there. Poor devil! I say, pass round a hat, some one,
and let’s make him a present of a little oil for dear charity’s
sake. For what oil he’ll get from that drugged whale there,
wouldn’t be fit to burn in a jail; no, not in a condemned
cell. And as for the other whale, why, I’ll agree to get
more oil by chopping up and trying out these three masts
of ours, than he’ll get from that bundle of bones; though,
now that I think of it, it may contain something worth a
good deal more than oil; yes, ambergris. I wonder now if



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our old man has thought of that. It’s worth trying. Yes,
I’m for it;’ and so saying he started for the quarter-deck.
   By this time the faint air had become a complete calm;
so that whether or no, the Pequod was now fairly
entrapped in the smell, with no hope of escaping except
by its breezing up again. Issuing from the cabin, Stubb
now called his boat’s crew, and pulled off for the stranger.
Drawing across her bow, he perceived that in accordance
with the fanciful French taste, the upper part of her stem-
piece was carved in the likeness of a huge drooping stalk,
was painted green, and for thorns had copper spikes
projecting from it here and there; the whole terminating
in a symmetrical folded bulb of a bright red colour. Upon
her head boards, in large gilt letters, he read ‘Bouton de
Rose,’—Rose-button, or Rose-bud; and this was the
romantic name of this aromatic ship.
   Though Stubb did not understand the BOUTON part
of the inscription, yet the word ROSE, and the bulbous
figure-head put together, sufficiently explained the whole
to him.
   ‘A wooden rose-bud, eh?’ he cried with his hand to his
nose, ‘that will do very well; but how like all creation it
smells!’



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    Now in order to hold direct communication with the
people on deck, he had to pull round the bows to the
starboard side, and thus come close to the blasted whale;
and so talk over it.
    Arrived then at this spot, with one hand still to his
nose, he bawled—‘Bouton-de-Rose, ahoy! are there any
of you Bouton-de-Roses that speak English?’
    ‘Yes,’ rejoined a Guernsey-man from the bulwarks,
who turned out to be the chief-mate.
    ‘Well, then, my Bouton-de-Rose-bud, have you seen
the White Whale?’
    ‘WHAT whale?’
    ‘The WHITE Whale—a Sperm Whale—Moby Dick,
have ye seen him?
    ‘Never heard of such a whale. Cachalot Blanche! White
Whale—no.’
    ‘Very good, then; good bye now, and I’ll call again in a
minute.’
    Then rapidly pulling back towards the Pequod, and
seeing Ahab leaning over the quarter-deck rail awaiting his
report, he moulded his two hands into a trumpet and
shouted—‘No, Sir! No!’ Upon which Ahab retired, and
Stubb returned to the Frenchman.



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    He now perceived that the Guernsey-man, who had
just got into the chains, and was using a cutting-spade, had
slung his nose in a sort of bag.
    ‘What’s the matter with your nose, there?’ said Stubb.
‘Broke it?’
    ‘I wish it was broken, or that I didn’t have any nose at
all!’ answered the Guernsey-man, who did not seem to
relish the job he was at very much. ‘But what are you
holding YOURS for?’
    ‘Oh, nothing! It’s a wax nose; I have to hold it on. Fine
day, ain’t it? Air rather gardenny, I should say; throw us a
bunch of posies, will ye, Bouton-de-Rose?’
    ‘What in the devil’s name do you want here?’ roared
the Guernseyman, flying into a sudden passion.
    ‘Oh! keep cool—cool? yes, that’s the word! why don’t
you pack those whales in ice while you’re working at ‘em?
But joking aside, though; do you know, Rose-bud, that
it’s all nonsense trying to get any oil out of such whales?
As for that dried up one, there, he hasn’t a gill in his
whole carcase.’
    ‘I know that well enough; but, d’ye see, the Captain
here won’t believe it; this is his first voyage; he was a
Cologne manufacturer before. But come aboard, and



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mayhap he’ll believe you, if he won’t me; and so I’ll get
out of this dirty scrape.’
    ‘Anything to oblige ye, my sweet and pleasant fellow,’
rejoined Stubb, and with that he soon mounted to the
deck. There a queer scene presented itself. The sailors, in
tasselled caps of red worsted, were getting the heavy
tackles in readiness for the whales. But they worked rather
slow and talked very fast, and seemed in anything but a
good humor. All their noses upwardly projected from
their faces like so many jib-booms. Now and then pairs of
them would drop their work, and run up to the mast-head
to get some fresh air. Some thinking they would catch the
plague, dipped oakum in coal-tar, and at intervals held it
to their nostrils. Others having broken the stems of their
pipes almost short off at the bowl, were vigorously puffing
tobacco-smoke, so that it constantly filled their olfactories.
    Stubb was struck by a shower of outcries and anathemas
proceeding from the Captain’s round-house abaft; and
looking in that direction saw a fiery face thrust from
behind the door, which was held ajar from within. This
was the tormented surgeon, who, after in vain
remonstrating against the proceedings of the day, had
betaken himself to the Captain’s round-house (CABINET



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he called it) to avoid the pest; but still, could not help
yelling out his entreaties and indignations at times.
    Marking all this, Stubb argued well for his scheme, and
turning to the Guernsey-man had a little chat with him,
during which the stranger mate expressed his detestation
of his Captain as a conceited ignoramus, who had brought
them all into so unsavory and unprofitable a pickle.
Sounding him carefully, Stubb further perceived that the
Guernsey-man had not the slightest suspicion concerning
the ambergris. He therefore held his peace on that head,
but otherwise was quite frank and confidential with him,
so that the two quickly concocted a little plan for both
circumventing and satirizing the Captain, without his at all
dreaming of distrusting their sincerity. According to this
little plan of theirs, the Guernsey-man, under cover of an
interpreter’s office, was to tell the Captain what he
pleased, but as coming from Stubb; and as for Stubb, he
was to utter any nonsense that should come uppermost in
him during the interview.
    By this time their destined victim appeared from his
cabin. He was a small and dark, but rather delicate looking
man for a sea-captain, with large whiskers and moustache,
however; and wore a red cotton velvet vest with watch-
seals at his side. To this gentleman, Stubb was now


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politely introduced by the Guernsey-man, who at once
ostentatiously put on the aspect of interpreting between
them.
    ‘What shall I say to him first?’ said he.
    ‘Why,’ said Stubb, eyeing the velvet vest and the watch
and seals, ‘you may as well begin by telling him that he
looks a sort of babyish to me, though I don’t pretend to be
a judge.’
    ‘He says, Monsieur,’ said the Guernsey-man, in French,
turning to his captain, ‘that only yesterday his ship spoke a
vessel, whose captain and chief-mate, with six sailors, had
all died of a fever caught from a blasted whale they had
brought alongside.’
    Upon this the captain started, and eagerly desired to
know more.
    ‘What now?’ said the Guernsey-man to Stubb.
    ‘Why, since he takes it so easy, tell him that now I have
eyed him carefully, I’m quite certain that he’s no more fit
to command a whale-ship than a St. Jago monkey. In fact,
tell him from me he’s a baboon.’
    ‘He vows and declares, Monsieur, that the other whale,
the dried one, is far more deadly than the blasted one; in
fine, Monsieur, he conjures us, as we value our lives, to
cut loose from these fish.’


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   Instantly the captain ran forward, and in a loud voice
commanded his crew to desist from hoisting the cutting-
tackles, and at once cast loose the cables and chains
confining the whales to the ship.
   ‘What now?’ said the Guernsey-man, when the
Captain had returned to them.
   ‘Why, let me see; yes, you may as well tell him now
that—that—in fact, tell him I’ve diddled him, and (aside
to himself) perhaps somebody else.’
   ‘He says, Monsieur, that he’s very happy to have been
of any service to us.’
   Hearing this, the captain vowed that they were the
grateful parties (meaning himself and mate) and concluded
by inviting Stubb down into his cabin to drink a bottle of
Bordeaux.
   ‘He wants you to take a glass of wine with him,’ said
the interpreter.
   ‘Thank him heartily; but tell him it’s against my
principles to drink with the man I’ve diddled. In fact, tell
him I must go.’
   ‘He says, Monsieur, that his principles won’t admit of
his drinking; but that if Monsieur wants to live another
day to drink, then Monsieur had best drop all four boats,



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and pull the ship away from these whales, for it’s so calm
they won’t drift.’
    By this time Stubb was over the side, and getting into
his boat, hailed the Guernsey-man to this effect,—that
having a long tow-line in his boat, he would do what he
could to help them, by pulling out the lighter whale of the
two from the ship’s side. While the Frenchman’s boats,
then, were engaged in towing the ship one way, Stubb
benevolently towed away at his whale the other way,
ostentatiously slacking out a most unusually long tow-line.
    Presently a breeze sprang up; Stubb feigned to cast off
from the whale; hoisting his boats, the Frenchman soon
increased his distance, while the Pequod slid in between
him and Stubb’s whale. Whereupon Stubb quickly pulled
to the floating body, and hailing the Pequod to give notice
of his intentions, at once proceeded to reap the fruit of his
unrighteous cunning. Seizing his sharp boat-spade, he
commenced an excavation in the body, a little behind the
side fin. You would almost have thought he was digging a
cellar there in the sea; and when at length his spade struck
against the gaunt ribs, it was like turning up old Roman
tiles and pottery buried in fat English loam. His boat’s
crew were all in high excitement, eagerly helping their
chief, and looking as anxious as gold-hunters.


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    And all the time numberless fowls were diving, and
ducking, and screaming, and yelling, and fighting around
them. Stubb was beginning to look disappointed,
especially as the horrible nosegay increased, when
suddenly from out the very heart of this plague, there stole
a faint stream of perfume, which flowed through the tide
of bad smells without being absorbed by it, as one river
will flow into and then along with another, without at all
blending with it for a time.
    ‘I have it, I have it,’ cried Stubb, with delight, striking
something in the subterranean regions, ‘a purse! a purse!’
    Dropping his spade, he thrust both hands in, and drew
out handfuls of something that looked like ripe Windsor
soap, or rich mottled old cheese; very unctuous and savory
withal. You might easily dent it with your thumb; it is of a
hue between yellow and ash colour. And this, good
friends, is ambergris, worth a gold guinea an ounce to any
druggist. Some six handfuls were obtained; but more was
unavoidably lost in the sea, and still more, perhaps, might
have been secured were it not for impatient Ahab’s loud
command to Stubb to desist, and come on board, else the
ship would bid them good bye.




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                       Chapter 92

   Ambergris.
   Now this ambergris is a very curious substance, and so
important as an article of commerce, that in 1791 a certain
Nantucket-born Captain Coffin was examined at the bar
of the English House of Commons on that subject. For at
that time, and indeed until a comparatively late day, the
precise origin of ambergris remained, like amber itself, a
problem to the learned. Though the word ambergris is but
the French compound for grey amber, yet the two
substances are quite distinct. For amber, though at times
found on the sea-coast, is also dug up in some far inland
soils, whereas ambergris is never found except upon the
sea. Besides, amber is a hard, transparent, brittle, odorless
substance, used for mouth-pieces to pipes, for beads and
ornaments; but ambergris is soft, waxy, and so highly
fragrant and spicy, that it is largely used in perfumery, in
pastiles, precious candles, hair-powders, and pomatum.
The Turks use it in cooking, and also carry it to Mecca,
for the same purpose that frankincense is carried to St.
Peter’s in Rome. Some wine merchants drop a few grains
into claret, to flavor it.


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    Who would think, then, that such fine ladies and
gentlemen should regale themselves with an essence found
in the inglorious bowels of a sick whale! Yet so it is. By
some, ambergris is supposed to be the cause, and by others
the effect, of the dyspepsia in the whale. How to cure such
a dyspepsia it were hard to say, unless by administering
three or four boat loads of Brandreth’s pills, and then
running out of harm’s way, as laborers do in blasting
rocks.
    I have forgotten to say that there were found in this
ambergris, certain hard, round, bony plates, which at first
Stubb thought might be sailors’ trowsers buttons; but it
afterwards turned out that they were nothing more than
pieces of small squid bones embalmed in that manner.
    Now that the incorruption of this most fragrant
ambergris should be found in the heart of such decay; is
this nothing? Bethink thee of that saying of St. Paul in
Corinthians, about corruption and incorruption; how that
we are sown in dishonour, but raised in glory. And
likewise call to mind that saying of Paracelsus about what
it is that maketh the best musk. Also forget not the strange
fact that of all things of ill-savor, Cologne-water, in its
rudimental manufacturing stages, is the worst.



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    I should like to conclude the chapter with the above
appeal, but cannot, owing to my anxiety to repel a charge
often made against whalemen, and which, in the
estimation of some already biased minds, might be
considered as indirectly substantiated by what has been
said of the Frenchman’s two whales. Elsewhere in this
volume the slanderous aspersion has been disproved, that
the vocation of whaling is throughout a slatternly, untidy
business. But there is another thing to rebut. They hint
that all whales always smell bad. Now how did this odious
stigma originate?
    I opine, that it is plainly traceable to the first arrival of
the Greenland whaling ships in London, more than two
centuries ago. Because those whalemen did not then, and
do not now, try out their oil at sea as the Southern ships
have always done; but cutting up the fresh blubber in
small bits, thrust it through the bung holes of large casks,
and carry it home in that manner; the shortness of the
season in those Icy Seas, and the sudden and violent storms
to which they are exposed, forbidding any other course.
The consequence is, that upon breaking into the hold, and
unloading one of these whale cemeteries, in the Greenland
dock, a savor is given forth somewhat similar to that



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arising from excavating an old city grave-yard, for the
foundations of a Lying-in-Hospital.
    I partly surmise also, that this wicked charge against
whalers may be likewise imputed to the existence on the
coast of Greenland, in former times, of a Dutch village
called Schmerenburgh or Smeerenberg, which latter name
is the one used by the learned Fogo Von Slack, in his great
work on Smells, a text-book on that subject. As its name
imports (smeer, fat; berg, to put up), this village was
founded in order to afford a place for the blubber of the
Dutch whale fleet to be tried out, without being taken
home to Holland for that purpose. It was a collection of
furnaces, fat-kettles, and oil sheds; and when the works
were in full operation certainly gave forth no very pleasant
savor. But all this is quite different with a South Sea Sperm
Whaler; which in a voyage of four years perhaps, after
completely filling her hold with oil, does not, perhaps,
consume fifty days in the business of boiling out; and in
the state that it is casked, the oil is nearly scentless. The
truth is, that living or dead, if but decently treated, whales
as a species are by no means creatures of ill odor; nor can
whalemen be recognised, as the people of the middle ages
affected to detect a Jew in the company, by the nose. Nor
indeed can the whale possibly be otherwise than fragrant,


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when, as a general thing, he enjoys such high health;
taking abundance of exercise; always out of doors; though,
it is true, seldom in the open air. I say, that the motion of
a Sperm Whale’s flukes above water dispenses a perfume,
as when a musk-scented lady rustles her dress in a warm
parlor. What then shall I liken the Sperm Whale to for
fragrance, considering his magnitude? Must it not be to
that famous elephant, with jewelled tusks, and redolent
with myrrh, which was led out of an Indian town to do
honour to Alexander the Great?




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                      Chapter 93

   The Castaway.
   It was but some few days after encountering the
Frenchman, that a most significant event befell the most
insignificant of the Pequod’s crew; an event most
lamentable; and which ended in providing the sometimes
madly merry and predestinated craft with a living and ever
accompanying prophecy of whatever shattered sequel
might prove her own.
   Now, in the whale ship, it is not every one that goes in
the boats. Some few hands are reserved called ship-
keepers, whose province it is to work the vessel while the
boats are pursuing the whale. As a general thing, these
ship-keepers are as hardy fellows as the men comprising
the boats’ crews. But if there happen to be an unduly
slender, clumsy, or timorous wight in the ship, that wight
is certain to be made a ship-keeper. It was so in the
Pequod with the little negro Pippin by nick-name, Pip by
abbreviation. Poor Pip! ye have heard of him before; ye
must remember his tambourine on that dramatic midnight,
so gloomy-jolly.




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    In outer aspect, Pip and Dough-Boy made a match,
like a black pony and a white one, of equal developments,
though of dissimilar colour, driven in one eccentric span.
But while hapless Dough-Boy was by nature dull and
torpid in his intellects, Pip, though over tender-hearted,
was at bottom very bright, with that pleasant, genial, jolly
brightness peculiar to his tribe; a tribe, which ever enjoy
all holidays and festivities with finer, freer relish than any
other race. For blacks, the year’s calendar should show
naught but three hundred and sixty-five Fourth of Julys
and New Year’s Days. Nor smile so, while I write that this
little black was brilliant, for even blackness has its
brilliancy; behold yon lustrous ebony, panelled in king’s
cabinets. But Pip loved life, and all life’s peaceable
securities; so that the panic-striking business in which he
had somehow unaccountably become entrapped, had most
sadly blurred his brightness; though, as ere long will be
seen, what was thus temporarily subdued in him, in the
end was destined to be luridly illumined by strange wild
fires, that fictitiously showed him off to ten times the
natural lustre with which in his native Tolland County in
Connecticut, he had once enlivened many a fiddler’s frolic
on the green; and at melodious even-tide, with his gay ha-
ha! had turned the round horizon into one star-belled


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tambourine. So, though in the clear air of day, suspended
against a blue-veined neck, the pure-watered diamond
drop will healthful glow; yet, when the cunning jeweller
would show you the diamond in its most impressive lustre,
he lays it against a gloomy ground, and then lights it up,
not by the sun, but by some unnatural gases. Then come
out those fiery effulgences, infernally superb; then the evil-
blazing diamond, once the divinest symbol of the crystal
skies, looks like some crown-jewel stolen from the King
of Hell. But let us to the story.
    It came to pass, that in the ambergris affair Stubb’s
after-oarsman chanced so to sprain his hand, as for a time
to become quite maimed; and, temporarily, Pip was put
into his place.
    The first time Stubb lowered with him, Pip evinced
much nervousness; but happily, for that time, escaped
close contact with the whale; and therefore came off not
altogether discreditably; though Stubb observing him,
took care, afterwards, to exhort him to cherish his
courageousness to the utmost, for he might often find it
needful.
    Now upon the second lowering, the boat paddled upon
the whale; and as the fish received the darted iron, it gave
its customary rap, which happened, in this instance, to be


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right under poor Pip’s seat. The involuntary consternation
of the moment caused him to leap, paddle in hand, out of
the boat; and in such a way, that part of the slack whale
line coming against his chest, he breasted it overboard
with him, so as to become entangled in it, when at last
plumping into the water. That instant the stricken whale
started on a fierce run, the line swiftly straightened; and
presto! poor Pip came all foaming up to the chocks of the
boat, remorselessly dragged there by the line, which had
taken several turns around his chest and neck.
    Tashtego stood in the bows. He was full of the fire of
the hunt. He hated Pip for a poltroon. Snatching the boat-
knife from its sheath, he suspended its sharp edge over the
line, and turning towards Stubb, exclaimed interrogatively,
‘Cut?’ Meantime Pip’s blue, choked face plainly looked,
Do, for God’s sake! All passed in a flash. In less than half a
minute, this entire thing happened.
    ‘Damn him, cut!’ roared Stubb; and so the whale was
lost and Pip was saved.
    So soon as he recovered himself, the poor little negro
was assailed by yells and execrations from the crew.
Tranquilly permitting these irregular cursings to evaporate,
Stubb then in a plain, business-like, but still half humorous
manner, cursed Pip officially; and that done, unofficially


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gave him much wholesome advice. The substance was,
Never jump from a boat, Pip, except—but all the rest was
indefinite, as the soundest advice ever is. Now, in general,
STICK TO THE BOAT, is your true motto in whaling;
but cases will sometimes happen when LEAP FROM
THE BOAT, is still better. Moreover, as if perceiving at
last that if he should give undiluted conscientious advice to
Pip, he would be leaving him too wide a margin to jump
in for the future; Stubb suddenly dropped all advice, and
concluded with a peremptory command, ‘Stick to the
boat, Pip, or by the Lord, I won’t pick you up if you
jump; mind that. We can’t afford to lose whales by the
likes of you; a whale would sell for thirty times what you
would, Pip, in Alabama. Bear that in mind, and don’t
jump any more.’ Hereby perhaps Stubb indirectly hinted,
that though man loved his fellow, yet man is a money-
making animal, which propensity too often interferes with
his benevolence.
    But we are all in the hands of the Gods; and Pip
jumped again. It was under very similar circumstances to
the first performance; but this time he did not breast out
the line; and hence, when the whale started to run, Pip
was left behind on the sea, like a hurried traveller’s trunk.
Alas! Stubb was but too true to his word. It was a


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beautiful, bounteous, blue day; the spangled sea calm and
cool, and flatly stretching away, all round, to the horizon,
like gold-beater’s skin hammered out to the extremest.
Bobbing up and down in that sea, Pip’s ebon head showed
like a head of cloves. No boat-knife was lifted when he
fell so rapidly astern. Stubb’s inexorable back was turned
upon him; and the whale was winged. In three minutes, a
whole mile of shoreless ocean was between Pip and Stubb.
Out from the centre of the sea, poor Pip turned his crisp,
curling, black head to the sun, another lonely castaway,
though the loftiest and the brightest.
    Now, in calm weather, to swim in the open ocean is as
easy to the practised swimmer as to ride in a spring-
carriage ashore. But the awful lonesomeness is intolerable.
The intense concentration of self in the middle of such a
heartless immensity, my God! who can tell it? Mark, how
when sailors in a dead calm bathe in the open sea—mark
how closely they hug their ship and only coast along her
sides.
    But had Stubb really abandoned the poor little negro to
his fate? No; he did not mean to, at least. Because there
were two boats in his wake, and he supposed, no doubt,
that they would of course come up to Pip very quickly,
and pick him up; though, indeed, such considerations


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towards oarsmen jeopardized through their own timidity,
is not always manifested by the hunters in all similar
instances; and such instances not unfrequently occur;
almost invariably in the fishery, a coward, so called, is
marked with the same ruthless detestation peculiar to
military navies and armies.
    But it so happened, that those boats, without seeing
Pip, suddenly spying whales close to them on one side,
turned, and gave chase; and Stubb’s boat was now so far
away, and he and all his crew so intent upon his fish, that
Pip’s ringed horizon began to expand around him
miserably. By the merest chance the ship itself at last
rescued him; but from that hour the little negro went
about the deck an idiot; such, at least, they said he was.
The sea had jeeringly kept his finite body up, but drowned
the infinite of his soul. Not drowned entirely, though.
Rather carried down alive to wondrous depths, where
strange shapes of the unwarped primal world glided to and
fro before his passive eyes; and the miser-merman,
Wisdom, revealed his hoarded heaps; and among the
joyous, heartless, ever-juvenile eternities, Pip saw the
multitudinous, God-omnipresent, coral insects, that out of
the firmament of waters heaved the colossal orbs. He saw
God’s foot upon the treadle of the loom, and spoke it; and


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therefore his shipmates called him mad. So man’s insanity
is heaven’s sense; and wandering from all mortal reason,
man comes at last to that celestial thought, which, to
reason, is absurd and frantic; and weal or woe, feels then
uncompromised, indifferent as his God.
   For the rest, blame not Stubb too hardly. The thing is
common in that fishery; and in the sequel of the narrative,
it will then be seen what like abandonment befell myself.




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                       Chapter 94

    A Squeeze of the Hand.
    That whale of Stubb’s, so dearly purchased, was duly
brought to the Pequod’s side, where all those cutting and
hoisting operations previously detailed, were regularly
gone through, even to the baling of the Heidelburgh Tun,
or Case.
    While some were occupied with this latter duty, others
were employed in dragging away the larger tubs, so soon
as filled with the sperm; and when the proper time
arrived, this same sperm was carefully manipulated ere
going to the try-works, of which anon.
    It had cooled and crystallized to such a degree, that
when, with several others, I sat down before a large
Constantine’s bath of it, I found it strangely concreted into
lumps, here and there rolling about in the liquid part. It
was our business to squeeze these lumps back into fluid. A
sweet and unctuous duty! No wonder that in old times
this sperm was such a favourite cosmetic. Such a clearer!
such a sweetener! such a softener! such a delicious
molifier! After having my hands in it for only a few




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minutes, my fingers felt like eels, and began, as it were, to
serpentine and spiralise.
   As I sat there at my ease, cross-legged on the deck; after
the bitter exertion at the windlass; under a blue tranquil
sky; the ship under indolent sail, and gliding so serenely
along; as I bathed my hands among those soft, gentle
globules of infiltrated tissues, woven almost within the
hour; as they richly broke to my fingers, and discharged all
their opulence, like fully ripe grapes their wine; as I
snuffed up that uncontaminated aroma,—literally and
truly, like the smell of spring violets; I declare to you, that
for the time I lived as in a musky meadow; I forgot all
about our horrible oath; in that inexpressible sperm, I
washed my hands and my heart of it; I almost began to
credit the old Paracelsan superstition that sperm is of rare
virtue in allaying the heat of anger; while bathing in that
bath, I felt divinely free from all ill-will, or petulance, or
malice, of any sort whatsoever.
   Squeeze! squeeze! squeeze! all the morning long; I
squeezed that sperm till I myself almost melted into it; I
squeezed that sperm till a strange sort of insanity came
over me; and I found myself unwittingly squeezing my
co-laborers’ hands in it, mistaking their hands for the
gentle globules. Such an abounding, affectionate, friendly,


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loving feeling did this avocation beget; that at last I was
continually squeezing their hands, and looking up into
their eyes sentimentally; as much as to say,—Oh! my dear
fellow beings, why should we longer cherish any social
acerbities, or know the slightest ill-humor or envy! Come;
let us squeeze hands all round; nay, let us all squeeze
ourselves into each other; let us squeeze ourselves
universally into the very milk and sperm of kindness.
    Would that I could keep squeezing that sperm for ever!
For now, since by many prolonged, repeated experiences,
I have perceived that in all cases man must eventually
lower, or at least shift, his conceit of attainable felicity; not
placing it anywhere in the intellect or the fancy; but in the
wife, the heart, the bed, the table, the saddle, the fireside,
the country; now that I have perceived all this, I am ready
to squeeze case eternally. In thoughts of the visions of the
night, I saw long rows of angels in paradise, each with his
hands in a jar of spermaceti.
    Now, while discoursing of sperm, it behooves to speak
of other things akin to it, in the business of preparing the
sperm whale for the try-works.
    First comes white-horse, so called, which is obtained
from the tapering part of the fish, and also from the
thicker portions of his flukes. It is tough with congealed


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tendons—a wad of muscle—but still contains some oil.
After being severed from the whale, the white-horse is
first cut into portable oblongs ere going to the mincer.
They look much like blocks of Berkshire marble.
    Plum-pudding is the term bestowed upon certain
fragmentary parts of the whale’s flesh, here and there
adhering to the blanket of blubber, and often participating
to a considerable degree in its unctuousness. It is a most
refreshing, convivial, beautiful object to behold. As its
name imports, it is of an exceedingly rich, mottled tint,
with a bestreaked snowy and golden ground, dotted with
spots of the deepest crimson and purple. It is plums of
rubies, in pictures of citron. Spite of reason, it is hard to
keep yourself from eating it. I confess, that once I stole
behind the foremast to try it. It tasted something as I
should conceive a royal cutlet from the thigh of Louis le
Gros might have tasted, supposing him to have been killed
the first day after the venison season, and that particular
venison season contemporary with an unusually fine
vintage of the vineyards of Champagne.
    There is another substance, and a very singular one,
which turns up in the course of this business, but which I
feel it to be very puzzling adequately to describe. It is
called slobgollion; an appellation original with the


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whalemen, and even so is the nature of the substance. It is
an ineffably oozy, stringy affair, most frequently found in
the tubs of sperm, after a prolonged squeezing, and
subsequent decanting. I hold it to be the wondrously thin,
ruptured membranes of the case, coalescing.
    Gurry, so called, is a term properly belonging to right
whalemen, but sometimes incidentally used by the sperm
fishermen. It designates the dark, glutinous substance
which is scraped off the back of the Greenland or right
whale, and much of which covers the decks of those
inferior souls who hunt that ignoble Leviathan.
    Nippers. Strictly this word is not indigenous to the
whale’s vocabulary. But as applied by whalemen, it
becomes so. A whaleman’s nipper is a short firm strip of
tendinous stuff cut from the tapering part of Leviathan’s
tail: it averages an inch in thickness, and for the rest, is
about the size of the iron part of a hoe. Edgewise moved
along the oily deck, it operates like a leathern squilgee;
and by nameless blandishments, as of magic, allures along
with it all impurities.
    But to learn all about these recondite matters, your best
way is at once to descend into the blubber-room, and
have a long talk with its inmates. This place has previously
been mentioned as the receptacle for the blanket-pieces,


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when stript and hoisted from the whale. When the proper
time arrives for cutting up its contents, this apartment is a
scene of terror to all tyros, especially by night. On one
side, lit by a dull lantern, a space has been left clear for the
workmen. They generally go in pairs,—a pike-and-
gaffman and a spade-man. The whaling-pike is similar to a
frigate’s boarding-weapon of the same name. The gaff is
something like a boat-hook. With his gaff, the gaffman
hooks on to a sheet of blubber, and strives to hold it from
slipping, as the ship pitches and lurches about. Meanwhile,
the spade-man stands on the sheet itself, perpendicularly
chopping it into the portable horse-pieces. This spade is
sharp as hone can make it; the spademan’s feet are
shoeless; the thing he stands on will sometimes irresistibly
slide away from him, like a sledge. If he cuts off one of his
own toes, or one of his assistants’, would you be very
much astonished? Toes are scarce among veteran blubber-
room men.




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                        Chapter 95

    The Cassock.
    Had you stepped on board the Pequod at a certain
juncture of this post-mortemizing of the whale; and had
you strolled forward nigh the windlass, pretty sure am I
that you would have scanned with no small curiosity a
very strange, enigmatical object, which you would have
seen there, lying along lengthwise in the lee scuppers. Not
the wondrous cistern in the whale’s huge head; not the
prodigy of his unhinged lower jaw; not the miracle of his
symmetrical tail; none of these would so surprise you, as
half a glimpse of that unaccountable cone,—longer than a
Kentuckian is tall, nigh a foot in diameter at the base, and
jet-black as Yojo, the ebony idol of Queequeg. And an
idol, indeed, it is; or, rather, in old times, its likeness was.
Such an idol as that found in the secret groves of Queen
Maachah in Judea; and for worshipping which, King Asa,
her son, did depose her, and destroyed the idol, and burnt
it for an abomination at the brook Kedron, as darkly set
forth in the 15th chapter of the First Book of Kings.
    Look at the sailor, called the mincer, who now comes
along, and assisted by two allies, heavily backs the


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grandissimus, as the mariners call it, and with bowed
shoulders, staggers off with it as if he were a grenadier
carrying a dead comrade from the field. Extending it upon
the forecastle deck, he now proceeds cylindrically to
remove its dark pelt, as an African hunter the pelt of a boa.
This done he turns the pelt inside out, like a pantaloon
leg; gives it a good stretching, so as almost to double its
diameter; and at last hangs it, well spread, in the rigging, to
dry. Ere long, it is taken down; when removing some
three feet of it, towards the pointed extremity, and then
cutting two slits for arm-holes at the other end, he
lengthwise slips himself bodily into it. The mincer now
stands before you invested in the full canonicals of his
calling. Immemorial to all his order, this investiture alone
will adequately protect him, while employed in the
peculiar functions of his office.
    That office consists in mincing the horse-pieces of
blubber for the pots; an operation which is conducted at a
curious wooden horse, planted endwise against the
bulwarks, and with a capacious tub beneath it, into which
the minced pieces drop, fast as the sheets from a rapt
orator’s desk. Arrayed in decent black; occupying a
conspicuous pulpit; intent on bible leaves; what a



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candidate for an archbishopric, what a lad for a Pope were
this mincer!*
   *Bible leaves! Bible leaves! This is the invariable cry
from the mates to the mincer. It enjoins him to be careful,
and cut his work into as thin slices as possible, inasmuch as
by so doing the business of boiling out the oil is much
accelerated, and its quantity considerably increased, besides
perhaps improving it in quality.




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                      Chapter 96

    The Try-Works.
    Besides her hoisted boats, an American whaler is
outwardly distinguished by her try-works. She presents the
curious anomaly of the most solid masonry joining with
oak and hemp in constituting the completed ship. It is as if
from the open field a brick-kiln were transported to her
planks.
    The try-works are planted between the foremast and
mainmast, the most roomy part of the deck. The timbers
beneath are of a peculiar strength, fitted to sustain the
weight of an almost solid mass of brick and mortar, some
ten feet by eight square, and five in height. The
foundation does not penetrate the deck, but the masonry
is firmly secured to the surface by ponderous knees of iron
bracing it on all sides, and screwing it down to the
timbers. On the flanks it is cased with wood, and at top
completely covered by a large, sloping, battened
hatchway. Removing this hatch we expose the great try-
pots, two in number, and each of several barrels’ capacity.
When not in use, they are kept remarkably clean.
Sometimes they are polished with soapstone and sand, till


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they shine within like silver punch-bowls. During the
night-watches some cynical old sailors will crawl into
them and coil themselves away there for a nap. While
employed in polishing them—one man in each pot, side
by side—many confidential communications are carried
on, over the iron lips. It is a place also for profound
mathematical meditation. It was in the left hand try-pot of
the Pequod, with the soapstone diligently circling round
me, that I was first indirectly struck by the remarkable fact,
that in geometry all bodies gliding along the cycloid, my
soapstone for example, will descend from any point in
precisely the same time.
   Removing the fire-board from the front of the try-
works, the bare masonry of that side is exposed, penetrated
by the two iron mouths of the furnaces, directly
underneath the pots. These mouths are fitted with heavy
doors of iron. The intense heat of the fire is prevented
from communicating itself to the deck, by means of a
shallow reservoir extending under the entire inclosed
surface of the works. By a tunnel inserted at the rear, this
reservoir is kept replenished with water as fast as it
evaporates. There are no external chimneys; they open
direct from the rear wall. And here let us go back for a
moment.


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   It was about nine o’clock at night that the Pequod’s
try-works were first started on this present voyage. It
belonged to Stubb to oversee the business.
   ‘All ready there? Off hatch, then, and start her. You
cook, fire the works.’ This was an easy thing, for the
carpenter had been thrusting his shavings into the furnace
throughout the passage. Here be it said that in a whaling
voyage the first fire in the try-works has to be fed for a
time with wood. After that no wood is used, except as a
means of quick ignition to the staple fuel. In a word, after
being tried out, the crisp, shrivelled blubber, now called
scraps or fritters, still contains considerable of its unctuous
properties. These fritters feed the flames. Like a plethoric
burning martyr, or a self-consuming misanthrope, once
ignited, the whale supplies his own fuel and burns by his
own body. Would that he consumed his own smoke! for
his smoke is horrible to inhale, and inhale it you must, and
not only that, but you must live in it for the time. It has an
unspeakable, wild, Hindoo odor about it, such as may lurk
in the vicinity of funereal pyres. It smells like the left wing
of the day of judgment; it is an argument for the pit.
   By midnight the works were in full operation. We
were clear from the carcase; sail had been made; the wind
was freshening; the wild ocean darkness was intense. But


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that darkness was licked up by the fierce flames, which at
intervals forked forth from the sooty flues, and illuminated
every lofty rope in the rigging, as with the famed Greek
fire. The burning ship drove on, as if remorselessly
commissioned to some vengeful deed. So the pitch and
sulphur-freighted brigs of the bold Hydriote, Canaris,
issuing from their midnight harbors, with broad sheets of
flame for sails, bore down upon the Turkish frigates, and
folded them in conflagrations.
    The hatch, removed from the top of the works, now
afforded a wide hearth in front of them. Standing on this
were the Tartarean shapes of the pagan harpooneers,
always the whale-ship’s stokers. With huge pronged poles
they pitched hissing masses of blubber into the scalding
pots, or stirred up the fires beneath, till the snaky flames
darted, curling, out of the doors to catch them by the feet.
The smoke rolled away in sullen heaps. To every pitch of
the ship there was a pitch of the boiling oil, which seemed
all eagerness to leap into their faces. Opposite the mouth
of the works, on the further side of the wide wooden
hearth, was the windlass. This served for a sea-sofa. Here
lounged the watch, when not otherwise employed,
looking into the red heat of the fire, till their eyes felt
scorched in their heads. Their tawny features, now all


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begrimed with smoke and sweat, their matted beards, and
the contrasting barbaric brilliancy of their teeth, all these
were strangely revealed in the capricious emblazonings of
the works. As they narrated to each other their unholy
adventures, their tales of terror told in words of mirth; as
their uncivilized laughter forked upwards out of them, like
the flames from the furnace; as to and fro, in their front,
the harpooneers wildly gesticulated with their huge
pronged forks and dippers; as the wind howled on, and the
sea leaped, and the ship groaned and dived, and yet
steadfastly shot her red hell further and further into the
blackness of the sea and the night, and scornfully champed
the white bone in her mouth, and viciously spat round her
on all sides; then the rushing Pequod, freighted with
savages, and laden with fire, and burning a corpse, and
plunging into that blackness of darkness, seemed the
material counterpart of her monomaniac commander’s
soul.
   So seemed it to me, as I stood at her helm, and for long
hours silently guided the way of this fire-ship on the sea.
Wrapped, for that interval, in darkness myself, I but the
better saw the redness, the madness, the ghastliness of
others. The continual sight of the fiend shapes before me,
capering half in smoke and half in fire, these at last begat


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kindred visions in my soul, so soon as I began to yield to
that unaccountable drowsiness which ever would come
over me at a midnight helm.
    But that night, in particular, a strange (and ever since
inexplicable) thing occurred to me. Starting from a brief
standing sleep, I was horribly conscious of something
fatally wrong. The jaw-bone tiller smote my side, which
leaned against it; in my ears was the low hum of sails, just
beginning to shake in the wind; I thought my eyes were
open; I was half conscious of putting my fingers to the lids
and mechanically stretching them still further apart. But,
spite of all this, I could see no compass before me to steer
by; though it seemed but a minute since I had been
watching the card, by the steady binnacle lamp
illuminating it. Nothing seemed before me but a jet
gloom, now and then made ghastly by flashes of redness.
Uppermost was the impression, that whatever swift,
rushing thing I stood on was not so much bound to any
haven ahead as rushing from all havens astern. A stark,
bewildered feeling, as of death, came over me.
Convulsively my hands grasped the tiller, but with the
crazy conceit that the tiller was, somehow, in some
enchanted way, inverted. My God! what is the matter
with me? thought I. Lo! in my brief sleep I had turned


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Moby Dick


myself about, and was fronting the ship’s stern, with my
back to her prow and the compass. In an instant I faced
back, just in time to prevent the vessel from flying up into
the wind, and very probably capsizing her. How glad and
how grateful the relief from this unnatural hallucination of
the night, and the fatal contingency of being brought by
the lee!
    Look not too long in the face of the fire, O man!
Never dream with thy hand on the helm! Turn not thy
back to the compass; accept the first hint of the hitching
tiller; believe not the artificial fire, when its redness makes
all things look ghastly. To-morrow, in the natural sun, the
skies will be bright; those who glared like devils in the
forking flames, the morn will show in far other, at least
gentler, relief; the glorious, golden, glad sun, the only true
lamp—all others but liars!
    Nevertheless the sun hides not Virginia’s Dismal
Swamp, nor Rome’s accursed Campagna, nor wide
Sahara, nor all the millions of miles of deserts and of griefs
beneath the moon. The sun hides not the ocean, which is
the dark side of this earth, and which is two thirds of this
earth. So, therefore, that mortal man who hath more of
joy than sorrow in him, that mortal man cannot be true—
not true, or undeveloped. With books the same. The


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truest of all men was the Man of Sorrows, and the truest of
all books is Solomon’s, and Ecclesiastes is the fine
hammered steel of woe. ‘All is vanity.’ ALL. This wilful
world hath not got hold of unchristian Solomon’s wisdom
yet. But he who dodges hospitals and jails, and walks fast
crossing graveyards, and would rather talk of operas than
hell; calls Cowper, Young, Pascal, Rousseau, poor devils
all of sick men; and throughout a care-free lifetime swears
by Rabelais as passing wise, and therefore jolly;—not that
man is fitted to sit down on tomb-stones, and break the
green damp mould with unfathomably wondrous
Solomon.
    But even Solomon, he says, ‘the man that wandereth
out of the way of understanding shall remain’ (I.E., even
while living) ‘in the congregation of the dead.’ Give not
thyself up, then, to fire, lest it invert thee, deaden thee; as
for the time it did me. There is a wisdom that is woe; but
there is a woe that is madness. And there is a Catskill eagle
in some souls that can alike dive down into the blackest
gorges, and soar out of them again and become invisible in
the sunny spaces. And even if he for ever flies within the
gorge, that gorge is in the mountains; so that even in his
lowest swoop the mountain eagle is still higher than other
birds upon the plain, even though they soar.


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                       Chapter 97

    The Lamp.
    Had you descended from the Pequod’s try-works to
the Pequod’s forecastle, where the off duty watch were
sleeping, for one single moment you would have almost
thought you were standing in some illuminated shrine of
canonized kings and counsellors. There they lay in their
triangular oaken vaults, each mariner a chiselled muteness;
a score of lamps flashing upon his hooded eyes.
    In merchantmen, oil for the sailor is more scarce than
the milk of queens. To dress in the dark, and eat in the
dark, and stumble in darkness to his pallet, this is his usual
lot. But the whaleman, as he seeks the food of light, so he
lives in light. He makes his berth an Aladdin’s lamp, and
lays him down in it; so that in the pitchiest night the ship’s
black hull still houses an illumination.
    See with what entire freedom the whaleman takes his
handful of lamps—often but old bottles and vials,
though—to the copper cooler at the try-works, and
replenishes them there, as mugs of ale at a vat. He burns,
too, the purest of oil, in its unmanufactured, and,
therefore, unvitiated state; a fluid unknown to solar, lunar,


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or astral contrivances ashore. It is sweet as early grass
butter in April. He goes and hunts for his oil, so as to be
sure of its freshness and genuineness, even as the traveller
on the prairie hunts up his own supper of game.




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                      Chapter 98

    Stowing Down and Clearing Up.
    Already has it been related how the great leviathan is
afar off descried from the mast-head; how he is chased
over the watery moors, and slaughtered in the valleys of
the deep; how he is then towed alongside and beheaded;
and how (on the principle which entitled the headsman of
old to the garments in which the beheaded was killed) his
great padded surtout becomes the property of his
executioner; how, in due time, he is condemned to the
pots, and, like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, his
spermaceti, oil, and bone pass unscathed through the
fire;—but now it remains to conclude the last chapter of
this part of the description by rehearsing—singing, if I
may—the romantic proceeding of decanting off his oil
into the casks and striking them down into the hold,
where once again leviathan returns to his native
profundities, sliding along beneath the surface as before;
but, alas! never more to rise and blow.
    While still warm, the oil, like hot punch, is received
into the six-barrel casks; and while, perhaps, the ship is
pitching and rolling this way and that in the midnight sea,


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the enormous casks are slewed round and headed over,
end for end, and sometimes perilously scoot across the
slippery deck, like so many land slides, till at last man-
handled and stayed in their course; and all round the
hoops, rap, rap, go as many hammers as can play upon
them, for now, EX OFFICIO, every sailor is a cooper.
    At length, when the last pint is casked, and all is cool,
then the great hatchways are unsealed, the bowels of the
ship are thrown open, and down go the casks to their final
rest in the sea. This done, the hatches are replaced, and
hermetically closed, like a closet walled up.
    In the sperm fishery, this is perhaps one of the most
remarkable incidents in all the business of whaling. One
day the planks stream with freshets of blood and oil; on
the sacred quarter-deck enormous masses of the whale’s
head are profanely piled; great rusty casks lie about, as in a
brewery yard; the smoke from the try-works has besooted
all the bulwarks; the mariners go about suffused with
unctuousness; the entire ship seems great leviathan himself;
while on all hands the din is deafening.
    But a day or two after, you look about you, and prick
your ears in this self-same ship; and were it not for the
tell-tale boats and try-works, you would all but swear you
trod some silent merchant vessel, with a most scrupulously


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neat commander. The unmanufactured sperm oil possesses
a singularly cleansing virtue. This is the reason why the
decks never look so white as just after what they call an
affair of oil. Besides, from the ashes of the burned scraps of
the whale, a potent lye is readily made; and whenever any
adhesiveness from the back of the whale remains clinging
to the side, that lye quickly exterminates it. Hands go
diligently along the bulwarks, and with buckets of water
and rags restore them to their full tidiness. The soot is
brushed from the lower rigging. All the numerous
implements which have been in use are likewise faithfully
cleansed and put away. The great hatch is scrubbed and
placed upon the try-works, completely hiding the pots;
every cask is out of sight; all tackles are coiled in unseen
nooks; and when by the combined and simultaneous
industry of almost the entire ship’s company, the whole of
this conscientious duty is at last concluded, then the crew
themselves proceed to their own ablutions; shift
themselves from top to toe; and finally issue to the
immaculate deck, fresh and all aglow, as bridegrooms
new-leaped from out the daintiest Holland.
    Now, with elated step, they pace the planks in twos
and threes, and humorously discourse of parlors, sofas,
carpets, and fine cambrics; propose to mat the deck; think


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of having hanging to the top; object not to taking tea by
moonlight on the piazza of the forecastle. To hint to such
musked mariners of oil, and bone, and blubber, were little
short of audacity. They know not the thing you distantly
allude to. Away, and bring us napkins!
    But mark: aloft there, at the three mast heads, stand
three men intent on spying out more whales, which, if
caught, infallibly will again soil the old oaken furniture,
and drop at least one small grease-spot somewhere. Yes;
and many is the time, when, after the severest
uninterrupted labors, which know no night; continuing
straight through for ninety-six hours; when from the boat,
where they have swelled their wrists with all day rowing
on the Line,—they only step to the deck to carry vast
chains, and heave the heavy windlass, and cut and slash,
yea, and in their very sweatings to be smoked and burned
anew by the combined fires of the equatorial sun and the
equatorial try-works; when, on the heel of all this, they
have finally bestirred themselves to cleanse the ship, and
make a spotless dairy room of it; many is the time the poor
fellows, just buttoning the necks of their clean frocks, are
startled by the cry of ‘There she blows!’ and away they fly
to fight another whale, and go through the whole weary
thing again. Oh! my friends, but this is man-killing! Yet


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this is life. For hardly have we mortals by long toilings
extracted from this world’s vast bulk its small but valuable
sperm; and then, with weary patience, cleansed ourselves
from its defilements, and learned to live here in clean
tabernacles of the soul; hardly is this done, when—
THERE SHE BLOWS!—the ghost is spouted up, and
away we sail to fight some other world, and go through
young life’s old routine again.
   Oh! the metempsychosis! Oh! Pythagoras, that in bright
Greece, two thousand years ago, did die, so good, so wise,
so mild; I sailed with thee along the Peruvian coast last
voyage—and, foolish as I am, taught thee, a green simple
boy, how to splice a rope!




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                      Chapter 99

    The Doubloon.
    Ere now it has been related how Ahab was wont to
pace his quarter-deck, taking regular turns at either limit,
the binnacle and mainmast; but in the multiplicity of other
things requiring narration it has not been added how that
sometimes in these walks, when most plunged in his
mood, he was wont to pause in turn at each spot, and
stand there strangely eyeing the particular object before
him. When he halted before the binnacle, with his glance
fastened on the pointed needle in the compass, that glance
shot like a javelin with the pointed intensity of his
purpose; and when resuming his walk he again paused
before the mainmast, then, as the same riveted glance
fastened upon the riveted gold coin there, he still wore the
same aspect of nailed firmness, only dashed with a certain
wild longing, if not hopefulness.
    But one morning, turning to pass the doubloon, he
seemed to be newly attracted by the strange figures and
inscriptions stamped on it, as though now for the first time
beginning to interpret for himself in some monomaniac
way whatever significance might lurk in them. And some


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certain significance lurks in all things, else all things are
little worth, and the round world itself but an empty
cipher, except to sell by the cartload, as they do hills about
Boston, to fill up some morass in the Milky Way.
    Now this doubloon was of purest, virgin gold, raked
somewhere out of the heart of gorgeous hills, whence, east
and west, over golden sands, the head-waters of many a
Pactolus flows. And though now nailed amidst all the
rustiness of iron bolts and the verdigris of copper spikes,
yet, untouchable and immaculate to any foulness, it still